Wall Art on the Cheap

I'm finally putting the finishing touches on our new house and recently added wall art.  I went for framed family photos, watercolor prints (see this post), as well as various framed photos and paintings that we picked up on past trips.  When it came to a couple of blank walls in the dining room, I decided to keep it simple and very inexpensive by framing prints myself.  

The secret here was that I found the prints in a 2016 wall calendar (now half off!) that was discounted at the beginning of the year.  I chose 3 prints by Rifle Paper Co. that feature cities that I love.  I cropped the images with a paper trimmer and framed them with West Elm white gallery frames.  Since each print cost only a few dollars, I can easily swap them out for others down the road without an ounce of guilt!

Wet Bar Reveal

I thought I would start off the week with a post about one corner of the house that got a major makeover.  See here for my earlier post about our super 80s wet bar.  With a little updating, I'm happy to say that it's looking more like something that belongs in the 21st century.  Without the dated mirror wall, glass shelves, black laminate countertop and ancient icemaker, its a fully functional wine bar.

I went for a clean and modern look with floating painted wood shelving, quartz countertops that match the ones we used for our master bathroom remodel, and matte white penny mosaic tile.  Since we tend to opt for wine more often than mixed drinks, we decided to replace the ice maker with a wine fridge.  I considered doing away with the sink but it is nice to have and the plumbing was conveniently in place.  I added a filter to the new cold water faucet so it now serves as a handy drinking water station.  My only regret is not adding some sort of drawer or other storage for wine related accessories (corkscrews, etc.) but since we needed an open cabinet under the sink, there wasn't much additional room anyway.  Luckily, the wine bar is located in the den a few short steps from the kitchen so any additional items can just be stored there.  Another big change was removal of the small swinging doors that used to enclose the old wet bar.  We found that they were really unnecessary and when open, they would just take up space in the den.  Now the bar feels like a part of the room and I can't wait to use it for future parties, dinners, showers, game days, and wine nights.  

See below for my sources!


Tile: Daltile Retro Rounds in Bold White Matte

Countertop: Michaelangelo

Wine Fridge: Whynter*

Faucet: Newport Brass Chesterfield in Antique Nickel

Cabinet Hardware: Rejuvenation Mission Pyramid Knob in Brushed Nickel

*note: I found out during construction that for a built-in installation like this one, it is essential to find a wine fridge that vents to the front as this one does.  Many fridges have vents in the rear and they can't cool properly or get sufficient ventilation when they back up to walls or cabinets.

Fave 5: Pillow Talk

While I'm a fan of keeping furniture and walls somewhat neutral, I love to add pops of color from fun throw pillows and vivid wall art.  My latest mission is to find pillows for our den and living room that can complement two watercolor prints that I recently found on Minted.  

I was so happy to find art that reminds me of my west coast roots.  The artist, Jennifer Daily, is based in Alameda, California just 5 minutes from where my dad lives.  I chose two abstract landscape expressions.  The first is above the fireplace in the den and it evokes the terrain around Palm Desert.  I love the fluidity of the beautifully muted colors.

Palm Desert from the Terrain Series by Jennifer Daily/Minted

The second is hung over the sofa in the living room and it portrays Marin and it's gorgeous green hills just across the Golden Gate from San Francisco.  

Marin from the Terrain Series by Jennifer Daily/Minted

At first, I couldn't decide which print to place in which room.  I then realized that the south-facing windows in the living room bring in warmer natural light that would enhance and complement the cool colors of the "Marin" print.  The cooler natural light from the north-facing den windows pairs well with the warmer tones of the "Palm Desert" print.  Using colors in this way is a good rule of thumb for decorating in general.  The same principle can be applied to fabrics, paints, rugs and furniture.

All of the options below are from SparkModern, a fab little Etsy shop that specializes in creating custom pillows from designer fabrics.  At most other locations and especially at a brick and mortar shop, a custom pillow crafted from a brand name textile would run $250+ not to mention the fact that a minimum amount of yardage would have to be purchased and ordered separately, often through vendors that sell only to-the-trade.  These beauties are much more reasonably priced and available in a gorgeous array of colors, textures, and patterns.  The mother-daughter team at Spark even runs another Etsy shop, OrangeOliveStudio, where they sell discontinued print pillows.  Not only are these options discounted, they are ready to ship.

The Manuel Canovas pillow in the center is probably my favorite right now for the living room since it would pair nicely with the greens and teals of the "Marin" print.  It could get a little busy with that detailed pattern but the jewel tones are so pretty and I love that it would add a classic touch.  To coordinate with "Palm Desert" in the den, the Peter Dunham Ikat option is the front runner right now and I would love to pair it with the two Kelly Wearstler options at the right, Channels and Bengal Bazaar.

Left to right (all pillows by SparkModern):

Kelly Wearstler Edo Linen in Opal

Peter Dunham Textiles Ikat in Pasha

Manuel Canovas Parfum d'Ete in Bleu Canard

Kelly Wearstler Channels in Plum Oatmeal

Kelly Wearstler Bengal Bazaar in Magenta

Here are a few tips for choosing throw pillows:

1.  Size matters.  For standard size sofas, 18" square pillows work well scale-wise.  For a low-back midcentury sofa or chair, smaller 16" square pillows or oblong lumbar pillows would be best.  Larger pillows that are 20-24 inches square can be used as well if you are looking for a more casual feel in a family or media room.  Just remember that pillows should be comfortable while providing enough room to sit.  If they take up too much of the seating area and need to be moved constantly, they just become a pain.

2.  Many pillows like the ones above are sold as the cover only with a discreet zip closure.  The insert is typically sold separately.  Look for inserts that are two inches wider in each dimension than the pillow to give it that full, cushy look.  For example, if you are buying a 20"x20" pillow cover, opt for a 22"x22" insert.

3.  While pillow inserts filled with 50% down and 50% feathers are plush, lightweight and luxurious, they often look crumpled and require a lot of fluffing.  The best option is to go for an insert that is 90% feathers and 10% down.  If you like to karate chop your pillows for that magazine spread look, this is the way to go since the pillow will hold its shape well.  For a more economical option, foam and synthetic fill inserts are available.  They have less of that lush squish but they hold their shape very well.

4.  A nice way to add variation to your room is through the use of texture.  For a velvet or mohair covered side chair, a smooth silk pillow would add nice textural contrast.  A leather sofa could use the soft warmth of woven wool pillows.

5.  Mix it up.  By using a mix of different patterns, textures, and sizes, you can create real visual interest around the room.  Bring them all together as a composition with a common thread throughout by using the same color palette or style for all pillows.

Master Bath Reveal

I'm so excited to share some photos of the new master bath!  It is the room that got the biggest facelift during the remodel and it really looks completely different.  While we kept all the plumbing in place, we updated all of the finishes from top to bottom.  See here for my first look at the master bath and check out the bottom of this post for all of my sources.

I love a nice hot bath.  It's the perfect way to relax before bed with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.  Once our remodel was finally complete and we made it through the big move, the first thing on my agenda was a date with my new tub.  Although I felt ridiculous climbing in and out of several showroom tubs, it was worth it to find one that was the right shape and size.  I'm really happy with the one I found online after doing some shopping around.  It's so funny to look at the "before" photo now.  That hot tub time machine really could have fit 4 people!


tile: daltile | paint: benjamin moore | tub: signature hardware | faucets: moen | mirrors, sconces, hardware: restoration hardware | countertop: michaelangelo quartz | runner, soap dispensers: target | magnifying mirror: simple human | vanity stool: restoration hardware

Decorating the new house has been a gradual process.  Luckily, I have an enthusiastic design assistant who is happy to help me sort through roller shade samples.  p.s. the indoor/outdoor rug shown below has been amazing so far!

House Rules: If These Walls Could Talk...

The walls of your home are like a blank canvas full of possibility.  There are so many options to consider when thinking about the surfaces that contain each room.  Which paint color is best?  Would framed photos or art look better in the space?  What about wallpaper?  During our remodel, I've found that by following a few basic guidelines,  I'm able to at least cut down on a few of the decisions.  See below for a few house rules to live by when thinking about wall art, lighting, and paint.

photo: elle decor

Rule #1: Hang wall art at 57" on center.  

By hanging art so that the center is 57" off the ground, the piece will be right at average eye height, a trick used by museums and galleries.  Hint:  This is lower than you might think!  Most artwork is hung too high.

Rule #2: Hang wall sconces between 60 and 72 inches above floor level.  The best height for bathroom sconces is 66 inches.  

Remember to take into consideration what you want to highlight with your wall fixture.  For example, accent lighting in a hallway can be at a higher level than bathroom sconces that need to enhance your reflection in the vanity mirror.  If you are a little shorter or a little taller, adjust the height of your bathroom lights accordingly.

Rule #3: High gloss or semi-gloss paint is best for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and trim.  Eggshell or satin paint is best for high traffic areas, hallways, and kids' rooms.  Flat paint is best for ceilings, bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms.

When it comes to paint sheens, the higher the gloss, the more durable the paint.  Higher gloss walls are also much easier to wipe clean.  For low traffic areas, flat paint is a high coverage, money-saving option that hides imperfections. 

Project Update: Wet Bar

We are very close to completing the remodel!  With only a couple weeks left, things are really starting to come together.  One element that is basically complete is the den wet bar.  When we bought the house, the original 80's style bar closet was in need of a serious refresh.  

The hubs capturing the wet bar during our first visit to the house

While I'm sure the (broken) ice maker got plenty of use at one time, we figured that a wine cooler in the same space would be a better fit and a nice update.  I first considered removing the sink completely, but with the plumbing already in place, I decided it will be great to have. With a filtering faucet, we can use the sink for drinking water and even add a coffeemaker on the counter and we have a wine and coffee bar!  The black counters, mirrored backsplash and glass shelves gave the whole bar a dated look and the wine storage rack felt heavy overhead.  While double doors gave us the option to close off the closet, they really weren't necessary and when open, they crowded the floor space in the den.  We removed the doors and created a cased opening, helping to make the bar a part of the room.  

See below for my wine/coffee bar inspiration and a few of the elements I chose.  We are using the same durable quartz counters in our master bathroom, and the penny round mosaic backsplash matches the subway tile we added above our kitchen counters.  Stay tuned for photos of the completed bar, coming soon!

photos: coffee bar & wine bar

materials: tilequartzfaucet

Project Update: Master Bath Redo

Our remodel is underway and I am so excited to see how everything turns out.  We have dubbed the project "Byebye 1986" since the priority is to update all of the super 80s details starting with the master bathroom.  Luckily, brass is back but there was just a little too much of the polished stuff in this room.  Plus, that red tile floor has got to go.

The layout of the bathroom works well.  I just need to change pretty much ALL of the finishes...

One of the first big challenges is remodeling the tub and shower.  When we bought the house, the whole bathroom was filled with cultured (faux) marble.  Our plan is to replace the tub and shower surrounds with porcelain or stone tile.  The huge built-in whirlpool tub probably could have fit four people.  To give the bathroom a fresh and updated look, I decided to add a much smaller freestanding tub.  Once we install a frameless enclosure around the shower in place of this brassy one, the whole bathroom will have a new feel.

Cultured marble and lots of polished brass

Let the demo begin!

Let the demo begin!

Since the freestanding tub will be the focal point of the bathroom, I decided to go try out a few in the showroom.  There are so many beautifully sculptural tubs to choose from and they can be found in acrylic, resin, cast iron, or stone.  I'm so glad I climbed into several of them because there is a huge range in comfort.  Some of the tubs that I liked the most when searching online were actually much too long for my frame when I tried them in person.  I decided to go with acrylic as opposed to the much heftier (and heavier) cast iron and stone options.

I fell in love with this resin and acrylic Toulouse tub when I saw it online since I'm definitely drawn toward the slipper style.  In person, it was way too long for me and therefore not too comfy.

The Amiata tub has a graceful curved shape but it is still too long.

Of course, the tub I loved the most was also the most expensive.  It is definitely modern but the oval shape and slight slipper style would work well in our traditional house.  

This beauty is simple, modern, comfortable and of course outside the budget.

After doing a little research, I found this great alternative.  It is very similar in size to my favorite but it is slightly smaller.  We only have about 5'-6" of clear floor space for the tub so this one is perfect!  

Next up...choosing tile!  Details to come...

Checking out our original 1986 floor plans while looking at tile options.

Jewel Box Powder Rooms

I couldn't be more excited to start work on my latest design project...our new house!  After months of searching, we finally found the one.  We love the floor plan and location but some rooms have been lovingly maintained with 80's details fully intact (think polished brass and lots of it).  One of the spaces that I want to tackle is the half bath.  Right off the main entry hallway, it is tucked under the stairs and in need of some serious TLC.  I can't wait to transform it with some new fixtures and a vivid wallpaper.  Powder rooms and guest baths are the perfect place to make a bold statement with fun décor that you might shy away from in a larger space.  Since the square footage is typically pretty limited, there is also an opportunity to splurge a little on a special floor tile or wallcovering since you don't need much of it to fill the room.   Stay tuned for some before and after photos!  Here is a glimpse at my powder room inspiration.

Design by Frank Ponterio - Traditional Home

This gorgeous mural style wallpaper by de Gournay transports you straight to a storybook forest. I was so distracted by these pretty walls when I found this photo that I almost missed the beautiful custom tile pattern on the floor. 

Design by Amber Lewis - Cupcakes and Cashmere

This lovely little guest bath belongs to one of my favorite bloggers, Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere.  The amazing floral wallpaper by artist Ellie Cashman is inspired by classic Dutch still life paintings.  In a smaller print, it might look overly traditional or even dated but this large scale pattern, accented by light and deep shadow, is both modern and vintage.

Design by Todd Klein - House Beautiful

Ok so I guess I'm really into this wallpaper idea.  I love the dynamic pattern of this unique red version.  It reminds me of Florentine marbled paper and has a beautiful textural quality.  Now these are some brass details that I can get on board with.

Design by Tobi Fairley

The deep, moody blue of these lacquered walls give the room a serene vibe.  The contrast between the dark walls, the marble topped vanity and the stone floors adds a little drama while the roman shade and the classic sconces are a nice finishing touch.

Design by Beckwith Interiors

You know how those backlit dressing room mirrors always make you look extra fabulous?  I have a feeling this modern powder room version would have the same effect.  Now that is some amazing Missoni-esque tile work...

Fave 5: Springtime Paints and Polishes

What is it about this season that makes us want to try something new?  Maybe it's the fact that the sleepy cold months are long gone and the excitement of summer is just around the corner.  It is the perfect time of year to clean up and start fresh.  Today's Fave 5 features paint colors and coordinating nail polishes that will put a spring in your step.  Why not try a fun new hue on your bedroom walls?  If a big change isn't what you are looking for, you can always start small with your fingertips.  The bold magenta, petal pink, and lush seafoam green recall pretty blooms while the cloudy white and deep cobalt bring to mind a bright spring sky.  

1. Portland Gray by Benjamin Moore and Playa del Platinum by Essie

2. Old Claret by Benjamin Moore and Just Lanai-ing Around by OPI

3. Washington Blue by Benjamin Moore and 555 Blue Boy by Chanel

4. Cherry Malt by Benjamin Moore and Do You Take Lei Away?  by OPI 

5. Wedgewood Gray by Benjamin Moore and Le Vernis #26 Croisiere Sensation by Givenchy

Nautical Nursery

What better way to kick off my blog than with a post that combines two of the things I love most: my baby boy and interior design!  I was so eager to start designing our little guy's nursery last year that I drew a floor plan of the space when I was only a few weeks pregnant.  My poor husband even agreed to vacate his office so that we could turn it into baby's room and assemble the crib 5 months before our due date.  I can blame it on my love of interior design but I think I was just plain excited.

I knew I wanted to have a theme to the room without anything being too literal.  I decided to go with some nautical touches and kept the color palette to primarily white and navy with a few other small pops of color.  As far as major furniture pieces go, we have been very happy with the Hudson crib.  I chose it for the simple design and clean lines.  It coordinates well with our Land of Nod Changing Table (not shown) and the Crate and Barrel ladder bookshelf.  It also includes a toddler bed conversion kit so really it's two beds in one. 

I originally hung white canvas curtains in the room because I thought that they evoked sails and went perfectly with my theme.  They looked really nice during the last couple months of my pregnancy.  Then once baby arrived, nap time and the ever-important "sleep environment" took precedent.  The canvas curtains are currently folded in the linen closet.  This may seem obvious to some, but you are going to need blackout curtains for those mid-day naps.  I'm not sure why I didn't consider this to begin with. The windows in our nursery are also south-facing so blackouts were necessary for heat blocking as well.  I ended up with these from Pottery Barn Kids.  They add a fun punch of pattern to the room and really pull it together!

We have a comfy Dutailier glider but our little nursery was too small to fit any other full size seating.  We now have a couple of poufs in the room including the one below.  These are great as ottomans and extra seating for kids and adults alike.  When you are spending a lot of time nursing, its nice to have extra seating for family and friends.

1. Lucy Darling watercolor print.  This brand has adorable prints and products for sale on their own website, Etsy, and Amazon.  We also have their age stickers that we use for monthly photos.

2. Lucy Darling art print.  This hangs right above the crib.

3. Jayson Home rope knot door stop.  Reminiscent of a sailor's knot (also known as a monkey's fist), similar door stops can be found at a variety of price points.

4. Nate Berkus metallic pouf.  Great Target find!  A comfy place for dad to sit while mom is nursing.

5. Round hanging mirror (similar shown here with rope detailing).  I like that this mirror recalls a ship's porthole.  Similar to the knot door stop, different options can be found from a variety of retailers at a range of different prices.

6. Moby Dick print.  Minted is a great resource for art prints and this one fit the theme perfectly.  It hangs with a few other framed prints in a gallery wall layout over the changing table.

7.  Duralee Roped Fabric.  I found this fun fabric at Calico Corners and used it to create a custom pillow along with a tea towel that I found at Paper Source (see #10 below).  A pop of red canvas piping pulled it all together.  It was my nursery splurge but I love how it turned out!

Landon, 2 weeks old, with his custom pillow (while it was still clean and spit-up free).

Landon, 2 weeks old, with his custom pillow (while it was still clean and spit-up free).

8. Crate and Barrel Sawyer Leaning Bookcase.  This elegant piece fits nicely in the corner of the room adjacent to the crib.  It is so convenient to have a place to keep decorative heirlooms, photo frames, gifts, and books without taking up too much floor space.  Since it is open on the sides, it is a great spot for our video monitor camera (we went with a Dropcam) as well as the white noise machine.

9. Crosley Antique Bronze Clock.  I like the vintage look of this little table clock and it coordinates well with the window hardware that we found on sale at Restoration Hardware (similar shown here).  I quickly realized after the first couple of weeks at home that having a clock in the nursery is essential for timing feeding sessions. 

10. Whale Tea Towel.  I love the 'Into The Mystic' quote by Van Morrison on this sweet little towel.  Since I walked down the aisle to 'Crazy Love' this was the perfect addition to our nursery.  I had it combined with the Duralee fabric above (see #7) to create a one-of-a-kind decorative pillow.

11. Water Hyacinth Storage Bins.  I was torn between going with a dresser with changing table top versus a traditional changing table with open shelving below.  I went with the latter and added six of these storage bins.  They are durable and add a natural touch.  Larger bins on the lower shelf hold sleep sacks, swaddles, burp cloths and bibs while smaller bins on the upper shelf hold socks, diapers, hats, and accessories.

12.  Babyletto Hudson Crib.  I found our crib at Serena & Lily but this design is available from several retailers.  I like the modern look of it and it also converts to a toddler bed which is always a plus when searching for the best baby bed.  I also highly recommend our lightweight and organic cotton crib mattress.  It fits snugly within the crib and is so lightweight that changing crib sheets is a breeze.

What are some of your favorite nursery items?