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Category: renovations

One Room Challenge: Week Two — The Case For Uxoricide

Hello and welcome back for the next installment in the One Room Challenge! Last week I laid the foundation for what should be a grueling but fairly straight forward renovation of our puny powder room. This week the husband and I began demolition of the truly heinous and downright criminal renovations wrought by previous owners, and I am having the distinct feeling that this endeavor might result in bodily injury. To me.

erin williamson | design crisis

Before you decide that Colonel Mustard did it in the bathroom with a hammer, let’s start at the beginning of the end.

The very day I accepted this challenge, I promised my loving husband that I would hire out every single job. That we would not spend weekends and evenings painting and fretting and hanging and rehanging art like last time. Then I couldn’t find a single contractor willing to come out and even look at such a small job. Then the threat of public humiliation and impending failure whipped me into a stress filled frenzy… and then Ben caved. Because I am nice, and I make a delicious pan seared halibut, and also because I birthed his two adorable babies, he really couldn’t say no to my plea for help.

erin williamson | design crisis

Which is not to say that he was happy about it.

When he started in on the Jasco paint stripper (a toxic gel with low floral notes reminiscent of Mad Dog 20/20) and I came in to document the process, the eye rolling commenced. With every scrape of shriveled polyurethane I felt his “enthusiasm” for the project dissipating, the influence of my trump card waning. I’m pretty sure he was scraping our love away.

erin williamson | design crisis

Oh yes. For the moment, let’s put aside the probability of divorce (or worse) and talk about why it’s even necessary to strip and stain this vanity — why not just buy a new one? Please see the diagram above for evidence of an ugly but useful sewer cleanout that runs to the kitchen and laundry room. Unfortunately keeping it meant that we couldn’t do a swanky wall mount or pedestal sink, which is ok because obviously we need concealed storage to house a phalanx of plastic toilets and pee stained training seats. Boys and their toys, you know.

erin williamson | design crisis

Toys like a long piece of piano wire, perfect for strangling the mirror off the wall. Hot tip #1: Goo Gone + sawing softened adhesive with a wire = no more nasty mirror. Hot tip #2: Don’t embarrass your husband with a camera when he is holding a weapon.

erin williamson | design crisis

This wall is oozing with the kind of misery that comes from sobbing behind an ugly builder grade mirror for over a decade. I wish I could say I see instant improvement here. Instead our powder room is looking more and more like an abattoir.

erin williamson | design crisis

The tiled in baseboards have been gutted. Perfect for fluid run off.

erin williamson | design crisis

The sink is gone, the lighting is gone, scary murder gloves are not gone.

erin williamson | design crisis

Basically it’s like a jail cell up in here.

I am hoping I didn’t use all my lady chits for nothing… it is terrifying to consider that Ben might hate me AND that I must suffer the ignominy of a hideous bathroom.

Honestly, he is an angel sent down from the heavens above to serve me. That didn’t come out quite right, but I am so very very very grateful for his help and hopefully when he reads these words he will decide not to kill me.

Also, next week I get my own hands dirty with sanding and staining and patching and painting. I stole my cabinet finishing idea from these guys and their amazing floors:

india ink floors

Perhaps Ben will at least let me stick around long enough to put this hot mess back together. And maybe to cook him a hot dinner. And other hot… things. I’m not ashamed to say that I will use every tool in my arsenal to survive.

My charms are limited. Call 911 if no one’s here next Wednesday morning.

Until then, please do visit my fellow challengers. What a lineup!

Abby M. Interiors

Because it’s Awesome

Bijou & Boheme

Calling It Home

Chez V

Chinoiserie Chic

Copy Cat Chic

The Decorista

Design Crisis

Design Indulgence

Design Manifest

The English Room

The Glam Pad

Little Black Door

Mimosa Lane

My Notting Hill

The Pink Pagoda

Simple Details

My Sweet Savannah

Verandah House

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One Room Challenge: Week Five — Twas the Week Before Reveal

And all through the house, not a project was finished… it was time to get soused. The rest of that ditty can take a hike, except for the bit about martinis dancing through my head. That is how the poem goes, right?

So friends, we find ourselves near the end of the One Room Challenge (catch up on earlier posts HERE). Let me say that six weeks is quite the grueling schedule to decorate, shoot, post, and completely redesign a room. But in all honesty, it’s good to have deadlines… without them I might have lived in a Triple XXX peach dinette forever. Or at least until my husband threatened divorce. I’m pretty sure that was on the horizon, so a huge thank you to Linda of Calling it Home for organizing this challenge!

This past week was fraught with obstacles like kid sickness, parent sickness, and mental sickness. ‘Tis the season for sharing, you know. Let it be known that I battled a veritable river of bodily fluids to bring you updates. Because I care.

erin williamson orc

I am kind of being a tease here because a fair amount of choices have been made, but they are still top secret hush hush. Anticipation is the best part of… well, everything. Except for martinis. Anyway, I do have a table but I’m still working out seating and this represents just a tiny fraction of the options I have stocked in the garage. My husband is thrilled about this.

Thonet chairs and stools on top of stools on top of stools, oh my. I am having a lot of conflicting thoughts about seating right now. Some strange perversion of the mind has taken hold and is forcing a philosophical rigor upon the situation wherein I only like chairs that speak to the chairness of chairs. You know, like Plato and stuff. Somehow no cantilevered, nor panton, nor frankly any kind of not-plain CHAIR will do. This is a weird turn of events because I normally love all of those things — just not for this space at this time. I may have to do a bench or stools to get around this self imposed hurdle.

erin williamson orc

Oh hey, did you notice that I got new blinds? Someone is probably going to say they look like the old blinds, but that is incorrect.


The old blinds were this shiny orange monolith too heavy to be drawn up and down on a whim. So I got myself to Lowes and had some stick blinds custom cut, et voila!

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I think they look light, fluffy and neutral. Plus they hide my ugly window clips. I like them a lot.

I also got a new fancy door knob from Rejuvenation for the ugly arched panel door I hope to replace someday. It’s a bit like gilding a stinkbug, but there is is.

erin williamson orc

Sexy black porcelain and unlacquered brass, yum. I’m going to let it get all dirty and patinated so it hides jelly smeared fingerprints. And then when I get a new door this baby is coming with… No one gets left behind! Except for ugly doors and blinds.

erin williamson orc

I have also been steadily accruing a huge amount of thrifted accessories for my table setting. I’ve never really put together a big girl holiday table before, so that is high on my to do list. This year, retinas will be seared and eyes will be generally blinded by all manner of scintillating wares. I have enough gold, crystal, and glossy porcelain to make Kate Spade cry uncle into her polka dotted napkins.

erin williamson orc

Hello $5 gold Florentine flatware! Rope-a-dope, people. I’m in it to win it.

Now if only I could figure out what to do for seating, decide on my ding dang art already, and nail down the overarching direction of styling and mood…

Maybe I’m just in it to finish it. Wish me luck.

As always, please do visit my lovely co-challengees to see how they are faring this week.

one room challenge


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One Room Challenge: Week Four — Art Show

Hi friends, welcome back to Design Crisis for my latest installment in the One Room Challenge! If you’d like to catch up on previous weeks, please click HERE. If you’re already caught up, then you know that last week hammered nails into the coffin of my marble Saarinen dinette dreams. Keywords: fire, brimstone, inferno. I was pretty bummed, but you fine people left so many kind comments and suggestions that I just want to thank you from the bottom of tired and overwhelmed heart. Know that I am cooking up multiple scenarios and basically decorating three rooms simultaneously until I know for sure what will work out in time, but rest assured that the finale will include a table… or perhaps just a Moroccan style pile of floor cushions. I kid, I kid. Or do I???

Let’s not talk about my dumb table, or lack thereof. Let’s talk about art. Let’s talk about how I have 26 pictures worth of stuff to show you, and that’s AFTER I edited the selections down. I need to edit again, and obviously I really need to clean out my garage.


While other things are busy falling into place (I hope), I decided to browse my ginormous collection of art to find the best and brightest selections for the room. This lady is one of my favorites. The frame weighs at least 500 pounds and the vintage needlepoint is magical in its softness and coloring.


I just wish it were bigger… It doesn’t fill the space as well as I’d like, but the mix of old and dirty with new and crisp does it for me.


So pretty. So sweet. I so do not have a daughter, and I bet my two sons are jealous of this beatific mother who does not look the least bit haggard or unkempt. I suspect she dares not feed her child cereal for dinner, either. There are words for moms like this.


At the opposite end of the spectrum, I have this vintage Vasarely poster in dire need of reframing. Acid trip acid wasp, for sure.


Yeah, baby. I can feel my brain getting all swirly and I like it.


Meanwhile, how j’adorable is my vintage Mark Sabin print with that nutty Robert Allen fabric?


I think at the very least I need to reframe so it doesn’t infringe on the curtains… also not loving the horizontal on a vertical wall.


Then again, I’m not loving this vertical abstract painting either. It veers a little too Palm Beach against that wall color.


Old dirty prints. I’m down with ODP (yeah, you know me), but maybe these are a trifle too old and dirty to command such a central space.


These on the other hand… these are cray. I bought a set of vintage Alan Davie lithographs off ebay for a song, and they’re pretty awesome. The framing would be tricky, though.


But are they too cray? Will that flying, ahem, object disturb the digestion of my more delicate dinner guests?


Speaking of, is this too much? I do think that a grouping of small pieces provides a nice foil to the low hanging blobbiness of the chandelier.



 Another random ebay purchase, this portfolio of prints from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair shows depicts the evolution of science over the ages. These prints are WEIRD. The print quality is superb, though.


And finally, I have this behemoth of a mirror designed by Gio Ponti. It goes with my Italian Sciolari chandelier and Italian chairs, but is it too… Italian?



That’s not even possible, right? This sucker is very large and very heavy, though. Securing it to the wall would be a challenge. And is a mirror the best way to finish the space? Do I go for more light or more color? Does the pretty arched panel of the mirror look weird with the ugly arched panel of the door?

Also, I have two other stellar mirrors (LaBarge!) and tons more art. Anything could happen, and everything is dependent on the dreaded table and seating and fabric choices. It’s the decorating domino effect.

Out of curiosity I’d love to know your thoughts, but please don’t be offended if I don’t take your advice. If our government is any indication of speed and efficacy, then decorating should not be a democratic sport. I aim to run something more of a benevolent dictatorship. It’s for the greater good.

So that’s what I’ve been working on for the week. Please stop by my fellow challengers to see where their projects stand. There are only two more weeks left to go…

one room challenge

 Calling it Home

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One Room Challenge: Week Three — Make it Work Meltdown

Hello everyone! Welcome back for the latest installment of the One Room Challenge, hosted by lovely Linda of Calling it Home. For just a minute, might I divert your attention to my captain amazing new blog header? Designed by super buddy and Design Crisis alum Karly Hand, it represents pretty much everything I want to say about my life as a decorating lioness. I love it so much. And that is the end of this week’s good news. Bust out your kleenex — or handkerchiefs, for all you neo Victorian lads and lasses — because this is going to be a Steel Magnolias of a tearjerker.


 To summarize my progress since last week, I scrubbed dirty grout on my hands and knees for 47 hours, popped my cowhide cherry with this rug I scored at Round Top, ripped down my blindingly orange blinds, talked Karly into sewing grosgrain trim onto my linen Ikea curtains, and whipped out the fab four mid century Italian chairs I scored for $5 each. That kind of seems like a lot, but something is missing…

Oh yes. MY TABLE.


Let us hearken back the the glory days, full of promise and optimism — the days when I thought I was going to have a marble Saarinen table. Despite being assured by multiple professionals that cracked marble was repairable after being literally dropped off the delivery truck, I am sad to report the dream is dead. Complete and utter fail.

erin williamson orc

Look how sad my chairs are! Like a bunch of jilted wallflowers. But at least my grout is clean. Yes, let’s talk about the good things before I work myself into a lather over the whole sad situation.

erin williamson orc

The tape trim on my curtains is nice but not crazy overpowering. I’m going for arty and sculptural rather than preppy polished, so we just did the sides and not the bottoms. I hung two panels at each end for extra fullness.

erin williamson orc

The Sciolari light looks swank next to jade walls. Can I just take a picture of the chandelier and call the room done already?

erin williamson

This is a very unsexy photo, but a very important tip: when you have a strong wall color you MUST paint out any offensive functional items. I painted all my switch plates, outlet covers, and even the AC register. It looks mo better. Now your eyes don’t zero in on the ugly things.

erin williamson orc

All the better to see the pretty things. I’m happy with this color combo, but I also feel like there is something missing…

erin williamson orc

I’m pondering these fabrics hardcore, perhaps for upholstery. We’re just a family of four but I’d still like to have six seats around the table. That means we’re short two seats… and a table.

I need furniture. Stat. And I’m on a budget. Big time. Like many people my panicky first instinct is to throw money at a problem, but over the years I’ve gotten better about coming up with creative solutions that don’t give me morning guilt. Do I upholster a fancy banquette that my children will surely destroy, or do I figure out how to add color in a more cost effective way? Do I refinish my old table, or do I attempt to cobble together a new top for my Saarinen pedestal? I would love to have a new marble top cut, but it costs as much as the table originally did and I’m on the verge of a kitchen remodel… must pinch pennies.

I only have three weeks to get over the hump, but I shall prevail.

Please pass the Tums.

While you’re busy having sympathy anxiety hives for me, visit my fine friends to see how they are weathering the challenge. I bet they have furniture.

one room challenge

Calling it Home

Come back next week to see live video of me crying.

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One Room Challenge: Week Two — Hemlock Grove

Hello everyone, welcome to week two of the One Room Challenge! By now most assuredly you’ve had the opportunity to visit some of the other blogs participating in the challenge. So have I. Those people are talented. It’s a little intimidating, but here I am powering through all of my self preservation instincts to bring you updates on the rehabilitation of my hideous dinette into proper society. You may recall that I spent last week hemming and hawing, holding a paint swatch of Farrow and Ball’s Arsenic next to anything that would sit still.

farrow ball arsenic

Now I know lots of you out there wouldn’t blush at the thought of a bubblegum pink living room or a lilac boudoir or an Hermes orange office, but I am Misses Conservative when it comes to paint. I like light neutrals and moody darks. I don’t do midtone brights. But — let’s all say it together — it’s just paint. And it’s a tiny, dark, boring room. I honestly couldn’t come up with a reason not to spend a whopping three hours of my life painting this dinky dinette something transformative.

farrow ball arsenic

Like, LSD transformative.


And you know what, it’s not half bad. I mean, my floors are bad, the soffit is bad, that unpainted register is bad. But the color? I kind of like it. I also think the name is cool… does that make me weird?

farrow ball arsenic

Arsenic is a super weird color — it’s not blue and it’s not green. It’s darker than the previous peachy pink yet suddenly I need to dim the lights at night.

farrow ball arsenic

It looks not too shabby with the things going on around it, although the dirty grout on the tile floors is KILLING me (spoiler alert: I already cleaned it).

farrow ball arsenic

farrow ball arsenic

I don’t hate it. Does that mean I like color?

Will I pair it with neutrals as is my usual modus operandi, or do I go full on acid trip with mega bright art and upholstery? Perhaps somewhere in between?

Only time will tell. Tune in next week to see me pour a gallon of gasoline on that dining set and burn it to teeny tiny splintery ashes.

Just kidding, although I would pay to see that show. I do however need to get the furniture situation on lock. It’s keeping me awake at night…

one room challenge

Until then, please do visit my lovely co participants:


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