Friday, December 31, 2010

The Cat in The Hat

Long time no see! Way back in June I created this dining room inspired by Dr. Seuss book The Cat in the Hat. It took me weeks to create an adult room based on a children's book. Then, apparently I promptly forgot about it. I've been busy with parenting and life. Plus, honestly, my creative steam ran out because it takes a lot of work to create these rooms and while I enjoy it tremendously, I don't have enough traffic to justify the time I put into it. 

So, since I created this room about 5 million years ago I have lost the links to all the items. I can still talk about the inspiration, though. The Cat in the Hat has only four colors: red, white, turquoise, and black.The vintage number signs represent Thing 1 and Thing 2. The striped rug is for the Cat's striped hat. The neat fish bowl is, of course, in honor of the fish who tries to maintain control of the situation in the book. I had to include a cat print. I really just wanted to create a kind of wacky feeling the book has in dining room form.

I hope to be back posting things here and there. It's my New Year's resolution!

Monday, April 19, 2010

"No two stools are the same"

So about a year ago I stumbled across this table? stool? aboriginal drum? while shopping at The Christmas Tree Shop . I wasn't exactly sure what it was but it was only three bucks and I thought it would make a cute table to put next to my son's reading chair.

Cut to last week when I was perusing through my new CB2 catalog and I saw this:

Well, whaddaya know it's a stool (for sitting on, not for standing on). I was a bit surprised to see the $50 price tag. (Right now it looks as if it's marked down to $29.95 so if you're in the market for a stool made in India, act now!!) Granted this one looks about double the size of mine but still, I think three bucks was a pretty good deal.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Trading Spaces: $2000 challenge (revisited)

You may remember last November I created a bedroom inspired by the television show Trading Spaces in which everything in it totaled under $2000.  This week I decided to make a living room utilizing that same concept.  Everything in this room totals under $2000 (albeit only 23 cents under) plus no two items are from the same store. In my head I created the scenario that for some reason I have no worldy possessions and I am given only $2000 to design an entire room (much like they do on Trading Spaces). I figure at this rate I'll eventually get a whole  house on here (minus the kitchen because it's impossible to design an entire kitchen from scratch for under $2000).

In some ways I think the bedroom was more successful, mainly because it feels more complete. If this living room were an actual room it would look a bit sparse. Since this whole thing is fantasy anyway, I'm going to declare this room to be a very small area with only two windows.  Because of this "obstacle" I had to choose items that were smaller scaled. The sofa and cabinet are both on the smaller side . The rug is only 5x7 and I selected a round coffee table rather than a rectangular one because of its less overwhelming footprint.

Some items I splurged on, the lamp cost almost double what the cabinet cost and the side table and mirror are almost the same price as the coffee table. But I didn't want it to be a room filled with cheap items. I think it's possible to shop on a budget and not have to cut every corner.

I struggled with finding the right paint color and I'm not sure I succeeded. This room is supposed to be in my taste (on a budget) and blue is my favorite color but I didn't want to use blue because it's the color of the wall in the $2000 bedroom. I generally don't like warm colors so oranges, yellows, and browns were out. I was reluctant to use green because it seems like I use a whole lot of green paint on this blog. However, given the parameters, I felt green is the color that works the best with the room. Behr's Corn Husk Green is a fresh green with brown and yellow undertones.

And now for the cost breakdown:

Cameron Sofa from JC Penney:  $599
Sauder Vinegate Storage Tower from Wal Mart:  $109
5x7 African Suns rug from Urban Outfitters:  $68
Vejmon coffee table from IKEA:  $149
Uttermost Reena Blue Glass lamp from Lamps Plus:  $191.91
Martini Side Table from West Elm: $129
angelo:HOME Harlow Chair from $289.99
Damask set of 2 pillows from Target: $24.99
Rise 6 framed print from Z Gallerie: $99.95
Fluted Wooden Mirror from Modern Chic Home: $129
Crackle White Vase from Pottery Barn: $69
Mehendi Vase from Anthropologie: $16
Shallow Oval Tray from Crate and Barrel: $19.95
Medallion Roman Shades 36x62 from World Market: $39.99 x 2 = $79.98
Corn Husk Green paint from Behr (1 gallon): $25

Grand total = $1999.77

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Secret Garden

So, spring is officially here and I thought I would welcome it with a room based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's book The Secret Garden. The plot centers around a young English girl named Mary whose family is wiped out from the Cholera outbreak in India. She is then sent to live with her uncle in a large house on the English Moors. She is left to her own devices and wanders around the large estate until she stumbles upon a huge almost barren garden. She works with the garden until it is restored to its once beautiful splendor.

Most of the items in the room are either Victorian or garden related. The book takes place during the Victorian era so as a nod to that time period I added a Victorian inspired chaise lounge, chandelier, and linen cabinet.

As For the garden aspect, I first chose a lush green rug that is reminiscent of grass and ivy. The bedding is from Target's new Liberty of London line and is really the only brightly colored aspect of the whole room. I added the green beetle pillow for visual interest and to tone down the floral pattern. The Forest Canopy Bed is crazy expensive ($5300) but I had to include it because it perfectly fits the theme. Next came the botanical wall hangings. Their dark background adds to the Moorish quality I wanted to achieve. Every garden needs a garden stool so I added a simple white one to use as a side table for the chaise. The open window mirror is in reference to the character Colin who was holed up in his room for 10 years with only windows to view the outside world. The beautiful glass terrariums are another way to bring the garden indoors. The felted European robin is in reference to the robin that leads Mary to the garden in the first place. I would put it in the branches of the bed for a small touch.  The delicate curtains continue the green throughout the room.

I love the birch tree wallpaper but I think an entire room of it would be too much so I would put it just on the wall behind the bed and paint rest of the walls in Benjamin Moore's Vienna Green.


Edie Chaise in Moss ($550) from Urban Outfitters
Antique Green White Leaf Clear Drops Chandelier ($279.91) from Lamps Plus
Edland Linen Cabinet ($399) from IKEA
Hand-tufted Green leaves wool rug (5x8 - $129.69) from
Liberty of London Sixty Duvet set ($69.99) from 
Green Beetle Pillow ($68) from Whispering Pines
Forest Canopy Bed ($5298) from Anthropologie
Apple Tree and Orchid Bontanical Posters ($98 ea.) from Evolution
Palmer Stool ($129.95) from Z Gallerie
An Inward-Looking Mirror ($119) from Wisteria
Roost Recycled Glass Bubble Terrariums ($99 - $165) from Velocity
European felted robin ($47) from
Field Greens Curtain ($34.99) from ModCloth
Woods Wallpaper ($198) from Anthropologie

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Big Boy Room phase 1

We're doing something a little different today. Instead of making a room based on a theme I'm asking you to indulge me in my quest to plan my son's big boy room. He's only two and still sleeping in Mommy and Daddy's room so this is only the preliminary (or phase 1) plan. Right now, his bedroom is more of a playroom.

He already has a few elements that will remain and therefore dictate the look and color of anything new in the room. The bookcase, Cubs clock (sentimental value), and strapping bin will stay. The bright blue paint color and disorganization (hopefully) will not be staying.

He also has this IKEA table and chairs set:

And this green PB Anywhere Chair:

Because his current stuff is so colorful my dreams of a rustic/camp/nature room (like this) will not come to fruition. But I always say that real life design is working with what you have or found or got on sale.  

So with that in mind, I created a mood board of  items we already have mixed with items we'd like to have:

You may recognize that bed from the aforementioned Charlie Brown room.  I love the natural wood and clean lines but its $899 price tag is a bit steep so I will probably have to scour unfinished furniture stores (and thrift shops) for something similar. Likewise for the wool Jonathan Adler apple pillow. I love it but I can't justify spending $178 for a child's pillow so I will probably get something like this lovely apple pillow for only $35 from Etsy:

For the bedding I wanted something young but not too young so it can grow with him. I also don't want something with licensed characters or something with graphics like trucks or trains (just in case he's not into trucks or trains in 3 years). I chose this Pottery Barn Madras Quilt because it fits all the above criteria and I just love the way it looks slightly rustic and slightly beach housey.

For the rug I was considering going neutral to anchor all the color going on everywhere else but I fell in love with the Haba Town Carpet and had to include it in the room. I think it looks so vibrant and cheerful, perfect for a kid's room. I'm thinking my son would rather play pretend on this rug versus a boring white flokati rug.

For wall art I chose an adorable Morgan Carver rocketship print (with Ribba Frame), a sweet Cookie Loves Milk wall decal, and a great abacus.

Finally I chose dark blue and light blue bins for his already existing bookcase. Paint color is Stem Green by Benjamin Moore but I will probably be using its much more inexpensive twin Olympic Paint's Lime Green.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wooden soda crates

Lately I've been spotting vintage soda wooden crates in home tour pics. They are an inexpensive way to add  interest to a room and they also have a multitude of functions. You can turn them upside down and make a table or you can stack them and make a bookcase (to name a few). In fact, an old 7up crate is holding up my computer tower and modem. You can go two ways with wooden crates: vintage or new made to look vintage.

Here are some various vintage soda crates in different sizes from Three Potato Four, prices range from $25-$30.

Pottery Barn is also getting in on the action, they now have vintage Pepsi crates that are only $24 each.

And if you're looking for a brand spanking new soda crate then try this generic one from Target for $38.99. But personally I would go vintage because it has more personality plus it's cheaper!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Olympics

This rustic slash vintage slash formal living room is inspired by the Winter Olympics. Sure the Olympics are pretty much over but in my defense I was too busy actually watching the Olympics plus we lost electricity here because of apocalyptic winds. Yes I am one of those people who loves the Olympics and watches them every night. I don't really even like sports (except baseball) but for some reason every four years I get into the spirit and root for Team USA during events in which I'm not even sure what's going on (Nordic Combined anyone??). So this room is my homage to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, home design style.

So, first I started with a white rug to represent snow and to coordinate with the red sofa and blue chair (red, white, and blue). I also added the sheepskin pouf because it's white and reminds me of one of those hand warmers that women used to wear in the olden days. The wall mounted gel fuel fireplace represents the Olympic flame. The 3 mirrors above the fireplace are symbols of the gold, silver, and bronze medals and the bench in front of the fireplace looks like a sled and also its golden hue symbolizes going for the gold! I selected the light fixture because it is comprised of rings like the Olympic symbol.

The wooden antique skis hanging on the wall represent my favorite aspect of the games, alpine skiing. I chose the famous Jasper Johns flag print not just because it is the flag of my country but also as a representative of all the flags from the countries with athletes participating in the games. I also added a vintage poster from the 1936 Berlin Games. Rounding out the room, I added wallpaper that has a damask pattern reminiscent of big white snowflakes. Usually I'm not a fan of accent walls but I would probably only paper the wall in back of the sofa in this strong pattern.


Tyler Rug (8x10 - $699) from Crate and Barrel
Sheepskin Pouf ($299) from West Elm
Rouge Orient sofa ($4389) from Horchow
Astrid Chair ($1998) from Anthropologie
WallMount GelFuel Fireplace ($199.99) from Target
Set of 3 Round Wall Mirrors ($39.99) from JCPenney
Brody walnut finish French bench ($209.99) from
Varaluz 27' Chandelier ($689.91) from Lamps Plus
1900's Norwegian Kids Skis ($275) from
Jasper Johns, Flag 1954 ($179) from Room and Board
Sophie Damask Wallpaper (2 rolls $80) from Modern Chic Home

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Inspired by cheap: Quilts

Quilts seem to be everywhere right now thanks in part to the vintage trend but mostly because quilts are timeless. Here I want to show you a few price options for some similar patchwork quilts.

My first offering, the Carmel Quilt set, comes from Walmart. The queen size also comes with two shams and is only $59.88.

Next up is the Jill quilt from JCPenney. The full/queen size doesn't come with shams but it is currently on sale for more than 50% off at only $54.99!

Lastly is the Pottery Barn Provident Patchwork Quilt. A full/queen does not come with shams and is a bit pricey at $179.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Shawshank Redemption

This somewhat bleak dining room is inspired by the movie The Shawshank Redemption. I wanted to challenge myself with a theme that seemed slightly impossible. Who would want a dining room based off a prison movie? Well, I'm not sure I succeeded considering this room doesn't really look anything like a stark prison in the 1940s but it does look livable, if gray and brown tones are your sort of thing.

The first piece I chose was the French poetry rug because the French novel The Count of Monte Cristo is mentioned in the film as well as having a very similar theme (man escapes after being falsely imprisoned). Next I selected the Rita Hayworth print because the title of the novella the movie is based on is called "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" also *SPOILER ALERT* the hole through which Andy escapes is covered with a Rita Hayworth poster.

The table and chairs were chosen because they are rustic like I imagine 1940s prison cafeteria furniture would look like, if they were more stylized of course.The wire basket in the center of the table is there because when I think prison I think fences and when I think fences I think barbed wire. If this were an actual room I would put vibrant red apples in the basket in order to cheer the place up a bit. I chose the pebble dinnerware because the character Andy has a rock collection. And the vintage keys are there because they remind me of jailer's keys hanging on the wall just out of reach from the prisoners.

In the movie the corrupt warden has a sampler hanging in his office that reads "His Judgement Cometh and that Right Soon..." It's hard to see but the sampler I included says "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's all about?" because I thought room needed a little levity and whimsy.

I think the one bare lightbulb fixture adds to the no-frills prison vibe. The crow sculpture and the bird cupboard were selected because in the film the character Brooks has a pet crow named Jake. It's hard to tell but the curtains are gray and white striped which is supposed to represent striped prison uniforms (even though they aren't featured in the movie) and prison cell bars. Lastly I included the cage wine bottle holder because it looks like a little jail cell...for wine.

Paint color is Gray Mirage by Benjamin Moore which I think makes my fourth or fifth gray room. I promise I will lay off the gray for awhile!


Bewick Cupboard ($3,998) from Anthropologie
Le Poeme Rug (8x10 - $490) from Ballard Designs
Rita Hayworth poster ($29.99) from Movie Goods
Distressed Wood Frame ($29.70) from
Metropolitan Chair ($139) from CB2
Modern Farm Dining Table ($599) from West Elm
Handmade Oval Wire Basket ($34) from Wisteria 
Pebble Dinnerware ($51.80 - $79.80) from Z Gallerie
Vintage Keys set of 7 ($19) from Pottery Barn
Hokey Pokey embroidered sampler ($15) from Etsy
Burnside Pendant light ($114) from Rejuvenation
Primitive Iron Crow Sculpture ($29.99) from The HomeCraft Cottage
Thomas O'Brien Striped Linen Sheers ($24.99 - $29.99) from Target
Metal Wine Cage ($199) from Restoration Hardware

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Getting to Know You

This week I'm a little slow with producing a room (it's already Wednesday and all I have is an idea) so I thought I'd tell a little bit about myself because this is the internet and where else can I talk about myself with wild abandonment? Well, not exactly wild.

Who are you?

I am a stay-at-home mom who lives in New Hampshire. I am neither a graphic nor an interior designer. The only degree I have is a Bachelor's in English.

Why did you start this blog?

I love design and I love to internet window shop. I also usually hate theme rooms so I thought I'd challenge myself to make theme rooms that aren't so bad. If I do say so myself.
What is your personal design aesthetic?

I generally like a little bit of everything. The only design aesthetics I do not like are overly sterile barren rooms and overly cluttered rooms. I like a happy medium and I like personality. I also tend to gravitate towards cool colors.

What would you dream room look like?

Well, I'm not really sure. I've seen rooms that capture certain elements I love but I've never seen one (including my own) that is absolutely perfect for me. I don't know if that's because my standards are too high, because I change my mind easily, or there is no such thing as perfect anything. The last one is probably the case. I do really like this room I found on Flickr from the now defunct Domino magazine. It's a very lovely bedroom and I wouldn't mind sleeping here at all.

I love the soothing blue tones and the art hanging above the bed. That being said, if this were my room there are some things that I would do differently. I'm not fond of rice paper lamps so the one above the bed would have to go. I would also use different table lamps. Maybe these lamps from West Elm instead:

I think the truth in all design is most of us are really just working with the elements we already have. In all likelihood that bedroom's occupant sorta just ended up with those lamps (assuming it's not a staged room). That's probably true for about 90% of the stuff I own. Something was a good deal or someone gave it to me or I found it. I just try to make my home look pretty with what I've got. And if I had a decent camera I would show you some of my things.

Thank you for reading this and thank you for reading my blog.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dunkin Donuts


This bedroom is inspired by Dunkin Donuts. Yes that's right, Dunkin Donuts. It all started when I called my husband asking if he had any ideas for a potential theme. He said: "What about Dunkin Donuts?" I'm fairly certain that at the time he was driving by one of the million Dunkin Donuts establishments located in our state. I'm also fairly certain he was joking. Little did he know I would embrace the challenge and create a teen girl's pink dream bedroom to boot.  

Pretty much everything in this room is meant to conjure up feelings of eating doughnuts and drinking coffee while visiting a Dunkin Donuts. The color scheme was easy because every Dunkin Donuts is decked out in hot pink, orange, and brown. The striped Flor tiles contain all three of the colors, as does the striped bedding. I chose the bed because it is orange, and has a circle pattern that is reminiscent of doughnuts. "Mmmmm doughnuts" (I'm sorry the Homer Simpson reference had to come out at least once in this piece). The cappuccino mug lamp was an obvious choice. Actually I think this is my  most obvious theme to date. Especially with the abundance of blatant coffee references: coffee cup clock, coffee cup wall art, and an actual ceramic coffee cup (made to look like a paper cup) on the desk. I also chose the nightstand and the desk because they remind of a latte with their dark brown bottoms and white tops. Plus the velvet curtain's rich dark coffee color. But I think I can get away with the obviousness a little more with this room because it's meant for a teenager.

Next came the doughnut touches. I definitely didn't want to overdo it with the doughnuts. Because what teenage girl would decorate her room with doughnuts? Well, I might have but that's another story. There are the really cute ceramic sweet treat boxes (doughnut, cupcake, and cake slice) and I thought the reclaimed 45 record mirror looked like little vinyl doughnuts all around. Finally I selected the pink chair because fiberglass shell chairs always remind of chairs you'd see in a fast food joint (or a Dunkin Donuts in this case). In retrospect perhaps a caffeine and sugar themed bedroom isn't the most relaxing way to go?


Kayla bedding ($79.99/full, $24.99/sham) from JCPenney
Ribba Frame ($9.99) from IKEA


Friday, January 22, 2010

Sensible Chic

This week's rooms are inspired by the HGTV show Sensible Chic. The premise behind the show is creating a budget-friendly room based off a higher-end designer room. I tried to do that here with these two mid-century modern inspired rooms. Along the way I ran into a few obstacles, the main one being it's hard to create an item that looks just like another more expensive item without being able to dress it up a bit. I don't have the luxury of paint and tools to create something out of a thrift store find. If these were actual tangible rooms I probably would have made the cheap art myself to make it look like the expensive art in the first room.

So, I give you these rooms each designed with brand new products hot off the internet. At first glance I think it's pretty easy to tell the first room in the pricey one. I think the rug and solid walnut cabinet give it away the most. Clocking in at $11,420 the swanky room cost over $9,000 more than the less expensive room, which only totaled $2305.88.

I think I actually prefer the chair and the rug from the cheapo room but for the most part if I could afford it, I'd rather live in the high-end room. Who could pass up that ceramic horse?

Brooks upholstered chair ($849) from Pottery Barn
Vitra George Nelson Spindle clock ($480) from Velocity Art and Design
Spike/Pool hand-tufted wool rug (8x10 - $1699) from Angela Adams
Solid walnut storage cabinet ($2199) from Room and Board
Large ceramic horse ($395) from Jonathan Adler
Bantam Sofa - 86" ($1683) from Design Within Reach
Legna Lightbox 3 wall art ($1500) from JefDesigns
Kina Pendant light ($875) from Design Within Reach
Thomas Paul Bird Cage Linen Pillow ($100) from Design Public
Thomas Paul Daisy Linen Pillow ($100) from Design Public
Chinnery White Horse framed photo ($1495) from Jayson Home and Garden
Benjamin Moore paint in Dolphin ($45 a gal.)

Total = $11,420

Corona Sofa ($699) from Macy's
Athens Upholstered Chair - Cinnabar ($254.15) from Target
Modern Design Spindle Wall Clock ($45) from Vintage Looks 
Hand-tufted New Zealand Wool Rug (8' x 11' - $334.89) from
Angled-Leg Sideboard ($649) from West Elm
White Ceramic Imperial Horse ($79) from Z Gallerie
Little Bird Pillow ($29.95) from CB2
NY Folk Pillow ($29.95) from CB2
Shadow Field 1 wall art ($99.95) from Z Gallerie
Boja pendant light ($59.99) from IKEA
Behr paint in Hidden Peak ($25 gal)

Total = $2305.88

Savings of $9114.12

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Inspired By Cheap: Modern Cribs

The world of cribs is filled with numerous styles and price ranges but it still remains that an inexpensive modern crib is hard to find. Most of the time if you tack on the word 'modern' you also end up paying extra. But I have noticed that in the past few years the selection has definitely gotten better. So for another thrilling episode of "Inspired By Cheap" I offer you a few modern crib choices:.

First let me show you the crib that has inspired the lines of  pretty much every other modern crib, the Oeuf Classic:

It's beautiful but retails for $920. Not exactly cheap for something that will be used for maybe 3 years tops (it does convert to a toddler bed). Before my son was born two years ago I remember this was pretty much THE crib to have and there were very few choices in the modern and cheap category.

That doesn't seem to be the case anymore. I weeded through what's out there and I think I found the best alternatives for the best prices.

I like the Babyletto Modo Crib in Espresso:

I actually like the looks of this crib more than the Ouef. I'm not sure if the quality is as good but again, we're only dealing with a short time frame and as long as it's safe, I'm happy. I found this crib on numerous websites but managed to find the best deal on It's $379 and with their insanely cheap shipping it comes out to $382.94. I did find the crib for cheaper on the Babies-R-U but it's currently out of stock and with shipping it comes out to $387.49.

Walmart probably offers the best deal for a similar look. Their Baby Mod Olivia crib is only $299.88 and shipping is free (if you pick it up at one of their kabillion stores).

I really don't think the stock picture does it justice (that bedding is kind of ugly) but from what I hear the quality is good and it also converts into a toddler bed.

Or,  you could just get the best deal on the planet and pay only $99.99 for an IKEA Gulliver crib:

This perennial favorite doesn't convert but it has a nice clean look and its cheap. And you can't beat that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Secret History

This room is inspired by the book The Secret History by Donna Tartt. The book takes place during the early-mid '80s at the fictional Hampden College in Vermont. The lead characters are students who are part of an exclusive group that studies Ancient Greek. The plot also includes murder and intrigue but we won't concern ourselves with that today. For this room I mainly wanted to focus on three aspects: the eighties, Ancient Greek, and college decor.

The first thing I did was choose a sofa that reminded me of something I'd see in a college common room in 1985. The fireplace is a must for cold Vermont winters and I chose this one because it has columns reminiscent of Greek structures. I also chose the mirror over the fireplace because of its columns. The vase I placed beside the mirror is a modern take on a Grecian urn. It's flat rather than rounded and has a shiny silver glaze. The statue of Nike on the fireplace is another nod to the Greek theme. As is the vintage Greek plate, floral plaster plaque and framed map of Ancient Greece.

I found it difficult to achieve a 1980s look without it also looking overly cheesy. Currently retro is alive and well in design but it really only extends to the '70s. The framed Vermont print reminds me of a framed paint-by-number picture hanging in someone's family room in the suburbs in 1982. The Ikat patterned curtains totally (to the max) say 1980s to me as does the wool hooked hibiscus pillow in the chair. The ceiling light incorporates the neo-classical design that was popular in the 80s as well is a little Greek architecture into the mix. If you look closely you'll notice the light's ceramic bowl is etched with Grecian-like patterns.

The large red clock brings color up from the rug on to the wall and also looks vaguely Greek inspired. I chose the houndstooth chair because college isn't college without professors wearing houndstooth leather elbowed jackets. Finally the patterned rug has an '80s influence and also brings interest to the room.


Fleur Plaque ($99) from Ballard Designs