Thoughts on Minimalism and the Point of Home Decorating

An old friend of mine recently* posted this quote on his Facebook page:

“The best lives are often well-edited, carefully curated lives.” – The Minimalists

My immediate response was, “This sounds like the mantra of a control freak.” Being a bit of a control freak myself, I feel like I can say this with confidence. The quote immediately conjured images of someone wrestling with the idea of what a particular throw pillow or end table says about them. Inevitably this would lead to someone whittling down their book collection to only the titles that make them look witty, smart, and hyper-intelligent. No mysteries or chick lit here! Is that a scrap of junk mail that didn’t make it directly into the recycling bin? Burn it!

Ugh. Doesn’t that sounds exhausting? Even maddening? There’s a reason why the apartment from American Psycho looks like this:

Obsessive minimalism is, to me, not that different from hoarding. Your life is all about stuff–accumulating it or getting rid of it. Either way, when you let stuff take over your life to that degree, it seems like a symptom of something bigger. Continue reading

Advertisements

My Latest Flea Market Flip!

Last Spring an old friend of mine was getting rid a dresser–a nice solid piece with some broken hardware and missing decorative pieces. It went from her curb to my shed, and waited there for quite some time. Eventually I decided it would be a good time to experiment with chalk paint and antiquing wax.

That did not go well. I turned a perfectly nice dresser into a dingy, yellow mess. Continue reading

Office Makeover: Take 2

You may remember that last year, I gave my office a makeover…sort of. At the time, I wasn’t quite ready to completely overhaul the space, and was working with what I had on hand. That came a few years after replacing the old desk that was falling apart, with a couple of IKEA table tops. Recently, however, I decided to have a tag sale and once I made up my mind about that, I realized it was time to really re-do the office. I wanted to get rid of the big dresser/credenza that took up too much space, and so I needed to rework the office before the tag sale.

This was all preceded by me deciding to move furniture around in the office at least once a week, trying to put lipstick on the pig–but I was never quite happy. It was clear I needed to get rid of some big pieces, declutter, and come up with a more cohesive design (rather than just making the office the dumping ground for wayward furniture). When I decide to do something like this it pretty much takes over my life. I can’t stop thinking about it, and spend all my time combing through Pinterest for ideas. I started out with a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do. Continue reading

The Goldfinch Gave Me a New Hobby

I finally finished The Goldfinch. I got off to a slow start–skeptical that it could live up to the hype. I really did end up loving it, though. It sucked me into the Dickensian world of art crime and antiques. But it also reminded me how much I like rehabbing furniture.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Hobie, but I can repaint and and add new hardware like the best of them! As far as hobbies go this one is pretty useful. I get to be creative, and instead of having a bunch of bad pottery or ugly paintings sitting around my house, I can either use the furniture or sell it on Craigslist.  Continue reading

Eight Down: Beadboard in the Back Room

I have this room at the back of my house that is part mudroom, part laundry room, and part sun room. My cats spend more time there than anyone else. They lounge on the old couch that is out there, eat their meals there, and use the litter box out there. There’s a big expanse of wall that has been repeatedly damaged by water, and so I’ve been hesitant to do much of anything to it–even though I couldn’t stop daydreaming about how I would turn that  wall into my well organized dream storage unit.

Some days I thought I wanted a mudroom:

Continue reading

Seven Down: A Closet Makeover

When I first moved into my house there was nothing in the closets. No poles or shelves of any kind. My friend, Allison, and I went to Home Depot and quickly racked up a bill that had us voiding the sale and heading back to the aisles to buy a much more economical closet kit for my bedroom closet, and a few shelves for a utility closet.

IMG_0555

We left the guest room and coat closet alone for the time being. I eventually put a shelf in the coat closet (which I don’t actually keep coats in) but four years later all the stuff in the guest room closet was still sitting on the floor. I decided to tackle that project this weekend.

This time my boyfriend and I headed to the HD and I knew enough to head immediately to the closet kits. I knew I didn’t want the same kit that I used in my closet. The guest room closet doesn’t have any clothing in it. It’s mostly extra blankets and pillows, a few boxes, and an air conditioner. So I wanted to keep the floor of the closet free of any obstructions, while having plenty of shelving up high. So I went with one of those adjustable track systems that can be configured however you want itContinue reading

Five & Six Down: A Nightstand Goes from Fussy to Fun

Despite the 90+ degree days here in Connecticut, summer is over. Labor Day has come and gone. Kids are back in school. I spent the weekend at a friend’s wedding on the water in Mystic–and then recovering from a night of drinking and dancing. But I spent my day off knocking another project off my list.

IMG_0540

When my grandmother moved in with my aunt I took a large dresser and its matching nightstand that she had used for a buffet in her dining room. It was a good, solid dresser but was very dark and formal. My cousin and I sanded and painted it but when we moved it upstairs it took a couple of hits and the paint was scratched. Then daily life scratched up the top over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the bedside table was still the dark stain because I wasn’t sure where I was going to use it. I originally thought I would put it in my spare bedroom, but it didn’t fit. So I put it in my bedroom, but didn’t get around to painting it until this week. Continue reading

Four (and a Half) Down: Paint, Paint, Paint!

A couple of months after I moved into my house I cam home in the middle of a downpour to find the paint in my “mudroom” (I put that in quotes because it’s just a weird room that functions as a laundry room/mudroom/place where the cat stuff is) bubbling. This particular room is part of a one-story addition on the back of a two-story house, and the wall in question is the one that separates the original house from the addition. Water was getting in somewhere, and getting behind the paint. You could literally pop the bubble and water would come pouring out.

For months I looked for the source of this problem. The water only came in once in a while–clearly when the wind was blowing in a certain direction, and the rain was really bad. No one could figure out where it was getting in. At one point we even removed the siding to have a look. It didn’t look wet at all behind the siding. Finally I got someone up there with a hose, and we realized there was a small spot in the corner of a window where there was no caulk.

So we fixed it and I waited for months, though all kinds of weather conditions, to see if the problem was truly fixed. Then I fixed the wall. For a couple of years, everything was fine. Then it started again. This time I decided to skip the caulk and go straight to As-Seen-On TV methods and use Flex Seal. So far, so good.

Now it was time to fix the wall, and while I was at it…I’d finally paint the living/dining. Continue reading

Three Down: What a Real Home Office Looks Like

I don’t have “Facebook Envy.” I don’t find myself looking at the photos of friends and exes, wishing I had their lives. I do, however, suffer from “Pinterest Envy” — especially when it comes to my office. I don’t know about you, but my office serves as a sort of catch-all for everything from mail and paperwork to random furniture and projects. I’m the only one who spends any real time here, so it’s a convenient place to hide the mess that would drive me crazy if it was sitting in the living room. Still, when I scroll through my Pinterest feed, I can’t help but wish my office looked like the one to the left.

Continue reading

A Detour: Finding the Perfect Wall Color

william morris project

I know this much to be true: When you change one element in a room, it all spirals out of control from there. After choosing a new couch, and doctoring the curtains, I decided I want to change the wall color. I did not officially add this to my William Morris To-Do list, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

I searched Pinterest over and over, looking for new color ideas. I thought I was settling on a neutral — maybe gray or beige…or greige. And I was also still mulling over the gray-blue I’d always thought I wanted in that room. Then, in a fit of spring fever, I got to thinking about that lovely palette of pale peaches and pinks that I love so much in the garden. Because who doesn’t want their house to look like this?

Seriously, I swoon at the mere thought of being in a room as beautiful as these flowers. Continue reading

Two Down: The Curtains

william morris project

I understand that big open spaces are desirable in your home. There’s a lot to love about it, but there’s also a lot that’s kind of annoying. My living room and dining room are the same room, and my kitchen is mostly open to the dining room. That means everything needs to go together to some degree. I don’t do matchy-matchy, even in the same room (I loathe sets of furniture) but I’m also not going to paint the kitchen a color that completely clashes with the living/dining rooms. It also makes furniture placement a bit tricky, because you have less wall space, and my room isn’t quite big enough to just float the furniture. I digress. I’m here to talk about curtains.

Continue reading

One Down: The Sofa

I finally pulled the trigger. I chose a couch, I went to the store–complete with a rented van and my cousin’s help–I put my credit card down and I bought a new couch. We headed up to the sofa department before making the final purchase. I was planning on buying the Idemo Beige corner Ektorp, but it looked a bit too light–like I’d be washing it all the time. I’d also been eyeing the Nordvalla Gray. It looked a bit too dark on the site, so I wanted to see it in person before heading to the cash register. Turns out, it was a much lighter color (meaning less likely to show white cat hair) than it looked on the screen.

IMG_0198 Continue reading

A Woman Obsessed: Couches & William Morris

I like used furniture. Most of the time, I won’t even consider buying something new. I walk into a furniture store and find myself knocking on bed frames and dressers wondering what  they are made of, and deciding it definitely cannot be wood. I prefer to troll Craigslist for people who have money to waste, and like redecorating their homes. (It’s important to zero in on certain zip codes to make this work.) But after years of sitting on couches with mysterious origins, and covering them with slipcovers and blankets, I have become obsessed with the idea of finding and buying a couch I actually like.

This is harder than it sounds.  Continue reading

Hoarders: The HGTV Edition

HGTV has come to Netflix. I assume the House Hunters and Love It or List It collections were released in time to coincide with cold, rainy fall weather that keeps people like my shut up in the house, drinking tea, eating soup, and staring at the walls thinking about all the things we would change. Here’s the thing, though: If you watch Love It or List It back to back, you start to realize that about 75% of the people are just slobs/hoarders who don’t know when to stop having children. The people on this show are just lucky that HGTV showed up at their doors before TLC and the Hoarders crew.

Yes, sometimes you get people who genuinely have a mess of a house. Their kitchens are falling apart, their windows leak, and the walls are drafty. But most of them could get by with hiring a professional organizer and buying some new furniture. Alternatively, they could stop having kids, because more often than not the big problem seems to be that the kids’ toys are EVERYWHERE! A simple trip to IKEA could solve all their woes.  Continue reading

How I Magically Turned a Dresser into a Credenza

I’ve got a lot of used furniture coming my way. My grandmother is moving out of the house she’s lived in for almost 30 years, which means she needs to get rid of a whole lotta furniture. Meanwhile, my step-father’s mother passed away and he hauled a dresser from Florida to Connecticut for reasons none of us are quite sure of. I have been looking for a long dresser for quite some time, but I was planning on just taking one from my grandmother when she moves. But once it was here, there was no turning it away. So I decided to go all DIY on it.

That's a lot of blue.

That’s a lot of blue.

Continue reading