Finding a Home For My Swirly, Colorful Painting

I thought it was time to get started on the art for our living room. I saw this beautiful art installation at an Anthropologie store in Austin (at the Domain) and I wanted to recreate it for our home.

art at anthro

It’s much more majestic in person – it’s huge, spanning the entire wall behind the cash registers, and it’s outlined in gold paint.

But I didn’t want to get started on this without doing a test drive first. What if it didn’t look good in our living room? And what colors would I use?

So, I did a much smaller version of the artwork.

sketch for art

With the help of the photo of the artwork on the laptop, I sketched out this outline. But before I put pencil to paper, I put tape to define the art space and to divide it into three parts to fit into our three large frames in the living room. If you look closely, you’ll see the tape – along the bottom, the top, and between the three sections. You can see the tape better in the next photo.

tape on painted artwork

It was hard trying to choose the colors I wanted to use. I also was somewhat limited by the acrylic colors I had and they didn’t take too well to color mixing, or I don’t know how! I wish I took color theory or something in college. I took a bunch of drawing classes, but no painting ones. Regrets, terrible regrets.

The tape was really helpful when it was time to paint. As you can see above, I painted over the tape and then it was easy to remove the paint from the tape. All I did was to add a bit of water to the tape and then wipe it away with tissue.

no paint on tape anymore

I wasn’t completely happy with the color choices I made, but this is what I ended up with:

completed artwork... hmm

Now it was time for the big test. I brought it to the living room and held it up to see how it would look in the space.

My face looked like this:

Old photo of Janella - from late November, when she was around 6 weeks old. She was so tiny!

It didn’t look right. The art was whimsical and the living room was more simple, modern, and had clean lines. The painting, not so much.

But I did like the painting. So, I thought about where else in the house I could put it in. I held it up at different places and finally arrived at my bedroom.

Here’s what it looks like (sorry for the MESSY bed and the blurry shot, I was holding a squirming Janella in my arms).

painting over bed

I think it works better in there, but the bright colors don’t really go with our chandelier. I downloaded a free trial of Photoshop Elements and played around with the colors.

painting over the bed, after photoshop

I think this could work! I can add outlines of silver paint, like how the original art did with gold paint, and paint the sides in silver as well.

I have a few large pieces of plywood in the garage that I’ll use for this project. Since I’ll be using plywood and not canvas or paper, I think wall paint should work just fine. This gives me much more choices in colors without worrying about color mixing!

Off I go to Home Depot or Lowe’s to pick up a few paint chips and figure out a good color scheme.

I’m not sure whether I will be doing a triptych for this room or do it on one large piece of plywood. Let’s see. What do you think? I also plan to add mirrors behind the lamps on both sides of the bed. Maybe round mirrors to offset all the sharp lines. We’ll see…

It’s great how doing small-scale samples can help us make better decisions for our home. Along with the help of technology, of course!

What will we do with the still-empty frames above our living room sofa?

ribba frames

Do another small-scale painting, of course. I think I will try making some swirly black art, like I talked about 3,221 years ago. I thought I should go with something with a bit more color, but my original plan is probably the best one. Funny how that works out.


Our Presents to Our House

I hope you got everything you wanted for Christmas! Wow, Christmas feels like ages ago already.

The following are various items that we got for the house with Christmas gift money or gifts that Nick gave me. He knows I like house stuff. I wonder how he knows…

First up is this really cool green clay pot that we found at Crate and Barrel Outlet.

It was marked down significantly and we had to sign a “as-is” form to make the purchase. It was a little bit weird – it’s not like a TV or anything – but okay. We love how it looks in our yet-to-be-styled Expedit in the game room.

I’ve been looking for a cute pair of salt and pepper shakers and we found this colorful pair at C&B Outlet.

Isn’t that so cheery? And as a bonus, all the colors on these shakers can be found throughout our home!

I grabbed these three golden candle holders just for fun. They were on mega-sale for only $1.95 each.

These cuties could live in any room in our house. I haven’t really found a place for them yet, but they’re happily hanging out in our tv set for now.

I get cold easily, so I love to have blankets around the living room. We grabbed two cute throws at IKEA and I also picked up a new white + gold pillow cover at Pottery Barn Outlet (the one on the right – this pillow is actually from West Elm, which is owned by Pottery Barn).

We also got two new pillow covers (also West Elm at Pottery Barn Outlet) for our game room.

Oh, that owl toy? Janella thought it would add some color.

Nick sweetly gave me a copy of Design*Sponge At Home. I know that everyone has a copy already, but I am so excited to read every single word in this book.

And the cover is SO pretty. My photo-taking skills, on the other hand, isn’t so pretty. Sorry for the blurriness!

Nick also gave me this great poster for the kitchen – I love it!! I first read about it at Door Sixteen and pinned it immediately. You can see the print better if you click over to the online shop.

I can’t wait to hang it up, but unfortunately the mat in the IKEA frame that we got has a too-small opening. I called Hobby Lobby and asked if they could cut it a little bigger for me, but they said no. Boo. Nick says he can cut it in a straight line… hope that works out. If not, new mat. From the scrooges at Hobby Lobby, probably.

We had a such hard time looking for lamps for our bedroom nightstands, because they only have 10 inches of surface space… until we found this cute lamp at IKEA for only 20 bucks. We grabbed two of them.

It’s simple, small, and gives off great light. The shade isn’t that great, but I’m thinking I want to hack it and replace the pleated fabric with a great printed fabric. A project for a rainy day. But the simple shade is growing on us, so we might just leave it as is.

The size works perfectly with our headboard as well. It’s weird how much I love these basic lamps.

We’re slowly collecting art to create a gallery art wall for our game room. Nick loved this print from IKEA and grabbed it.

I like it because it reminds me of the book The Pillars of the Earth. In our first year of dating, Nick and I each got a copy of the book and read it together during Christmas break away from each other. When I read the book, I felt like I was with him, even though he was in Pennsylvania and I in Florida. It was bookwormly romantic. We plan to do that again soon with The Help. But in the same house.

Nick’s 2012 resolution is to read 52 books – around 4 books per month. My resolution is to post on this blog at least three times a week. I’ve already failed this week (someone didn’t have great naps this week), but there’s always next week to make up!

Back to the point. I didn’t get enough sleep this week, my apologizes for all the tangents.

Our bedroom colors are purple and gray and teal, but we have a lot of gray and not much else. I was trying to figure out what we should do for window treatments until I saw this photo at everything LEB:

That was it – simple purple curtains would be perfect. With a stenciled roller shade.

When we were at IKEA, I saw these curtains but in a deep eggplant shade.

I can’t wait to hang them up. In February. We need to keep our focus on the laundry room. One of our January resolutions is to finish the laundry room – at least, to make it functional.

Wow, our purchases are all over the place. That’s the thing with budget decorating – you gotta go with what’s available for the right price, right now. But the journey is a lot of fun. Thanks for joining along the ride.

Aren’t I a bit sappy today? Yes, maybe. But I’m a mom now. Moms are sappy.

Things are finally getting done around here… Nightstands & Hardware Makeover Complete!!!

Remember these campaign nightstands that we got a while back?


Well, I say “these” but you only see one in this photo. We have two of them, in case you’re wondering. And you’re probably not, so let’s just get on with it…

We didn’t sand the wood before priming because there weren’t a lot of scratches and we just didn’t feel like it. It wasn’t necessary, since we used BIN primer and that stuff sticks to everything! We did two coats of primer and then two-three coats of glossy pure white Behr paint. Oh, and three coats of water-based poly.

We ripped out the hardware and debated whether to leave them brass or spray paint them silver. After googling around for a while, we decided to clean them, sand them, prime them, and then spray paint them with metallic paint. There were loads of information on the ‘net on how to clean brass, but I didn’t feel like driving anywhere and buying stuff that I would use once… so I just used what I had on hand, and that was a couple of SOS spongs. They worked just fine!

I sanded them lightly and Nick was really worried because the sanding really scratched up the metal. So we tested two pieces to see how they turned out.

They turned out just fine, with no visible scratches in the end. Whew. So we proceeded to spray them all, giving poor Nick lots of headaches until we finally bought a decent respirator gas mask… and I don’t know why we didn’t make the $30 purchase sooner! Now I can prod him to do his spray-paint duties without feeling guilty for his headaches afterwards…

We love the results:

So white and pretty and new-looking! I especially love how the hardware looks in silver, I’m really glad we went ahead and took the risk of spray-painting them.

Yes, it’s been Tala’s hangout for a while… but they’re finally relocated to our bedroom. Sorry, Tala, you’ll have to find another spot.

When re-installing the hardware, some of the paint got a little banged up, but not too bad. We’ll do some touch-ups and then we’ll see how the paint job lasts! I’ll update y’all in a few months, since I’ve heard mixed reviews on painting hardware.

I’m just so happy they’re done! And I have to say that Nick and mom deserves alllll the credit for the nightstands. All I did was take photos and prep the hardware. I feel so lame these days…

How To Snag Overly Big Lamps at Home Goods

1. On your way to check out the piles of baby stuff at Buy Buy Baby, stop by Home Goods to check out the… goods.

2. Be obsessed with finding the perfect lamps/sconces for your bedroom and go straight to the lamps area.

3. Find great lamps for $39.99 each and consider paint spraying them black. Go ahead and buy them and hope they look good in your bedroom.

4. Set them on your nightstands the minute second you get home.

5. Stand and stare at them (a la Emily Henderson) for more than several minutes.

6. Sadly mutter to your husband that you think they might be too big. Listen to him disagree weakly.

7. Decide you’ll give them a few days to prove themselves worthy.

8. Tuck yourself in bed that night and flinch when the lights shine brightly in your eyes as you chat with your husband.

9. Sigh. Look at your husband as he comes to the realization that they are indeed too big. Sigh again.

10. Decide to return them. Procrastinate until the second to last possible day that you’re able to return them.

lights edited

They don’t look too big in the picture, but in person, they just overshadow the headboard of the bed and the nightstands. Oh well. I’m sad to have to return them, but I’m happy to announce that Nick is finally on board with the desk lamp/sconce look for our bedroom. Hopefully we find the perfect pair for cheap somewhere soon or settle for one from our previous search (see this post).

But no trip to Home Goods is a complete and total fail. I love these huge outdoor pillows that will live happily in our nursery.

pillows edited

And how do you like this cute yellow birdcage thingy?

birdcage2 edited

It reminds me of this birdcage from Crate & Barrel, but at 1/3 of the cost.

Okay, fine, they don’t look similar at all. But – both are yellow. Both are birdcage-ish. And ours is much cheaper. So, let me be happy, a’ight?

Best off-the-point news of the day: THREE WEEKS ‘TILL SUMMER VACATION!

Sometimes a solution presents a new problem…

We’re very happy with our nightstands, but… Remember these lamps?

Well, they barely fit the tops of the nightstands. If we add shades, they would not fit at all. Sigh… For now, we’ve relocated them to the living room where they will work for now. Still sans heads, but let’s focus on one problem at a time, shall we?

I’m thinking maybe sconces would work? Or metal industrial desk lamps? Some options we’re considering:

1 is from West Elm. I really like the idea of these sconces, but the color of the shades isn’t right. 2 is a desk lamp from IKEA. It’s simple enough… 3 is a cool yellow desk lamp from CB2 that I originally wanted for our office until I found a thrift little lamp instead. It could add a fun splash of color to our currently gray and black bedroom. 4 is a tall lamp from CB2 that I think I really like. You have to see it in a room (check out their website) to appreciate how tall and big it is. 5 is another lamp from CB2 with a really tiny base. The shade might be a bit too dark, though. 6 is yet another lighting option from CB2, but a sconce this time. This one looks really cool in a room on their website, too.

Ah, let me just show you the catalog rooms that showcase the lights 1, 4, and 6.

And you’ve seen our bedroom. So… which option do you think would be the best fit? Or do you have other suggestions in mind? The lamps can’t be more than 10 inches in diameter (actually, ten would be kind of pushing it), including the shade.

It’s interesting that Nick isn’t convinced at all on the scone thing, even after I showed him 385,407 photos with bedrooms with sconces, mostly from the Lonny archives. Some of his choice words when I showed him the photos:



“That’s okay.”

(silence… gives me the Look)

I guess sconces in the bedroom don’t really appeal to men?

The Bedroom Nightstand Saga Comes to an End… Almost.

I can’t believe that our struggle to find nightstands for our master bedroom took almost a year!

In May 2010, we almost got nightstands off Craig’s List but backed out when we found that they weren’t solid wood. We decided we wanted campaign nightstands instead.

But we couldn’t find any on Craig’s, so in October 2010, I came up with some ideas to hack the Rast nightstand and decided that I wanted to do them Dorothy Draper-style. But we didn’t get a chance to go to IKEA. Nick We kept on putting the trip off.

Then in February, we hit up a couple of new-to-us thrift stores. One of them was called Next to New. The north Austin thrift store has a nice selection of furniture, frames, clothes, and appliances and a pricing system that I hadn’t seen before:


Basically, they tell you WHEN the price will drop. Of course, the risk is there that the item will be gone before the prices drop, but it’s a great idea! This price is for a beautiful, large campaign dresser that could be used as a TV table.

As Nick was ogling this dresser, I walked around and found two campaign nightstands! We considered waiting for the prices to drop, but we didn’t want to risk it and just bought them! I think we paid $70 for the pair.


The cool thing about these nightstands is how the top drawer opens up like a secretary desk.


Plenty of room for all the books that are threatening to take over our house!

It’s funny how our plans went full circle and we went back to our original plan. We plan to paint the nightstands either a light gray or white and maybe spray the hardware to be darker. Hopefully the result will look something like this:

lonny, feb/march 2010 issue

At least, I was thrilled that someone tried the Dorothy Draper hack on the Rast nightstand and it turned out fabulous, just like I thought it would!! Check it out here. But I’m sure you all have already seen it while I was in my pregnancy haze.

Some Ideas for Hacking the IKEA Rast Nightstand

Ever since I saw this blank slate of a nightstand…{IKEA}

…magically turn into this gorgeousness:

{Aubrey + Lindsay}

I’ve been wondering what we could do to put our spin on this excellent Ikea hack.

During all this obsessing, I picked up a lot of nightstand inspiration along the way that could be DIYed on the Rast dresser…

1. Paint/stain (in a darker stain) the dresser the same way as Aubrey and Lindsay did, but switch out the handles for a more modern look.

{LOFT Home}

Try the Metrik or the Lansa handles from IKEA for this look.

{Metrik, IKEA}

2. Paint it black and add two thin stripes on both sides in a light color.

{Pier 1}

Try recessed knobs with this look, from here:

3. Chevron it up!


Please use Frog Tape for this. Blue tape would mess up your project!

I also really love the knobs on the above dresser. I found two knobs with a similar feel:



But what I think we’re gonna do is this:

{from somewhere on ebay}

Do you see it?? The bones are the same! All I need is some black paint and a good stencil to do the outlines – I would like to do two outlines per drawer, so it looks like six drawers (like in the above picture). Maybe the outlines will be painted in white or in silver or gray… not sure yet. I love the pulls, as well.

And another picture of the dresser with my favorite couple of all time:


Let’s see if we can pull it off.

Naomi from Thirteen and South recently made over her Rast nightstands and she has some great photos and tips on what to expect from the project HERE. Check it out!