Accessorizing your sofa

Amatuer decorators try to update their sofas with throws and toss pillows in the latest colors and style. That's so 2007. I do the new, ultra stylish way: the throw cat. Find one in a coordinating color and toss it on the sofa... your couch never looked better.

DIY Art or art by the inch

I couldn't find a nude in the size, price range, and palette I needed for a client, so I painted by own. I textured the canvas with joint compound, used an ad in a magazine for the figure inspiration, and copied the palette and style of a nude painting I purchased for another client. Schnabel, eat your heart out. You may have millions, a huge Italian villa built on a factory in NYC, fame, and movies to your credit, but I got it going on.


Fun quiz

For those of you who need a little help choosing paint colors, here is a fun quiz at pittsuburgh paints. I apparently lean toward the pop art and water bead collections. Who knew?



Porch Options

Still working on the porch. I haven't found the perfect fabric for pillows, and that is a problem, because the pillow fabric needs a print that ties all the colors together, and I'd like something with a retro vibe. I have found these ready made pillows and this fabric that are the closest to what I need. I'm thinking about mixing the patterns: circle fabric as lumbar pillows on chair, floral pillows on settee and swing. What do y'all think?


Before and after ...though really should be titled: playing on line instead of working.

I hope you can tell which is which.

Porch, part deux

As mentioned in a previous porch, our current project is working on the front porch. Here is the porch (and house), not long after the water left, so this is a serious before. This is recent...we're still not there yet, but we've made serious progress. The awning is almost painted (I just need to touch up the white), and the doors, floor, and ceiling have all been painted. Next the furniture comes back, then accessories, then landscaping.

Since there will be quite a bit happening on the porch: green trim and floor, yellow ceiling, furniture and pillows, I decided to paint the caps of the brick stoops and columns in a brick red to blend in. I decided the white caps offered too much contrast.

Hopefully, by weekend, I'll be able to post the finished porch (sans landscaping...that comes after my friend donna gets back from Puerto Rico). This is how I developed my design.
First: Function: While I prefer a clean, almost spare look on the porch (I would have been happier to just have a couple of pots of plants and maybe a swing), we need extra living space, especially for entertaining. We entertain quite a bit...since we moved back in Oct., I've had a birthday bruch for 15, a Christmas brunch for around 20, an Easter brunch, a Mardi Gras party, several overnight guests, not to mention impromtu gathering. Unfortunately, our rooms are very small (12x14), therefore, whenever we have a larger party, I need as much seating as possible on the porch. And since a lot of our entertaining is pretty spur of the moment and we don't have much storage, i need the seating out all the time: I don't really have the luxury of keeping lots of folding chairs and table in a basement. I also need the porch to function as a sunroom: our house is a duplex, and there is a house next door. Because it's close, we it blocks quite a bit of light, and the situation is made worse because window treatments are necessary to provide privacy. The only downstairs space that gets sun in the morning is the porch, so I needed a place to sit and enjoy my coffee and the paper (or I would do so if I ever had the time). Ideally, I would have liked a swing, a bistro set, and a settee, but I ended up with a slightly different mix. World Market had a great deal on a set that did include the settee and 2 chairs, but with a coffee table. As of now, I'm using the coffee table as a low table between the chairs, but I plan on eventually putting it in the backyard as a bench and getting a small dining height table to use with the 2 chairs.

Second: style: Now that the function is decided (seating, seating, seating), what should it look like? First, I had to decide on a look that was appropriate for the house. It's a bungalow with slight craftsman tendancies, so I decided to go for a cottage look. It also suits our casual lifestyle. That was important because the porch functions as our foyer since the front door opens directly into the living room; thus, I wanted it to give a little taste of our style. The cottage look is also forgiving, and since we're on a budget, I wanted a look that could incorporate found objects (like the old window frames hung as art) and would still look good after a little wear and tear.

Third: color: I wanted to go cottage, and to take it a little funky, because my partner Thomas loves funky, and a little retro. And I equate cottage and funky with a lot of color. I had three givens: white siding, forest green trim, and red brick. I also had to keep the awning (Thomas loves it). First, I decided to paint the ceiling and underneath the awning a pale yellow. I did this for a couple of reasons. One, with the high contrast white and forest trim, the existing white ceiling was very lost feeling. Second, while the awning does provide the necessary shade from the New Orleans sun and rain protection, it blocks a lot of light. I picked the yellow to balance all the green and to give a sunshiny glow under the awning. Since I already had gold and green, to go a little funky, I decided to add raisin doors to give the porch a mardi gras theme. Frankly, I don't love all the green trim on the columns and awning, but Thomas does and I don't care enough to fight about it. Finally, I used a brick red to tone down the contrast on the top of the brick structures. My plan is use pillow fabric to tie everything together. I have a couple of options, but I haven't made my final selection. Stay tuned.


Sad and brown no more

This was an undistinquished Broyhill table from the 80s with a damaged veneer top. Unfortunately, I managed to erase the before picture. For a better companion for the quite nice French country chairs, I gave the table a distressed black finish with a touch of gold, and topped it with a French polish.

The power of paint and patience

This client wanted a dark, sexy bathroom. She's single, uses the bath primarily for long soaks at night, and applies her makeup at a vanity in her bedroom. The space is fairly small and has no natural light. Since she mainly uses the space to relax in at night after work, she wanted to emphasize the dark, cozy aspect. The inspiration was an Asian woodcut that showed an evening sky. A previous faux finish had been too literal: she was unhappy with the clouds. Further, the existing oak vanity clashed with both the granite and the slate grey walls.
After: I used the same tones of grey as before, but mixed in a little black to give more depth. I actually poured the 3 unmixed colors into the paint tray, rolled them onto the wall as a mixture, and then used rags and a brush to blend. The result gave an old plaster look to the textured walls, suggesting an evening sky without the literal use of clouds.
To give the oak vanity a furniture quality finish was a multiple step process. Since the client wanted black, I started with a high quality primer designed to bond to glossy surfaces like the pre finished cabinet. Since the final result was dark, I had the primer tinted to a dark grey. To tie in the granite and give more interest, I followed with a red layer. Then I topped that with black, painting on, then wiping off. After that dried, I sanded through around the edges of molding, and in the center of panels to give the illusion of wear through time. I then smoothed out the distressing with a glaze of black and expresso brown paint. Finally, as a finish, I applied a french polish with wax and super fine steel wool. We then replaced the chrome and white porcelian handles with a variety of hand-painted pulls.


Tuscan Inspired

A client's Italian country inspired sunroom. I picked the finish to complement the client's collection of sunflower themed oil paintings which have great sentimental signifigance and to balance the paneled living room from which this opens.

The clients wanted an tuscan inspired finish that resembled old plaster in their newly painted dining room. Before:

After: (p.s. it's not the total after: they are planning on a new buffet, window treatments and slipcovering or replacing chairs.)

The nearby powder room, with red upper walls and faux cypress paneling below. I decided on this combination because the client loved the existing red walls, but they were overwhelming for a tiny space (4x6!). The wainscotting cuts the darkness and ties in the existing cypress vanity and doors. For the drama and red the client requested, I layered copper, antique bronze, and metallic brown glazes over the red with gold accents. The room will be finished with a pale granite counter top and bisque fixtures.