Decorating : The Formal Living Room Update

October 5, 2011 00:59 by ehouston

I know it seems like all the posts recently are about decorating, and well, they are!  I have been working to change the things I can change in each room and/or finish smaller projects that have been lingering for what seems like an eternity.  In the case of our formal living room, we are simply neglecting the space.  It’s a pretty basic room at 11 feet by 14 feet, with two large windows looking onto the front yard and nice wide crown molding.  There are a couple of issues with this space, though, the main one being the two large passageways on either end.  They make for a great flow right into the formal areas when guests arrive, but they leave the formal living room with only two walls for furniture placement.  I guess that’s really no big deal since we don’t spend a ton of time in there, but it has made decorating this room feel awkward.  Below are some before shots of how we had things laid out.


In the shot above, you can see a typical formal living room set up with the couch along the main wall, flanked by side tables and matching lamps.  Yawn.


Opposite the couch is a pair of wood framed chairs with coordinating blue cushions and a side table that matches the tables on either side of the couch.  For filler, and lack of a better place to locate them, I added our vintage black metal display shelves on the little wall in between the front windows and the chairs.  As seen in the far right corner of the photo above is the angled bookshelf, also a vintage metal piece, acting as another display shelf/table.  You can also see the other problem with this space- lack of good light.


Here is another shot of the chair side from the dining room.  You can see I also added a couple of vintage black metal magazine racks, a vintage wood and metal floor lamp and our vintage Seth Thomas wood panel clock. 


This view of the couch side, from the dining room, shows another angle of yet another vintage black metal shelf.  This mini shelf holds our funky metal flying pig made of old oil drums.  In the center of the room is a wood slat coffee table that extends at each end to give as much or as little tabletop space as needed.  You can also see the old, smaller rug in these shots.  This was the set up we lived with up until the beginning of September 2011.  All pieces in this room are vintage, modern and out of synch with the rest of our 1992 Colonial style home in the burbs.  However, I actually don’t mind having furniture that does not seem to go with the rest of the home.  I always feel that if you like a piece you can make it work.  It may take time, but eventually things will start to mesh and mingle well with each other.

There are many changes we look forward to making in this room.  First, will be to change the paint from purpley-brown to something in the grey/blue-grey family and to paint the dingy cream trim to bright white.  We have already switched out the rug for a pale, steely blue little number that now fits the scale of the room.  Next on the list is to buy or create some chunky side tables to flank the couch since this space is all legs right now.  I would also like to sell the vintage ceramic lamps from the 1950’s and possibly add something in clear or seeded glass instead.  I will know those when I see them, I think.  I am also strongly considering a tone-on-tone mural for the main wall and hope to pull something decent together soon.  In the mean time I wanted to share the recent updates that have happened in there.

After taking the room to this…


….for the Little Guy’s 2nd birthday bash, I decided to hold off on putting all the furniture back in their original spots for a few days.  For a while now I have been hoping to find two skinny display cabinets, with glass doors, to put on either side of the opening from the formal living room to the formal dining room.  Unfortunately, most glass display cases are not very tall, are to wide and usually not my design taste, so no luck with those finds yet.  For now, I thought that I could make better use of the vintage black metal shelves that we already “use” in that space.  I say “use” because they were mainly in there just to take up space and so they would not be getting dusty in the attic.  I never intended for those pieces to stay in that room for this long, but that’s what happens sometimes when your design tastes don’t match your design budget.  ;o)

This time around the two vintage metal shelves went back into the room in the little bit of wall space on either side of the passage to the dining room. 






Even though each shelf is different in width and height, visually they seem a little closer in size when balanced with the framed photos and other pieces from our travels.  I also tried to move the display items on the top shelves to roughly the same height as each other.  The black and white photos spent their early years hanging above the couch in the family room prior to being nixed in favor of the Little Guy’s 1 year portraits.  They are shots from vacations that I had blown up to 8 X 10 size and then placed in metal frames from Target that already had white mats.  Below the photos I reworked some of our display items into the collections on the shelves and pulled some more things out of storage. 



I was also able to use the smallest of the vintage metal shelves as a plant stand in one of the opposite corners of the room, which looks much more proportioned than it did before as a flying pig stand.  I eased the chairs together a bit to balance that wall, as well and placed the floor lamp in between for reading.  It’s hard to tell from the shot above, but that green glass blob is a really cool elephant sculpture that I found at the Sal. Army a few weeks ago for only $3.99.  Not sure if it’s old or new, just thought it was neat looking and a nice color.



There are still a bunch of changes on the horizon, but for now we are really enjoying the new view of our collections and more balance and cohesion in the formal living room.  It’s amazing what moving your things around can do for a space.  Now we will just have to figure out where we are going to put the Christmas tree this time around!

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Etsy Treasury : Shades Of Blue

August 3, 2011 23:00 by ehouston

I guess I’m not the only one that cannot get enough of this color.  The curator of this Treasury is Seastyle and their shop is full of beachy treasures.


My lovely ocean inspired Vintage Fabric Embellished Quilt with Japanese Waves is a featured member of this collection.


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Trials And Tribulations

June 29, 2011 07:20 by ehouston

For a while now I have been thinking about switching the look of my stores on Etsy and Artfire.  But changing up your branding is a tough decision.  Especially if at one time you felt like it was exactly what you wanted, needed and thought your image should be.  Well, I have known for quite some time that none of those things are true any longer and changes needed to “come ‘round real soon”.  The image was blurry, the text hard to read and the color scheme was all wrong.  I also recently received some feedback from a fellow Etsian that suggested the same thing.  It was unsolicited, but right on and gave me that much needed kick in the rear to make the changes happen.  I just hope that what I have come up with gets my point across, or maybe I should say, gives the right feel for my store.  Which, by the way, will most likely be freed from the strictly vintage items soon.  At least I am considering removing all of that stuff from the Etsy entity and posting it on Artfire instead.  That was my original intention when I opened up the second shop over at Artfire.  I think I will give that a go again as a “vintage only” store and make a decision about keeping both open by the end of the year.  My Etsy storefront would then be filled with my handmade products. 

As for right now, well I would like to present the new brand look I am toying with for Kitsch Designs.


Here is the basic idea.  The image has been adjusted and the text placement modified to fit the different banners and avatars that I use throughout the interwebz.  I have always liked a red and blue color scheme in muted vintage shades, so I decided to scan one of my favorite tablecloth prints and have some fun with it.  I realized that over time the style of my handmade items has morphed into a very “cottage with a modern edge” look (at least that’s what I call it) and I wanted branding that conveys the same feel.  The Etsy shop is updated so far, but I am still working on Artfire and this here ol’ blog.  The Mister will have to help me with all that darned programming that I don’t understand in the least in order to make any changes at this site.  In the meantime you can just ooh and aaww this posting, ‘kay?

Let me know, folks!  Do you like or hate?

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Etsy Treasury–Esty Crafters….

May 16, 2011 05:11 by ehouston

This beautiful Etsy Treasury was curated and posted today by Pasture Rose, whose shop is full of cute and unique fabrics.

She was kind enough to include my new addition to the shop, the Vintage Fabric Quilt – Japanese Waves, to this group of stunning designs.

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Etsy Treasury–It’s In The Air!

February 20, 2011 06:24 by ehouston

Seems like a lot of people are noticing the vintage dresses that I recently listed in my shop.  The Vintage Linen Dress with Lace Collar was just listed in a Treasury curated by Gayle Eady of Cottage Industry.  Gayle’s shop is packed full of the cutest vintage finds you will ever lay eyes on!


Please click here to check out all the great treasures.  Don’t forget to leave a comment, click through, or better yet…buy something for spring!

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Waiting For Paint To Dry

June 9, 2010 03:37 by ehouston

It’s the hardest part of any DIY paint project.  Well, that and doing everything while the baby sleeps!  Luckily the paint can dry in between naps and I don’t go to crazy in the meantime.  Hanging with the Little Guy always takes my mind off all the work I have to do around this place.  The priming is complete and I am waiting for the swatches of wall color to dry.  While I am trying to make a decision about which colors to use I plan to get a couple of coats up on the ceiling.  Lord knows when the last time that thing saw a fresh paint job.  It’s funny how white things seem until you paint them with a fresh coat of white paint.  As soon as the chair rail got a hit or two from the brush after I splattered primer I could really see the distinct difference in colors.  Can’t wait to get the ceiling and all that trim cleaned up!

In addition to the wall color I need to make a decision about curtains.  Since this room is large I thought about going bold with a fun patterned fabric for the stationary panels I plan to put up high and wide along all three windows in the room.  The real privacy will come in the form of bamboo roman shades.  So, I was perusing Target the other day and came across the new table linens from Dwell Studio.  As always, I was drawn right in by their use of color and fun pattern.  I was also lured by the size of the largest tablecloth, 60” X 104”, which is exactly the size I need for these windows.  Unfortunately, finding the longer sized curtains in the ready made world of window treatments has proven very difficult.  If, and that is a big IF, I find a ready made panel that I like it either doesn’t come in the larger size or that size is super expensive, or it’s out of stock.  That was my luck up until recently in searching for curtain panels.  Until I walked into Target that fateful day.  I left with just enough tablecloths to make curtains for the dining room and adjoining living room.  Now I just need to choose which to use in each room.  Here are some shots of the dining room pre-DIY disaster with the curtains held in place via clothespins over the sheer panels the previous owners left.



Linen #1 – Large Medallions


Linen #2 – Branches with Birds

Usually I do not like a lot of bold pattern, so I may end up just using one set in the dining room (since it’s a larger space) and going with plain fabric for the living room.  Both linens use the exact same color combo of chocolate brown and deep blue gray with an occasional bit of mustard thrown in for contrast, all on a white background.  My plan is to put up white wooden curtain rods with rounded finials that sit above the window and just below the crown molding.  I also want the rods to hold the curtains outside of the windows on either side, just overlapping at the trim and up to the edge of the bamboo shades I plan to hang for privacy.

I am curious to know what you guys think.  So far everyone that I have asked has picked the same style with the comment, “This one looks like you”.  What is funny is that I was leaning toward the opposite design.

So, let’s see what you all think, “looks like me”.

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DIY- The Nursery

January 29, 2010 07:36 by ehouston

Now that the Little Guy is almost five months old I am finally getting around to posting more info about how I decorated his nursery.  I still have several projects under way to put the finishing touches on his room (probably just in time for him to move to a bigger space), but I thought I would go ahead and share what I have accomplished so far.  For those of you that are new to Kitsch Designs here is a little recap: my husband and I just moved to Richmond, VA from Nashville, TN because his job was moved and we were relocated to this area.  We left our beloved, funky 1960’s Tri-Level home and purchased a 1990’s Colonial in the ‘burbs.  We were able to get much needed space, which I am slowly but surely revamping as time permits, and newer “bones” so to speak.  (Nothing like the excitement of 3-prong outlets after having lived in older homes for the past 12 years!)  We also made this move when I was approximately 7.5 months along and if it weren’t for the movers and my ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL mom, I just don’t know how we would have managed.  Since the baby was coming so soon after relocating my husband made me swear I would not start any major projects.  I was only allowed to work on the nursery.  Now, this may make you stop and think, “what kind of husband puts his foot down like that”?  Well, the kind that has a super stressful job and dislikes large remodeling projects that create messes that linger for months.  The poor guy has seen my past work and although he has always loved the outcome he has suffered, very vocally I might add, through the chaos that leads to the finished product.  The Mister is handy, but just does not enjoy DIY projects like I do.  So, I tread as lightly as possible with my “works in progress” and it helps to keep the sanity.  So, to keep the peace that is exactly what I did with the nursery project.

It started with the smallest of the bedrooms, which looked like this when we moved in:


A shot from the hallway into the room toward the little walk-in closet.


This shows the back wall of the room with the large and bright double window.


Here is the room shot from the closet doorway looking toward the door to the hall.

As you can see from these pictures the room was a blank canvas.  In fact, the first time we viewed this home during the buying process I believe it had been set up for a boy because it was painted light blue and you can still see the remnants of that color on the trim peeking through the closet door in the first photo.  The previous owners had painted the walls and trim white and left the plaid valance, which was also in shades of blue with cream and beige.  The carpet is just a neutral beige and seems to be brand new, so we decided to leave it alone for now, plus it will be nice for the Little Guy to crawl around on in the near future. 

So, a wide open, empty space…that’s what I had to work with and I will tell you I think it made for one of the most difficult projects yet!  For some reason when I am having to “make-do” in a tight space I always seem to know exactly what direction to move in, but with this room I was stumped.  My head was reeling because I knew this baby was coming and I had to figure out what to do for furniture (buy new or refinish old), what to do for window treatments (off the shelf or hand sewn), what color or colors to put on the walls, trim, etc, etc.  Like I said, my head was spinning!

I finally decided that due to time and budget constraints I would have to make paint carry the room and I embarked on a project to liven up the walls with color.  I also planned to purchase as many finished pieces for the room as possible, again due to the ticking clock that was my cooking baby.  After finding a cute bedding set in pale blue and dark brown with a circular quilted motif things were set in motion. 


My goal was to do something fun with paint, yet keep the room from being to juvenile.  The Mister and I were not really interested in having a specific theme or adding cartoon characters that the little one (or the grown-ups for that matter) would soon detest.  Also, the last thing I wanted to do was create another painting project for myself just a few years later.  I ran with the circle idea and got crafty with some supplies from my local office store.  I will be posting more details about that project soon.


Photo from the hallway door into the room.

The resulting walls have a colorful horizontal banding that will not only hold-up to a soon to be messy little man (hence the dark bottom band), but hopefully grow with him a bit too.


A shot of the room from the side opposite the hallway door.


Here is the dresser that serves double duty as a changing table. 

We ended up purchasing a new crib to err on the side of safety and I spent the next several weeks searching local junk shops for the perfect changing table.  At one really cool shop I found what I thought would be the most fantastic changing table and bookshelf.  It was an old dining room hutch from the 1960’s or 70’s and the top portion of open shelving lifted right off the base, making it a great candidate for the bookshelf in the nursing and reading nook (pictured below).  The remaining base had shelves behind two large doors, which flanked a center section of drawers and the top was just right for a changing pad and necessities. I figured a coat of shiny white paint to help it blend with the crib and we would be good to go.  Unfortunately, when I returned the piece had just been purchased and carted away.  Of course in my “baby is almost here!” nesting frenzy to get the work done I went into hysterics requiring a long soothing hug from The Mister as I commiserated about what I was going to do.  I’m sure there are other women out there that have had similar meltdowns toward the end of their pregnancies and luckily we can look back now and just laugh about it.

! Nursery-RockerFromFront 

The nursing and reading nook.

As you can see from the picture above we ended up with a simple white 3-shelf unit from Target.  Although it was not a part of a nursery furniture set I thought it was generic enough to blend in well with the other pieces.  Plus, with a simple design like this it can be moved to other locations in our home and not seem like a remnant from the baby’s room.  Speaking of remnants, don’t you recognize that lamp from this project?  Yep, it’s making the rounds again!  We topped the windows with a sturdy wooden rod and curved finial, threaded with dark chocolate brown tab valances.  For now we kept the white honeycomb blinds, but plan to replace those with black-out roman shades later. 

My aunt gifted us the lovely bentwood rocker and we believe it fits in nicely.  I tried to love a glider, but I just could not make it happen.  I know they are super comfortable and there are times that I wish I was sitting down in a big plush chair, but for some reason manufacturers just cannot seem to get it right with glider design (or if they do it’s so out of this world in price you would need to take out a separate mortgage to cover the cost).  This rocker fit the bill completely.  I found it at, added it to the registry and was nicely surprised when it arrived a couple of weeks later.  This is another piece that does not perfectly match the crib and dresser because it is a natural wood, but I believe the white webbing helps it to blend.  I found the little bentwood table/stool at my local Kroger for $13.00 and figured I could not pass up a nice spot to place a drink or magazine while I am tending to the Little Guy.  They actually sell these little tables at my local Target too, but for considerably more, so I definitely got a deal.  (GO BUDGET!)  One last thing about the rocker, it has have a very deep seat which is perfect for the Mister and I since we are quite tall, but for nursing I did add a couple of pillows to assist in sitting at a more upright angle.  I just happened to find both of these at Walmart (ugh!) and the color combo was perfect.  The neck roll pillow was just a regular bolster with drawstring bows on the ends.  I tied the bows into loops that I hung around the top corners of the rocker.  As you can see it worked amazingly well and keeps the kinks out of my neck during those early morning feedings.


Sleep central.

As I mentioned above, we went with a new crib to be sure we had a safe spot for the Little Guy to land and ended up with this design (Olivia) through (ugh again!) from Baby Mod.  We really liked the clean modern lines of this piece and the fact that the mattress adjusts up and down rather than having a sliding rail (which can become loose and dangerous after use).  As you all know from previous posts here and here, I lusted after the Sleepi Crib by Stokke, but it just was not in the budget.  And, Target has some nice cribs by Dwell, but after seeing one in a display I felt it was not as sturdy as I would like (plus, it appeared to have a lot of screw holes that showed once it was put together).  The Olivia crib is very solid, only has a couple of spots where you can see the screw heads and has a nice painted white and stained wood finish.  Although bringing this crib in added another wood tone to the room we decided it would work, and once we had the bedding in place we were very pleased with the entire look.  Note in the first crib photo (above and below again)


you can see that we have a full bumper, matching sheet and crib skirt.  I really fell for this set from (really, again?) called Ticklicious because it was actually quilted rather than just printed with the circle design.  Since I make and sell baby quilts as a side hobby my friends and family said they could not wait to see what I came up with for the nursery.  It broke my heart a little to have to admit to them and myself that I simply did not have the time to sew anything with the baby coming so soon after moving.  Once we received this set, though, I knew I had made the right decision.  Each piece is of a very nice quality and the set includes not only the bumper, crib skirt and fitted crib sheet, but a set of toddler bed sheets and a fully quilted blanket that matches the bumper.  This particular crib has a conversion piece included that transforms it into a toddler bed, so with one click of the mouse we were good to go for a while!  We also mixed it up a bit by adding some of the Dwell Studio sheets at Target.  I could not resist the super cute patterns in the Elephants bedding design.  Once the little guy started to move around more I got paranoid about suffocation and pulled the bumper out.  With the blue band of circles removed all the brown and white seemed overwhelming and I decided I liked the elephant patterned sheet with the blue and yellow peeking through to add some interest.


The changing station.

After the fiasco with the junk store hutch and as time was running out, I broke down and bought the matching Olivia dresser to use as a changing table.  Even though these pieces are part of a set they did not seem to over the top matchy-matchy to me.  Plus I thought it was a nice touch the way they used simple circular cut-outs as drawer pulls.  I never intended to bring a table specific to changing into the room and lucky for the Mister and I we are both tall.  So, using a dresser with a changing pad on top has worked out very well for us.  I also chose not to anchor the changing pad to the back of the dresser with the little flaps and screws that they include, however for safety I have placed a super sticky rub gripper under the pad and it works like a charm. 

As far as the other decor in the room, it was all just by accident and I am still working on that aspect of this space in order to bring it all together.  The vintage globes and relief map ended up in this room because after we arrived we realized we had a small map collection going and the colors just meshed so well with this space.  I am in the process of completing another wall art project with maps that will actually take the place of the relief map above the crib and I will share those photos once the project is finished.  I knew I wanted a high shelf for our baby’s room, no matter what we were having, because I have a collection of heirloom teddy bears that I wanted to display.  I also just completed the monogram hooks to add some interest above the changing table using the Jenn Ski Animal Alphabet cards.  You can read more about that here.  And, yes, that is a tiny skateboard leaning on the dresser.  Don’t even get me started on that!  The Mister is determined to have a little X-Games champ and is starting him out early.

So, this is our Little Guy’s space.  I had a lot of fun putting it together and I believe he feels quite comfortable in there.  It is an ever-evolving space, not only from my personal decorating aesthetic, but with the Little Guy’s changing needs as well.

I will be sure to share more details about the paint technique I used and other room details in the near future.  In the mean time, tell me about your nursery projects or other big remodeling plans you are working on.  I am always looking for inspiration and my next project to tackle.

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