Bachelor Bedroom

I've been working with a colleague on a bachelor pad in a converted warehouse. One of the finished rooms is the master bedroom. We loved the existing mushroom walls, and decided to use the homeowner's collection of photos from an African safari as a guide for adding other colors and accents. We reframed the photos in plain black frames with crisp white mats and hung them in column.
For interest, texture, and drama, we installed a wall of louvered doors painted with a hammered copper finish. The finish gave warmth to the room, and pulled in warm tones used in other areas of the condo, including the terracota stain on the concrete in the hall floor and downstairs.
We used the existing bed and nightstand, adding a round table on the otherside (the room is smallish and has strange angles, so a round table just fit better, as well as adding interest. Creamy white sheets and new lumbar pillows in a paisley print complement the existing bedding and new color additions.

We included a small chair for putting on socks and shoes. We did ultimately decide this chair was just a little femine and changed it out for another one, but no new pic yet.
This job is mainly a cosmetic one, meaning no major renovations. So, in the master bath, we decided to use a striped wall treatment to disguise the visually too-short granite slabs of the shower--now they become part of the look. We took down bulky shelves and replaced them with the chrome luggage rack. New, long stainless pulls and a coat of expresso paint transform the vanity.
Finally, nothing says luxury like a well-stocked and organized linen closet. I hope my mother, who never thought I would ever manage to pick a towel up off the floor is impressed.


Fake It If You Can't Make it

I've been working on a cool project, a condo in a converted warehouse (it's not finished, so excuse the ladders and lack of staging). Among its great features are exposed brick walls and original beams. However, a new steel support was added to the living room and encased in sheetrock. It stuck out like a sore thumb.
Here's a detail of one of the great, naturally aged and distressed original beams from when the building was constructed in 1895.

Here's the sheetrocked beam after a couple of layers of glaze applied with a rocker graining tool:

A closer look shows the similarity between the painted finish on the right and the original on the left.

A little paint can work miracles.


Porch, Part Tres

Redoing our porch and front garden (if you can describe five tiny patches of earth surrounded by concrete sidewalks and walkways a garden), has been an ongoing project for the past two years. So, for my post for Between Naps on the Porch's Metamorphis Monday, I decided to show my house's before and after.
First, a view of the house circa 2006 with it's lovely Fema trailer (luckily, I never had to live in one--this one belonged to Thomas's brother who owns one half of the double--what we call duplexes in New Orleans):
The house soon after Katrina, before reconstruction began.
Last spring, after removal of the Fema trailer, painting of the awning and porch, installation of furniture, the arrival of the first flamingo (who has since moved on to a better place), and initial plantings (most of which died because I know absolutely nothing about gardening). A long way to go, but a definite improvement:
Today: the jasmine has filled in on the center post, the plantings have filled in a little (thank God for elephant ears--even I can grow them), two Japanese maples have been planted, and a new flamingo couple have landed. Eventually, most of the plants I have chosen should grow and fill in, creating a lush look. I'm aiming for a combination of tropical and cottage--kind of an English colonial garden look.
The mardi gras flag provided the inspiration for the porch and garden's purple, green, and gold colour scheme.
We found the bricks to border the bed when a local building was torn down (don't worry it wasn't a historical structure--it was a 70s block building that housed a grocery store).
The verbena and lantana provide the purple and gold blooms for the color scheme. Behind them, a satsuma tree is growing in the large terracotta plot.
The porch is large enough for some comfortable seating. The window frames were the original frames for the house which were replaced with energy efficient windows.

What's a front porch without a swing?
We've still got a lot left to do, but in the words of Virgina slims, "we've come a long ways, baby."

Office Space: A bachelor's office/guest room

If you have to work at home, why not make it a pleasant experience? The best location for the desk in the small, oddly shaped room (it may not be obvious from the photos, but the room is not rectangular--it's almost pie shaped with no true right angles) was angled in the far corner, where the wired management could be hidden by the daybed, and the extra deep window ledge and the built in ledge that runs the side wall (it hides ductwork) serve as extra work surfaces. Filing cabinet and supplies are stored nearby in the room's generous closet, which was already fitted with shelves.
I've spent the past weekend working on a cool project: the bachelor pad of a medical executive. The condo is in a converted warehouse, and the downstairs living area has some incredible features: stained concrete floors, huge wooden beams, and exposed brick walls. Upstairs--not so exciting. The two bedrooms are sheetrocked boxes with carpeted floors and the weird angles that result from warehouse conversions. One room functions as an office and occasional (very occasional) guest room.

The room is mainly used at night, so to give it drama and ease some of the award angles, including a ledge that hides duct work, we painted it in a sexy, dark browish gray, Sherwin William's Manor house. A zebra stenciled cowhide rug hides the boring carpet and ties to the safari photos shot by the homeowner and displayed on a built in ledge. We leaned the photos for a more relaxed, casual, and unexpected feel. A Room and Board daybed provides guest accommodations.
Continuing the same paint into the tiny attached bath creates a seamless flow between rooms. I chose to use a shower curtain in a similiar tone to the paint to prevent it from overwhelming the small space. Another of the homeowner's photos provides interest. I mean, who doesn't love waking up to zebra butts?


A Not-too-Serious Foyer

It's been a stressful work week, and it's going to get more stressful before it gets better. But this morning, however, I saw something at a client's house that made me smile. My clients are a young couple with too small girls. They needed quite a bit of new stuff, and wanted to use as much of their existing furniture as possible in order to make the budget stretch as much as possible. Luckily, the wife's parents had just redecorated their condo and had sent their daughter some really great things, including a pair of fabulous 40s inspired turquoise velvet chairs with tufted backs.
The only new purchase in this vignette in the long foyer/entrane hall is the serpentine front gold leafed chest and the pillows with gold paillettes.

The gold chest gives some weight and seriousness to the grouping. The chairs add some sass, and the lighted hearted art and Asian dolls keep it young and fun.

If these chairs don't put a smile on your face, I can't help you. I hope this cheerful entry brightened your day as much as it did mine.


Inspired: Metamorphis Monday

Today, I'm joining Susan at Between Naps on the porch (here)
for my first time participiating in her Metamorphis Monday. I really needed this incintive, because I have guests coming for dinner tomorrow night, and the downstairs is a wreck. This corner in my office/library which is open to my living room (our house is a classic shotgun with all of the downstairs rooms opening to each other with no hallways). this corner invariabley becomes a collection of debris. It's partly because we have so little built in storage; there are no closets downstairs. But mainly it's because I'm a natural slob. I've tried using a coat rack, and that just became a huge dumping ground for coats and hats that hung there for months. I then tried leaving it empty--and you see the result. It just became a place to dump client items and things that i've brought home to work on. Look--a piano bench I need to slipcover for a client. Canvases waiting for the client's bedding so I can do some paintings, and, in a fit of optimism, the vacuum cleaner I brought out two days ago.

So I became inspired for a fresh start. First up, a clean up. I moved the piano bench to my sewing station and the canvases to a more hidden spot. The lap top backpack which I kept in the office for transporting the computer, I moved to an empty spot in a bookcase in the room. Since I never actually use the umbrella, I put it in the closet upstairs. A quick vacuum (seriously, sometimes when I consider the amount of pet hair one dog and two cats can produce in the course of a week, I am amazed they are not bald). Second, I lined the panel of a discarded pantry door with cork to make a long slender inspiration board that is perfectly scaled for the narrow space. I then decided to move a table in the corner (in this house, an empty corner quickly becomes a junk site--if something there, maybe I'll start putting things away when I come home...I can always dream, can't I. It's the perfect spot to drop the messenger bag and paint swatches I use almost daily. A tropical leaf from the yard in a vintage vase, and voila, organized chaos that won't embarrass me if clients and colleagues drop by (I no longer worry about trying to impress friend, relatives, and neighbors--they have already seen my worst and know what to expect if they come by without giving me time to clean.

View Susan's and others' transformations at Between Naps on the Porch 26th Metamorphis Monday (here).


Tru(meau) Love- A recession friendly version of a French classic

Trumeaus have long been a popular decor accent, but with the recent rise in popularity of Swedish and French design, their popularity has soared. They can be quite pricey, however, especially larger ones. A decent reproduction starts around $500, large reproductions can cost up to $2000, and as for antiques---the sky is the limit. I've recently found a way to make a more affordable version of this classic.
First, the base. I started with this great salvaged door with its beautiful layers of peeling white and cream paint. (note--the key to making this project budget friendly is finding a well-priced door-in some higher end architectural salvage yards, doors can be several hundred each. But if you keep your eyes open, similar doors are availabe at non-profit "green" projects were building materials are recycled, flea markets, and sometimes for free at re-modeling/building sites) The weathered finish was one of the things that really made this project. A similar finish could be replicated on a newer door with a faux paint technique. What made the door suitable was the fact that it was divided into 2 panels, one large and one sigificantly smaller.
I then had my contractor replace the bottom panel with glass and add crown moulding to the top of the mirror. (His too-helpful assistant almost derailed the project--he was getting ready to caulk, putty, and sand the door down to a smooth finish--he couldn't believe I wanted weathered wood and peeling paint). Depending on how handy you, a friend, or your spouse is, except for the mirror cutting, this could be diy (note: the door is actually inverted--the smaller panel was originally the bottom of the door). The mirror actually looked really good at this point. If you are going for a simple, country look, all the mirror really needed to be finished at this point is some minor antiquing on the added crown and a coat of dark wax to seal it.
For this client, however, I wanted a slightly more formal feel, so after removing all actively peeling paint, I gild and distressed the added crown and the small trim around each panel. I then did some handpainting on the center panel with the client's favorite motif, the fleur de lis. I finished it all with two layers of dark paste wax buffed to a sheen. If you did not want to paint the top panel, other options would be to add a carved detail, replace the top panel with mirror as well, or search for a small oil painting in similar dimensions to the top panel.


Dining Room Before and After

My posting has been light lately because I've been working with my friend and colleague Donna Russell of ProVisions Interiors (here).
The project has been a foyer and remodel for an existing client. When we worked with them on the home originally, they were waiting to see whether they would inheirit some family pieces for the dining room, as well as which specific pieces, so we selected the lighting, the draperies, and painted the two rooms the same color as the rest of the open floor plan (Windsor Greige from Sherwin Williams, one of my favorite neutrals. The pluses: the rooms both have several windows and dark hardwood floors. The challanges: we found the dining room pieces included a huge buffet (it is still being refinished, but will go between the two windows opposite the dining room entrance), a small china/curio, 10 chairs, a huge table, and a small server. The home owner also wanted a small desk for her daughter, as she wants her computer use to be visible and there is really no other place downstairs for it to be. Furthermore, we wanted to keep the space from being too serious, since the homeowners are a young family.

We decided on large scale horizontal stripes in the dining room and on one wall in the foyer and the continuing wall down the hall that goes into the family room.
The foyer chandelier is dressed up with a small medallion painted to match its finish.
A pic of the dining room after with the draperies rehung with their bamboo shades. The artwork is an original painted by Donna and me and will hang over the buffet when it comes back from the refinisher.

For added drama, the ceiling gets a bronze finish in the dining room.
A trumeau we had custom made from a salvage door (a post on that later) adds interest in the foyer by the stairs. The peeling paint finish keeps it from being too formal.
A shot of the foyer with its center hall table. The pic doesn't really show it, but the striped wall was coated with a slight glaze and two coats of poly for high sheen.
Because the dining room is not large, the china had to go in the foyer. After the buffet returns, the stem wear will be moved into that. We rehung the curtains at the opposite sides of the window to make the wall seem larger.

A shot of the dining room showing the bronze ceiling, glossy striped walls and contemporary cream host and hostess chairs. The sculptural mirrors were previously in the living room.
We rehung the print horizontally to complement the stripes.