One Room Challenge: Week Three — Fables of the Reconstruction

Hello friends! Welcome back to the One Room Challenge, the crazy internet wide scramble to completely redecorate one room in six weeks. [Catch up on previous posts HERE.] I am struggling to wrap my head around the fact that we’re now halfway through and I don’t even have a mirror or lighting picked out… I’m feeling a bit like Aesop’s hare here. We made super headway super fast, but now I’m super tired. At any moment I might lie down and twiddle some buckwheat whilst taunting tortoises with better project management skills than mine, but first we need to congratulate me on my hotdogging DIY skillz. At least the hare is flashy, right?

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As you may recall I started out with a nuclear orange vanity of indeterminate but undeniably bad design. Well, I upgraded those sleazy doors for some fresh and clean oak shaker numbers from Barker Cabinets. I’ll admit that I spent more than a few hours caressing them, getting to know every inch of virgin woodgrain. It was hard to slap on that first coat of stain. But after sanding them smooth with 150 grit paper, I screwed up my nerves and brushed on the Speedball india ink.

Yep. Speedball. India. Ink.

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Black as night, this stuff is. It makes regular “black” stain look like weak coffee, but if you try this for yourself please learn from my trials and four letter word filled errors: do not buy the acrylic ink (on left). The one on the right is what you want (PS, thanks for making the labels look so easy to differentiate, Speedball). It is waterproof and contains shellac, which is a sanding sealer so it doesn’t raise the grain like the acrylic stuff. Also it flows ever so much more nicely and doesn’t build up in tacky layers.

Can you tell that I spent a zillion hours reading woodworking lumber jock forums before I started this project because I am a giant nerd?

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Now I’m a dirty nerd in need of a manicure.

After permanently dyeing my skin black in the process of brushing on two coats of ink, I finished with Osmo polyx oil.

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I kind of refused to hermetically seal my hard earned woodgrain with polyurethane, so I spent another brazillion hours researching finishing options before settling on a hybrid hard wax. This stuff is totally food safe and eco friendly, plus is it easy to apply — wax on and wax off Ralph Macchio style. Repeat 8 hours later — crane kick optional but not required. Voila! Delicious juicy woodgrain with a touchable oiled finish.

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All that stripping, sanding, and staining, sublimated into one grace note of beauty. I hear angels singing and rainbows weeping with envy.

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Rather than painting the cabinets black, I used this process as a test for our future kitchen remodel that will probably maybe never happen someday. I don’t mind the idea of painted cabinets, but I do worry about chipping and the difficulty of touch ups — especially with Wrecker and Bruiser around to hasten the demise of any fragile finish. This can be touched up and repaired with relative ease, plus I really like the ebonised look.

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Now whether this stuff will stand up to dribbled toothpaste and marathon boat parties hosted by our as of yet uninstalled sink, I do not know. This guy wants to remind me not to get too high and mighty on my champion DIY skills.

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He would also like to know if yogurt from the trash tastes as good as yogurt from the fridge.

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Because I said no I am no longer allowed to bask in the glory of my success.

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Unless I leave to forage for fresh yogurt, in which case I should come back. Now.

It’s a wonder that anything gets done around here. But you may have noticed that we managed to drop in an overhead light, positioned above the sink.

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Hilariously/not hilariously it is located exactly where an overhead light used to exist before the previous owners installed that hideous vanity light. We pretty much went back to the future. Or… something. Time travel confuses me.

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Light is helpful when you have to spackle and sand at pitch dark o’clock, which also happens to be renovation celebration o’clock. I like ice with my whine. Don’t judge.

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To top off my winning streak, counters have been ordered and will be installed shortly. Ike picked them out — or so he thinks. He also picked out the gargantuan face bandage which is covering precisely nothing. That’s gonna hurt when it comes off, kid.

To summarize: I am basically king of the world, a super-ish parent with the very best that trash cans and stone yards have to offer, possibly the most talented DIY’er ever, and definitely a designer in charge of her own destiny.

Except that I had a hyperventilating panic attack and ordered totally DIFFERENT WALLPAPER. Bad hare, baaaad hare. From winning the race to cowering under a rock with my face in the dirt. Self saboteur in the extreme.

Goodbye beadboard, hello new wipeable wallpaper. We will discuss this ad infinitum next week. For now, just know how the mighty have fallen. I am in trouble.

Until then, please do see how my fellow participants are faring in their own race against time. Only three more weeks left to go!

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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

One Room Challenge: Week One — Brobdingnagian Plans for a Lilliputian Powder Room

Hello! Welcome to the One Room Challenge, wherein I and several talented cohorts strive to completely redesign a space in six short weeks.

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Obviously I am insane for doing this… like, hallucinating through space and time insane, because the last ORC nearly wrecked me. In fact, when I asked my husband what he thought about committing to the challenge again, I swear a tiny tear rolled down his beautiful cheek. I wiped it away and replied YES! to the challenge. Turns out I am a sadist and a masochist. I call that multitalented.

Last time I transformed our dinky dinette into a blazing gloryland of color and brass and quirky thrift finds. This time, I asked myself how I could make the challenge easier on myself — perhaps by choosing an even smaller room? Behold. The world’s tiniest, ugliest powder room:

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Dontcha wish your bathroom was hot like mine? Dontcha? Dontcha?

I won’t sugarcoat it. This bathroom is a travesty against humankind. It makes babies cry, and even sensitive adults run screaming for cover.

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The atomic orange vanity is horrifying. I simply cannot imagine a world where these cabinets should exist. And yet, they are ALL OVER OUR HOUSE. In every room with cabinets. All the same. All  tiger striped orange with overly complicated paneling and a polyrurethane coating so stubborn it makes my four year old look like a model of cooperation.

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This is far less offensive, but still belongs in a trailer and I don’t mean one of those cute hipster Airstreams.

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The faucet and cultured marble counters (with integrated sink! bonus!) are also not 100% hideous, but they still scream cheap 13 year old remodel. And indeed that is what this bathroom is suffering from.

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Bad tasteitis. Someone spent money and time redoing a bathroom and THIS is what they chose. Just thinking about it is giving my wallet a seizure.

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Who thought tile baseboards were a good idea? Perhaps they planned to slaughter goats in here?

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And that glued on $10 mirror is killing me for so many reasons. 1) it is hideous and will be difficult to remove because it’s glued to the freaking wall. 2) I can’t take a picture in here without seeing myself and I don’t like that. In fact, whilst shooting this room I became very self conscious and I really hate mirrors and can’t wait to destroy this soul sucking waste of silica.

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Hey look! There’s a toilet in here, because it’s a bathroom. At least there is a window and natural light. I think I can do something with this space.

So. On to the plan:

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Did I say that I was making this challenge easier on myself by choosing a smaller room? I lied. There is a lot of construction involved and my long suffering husband and I will be doing much of  it ourselves, because we are poor and also because you simply cannot get a decent contractor out to any site in Austin for a job this small. It is insane here.

I plan to rip out the mirror, counters, and tile baseboard. I do very much wish we could rip ALL the floors out, but we’re not sure what the future holds for the floors in contiguous rooms so it has to stay for now. Meanwhile, the vanity will get fresh doors and a strip and stain job. New counters are going in, along with an updated faucet and lighting, oh and beadboard…

Beadboard might be the death of me. You see, I bought that Little Greene wallpaper two years ago for this very room but never put it up because we started potty training Ike soon after. And if you don’t have a little boy, let me tell you that potty training is like trying to control a firehose. Full of pee. A pee hose that sprays everywhere. This here wallpaper is pulp based and therefore absorbent, hence the addition of beadboard which is not absorbent. I hope. Because Luke is due for potty training in the coming year and I do not enjoy the scent of morning urine.

So that is the plan. Stay tuned to see if my husband spackles my nose and mouth shut in an attempt to asphyxiate me, or if… you know. I change my mind or something. I’ve been known to do that.

Please do say hi to my fellow challengees, and especially Linda of Calling it Home who organized this whole dang shebang — it’s quite the lineup this year and I’m feeling extra super ridiculous intimidated by the talent. Until next week!

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

It’s Such a Perfect Day

After weeks of pontificating, I decided maybe I should post something personal instead of just telling everyone what to do. Problem is, I’m so good at being the boss… of other people. When it comes to my own life, I feel messy and disorganized and indecisive. Case in point: I’ve been planning to present an updated home tour for months now, but realistically my house is only clean for one hour after the housekeeper leaves. And in that one hour I just want to sit down, knock back a martini, and bask in the zen of an orderly life. Ok, it may be more like two martinis and 15 minutes but you get the idea.

I’ve realized that it’s never going to be perfect around here and it is what it is… so have a look around. Just try not to delete me from your blog feed. Or fire me.

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Every (bleary) morning when I wake up in this room I think about how I need to take pictures. But I never make the bed, and there is still a baby bassinet in the corner where I change Luke’s diapers, and the window seat always has a laundry basket full of clean clothes that need to be put away.

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There is usually a pile of paintings around here. This giant 52″ tall lady just came home with me. I imagine her in a smoky plum room with lots of walnut and gold and black Italian lighting. Who’s with me?

ERIN WILLIAMSON | DESIGN CRISIS

I can’t believe the boys haven’t broken my heads yet… it’s only a matter of time.

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73 degrees! Springtime in Austin (all three days of it) is magical.

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Zombie cat confuses Luke, who often pets and meows at her. She does a good job of covering my wacked out wallpapered outlet so we’ll keep her.

ERIN WILLIAMSON | DESIGN CRISIS

The teal room is the repository of all my treasured possessions. I remember playing with this at my grandmother’s house when I was Ike’s age.

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My aforementioned grandparents. My mother drew these portraits decades ago and my brother and I are sharing joint custody of them. I hope he knows how much I love him for sharing.

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It’s also feeling rather hunt clubby in the teal room. Streaky glass adds that extra special touch that really says home.

ERIN WILLIAMSON | DESIGN CRISIS

 I caught a fair amount of flak for repainting my one room challenge dinette, but I really like the new art and wall color combo. It’s still WAY peppy, but it’s livable. The dining area is visible from much of the house so that’s kind of important. I want to live.

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Oh, Ike. Next year he starts kindergarten and while part of me has been looking forward to having a few free minutes to myself, most of me is preparing for the blubbery sobfest that is sure to take place on the first day of school. I’m going to miss my little cowpoke.

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Aaaaaaand this is what the living room looks like at the end of a long day spent juggling kids and work and cooking and obviously not cleaning. It hurts me to post this, but I believe in honesty. I didn’t try to dress this up (hahaha). I didn’t even turn off the gross recessed lighting. This depresses me in so many ways… I hate messes for one thing. I also spend so much time making other people’s spaces look good that I wonder why I can’t just snap my fingers and make it happen for myself.

Sure, budget is one reason. I gots to get some new seating, and that will be quite expensive.

Indecision is another reason. Do I want a black leather sofa? Or maybe something in a slipcovered fabric? Sectional or sofa and chairs? I debate the pros and cons of these choices (and their budgetary repercussions) endlessly as I stare out across the sea of toys.

Kids are probably the biggest reason. What I have now is virtually kid proof, and it’s old so I won’t be (too) angry if they destroy it. Also I am busy. And tired.

And incredibly grateful. I’m so grateful to be busy and tired in a room full of busted up chex mix and noisy plastic toys, working on amazing projects with my two little helpers in tow. I couldn’t ask for anything more, and I never want it to end.

So for now I will probably keep things this way, messes and all.

One Room Challenge — Where are They Now? My Crazy Dinette

True to form, I am continuing my headless chicken routine by linking up late to the ORC party. It’s a wonder anything gets done around here, what with 70 rounds of the flu and a work load that just won’t quit (thankful for that part, not thankful for the flu). But I really wanted to tell you about what happened with my dinette. When last you saw it at the ORC reveal, the walls were screaming acid green and the vibe was OTT:

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Not to toot my own horn, but in the photos it looks money. Solid gold. I know my strengths, and I’m good at dressing a set — which is exactly what this room is for me. It’s my little corner of the world where I can experiment and run wild. It’s small and easy to repaint, which is handy because that color got on my nerves. For real.

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In the daytime it was ok, but at night it felt like I was locked in an insane asylum on the moon. It was SO BRIGHT and the room is so small… it was intense.

Add that to the fact that Bungalow Magazine asked to shoot my house right after the ORC ended and I panicked. As a self contained room this space worked, but when viewed in the context of the rest of my house it felt unbalanced.

So I did what I do. I repainted that shizz. Sanders helped me pick the color, of course — Benjamin Moore Antique Glass.

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And here’s the photo Bungalow took. They made the room all dark and moody like, but you can see that the color is in the same vein but far less intense. I also swapped out the art with a vintage Round Top find and I think the whole thing is a vast improvement, although maybe not as bling bling exciting as the ORC reveal shots.

It’s real world successful. My family can eat in here without sunglasses.

Next up for this room: figure out the horrible soffit situation. It can’t be removed. Molding maybe?

Then I will probably repaint or wallpaper or get a new table and chairs or something. I can’t leave well enough alone, you know. Designer problems!

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I’m linking up to Linda’s ORC Now party.  To check out updates on all the ORC projects, please check out Calling It Home.

 

Modern Memphis

I can’t believe it’s been almost four years since I first wrote a post about Memphis design… At the time I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff, leaping into the void. There was still something so raw and surreal about all those sharp edges and blazing bright colors. Fast forward to the riot of color that is the 2014 Pantone Palette, and Memphis seems old hand. Maybe.

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Modern Memphis is still playful, but a lot more polished. These sculptural lamps by Damm Design provide the perfect foil to old, dark, and dirty (You know I’m down with ODD).

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That’s not to say that Modern Memphis is totally tamed… it still has all the angular bite of the original iteration.

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Maybe with just a little less color.

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christian may memphis wallpaper

Get all the flavor and only some of the crazy with pillows by Safe House USA, a Kelly Behun style supergraphic, or Christian May’s appropriately titled Memphis wallpaper produced by Black Crow Studios.

kelly wearstler

Or don’t hide your love for the Memphis… trick it out a la Kelly Wearstler. Hello venus flytrap lamp! That thing is a man eater for sure.

Perhaps you’re feeling a little gun shy about reliving the Esprit era? Don’t get your graffiti tights in a wad. Relax. There’s something for everyone.

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Gray Malin‘s photography is pretty.

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Robert Couturier also loves my favorite Clarence House fabric ever.

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And Kelly Wearstler is pretty much just Ettore Sottsass with high heels.

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My own brush with Memphis? Just this pair of Beetlejuice chairs I bought in the middle of a dirt field, strapped Beverly Hillbillies style to the top of my car, and drove 100 miles home to meet my husband who was SO HAPPY to see them.

Ok, that last part is a lie but the rest is truth. Commitment is what it’s all about. Do something outside of your comfort zone. Push it. Push it real good.

Just don’t get divorced in the process.

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