Redecorating the Living Room – Part 4: Gallery Wall of Artwork

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 here

Now that the hard work of repainting is finished, I can start the fun project of re-arranging my artwork into a dynamic gallery wall. I love those collections of beloved artwork that combines photos, paintings, prints and other objects for a unique collection.

I currently have a collection of eight similarly themed prints by local Boise artist, Ward Hooper, all matted and framed the same size. I love these prints that feature unique aspects of Boise life in a gorgeous vintage style. I currently have these in groups of 1-3 all along the same horizontal plane. However, I also have other unique pieces and items that I want to incorporate on my walls as well. I know that my challenge will be to use many of the same sized pieces but separating them, so they don’t appear to all be so matchy-matchy.

As usual, I spent a lot of time looking online at catalogs and websites to find inspiration for my arrangement.  Here are the inspiration photos from Pinterest to show what I am trying to achieve:

I love how random this arrangement appears, but it is actually symmetrical.

I like this arrangement, but I think I like the lamp better than the frames.

Elegant writing desk with gold-colored bamboo frames


Lovely blue background

I love the eclectic mix of objects…some aren’t even framed

West Elm has several lovely gallery wall arrangements. This one is unified with similar colors in the matting and the artwork.

I like how they balanced the corner column with the artwork.

This one continues on to the tabletop for a casual arrangement.

I started out by laying out all of the artwork on the floor. I even included items from other places in the house to see if I could create new combinations. I even dug out some vintage framed paint-by-numbers to see if they should be included as well. For the first arrangement next to the mantle, behind the Eames-styled chair, I selected pictures that all had the color red in them.

I started with a framed ad from a magazine advertising the Esther Williams film, The Duchess of Idaho (silly movie, but better than Sun Valley Serenade which is also set in Sun Valley, Idaho and features a figure skater, Sonia Henie, rather than swimmer, Esther Williams); my favorite Ward Hooper, Cottage on the Bench (the Bench is the part of Boise where my little cottage is located); a print of The Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano; a collage of vintage and vintage-looking Boise postcards; and a simple collage of the front and back of the CarrieTown postcard along with papers torn from a paper-sample catalog (the frame fit the space, so I created the collage in five minutes to fit the space). I laid them out on the floor to determine the placement of the frames.

I did as Martha Stewart instructed, and measured the frames, and then cut out those sizes in butcher paper. I carefully measured the distances between the photos, and then emulated these measurements onto the wall, taping the appropriate piece of paper to the wall to gauge placement. Once I was happy with the placement, I then measured where the hanger should be, and nailed in a picture hanger into the wall.

Once the picture hangers were up, I then hung the artwork in the proper place. Here is the final result:

Precise yes, but that took WAY too long. For the wall closest to the bookshelf, I took a more organic free-form approach. I started with the largest piece, a painting of daisys my Grandma painted in the 1980’s. I then selected other pieces that had similar colors or elements. I also wanted to use a framed map of the old mining community of CarrieTown, Idaho because, hey, it’s CarrieTown, an I’m CarrieTown. I then selected the Warm Springs print and the Les Bois print for the green colors and to bring in the reoccurring element of the flowers. I added another green with the Boise River print. And for fun, a small gate to echo the fence in Grandma’s painting. For the final element, I added a vintage Idaho souvenier plate and clipped a postcard of the Boise River to the gate to tie it all together.

To create the arrangement, I started with the painting, and hung it a little higher than usual, to leave room for items below. I then just held frames up and then guessed at the picture hanger placement. I warned you that it was a more organic process. Once I was finished with the wall, I hung the Les Bois print on the opposite wall to connect the arrangement with the bookshelf arrangement. Since there are white flowers in a vintage vase on the bookshelf, it too connects the theme.

Here is the final result:

I am so happy with this arrangement. I love how casual it seems, but yet every item is connected in simple ways. I like the other arrangement, but I am most pleased with the way this wall turned out.

I still have two more walls to go, but I need to gather more items together to create them. I think I need to incorporate more photos, and more varying sizes. I also want more unique elements, like the small gate and the souvenir plate.

For my next project, arranging the bookshelf and giving my knick-knacks a trash-to-treasure makeover.



Redecorating the living room – Part 3: trash to treasure lamps and end tables

Part 1, Part 2

As I was preparing to paint the living room, my neighbor came over to tell me about the estate sale she would be holding first thing Friday morning. I anxiously awaited the event, which is the best kind of yard sale, the kind you can walk to and from. My proximity also meant I could be one of the first people at the sale.

Talk about a score, I managed to get two lamps, two tables and a leather chair and recliner. The tables and lamps were probably purchased together, along with the chair when the house was built in the 1950’s. They fit so well together, I decided to get rid of my mismatched lamps and tables, as well as the reclining chair that was a recent hand-me-down from my parents.

However, as cool and mid-century as the lamps were, the gold color and dingy lampshades will not do. The lamps are enormous, which will look great with my enormous couch. Within ten minutes of returning home, I was wiping down the lamps and shaking up the spray paint. I used one of the colors left over from my chair project.

When the first coat was drying, I realized I would need more spray paint to do the job. That also meant I could make a trip to Home Fabrics for some fabric for the shades. (An aside about Home Fabrics, this is THE BEST store for decorator fabrics and rugs…some bolts as low as $1 a yard. Their hours are terribly inconvenient, but the store is fantastic!)

I found some barkcloth in a retro print that is mid-century-ish. Mom volunteered to cover the shades using spray adhesive and grosgrain ribbon. I painted the other lamp, and here is the result:


Here is a before & after photo of the final product in the room:



Redecorating the living room – Part 2: selecting the paint colors

This is Part 2 of my living room redecorating project. For part 1, click here.

As I mentioned in part 1, I want to warm up the room visually, and if possible, avoid painting the ceiling. I love the look of warm browns, combined with soft blue and bright turquoise, as seen here:

Or here:

And my favorite example:

I really debated about whether to paint my walls blue or a light taupe color. It is really, really difficult for me to pick taupe over a color, but I like how it is used in this image as a blank canvas for all the other colors. This photo also has the perfect lamps and a fun combination of patterns and textures.

This is a more casual example–I especially love the turquoise table:

For all of these images that were the perfect combination of browns, neutrals and blues, the photo that inspired me the most is this one:

This photo doesn’t even use the same colors, but I love how bright and cheery the room is. Plus, it uses a mixture of vintage and vintage-like furniture and patterns.

In the end, I realized that since the room has North facing-windows, the room will always veer to the blue spectrum and painting the walls blue or grey would exacerbate the problem. So, taupe it is, with blue-green accents.

I spent WAY too much time playing  with ColorSmart by Behr on the iPad, only to realize that most of the colors are vastly different on the paint swatch. I knew I wanted to use Pecan Sandie by Behr, because it is already in my guest room and hallway and it works really well with my other colors. However, there was still the very important accent color for the back of the built-in bookcase next to the fireplace. I finally just went to Home Depot and rolled the dice on my accent color based on the paint chip.

This is the final Behr color scheme, which includes the green ceiling color:

As I was painting, I realized quickly that I would not have enough for the entire room with just 1 gallon of paint. My frugal (cheap) nature kicked in, and I decided to have an accent wall–using the remaining paint from my bathroom, Scotland Road. In the end, I can justify this as a carefully choreographed design decision, but it was mostly because I didn’t want to go all the way back to the store to buy 1 more gallon of paint! However, you can see the bathroom from the living room, so it does look nice together.

Here is a sneak peak of the final result:

Redecorating the living room – Part 1: creating a moodboard

One of the main items on my summer to do list was to redecorate the living room.

The main problem in my living room is since it is a Northern facing room, the light that comes in the two large windows is a bluish or cooler temperature hue than a Southern facing room. Also, since I acquired my leather sofa, the dark green walls, the dark red fireplace and bookcase, and the black leather club chair are all too dark. If possible, I also want to avoid painting the ceiling which is currently a soft green.

This is the (poorly taken panoramic) before photo of the living room:

I envisage a number of projects for this room makeover, so I will break them up into separate posts, so the entire project won’t be too unwieldy.

I have been drooling over colors, pinning ideas to Pinterest,  and asking everyone from family, coworkers and Facebook friends to weigh in on their opinion. So to help consolidate all of these ideas into one package, I created a moodboard for inspiration.

Olioboards allows you to use their sample furniture, drapery and accessory photos, but I found it works best if you visit your favorite websites, like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Ballard Designs, etc, to find furniture you already own, or stuff you would like to own. Download the image onto your computer and then upload it to your moodboard. For my living room moodboard, I even sampled the paint color and made an image of just the color in Photoshop, which allowed me to have the paint color in the background of the image. I am such a visual person I need to see the “walls” painted and the furniture and fabric painted as well.

I also uploaded photos of my curtains, rug and fireplace to match colors and accessories. Here is the final draft:

living room 2
The furniture, isn’t an exact match, but as an inspirational tool, creating a moodboard on Olioboard is really helpful. You can save it on their website, download the image, or share it on pages like Facebook and Pinterest.

For the next post, selecting the paint colors.

Colorful chairs for outdoor dining

Inspired by the last scene in the film, Chocolat, I decided that my back porch needed a long rustic farmhouse table with colorful chairs. I can just picture fun meals spent with family and friends around the table, lit by candlelight all summer long.

So, for the first step, I scouted out the local thrift stores for kitchen chairs. My friend and my mother both independently saw these chairs and they were right. They are comfortable and sturdy, even though there were only three, they were a steal at $9 each.


I was so excited to start the project, I forgot to get a before photo, but all three were the ugly orange wood. I cleaned them and lightly sanded down any rough spots before painting them with spray paint. This one is my favorite because of the gorgeous peacock-blue color.


For the next chairs, I visited 20 different yard sales, before I found the perfect set of chairs. These had been stripped and redone by the previous owner. She was apologetic that she hadn’t finished covering all of the seats, but she was nice enough to give me the fabric so I could cover the last chair.

These were also a great deal at $40 for the set.


This is my color palette for the chairs:


The first chairs took 1 1/2 cans each, but the cushioned chairs only took 3/4 a can each.

The finished set of four without their chair pads.


The next step is to paint all of these with an additional coat of exterior water-based Polyurethane. The spray paint alone might work fine since they will be under a covered patio, but since they will also be around food and beverage, better to be safe than sorry.


This photo shows the fabulous fabric the upholstered seats came with. I didn’t try to match the paint to the fabric, but it looks fantastic with all of the different colors.

The turquoise chair didn’t take spray paint well, so I sanded off the bubbly bits so I could repaint it, but I think I like it distressed. Since none of the other chairs are Shabby-Chic, I am not sure it I will keep it distressed or not.

Here is the complete set:


The next project will be the rustic farmhouse table. The table in the photograph is one of those ugly particleboard folding tables with a multitude of craftroom scars…hence the tablecloth.

Jewelry Display Board – Permanent

The last jewelry display board I blogged about is the one I use for shows and for my studio. The foam-core board makes it lightweight, and the cubicle clips work well for earring cards and one or two necklaces. However, for my own day-to-day jewelry storage, I needed something a little more robust.

Working with an old frame, I cut a piece of plywood to fit inside the frame. I then decoupaged this with scraps of my favorite scrapbook and vintage paper. I wiped on some gel paint in burnt umber to create age and dimension. Then a couple of coats of spray poly to protect it.

To hang the jewelry, I shopped around and found a floral drawer pull that Lowes had on clearance. I then created a grid of where the pulls would be. I wanted the majority of the storage to be for long necklaces, but I also wanted some for shorter ones. I drilled holes for the screws and then screwed on the drawer pulls.

I then hung the board in my room, and now I have a fantastic place to store my jewelry that also becomes a design element in the room.

Art Deco Necklaces

I am loving the great new Bead Landing jewelry findings from Michael’s! It seems they are always introducing new fun product lines it makes it fun to design for the new bling. Using the Art Deco rhinestone pendants, before Christmas, I created a necklace with rose and cream colored glass pearls rhinestone rhondeles, pieces of the coordinating Art Deco chain and my grandmother’s old wristwatch. Inspired by the Art Deco design, I named it the Gatsby necklace. This necklace has a happy new home in Ireland, thanks to Etsy’s international reach.

Since there were two pendants in the pack, this left me with another pendant to incorporate into a necklace. This time, I used peacock blue glass pearls and cream pearls to accent the Art Deco pendant. I loved the original Gatsby with the shiny rhinestone rhondeles and most of all, for the inclusion of Grandma Lorraine’s watch, but I love this one too. With the classic drop pearl pendant, it reminds me of some of the fantastic pearl necklaces of the Elizabethan times, but remixed with an Art Deco flair.

This is the link to the necklace on Etsy.

Kitchen Rehab

I have a teeny tiny kitchen, but it has recently been made more efficient by my industrious father and mother.

The previous owners replaced some of the cabinets and counters, however the counters were still inefficient. The kitchen is set up with the fridge, stove and a tiny cabinet/counter on the wall that leads to the living room. There is a small built-in sideboard with cabinets on the bottom, a 13″ deep worksurface, and large cabinets above. The sink is on an island that has two lower cabinets and a dishwasher. This separates the cooking area with a small area for the table & chairs. Since this is a vintage kitchen, my vintage table & chairs fit perfectly in this small space.

With such limited space, the main worksurface is the counter area on the two sides next to the sink. The previous sink was nice, but HUGE. Not only was it wide, but it was also deep. It took up a considerable amount of space, and its size meant that many many dishes could be stored there–instead of in the dishwasher, which left the kitchen looking messy….this is the sink’s fault, not the messy homeowner.

The previous owner spent considerable time and effort to create wooden molding to surround the counters. These were then painted white to contrast the dark granite-colored formica. So, you have already small counters made even smaller with 2 1/2″ painted molding surrounding the edges. Not only was the painted surface impossible to keep clean, but the caulking between the molding and the formica was also a trap for dirt and germs. In addition, the counter island did not have a backsplash, so anyone sitting with their back to the sink was in danger of getting sprayed.

My father suggested using a pre-fab counter with built-in backsplash to replace the tired counter. He started by removing the molding from the counter, as seen in this picture.

This photo also shows how large the original sink was. It was a very nice Kohler sink, but it would look nicer in a much larger kitchen. The new sink is a much smaller, more shallow, stainless steel sink. The entire counter feels like one continuous work surface. Plus, the backsplash creates a separation from the table area.

The back of the counter (the side facing the table area) was previously  painted to match the wall color. It looked…fine…but didn’t look polished or particularly finished.

For the new counter, using cabinet doors we purchased for $10 at a yard sale, the back is finished and painted white for a beautiful built-in look.

The counter beside the stove was replaced with a granite tile surrounded by elegant stained wood. It is a great surface right next to the stove for hot pots and prep work.

Here is the final look of the kitchen, with the new pendant light I installed over the kitchen table.

As you can see, my kitchen is still tiny, but it works more efficiently with the new counter. It is amazing how much more efficient my kitchen is with minor changes. It didn’t need a huge kitchen remodel to make a significant difference to my house.

Work in Progress – Play Program

I have been super busy working on a program for an upcoming production of both Hamlet and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. Both productions are being presented in rotating repertory so the program will be a combination of both productions.

The concept is of a workbook of the production with bits and pieces falling out of a well worn book. Using my well-known love of paper ephemera and my vast collection, I have managed to bring in a little CarrieTown to my day-job. I will post more as it gets closer to completion, but here is a sneak peak of the cover.

Since the program book covers both productions, it will Hamlet on one side, and then will be flipped over to the R&G side.

The notebook graphics were created in PhotoShop using various leather patterns with additional aging accomplished with grunge brushes. This photo includes the bleeds, but you can see from the distressing where the final size will be trimmed.

I have had so much fun creating all the individual elements of this program. I am excited to see how it turns out.

Making Color Copies of Vintage Fabric

My parents have been helping me with a small kitchen remodeling project. I haven’t done much to assist, so I decided to do what I could to help. Namely, create new artwork for the wall. I know, big help.

Inspired by my 1950’s turquoise formica metal table & vinyl chairs, my kitchen is pale green with bright red cherry accents. I want to incorporate these colors along with a 1950’s vibe in a large collage on canvas.

I started by taking a few pieces of vintage fabric (tablecloths, napkins) to the local copy center, and making large 11 x 17″ color copies of the fabric. It looked pretty silly to have the large barkcloth tablecloth completely covering the copier, but the results were worth any embarrassment! The colors perfectly match the vibrant colors of the fabric–plus you don’t have to destroy the original source material to create something new.

Check out the results: