Category Archives: Design

Baltimore Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen. With toe moulding! We never really completed it while we lived there. We should have.

Oh, the Baltimore kitchen. What a cluster. It’s difficult to adequately describe the entire thought process that went into building the kitchen, because we changed so many things repeatedly, but basically we wanted to take advantage of the large space and build a modern space that gave nods to the history of the house, and fit our needs. The color scheme ended up a bit more stark than we intended, but I still love the fact that we had opted out of upper cabinets and only went with the one shelf above the stove to hold pots and pans. But the cluster that is was is probably why I haven’t written about it until now. No clue how to start. But, as they say, I guess the best place to start is with the beginning.

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If you can imagine, that’s actually after we had done some work in the kitchen. I can’t find the original pictures, but imagine an 18×10 space (a great space for kitchen!) and an entire kitchen crammed into 8×10 of that space with 10×10 almost empty. What was there was old, busted and/or rotted and slightly moldy.

The first thing we did, essentially the second day we moved in, was rip out the worst of the cabinets. We also moved the fridge to where it is in that picture and added a few $15 Ikea shelves to store food. And that’s where we stopped for about 8 months, while we focused on the multitudes of other problems in the house and saved up for the big overhaul. Somewhere in there we sold the detachable dish washer that came with the property and added a few cheap ikea cabinets.

In January of 2012 we got sick of dealing with the kitchen as it was (the moldy smell from the sink may have been part of our motivation) and started ripping things out. This was perhaps the most frustrating but absolutely satisfying week of demo I’ve ever experienced. And yes. It took a week. Every day after work we were ripping off fake brick wood paneling, 1×1 studs, old wallpaper, struts to hold a suspended ceiling and patching plaster. If I remember correctly we waited like a month to finish ripping off the last panel because we just couldn’t deal with it anymore.

However, along the way we did find some cool stuff. Mostly, the original casings and mouldings. They covered them up. INCLUDING a window. A beautiful original transom window from the 1920s. Ugh.

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Of course, we also found wiring hanging lose and outlets that were never actually anchored and swung free as soon as we took the paneling out. We also found the original hardwood floors under approximately 18 layers of fake-brick linoleum, but we were afraid some of the tiles might contain asbestos so we didn’t risk removing them. Sigh. I wish we could have, because what we could see (the part that was under the original sink) was in perfect condition. Maybe one day sweet floors, you’ll be freed.

When we first started the renovation, we decided we would put a half bath in the space where the kitchen was and put the full kitchen in the 10×10 space. We moved the plumbing to accommodate this, removed a pony wall and rebuilt a full wall (poorly). And tiled it (that was pretty good).

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Then our (ex) plumber let us know that it would be several thousand dollars more than he had originally estimated to put in the half bath, because the vent would need to be replaced. That killed the whole half-bath dream. As we contemplated what to do with that empty space, we realized that while we would like a large pantry, a big open kitchen appealed to us more. We thought out what an island would/could look like and eventually came to the conclusion that that’s what we should go for. So down came that wall. And all that tile, sigh.

However, the more open plan was far, far better. The downside was that at this point Ikea stopped carrying the wooden countertops that had become so ubiquitous. We couldn’t afford replacing all the countertops, so we used a similar piece of wood from Ikea, cut down to size, but it wasn’t thick enough so it was held up by shims. This past February we finally replaced them all, and it was glorious.

We also tried out three different floors before finally going with the one pictured above and painted about 1000 times. One of our other failures was a large cabinet system around the fridge, to give that built-in look, but on the eve of Thanksgiving, before 10 people descended on our house, we took it out and put in a small bank of cabinets and countertop to give us more prep room and storage space. We kept the largest of the cabinets as a pantry, and It’s still in the kitchen now.

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That extra space changed our lives. Maybe not literally, but it made a huge difference to how we cooked and how much time we spent in the kitchen. It also started our love affair with those grey cabinets. While Ikea would of course discontinue that particular color, we ended up using the new version for the rest of the countertops.

When we finally got the bathroom remodeled, we had a lot of drywall work done throughout the house, and some of that was in the kitchen. On the wall, where the original kitchen sink was, we wallpapered it and made it a bar area.

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Lo and behold, that wallpaper is still there! Crazy, I know.

Basically, the entire process was one big learning experience. We know now to take our time, plan things out and source materials correctly. We had a pretty strict budget for the kitchen, and while we still managed to stay inside of it, we would have been well under had we done things right the first time. And if anyone reading this is looking to renovate something so large themselves, that’s the best advice I can give: take it slow and do it right. That and don’t try to install a sink and cut the water line cap at 10pm, after all the local hardware stores are closed. Or try to fit a sink into a not quite large enough hole.

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With that being said, the kitchen did also teach us that we are capable of many things, such as plumbing, electrical, woodwork, tiling, etc. It also taught us what we weren’t good at (See above for sink). But big projects don’t really scare us anymore, and our process ended up creating my favorite (And most missed) room in the Baltimore house.

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Ahh, perfection in it’s imperfection.

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Mt Rainier House Updates

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With all that’s going on with the Baltimore House, I’ve yet to really talk about the Mt. Rainier house. The picture of Neptune (above) probably sums up how I feel about everything regarding the Mt. Rainier house. It’s been a very nutty few months and not the most pleasant of experiences. Not long after we moved in, we had a house warming party. It was very well attended (thanks everyone who came!) but unfortunately our plumbing wasn’t up for the task of handling 50ish people and we had a major sewage back-up. We are STILL dealing with the aftermath (the back-up was at the end of May).

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We now have floors (mostly) in the one room, but we no longer have carpet in the upstairs hallway, still don’t have a half-bath and there’s a distinct lack of drywall in the bathroom. So much for a “move-in ready house”, huh Steven?

Before the great plumbing explosion of 2013, we had done a lot of work to the house, specifically to get it prepped for the party, but also because that’s just who we are.

We painted the bottom cabinets of the kitchen (I need to redo them, better and once I do, I’ll provide a tutorial) and wallpapered with this magnificent grasspaper floral wallpaper I had gotten from Graham & Brown for super cheap. Most people are probably cringing at the yellowy/green, but it’s so bright and happy and just perfect for that room.

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We did a lot of landscaping. We planted a garden in the front, added some flower boxes and hung some lights. We also planted a ton of fruit trees and built a better a chicken coop that hides them better.

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We hung art all throughout the house. Painted the hallway and dining room. And! We added this AMAZEBALLS mural from Anthropologie to the master:

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The master bedroom is looking a little little kiddish what with the bright florals everywhere and the light colors, so I’ll eventually be changing that a bit, but our bedside tables and the like are in Baltimore right now, so it’s kind of moot at this point.

And that’s where the house was when we were doing things like this:

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But of course not too long after the plumbing fiasco, we had to evict our renters and spend the next month working during the day and renovating during the night.

I think it’s safe to say that not only were we annoyed by this, but so were our animals.

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Neptune stared at me like this for 10 minutes after three days in a row of being gone from 8am-midnight. I wish I was joking.

Things have also gotten decidedly wild around the Mt. Rainier house.

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Very wild.

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A little too wild.

We’ve already mowed the lawn and tonight I plan on weeding the front garden. So now, we only need to get the rest of the floor installed, redo the hall bath and install the upstairs floor.

Yay.

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Getting All Floral Up In Hurr

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Imagine you have $75 and a house that is about to go up for sale. Sure, you could spend that money on things like a few movie tickets to reward yourself for your hard work. Maybe even a beer or glass of wine. OR you could spend that money on lots of gorgeous flowers to make your house “pop”. As fresh flowers are very inviting, and lovely, it’s one of those real estate tips for selling your house quicker. Will it work? No clue. But it certainly looks and smells great.

There’s this myth that cut flowers are expensive. While some flowers are expensive, it’s just not true of all kinds, and many very beautiful flowers are inexpensive. Especially if you know where to go. Our go-to for super cheap flowers are Trader Joes and Costco (Costco has the added benefit of accepting returns on flowers — no joke). For staging our house we went to Trader Joes. We got a literal cart-full of flowers for $74. Mostly consisting of bunches of Hydrangeas, “summer” mixes (sunflowers, lilies, etc), delphinium and gladiolas.

I tried to do something a little different in each room. For the most part I tried to stick with “fun”, but in the case of the Hydrangeas bunches, it just says “classy”, so I stuck those in the classiest rooms. Like the dining room and the bathroom. Because that makes sense.

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This is said classy bunch of hydrangeas. I bunched these together to get the most consistent shape I could get. At first it was resembling Richard Simmon’s hair, both in shape and texture, but with some strategic snipping, I got it to look more uniform. The more simple arrangement is very simple and streamlined, which general equates to elegant. Because the vase is clear, I removed all of the leaves so that it does not look messy. Also, I think removing them extends the life of the flower, but that may be me just making things up.

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This explosion of yellow and purple eventually went into the office. Basically it’s all of the flowers I had left in a plant pot. I think that overly messy, hanging over the edges look is very fun, and since the colors are so primary, fun was a requirement.

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These are the flowers in the master bedroom. I took some of the gladiolas and their leaves, as well as the delphiniums to give the bouquet height and combined them with the “summer mix” that Trader Joes was selling. I think it works well in this room, especially combined with the abstract art. It’s fun without being totally crazy town.

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This is my favorite combo, so of course I put them in the bathroom (though to be fair, the larger arrangement is also in the picture of the office).

I love this part of the bathroom. So much.

I love this part of the bathroom. So much.

Oh the office. My favorite room in the house

Oh the office. My favorite room in the house

I love duochromatic (that’s not really a word) arrangements. Especially when it’s whites and pinks. I just think it’s so soft and feminine and looks very classy. The larger arragement is tall, and uses less greenery than any of the others. It was the first one I did, so I didn’t adhere to my “remove the leaves” rule, mostly because I had forgotten, but I think it still looks pretty good.

The smaller arrangement is just a hydrangea cut down so it sits in the planter/vase and fills the top. It’s a very simple arrangement that is cheap and looks good everytime. Especially when paired with larger arrangements, like the ones above and also in the dining room (That little planter gets around)

The dining room. So lovely and huge.

The dining room. So lovely and huge.

There are amazing florists out there, and many who are exceedingly talented at making flowers look like works of art. But for the average person, you don’t have to be amazingly gifted to make flowers look good. You just need to remember the following rules:

  • Bunches of the same flowers look great. For hydrangeas, peonies, etc (anything really full) they look best bunched together in a uniform fashion. In the case of tulips or any other tall gangly flower, it’s better if they’re messy and not overly full.
  • Vary the height on mixed bouquets. If you have a bunch of different flowers, it won’t look that great uniform. That’s why they often throw in sprigs of eucalyptus or baby’s breath. I like to put the height in the back and/or on the sides, and have it be a bit messy.
  • Don’t go overboard on the color. Mixed bouquets are beautiful, but you don’t need every color of the rainbow for it to look good. Often times sticking with variations of two or three colors (with one of them white) is what looks the best.
  • When in doubt, keep it simple. Often times the least elaborate arrangements are the most pretty.

As far as staging with flowers goes:

  • Flowers on the living room table, a dining room table, a desk or in the bedroom are always winners. I put some in the kitchen too, just to hide a few spots that didn’t look that great.
  • Don’t go overboard. Unless you live in a mansion or appropriately sized house, don’t stick a $500 4’ft tall arrangement in your space. It’s overwhelming.
  • Keep it classy. Having one or two really colorful arrangements is fine (especially for kids rooms), but don’t make it rainbow brite.
  • If they die, throw them away/compost them. Duh. Dead flowers smell and look gross. Plus according to my aunt, dead flowers are bad luck.
  • Use that crystal clear stuff so that your water doesn’t get gross too.

Also, get creative with the vases. We went more traditional this time, but I have been known to throw flowers into a pumpkin (though I would NOT suggest that for staging).

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Baskets, flower pots, etc all work well as vases. And if it’s something you already have on hand then even better! You just saved yourself a bunch of money.

As an aside, when staging you don’t necessarily need flowers. House plants also work and you can take them with you. In our case, we did both, but I’m just a plant person and will be taking them with us when the house sells. So that made sense for us. Whatever choice you go though, having something alive will (pardon the expression) liven up your space and making it feel more hospitable.

What’s your favorite flower? Mine are pink peonies but I do love me some Hydrangeas.

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Big News

Big News people! 32oh7 Designs is now offering affordable + accessible design services, to include both interior design and staging, to people near and far via the interwebs and in person! After much (very appreciated) encouragement from friends and family, I’ve decided to take this step and see where it takes me.

Because design is very important to me, and I think that it truly does improve the quality of someone’s life (when done correctly, of course), I wanted to price at a point that is accessibly to anyone, whether you have $50,000 to blow or you have $500 that you’ve saved for a long time. From a friend’s enthusiastic “you’re priced so reasonably!” I think I achieved that.

So please head over to the Design Services page to check it out. You can also view examples of my work in the Portfolio page which was also added today.

And from the bottom of my heart, thanks so much for everyone’s encouragement and very kind words! It’s meant so much!

P.S. I’ll still be blogging about how to design within a budget and other related things — You know for all of you with that DIY spirit.

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Calling it

I am so tired. Folks, one thing you should never do is basically renovate your entire house in a month. It’s stupid and it sucks. But it is immensely satisfying. After you’ve slept for 1800 hours and recovered. Or when you see the for sale sign up and know that you did the best job you could. Whatever. Frak, I’m tired. Also, this post is more of a rambling of what we did/focused on, with some pictures and I’ll post the pretty room-by-room stuff as the week goes. If I’m not comatose.

When we took back the house from the renters it was a hot mess. It was smelly, the walls were dirty, the floors were dirty. Everything was dirty and they painted things the way wrong color for the house. It’s a row house, and it doesn’t get a ton of light in the living room, so one thing we learned was that dark colors just did not work in there. So of course, they painted it a dark color. Sigh.

We repainted the entire house. Top to bottom. Literally. From the basement floor to the upstairs ceilings, every. single. surface. was repainted. I am permanently stained with paint. I went through three paint sprayers (I’ll eventually review my favorite). We spent the bulk of our budget just in paint. I am now probably pro-level at painting. As I am typing, I’m in a nice business professional dress with paint on my feet, in my hair and on my glasses. I’m sure my coworkers think I’m totally normally.

We spent probably half the time bargain shopping for furniture, because staging was a must. Target and World Market are my new besties. I don’t know how much we spent in furniture but it was a lot, but not a ton. I mean, we were furnishing a nearly 1800 sq ft house almost from scratch. But I think we’d probably still win an award for being super frugal. Like most people’s one room decorating budget would be more than what we spent in the house total. Most of the tags are tapped/tugged into the furniture and will be returned when we sell it. Or we’ll sell it with the house. Whatevs.

We have a lot of rugs too. I need more house to use all these rugs. We bought rugs to hide how stupid the floors are in the house. We refinished the downstairs, but never did the upstairs, and really for what someone is buying the house for, they can replace their own damned floors. (Pro tip: In Baltimore, real estate is stupidly cheap — especially in comparison to where we live now). But in the meantime, we didn’t want it to be like a total “OH NO, I HAVE TO REPLACE THE FLOORS” and more like “oh well the rugs will hide it, we don’t need to do this immediately.”

So, enough rambling, here are some pictures.

First impression from the door when you walk in

First impression from the door when you walk in

The dining room. So lovely and huge.

The dining room. So lovely and huge.

More living room

More living room

Master. <3

Master. ❤

I love this part of the bathroom. So much.
Completely renovated bathroom.

Completely renovated bathroom.

More kitchen. Giant fridge. Original casing that the previous owner had covered up!

More kitchen. Giant fridge. Original casing that the previous owner had covered up!

Kitchen. With toe moulding! We never really completed it while we lived there. We should have.

Kitchen. With toe moulding! We never really completed it while we lived there. We should have.

Oh the office. My favorite room in the house

Oh the office. My favorite room in the house

Back Bedroom.

Back Bedroom. I love how Scandinavian this room looks. And the planets are fun.

Middle Bedroom. Ugh.

Middle Bedroom. Ugh.

We have to make a trip back up to the Baltimore house tonight to wrap things up. And do something more with that middle bedroom because in the worlds of Charles Barkley, It’s Turrible, but it goes up on MLS tonight! YAY!!!!

The end.

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Unnamed Friend’s Office Mood Board

So Laasya is not the only friend that I’ve been yammering on to about designing their space. I have a friend that I have been …encouraging (that’s pretty much an understatement) to decorate her condo. When she bought it is was in full on 1980s mode, and after two years we finally painted the main living spaces. She opted for “Man Cave” by Valspar, which is one of my absolute favorite colors (we used to have it in our dining room). Off of her main living area is this gorgeous sunroom, that could be a multitude of things, but would make a great office/meditation area for her. She’s an avid yoga enthusiastic and very earthy, so I’ve put the below mood board together as a springboard for her space. Here’s hoping she lets me come in and decorate it!

Unamed Friend's Office Mood Board

To play off of how bright that room is, I’ve proposed painting it “Woodsmoke” by Valspar. It’s pretty close to the color in this picture. Kind of an earth grey, that’s still pretty light. It’s this grey:

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It works really well with Man-Cave and is colorful without being all “hey! HEY!” (She’s pretty much the opposite of Laasya in the color-loving department). Since the room is so bright and airy, anything darker would just diminished the beauty of the room.

Because she does work, and needs something a little more functional than her couch to work on, I think this is a great area to put a desk. She has a second bedroom and there’s this great open space that she currently has her dining area set-up in, but none of them scream “make me an office!”. This room does, however. Since we were working on our office in the Baltimore house I’ve had the opportunity to look at a lot of desks lately. Of all of them, I LOVE the campaign desk from Target probably the most. It’s only $110, and has great lines and is just oh so chic. It will go really well in that space, especially paired with that rug. Normally I would say that we’d find a cheaper alternative, but luckily for me, my friend is a bit of a rug fiend and has already bought it. There’s a school of thought that you should always start with the rug first in a room, and while I’m not always on board with that concept (I have designed entire rooms around chairs before), in this case it was definitely the springboard for a lot of my inspiration.

Because she likes to do yoga and meditate, floor cushions are a must, especially on a semi scratchy rug. Since it is supposed to be a tranquil space, and full o’ yoga, a Buddah (while trite) is necessary. I have one in my kitchen. I love them. Even if it is sooooooooooo 1990s yuppie.

Also, she needs plants. Lots and lots and lots and lots of plants. Or at least a few. But the more the merrier. I wonder if I can get her to invest in some hanging planters comme ca:

I never really lost interest in hanging plants, so the fact that they’re back in style is just dandy. Add to the fact that many now have geometric features and white ceramic and/or neon accents? Awesomesauce.

My friend is a bit fastidious with her privacy (hence the post name), so I’m working on her to let me show some photos when it’s done. She reads this blog, so internet people, convince her you’re not creepy! Also, that she wants some cool hanging planters.

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Laasya’s Room – The Plan

As I mentioned in my previous post, we’re aiming for a sophisticated yet playful look with Laasya’s room. Laasya was really partial to the color palette of Emily Henderson’s room, but loved the luxurious (if over the top) feel of Rohde’s room.

From there, I’ve come up with:

Laasya's Room

Laasya has a white metal bed frame from Ikea that she’d like to reuse. I’m thinking we’ll probably spray paint it gold, because everything is better when spray painted gold. The bed goes “little kid” fast, and since we’re pairing it with pinks and yellows, the gold will hopefully prevent it from dropping into the 12-year old territory, and make it look more mature. I think with some white bedding, yellow and pink and gold accents and a big piece of art above the bed, she’ll stay firmly in the “Adult” category.

We’re also in deep conversations about which dresser to use. I love her crazy over the top dresser (below) but she’s partial to the high boy.

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The high boy probably makes the most sense for the space though, and she does like it more. Either way, it will most likely be painted, and probably yellow? Maybe white (though we don’t want to bring the room down to juvenile, so we need to be careful). I’m thinking lucite handles. Because awesome.

Laasya isn’t a huge reader, but we thought a nice nook where she COULD read would be a good idea. I love that blue Strandmon chair from Ikea. It’s one of their discontinued lines from the 60s or 70s that they rereleased, AND it’s in blue velvet which is awesome. At $279 it’s a steal for a chair that size. I fully plan on buying two of these at some point for this weird random room we have in our house, so I’m pretty partial to them. I think paired with a gold or turquoise side table (maybe spray paint the one she already has) would look really nice.

Laasya works with me, and as I can contest, work is sometimes out of control. Despite all efforts to the contrary, sometimes you just have to work from home, “After hours”. Currently, Laasya has no space to do so. She loves florals and over-the-top patterns, and has a wall opposite her bed that is a big blank slate. I’m thinking that pink damask wallpaper from Graham + Brown ($60/roll, which would get pricey if we weren’t doing just the one wall) paired with a parsons desk, or maybe a campaign desk from Target and some sort of fancy pants chair would be the perfect small space solution. I use a Ghost Chair for my desk and love it. There are a few quality knock-offs for about $100, so if Laasya did want to make the investment, she could do so at a reasonable price. Otherwise, we’ll craigslist something.

For the walls, I’m thinking “Shore” by Valspar, which that color in the moodboard is fairly close to. It’s a gorgeous white that has a grey undertone and changes color slightly throughout the day. It’s very soft and looks good paired with a vibrant wallpaper. It’ll keep things fairly neutral, so if she wants she can easily change out colors in her room.

Last but not least, the accents. If there’s room, the $130 bench from target, with the yellow velvet (it’s more yellow in person than this picture suggests) is a great choice that’ll play off of the golds, blues and yellows. Also, I don’t want the room to go to crazy plant town, but having maybe a fiddle fig, maybe some small potted plants (like on the desk) would go a long way to bringing in the natural element that I know Laasya loves. We’ll add some wood elements with the night stands, and call it a day.

As for organization, a closer organizer is a must. As well as some baskets to hide clutter, and perhaps a filing system in the dresser so she can store her miscellaneous paperwork. We’ll also frame out a lot of her photos and do a small gallery wall, possibly above the desk, that way Laasya can get more surface space back on her dresser, and it’ll have the added bonus of giving her something to smile at whenever she’s working (a definite must!). After-all, functionality in that room is very important to her and there’s no point investing in the design if it’s going to be obscured by clutter.

Phew, that was a long post, but it gives an idea of where the room is going. Below is a source list for everything in the mood board, though this is really just a spring board for us, and we likely won’t be using half of it.

Next up: the layout!

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Inspiration for Laasya’s Bedroom

The first time I saw this picture I simultaneously squealed, wished for a Rococo headboard and then wished for a friend that would let me do up their space this way. The colors! The laquer! The style! Ugh, it’s so awesome.

Then I met Laasya and knew it was a design match made in heaven. I mentioned in my last post how bright and sunny her disposition is, and she’s always dressed up in saturated colors. It’s fantastic and I can’t think of any better space for us to draw inspiration from, except for maybe:

Both of course, from Emily Henderson.

And that sophisticated, but playful look is exactly what we’re going for in Laasya’s room. At the risk of sounding like an old person, Laasya is young and should have a space that reflects that, while also capturing how mature and worldly she is. She’s also Indian and is all about the vibrant color that is so often represented in Indian art and textiles. Of course, using bright saturated colors has to be done in such a way that you’re not going to crazy town every time you step through the door, and I have some ideas on how we’re going to accomplish that. In the meantime, another shot from the world’s coolest room ever (ugh that gallery wall!):

Laasya’s Living Quarters – The Prequel!

One of the things I love about design is that it varies so much from person to person. Fads come and go, but people clearly have things that they love and those things are generally wildly or at least mildly different from the next person. That’s why whenever I get asked to help a person with a design, I get so very excited. It’s never the same, it’s never boring and the challenge of designing to their specifications, while keeping your own “touch” is thrilling. Call me weird, but it’s how I get my kicks.

Most recently, a dear friend of mine asked me to help redo her room. She’s renting a room from a girl that owns the condo they both live in, and fortunately her landmate (landlord + roommate = landmate. Perhaps I should have gone with roomlord?) is open to her putting her own spin on her room.

Her room right now is pretty standard. White walls, light carpet, a mishmash of furniture bought after a cross-country move, with little organization and thought to the design. While a lot of people consider design as a way to pretty up a space, it really is an equation that pairs functionality with aesthetics that ultimately will determine if a person is relaxed and happy at home or not. And as my friend is one of the happiest and most enthusiastic people I know, she deserves a welcoming space that fully embraces who she is and her exceedingly sunny disposition. And that is what we’re going to aim for. Bring on the pink and girly, things are going to get wild up in here!

Though we can’t dive into painting and rearranging and styling until the Baltimore House is done (one week!), I thought I would start laying out the ground work of what we’re going to do and maybe even (gasps!) put together a mood board. Make a note: one day I’ll rant about mood boards.

But before I can jump into that, let’s start with the “befores”. These probably aren’t the most flattering, and I was really pushy and wanted them sooner rather than later, so ignore the mess and the bad lighting. However, it’s pretty evident from the photos that she needs organization and stat. As well as less furniture (or different furniture) and of course, color! Also, I lurrrrrrrve those brass swan things.

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Next up: inspiration!

Setting the stage

I haven’t talked a lot about the Baltimore House, but we bought it over two years ago, and it was our first house. It was also a hot mess. It hadn’t been renovated in at least 30 years, and despite it’s gorgeous 1928 bones, it was a travesty of everything awful from the 1960s and 70s.

Over two years, we stripped the house down and rebuilt. We did most of the work ourselves, so it wasn’t a complete overhaul — there is still paneling on some of the walls (which despite all efforts to the contrary, I actually grew to really like), some of the original wiring is still there, etc, but as a brief rundown we:

– Exposed all of the original mouldings and casings
– Completely renovated the kitchen
– Completely renovated the bathroom
– Replaced all of the plumbing
– Had half the electrical replaced
– Removed all carpet throughout the house and restored most of the original floors
– Painted acres of cream/aged with smoke mouldings
– Landscaped
– Installed a privacy fence (in concrete. The third week we were in the house — I’m really proud of this fence and the fact that it’s still standing)
– Painted everything. Probably three or four times.

I’m sure there’s more that I can’t remember. Not a room in the house hasn’t been touched, and it is very much our labor of love.

When we lived there, we went for a more modern design. I love the juxtaposition of modern furnishings with historical homes. I feel like it’s mixing the best of two eras, and each plays off of the other in a way that is really elegant and fresh feeling. Below is just a sampling of what we did in the house, and things changed constantly as my design interests developed, but it gives a good basis of where we were before we moved:

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While we didn’t want to have to completely refurnish the house, or work on it at all again (at least not for a long time), I’m trying to view this selling/staging process as an opportunity to expand my design capabilities and portfolio. While House 1.0 was all about being modern, House 2.0 is all about being sophisticated and luxurious (at bargain basement prices, because let’s be for reals, furnishing a house can be absurdly expensive). We want a potential buyer to walk in and feel not only at home, but as if their status in the world has been elevated. Considering the listing price will be under $150k, getting that feeling out of a very inexpensive home (at least in this area) is pretty rare. We want to set a tableau so that the first, second, and third buyer that walks through the door is in love with it and all of them are racing to put an offer.

Given that, I’ve probably gone above and beyond. I’m OK with that. A lot of the furniture and accessories and art are ours already, and what isn’t will be either sold with the house or on craigslist/to friends and family (and yes, some of it will be returned), so while the initial investment is annoying, it’s not crippling and we’ll recoup everything (and in some cases we’ll even be keeping some the new pieces for our new house!). Plus this was a personal challenge to me: Can I budget decorate a house to the level where I would want to live there and give off that sense of luxury that I was aiming for?

So far, I think I’ve been successful. I’ll be doing a room by room breakdown, as we finish and clean and I can take photos with something other than my iphone, but for now, a smattering of what we’ve done:

photo 1

The master bedroom — clearly not styled or even with a made bed. And the ceiling isn’t painted. Also, this room is huge. There’s a full dresser that you can’t see and a wall of built in bookshelves. Klaus also only comes with the house with a full priced offer. But I love this room so much more now. Why couldn’t I have made it look like this when we lived there? Sometimes age/perspective is sooooo important to a good design.

photo 5

We painted the doors a semi-gloss black. We kept the wallpaper in the hallway, as everyone we know LOVES that wallpaper, and the black with the historical grey is such a good pair. It was dark, and it’s a camera phone, so that’s why it’s reading a bit gothic, but it’s oh so very classy.

photo 4

Plants. Love plants. Plants are cool.

photo 3

This will be the “kids” room. This whole room deserves a huge post to itself because it was such an utter trainwreck. I hope I have the pictures, but it’s come a long, long way. It even now has clean floors!

photo 2

This is the office/sunroom. It has a lot more plants in it and I’m totally going to steal Dana from House*Tweaking’s idea of putting wicker baskets on that big shelving unit for the bottom two rows. Turns out she has one too. I hope she got it for the super crazy massive discount that we got it for (imagine about 90% off). It’s a World Market shelf and really not all that great, but it’s huge and looks good from a distance, and was super, super cheap, so that’s all that matters.

Almost nothing is 100% done, but I’m loving the feel of it so far. Lots of tufting, velvet, crazy florals and classy looking neutrals. World Market and Target have been our go-tos for cheap furniture and boy oh boy have they been over delivering. I am SO impressed and target’s navy blue velvet collection is absurd. Absurdly amazing. I might have to dedicate a whole post just to that bench in the master.

One week to go to list!

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