what I do

what I do

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Finishing up & more decal love

It is so great to be able to actually finish a project. Not that any project is ever entirely done ... because you know, a room is never really done - it is always tweaked, improved on, and added to. But today I can say that I am (at this moment) finished with one of the largest projects I have worked on.

Do you remember the clinic for the autistic kids? I wrote about it here and here. We used a lot of decals and they were so successful that the client wanted to add a few more. That is what I finished today. I cannot say enough about decals.

The dandelion is one of my favorites. We (my wonderful sister assistant and I) added this outside the restrooms - it was a leftover from another room.

All the decals were ordered through Etsy and can be custom made in any color you want. Most can be custom sized as well! They are easy to install - some are just a little more labor intensive than others. 

The decals are an easy and inexpensive way to add interest and color to a blank wall. This tree branch was only $39.00 (from here).

This therapy room needed a little punch to the walls but it couldn't be too overwhelming. The flowers did the trick. It was nice to be in the completed office today and see it thriving and filled with children. It was gratifying to see the rooms that we thoughtfully designed for these kids to be utilized and enjoyed the way we had hoped. And nice to be finished. 
Well ... there is that one spot near the entry that could use a little color ...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Photo wall installed, the power of TWO and Burton

I had another busy day today. But thanks to my sister it was easier than it should have been. My sister, who is talented and creative on her own (the photographer) assists me with installs from time to time. She is wonderful and helpful and most importantly, makes every job more fun!

I have this little issue with staying up too late and not getting enough sleep. It is not good for me. I stayed up too late again last night and so when morning came I was dragging. I should have been up early to put together the 10+ frames I needed for today. But I didn't. And so I was running late this morning and put in a distress call to my sister. "Can you come and help me with a small art wall today?" I asked her. She said, "Yes ... when? "Now," I said. And she did.

It wasn't a big job but I needed to be somewhere else in the afternoon and having a second set of hands made that possible and less stressful.

Here is the wall before:

Okay, I know what you are thinking. Why didn't I change the wood wall. I couldn't. Not in this phase of the remodel. The wall extends upwards to the second floor and throughout and it was too large of a project to tackle. We will deal with that another time. I put the same wood in my bedroom when I was a teenager (another story). It is not easy to remove. Ask my mom! 

The wall is just beyond the entry and one of the first things you see when you enter the house. We have just finished remodeling the kitchen and dining area (see the posts about that here and here) and I wanted to bring a little more of the client into the space (make it more personal). So we decided on a family photo wall.

I selected frames last week and came up with a preliminary design of the wall based on the measurements of the space. What I didn't take into account was the light switch right in the middle of the wall (oops). So I had to adjust it a bit. I also decided I wanted a lighter look so I eliminated one of the larger bronze frames.

My sister (my assistant, the talented photographer) will photoshop (restore and resize) the client's photos and then they will be placed in the frames. Here are the frames installed:

Most of the photographs will be changed into black and white. There are a few that will stay 'color' but we are going to mute them so that the overall look is more subtle. 

I want the wall to tell a story, but I don't want it to detract from the incredible view that is just beyond it:

And speaking of views, a friend sent me this tonight ... apparently her cat, Burton, reads my blog! ;)

Smart cat! (How cute is he?!!)

The anatomy of my tool bag


I am hanging frames for a photo / art wall today and there are a few things I take along when I am hanging art. I keep my tools in a bag that is always packed and ready to go and I bring it to every install. I have had a bag that I carry everything in for a while but it was not working for me. I found myself losing things and rummaging around in the bottom for a screwdriver or another item I needed. I wanted something more organized.

I was at Target the other night and thought I'd look in the tool section for something that would work better ... nothing. I looked in the purse section ... nothing. I thought for sure I would find what I wanted in the luggage section ... but came up short. I was almost out the door when I had a thought.

The anatomy of my diaper bag tool bag:

How clever that a diaper bag would have everything I need to carry my tools. It has so many little compartments to keep everything separated ...

It has an easy-to-clean fabric ...

It is quite roomy inside ...

It even comes with a connected see-through bag so I can find my bandaids quickly (hanging art can be brutal on the fingers!) ...

A separate compartment for my pencils and calculator ...

I love that is is plastic and can be wiped down easily ... and the best part is that everything I need fits inside.  Here are some of the things I take along:  I have my hooks and other hanging supplies in separate compartments ...

I have earthquake hold to secure art that will not be moved, painter's tape (I wad it up) to secure and level art that may be moved later (to change photos, etc.), easy furniture gliders in case there is a furniture piece in front of the area I am hanging, a pencil to mark where my nail / hook goes, an eraser to take off the mark, a black sharpie for touching up wood (frames or furniture!), a calculator when I am tired and cannot add in my head, and the other usual tools (hammer, screwdrivers (one regular, one small for frame hooks), scissors, extra wire, pliers, and the most important tool of all ... a level.

And when I add accessories to a client's house I always add a protective dot on the bottom.

All that tucked neatly in my diaper bag tool bag makes me efficient and ready to work.

Who knew a diaper bag could be so versatile?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A day of rest

I know I have no business complaining about the weather in Southern California especially since it is one of the best things we have going for us and even more since the east coast is struggling with so much weather right now and my daughter who is 9 months pregnant is living in a city that was 106 degrees today (yikes) but wow was it hot yesterday ... and so humid. But heat or not, the show must go on. This is part of what I got accomplished ...



Rug from Ikea

Lamp from Lamps Plus, frames & plate from HomeGoods

Floor lamp from Crate & Barrel, vase from HomeGoods, platter from flea market

Bringing in the lamps (4 of them - oops I didn't take very many photos) really helped soften and warm up the room - besides adding the much needed light. My favorite part was the cowhide rug - I wasn't sure my client would go for it ... and as I expected she was a little hesitant at first (maybe surprised is more accurate) but she was willing to try it and guess what? She loves it. So do I. The wood flooring under the new dining table needed something but it is an awkward area as the floor is raised there and it is a small space. I didn't want to chop it up or make if feel smaller. The odd shape of the cowhide and the color of the rug being so close to the floor just gives it the right amount of texture.


Sometimes the process is slower than I wish it was. But we did make decisions. This is ordered:

Fire screen from Horchow

Drapes are in the works. So are pillows and a window seat cushion:

Drapery fabric: Duralee.  Window seat fabric: Norbar.  Pillow fabrics: Stout & Kravet.

We are using this hardware:

Restoration Hardware Estate Metal Silver Collection

And we will have woven wooden blinds in addition to the side panel drapes. My cute little turquoise ottoman didn't make the cut (just the wrong color) but I was able to find a home for it - even if it is just temporary!

I also did a little frame shopping for an art wall I am hanging on Monday - here is a sneak preview:

Frames from Aaron Brothers

But today I am resting. Doing nothing. Relaxing. I hope you are too! 

"And Jesus said to them, The Sabbath was made on account and for the sake of man, not man for the Sabbath."
                                                  - Mark 2:27

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How I am spending my Saturday

Do you work a five day work week? Or do you sometimes have to work through the weekend as well? A couple of Saturdays ago I worked all day on this house (you can see my post about it here). I arranged the new furniture and hung the artwork and it was a great improvement, but far from a finished room. 

The room is missing window treatments, pillows to add color, pattern and softness and it desperately needs lighting. 

I will be adding a fireplace screen, a window seat cushion, draperies and a few lamps besides some fun accessories (maybe even a cowhide rug if they let me!).

That is how I will be spending my Saturday. I am not complaining - how can I, it is one of my favorite things to do! How about you? What kind of fun are you up to today?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Harbour house reno: part two

A few months ago I started a kitchen renovation (if you missed part one your can see it here).  The client liked her cabinets but we needed to make a few adjustments as she needed a new (and larger) refrigerator. She did say she was willing to paint the cabinets (smile). She also wanted new countertops, a farmhouse sink and wanted to update the lighting in the kitchen. Her dining area, on the opposite side of the kitchen was also small and they wanted to be able to seat more people around the table.

Kitchen before

As with most projects, there are things that a client is willing to change and things that they want to stay. In this case, one of those things that the client loved was the tiled rooster mural. So that is where I started.

Since this house sits right on the water, I decided to use the blue/green colors of both the water and the rooster tiles as my inspiration. I covered the window seat cushions in a deep aqua outdoor fabric, painted the cabinets my 'go-to' white (Dunn Edwards Swiss Coffee), installed a honed black granite and a 30" Shaw farmhouse sink, new 2x4 white beveled subway tile to frame the mural and added bead board on the wall below the window seat to tie in the kitchen cabinets. (We also changed the cabinet doors to give a more updated look with euro hinges and removed the busy looking curve).

 Pindler & Pindler 8228-Aegean

Updated & painted cabinets, still waiting for knobs!

 But the biggest, and most dramatic change was in the ceiling lighting.

Kitchen ceiling before

The existing lighting was outdated for sure, but the worst part was the ceiling was low. Very low. So rather than just update the lighting, we did a little raising of the ceiling as well:

Framing the new ceiling

Kitchen with raised ceiling  and new lighting

After we raised the kitchen ceiling and saw the impact it had on the room, there was no way we could leave the dining room ceiling the way it was. The ceiling had two levels and way too much going on. In fact, the drop ceiling was so low I could touch it. It made the room dark and closed-in and hard to notice the incredible view outside the windows. We had not even considered changing the ceiling originally, but after seeing what raising the kitchen ceiling did there was no way we could not try the same thing here. I have to add that this client was amazing to work with and so agreeable to everything we suggested especially since this was a huge budget increase and not something she had asked for.

When you are dealing with a home that has had multiple owners, you never know what you are going to find when you tear open a ceiling. We were not sure we could raise it but it was worth a try, so we knocked a hole in it and took a look around. We couldn't raise the entire ceiling, but we could mimic what we did in the kitchen. The change was dramatic and one of the best improvements we did!

Dining area ceiling before
Dining area before
Ceiling demo

New ceiling

What a view!

Another thing I decided to do was to change the position of the dining room table and borrow space from a small sitting area. The existing room was set up to have a small table running under the previously dropped ceiling. That left a little space around the fireplace for a sitting area. But it was not enough to seat more than three people and even then it was cramped. So we opted to give up the small seating area to enable a large farmhouse extension table that could seat 12. And that is what I will share in part three...