Friday, November 14, 2014

Blog Gossip and a New Mirror. But Mostly Blog Gossip.

Let's play Find the New Thing! Can you find the new thing?
(No, it's not the dog. We are not getting a new dog anytime soon, unfortunately.)

I wasn't going to write this post, because I figured it's boring to see pictures of the same bedroom over and over and over, with just one small change in each post. So why did I change my mind? Because there's discontent in Blogland. Have you heard everyone talking? Here's what they say:

a) Sponsorship is killing design blogs. Everything looks the same, because all the bloggers get the same crap for free. It's kinda true.
b) People are sick of design blogs that just show perfect before and afters, without explaining the design process and the time it took to achieve the results. Yeah, that's not so helpful.
c) Stop the sponsored posts for Kiwicrate and fancy water filter pitchers, already!!! Seriously, stop.

I've been sitting on the sidelines, silently agreeing that sponsorship is boring and the step-by-step process of putting a room together is interesting. But mostly, I'm thanking my lucky stars that I'm not a Big Famous Blogger whose blog is scrutinized because it Says Something about The State of Blogging. I'm just quietly decorating a house, y'all. No important social commentary to see here! Gradually, it dawned on me that:

a) I'm not a big sponsored blogger, and maybe what I'm doing will interest someone because they haven't already seen it.
b) I enjoy seeing the gradual process of building a room. Even the mistakes and missteps interest me, because I can learn from them. My favorite bloggers blog every. single. item. they add to a room. I like seeing how the rooms change with each addition. And I'm not the most unique snowflake ever, so maybe you like that, too.
c) It could be worse. At least I'm not pretending to write a post about party planning when I'm really pushing a fancy water filter pitcher at you!

That's why I'm telling you about the new Safavieh sunburst mirror over our bed. We needed something BIG on this wall, and I wanted it to have a modern look. The furniture is very traditional, and I didn't want the art to push the room into Grandma territory. A sunburst mirror is traditional enough to work with the furniture, but this one is more modern. It reminds me of  Curtis Jere's Mid Century Modern sea urchin wall sculptures.

Curtis Jere sea urchin sculptures. For sale at AntiqueLane on etsy.
They're gorgeous, right? Sadly, they're not in my price range. A LOT of big mirrors and wall art aren't in my price range. Big = expensive. So when I found this 40'' wide Safavieh mirror for $83, I was excited. FYI, I always have good luck with Safavieh. The quality is high, the price point is reasonable, and I like their Transitional look. Their stuff says, "Grown-ups live here. But not boring grown-ups."

So I ordered with confidence. When the mirror arrived, I was a little surprised because it was more copper colored than I expected. But I like the way the warm copper color plays off the bright green curtains, so it's all good. When we walk in the room now, it looks welcoming and finished. The rest of the room needs work, but the first impression is good.

If you're really observant, you'll notice that I temporarily moved the marble lamps from our living room into the bedroom, just to see how they would look. Meh. Those big, boxy black shades block the windows more than I'd like, and the heavily veined marble looks too busy here. That rug is busy enough for the entire room! So the lamps have already been moved back in the living room. But hey, I learned something: Smaller lampshades on simple lamps look best in here.

The old lamps are back. And the room looks so different at night, without natural light.
Do you have any big design projects planned for this weekend? We're weatherstipping windows and insulating the attic. Yawn. I hope your project is more exciting than ours!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Nightstands: A Rant with a Happy Ending.

Nightstands are a ripoff.

I just spent more than a year looking for a matching pair of used nightstands that a) each had at least one drawer, b) were wide enough to comfortably hold more than a lamp, c) were made of actual wood and weren't totally falling apart, and d) Cost less than $200 for both nightstands.

They didn't have to be perfect. I was willing to strip, stain, paint, add new hardware, and otherwise DIY the right pair of nightstands. And it still took over a year to find something! Why? Because even the crappiest nightstands are crazily overpriced. $275 for two badly damaged 1980s behemoths? $250 for some nightstands so narrow that my cat could barely stand on one of them? $300 for used furniture made out of MDF? NO THANK YOU.

I love furniture, and I understand why it's often expensive. Upholstered furniture is painstakingly made, and good upholstery fabric is expensive. Good chairs and sofas are carefully designed to take comfort into account. A lot of wood is required to construct big dining tables and large bookshelves or wall units. But nightstands don't require upholstery fabric or large amounts of wood, and ergonomics aren't an issue. There's just no sense in the prices. RAGE RAGE.

Thanks for letting me vent, because now I have something nice to say: I finally found the perfect pair of nightstands at my favorite furniture consignment shop, Remix Furniture. Hooray!

It looks a bit darker here than it does in real life. The close-up picture below shows the true color more accurately.
I love the generous width and the big open space for storing the books on my soon-to-read list. These beauties about 60 years old, well built, and very  heavy. They were just $55 each, and they come with a marvelous pedigree: They were made by Baker Furniture (ooh la la!) and originally sold at the chichi (and now defunct) B. Altman & Co. Department Store on Fifth Avenue.

I am totally okay with my furniture coming from this place. Source
The finish is in pretty good shape, too. The bit of wear on the edge, seen here, is the worst damage I can find on either nightstand. There are a couple spots like this, and I can live with that. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the fruitwood stain. That color has never been my favorite, but I especially don't like the way it looks next to our darker bed.

This is an accurate representation of the color.
I'd like to paint them both the same color as our walls, like in the picture below.* I like the way the nightstand blends into the walls and lets the bed, rug, and chandelier take center stage. And oh hey, a sleigh bed floral rug, and black chandelier! That looks familiar!

There's just one problem: I like to reserve paint for furniture that's in really bad shape, because painting furniture reduces its value, and blah blah blah. Normally I'd say, "But this isn't a valuable antique!" and grab a paintbrush. But the prices I'm seeing for vintage Baker end tables and nightstands on 1stDibs, in similar condition to my own, make me think otherwise. $3,250? $4,500? *gulp*

What would you do?

* By the way, the house in that photo is in England. And it's for sale. And you should go read the listing and drool at every lovely room in this house. "Located in the sought after private road in the village of Mickleham, at the foot of Box Hill." I don't know what any of that means, but I love the sound of it. It's normal for a Nashville woman to peruse real estate listing in England, right? Right.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Goodbye, Granny Chic.

Designers say the most difficult home to design is their own, and I believe it. When friends ask me for decorating advice, it's easy to see what their rooms need. "Sorry, hon, but that sofa is too large for your living room, and the orangey oak trim fights with the modern look you want. Try an apartment-sized sofa, and paint the trim white." It seems easy! But the easiest, most obvious fixes don't occur to me in my own space.

Goodbye, matelasse. Hello, contemporary duvet!
Case in point: Our bedroom. It was beginning to look like a little old lady's room, but I couldn't imagine how to change it. I had no idea what was wrong, because I couldn't look at the room with objective detachment. That is, not until we went out of town. The day after we got home, I walked into our room and knew that the cream-colored matelasse bedspread was to blame. The matelasse bedspread is beautiful, but this room needs clean, modern white and some graphic interest. Cream was making it look too old-fashioned.

This is what the room looked like before.
So the matelasse went into the guest room, where it looks much better. And I took the bright white hotel-style duvet out of the guest room and put it on our bed. The white bedspread, with its bold square border, makes everything in here look a bit more modern. As a finishing touch, a hand-embroidered Swedish throw came out of storage to grace the foot of the bed.  And I'm so glad I didn't have to buy anything new.

Of course, this set off a domino effect of changes and ideas. Eagle-eyed readers will notice another major change in these before and after pictures. But I'll tell you more about that later! For now, have fun ogling the results of the One Room Challenge.