New Living Room Redo

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Here’s a redo of a living room I recently completed for a long-time client – one of my first.   I always say I probably wouldn’t even be doing interior design if it wasn’t for this client who pushed me and gave me the confidence to keep at it.    The client moved into this house around ten years ago and at the time we recovered some of her furniture from her old house for her new living room.   A few months ago she called wanting to update her look by removing her red striped wallpaper and putting slipcovers on her furniture.  Here is what her living room looked like when she bought the house:

 

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Naturally the first thing to go were these curtains and the sheers.

 

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I don’t have many pictures of the living room as it looked after she moved in, just these few cropped ones.  We papered the room in a Colefax and Fowler red stripe.   Directly across from the living room is the dining room which we papered in a light yellow damask.   Both rooms have custom cut seagrass.   Here,  above the sofa is a collection of prints and a mirror that came from her old house.   Besides the wallpaper, we only ordered some pillows and a chair and a few tables.

 

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Across from the sofa we recovered two French chairs in a red silk check.  I found this antique table with bobble fringe and a red velvet top.  The owner had the rug which we layered over the seagrass – and a square ottoman/coffee table was placed over both.

 

 

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We had a skirted table and some pillows made out of Bennison’s Musk Rose.  The homeowner has a large collection of Staffordshire dogs, some of which were made into lamps.   These are the only pictures I could find – I wish you could see the whole room, but still, it obviously really needed updating.  Here’s how it turned out:

 

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First, the red wallpaper was removed.  Then in order to keep continuity, the walls were painted a soft ivory, Pratt and Lambert Ceylon Ivory,  the same color as the molding in the dining room.   Next, we pulled up the rug and removed the two mismatched chairs flanking the sofa.

 

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Two new matching side chairs were bought at Hein Lam and slipped in white linen from Glicks.   We picked these tall wing chairs with French Os de Mouton legs because the room really needed some varied height.   Then we slipcovered her sofa which was formerly in a coffee colored chenille.   The sofa was also updated at that time – instead of three cushions, we changed it to two back cushions and one bottom cushion.

 

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Next we reupholstered her ottoman and had it tufted in a dark chocolate velvet.   The pillows are in the same fabric, plus there is the Brunschwig and Fils animal print.   The lamps and chandelier came from Aidan Gray, whom I am thrilled to announce will soon be a Cote de Texas sponsor!!  The two French chairs, formerly in red check, were sent out for slipcovers with a scalloped detail.   The homeowner found the dark iron table at Pottery Barn.   The family really uses this room – the kids do homework and read in here -  and before, there was a large French washing basket for all their books and papers.  I changed it out for a more updated and closed Kooboo basket – it’s neater with a top than looking at a pile of school books and magazines.

 

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We got rid of the dreaded skirted table and brought down another vintage gate leg table she was using in her upstairs study.   The homeowner loves the prints and mirror, so they stayed above her sofa, as did all her framed photographs – but believe it or not, I did remove over half of them. 

 

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The biggest change was when I convinced the homeowner she really needed curtains to soften it all up – and she finally agreed.  But, it wasn’t easy to convince her.   The linen fabric is a brown damask on an ivory ground from Pindler and Pindler  - very, very reasonable.    And last, we added a faux mink throw. 

 

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I cant’ tell you what a huge difference it made -  it looks like a completely new room with all the red wallpaper and red and cream fabrics gone.  The white is so fresh and the room looks much younger.    Everything was a compromise between us – I probably would have just hung a lone round mirror over the sofa instead of all the prints, but those are the homeowners favorite things. I wanted to add a green tree, but that was vetoed.  So were urns on pedestals to flank the doorway.   Everything was bought with a strict budget in mind.  The only real extravagance were the two chairs, but at least they were on sale.   All the  fabrics were extremely reasonable, as were the lamps and chandelier from Aidan Gray.  Only the Brunschwig fabric was pricey but we needed just one yard.  As always, Monica from Custom Creations by Monica did the curtains.   Next we are going to update her family room – and finally get rid of her leather sofa!!!

 

READERS KITCHEN SERIES: #3

80 comments

 

Continuing on with the series, Readers Kitchens, I want to thank everyone who has sent in their pictures.  If you still haven’t, don’t worry, you have plenty of time to do so.  Judging from the number of admissions, the series will run for quite awhile.  Also, if you have a new house or a recently redecorated one and are proud of it, send in those pictures too!

 

LECTURE TIME:

I want to take a moment to discuss the comment section, since it seems to be causing a lot of discussion lately.  I am a rare bird in blogging, in that I do not moderate the comments.  I do this for several reasons.  The first is because there are usually a large number of comments – moderating them would cut down on the time they would be posted and it would really slow the process down.  Secondly, I like the debate unmoderated comments sometimes cause.   The comment section often becomes more interesting than the actual blog post.  

When I post pictures of my own home, I am opening myself up to criticism.  After four years, I have developed a thick skin and negative comments don’t bother me that much, although, a cruel comment can still sting, for sure.  For instance, my own parents did not like my living room redo and even told me so in an email!  It just goes to show that no one likes everything.  Blogs with comment moderation tend to be all “Oh, I love that!”  and they can be really tedious to read.  Negative, yet constructive, comments that offer ideas and tips are always welcome.  By contrast, it’s the comments that are just downright mean and vicious that sometimes can cross the line.

When a reader is featured on the blog, she/he is an invited guest, and I just ask that they be treated as such.   A good way to judge if your comment is too negative is whether you would say the same thing to the homeowner’s face.   If your comment is so critical that you would be embarrassed to say it out loud in real life, then maybe you need to tone it down just a bit.  Remember, home owners aren’t used to having their houses put up for critiquing.   The rude comments left here don’t offer any helpful criticism and they leave the homeowner bewildered and hurt.   I just ask that you remember that these homeowners are people with families and friends who will all be reading your comments.   By far, 99 percent of the comments left are interesting and civil.   It’s just that 1 percent that can ruin it for everyone.   Thanks for listening and understanding.

LECTURE OVER.

 

The third kitchen in this series will probably not get any negative comments at all!  I think it's fabulous and you will probably love it too!  The owner is from Houston.  You might recognize pictures from her Houston townhouse that she submitted for the Readers Kooboo Chairs story.   She recently bought a vacation house in Santa Fe and totally redid the kitchen, ripping it all out and starting over.  There are lots of before and during pictures so you will get the entire picture of her efforts.   Enjoy!!

 

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The homeowner lives in a townhouse in the Museum District of Houston.  The dining room is also a library and a sitting area.   It is open to the kitchen and the living room.  The wall of bookshelves is especially striking with its back painted a deep gray and the sconces with their touch of red.   The Kooboo chairs from Cost Plus surround a French scrolled iron table.

 

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Looking towards the courtyard, there is a small sitting area with two slipped chairs.

 

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Here you can really see how dark the bookshelves were painted.  Painting the shelves raises the notch up a bit.  It makes them so dramatic and rich looking against the white walls.  Great idea to take home!!

SANTA FE:

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BEFORE:  This is how the breakfast room in the Santa Fe house looked under the previous owners.  It is true Pueblo style, but the owner loves French and Belgian designs, so everything is going to change!

 

 

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BEFORE:  Notice the bright yellow backsplash.  The owner really objected to the peninsula with the sink in the corner.   This counter does cut off the flow of traffic into the kitchen.

 

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BEFORE:  Another view of the kitchen with its long counter.

 

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The breakfast room had out of style slider doors and contemporary windows.  The first thing the owner updated was the lantern.  Look familiar?  It’s the same exact lantern I have in my family room.  The homeowner bought the last one from M.Naeve

 

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The beautiful ceiling was marred by old fashioned tract lighting.   These came down and were replaced with smaller, less noticeable spots.  Also, the ceiling’s vigas and latillas were stained darker. 

 

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During:  the Saltillo tile floor is found throughout the home and it was kept – the only element that remained.    Here you can see the new range hood already constructed; the casement window is also new, which will be over the sink.   Formerly there were no windows in the kitchen.

 

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More new windows:  the sliders were replaced with French doors and the contemporary looking windows on the side were replaced with romantic casements.  Notice how dark the ceiling is now.

 

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The new windows really bring in the view – here is the winter view of the mountain range – Sangre de Cristo.

 

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And the summer view of Santa Fe.

 

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The cobblestones at the Ralph Lauren store in Paris provided inspiration for the backsplash.

 

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Here is a closeup of the backsplash with its cobbled tile appearance.  The tiles are Arto - Nor​mandy Cream.  The tiles were purchased in Houston at Materials Marketing.

 

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And viola!   Here is the finished kitchen.  Notice how the long counter was removed and an island was placed there instead.  This opened up the kitchen to the breakfast area.    The range with its hood is the focal point – it’s backsplash is made of the tiles placed on the diagonal.  The cabinets are painted gray - Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter.  Not sure what the countertops are – they look like matte granite.  The homeowner will have to let us know in a comment!

 

 

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The island is topped with white Carrara Sunrise marble.  There are skylights over both the island and the breakfast table.   The homeowner’s collection of antique wicker bottles was started after she first saw Carol Glasser’s collection in a magazine.

 

 

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Old timbers were used for the open shelves and to trim the range hood.  The homeowner wanted more open shelving but she said it is so dusty in Santa Fe its almost impossible to have all open shelving.

 

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Another view – with the under cabinet lights on. 

 

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Looking towards the breakfast room.  The island was stained instead of painted – which adds to the array of textures and colors in the room.  I love her hardware.

 

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The breakfast room with its antique French wine tasting table.   One last thing on the to-do list, the homeowner wants to add linen drapes and shades to the windows in this area.  

 

 

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Across from the table is a beautiful large antique screen the homeowner bought in Houston.  It has six panels, but she only used five.  Does the screen look familiar?   The answer to its ownership is at the end of the story!!!  I like how the paper towels are open here – so easy!

 

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The new casement window over the farm sink brings in the view of the Aspen trees – where there was no view before.  This portion of the upper cabinet is wired to show off the owner’s extensive collection of French Quimper.  I love her styling!

 

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Here’s a view of the new spotlights – small and black, they disappear as opposed to the older, large white ones that were previously used.

 

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The pantry doors are old doors found by the contractor.   They kept the original hardware.  The doors really add a great decorative element to the kitchen.  

 

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Closeup of the doors and hardware.  The pantry has three sides with ceiling to floor shelves.

 

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A look at the back side of the kitchen.

 

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The homeowner says:  “Santa Fe meets Provence.  I purchased these wonderful placemats and napkins from an 80 year old lady at Indian Market about 4 years ago. The petit point stitching on the napkins are incredible​! 
These were my inspiratio​n for the house colors--ev​en though I went with a Belgian-Fr​ench theme”

 

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So, so pretty!  I loved seeing a Santa Fe kitchen with an updated look.  So, did you recognize the screen?

 

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When Sally Wheat decided to remodel her French/Belgian styled living room to its now Hollywood Glam look, she decided to sell her screen.  Here she was using only three of the six panels.  The homeowner always loved the screen and jumped at the chance to buy it.  She shipped it to Santa Fe where it now resides in her breakfast room.   Did you recognize it??

 

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The homeowner’s contractors Casa Solterra are well known in Santa Fe.   They also helped the homeowner with picking out design elements.   The owner Scott Wong found the pantry door and the barn door hardware.   His wife Maika is co owner.    This Santa Fe home pictured above was an award winner at last year’s Parade of Homes show in Santa Fe.   It’s amazing that this house is new – it looks vintage Santa Fe from the outside.

 

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Inside, the ceilings are raised, creating a more modern look.

 

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The living area is open to the kitchen.

 

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The range hood and backsplash are the focal points of this kitchen.  I wish I had bigger pictures!

 

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The pantry has a door similar to the homeowners.   She used this door as her inspiration. 

 

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And finally, the bedroom.  I love all the heavy beams – so authentic looking.

To contact the Wongs of Casa Solterra, please visit their website HERE

 

I hope you enjoyed Kitchen #3.  A huge thank you to the homeowner.  So far, the kitchen series has been international:  Paris, Canada and Santa Fe.  And I bet you thought they would all be from West University-Houston!!!

Convincing Your Husband To Decorate Your Way

298 comments

 

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I recently wrote an article for the current issue of Antique Shops and Designers – a décor magazine which is produced here in Houston.   This was the fourth issue I had contributed to, and this time I chose to tackle a subject I am asked about a lot:   How do I get my husband to let me decorate the way I want to?   Now, understand that I used the word “husband” because this is the most typical scenario, but this situation can apply to any couple.  It may be the wife who doesn’t care to decorate, or it could be a same-sex couple, or even roommates with differing decorating opinions.   The age of the `couple can widely vary.  When my daughter went to college last year, she was interested in decorating her dorm room, while her roommate wasn’t at all, and I suspect that young sisters sharing a room can also experience this.    

Parts of this article are tongue in cheek and parts are more serious.    When you live with someone who lets you decorate the way you want, it’s hard to imagine how much anguish can occur when your partner is opposed to your ideas and talent.    I can’t tell you how many emails I get from people who talk about this problem.    This article details ways one might try to get a spouse to understand just what they are going through, when they aren’t allowed to decorate. 

To read the article, go HERE.   To read all the past issues of the magazine, go HERE.

 

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For the article, I used these two pictures of my family room to illustrate the difference between having a ceiling fan – which my husband insisted we have for years and years AND…

 

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How the same room looks now with a lantern instead of the dreaded ceiling fan.  To keep Ben cool, I have a small standing fan in the corner just for him, which he uses about 25 percent of the time.  He used to run the ceiling fan 24/7.

 

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This reader sent in a picture of her orange brick fireplace that her husband refused for years and years to let her repaint.

 

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And after, under pressure from their daughter, her husband relented and she painted her fireplace white – to go with her all white décor.

To read this story of this fireplace  – All In the White Family -  go HERE.

 

 

Convincing Your Husband To Decorate Your Way

One question I get asked over and over again, as both an interior designer and as a blogger, is what to do about husbands (or partners) who refuse to let you decorate your house the way you want to? What happens if one partner has exquisite taste, while the other has, well, less than wonderful taste? How does a wife tell her husband to leave the decorating to her? Men and women have such different ideas about decorating and let’s just admit that most husbands’ design preferences are clichéd. For instance, what is it about wood paneling that men love so much? I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten an email from a distraught wife telling me her husband refuses to let her paint over their 60s style faux wood “paneling.” For some unknown reason, men think it is sacrilege to paint over anything made out of brown wood, despite how many veneers of plywood make up this purported “wood.” Why?

And don’t even think about asking for hubby’s permission to repaint Grandma’s tacky dining room suite that she probably bought for $100 at Sears, 90 years ago. It wasn’t worth much then and it still isn’t. And why do husbands go crazy for leather furniture? Does anyone truly understand why they are so attracted to poufy leather sofas, the pouffier the better? While big leather sectionals are nirvana to the male species, nothing is more heavenly than a leather recliner or one upholstered in some heavy nondescript fabric that’s impervious to nuclear blasts.

When furnishing their home offices, remember that husbands prefer Oriental rugs that are predominantly red and blue. A soft muted Oushak just isn’t their cup of tea. They also prefer brass and lots of it. Most husbands have never heard of polished nickel, except for the change in their pockets. They have a certain weakness for framed prints of birds or dogs, preferably prints of dogs with dead birds hanging out of their mouths. They certainly don’t care for modern art. Men like to display any award or diploma they ever received and the walls of the offices are filled with them. Books, with their dusty jackets intact, must be books that have been read. No fancy, French language antique books are allowed.

And to be sure, most husbands have quite definite preferences in paint colors: the jewel tones popular in the 80s are still their favorites: hunter green, navy blue, and burgundy are all acceptable. Ivory, never white, is the only exception. Good luck to the wife who wants to paint her bedroom a soft, coral pink. Divorces have been started over pastel boudoirs. The fabulous designer Charlotte Moss says master bedrooms should be the woman’s refuge. After all, it’s the woman’s domain and she invites the man into her bedroom. Sure, Charlotte. Maybe that’s how it is in your house, but most husbands think of the master bedroom as their personal playroom.

So, what do you do if you want a pink bedroom and a living room filled with white slipcovered furniture and scratchy seagrass rugs, but your husband refuses to budge from his man cave mentality? What do you do if you don’t want ceiling fans in every room, but he insists they keep the electrical bills lower? What if you want the brown paneling painted a soft, muted gray, but he stands firm against it? While all this may sound silly and trivial, when you are the suffering wife, it is really serious business. How can you convince your husband to let you decorate your house the way you want to?

When my husband and I were going through infertility treatments, we were required to go to counseling before we were eligible for the In vitro Program. So there we sat, two scared newlyweds, just wanting a baby more than anything. Well, I should clarify; there we sat, where I wanted a baby more than anything. My husband was just going through this process to shut me up. Of course he wanted a baby, but it wasn’t life or death to him. It was to me. Our one session with this unknown therapist has stuck with me all these years later – 21 to be exact. The therapist asked Ben a simple question: what did you play with when you were a child? Quickly and without thinking, he answered “cops and robbers, football, and soldiers.” And you, Joni, what did you play? My answer came just as easily “Mommy and house.” The therapist smugly nodded. You see, Ben, she said, Joni has spent her entire life playing at being a mommy, waiting to have her own house and her own baby, while you played soldiers. I was stunned at how succinctly she summed up the difference between men and women and how quickly Ben grasped that this bout with infertility was not just some little “problem” to me. It was devastating and hurtful and went against all my natural instincts as a woman.

Twenty years later, with a beautiful daughter now at college, I think of that therapist’s words and realize that what she said also applies to decorating. To a husband, his home is somewhere he is comfortable, somewhere to relax after a hard day at work. It certainly isn’t something he has planned for after studying countless décor magazines or watching endless programs on HGTV. To the wife, though, she has been waiting since childhood to have her own house, decorated in her vision, a place to entertain and a cozy nest to keep her family close. It is everything to her. It is the center of her existence.

When I get emails from blog readers asking me how can they get their husband to “let” them paint their brown paneling or the dining room table, I always repeat what that therapist told me all those years ago. My advice is simple. Ask your husband out to dinner. Tell him you want to discuss something important with him. Make sure he has a nice sized drink at dinner. Start out with a question. Ask him what our therapist asked: “what games did you play when you were little?” Tell him what you played. Make sure you tell him how much you respect him and what he does for the family. Explain that you want the same respect. Tell him that you have studied magazines and décor for years and know exactly how you want your house to look like. Ask him to understand that it is your lifelong dream to have that beautiful house. Ask him if he can say the same? Ask him to trust your taste. Above all, don’t raise your voice and don’t argue. State your cause in a mature, reasonable tone. This isn’t a fight, you are merely opening up his eyes to who you really are and what you really want.   

Most likely your husband will see how serious you are and will be willing to give up his jewel toned walls, ceiling fans, and leather sectional. If not, compromise and offer to create a room especially for him, but on the condition that you get to design the rest of the house. Follow Charlotte Moss’ advice and tell him you are inviting him into your bedroom. Who knows? It might spice things up a little. In truth, your husband has probably never even realized how important the way your house looks is to you. He most likely has never given it a thought. Now that you have opened up and been truthful, hopefully he will step aside and let you paint those paneled walls a beautiful soft gray. Remember, you’ve been playing mommy and house since you were toddling. He was playing cops and robbers. Surely, you deserve a room full of white slipcovers and scratchy seagrass. Good luck!

                                                                                                                                        

Well, that is my idea!  Do you have a better one?  I would love to hear your tactics on how you handle your husband when he pokes his nose in the decorating !!!   Leave a comment so others can get some ideas!   As always, thanks a million for all your comments.

                                          

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To read the article in the current Antique Shops and Designers, go HERE.   To read all the past issues of the magazine, go HERE.