Dealing With “Ghosts of Owners Past”

Moving into a new home comes with lots of excitement and anticipation.  Most of us can’t wait to make our new house “our home”. Often times this means purging decorating decisions that were made by the previous owners; things I call “Ghosts of Owners Past”.  Some of these changes are relatively easy and inexpensive, such as repainting walls, swapping out light fixtures, or ripping out carpet to expose hard wood floors. Other changes are not so easy, nor inexpensive: dated kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, wall to wall carpet (without hard wood underneath), dated (or ugly) tiles, and dated (or ugly) bathroom fixtures. These are expensive fixes and may be years before budget allows a redo.

Recently I was asked to to help deal with a “ghost of owners past”

 

BEFORE: blue tub, blue and white wall tiles

 

The new owner was not a fan of the blue bath tub and the surrounding blue and white tile.  Redoing the bath was not in the budget and she did not want to go to the expense of re-glazing; so what to do?

First of all, the dated blue metal blinds had to go. Also, nothing dates a room faster than 1980′s brass so a new tub surround was added. The biggest problem with this bathroom was that the white walls and white tile floor made the blue bathtub even more prominent.  Since blue was the only color in the room, your eye went right to it.

The client had already picked out a very pretty blue and white window treatment so we decided to bring the blue of the tub right up onto the walls. Now when you walk in the room your eyes go to the  pretty blue walls and window treatment and you hardly even notice the tub. The client is thrilled and the cost was minimal to deal with this “Ghost of Owners past”.

 

 

AFTER:new paint, new tub surround, new window treatments

 

Do you have Ghosts of Owners Past in your Home?  If so, and  you would like some help dealing with them, give me a call.

 

 

Collecting and Displaying Books..How Many Are Too Many?

One of my (many) passions is books. I have been collecting them since High School and I feel the same way about books as I do art; I couldn’t be truly happy living without either. I think the easiest way to make a house a home is to surround yourself with books that you love. This past week I have been thinking about books more than usual. You see, my oldest son is moving back to Boston after graduating college and then spending the past year in San Francisco. He is selling most of his  belongings on Craigslist but all of  his books are being shipped back to us. Every day the mail man delivers more and more boxes of books. He finally asked me yesterday if I had bought out a library.  My son warned me he had “a lot” of books but I had no idea what “a lot” meant until this week. Here is what we have received so far.

…more boxes are evidently coming….a lot more….seriously??

 

 

I guess I only have myself to blame for my son’s book obsession.  He grew up surrounded by books.  We have books in bookcases, books on tables, and books stacked next to the bed. I even use some of of my decorating books as a side table.

 

I consider Design Magazines, “soft” books, so I collect those as well. I have recently decided it is time to get rid of the really old ones (pre-2006) so I have been purging them…painful but not as painful as if I had to get rid of my books.  Here are 2 of the 4 sets of floating shelves under the eves in our master bedroom. All the shelves are neatly stacked with magazines.

 

There are so many creative ways to display books. The most common way obviously is in a bookcase. I think it  looks best to have some books standing up and some laying down, intermixed with other objects and art work. Bookcases are such a beautiful focal point when done right, like this one with a beautiful green painted back.

Molly Luetkmeyer of M. Design Interiors

 

If you are going for that whole library look then just line them up and fill the shelves.

 

Pinterest

 

If your front door brings you directly into the living room, using an open bookcase as a room divider is a great idea.

 

 

Unusually shapes bookcases can do double duty as both art and storage, like this wall of  diagonal shelves done by Kelly Wearstler for the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica.

 

or this creative one of a kind bookcase.

 

A fellow blogger, The Decorologist even used her fireplace as a unique place to display her books.

 

 

As far as how many books are too many?  I would say somewhere around this many.

 

 

Well have to run…..Boarders Book Stores liquidation sale begins today…my son just called and told me.

 

If you would like some help displaying your books, give me a call.

Testing Wall Color 101

When it comes time to paint, most of us start out at the same place; either the paint store or the paint department of one the big box stores. After looking over 100′s of chips we decide on a few different possibilities and then come home to test them out (I certainly HOPE you are testing them out).

After walking into a client’s home and seeing this “test wall” of color, I want to share how a professional Color Consultant tests color.

wall color samples

Let me start off by saying, NEVER test color by painting directly on your wall. Even if your walls are white this method will do nothing but confuse you. All you are doing is comparing all the colors to one another; and since our eyes are instinctively drawn to the brightest color, this may or may not lead you to make the right choice.

 Almost all paint companies offer small sample jars. You want to paint up either poster board or foam core (the bigger the better) with 2 coats of the sample paint (be sure the first coat is dry before applying the second coat). The little foam brushes the store gives out are fine but to get an even smoother finish I use a small foam roller. Once your sample board is thoroughly dry  the testing can now begin.

Since color is affected by the other colors around it, you want to move your board around and see how the color looks next to all the fixed color elements in the room. Hold it behind your sofa and  next to your window treatments. Hold it next to your carpet, art work and and any other fabrics in the room.

testing color sample board

testing board next to carpet

If  it is for a kitchen hold it next to the granite counter tops or tile and next to your cabinets. Move it EVERYWHERE and make sure you like how it looks next to all the other colors in the room. If it looks “a little off” it may just be that the undertone of the sample is fighting with the undertone of your fixed elements. This is when you might want to call in a professional if you can’t seem to get it right.

Look at your color sample board at all different times of the day. There is a little something called Matamerism that causes color to change under different lighting situations. The color may look just great in the morning but then at night it could look very different. Think about the time of day you will use the room the most and make sure you like the color at that time.

Lastly, take your time when choosing color. Most mistakes and panic calls I receive is from the homeowner who went to the paint store to pick a color the day before the painter showed up. Plan some time to “live” with the color and make sure you still like (love) it days later. Although we always hear the saying, “It’s only paint”, painting is still a hassle, expensive, and the one decorating element you want to get right the first time.

If you need any help getting color right the first time, give me a call!

Fear Not the Decorating Police

A few weeks back I went to see a new client for a color consult. She was a lovely woman and she met me at the door wearing white pants, a pink top, pink jewelry, and pink flip flops.  She had called me to help her match a soft white that she currently had on her living room walls. She had moved in a few years earlier and felt the white was “fine” but wanted to repaint it to freshen it up.  It was one of those days when I didn’t have my camera with me so I’m sorry I have no photos. After touring her home I noticed there were hits of pink everywhere. Her accessories, her pillows, and a lot her art work all had varying shades of pink.

Her living room sofa was brown, her carpet was brown, white, pink and green and this fabric  is very similar to the fabric that covered her two living room chairs.

Waverly Penny Stripe in Watermellon

 

We stared talking about color and she said her absolute favorite color in the whole world was pink  (I kind of already suspected that). When I asked if she might be open to looking at some pink hues for her living room walls rather than white, she looked at me like I had two heads and said ” pink on the living room  walls?  I never heard of anyone painting their living room pink”…and lastly, my favorite…”what will people think?”

I assumed by her reference to  ”people”,  she meant those frightening “Decorating Police”…you know, the ones who arrive unexpectedly and walk through your home with clip boards, slowly shaking their heads and criticizing your decorating decisions. They must say things like, “pink walls in the living room… minus ten points”.  ”No pillows on your bed..minus 25 points”….”no window treatments in the dinning room…minus 50 points”! The Decorating Police must be very scary because I visit so many homes where the owner is  hesitant to decorate according to their own personal style and personalities.  I think fear of the Decorating Police must be why so many people defer to a home furnishing store like Pottery Barn or West Elm. They simply order everything from one store and call it a day. The problem is, your finished room looks just like a Pottery Barn or a West Elm. It doesn’t look like you. Now I have nothing against either of these stores, in fact I shop them both a lot. I am just pointing out that it is important to put a little of yourself in the room as well.

If you want to use your formal dinning room as an office because you never have formal dinners..use it as an office.

Dinning Room Turned Office

 

If you want to paint Gamma’s old Mahogany dresser pink, go fot it!

 

 

And PLEASE, if you want to paint your Living Room pink…I for one, think it will be beautiful.

 

Stephen Shubel Design

 

If you would like some help choosing pink walls…or quieting the fear of the Decorating Police, give me a call.

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