Saturday, February 19, 2011

Creating A Cottage On A Hill Project: The Living Room

I have very specific ideas about what I want, and what I want to be surrounded by.

Some of these ideas are timeless, and a quick glance through my Pinterest boards gives you a pretty good idea of what really gets me going.

I love how laid back and beachy this room makes me feel:

Not only do I looove the aqua, but it's such a bright color that it offsets all of the white perfectly and all of those windows makes this room so very airy. I absolutely love it:

image via BHG

The girly-girl in me adores this room. The Layla Grayce obsessed stalker loves that I could complete it entirely from my favorite store. The realistic mother of a 10 year old and a little doggie with black hair and muddy paws on the regular knows better.

image via BHG 

Sometimes, I get lured in by a dramatic pop of color that just sends me soaring. Black does that to me a lot. I love this room with its Chevron rug and the light turquoise tufted ottoman/coffee table. It is so ridiculously chic and classy:

You get the idea, my point being, I had strong notions about what I wanted to do when I first "met" my latest home project. When I started My first goal was only to slap some paint on the walls, and get a couch. I had absolutely NO furniture. 

Armed with some basic necessities, I got started:

(I LIVE in my painting overalls. Paint on my hands?
Easy peasy, I just wipe em' on my pants and keep on truckin')

This was my blank canvas:

The first order of business, change out that dreadful carpet and paint. And curtains.

My boss graciously donated a couch and I was on my way

This was the first location of my ginormous fish tank. I didn't really want it to be the focal point of the room. I also hated that I have this rinky dinky TV centered under my lovely little windows.

View of the side of the living room and a partial of the "dining room" that one day would become my office. We'll get to that another day...

Then I finally got my white, slipcovered, IKEA Ektorp couch that I wanted do desperately. A pull-out for guests, listed for $850, I got it for free off of Craigslist because it had a tear in the slipcover. I paid $50 for a new one and voila.

(Side bar: I'll come back later and discuss the piece to the right in a future Before & After blog. It was my first big project that I sold for way less than I should have. Nice little lesson about time and labor vs. original purchase investment on that one.) 

The next incarnation was inspired by David Bromstad of Color Splash which you can read more about HERE

I wanted to try and re-create something like this:

But instead, looked more like this:

All kinds of fail. Yeah. My couch was supposed to be dyed navy, not PURPLE. This was even after two attempts at soaking (that process is its own blog). Here's another awful view of the carnage:

I had been so excited, and then...I hated it. 

So I tolerated the scene of disaster for as long as I could and then broke down and bought another white slip cover for the couch and ottoman.That "blurple" set is for sale BTW, if anyone is interested. I painted the round table white, and it got...well...better.

Still not totally happy though, but, I sometimes wonder if I'll ever stop wanting it to be better. I look around and see achievements, but also, so many flaws.

...And here's where we are today:

And I had to single this last one out as one of my favorite projects this year, now that it's done. I got it free from CL and it was an awful brown and green (you'll see in a future B&A extravaganza blog). I then painted it to look like this:

But it felt too off to me. Too matchy. Not beachy at all. 
This, ladies and gents, was also when I realized my true obsession is for Aqua, not turquoise
(Insert collective shock)

And ta-da! Now, I love it. Also, notice the deer antler candle stick holder? Christmas present from my Lori from Z Gallerie. She knows me SO well. 

So that's my living room. It's come a long way, baby. And hell, since these latest photos were taken, I've even made some more improvements. I'll save them for another day. Some things that I plan to do though:

  1. That big ass black TV has to go. Ick.
  2. The table to the left that I got free from the vintage store lady that loves me, totally needs to be white washed. Though, I loves me some aged gray wood.
  3. The table the right of my "Nest" chair, I am thinking of painting it aqua, the same as in the inside of the cabinet in that last photo, what do you think?
Suggestions are always welcome. I value your opinions. 

Up Next: The Kitchen, Bathroom, Office, Workspace, Blake's Room and My Room. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Creating A Cottage On A Hill Project: The Backstory

For those of you that would like to hang around, "after the blog show", I've been asked how I found myself living in a "house in a basement" so I thought I'd give you a little history lesson: 
In May 2008, I had been planning on moving into a new, furnished condo. I decided not to renew my lease for the condo we had been living in for the better part of the past four years and sold pretty much all of my furniture on Craigslist. I put all of my son's toys and my book cases (along with its extensive book collection) in storage until the end of summer when our condo would be ready and we moved into a spare wing of a friend's Chateau (quite literally). The day the movers arrived I had to pick up my five year old cat, Kiah, from the vet. I had her spayed and while she was unconscious I also had her de-clawed so she would not destroy my friend's furniture. She died that night. She had a rare disease called Cardio Myopathy which became aggravated by the anesthesia from the surgery and her heart had stopped. I tell myself she didn't suffer, that she just...left. Some nights my crying wakes me as I dream of her. Still two years later and I miss her every day. Tragedy number one, complete.


August rolls around. The furnished condo we were supposed to move into falls through. The previous tenant decides not to move out and the landlord and I had negotiated on a handshake. I was an idiot, plain and simple. Lesson learned. Tragedy number two, complete.

December finds me living with my best friend in her spare bedroom, this situation is not ideal and we barely made it through. My 2007 Honda SE lease ends. I'm now driving a $300 1992 Taurus. This thing scares me. I often wished it would just explode. You know how they tell you to be careful what you wish for? Well with good reason. my friends. A few days before Christmas, it blew up. I mean, really blew up, as in Boom! On the bright side, a salvage yard paid me $200 for it. Tragedy number three, kind of complete. 

Just after Christmas, I met a family through my church that wanted to have my son and I over for dinner, they had "adopted" us through the Single Mom's ministry I belonged to with my church. I struggled with participating, be too proud for handouts and charity and all, but God wasn't terribly interested in letting me out of it. You know how they say when one door closes, another one opens? Well, it can’t get much more literal that this, folks. We loved them and they loved us, pretty instantaneously  Random tidbit: their dog? Her name is Kaya (spelled different but pronounced the same as our dear little kitteh). I thought Blake was going to faint when she jumped on him and they yelled, "Kaya, get down!". The next day I got a phone call and that went a bit like this:

Them: So Christy, we got to thinking after dinner last night, we just bought this new house and the lower level is its own separate unit.
Me: Uh huh
Them: Well, we can’t really rent it out to just anyone, because they’d have access to our house
Me: Uh huh…
Them: But we really liked you and your little mister, we’d love to have you look at it. If you’d be interested?
Me: Well, what are you doing today?

Now mind you, we've met only once, that one time, over dinner at their house. I had explained how I had arrived at this existence where I was kind of homeless, didn’t own any furniture, had everything left that I own locked in a 10x10 storage unit and didn’t have a car. It was kind of a bad scene, but I tried to make it not sound as pathetic as it does right now as I am telling you. It seemed my luck was a turnin’. My only question after looking through this new home was, Can I paint?” to which I was met with a lot of laughing and, “Can you? Yes! Please, please paint.”

January 11th, 2009, I wake up in the middle of the night to a dream that my Grandpa was in the hospital. I sat next to him and as I held his hand, I watched him slip away. This is only the second time in my life that my sobbing woke me from my sleep, Kiah visiting me after she died being the first. I called him the next day:

Me: Well hi, Grandpa, I just called to tell you I love you.
Him: Well I love you, too, doll. Did you hear the news? The cancer is gone.
(as he says this his voice breaks and he starts to cry)
Me: I did. I am so very happy to hear that.
Him: Hey, any chance you can find me a book on how to make a Cardinal feeder?
Me: I will sure try
Him: You’re a good girl, Christy. Well, I’m glad you called, I love ya.
Me: So am I, and I love you, too.

It would be the last time I hear his voice, besides in my own head. That Thursday my Grandpa went into the hospital unexpectedly and with the dream in the back of my mind, I didn’t want to go. I was planning a visit for the weekend, but Saturday afternoon my aunt called, she said he was doing much better and suggested I wait to see him when he comes home. He died around 1:00 am Monday morning, almost a week after my dream. I loved him dearly. It kind of freaked my Grandma out, since I had told her about it when I called to speak with him, and between us, it kind of freaked me out, too. He was my like my father, he raised me, I would miss him every day. Tragedy number four, complete. 

My favorite photo, I think because it reminds me of JFK

I moved into "The Bucks" at the beginning of February with pretty much just a mattress, books and dishes. Oh! And an arsenal of painting and cleaning supplies, I can’t forget those. I put my bed in the kitchen and spent every spare minute that I wasn’t working at my day job painting every single inch of this place. Looking back, I can honestly say that having a project of that size to work on saved me, it really did. At times I would break down, I’d fall to the floor and sob hysterically. But now, when I look at a specific part of the room, I don’t think of how sad I was back then. I think of how my hands touched every inch of this space, how I helped breathe new life into it. I think of how proud my Grandpa would be of me. I think of how many things went wrong for me to find something that would eventually turn out to be so right.

That was two years ago.

Since then I have managed to collect all new pieces of furniture – mostly for free that I’ve upcycled or found on the side of the road. I’ve found a way to turn my giant one-room “loft” space into four separate rooms that each carry out their own function. I’ve changed my mind often, but each time I do, I get closer to who I feel that I am and my space reflects how far that I have come. I’ll never be completely happy with it, nor will I ever not see an improvement that can be made. I've lost loved ones and more vehicles and doors still close while others still open. But, isn’t that just life?

We have never truly arrived, we always have room to grow. Why wouldn’t the same be true for the shelter we call our home? I think I’m okay with that. In fact, I think I love that.

I also think I am very, very lucky.

My next installment:
Creating A Cottage On A Hill Project: The Living Room

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Serena & Lily...Oh, how I love you so.

I just can't STAND it.

Upon opening my S&L email today I had to catch my breath, I literally just sat there reminding myself how to breathe. The bed? The linens, that bedside table? Even the staging of this room is a colossal source of inspiration to me. (Hullllo little girl that I don't have yet, this is your room, dollface!)

In fact, I've been toying with painting a room Honeysuckle for quite some time now, though in my head I believe I was thinking "Poppy". I tried to add some lamps and mirrors in a similar color but ended up with a big bucket of, "Um, no.".

However, the inspiration sounded all kinds of awesome in my head:

I've been obsessing about this color group for awhile now
(Can you tell? I even matched entire outfits around it)

If I painted my walls to perfectly match my Amy Butler laptop case that I won from an LG Treasure Hunt, I wouldn't be totally insane, would I? (I mean, it even has its own hook hanging on my bedroom wall and everything) 

For more Amy Butler purses, bags and cases, click HERE

But the more I stare at this color, it makes me think of how much I love Pantone's color of the year, Honeysuckle (PANTONE is soo in tune to my needs) but is it too pink? Hmmm...pondering...pondering...

...And now that my Layla Grace Pine Cone Hill Kiawah Duvet set has finally made its way to my happy little home, I think it might just give it the extra Pop! that I am craving. What do you think? Picture a semblance of this bed, with a Honeysuckle room (it's presently blue, and all of my bedding is's like one giant, soft, pretty, cloud). It is too much, too dark? I truly think I love the idea of it. So inspiring and ...poppy.

To top it off I'd want this:
(which you can buy HERE)

And this:

(which you can buy HERE)

What can I say, I dream big.

PS-I WANT that bed.