Thursday, September 06, 2007


I would live like a bear in a cave rather than face a full-scale decorating project, which is why I have to "sneak" up on it, one piece at a time. It seems less daunting that way.

I also have champagne tastes and a beer budget. (Anyone else afflicted with that character flaw?) So, I'm less nauseated if I only buy one piece at a time.

Plus I've been remodeling for two years. (That's been a great excuse.)

When you combine my love of "pretty-stuff-I-can't-afford-because-I-don't-live-in-that-house" with my unwillingness to "shop til I drop" to get the bargains and my avoidance of paint chips, fabric stores and furniture catalogues you get a very long time table for decorating.

However, I've run out of construction. All major and minor construction for the remodel is now finished. Furniture that was supposed to take 6 months is arriving months early. There is no longer any excuse for primer walls. I had to bite the bullet. (The pic colors didn't come out great. Think lily pond. Palest blue ceiling called Stillness, Limesicle walls, etc. and toss in some leather.)

"What?!" you homey types are saying. " Why didn't you do all this decorating-painting stuff while you were remodeling?" Short answer: I was busy trying not to kill my husband, the contractor and that stray dog who had puppies under my house. Who had time to select anything?

Here's what I've discovered:

Not allowing anyone to rush me was the best thing I could ever have done.
I adore each of the pieces I've carefully found over the last year.
My color palette evolved because I hadn't committed to anything...yet.
My options expanded because I was willing to wait on backorders.
My animals have loved the empty master bedroom for frollicking.
My husband worries the kitchen furniture will encourage people to sit in his kitchen.
I learned "scale" finally.
$ 140 a yard is too much for silk drapery fabric even if it is beyond perfect. (Puhleeze!)
I had the wrong kind of night stand for my storage needs all these years.
Steps to get in the bed were worth it and the cats approve.
My carpet is the wrong color. (rush decision during remodeling)
If I want silk drapes I have to make them myself.
It is okay to have an armoire for nothing but my quilts.

I love Hekman, Theodore & Alexander, Lorts, and more. I'd have everything they make. The etched bronze and wood table at the right is called, "I don't care if I don't have chairs to sit in! I want that table for...something."

I love wood. Lots and lots of wood which isn't necessarily a good thing.

If you have a chair you love, you will never find the same dimensions again.

Poor hubby is going to be painting for months.

So, how about you? Are you an "everything at once" kind of decorator or do you collect things piece by piece? Do you like antiques? Reproductions? Funky pieces with folk art? Are your ceilings white or a color?


Betina Krahn said...

Deb, I'm with you. Take time and get the pieces you want and include the colors you love. I'm a piece-by-piece decorator, too. And I still have white ceilings everywhere.

One of these days I'll probably move past beige on the walls.
The family kids me, but my response is-- I LOVE beige! I really do. I love monochromatic bedrooms with a few dramatic dashes of color. Perhaps because I'm a texture person and love all kinds of wild textures in my rooms. Lots-o-texture and lots-o-color can be a recipe for eye-burning chaos. So I err on the side of caution and stick with beige, at least on the walls.

But if I can get truly great furniture (I love wood, too) and interesting pieces, I'll save for it and then keep it forever. Curtains, pillows, rugs, wall color can all change, but a lovely piece of wood just goes on forever!

Keri Ford said...

I don't know how ya'll do it. I really don't. More power to you, because I wish I could. When I do the house shopping thing, I find something I like and I buy it (funds in mind of course). I'm too scared if I wait and keep looking for something better somebody will come along and snatch it out from under me!

I'm one of those dorks at the store when it opens, want to get in first so nobody can get what I have my eye on!

Can you tell I lack patience and a smidge of over-dramatic?

Playground Monitor said...

We moved into a new house 2 years ago and sold most of our living room furniture when we did. So I had to do a fast decorating job there. I found a great gal (since I have zero decorating skill) and with her help we got a chair to go with the couch we'd already bought and she found me the most fabulous art for the walls and a 9 ft artificial palm tree for the corner.

When I did the master bedroom 6 months later, I used off the shelf comforter and curtains, but got custom rods, art and lamps from her. She also guided me in buying accessories.

When I did my office back in January, I bought a futon from her and did the rest myself using what I'd learned from her. Turned out great -- or it's great to me cause it was on a tight budget but it looks "officely" and welcoming.

My walls are all neutral and ceilings are white. I'm not much of a colored-wall gal. I'd rather have the color in the furniture and accessories.

I love wood too and the highlight of our great room is a wooden schrank (two-section cabinet) we bought in Germany in 1976. We put the DH's big-a@@ TV between the sections, found a bridge piece to connect them and have the sound system components in one side of the cabinet and object d'art in the side with glass doors. One of these days I'm gonna have a real wood desk for my office and not fiberboard out of a box. :grin:


Debra Dixon said...

Betina-- I never "got" neutrals until we did the den/dining/living room about 8 years ago. Someone helped me understand how you get depth with the neutrals by doubling/halving the paint formula. Once I saw what the neutrals could really do as a backdrop I was totally on board.

That was my first foray into non-white ceilings.

I love texture too but I struggle with mixing patterns. You'd think being a quilter would help but home dec is a whole different kettle of fish

Debra Dixon said...

Keri-- Maybe you simply know what you like so why waste time dragging out the process? I will say one of the reasons I've become addicted to the custom order of furniture is that I'm not limited by what's on the floor of a store. I don't have to rush to beat someone to a piece. :) The down side is that they don't have prices in the catalogues at my design resource company. You get attached and then realize you're going to have to sell a kidney. (g)

Helen Brenna said...

Keri, I'm so impatient I don't even bother to go out shopping! How's that for dramatic?

I'm not great at decorating either, so the advice, like Marilyn said, is so helpful.

I'm with you, Deb, on the wood. If I had time for a hobby it'd be wood refinishing. Tough on the hands, but the results are so rewarding.

I LOVE color, though. We painted our kitchen red last year and it's my favorite looking room in the whole house.

Michele Hauf said...

I waited until a piece of furniture or wall decoration 'felt right' before I bought it. I think it took over five years for me to 'complete' my house, and I'm happier for it.
I grew up in a house where my mothers had wall 'arrangements'. Everything had to match. And they all came from Home Decorating. Remember those parties our mother's had?

So I rebelled, and there isn't a single arrangement in my house. And some of my ceilings are colored. A pale purple in the bedroom (to go with the Dreamtime-colored purple walls) and an even paler salmon in the kitchen.

I hate decorating. But I'm a bargain shopper, too. Nothing at full price!

Christie Ridgway said...

My plan has been to do a room at a time. A few years back I finally got to the master bedroom and I still love it. I stencilled a border on the walls (had never stencilled before) and ended up stencilling what looks like wallpaper in the master bath. I loved that project. Kept me from writing, though.

My fave pieces that I've bought are two angels, a man and a woman, about three feet tall, made by guy who used found wood, a chainsaw, and some spray paint. They're each about three feet tall and I paid $5 for one and $30 for the other off of e-bay. I adore them. The artist has disappeared off the face of the earth, unfortunately, or I'd buy more of his work.

Debra Dixon said...

Marilyn-- Selecting art is so hard. I know what I love but I struggle with how to incorporate it in my house. Using a designer helps me pull that together. My first project they held my hand and now it's like they just check my homework. Uh...not that I have that much art. (g)

Debra Dixon said...

Helen-- A red kitchen? I love it! Except for the painting it part. How many coats did you have to use or did you use a tinted primer that cut down on the coats?

Debra Dixon said...

Michele-- I agree! I grew up in the matchy-matchy house. I knew I didn't want antiques but I wanted that "I've collected these things" look to the house. So none of our furniture is part of a "collection." What did you do with your ceiling vents? I guess I'll have to paint them?

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- Have you ever seen the Sticks furniture?

Michele Hauf said...

Hmm, ceiling vents? Don't have those. We have the vents down at the bottom of the wall (which I just paint the wall color).


Kathleen Eagle said...

Deb, what fun! Decorator shows on HGTV are one of my un-guilty pleasures. TLC isn't offering as many as they used to, much to my disappointment. I was a Trading Spaces fan until they changed the format. And in my March book--MYSTIC HORSEMAN--hero Dillon Black's modest ranch is taken over by his ex-wife's makeover show. I really had fun with that one.

As for me, I'm a packrat--er, collector. My digs will never look professionally decorated, even though I did have a decorator help coose colors, furniture, drapes, etc when we remodeled the family room. It looks pretty good, but not as practical as we really needed. Good experience, though. There were times when I had to stand my ground with her. No way would I pay those prices for custom throw pillows!

Debra Dixon said...

Kathy-- "Dillon Black's modest ranch is taken over by his ex-wife's makeover show." That is about the best one-liner I've heard in a long time. Such a great promise of fun packed into that sentence.

Re: Designers
Yes, this is my problem. They sometimes don't understand how regular people live or what a budget is. Or that we do things in our house like play with animals and kids. And we don't dust. LOL!

lois greiman said...

No dusting. You're right, Deb. Furniture should absolutely not be dusted, and yet I have quite a lot of dark maple pieces. Yikes. Next time everything's going to be honey oak. You can't see dust on that at all.

Helen Brenna said...

Deb, you hit on the problem with color. The red kitchen took 6 coats of paint. We found out later we should've used a gray primer, and the fact that it three tries before getting the right red didn't help matters.

I'm dreading the next color change. It'll be a pain in the a** to paint over.

Dara Edmondson said...

I try to do one area at a time - this corner, that alcove, etc. But I'm with you on appreciating each piece when you buy them one by one.