Archive for May 2015

Decorating Order of Operations

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I think my family might be sick to death of hearing me say, "I just took an online decorating class and blah blah blah words whatever..." I learned so much though and am finally happy with my family room. 
Here is how it looked before the course.  I'd worked pretty hard to get it to this point, and still couldn't figure out why I didn't love it.

This room has three regular doors plus pocket doors that take up most of one wall and two large windows. There is almost no uninterrupted wall space where I can put large furniture without blocking a door or window. Here is my very hasty drafting of the floor plan so you can really get what I'm talking about.
That little door on the right is the only way to the kitchen, which means my family room is really just a big hallway to the kitchen. That's why I don't have a coffee table or anything; there is a constant stream of traffic through here, because everyone in the entire known world (including me) wants to see what's in my fridge, and having to walk around a table is a pain. I did try it. 

So in the past I've tried fixing this room by moving furniture around, messing with the bookshelves, adding a gallery wall,and whatever else I could think of that would make it pretty. But in this class I finally learned that there is an order to decorating that makes things a lot easier.

The main steps are to quiet your room, deal with the big things, take care of carpet and window treatments, and only then do you get to do the fun work of adding artwork and other decorative things.

So I began with "quieting" my room by getting everything out of there but the really big stuff. It felt so good. I actually left the room like this for a week before doing anything because it felt so peaceful.

Here's my before.
 And here it is with most of the stuff cleared out.
 Once everything was out I could see that some of my big elements weren't working for me anymore and no amount of cute vases or throw pillows were going to fix it. I got rid of the piano that no one played by posting it for free on Craigslist, I painted my walls white, traded out the table under the TV for a larger dresser, and I ordered grey fabric to make slipcovers for my big brown sofas. I thought about buying new sofas, but these fit well along the wall and hold a bunch of teenagers. I decided I want to make them work a few more years and when we are empty nesting I'll replace with one sofa and two chairs. Or something.

I added an area rug that was nearly twice the size of my old one so that it reached under almost all of my furniture and helped tie the pieces together.
Apparently puny area rugs are a problem.

I moved some of the furniture around, although there aren't a lot of options with all those windows and doors in the way. Putting the green chair and bookshelf where the piano used to be is making me really happy though.
styled book shelves
Our teacher was adamant that window treatments be hung before any pictures go up so I got that done and then edited down my gallery wall to my favorite pictures and frames.
 Before I used every frame in my house to make my gallery wall, and some of them weren't in very good shape or had images that I didn't love. Now the gallery is smaller, but I love everything there. Especially this picture of Riley.
 Earthquake putty is your best friend when doing a gallery wall! A little blob on the corner of each frame and you don't have to deal with crooked pictures driving you crazy all the time.

By now you must be dying to know, the class I took was The Cozy Minimalist class from one of my favorite bloggers, The Nester.
She's offering the course as a go at your own pace download for something crazy like $35. I would totally recommend it. I took the live webinar, but with this you get the same materials that cover all kinds of stuff like creating a focal point, furniture scale, window treatments, textures in a room and more. I learned a lot that I can't wait to apply to my next project, the guest room (you can see that finished project here).

Now hold on for a million pictures of that slipcover. It was a ton of work but it looks so much better! And don't you feel so good when you fix something you already have instead of just buying something new? Click HERE for more details on how I did it. When I have insomnia this couch is my best friend, plus, it used to be my sister's couch that she laid on, and I like keeping it for that reason too.

 So that is it. Next time you find yourself trying to fix a room by adding another throw pillow, try using this order of decorating. I think you'll like it.

I applied the same principles to my "use what you have" guest room makeover that I hope you'll check out HERE, and HERE.

A Visit From Maddie

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sometimes I still can't believe that two of my children have grown up and flown out of our little nest. It's super crazy-I'm so proud of the grown up stuff they are doing; but in my heart I think they are just my little Maddie and Katie baby girls. Maddie and her husband Kenny came for a visit last month and since my blog wears many hats, including our family journal, I wanted to post some pics of the fun we had while she was here.

We went to our favorite ice cream shop, Lottie's. Marc was at work and Ellie was at school so it was just Jonathan, Maddie, Kenny and I. Sometimes they make fun of my obsessive photo documentation of their lives.

Later that night we met Grammy and Papa for dinner at a great Korean bbq restaurant.  For some reason the only photo I have is a plate of raw meat. You don't have to pin it if you don't want to.
But really, that is fun family dining right there! Live fire at your table; what could be better?

The next day was so special. Katie and my mom were able to spend the day with us and it was just about as perfect as a girls' day can get. We started out downtown at a cool little store where you can custom mix your own perfume. We each sniffed about a million different scented oils until we came up with concoctions that we liked, then the barista mixed our personal perfumes into little roller ball dispensers for us. We got to give them our own names too. My mom named hers "Lani Love," and I named mine "Mermaid."
I made all three of those cute girls! I am amazing.

Then we wandered downtown a bit and visited the candy shop. Because, candy.
After that we wanted to go to Danville where they have some of the cutest little boutiques, and Ellie asked us to drop her off at home first. Her twelve year old sensibilities do not yet include spending the afternoon oohing and aahing over overpriced home goods. It will come.

For Maddie, a critical part of any visit to California is feasting on fresh sushi, but Kenny doesn't like it so we decided to get our raw fish quota in while we were out for lunch. The place we were at had some of the prettiest plates I've ever seen.
The weather was as perfect as we could ask for and we ate outside on the lovely patio.
 My mom doesn't actually like sushi either but she is a good sport and eats a bento box with teriyaki chicken when we make her go. She is too nice to tell us if she doesn't like it so we just assume she does.

After lunch we went shopping. I am one hundred percent sure my mom likes shopping. We purchased only the essentials, including shoes, handbags, earrings, and a hat for Katie. It was such a good day!

Later in the week we had family bowling night. None of us are that good. Some of us like to talk like we are good (not me, I stand at the line, roll the ball and hope), but none of us are that great. What we are is loud and competitive (...again, not me).
 We ran into some of our friends there that night too, it was fun playing with their kids.

I tried to get the requisite bowling shoe photo but some people could not be made to understand what I was artistically trying to accomplish. A star! It shouldn't be that hard. But, whatever. This is what I got. Then my peeps didn't want to stand in a tight little circle in the middle of the bowling ally while I took pictures of our feet anymore so I had to give up.
They sort of tolerated the group shot.

I love those guys.

And that about covers it. Oh! Marc and I took Maddie and Kenny to a Giants' game too. I love Giants' stadium; the view of the Pacific is fantastic.
I can't wait to see those kids again!

DIY Lulie Wallace Flower Paintings

Monday, May 4, 2015

how to DIY a Lulie Wallace abstract flower painting
Yes, even though I have literally not painted anything besides walls and furniture ever, I painted those. Yes, I'm going to show you how to also. It doesn't matter that you "can't paint" or "aren't artistic." If you have been obsessing over Lulie Wallace but don't have a budget for original artwork (although some of her pieces are within reach at under $500) then just believe me, you've got this! Imagine I'm holding your hand and cheerleading you through the whole thing, email me if you need to, come over if you're local. This was so fun I really want to share it with you.

Don't you just love her paintings? And her designs for Anthropology? They may make me feel a little obsessive. Like, must. have. ALLOFTHEM. Let's look at some of my favorite Lulie originals just to get excited about our project.

There is just happiness coming off these paintings in waves. I can't get enough of them! And here are the two paintings I tried to recreate for myself.

In case you were wondering, my thoughts on copying are really well expressed in this article. Basically, it's fine to copy other artists for your own learning and enjoyment, people have been doing it forever. Think of the art students you see with their sketchbooks at any museum you visit. Just don't, you know, sign Lulie Wallace to your painting and try to sell it. Hang on your wall, yes; list on Etsy, no.

So okay, let's get started! Gah,I'm so excited for you! This is going to be so much fun! And I don't want to hear any more blah blah blah about how you can't. Trust me, you can. Here is your supply list. Go get it and come back.


A printed color picture of the painting
you want to copy. I just printed one at home.
Here's mine.
A canvas in whatever size you want.
I used one like this that was on clearance
for $3.95. You can see the staples on the side.

Acrylic craft paints. The super cheap $1 ones.
I like these because they had stickers with
the colors on top. Fancy.
Stand in front of the paint section with your
printed picture and choose paints that look
close to the ones in the painting. Get a BIG bottle
of white. Don't try to get every shade of each
color, you will mix your own lighter and
darker shades by adding white or other
colors. Get a bottle of Gold paint. Don't 
forget that and have to go back.

A package of inexpensive craft paint brushes.
Find one with a few different size brushes,
a large one for the background and
some smaller ones for the flowers.
Mine cost about $6.
Also get a pencil to sketch your design,
and a cup of water and 
some paper towels to clean your brushes
between colors.

Okay, I think you're ready.

The first step is to very lightly outline the painting onto your canvas. This is in no way a detailed drawing; it is more like a cartoon outline. Don't stress, for flowers draw circles. You are mostly just blocking out the spaces for things. Most of Lulie's paintings have a table with a container on it with flowers in the container. It helps to mentally divide your canvas into thirds and consider how she placed these three main elements. Does the table take up the bottom 1/3 or 1/4 of her canvas? Do the flowers go about 2/3 of the way up the canvas? Make yours match as closely as possible-but relax about getting it perfect-her look isn't even supposed to be perfect.
 Now you will paint in the big blocks of color, namely the background, the vase, and the area for the flowers. I used my larger paint brush for this and mostly painted in little half circle strokes. I kept my paint on the thick side and mixed my colors by putting a blob of white on my plastic plate and then putting little blobs of each of the two greens I had next to it. I would dip my brush in the white and then pull a little of the greens over and swirl them around together. 

I like how it looks to have parts of the canvas darker and parts lighter so as I reloaded my brush I didn't worry about mixing it the same each time. Variety is the spice of life, right?! Also, not being a perfectionist keeps us from going crazy.
In my inspiration painting the pitcher is white, but plain white paint wasn't showing up on my canvas so I added a little grey to it.

Also, if you look closely at my inspiration painting you can see that there is a bit of a pinky/beige "halo" around the flowers.
Lulie's beautiful original
I don't know how she created that but to replicate it I simply painted a pale pink over the whole flower area. On my first try I left white spaces where I planned to put my flowers and leaves but on my second try I thought it was easier to paint the whole area pink and then paint the flowers over it.

Here's my first one.
Here's my second one. You can see I filled in a lot more of the "halo" color on this one. It just needs to dry for 10 minutes or so before you start painting flowers over it. Also, do you dig how my easel is a kitchen chair with a book holding the painting up?
So now you have your four big areas painted and it's time to start adding details. I wanted to do my pitcher so I did that first using a little brush to outline and add the little dots. The gold paint makes for a pretty outline and I used it throughout the painting to give it the sketch like quality. I obviously didn't copy the original exactly because I just couldn't be that precise.
Next I started painting in some of the leaves. You can mix up different shades of green by adding white or blue to your basic green. After finishing a leaf you can go back with a little white to add highlights or darker green to add variation. While the paint is wet the colors blend nicely so just keeping working it until you like it. Or move on if you can't get it how you doesn't have to be perfect.

About this time you will be bugged that your colors don't turn out just like Lulie's and all I can say is that you have to let it go. We are not famous artists, we are just happy to look at her work and make a little tribute to it for our own homes. Once I had copied her placement and general color palette I had to stop looking so much at the original and just do what looked nice to me so that I wouldn't get frustrated. 

Now paint some flowers. They are mostly blobs of color that you will add detail to with your gold outlining. 

My plastic plate paint holder was a big mess by now.
But I was almost done and that was pretty exciting! Here is and up close pic so you can appreciate how not perfect everything is but how it looks nice when it's all done (and you take a few steps back :-) ) 
Here is the almost finished painting with the grey background pattern in progress.
And here it is all done and hanging in my bedroom. This was ridiculously satisfying and I cannot encourage you enough to try it. So many of my friends have said they couldn't do this but I know that they can. You can too! It is so worth the small investment of time and money to experience the fun of making something beautiful yourself. Of course it won't be an exact copy of the original, but that's what makes it yours.
DIY Abstract Art
This is my bedroom but my end plan for this painting was to hang in my bathroom with the the second painting I did. I followed the same steps as before-here is the photo documentation for your viewing pleasure.
How to DIY abstract floral painting
And here they are happily hanging over the tub!
So, if you decide to do this will you pretty please share a link with me? Or a photo? I'd love to see how other beginning artists get on. Happy painting, friends!

Oh, did you want to see all that on flipgram? Here you go.


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