Monday, February 28, 2011

The McMansion vs the Large 1950's Home

As I've mentioned before, my dream home would be a 1950's ranch. I love the lines of the architecture and the mid-century features. Now that I'm in my 30's and have gotten to know myself better I think I would've made an awesome architect, I'm so drawn (pun intended) to all thing architectural. When we first moved to Cincinnati from California I thought for sure I was going to find my dream home. After looking at around 30 houses in one weekend, it just didn't exist or at least it was not on the market at the time.

So as a last resort, we looked into new construction and settled on the smallest home in a nice neighborhood. At 2400 square feet, not including the basement, it was a mansion, or dare I say, a McMansion.

Don't get me wrong it is nice and new. For us as former Californians, it was huge and about a quarter of the price we would pay for a comparable home in a nice neighborhood in Los Angeles. I was sold on the energy efficiency and the idea of not having to deal with repairs for a while, although ironically we have a leak in our kitchen ceiling as we speak.

After living in the home for a year, I've learned that the home is just too big for me. We have unused rooms and a lot more to keep clean. My idea of simplicity was thrown out the window when we purchased this home. Recently with the economic situation, others are starting to feel the same way I do, and instead of saying that their ideal home is 3200 square feet, they are thinking under 2000 square feet is better. People are just flat-out saying goodbye to the Mc Mansion.

So what has changed in our mentality that tells us we can't live in a 1950's home.  For me an ideal home size is around 1600 square feet.  In California our family lived in closer to 1000 square feet and we were perfectly fine.  When did children start needing their own bedrooms and bathrooms?  When did those luxuries start taking the place of basic needs?

I found this awesome book at a local thrift store recently called, Art and Design in Home Living by Frances Obst from 1963.  There are actually a few different home plans featured and most are a little over 1000 square feet, with larger living space and smaller sleeping quarters (makes sense right?).

One of the largest floor plans is 1660 square feet, and to me would be a dream home today, although I still think it's a little big for our family.

Our family would be perfectly fine in this home. The kitchen has a very efficient layout, and I would use my outdoor space to the fullest.  So with that being said, we have put the McMansion on the market and are hoping to sell it so that we can get back to the simplicity of life and what is important, our family.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Little Art Deco in My Life

When we first purchased this home, one of its most exciting features was a"formal foyer". I struggled for a while with what was going to be my focal point when you walked into my front door. I had several thoughts, a settee, a telephone table, a console table and mirror (just like every one of my neighbors). With only having one coat closet downstairs and our laundry room upstairs, I also struggled with utility space. I thought about putting our downstairs cleaning supplies and brooms and such in the pantry, but I was totally having food/germ issues.

Then I had an ah ha moment, why not put a Waterfall Chifferobe into the foyer? This way I could convert the original coat closet into dedicated utility space.

And since we do not have a mudroom, using the chifferobe is not only a good place to house coats, but the drawers are multi-functional and can house things like purses, briefcases, shoes, umbrellas, hats, gloves, sunglasses (you name it!)

This piece was rescued from someone's basement and had some water damage. I decided to keep the integrity of the front of the piece, but had to use some wood filler and painted the sides and the top (there was a lot of peeling veneer).

Not only is it functional, but it makes a great conversation piece, just about every one who walks into our home comments about how awesome it is. It's a great ice-breaker too!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mixing in Mid Century Pieces

I absolutely love mid-century modern pieces, but I also don't want to live in a time warp home that looks like I just stepped into the 1950's. Don't get me wrong, I would buy a mid-century house in a heartbeat. In fact if I had my choice of buying a dream home, my first choice would be a large mid-century ranch.

This is one of my proudest craigslist finds. I love it because it has a story. I bought it from the original owner who in the late 1950's purchased it as her and her husbands first piece of furniture after they got married. Isn't that so cute? They were finally selling their house and moving on to retirement and were ready for a new style. I got it for $40 bucks. Now, it is actually a 3 piece wall unit that you can retrofit to suit your needs, but my needs were something to flank the fireplace so I split it up into 2.

I actually think it gives our traditional home a more modern flair then some built-in book shelfs. I'd also love to pick up a drum shade chandelier, but I can't convince my husband to let me block his TV view from the kitchen (as if he is always in there cooking).

Orinda Family Fun Room modern family room

I love the built-ins in this room that flank the fireplace as well. I also love the neutral pallet with tones of green and beige and pops of red and orange.

Eclectic Living Room with Pops of Color eclectic living room

This room makes great use of a repurposed mid-century dresser as a TV console. The only thing I'm not a fan of is the ceiling fan (punt intended). Not that I don't like it because I almost bought that exact one for my bedroom (upstairs bedrooms can be quite warm in the summer), but I think a hanging light fixture would've been more well suited for the room. Of course that is just my opinion.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Love Panels

Ok so I was recently out on a thrift day when I saw this sliding panel. Cool, but what to do with it since it is made to be vertical and was part of a 3 door panel.  I knew there were 2 matching panels that originally went with it since I was just at the same store last week and passed on them since they were kind of pricey ($35 each).  Kind of regretted it because when I went back 2 had sold.  Well I just couldn't resist getting it for 10 bucks because it has that midcentury thing going on which I love!  so I bought it. It went so perfectly on the wall above my dining table and chairs. It didn't even need to be stain or painted. It is made of wood with a plastic insert that looks like rice paper, really cool! I just added some flush mount hooks on the back, $2 and 10min later, Voila!

Since you have not seen my dining room let me share a little bit about how we even got to the wall art portion of it.  The table I bought from craigslist.   Originally  it was a medium-brown nasty color. My husband just couldn't understand how I could be giving up a cute glass table…constant dusting (obviously something he did not partake in) and colorful chairs but new, for this ugly old thing that come out of the 70's  and someones garage, but once we stripped it and stained and painted it he saw the light!  He now love love loves this table. It has a cool grain pattern on it and is solid as they come -oak . I paid $40 for it!

The chairs also a craigslist find $12 bucks each. They originally were black and were used by the previous owner for some photography shoot. We primed and spray painted them to match the table. We left the velvety baby blue upholstery because it go's well with our decor.  They really are the perfect chairs…lightweight but super sturdy and comfortable. For $12 bucks each a great find!

This chandelier is modern from Osh hardware. I picked it up on sale for $60. I liked it because I has somewhat of mid-century look and the chrome matches my curtain hardware. I am hoping to change out the shades for round drum shades, That would complete the look I am going for.

After finding the great panel for my dining room, I saw this beige panel around two weeks later at another thrift store for $5 dollars and of course i immediately grabbed it! I am not sure yet what i am going to do with it but whatever I do end up using it for I am sure It will look great. I think the possibilities are endless, and for $5…right?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I guess you can spray paint a lampshade

So if you get totally bored with your old lamp shade there is a way to customize it. Sometimes when I see things really cheap I got to try to make them work, so here is the lamp I got at Home Goods on clearance.

Yup.  Totally not my style, but for under $10 bucks I knew I could make it my style.  Well, it sat in my basement for a while and then one day I was having guest and knew I needed more lighting.  So off to the internet I went and I found this great article at  I absolutely fell in love with this lamp.

Now I know that you can cover a lamp shade with fabric, but I didn't have any and I didn't have time to run to the store, so I thought, why not?  If it didn't work I could always cover it with fabric later.  So off I went to find some spray paint in my garage.  I had metallic gray and flat black.  I lightly sanded the base and sprayed it the metallic black and then sprayed the shade with black. I did have to end up spraying both the inside and outside so that when the light shines through you can't tell that is is spray paint.  I didn't do the tape thing since I also didn't have any, but maybe later. So here it is:

As for fire hazard, well not really sure so I don't turn it on unless it is going to be supervised.  I would've had a real story to tell if it had blown up in front of my guest, but it didn't.  Whew!  I'm also looking for a collection of books that will look cool underneath it or something else creative as it sits a little too low.  We will see what I come across.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cocktail Party Anyone?

I was having a cocktail  party and needed to get this room together fast.  For a while all that was in the room was a couch and an old credenza I had bought off of craigslist and painted black .  Off to Ikea and Home Goods I went.  I got 2 Lack Coffee table at Ikea for $7.99 each and put them together.  I got a large mirror at Homegoods for $59.99.  The pillows came as freebies with an ottoman I had in my bedroom closet so I threw them on the couch.  As for the accessories well I got creative at the Dollar Tree and made them.  The party was a success and this room with the mood lighting was a hit.  I still have some finishing up to do, but I'll have to have another Martini to get me motivated.  For now, I'm happy with the results.


Friday, February 11, 2011

The Work Zone

So now that I've officially started my Etsy Store, I had to find a place to work and I needed to do it on the cheap.  I was able to rescue this credenza and desk from the basement of the Boy Scouts.  It was so heavy and large we actually had to cut the desk to get it into the room.  It also had a dark finish and I decided to give it a fresh coat of white high gloss paint.  It definitely was not easy as it took 2 coats of primer and several coats of paint.  Ultimately I am happy with the results since I wanted a dramatic effect with the dark walls ($5.00 oops paint from Home Depot)  and white furniture and accessories.  I picked up a couple of extra $20 dollar chairs from Ikea to go on either side of the desk.  Bonus:  they are the same chairs I have in my dining room so when I expand the table for guest I have extra matching chairs that I can pull out.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Who painted that?

Here's another past project that I would like to try again.  See the door?  Well somewhere from the 1920's to the 2000's someone painted it white completely taking the character out of the spanish style bungalow.  So instead of stripping it and restaining it, I decided to paint it getting slightly crafty with the finish (I'm definitely not an artist).

The problem is that I now live in a brand new home, so character is definitely not it's strong point.  Maybe I'll have to find a piece of furniture to try that effect on.  For now I have pantry doors that were recently replaced (the pantry originally had closet sliding doors) and needed to be painted anyway.  So I thought I'd have some fun with them.

and the best part is that I was able to use a quart of sample paint that only cost me $5 bucks.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Frugal and Fun

So this kitchen my kitchen circa 2006.  It's from my old house in California.  This is one of the funnest kitchens I've ever had.  When I got the house it had oak cabinets, brown linoleum floors, almond appliances,  and cream formica counter tops.  I had $7000 to spend and that included appliances.  With some clearance shopping and elbow grease I was able to transform it.  I painted out the cabinets and added a molding (by hand).  I changed out the hardware, added tile to the countertops (granite was not yet super popular ).  Added a floor tile (hired out a handyman) and even had enough left over to have a custom wine cabinet built.  I really wish I had shot a before picture.  Too late now.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Most people would think I was crazy

This room is definitely still a work in progress.  Most people ask why I would paint a perfectly good bathroom vanity cabinet.  Well the answer to me is simple, the builder had no matching skills.    You may not be able to tell in the photos, but the floor has no maple color at all.  The floors are fake marble linoleum.  Plus the gray is more my style.  I also changed the hardware while I was at it.  A couple bucks for paint and hardware or a few hundred for a new vanity?  I choose the paint.  I love it!  Now what to do with the rest of the bathroom?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Love my new dining chairs

had to get a larger table when we decided there was no point for a formal dining room (at least for our family), but still wanted to keep it stylish and kid friendly.  So we went plastic (yes I said it, plastic!)  The white chairs are $20 dollar chairs from Ikea which are easy to wipe down.  I finished the ends of the table with these wonderful patterned chairs from Target.  The best part is they came with a slight irregularity in the fabric and I got an additional 20% off.  Score!

Sunbrella Fabric is Awesome!

So these are my old dining chairs that I unfortunately had to get rid of when we got our larger dining table, but these were also a clearance find and since they didn't really match my decor I painted them and recovered the cushion with sunbrella fabric (typically usedfor outdoor furniture).  Since I have 2 toddlers running around I need to keep things kids friendly.  Sunbrella fabric wipes down very easily with a damp cloth and is still very stylish.  As you can see my 2 year old daughter thinks she is a tool belt diva, just like mommy.

I gave into new

So, I did it.  I gave into something new, after a long unsuccessful search on craigslist for a dressing table/vanity.   I love this dressing table from Ikea. I loved the color and for once I didn't feel like painting, although by the time I got it together I might as well have painted a vintage dressing table. The mirror and the lamps are also from ikea. I thought a $30 dollar mirror and $20 lamps were not a bad deal. I love Ikea for accessories. Bonus, the ottoman was on clearance at a local furniture store and I only paid $20 bucks for it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yes, That's my Husband's Dresser

I originally purchase this secretary/hutch so that I could have a coffee bar in my Master Suite so that I could feel like I was in a fancy hotel every day.  That doesn't change the fact that my children will still come into my room every morning and jump on my bed.  That changes the hotel feel just a little bit.  I'm so glad I didn't drill holes in it for the cord.  So it has now been turned into my husbands dresser.  The drop down desk area is actually very good for my husbands t-shirts (that is when I fold them and put them away).  I must say it looks prettier than your ordinary dresser, and for $75 bucks, I think I'll keep it.