10 Aug

Paisley Tote Bag project

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here! Well, moving across the country can do that to you. I have a lot of potential posts saved up, and I hope I will be able to get to them soon.

Here’s a quick little project I just finished up last night: a simple paisley tote bag. What’s cool about this one? I designed the fabric myself!

I’ve designed fabric patterns for Spoonflower off and on for a while, but despite that, I’ve never actually made anything out of the fabric I designed. I only have swatches of each design on hand. I really wanted to try to make something, but I wanted something quick and easy.

A while back, Spoonflower integrated with Sprout, a company that will sell you fabric custom printed with pattern pieces. You can buy simple patterns like this tote bag, or more complicated dresses, jackets, and so on. I decided to try Sprout with a simple tote bag, using one of my fabric designs.  Read More

02 May

The Miniature Fairy Garden Project: Playing With Scale


Before I get to what I promised last time, I want to talk for a moment about scale. Like model railroads, fairy gardens come in many scales. The most common is 1:12 or 1″ scale, which means one inch in your miniatures is the equivalent of one foot in the real world. Other common scales include 1:24 or 1/2″ scale (1/2 inch is the equivalent of a foot) and 1:48 or 1/4″ scale, which means 1/4 inch is the equivalent of a foot.

If you’re not sure what scale your accessories are (or may need to be), there is a very useful chart at minigardener.wordpress.com that helps you estimate. (There are also some great photos to illustrate the scales there.)

An example in the chart is the height of the door in your fairy house. If the door is 6″–7″ tall, it’s probably 1:12 scale. If it’s 3″–4″ tall, think 1:24. And if it is 1 1/4″–1 1/2″ tall, it’s likely 1:48. My garden is pretty small — the average scale is closer to 1:48.

However… as it turns out, there are a lot of accessories out there that aren’t made to one of these scales. Sometimes you find the perfect miniature mansion or tiny teeter-totter or wee wishing well, and it just doesn’t match your planned scale. What do you do then?

You have a couple of possibilities. One is to decide you don’t really care about scale — maybe your fairies come in all different sizes. It won’t look as “perfect, but that may not be what you are interested in for the project anyway. And that’s OK. There is another option as well, one I learned from the Imagineers at Disneyland. (Well, from reading about them, anyway.) Let’s look at the photo from the top of the page again:

Which one is bigger?

Which one is bigger?

How tall do you think these houses are, relevant to each other? Is one bigger? Are they the same size? How far apart are they? What do you think? Try to guess before you scroll down further.

Did you guess right?

Did you guess right?

The house on the left is smaller than the one on the right. In the previous picture, however, the eye tends to see them as being roughly similar sizes. When you see a small house in the background, your brain thinks it’s small because it’s far away, not because it really is smaller. (This illusion would work far better if you could not see the wooden boards the houses are sitting on.) This is called forced perspective.

Forced perspective is used in many places, but at Disney theme parks, you can see it used to change the apparent height of buildings such as the castle, and to change the apparent size of Snow White in Disneyland’s Snow White Wishing Well area. For the castle, the upper sections are made smaller than they should actually be, so when a guest sees them, the brain will be fooled into thinking the castle spires are much further away — taller.

The situation for Snow White is similar. Disney received a set of statues as a gift once: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But… they were all the same size. Snow White was the same height as the dwarfs. And as we all know, she was quite a bit taller in the movie than the dwarfs were. So Disney solved this problem with forced perspective. The Snow White statue is set much further up on the hill than the dwarf statues. The brain is fooled into thinking she only looks too small because of the distance.

(Photo by HarshLight via Creative Commons/Flickr.)

(Photo by HarshLight via Creative Commons/Flickr.)

It’s fascinating; even knowing that Snow White is the same height as the other statues, it’s hard to make yourself see it.

How does this apply to your miniature garden? Two ways. One is that you can make your garden look larger by using forced perspective. Putting small items further away from the viewer will fool the eye into thinking that the space is bigger than it is. And the other way is that you can use it to “mix scales” in your garden. If you have a large house and a very tiny house, use forced perspective so that both of them can fit in the garden without the size looking wrong.

A view from the front of the garden to the back.

A view from the front of the garden to the back.

This photo shows an angled view from the front of the garden to the back. In the front, there is a gazebo. This is the largest-scale item. (It’s actually a tiny bit smaller than it should be for that location. The wishing well that used to be there was larger. The gazebo will probably move a bit at some point for this reason.) Further back, we have a small green house. The scale is a bit smaller than the gazebo — it’s pretty close to 1:48. (The birdhouses are actually too large to be there, except for the smallest one! I should move them.) Still further back, we see two small houses, one of which was the small house in the photo at the top of the page. I’d guess they are about 1:96. And way back there, with the orangish roof and in front of some rocky “hills”, there is a tiny, tiny Tudor-style manor house. I haven’t measured it, but it may be half the scale of the houses in front. And they are right in front of it, but it doesn’t look that way. (That house was a Goodwill find a few days ago. I don’t know if it was for a small scale railroad layout, or a fairy garden, or what, but I was thrilled to find it.)

The forced perspective makes the houses look further apart, and the garden space bigger. I still need to enhance the effect somewhat, however. (Tiny “trees” by those houses, for example. Need to find the right plant for that.)

Another forced perspective example.

Another forced perspective example, from “fairy-eye-view.”

Here’s another example. You can see three layers of distance here. The sign in the front is at least half as tall as the Tudor house right behind it. Think about that for a second. That means that if I put that Welcome sign right up against that house, it would appear to be one story tall! And that would look weirdly big. However, it’s up near the front of the garden, and so the size looks perfectly natural. (It helps that we don’t know what size it should be in the first place.)

Then, way in the back, we see one of the smaller peak-roofed houses. We already know from the photos above that that house is smaller than the one in the middle distance. But in this photo? The brain has no trouble seeing it as larger, and believing it’s just far away.

If I switched those two houses, it would look very odd indeed. We’d see a small house in front, and what would appear to be a giant behemoth of a house behind it. If I moved the Welcome sign next to the small house, it would suddenly appear bigger than a billboard!

So that’s forced perspective. You don’t have to use it, and sometimes you really don’t need to, but it can be a lot of fun to play with — plus, it allows you to acquire lots of accessories in different sizes that otherwise wouldn’t work together.

Next post, I’ll get back to what this one was planned to be — some more things to consider when planning your garden, and the “magic tips” to make your garden come to life.

Don’t forget that if you are in the Seattle area, I teach a workshop on creating your own unique fairy garden. You can find out more and sign up at Verlocal.

See the previous post in this series here.

30 Apr

The miniature fairy garden project: getting started

So, you want to have a fairy garden. Before you get started, there are a few things you should consider. Some of them I remembered to consider myself; others were hard-won wisdom after I’d been working on my miniature garden for a while. No matter what, though, remember that you are doing this to make something you love. In the end, no matter what suggestions I make, the decisions are yours — and if you like what you created, then you made the right ones!

Think about the space you have available and what you might want to fit there. This was one of the earliest stages of my garden: I built some tiny hills and rockeries and planned where some of the houses might go.

Think about the space you have available and what you might want to fit there. This was one of the earliest stages of my garden; I built some tiny hills and rockeries and planned where some of the houses might go.

First: What do you want your garden to be?

  1. Location: There are three basic locations for gardens, in a general sense. Portable indoors gardens are set up in a dish, or a basket, or a flowerpot, or some other container, and kept indoors. Because they are indoors, you don’t have to worry about weatherproofing or things like that. Portable outdoors gardens are the same thing, but they stay outdoors. Sometimes they are in large containers like old wheelbarrows. In-ground gardens are not portable at all. They are right in the ground like any other garden feature.
  2. Size: Once you know your location, you have an idea what size you need. Fairy gardens can be tiny — tiny enough to fit in a teacup! But there are also some that are very large. The space available will help you decide.
  3. When?: The vast majority of fairy gardens people make are spring and summer things. They set them up in the spring, then when fall arrives, they take it down and set everything aside for next year. But there are others that are year-round. (Mine is one of those.) There are also some that are specifically set up for holidays like Christmas. If you are going to do an in-ground year-round garden, as I do, you need to prepare it for winter weather.
  4. Theme: You don’t have to have a specific theme, but it’s common to have a general direction. What will your garden look like? Common themes include Park, Village, Beach, Farm/Garden, Fantasy, or some mixture of these. Mine, for example, is a miniature village. If you chose a theme, it will help you narrow down your choices when you’re deciding what you want to add. But you don’t have to stick to any theme unless you want to.
  5. Style: This ties in to the next topic, “Which type of gardener are you?” Basically this is the sort of garden you want to do — one that is toy-based, so children can play in it; one that is whimsical and fantastic; or one that is so realistic that in a photo, you can’t even tell it’s miniature. A related decision: do you want fairy figures in your garden? Some people do, some people don’t. If you do, that will also relate to the size you choose for your other garden fixtures.

The first three plants went into the garden in September. So tiny!

The first three plants went into the garden in September. So tiny!

Next, what sort of gardener are you?

  1. Purist: Everything looks like the fairies made it out of stuff they found. Think “The Borrowers.” Houses and accessories might be made of twigs, pencils, buttons, paper clips, ribbons, bottle caps, etc. It’s not about realism, but instead making it look like the fairies have created a space in the human world.
  2. Miniaturist: Small is what matters. You might have miniature animals, etc. You’re non-purist about what is included as long as it is small.
  3. Playgrounder: The garden is to be played in, and that is the priority. You design it so kids can move around in or around it, and play with the figures and accessories.
  4. Cutista: Cute is your priority. Realism, accuracy, and coherent style are not as important. It just needs to be adorable. People squee when they see your garden, and rightfully so.
  5. Gardener: You’re doing this for the plants. Your fairy garden will be very, very green.
  6. Combination: Any or all of these! This is probably most common.

Or, you can just wing it. That’s OK, too!

I’ll stop right here for now. The next post will address a few more things to consider when creating or buying, as well as some “magic tips” to help make your garden come to life.

Don’t forget that if you are in the Seattle area, I teach a workshop on creating your own unique fairy garden. You can find out more and sign up at Verlocal.

See the previous post in this series here.

See the next post in this series here.

29 Apr

The miniature fairy garden project

Late last summer, I had an empty space in my yard. Under the living room window, behind the rose bushes, there used to be a ton of marigolds, which sounds nice, but they grew like weeds in that space and looked horrible after they finished blooming. So my housemate dug ’em all out, and there was an empty patch of dirt where they had been. That was in late August.

I had an inspiration to turn the space into a permanent outdoor miniature garden, or “fairy garden.” Eight months later, this is what it looks like now, in April 2016:

Small house with a greenhouse. A mossy front yard, and a thyme "shrub."

Small house with a greenhouse. A mossy front yard, and a thyme “shrub.”

Looking through the village to the more distant houses.

Looking through the village to the more distant houses.

A gazebo on the hill.

A gazebo on the hill.

Thyme and Scotch Moss grow in the village.

Thyme and Scotch Moss grow in the village.

The front step of a new fairy house.

The front step of a new fairy house.

There is an Airstream trailer in the village. Like the other homes, it lights up at night when someone is home.

There is an Airstream trailer in the village. Like the other homes, it lights up at night when someone is home.

Another look through the village. There is a house made of twigs in the background.

Another look through the village. There is a house made of twigs in the background.

The front yard of the "Green House."

The front yard of the “Green House.”

The village lights up at night.

The village lights up at night.

A gazing globe outside the conservatory.

A gazing globe outside the conservatory.

Inside the garden conservatory.

Inside the garden conservatory.

It’s still a work in progress, and there are lots of things planned for it. But I’m pretty happy with it so far. It contains a garden conservatory, a gazebo, several houses, a miniature “Airstream” travel trailer, a small “creek”, lots of plants and moss that are slowly filling in the empty spots, a cemetery, and a tiny, tiny greenhouse containing tiny, tiny seed packets, tools, and potted plants.

The best thing about it is that it is solar-powered! At night, the houses light up, one by one as the “fairies” arrive home. There are also some “street lights” (actually solar path lights).

The second best thing about it is that doing this was cheap! If you go to a garden center (or even Jo-Ann’s) and buy a lot of fairy garden stuff, it will cost you an arm and a leg. But most of what is in my garden I either found at Goodwill, or made myself. There are a few things that don’t fit in that category, but most of those I customized in some way as well.

The conservatory building? Goodwill. The gazebo? Goodwill. The miniature wicker-style rocking chair in the conservatory? Etsy. The greenhouse? Well, I bought the tiny glass building on Amazon, but I made the furniture and accessories to go inside the greenhouse. The little green-painted house in the center? I made that out of polymer clay. The Airstream trailer? Goodwill, and it was once a birdhouse. The stone cave house? Goodwill, and it was made for an aquarium. The great thing is that you can do this too, and have a fairy garden that doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

I’m going to do some posts that talk about the various ways I put this together. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the pictures. And if you are in the Seattle area, I teach a workshop on creating your own unique fairy garden. You can find out more and sign up at Verlocal.

See the next post in this series here!

23 Jan

DIY an inexpensive way to hang posters and prints

If you’ve tried to buy a frame for a large poster-sized print lately, you know how frustrating it is. Nice frames that size are ridiculously expensive. Other frames are less ridiculously expensive, but look cheap. Just tacking or taping the posters to the wall gets old once you’ve graduated from college dorm walls. I have a ton of large movie posters I want to hang in my home, but they aren’t hanging yet because framing them is a big investment.

Then, for Christmas this year, I received a gift card to Parabo Press (thanks, Dave!) where they will print poster-size “engineer prints” from your photos. I ordered one from an Instagram photo, and was pretty happy with the print itself:

But… as you can see, it’s just taped to the wall there with washi tape, and that was not going to be my long term solution. I had to find something else. Read More

14 Jun

The notebook obsession: Pt. 2

(Pt. 1 is here.)

I was craving one of the larger Traveler’s Notebooks at this point. One that would give me more room to draw and plan. And I liked the slightly thinner cover the originals have in comparison to the Renaissance Art journal. (Don’t get me wrong, I love it to pieces. But I wanted something different and more like the real Midoris for the larger notebook.)

I kept looking at the prices and thinking “No, I can’t justify buying one.” But I didn’t want to get one of the “fauxdoris”, either. The thing about Midoris is that they are a bit like Apple products in that they are not just nice products, but they are beautifully designed and packaged and they feel a bit like a treasure to open. Fake Midoris often do not have that quality, though of course some do, and many of them just looked… cheap. The ones that didn’t were expensive, like real Midoris. And even the ones that looked good usually didn’t have that quality of “vintage notebook that Indiana Jones would probably carry around” that I was looking for.

So then, I received an unexpected Amazon gift card. Surprise! I thought about what I would spend it on. A Midori? But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And then I found this. A set of two notebooks and a pen holder from ZLYC. I was skeptical — surely they had to be cheap crap. I looked in the reviews and was surprised to see that they were almost universally positive, and didn’t appear to all be shills, either. On top of it all, the notebooks are the same size as Midoris (and almost an exact look-alike). I thought about it for a while, then took the plunge, ordering a set in Dark Coffee. Here’s what I got:

Let’s just say I was impressed. The leather was perfect — thin and flexible and yet with some good heft to it. It is nice to hold on to. It smelled good, not of chemicals or mildew. They were put together nicely, and each book came with three random inserts (plus an extra plastic pocket insert in the large book).

The large book had a two graph inserts, a free calendar, and the pocket insert; the small book had all kraft paper inserts. I was thrilled, and immediately started customizing the large book. I may use the small one as a gift since I already have the other from Renaissance Arts.

And now, a few days later, here’s what I have!

I’m terribly happy with it so far. It’s the perfect weight and feel in the hands, and it’s easy to write in. The paper is lovely — at least, the graph paper is. (Haven’t written on the other yet.) I’ve tested it with fountain pens, gel pens, all kinds of pens, and it doesn’t bleed through. It’s very smooth to write on. I’m going to have to find more of the graph inserts!

I got a Midori blank paper insert for it and swapped it in for one of the graph paper ones, since I don’t need both at the same time. It fits perfectly.

I have a feeling I’m going to be carrying this one around for a long time. But now I’ve seen the blue limited-edition Midori notebook — uh oh. Must. use. self-control.

14 Jun

The notebook obsession: Pt. 1

Uh-oh. I’ve got another obsession.

A few months ago, there was a post on Metafilter about something called the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. I had never heard of this. The notebooks, apparently, have a devoted cult of users who buy all kinds of accessories, customize and decorate their notebooks, and generally spend a lot of time using them as planners, sketchbooks, and more. I looked at some links about the Midori notebooks, and thought they looked nice, but not anything I would use much. Though I’ve always loved stationery and journals, I’ve never used them enough. Usually I get one, write in it a few times, then never again.

And then an online friend pointed me to a free journal offer from Renaissance Art. This one. She said “Anyone interested in those Midori notebooks should try this offer. You only have to pay for shipping.” Why not? I thought. I do love journals and notebooks. And $9.99 for a pretty leather journal? What’s not to like? It’s not a Midori-brand notebook, but it is the same size as a Midori Passport-size Traveler’s Notebook, the smaller size, so Midori refills would fit.

I ordered the notebook, and was impressed when, only a few days later, this arrived from Renaissance-Art. (Incidentally — I have no connection with Renaissance Art. I just like the notebook they sent me.)

The notebook was made of beautiful, buttery leather. It smelled good, like a new baseball glove. I went online to see how people use and customize their Midoris and “fauxdoris” like this one, and immediately fell head over heels into the rabbit hole. For example, see this Flickr group. People use the books as sketchbooks, art journals, travel journals, planners, and more.

What is special about them is the refillable system. Refills are held in with elastics, and you can add more elastics to hold more refills. There are a ton of different refills — graph, lined, blank, kraft paper, calendars, zip pouches, etc. It’s not difficult to make your own, either. So if you want to use yours as a personal planner, you might include a calendar, a Chronodex insert, and lined paper. But if you want to use yours as an art journal, your inserts might include drawing paper and a pouch to carry supplies. When you fill up one of the paper inserts, you can take it out and replace it with a new one, even if the rest of your inserts aren’t used up yet. It’s endlessly customizable and flexible.

Of course, I got all excited about this and started customizing mine. Of course.

I love the book and have been using it a lot. But. It wasn’t enough. It’s a bit small for writing, and might work better for me as a sort of wallet, so I wanted the larger size — maybe a real Midori?

And with that cliffhanger of sorts, I’ll stop for now. Watch for Part 2.

28 Feb

Just wrote an article on Medium. It’s about nostalgia, and development, and the city, and the feelings caused by change. Please read and share, if you like.

Erasing place

06 Jan

Bartell’s Soda Fountain, 1922

Something for those, like me, who are interested in Seattle history:

Bartell's Soda Fountain

From The Bulletin of Pharmacy, 1922.

Bartell Drugs is still in business, but, sadly, there are no soda fountains remaining at their stores. There is no longer a store at Second and Union, but there is one a block away on Third.

(This post is mirrored on my soda fountain blog, Phosphates, Fizzes and Frappes.)

26 Dec

Project: Orange coconut oil sugar scrub

Orange sugar scrubThis year my budget for Christmas was lower than it has been in previous years. So I made some presents: orange coconut oil sugar scrubs. They came out perfectly — they smell great and do an excellent job of exfoliating and moisturizing the skin. I love this stuff. As it turned out, the folks I gave it to loved it as well. I may have to do it again.

IMG_1414It was a fairly easy and inexpensive project. Here’s what you need:

  • Coconut oil
  • Sugar
  • Essential oil
  • Anything else you want to include in the scrub
  • Jars
  • Labels
  • Anything else you want to decorate the jars with, such as ribbon

The sugar and coconut oil are roughly a 1:1 mixture, but you can adjust it depending on what you want your scrub to be like. I used orange essential oil, just a bit, and dried orange peel from Penzey’s. The jars were from IKEA ($3.99 for a package of 4). I made the labels myself in Photoshop.

I was inspired by this project, which has been pinned on Pinterest more than 19,000 times! Sometimes Pinterest-inspired stuff can fail pretty badly, but I’ve had relatively good luck with them, and this one was an unqualified success.

15 Dec

Project: Chalkboard stairs

I have a stairway that goes up to the attic level of my house (that’s where my bedroom is, though originally the attic was unfinished.) The stairway was last painted some decades ago with boring gray floor paint. The walls are dingy “landlord white.” I’ve meant to do something with the stairway for 18 years, but was never sure exactly what. Bright colored steps? Dark? Wood-finish? And what to do with the walls?

I spent a lot of time looking for ideas and inspiration. I made a Pinterest board that currently contains 244 pins of interesting staircases. But the solution to the stairway eluded me.

This is about the best the stairs ever looked. Because you are far enough away not to see the flaws.

This is about the best the stairs ever looked before now. Because you are far enough away not to see the flaws.

You can see in the photo what my stairs looked like. Plain gray, with a curtain to hide them (and keep the heat downstairs when necessary). They look better in the picture than they did in reality. In reality, they are so dull, old, and dirty-looking. No amount of cleaning makes them look nice.

Redoing them is an annoying task — finding the right floor paint, and the right color, and setting up a gate to keep the cat off the stairs, and keeping off the stairs myself while the paint dries. I just haven’t had time to think about it much. But I realized that I could just decorate the risers — the front part of each step — without much fuss. I could draw on them, paper them, paint something, whatever. Eventually when I redo the whole stairway — which I still need and intend to do — I can remove or paint over whatever I do now.

I thought about lettering something interesting on each riser. A quote of some kind. And then, I remembered chalkboard paint. Ah, chalkboard paint. So fun. And, at the moment, so trendy. One thing led to another, and a few days later, this was my stairway:

Yes, I'm a Beatles fan. How did you know?

Yes, I’m a Beatles fan. How did you know?

The risers are now chalkboards, and I can change the lettering any time I like. Or I can just draw things on them. I could even write reminders on them like “Don’t forget to pick up the laundry while you’re up there!” if I wanted to.

The top of each step is still the ugly old gray paint. But even with the dingy grey steps and white walls, the stairs look 100% better than they did before, and the whimsy of my chalkboard steps makes me smile whenever I see them.

Closer look at the stairsIt’s also a fun place to practice some chalkboard lettering styles. Chalk is pretty forgiving! Some of these words were easy to write, and others involved some erasing before I was happy with them.

“Chalkboarding” your staircase is easy. I used Rustoleum’s chalkboard paint in a quart can (not the spray paint). The paint goes a very long way. This is the second project I’ve used it on, and I am maybe 1/4 way through the can. Ideally you are supposed to use a foam brush or roller to get the smoothest finish, but I just used a normal brush. (Living dangerously, I didn’t bother taping around the steps, either. It worked out fine, but unless you like to live as dangerously as I do, you might want to tape some paper or plastic down.)

Clean the surface you are going to paint. If it’s rough, sand it or your writing surface won’t work well. (I didn’t need to do this — the surface is a bit rough here and there, but it seems to be OK.) Paint a coat of chalkboard paint. At this point, you’ll probably ooh and ahh at the deep, rich black finish. That is, if you use black paint. Chalkboard paint really does look nice when it hasn’t been chalked on yet!

Wait four hours before the next coat. Then give it at least one more coat. Two, if you can. (I used one.)

Now comes the hard part. If you’re like me, you want to start writing on your new chalkboard steps! But you can’t. You have to wait three days for the paint to cure. Three days! If you don’t do this, I’m told that the words you write on the board might be permanent. And you don’t want your steps to be that unforgiving, do you? So be patient, and wait.

In three days, break out the chalk. But, wait! Don’t write yet. First, you have to condition the chalkboards. (You may need a lot of chalk for this step.) Take some chalk on its side and cover each step completely with chalk. Then wipe the chalk off with a dry cloth, leaving a fine film of chalkdust on the surface. (At this point you lose that beautiful deep rich black color, but instead, the surface gets that slightly cloudy chalkboard look. Don’t stress out about it. That’s what it’s supposed to look like!)

Now you can write on it! Be a bit gentle with it at first while the paint continues to cure a bit more. What will you write on yours? I started with a Beatles lyric. But I have other ideas — poems, famous quotes, Burma Shave ads…

Eventually, I’ll paint the walls and the steps and brighten this area up a bit. I may or may not keep the chalkboard risers at that time. But in the meantime, I have something I can enjoy, in a part of my home that always depressed me before.

hallway before and after

19 Nov

Pinterest and the bedroom project

It probably goes without saying, but Pinterest was an immeasurable help in getting the bedroom project designed and completed. Back in the old days (by which I mean 2009), when I planned my new kitchen, I did it semi-old school by creating a digital inspiration board:


and a digital materials board:


Both of these were helpful, but they were a bit tedious to put together. I had to find the images I wanted, copy or scan them, and paste them into Photoshop, where I would try to make them fit into the page.

Pinterest has made that process completely simple, as long as the images you want to use are in digital form somewhere. Click a button, edit some text, boom! You’ve got an inspiration board. Or a materials board. Or a brag board. Or some combination of the three.

I used one to compile ideas for this project for a long time: possibly a couple of years. And now it also contains images of the finished room.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 12.24.37 PMCertain patterns became obvious almost from the beginning: painted white floors; pink, red, and orange; rich fabrics; attic doors; built-in bookcases. And so the design developed almost organically from the collection of things I loved.

Some pins very specifically inspired me, however, and I’d like to credit them here. Click on the photos to see the pins on Pinterest (from which you can usually click through to the original source material).

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 12.33.45 PM

The painted red table is easier to clean than the old unfinished pine.  The basket on the lower shelf hides things that might otherwise be messy.

When I saw this pin, with the coral-red painted RAST nightstand, it was a revelation. I already had two of those nightstands, still unfinished pine, that I’d owned for more than a decade. I hadn’t decided yet whether to keep them. This pin (unfortunately, I do not know its source, but I will credit it if I find out!) showed me that a painted RAST would be well worth keeping. A can or two of Rustoleum later, and I had glossy red nightstands that look great against the pale pink wall and white floor. Read More

19 Nov

Before and after: the bedroom project

My bedroom was bad news.

After 18 years of living in the house, the bedroom walls were still the same dingy white they’d been on the day we moved in. Only dingier. The nasty blue carpet had been partially removed, revealing plywood with random splotches of paint. The Venetian blinds were broken. And the worst thing? The horrible, awful fluorescent light fixture that blighted the ceiling. It was like this one:

Yes, one of those. In a bedroom. I hated it. And yet, for 18 years it stayed. And stayed. On as little as possible, but it stayed.

Here are a few “BEFORE” pictures of the old bedroom.



Note plywood covering big hole in the wall. Note also, horrible blue carpet. And cat tree.


This is about as good as any part of that room ever looked. And yet… the dingy white walls, brown trim and blue carpet are not a look any room should have.

It doesn’t look like that any more!  Read More

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