Monday, November 30, 2009

It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown

This little boy's (or girl's) bedroom is inspired by the Peanuts TV special It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown. My son will be turning two shortly (time flies!) so I'm currently in the process of planning his big boy room. I like kid's rooms that are rooted in nature and I like classic Charlie Brown specials so I thought it would be neat if I combined the two.

The television special is about the Peanuts gang unwillingly attending summer camp after Lucy signs them up. My biggest challenge was not making the room filled with licensed characters but still capturing the essence of Charlie Brown and summer camp. My son is currently obsessed with tents so the first thing I selected was the Great Plains Teepee. I seem to recall making teepees back when I went to summer camp. I love the rug made to look like wood and the pillow made to look like a campfire. I think they're my favorite elements in the room. The sun jar on the dresser has a light inside that is powered by the sun, it reminds me of a jar used to catch fireflies. The little moose in the log car is adorable and comes in a set of 6 various racing forest critters. The owl pillow perched on the bed's foot board also adds to the overall summer camp woodland creature vibe.

Some of the room's aspects are obvious and not-so-obvious nods to the Charlie Brown special. The wooden camp sign is there because, of course, it takes place at camp. The show features a canoe race between the boys and the girls hence the decorative canoe paddle. The fun orange ride-on dog sculpture is in honor of Snoopy. I chose a yellow dresser to represent Charlie Brown's well-known yellow shirt. The little red wagon wall shelf is in homage to the unseen Little Red-Haired Girl. Then, of course, I had to include an actual Charlie Brown in the room. I did this with a bobble-head placed on top of the shelf. I also added a framed print of Snoopy fishing over the bed.

I wanted to keep the bedding neutral so I went with a basic white percale duvet and sham. Sure white bedding can be impractical in a kid's room but it really makes the campfire pillow pop! I also went neutral (and natural) with the unstained maple bed and driftwood floor lamp. Lastly the vintage camping print nicely incorporates all of the colors in the room. I will say that creating this room really made me want to design a summer camp theme room for my son now too.

Paint color is the appropriately titled Grassy Fields from Benjamin Moore.


Dexton 6' Great Plains Teepee ($99) from
Handwoven Wood Grain Rug (5x8 - $179) from Land of Nod
Campfire Pillow ($24.95) from GAMA-GO
SUN JAR ($40.00) from Uncommon Goods
Derby Critters set of 6 ($39) from Wisteria
Dwell Studio Stuffed Owl ($36) from Modern Nursery
Vintage Style Camp Wood Sign ($14.99) from Deborah McClain
Wooden Paddle Brown ($21.99) from Decor and Gift Shopping
Puppy by Magis Me Too Collection ($129) from Unica Home
Hemnes dresser ($199) from IKEA
Wagon Shelf ($58.99) from Pottery Barn Kids
Classic Peanuts: Charlie Brown Bobblehead ($12.99) from
Holiday Tents, Camping Adventures Print (framed $114.99) from
Caught A Big One Framed Panel Print ($44.99) from Cafepress
Percale duvet cover and sham ($99 & $29) from Room and Board
Calvin Twin Bed ($899) from Room and Board
Bleu Nature Tropique Lamp ($287.98) from

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Trading Spaces $2000 Challenge

This bedroom is inspired by the TV show Trading Spaces, specifically the challenge of decorating an entire room for only $2000. My favorite type of design shows involve a strict budget so, with this room I assigned myself two specific parameters: 1. The entire room had to cost $2000 or less (including paint) and 2. Each item had to come from a different store (otherwise I could have easily decorated an entire room from Target). I'll admit there are some instances here and there where rule number 2 was stretched a bit. I have two of the same side tables from Walmart and I have two different, but similar, tree prints from Etsy. Also, my own bedroom has two windows so I counted two curtains from Urban Outfitters in the total (one large curtain would swath across each window). And the glass vases are both from Crate and Barrel.

When I assigned myself this challenge I imagined host Paige Davis handing me the cash and saying, "design a room you would want for yourself!" So, that's what I did. This is the bedroom I would design for myself if all I had to start with was a queen sized mattress, sheets, pillows, two thousand dollars and nothing else. The main problem with designing a room from scratch using only brand new items is the lack of personality that is usually achieved with thrifted or inherited items.

If pressed I would probably describe my design aesthetic as contemporary with a bit of vintage and quirkiness thrown in. I tried to incorporate the vintage and quirky elements with the squirrel portrait and slightly wacky throw pillow. I love the portrait because it's a painted squirrel on one piece of wood carved to look like an ornate frame. I think everyone should have at least one whimsical item in their bedroom. The pink and green pillow goes completely off the color scheme grid and therefore adds a touch of interest to the room.

And now for cost breakdown:

Pastoral Portrait in Western Gray from ModCloth = $27.99
Hypno Pillow from CB2 = $14.95
Round Side Table from Walmart = $59.88 x 2 = $119.76
Sycamore 2 Photography Print from Etsy = $8.00
Sycamore 1 Photography Print from Etsy = $8.00
DAX Solid Wood Frame, 5x7, Black from Kmart = $9.29 x 2 = $18.58
DwellStudio Bloom Bedding from Target = $79.99
Grid Tufted Headboard from West Elm = $369.99
Damask Grey Wool Rug 5 x 8 from = $179.99
Gramercy Chair Black Stripe Linen from Ballard Designs = $395
Stacy Garcia Countess Stripe Giclee Pendant Chandelier from Lamps Plus = $199.99
Flocked Medallion Curtain from Urban Outfitters = $48 x 2 = $96
Matilda Vase from Crate and Barrel = $29.95
Cali Vase from Crate and Barrel = $6.95

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Everything Must Go!

This living room is inspired by The Weakerthans song Everything Must Go! The Weakerthans are my favorite band so it is only fitting that my first song inspired room would be in honor of them.

The song's opening line is: Garage Sale. Saturday.I need to pay My heart's outstanding bills.

I wanted to make everything in the room appear as if it could have been purchased at a garage sale. The coffee table is reminiscent of furniture at office surplus stores. I picture it once placed in a strip mall doctor's office. While the coffee table is from Walmart and inexpensive, the retro side table is a bit pricey but looks as if it once lived in the Brady Bunch home. The mid-century rocking chair would also be at home at the Brady's.

The next lines are: A cracked-up compass and a pocket watch, Some plastic daffodils. The cutlery and coffee cups I stole from all-night restaurants. A sense of wonder only slightly used
a year or two to haunt you in the dark.

The owner of this room is a collector of unique items. In order to display these artifacts they would of course need some sort of curio cabinet. Most curio cabinets I found were in the traditional style with glass doors. This one is more of a bookcase that could work as interesting display shelves. These shelves would house things like a vintage a compass and diner coffee cups. I love the antique cutlery print I found for this room and want one for my dining room. The pocket watch posed a problem because, as a rule, pocket watches aren't very decorative. I found numerous wall clocks that looked like pocket watches but they were too formal for this room. Instead I used a retro wall clock that is similar to the face of a pocket watch. The plastic daffodils also posed a problem. Plastic daffodils aren't so great looking so I chose a vintage daffodil print instead. I hope I succeeded in capturing a sense of wonder in this room but I don't want it to haunt anyone in the dark, especially not for a year or two.

Next line: For a phone call from far away with a 'Hi, how are you today?' and a sign recovery comes to the broken ones. A wage-slave forty-hour work week weighs a thousand kilograms.
So bend your knees comes with a free fake smile for all your dumb demands.

This line mentions a phone call so I selected a beautiful bright orange retro telephone to brighten up the room. I think the Fugitive Recovery sign adds a bit of strange whimsy and is fitting for the room. I found it on a law enforcement supply site. As you can probably tell from the 'kilograms" reference, The Weakerthans are not from the US but from Canada. So, in homage to their heritage, I included an embroidered Canada pillow and a rusty moose wall hook.

Last line: The cordless razor that my father bought when I turned 17, a puke-green sofa, and the outline to a complicated dream of dignity. For a laugh too loud and too long. For a place where awkward belongs, and a sign recovery comes to the broken ones. For the broken ones.
"Or Best Offer."

I wouldn't exactly call the sofa "puke green" but it is a certain shade of green that reminds me of sofas in rumpus rooms circa 1964. I think the rug's busy pattern borders on awkward but, like everything else in the room, just barely fits in ("where awkward belongs").

Paint color is Benjamin Moore "Old Pickup Blue"


Star Oak finish coffee table ($148.99) from Walmart
Rolly Side Table ($380) from Design Within Reach
Mid-century Rocker Chair ($288) from Urban Outfitters
Muir Cabinet-Chocolate ($349.99) from Target
Monogrammed Mugs ($6 each) from Anthropologie
Compass by Match of Italy ($57) from Unica Home
Retro White Wall Clock ($29.99) from Target
Daffodils and Tulips Print ($7.99) from
Traditional Cutlery Print ($79.99 - framed)
Vintage Rotary Phone ($198) from Anthropologie
Thomas Paul Flora Rug 8x11 ($1464) from Design Public
Fugitive Recovery Aluminum Sign ($12.95) from NIC
Hand Embroidered Canada Pillow ($196) from Uncommon Goods
Canterbury Sofa in Moss ($1699) from Crate and Barrel
Moose Alley Wall Hook ($15.99) from Mod Cloth
Bauhaus Arc Floor Lamp
($199) from CB2

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Franny and Zooey

This bathroom is inspired by the JD Salinger book Franny and Zooey. My friend Jen asked me to design a room based on her favorite book and I accepted the challenge. I chose a bathroom because an important scene in the book takes place in a bathroom. Zooey Glass reads a long letter from his brother while sitting in the bath until his mother, Bessie, barges in and engages him in a conversation. The book takes place in 1955 and the Glass family lives in an old apartment in New York so it made sense to include an antique clawfoot tub in the room. Since Zooey sits in it for so long I chose the slipper shape so one can sit in it with comfort and ease.

The main premise behind the book involves the recitation of the "Jesus Prayer" so of course I had to incorporate some sort of religious artifact into the room. I didn't want to go overboard so I included a lovely black and white print of Mary praying with baby Jesus.

The Glass family is extremely verbose and intelligent so I thought the SAT words shower curtain would be a humorous addition. Also, Salinger describes the Glass living room to be jam-packed with books so why stop there? Why not add piles of books to the bathroom too? You can actually buy vintage books online to create "the feel and gravitas of a man of letters and means". I picture these books to be stacked on an old steamer trunk inside and out so I included a, perhaps impractical and extremely overpriced, but altogether beautiful Faulkner Table Trunk. Okay, so who has over three grand to spend on a table made to look like a vintage trunk? Not me but I absolutely loved it and had to include it anyway. Rusty vintage fishing weights are being used a bookends.

The vintage New York City subway sign is a nod to the location of the Glass apartment and also adds visual interest. During one part of the verbal exchange in the bathroom Mrs. Glass opens their rather large medicine cabinet and mentally ticks off its overflowing contents. So of course I had to include a medicine cabinet big enough to include apparently every toiletry and medicine in existence during the '50s.

Paint color is Benjamin Moore Pike's Peak Gray.


Slipper Antique Bathtub ($4018.80) from
Merola Tile Old World Hex With Dot tile ($4.75 sq ft) from Home Depot
Mary Reads a Prayer Book While Jesus Watches print ($184.99-framed) from
Top 500 SAT Words Shower Curtain ($20) from Target
Vintage Leather Decorator Books ($10 each) from Harvest Book Company
Faulkner Table Trunk ($3,395) from Jayson Home and Garden
Fishing Weights ($99 for set of 4) from Restoration Hardware
Subway Sign Art ($795) from Restoration Hardware
Zenith Beveled Tri-View Medicine Cabinet
($149.88) from
Collection of Antique Rx Store Medicine Bottles - Set of 3 ($36) from Three Potato Four
Echo Large Art Deco Porcelain Wall light ($128) from Rejuvenation
Charcoal Damask Towels ($8-$36) from Anthropologie

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright Zimmerman House

This room is inspired by the Frank Lloyd Wright Zimmerman House in Manchester, NH. I live a few miles from the house and I thought it would be nice to pay homage to a local landmark. The Zimmerman House is the only FLW structure that is open to the public in New England. The home was designed in Wright's Usonian style which is basically described here as one story houses with little ornamentation that utilized natural materials. I don't pretend to be very knowledgeable about architecture or Frank Lloyd Wright so I just wanted to capture the feeling of the house's interior, not so much the philosophy.

The house was built in 1950 so it is decked out in lots of oak and autumnal colors that were popular at the time. I didn't want to make a dated office so I tried to incorporate a little more vibrancy into the space. The house was filled with chunky hexagonal tables that were built into the walls, my nod to that element are the nesting hexagon tables. I also added a barrel chair that is a nod to the wooden armed barrel chairs in the home. If this were an actual room I would have two of those chairs and the tables in between them.

There are shelves and shelves of books and pottery throughout the house so of course I had to add those elements also. The shelves are another surprise find from Walmart. They are on the small side so I would probably stack four on top of one another. The pottery vases are in the arts and crafts style popular during FLW's era and seen throughout the Zimmerman house. I also added a swanky shag rug made up of Flor tiles. A nice modernized take on the old classic shag.

I wanted to add a few nods to Frank Lloyd Wright himself to I added a clock in the Unsonian Style and a framed stained glass panel based on a window in his Illinois studio.

I would say this room was more of a challenge than my previous ones. Mostly because anything in the FLW style these days is either going to be pricey or cheesy. As I try to do with all of my rooms, I didn't want to make achieving this look cost prohibitive. There are several re-issues and re-makes and original Frank Lloyd designs I could have used but what would be the fun in that? Nothing is more boring to me than a room full of high-end designer pieces.


Paint color is Benjamin Moore Bronze Tone.
Wasabi Barrel Club Chair ($499.99) from Lamps Plus
Neu Home Structure Collection Wall Shelf ($19.88) from Walmart
Yellow Flowerhead Vase ($165) from Etsy
Green Contour Vase ($95) from Etsy
Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian Mantal Clock ($67.31) from
Studio Skylight Arts and Crafts Framed Tile ($160) from
Newport Country Style Home Office Desk (379.99) from Overstock
2" Wood Blinds (around $148 a window) from Smith and Noble
302 Desk Phone ($49) from Home Decorators Collection
Mica Desk Lamp ($39.99) from Target
Wood Office Chair
($119.95) from
Short Shag Flor tiles in moon ($16.99 per tile) from Flor

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rooms By The Sea, 1951

This room is inspired by the Edward Hopper painting Rooms By The Sea . I've always liked this painting because it's not your typical ocean scene. It's a view of the sea through an opened door. Most likely a rented room for vacationers. I thought it would look nice in an understated beach house dining room. I chose a few punches of colors here and there but for the most part I wanted to stay away from typical beach house decor (buoys, coral, shells, etc).
I really tried to incorporate a nice mix of low-end and high-end items in this room. The table is a little pricey (almost $2000) but it seats 6 and comes in various colors. I love Maine Cottage but their stuff isn't exactly bargain friendly. You could probably pick up a similar table and paint it yourself for a fraction of the cost. I did offset the table's price with chairs from Walmart which are a steal at only $129.99 each! Who knew Walmart had such cute furniture? The rug is a large jute rug that is meant to fit almost the entire room. I think with every room I create it is understood in my mind that there are hardwood floors.

I LOVE the Capiz Shell light from Target and want one for my own non-beach themed dining room. The dinnerware is an absolute steal from K-Mart. Again, who knew the big K had such cute stuff? The paint is hard to see on the computer screen but it's a pale tan called Powder Sand by Benjamin Moore. I thought the name was appropriate for the theme and also the color works well with the muted rug and bright furniture.


Carolina Cottage Sausalito Dining Chair in Avacado Green ($129.99) from Walmart
Capiz Shell Floral Pendant Light ($359.99) from Target
Abstract Floral Dinnerware Collection ($5.99-$17.99) from K-Mart
Della Dining Table in French Blue ($1990) from Maine Cottage

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Barton Fink

Barton Fink is one of my favorite movies. The 1991 Coen Brothers film tells the strange story of a screenwriter who is holed up in a seedy Hollywood hotel in the early 1940's. He develops writer's block and bizarre hilarity ensues. I wanted to capture the art deco film noir quality of the movie but in a more updated not-so-dark way.

Of course I needed to somehow incorporate a typewriter into the room. Since it's a bedroom I thought an actual typewriter would seem somewhat out of place. Instead I found a print that contained an old-fashioned typewriter and an ocean in the background. This essentially killed two birds with one stone because another plot point in the movie involves a painting of a woman sitting on a beach looking out at the ocean. I also added some "bathing beauties" figurines to capture that aspect of the film.

The bedding presented a challenge for me. It's yellow in the movie but it's also dingy and altogether undesirable. I didn't want something too BRIGHT and cheerful (as most yellow bedding tends to be) but I didn't want something drab and blah either. I think the quilt I chose is a happy medium.

Which leads me to the ever-present wallpaper. I'm normally not a fan of wallpaper but I had to include it as the wallpaper that wouldn't stay put is another big part of the film. The wallpaper I chose is nice because it's pattern isn't too overwhelming. How many times can I say wallpaper?


Porto Metal Bed ($549- Queen) from Crate and Barrel
Writing of Waves- Signed Fine Art Photograph 8x8 ($35) from Etsy
Frame - Black 8x8 ($29.99) from Target
Bathing Beauties ($65) from Ballard Designs
San Marino Quilt by Nautica
($99.99 - Queen) from Bed Bath & Beyond
Hand-tufted Masquerade Wool Rug ($469.99 - 8 x 11)
from Overstock
Feature Comforts 12" Table Fan ($59.97) from Lowe's
Revelle 6-drawer Chest
($449.99) from Overstock
Clam Shell Alarm Clock ($30) from Design Within Reach
Hayworth Nightstand ($199.95) from Pier 1 Imports
Hamilton Floor Lamp ($199) from Pottery Barn

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Water For Elephants

This room is inspired by the bestselling novel Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I wanted to translate an updated not-so-depressing version of the circus during the depression. My goal with this blog is to offer items for the home that are attainable depending on your budget. I also wanted to make this room realistic. I could have gone all out with a crazy circus theme but who would actually decorate their living room that way? Well some people would, and I give them a virtual high five, but I just wanted to reach a middle ground with a little bit kooky and a little bit conventional. I am proud to say I have some inexpensive items from Wal-Mart (the curtains) and two things from Target (the frames and rug). I envision this room to have subtle vertical painted stripes (like a muted big top). The paint colors I chose are Benjamin Moore Savannah Green and Hampton Green.


Amelie Sofa, Fathoms ($3,498)
from Anthropologie
Florence Accent Chair (only $299) JCPenney
Faux Leather Shade Swag Plug-In Style Pendant ($199.99) from Lamps Plus

Canopy Faux Silk Interlined Charmeuse Drapery Panel, Brick Red
($19.96) from Wal-Mart
Baroque Mirror ($199) from Home Decorators Collection
Elephant print 11X14
($35) from Etsy
Giraffe Print 11x14 ($35) from Etsy
Majestic Bottles
($29.95-$49.95) from Z Gallerie
Black Distressed Wood Frame 11x14
(16.99 ea.) from Target
Lotus Chest ($1299) from Horchow
Mohawk Home Lava Rug - Red
($639.99) from Target