Tag Archives: decor

How to Prep Older Walls

If your dream house has character and charm it is most likely moe than five years old. And it is most likely full of not so charming problems. While every episode of Property Brothers goes over the internal problems that need professional attention there are plenty of cosmetic ones that add days to your prep work.

Yes, days.

I recently painted my room after a long lead up and I was excited to get into it but once I moved all the furniture out and took down the wallpaper I realized the walls were in terrible shape. So began nearly 72 hours of wall prep.

1. Wash the walls. You’ll be amazed at the grime and glue that will come up. Don’t use too much water, this is more like an exfoliation. The sponge will snag on uneven surfaces, clumps of dust won’t get in your paint, and you’ll get an idea where you need to spackle.

2. Sand down bumpy areas and scrape places the wallboard is peeling. You want to be very careful not to punch a hole in the board, the goal is just to stop the peeling. 

3. Spackle every hole and even out dips around bolts (these often settle and jutt out through the paint). You may need to even the areas you sanded as well depending on how bad your peeling was. 

4. Wash your walls again so your paint adheres well.

5. Keep these materials handy while you paint – you’ll probably find more holes and rough patches (particularly if you’ve ever had the room wallpapered).

These steps are a pain but once the paint goes up it will look much better. If the walls have serious problems (like holes) a painter or handyman can usually fix these for you. You can also cover some damage by choosing a light color in a matte that will hide damage. High gloss and eggshell will show off any wall damage.

Embrace a little “damage”. You have an older house with charm and this means some bolts will show like the house of Frankenstein. You can hide bolts behind art or furniture or you can leave it front and center as signifiers of age like the rings of a tree.


Covet: Carter Family Portraits

The internet has yielded many moments of pure cultural absurdity over the past two decades, from lolKatz to memes to autotune, oh how we love altering history. Carter Family Portraits is a new name to add to the list (HuffPost even weighed in) and the creative souls over there have been putting in the hours to find all the best portraits for yonce-fying your house. For everyone who ever thought “man, that Da Vinci could paint… too bad he never painted Blue Ivy…” *walks away uninspired* here’s the website for you!
Yes, more please!
Now to the shopping. That’s right, there’s a shop – thank you Society 6, and now my shrine to B shall be complete from top to tip. What shall I buy? Perhaps…

a shower curtain titled ‘Bey in the Garden’ (aka Self portrait with a necklace by Friday Kahlo)

a mug ‘Bey takes a dip in the pool’ (aka Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais)

a rug ‘Bey on her Gold Lame Sofa’ (aka Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer I)

Of course the things I’m tempted to break my no-more-art-don’t-do-it-no rule for is the (‘Jay in Shades’) Jay-Z (aka Henry VIII by Hans Holbein) and (‘Bey wearing her favorite necklace’) Bey as Anne Boleyn (16th century, unknown artist) giclee prints…

Finally, I can have a real gallery a la The Good Wife full of nothing but the Carter family’s pretty faces. My decor is complete.

Single Girl’s Guide to: Decor

Elle Decor recently published a much re-tweeted list of the 10 things a woman needs in her home. While Elle pretty much nailed the aesthetic of an effortlessly chic grown woman I couldn’t help but add to the list.

1. Find your happy colors.

Most people have two standards of color comfort for their home; happy chic for the living room and a calming cool for the bedroom. It seems like a simple formula until put into practice. Finding a calming bedroom color that is neither grating nor too pale is tricky and many people end up hating it simply because it is too calming. Trying to center yourself and be as cool as Cucumber or as serene as Serephina blue is a lot of pressure. In your own place the color is entirely up to you, so what is your version of calm? For some it is a dark red that entombs you like a mummy and for others it is a shiny white that reads nothing but simplicity.

2. Before committing to a wall color buy your other accessories and then pick a wall color that compliments those. This is nothing you haven’t heard before but here’s the twist, you’re not just buying accessories. Every table and appliance can now be tailored to you and your fleeting emotions. A hot pink bed can punch up a grey wall-scape and a set of crisp white sheets can change the narrative of a bright orange or dark purple walls. Use the space to appreciate your own opinions and taste’s, no one else gets a say so you can experiment at will.

The living room is your space to express yourself. Guests will see this space and it makes for a good place to test out new sartorial ideas and see how comfortable you are with them. While the ultimate ideal may be complete 100% self-respect in which we never second guess a style decision, we still want a space that conveys who we are. Your living room is open for interpretation and opinions that allow you to see yourself through the eyes of friends, family, and the pizza delivery guy.

3. Find space for your things

Make-up, hair “thingies”, balms and salves. Who really knows what is in their make-up kit? The discovery of a new product is celebrated with the same acclaim as the loss of your first baby tooth, now that you’re in your bachelorette pad why not throw a dinner party on behalf of that new perfume that is finally “perfect”? OK, actual parties may be a little too much (although if Carrie Bradshaw can marry herself and get a few Manolos…) but if you love your products and want to remember to use them leave them out in artful little displays.

Brushes sit nicely in vases, shadows in trays, and mascara and liners in pencil cases; I find lipsticks are the easiest to store away since they are usually applied last (for me it is after that first cup of coffee and the commute) and then tossed in a hand bag. Placing these by the door in a beautiful box (Cynthia Rowley has been out doing herself in home decor this summer) makes for one stop shopping on your way out.

4. Find space for your wastes of space.

When the space is all yours you can waste it as you like. Those beer cozies you got free at every music festival ever – yeah you have a place for those. They may not be high-end or particularly chic but the items that I’ve come closest to throwing away have made the best conversation pieces.

5. Embrace your feminine side.

I don’t know why women are so averse to being feminine (oh wait, yes I do, I took history 101) but enough already. Most of the women who swear off the F word let alone the G word (girly) will tell me of their masculinity while wearing a pale purple lace dress and heels. While the gendering of objects is outdated and ultimately unfounded we each have those ideas imprinted in our minded, all tied up with precious memories. Instead of focusing on male or female and then trying to strike a balance of the two, figure out what you like and balance those styles. (Take a page from the ultimate dream house diva BARBIE). After all we all have a little hard and a little soft. A brutalist metal bookcase will sharpen its tongue when placed next to a textured lace pastel sofa and a re-purposed wooden coffee table will lend itself nicely to a fairytale/granny chic aesthetic when positioned in front of floral furniture or drapes. Even industrial pillars can be livened up with some hot pink cashmere. Sometimes a feminine edge is exactly what we want to come home to at the end of the day.


Designer Betty Lou Phillips

DIY DECOR: Poster Art Chic or Childish

The first week of college was nothing but poster fair after poster fair and four years later you’re stuck with several dozen heavily worn posters you don’t know what to do with. Enter you’re first grown-up apartment and you want to fill it with chic pieces but right now isn’t a time to be dropping two grand at the Affordable Art Fair on mini Damien Hirsts. Revisiting those old posters may not be the style fatality you think it is. -Just chuck the ones that look like they’ve been attacked by your cat.

Movie Posters
Stick with the ambience. Theaters (be it film or play) are pretty timeless and using the frame and wall paint/seating to maintain the mood is a good way to play up your movie posters. Barnyard wood frames look nice for silent films or film noir while classics like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure are well paired with a solid black frame a la movie theaters. Some frames come with marquee lighting inside (which can be faked with Christmas lights just be sure to attach the wire to the wall and then paint it the same color to camo). For a further step up, matte in red or black velvet or add a gold rope along the edges of the poster to bring in move theatre luxe.

Don’t overdress them. It’s tempting to slide your Bill and Ted poster into a gilded Baroque frame and add a spotlight dancing above it but let’s be honest this looks out of place. Having the unexpected in your design is only good if it is obvious you did it on purpose. Using a traditional frame and light to showcase a poster can say ‘I’m too young for this apartment’. Even a very expensive poster, like an original 1960s backlight poster that can run you over a grand, will look out of place in an over the top frame because you’re not enhancing its natural beauty and you’re ignoring everything that poster stands for. Each piece should express a complete thought and you should finish it on the same emotional note you started it on. Relegating you’re film posters to a specific area of the apartment may allow you to embrace a clashing style in other areas. Changing styles also helps visually create ‘nooks’ where, architecturally, there are none. A dining room table right next to the television can be broken up into two rooms via decor and art.

Art and Antiquities
If you want the Mona Lisa in your home odds are you’re buying a poster – Same goes for copies of ancient textiles or hieroglyphics.

Matting, matting, matting! Treat you’re fine art like fine art by giving it a proper mat and frame. Because posters tend to be very flat, visually speaking, the mat is a good place to bring in texture by using a fabric or grass cloth. If you’re big on DIY the mat is a great place to get creative. Add sand, aluminum foil, ink blotches, or leather scraps to amp up your piece.

More mating!
When you mat a fine art poster be sure to cover ALL of the white edging that usually comes on a poster. Leave only the actual work visible. A gallerist trick is to mat a poster with more mat on the bottom than on top. This off centered approach is supposed to be visually stimulating, just tell your frammer (or your Exact-o Knife if you’re DIY) to leave 1/4 to 3/4 more on the bottom (depending on poster size).

Beware direct lighting. Because posters are glossy any direct lighting will wash them out and highlight the fact it is not an original work. If you want to add a showcase light, get a wide bar light and place it half a foot away from your art collection, one should be able to light up at ,east two pieces and bring attention to them in a dark room.

Getting Freaky
You have those old posters you love but you also have a healthy art collection as well. Or maybe you’re just tired of posters on the wall.

Rip that poster in half. Posters usually have a focal point, be it Mona Lisa’s Smile, a film logo, or two Egyptian warriors frozen in battle. Cut out your favorite details and use them to decoupage a wooden tray or dresser. (If your posters cover a variety of themes remember this is going to look like an ode to your college years, if your don’t like that decorate your items theme by theme ie an egyptian hat box, a fine art tissue box, and a movie poster dresser).

Posters can also be placed under a sheet of glass, or decoupaged as one big piece, across the top of a table. This can make that really damaged street corner find into a freebie you can eat off of.

Organize: A Ban on Books

I hear it all the time, usually out of my own mouth, “I have too many books!”

Why we nerd-kind are still so encumbered by dust-jacket wearing invaders is a bit of a mystery. I mean, I’m an early adapter, I have a Kindle, I don’t need paper books! Part of the reason I got on the e-reader band wagon was a hope to be free from my quad-edged vice. I own every fairytale, dozens of quick read thrillers, and every out of print classic that comes in a downloadable medium. I also own three book shelves full of books! Three! Where did I go wrong?

Enter my new checklist for decluttering that monstrous beast The Bookshelf

1. Find duplicates. I don’t need to own both a digital and paper edition (unless the paper ed. Is signed, a gift, or somehow really sentimental), scrap any identical twins.

2. Sort out beach books. These are the books I bought thinking I’d read on vacation or it was used and therefo cheaper than the Kindle version. I put these right next to my bed in an obtrusive pile so I couldn’t forget I was supposed to be reading them. I also cancelled my queue at the library so newbies weren’t jumping the line. I’ve already found a number of thrift store paperbacks I have no intention of ever reading again.

3. Put my false idols on a pedestal. I have a few signed books, copies of my grandfather’s books, and my own travel journals that are important to me. I sorted these out, making sure they weren’t getting indented or damaged. I stacked a few favorites next to these until I filled up my shelf. I took the left over books and made a pile for reconsidation.

4. School books. Oy. I don’t really need a forensic anthropology field guide anymore and I’ll probably never re-read Roy Strong’s theory of symbolism in portraits of Queen Elizabeth, yet there they are. These have also gone in the reconsiderstion pile but I can’t seem to part. I think it may be some irrational fear that my dissertation will come into question and I’ll be forced to defend it. I did pull out the really boring books and send them off to good will even though they cost a fortune and now no one wanted them. Textbooks are pretty much a waste of money, no need to make them a waste of space. Although I did find an old writing guide book and it was brilliant! So glad I found that again!

5. I let the pile sit for a week and then donated. I needed to be sure I wouldn’t pull a regret and rebuy. My books could still be lessened but my bookends aren’t falling off the sides anymore!

6. Design. I took my pendulum clock out of storage and used it to separate my row, then I set up some prettily covered books in a bookstore fashion to make a dozen novels look like four!