Thursday, July 24, 2014

Come In and Put Your Feet Up

We've barely gotten anything done this week, and I don't feel the slightest bit bad about it. We haven't installed my closet shelves. We haven't hung the mirror in the bathroom or installed the sconces. I haven't chosen fabric for the curtains in our bedroom. Instead of tackling projects every night, we're spending time together and having friends over for home cooked dinners. I wouldn't have it any other way.

But we did see a bit of progress in the living room: The ottoman coffee table we ordered directly from an Uttermost dealer in April is finally here. If you found this blog post because you're thinking about buying it, I highly recommend it. It's even nicer in person! I thought it would be white, but it's pale beige with a heavy linen-like texture. I'm glad it's darker than expected, because I won't worry about getting it dirty. The attached tray slides back and forth smoothly, the button tufting doesn't feel loose, and the metal tipped feet give it polish. The instructions gave me a laugh, though. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

In the interest of full disclosure, we did NOT pay the retail price for it. We definitely couldn't have afforded that! We ordered it through an Uttermost dealer who did us a kindness and charged us the wholesale price, plus tax and shipping. When all was said and done, we paid about half the full retail price. It was still a splurge for us, but Keith really wanted it. He was so funny: "An ottoman? You can use an ottoman as a coffee table? THAT IS SO COOL!" *grin*

In progress. Unstyled. Messy. Dog beds and air purifiers. Keepin' it real, y'all.
At this point, the living room is almost finished. But the view from the sofa isn't exactly picturesque: We need more bookshelves and a pair of matching chairs. We want to have very tall bookcases built to cover the wall facing the sofa. It's the first wall you see when you walk into our front door, and seeing our books as soon as we come home will feel good. And we need the storage space! Half our books are still packed, if you can believe that. Right  now, I'm trying to decide whether I should turn the spines inward. Is the visual cacophony of colors annoying?

As far as the chairs go, I'm not going to run out and buy the first thing I see. I know that if I keep my eyes open at thrift stores, I'll find something perfect. Eventually. When I least expect it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ipsy July 2014: Here Comes the Sun

For those of you just tuning in, Ipsy is a beauty subscription service. For $10 a month, Ipsy sends 4 - 5 surprise beauty products to your door in a cute cosmetics bag. They even mail it all in a sparkly pink envelope! Seeing that envelope in my mailbox always makes me jump up and down like a little kid. If you like trying new things, Ipsy is for you.

How was your weekend? I was happy to take a break from painting to try my new stuff from Ipsy. Did you get a good bag this month? Mine was kind of a bummer at first glance, because I didn't get any full size products. And I was NOT thrilled to receive cheap tanning oil. The last time I laid out was, um, never! But I liked getting a Bare Minerals product and a rich, inky blue nail polish. I feel like Ipsy's choices for me haven't been on target lately. Ipsy Match, the system Ipsy uses to match products to each subscriber's preferences, seems confused. I wonder if they changed their algorithm? Anyway, here's the value breakdown for this bag:

Total Value: $47.22
Ipsy Price: $10.00

But I know what you're thinking: Is this stuff any good?

The Bare Minerals BB Cream Eyeshadow is supposed to be a primer and eyeshadow in one, with some woo-hoo fancy skin care properties. The color I received is too dark for me to use as an all-over primer, but it's a good neutral brown for everyday use on the lid and/or in the crease. I don't usually like cream eyeshadows, because I often make mistakes when smearing them on. And this formula is more matte than the eye colors I usually wear. But I'm very impressed by its staying power. This is a waterproof formula that holds up to rain and still looks good 10+ hours after application, even in gross Tennessee humidity. I give it an A+ for summer wear.

I'm not impressed by Pixi Beauty's lip balm, because it's really just a weakly tinted mood lipstick. Yeah, this is one of those "Magically changes to a unique color! Just for YOU!" products. It goes on clear, and it's supposed to change color based on your skin's pH. On me, it becomes a weak bubblegum color that I'd call "Adolescent Pink." On the plus side, it has a super smooth texture. But when I want a tinted balm, I generally want a more saturated (and sophisticated) color than I get from this.

The wHet nail polish is a huge hit with me. I love it. The color is a super-saturated lapis lazuli blue that gets richer and darker with each coat. The formula is thin and very easy to control during application. I found that three was the magic number; three coats gave me an opaque, rich blue that I loved. With a topcoat, it didn't chip for two days. I like to do projects that are hard on my nails, so a manicure that lasts two days is very good for me.

The BeFine moisturizer with SPF is nearly full size and worth more than $20. In fact, nearly half the bag's value comes from this one product. The moisturizer itself is not interesting. It's not too thin or too creamy. It doesn't have the odd smell or separation issues you often find with products that don't contain preservatives (nice). It smells like sunscreen... because it contains sunscreen. Yawn. Here's the part that is interesting: The brand is vegan and not tested on animals. They use no preservatives, fragrances, or parabens. They do use food ingredients in their products. I haven't seen any scientific studies proving that the topical application of pomegranates or almonds makes you look better. But as long as it doesn't hurt, I don't mind.

The Hang Ten tanning oil is probably going to sit in a drawer until 2017, and then it will get thrown away in the middle of a cleaning frenzy. I've told Ipsy that I don't use tanning products, ever, but the Ipsy Match system seems off lately. Have you noticed the same issue? There were other things in this month's bag that sounded fantastic to me: The Benefit mascara, Elizabeth Mott cheek and lip tint, and Big Sexy Hair Get Layered flash dry spray would've been welcome in my bag. Did you get them? Want to trade? *bats eyelashes* Please?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Spanish Revival, and a New Plan for the Dining Room

Maybe I've been watching too much Game of Thrones. Maybe I'm just bored with the stark simplicity of Mid-Century Modern furniture. But right now, I'm so drawn to the Spanish Revival look. It's a little rustic, a little Medieval, and just so interesting. I wouldn't want to have an entire room done in this style, but I'd love to use just one or two Spanish Revival pieces. They would add something unexpected and special.

Spanish Revival Chairs at 1st Dibs
1920s Spanish Revival Sideboard from 1st Dibs
My aunt Judy gave me an old Spanish Revival cabinet about seven years ago, and I used it in the living room at our old condo (You can see it here). Now it's in our dining room. I like it there so much that it's inspiring me to go with a more rustic, masculine look than my original (colorful and girly) plan for the dining room. As we spend more time in our house, I'm realizing that the original plan wouldn't work so well, anyway. The neutral living room opens into the dining room, so the dining room should be more neutral, too. Preserving the neutral scheme will make the rooms flow together much better.

When we moved into the house, my mother gave us a long, rectangular dining table that she no longer wanted. It has a dark wood finish, tapered legs, and a wonderful geometric motif carved into the table top. Keith and I both like it, so I'm planning the room around the table, cabinet, and rug (You can see them all together here). I'm imagining the room finished off with a round wrought iron chandelier*, bench seating on the long sides of our dining table, and chairs with chunky nailhead trim. You know... pieces that wouldn't be entirely out of place on the set of Game of Thrones. What do you think? Too simple? Too masculine? Or just right?
Rustic Masculine Gothic Dining Room

* At first I wanted to put the crystal chandelier from our old place over the table, but now I realize the chandelier would look much better in the guest bedroom.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Craigslist Fail. Or, On Being an Indiscriminate People-Pleaser.

I've been using Craigslist to buy and sell furniture for nearly ten years now, and I feel pretty Craigslist savvy. But last night, we experienced the biggest Craigslist disappointment I've ever had. Have you ever felt the need to apologize for something that wasn't really your fault? It's a weird thing. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Someday I'll find you, my pretty!
First, we borrowed a van and drove nearly an hour to Lebanon to purchase a blurrily-photographed bed that the seller said was in good condition. So far, so good. We drove up to their house and saw the disassembled bed on the front porch, shining like a beacon of Craigslist goodness. But my heart began to sink as I walked toward it. Even from 10 feet away, it was obvious that it was in rough shape. There were deep gouges and scratches all over the footboard. And when the seller began to explain that we'd need to drill new holes in the supports and buy new hardware to "make it work," I was  NOT having it. We have enough projects going on right now!

I hemmed and hawed and chewed  my lip. I ran my fingers over the damage, trying to assess how I could make it look like something other than a scratched mess. I know about stain markers. But dark cherry is very difficult to match. I didn't want to amass a stain marker collection to rival my box of Crayolas. And the messed up supports made warning bells go off in my head. That had not been mentioned in the listing. I wondered if they disassembled the bed before we arrived because it sat unevenly. I knew that if we bought the bed, I would regret it. So I sucked my cheeks in and tried to think of a polite way to tell the seller that I didn't want to buy their bed.

And then her husband snapped, "It's not for sale. Get outta here.

He sounded mad, but I was so relieved. We hightailed it out of there, and Keith was like, "Outlet mall. Outlet mall? Outlet mall!" Somehow, I managed to marry a man who likes shopping even more than I do. So we went to the Lebanon outlet mall, and Keith replaced his broken sunglasses. It was no longer a wasted trip.

But I felt guilty and upset that I hadn't bought the bed. I kept randomly trying to explain myself. Out of nowhere, I was saying things to Keith like, "I just didn't want to have another project, ya know?" and "If I had known it was so damaged, I wouldn't have come out here and wasted their time," and "Do you think he was really mad? Or just trying to use reverse psychology?" I was so upset by the whole exchange. Objectively, I understand that I shouldn't apologize for not buying something that had been misrepresented. But I want everyone to be happy. I feel guilty when I say, "No." It's an interesting thing to realize that I am such a people pleaser. I suppose I learned something about myself last night.

But enough about that. I want to hear some good Craigslist stories. Have you found anything amazing on Craigslist recently? I'll go first: I recently discovered Curating Craigslist, a blog that features the best furniture and home decor items from Nashville's Craigslist. This woman has an amazing eye. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Making Over My Closet... Literally.

As seen at 47 Park Avenue
Forget fabulous light fixtures and antique marble top cabinets. I just want a closet that doesn't smell like cigarette smoke! Is that too much to ask? Until last week, my closet still had the previous owner's dirty old carpet and terrible pink paint. Even after I washed the walls, it still reeked of her cigarettes. I didn't even want to hang my clothes up in there! 

And that was fine, because the weird shelf layout prevented me from using half the closet, anyway. I think the previous owner used that closet to store stuff, not clothing, because so many of the shelves and rods were hung at heights that didn't work for hanging clothes. CLOSET FAIL. 

So I spent most of last week removing the shelves and rods, priming, painting the walls a soft taupe left over from painting the bedroom, carefully ripping out the carpet so I didn't damage the nailboard, and spray painting the shelves and rods gold. When we had white shag carpet laid in the den, we had a huge piece left over that will be more than enough to carpet the closet. We bought a $39 knee kicker on Amazon, and we're going to try our hand at laying carpet tomorrow night. Wish us luck! My clothes have been flung across the guest bed for a week, and I really want my closet  back.

Other upcoming projects, which I am listing here to hold myself accountable and actually get them done:
  • Picking up the cherry sleigh bed I found on Craigslist
  • Hanging a new mirror in the guest bathroom
  • Priming and painting the water closet in the master bathroom so it's NOT NUCLEAR WOMB PINK
  • Removing the ugly light fixture in the guest bathroom and installing sconces on either side of the mirror
Before I start re-hanging my closet shelves and rods, do you have any tips for maximizing space and functionality and your closet? I'm all ears. I'm not so much of a clothes/closet girl, so I'm not well-versed in closet design.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rug Report: Orian Wild Weave Modern Tile Carpet

This week, it's Rug Week at Librarian Tells All! I recently bought a few new area rugs online, and I found it so difficult to choose without seeing the rugs in person. So I'm writing about each new rug, and providing the information I wish had been available when I was making my choices. Are you rug shopping, too? Keep reading!

Cool neutral colors. That's what came to mind when I imagined the perfect rug for our living room. I wanted to use interesting textures, not bright colors, to set a calm and relaxing tone. But I wanted cool grays and taupes, not yellowy beiges and browns. You'd be amazed by how hard it is to find a neutral rug that doesn't have any brown!

So when I saw the Modern Tile rug by Orian at Brentwood Interiors, I knew I'd found the perfect one. This rug is part of their Wild Weave collection. "Wild Weave" is shorthand for "Plush shag rugs that you can squish your toes into." These are thick, deeply plush rugs. Before I bought it, I checked the prices online. I was shocked that the Brentwood Interiors price was so much better: They charged about half of what I would've paid online. Whoa! Lesson learned: Check local shops before buying online.

Of all my recent rug purchases, this is actually the first one I bought. And it's the only one I saw in person before buying. But I'm not sure I would've bought it if I hadn't seen it in person. Why? Because it's made of "heat-set polypropylene fibers." That sounds bad, right? It makes me think of plastic soda bottles and the cheap iron-on patches I put on t-shirts when I was a kid. The ones that curled at the edges as soon as I ironed them on, and then fell off a few weeks later. But what does it actually mean? As it turns out, heat setting is a process that keeps the ends of the fibers from unraveling and turning into a sloppy mess. It works like this: 

1. Twist fiber
2. Apply heat
3. Fiber stays twisted forever.
4. Rug won't flatten as easily. It also doesn't pick up as much dirt or pet hair. I can get behind that. 

Bonus: This rug makes dogs happy. It's their favorite rug in the house.
This tidbit of information led me down a research rabbit hole. Suddenly I wanted to know everything about rugs before making more purchases. Yes, I'm such a stereotypical librarian! If you want to do the same research, I found these to be the best resources:

With this handy research guide, Rug Week concludes. I hope it gave you something to consider when you're making your next major carpet purchase. And remember... use customer service live chat to ask for coupon codes! I still can't believe how much money we saved by doing that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rug Report: Milliken Pastiche Balsa Rug

This week, it's Rug Week at Librarian Tells All! I recently bought a few new area rugs online, and I found it so difficult to choose without seeing the rugs in person. So I'm writing about each new rug, and providing the information I wish had been available when I was making my choices. Are you rug shopping, too? Keep reading!

Lots of green, and a floral pattern that looks like a forest. When I imagined the ideal rug for our bedroom, that's what came to mind. In all of our other rooms, I wanted fairly monochromatic rugs. But in the bedroom, I wanted something lively and floral. The wall color and bedspread are very neutral, and the curtains will be made in a simple, solid fabric. So I wanted a rug full of personality to keep the room from getting too boring.

I found the perfect rug when I was making a mood board for the bedroom design. It's the Balsa design by Milliken Rugs. Just a few days later, I pulled the trigger and bought it from And let me tell you, I LOVE this vendor's site. It's so well organized, and they allow you to sort not just by brand, but by separate design collections by the brand. Usually I have to use Google for that, so I really appreciate this feature. But here's the best part: On a whim, I pulled up their customer service live chat and asked for a discount. I immediately got a 15% off coupon! It brought the price down to $449, putting me below our $500 budget. Sweet.

After I ordered the rug, I got an e-mail thanking me for my order and telling me the company would immediately begin manufacturing my rug. Huh? I guess they keep costs down by only creating rugs on demand. That's okay with me, but it was the first time I've encountered that. The rug arrived almost three weeks later. I didn't mind the wait. But if you want to order a Milliken rug from this company, be aware that will take a while.

The colors on the website are true to life. Can you see the birds in the border?
When the rug arrived, it was exactly what I hoped it would be. The colors are bright and pretty. The rug feels thick, but it's not so plush that it will pull in a lot of dust. The intertwining branch design in the center of the rug has exactly the look I wanted. And if you look closely, you'll see cute little birds hidden in the border.

This rug has a lot going on, and it's definitely NOT for everyone. But in a more personal room, it's nice to have something that's just meant to please us, not everyone else. It's a pretty girly rug, but the feminine look of the rug will be balanced by the heavy, masculine sleigh bed that Keith wants. When it all comes together, I think it's going to be perfect. Now I'm looking forward to choosing a color from the rug, and getting some curtains in that color. What color would you choose?

FYI: This is a totally unsponsored post. I bought some stuff and I'm telling you what I think. That's it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rug Report: Safavieh Vintage Oriental Rug

This week, it's Rug Week at Librarian Tells All! I recently bought a few new area rugs online, and I found it so difficult to choose without seeing the rugs in person. So I'm writing about each new rug, and providing the information I wish had been available when I was making my choices. Are you rug shopping, too? Keep reading!

I've had my eye on the Safavieh Vintage collection for quite a while. This collection mimics the look of antique hand-woven overdyed rugs, but without the staggering price tag. To keep the price down, Safavieh's Vintage collection rugs are machine-loomed and made of viscose, which is a good substitute for silk. Viscose has the same soft sheen as silk, but it's more stain resistant and easier to clean. Win!

If you're following me on Instagram, you know that I bought this rug for our guest bathroom. Since this bathroom isn't often used for showers, I wanted something prettier than a bath mat. I like the rug's traditional pattern and monochromatic color scheme. But if you want to know the truth, I bought this rug for its unusual size! One of the great things about this collection is that is comes in a rainbow of colors, a huge array of sizes, and a handful of shapes. I needed an odd size (2'7 by 4'), so when I found this on Overstock, I bought it immediately. It arrived in less than a week.

The rug shows footprints, but I think they add character.
When I unrolled it, I was amazed by how soft and silky the rug feels. In just a few minutes, I learned that this rug is similar to silk in one more way: It shows footprints, which show up as darker or lighter areas. Some people will like that, and some won't. It's just a matter of personal opinion. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about it. But after a few days, once the rug had seen some traffic, I thought the footprints gave the rug a pleasingly aged look.

There are two other things I'd like to mention. First, that the rug is thin. Viscose isn't a thick, plush fiber. If you are looking for a thick, cushy, plush rug, look elsewhere. Second, the color is slightly less bright in person. Instead of being a vibrant turquoise, it's a staid medium blue. I actually wanted a slightly less vibrant rug, so it works for me. But if you want something vividly turquoise, this is not going to make you happy. But it works for me. In fact, I like this rug so much, I'm thinking of buying a larger version of it for our kitchen.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Rug Report: Nyla Carpet by Loloi

This week, it's Rug Week at Librarian Tells All!

Lately I've been fixated on carpets and rugs. I think a rug makes the most important design statement in a room. And until I've chosen a rug, I always find it difficult to choose furniture and accessories. So I've been doing a lot of rug browsing and shopping lately. Mostly I've shopped online, but I find it so difficult to choose without seeing the rugs in person. So I'm going to write about each new rug, and provide the information I wish had been available when I was making my choices. Are you rug shopping, too? Keep reading!

Nyla rug by Loloi at Wayfair | I love the subtle, low-contrast pattern.
For our dining room, I knew we needed a subtle, neutral rug. I wanted something with a small, tight pattern to hide spills. I didn't want a super-thick rug that would soak up spilled wine like a sponge. Our maximum budget was $500, so I mostly looked at machine-made synthetic rugs. But a lot of them looked kind of cheap. In this price range, the patterns were oddly pixellated, like this. I didn't like the pixellated look, so I was having trouble making a choice.

I loved the Loloi Nyla rug, but it was in the $900 range. I would NOT have bought it at that price. But last week the clouds parted, angels sang, and Wayfair listed it for $446.65. I don't know if it was a website glitch or an unannounced sale. But I snapped it up fast, and they honored the price. The lesson? If you're looking for a bargain, keep a very close eye on Wayfair.

Please keep in mind, these chairs are temporary. They're so uncomfortable!
Now that it's here, I'm glad to say that it's perfect. It's machine loomed, which made it cheaper. But the pattern is dense, and it looks like a more expensive rug. The pattern doesn't look pixellated at all. The pile is thin, and it feels like walking on a single layer of velvet. It's not a dense, cushiony rug. So if you want a thicker rug, this probably isn't for you. But if you want something easy to clean, it's ideal.

The most interesting thing about this rug is that it changes color depending on the lighting and the angle at which you see the rug. From far away, the rug looks more brown (like in the first picture). But close up, it's lighter and more gray. I like the variation. This color is called "Sand," and the rug is also sold in a more bluish-gray called "Slate." I was worried that this browner version might be too warm colored. But to my eye, it's a very neutral grayish-taupe. Even though the dining room still needs new seating, a buffet or console, and more storage (did you spot the Master Clue game under the cabinet?), I'm pretty thrilled with how this rug has changed the space.

Do you usually start a room from the ground up, with a rug? Or do you start with something else?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Curtain Call: Custom Draperies

Today's post is dedicated to my Mom. Hi, Mom! *waves*

Have I ever mentioned that my mother is an incredibly talented seamstress and designer? When my sisters and I were growing up, she put her creative energy into decorating (and redecorating, and re-redecorating) our house. We spent more time at wallpaper stores and fabric stores than we did at the playground. When I went to college, Mom went to design school. For nearly 10 years, she's been working as an independent designer. And much of her business focuses on custom window treatments. 

You guys, she's good. She's even made custom draperies for country music legend Barbara Mandrell! So when Mom offered to make curtains for me if I bought the fabric, of course I said yes.

Here is a BEFORE shot. The temporary paper shades kept falling down, and I eventually taped them to the windows. FANCY.
Last Tuesday I brought her 24 yards of of a beautiful beige linen lookalike fabric and 23 yards of white Combo lining. I asked her for simple panels with two-finger pleats. I wanted something very neutral and classic for our living room, and I didn't want them to be full or flouncy. By Saturday, Mom had worked her magic and created these beautiful panels, made to measure. They fit the windows perfectly, and they just hit the floor.

Yay! Not only do I love the curtains themselves, I love the crystal ball finials at the end of the rods, too.
I'm used to crooked grommet-top curtains from Target, and I'm blown away by the difference in quality. If you ever have a chance to spend a bit more on curtains, it's worth it. And if you don't know someone who can do it, there are a lot of good seamstresses on Etsy. Many of them will even let you mail your fabric to them if you want something unique or unusual. Of course, I'm biased. I think my Mom is the best! Here's a closer look at her handiwork. Thank you so much, Mom!

Two finger pleats make the curtains look special without being too fussy.
Here's a closer look at the texture of the fabric, and a peek at the hand sewn lining.