Update on Maria's Basement - Halfway There!

We're halfway there - I'm calling it!

The fireplace and curtains were the two "big deal" elements in this design. We decided to plank the fireplace wall, partially because the current wall treatment was tricky to paint over. The previous home owner created a textured wall with paper bag scraps and Mod Podge. Not easy to paint over. The planks easily cover this texture, and I'm really digging the plank look lately. 

Finding a contractor on short notice who wants to take on a project this small was the first issue. Maria and I decided we loved the look enough to try a DIY project. I used compressed hardboard from Lowe's, and they cut a full sheet into 6" planks. Total cost, under $10. 

The wall was primed so the gold color doesn't show through the tiny spaces. Then I started nailing the planks in place with a brad nailer. 

Maria and the jigsaw. So many attempts. So many headaches. 

She has the patience of a...very patient thing (?) and she never gave up. 

Once the trim goes up, and the holes and spaces are filled with wood filler, the whole thing will get a nice coat or two of crisp, white paint. 

How about a side-by-side progress shot?
The room went from 1996 to 2014 like Michael J Fox!

Next, the curtains have been giving me heartburn for a week. But I'm happy to report that I am 100% happy with the direction I took with the curtains, even though they aren't done yet. Making a decision is the hard part. Making it happen is easy. 

Maria's basement windows are set higher on the wall, with a ledge below. This eliminates the option of full length panels, because they would hit the ledge rather than falling straight to the floor. 

After I settled on this patterned rug and super-cute fabric...
I decided white curtains would look best. I don't want too many competing patterns and colors. I'm not in the business of designing circuses, folks.

I wasn't impressed with white curtains that are too sheer or too solid/heavy. The Nate Berkus line at Target offered the perfect panels (no surprise) with the look of a medium-weight sheer, with a horizontal stripe. I cut one 84" panel in half width-wise, and added two inches of length. But they still didn't look quite right. 

I literally woke up at 3:00 a.m. thinking about how to address the curtain issue. A grosgrain ribbon panel...but what color, and how thick? Top or bottom? One or multiple? 3:00 a.m. folks.

This is what I settled on, and yes, it is pinned in place in this photo:

The black ribbon adds a custom look, and they just look more finished to me. I love the repetition of black and white in this room, too. The fireplace wall, the rug, the curtains/rods...all black and white. Add a little turquoise and the whole space will come together beautifully!

So these are the pictures I snapped this afternoon, and I couldn't be more pleased & optimistic with the progress of this room.

What's left? 

6) Source and paint a TV stand/dresser (I think we found a contender tonight on Craig's list!)
7) Slipcovers for the other side of the room
8) End tables
9) Gallery wall 
10) Finishing touches


Thanks to Natalie and Ella for the impromptu photo shoot on a beautiful day. They think I'm equal parts fun and weird. In a few years they'll think I'm plain-old embarrassing, just like my husband does. :)  Fun, weird, embarrassing...it's better than boring!

My jumping picture would be so much more effective with a beachy backdrop, or a mountain-top. Alas, no beaches or mountains in Fargo. 

So freedom: It was 70 degrees today. Ella and I rode our bikes to a nearby bridge and listened to the birds. 

I chopped off my hair last week, and I quit my corporate job. 

Deep breath and *happy* sigh. 

A Common Midcentury Theme

I've always thought that things happen in a notable pattern, but I haven't decided if this is because I over-think everything, or if it is an obvious pattern and I'm observing it. Either way, I am an over-thinker and a dedicated daydreamer, so it could be neither or both.

Last week had a definite mid-century theme for me. 

I toured my first Frank Lloyd Wright home and it was amazing. Work took me to Phoenix last week, so I jumped at the opportunity to do some sight-seeing after hours. FLW built Taliesin West in 1937, so maybe that's not technically "mid-century" but I feel like it is. 
As usual, I was the only person under 60 in the group. Really? I know plenty of my peers who are interested in architecture, specifically FLW, but there I was, perfectly happy with the 60+ crowd.  And I'll say it again...I was born in the wrong decade. 
As I parked my rental car, I felt like I was about to meet a celebrity. I was giddy. I also get that feeling in book stores and fabric stores, so no, I'm not particularly "cool."

I only took pictures outside, where the tour guide allowed, even though plenty other folks on the tour secretly snapped away. I figured the official pictures available on the website are better than any I could take, and I just wanted to soak it all in rather than sneaking an illegal image. 

I did take this one, and it was "allowed." Low lights set in stone, in the last room of the tour. He perfected the acoustics in this room to allow for clear speaking and performance. 

It just looks very FLW to me. 

Second mid-century happening of the week...with a heavy heart I watched the first episode of the final season of Mad Men Sunday evening. 
I feel the need to absorb every scene, every word, and every last detail of set design and period-specific wardrobe. With a nice bottle glass of wine. 

I have an odd habit of purposely not watching the final episode of my favorite shows. If I don't watch it, there is always the hope of something new, that I can watch someday. I blew that with Breaking Bad. With some shows, you just have to know what the heck happens. We will see if I can bring myself to watch the final episode of Mad Men. Of course, I have plenty of time to ponder this question, as the final season is divided into two parts, many, many months apart. I might be secretly grateful for that. 

Then I stumbled upon this Minnesota house, which I poured over for hours. I don't think I could live in it, but I would certainly like to hang out there for a day or two. #ByMyself #IsThatWeird? #arehashtagsoveryet?
mic century modern house 1961
And the final piece of my mid-century puzzle this week? 
I visited one of my favorite blogs yesterday, and discovered that Jenny Komenda had re-imagined her Vintage Homecrest in gold, just as I did with mine last summer. 
Dare I say it? Great minds think alike?

Project: Maria's Basement

As many of you already know, I have been given the opportunity to redesign Maria's basement. Who is Maria???

Maria is the owner of Eco Chic Boutique, in Fargo. This place is the North Dakota Mecca of painted furniture, happy faces, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, local wares, and creative, beautiful decor. Maria is a hoot. As a owl lover, I don't use that word lightly. 

I was honored to teach a class at Eco Chic in the fall, where we talked about mood boards and elements of design. And I jumped at the opportunity to test my design skills on Maria's basement. 

When I started this project, Maria had already selected the new wall color: a gorgeous shade of medium gray. We discussed what she ultimately had in mind for this room, what items would stay & go, and what type of design she is drawn to. 

I took several before shots. This helps me remember where doors and windows are located, and what the furniture that will be used in the final design looks like.  These pictures help me to visualize the "after." There is nothing more frustrating than not taking enough "before" pictures, after I get home and start planning. These are also super fun to have around when the room is DONE and you can compare the before to the after. 

I made a couple of mood boards and gave Maria a to-do list. She painted the fireplace surround/mantle white, and painted a sofa table turquoise. Having an expert furniture painter really comes in handy here. Access to skills and paint! 

I show up and voila! painted fireplace! voila! turquoise sofa table!

This weekend I had a chance to install curtain rods and get started on the fireplace. We decided to go with a planked wood fireplace wall. Because her fireplace is situated in the corner, on an angle, it has the opportunity to be a beautiful focal piece. 

Inspired by images like these...

Curtain rods are hung, which is a heck-of-a trick with a bay window...more on that later. 

And the fireplace planks are purchased and cut. 

See the new gray walls and white fireplace? (with a test plank placed above...soon to be painted white and attached)

We are in the thick of this project, friends! 

Owen's Room

I'm finally getting around to writing a post about Owen's room. There are two main reasons I held off for so long:

First - I want to paint the bunk bed, but I can't decide on a color, and I seriously don't feel like painting a bunk bed. Also, because we can't open the windows (you know, because it's 80 degrees below zero and quite windy, but only for a couple more months, they say) the paint fumes are a concern.  

Second - I can't take a quality picture in this room to save my life. This is a dark room within the house of the long shadows. And me with no photo-skills. 

So feel free to squint when you look at these pictures. 
I made the little football blanket, Jason made the bunk bed.
Jason wins again.
We might as well do something with all of those license plates...since we
move every 2.3 years.

My favorite thing about this room is that he sleeps in it. all night. by himself. 

It only took 5 years and 8 months, but who's counting? 

Spring and Hope

It's been a long, miserable winter. I actually believe Fargo got the least of the winter nastiness this year. 

Yep. Fargo. Not so bad.

We had some cold days, don't get me wrong. But my friends in Minnesota, Michigan, and back in NY (and everywhere in between) were slammed on a weekly basis. 

The view outside my sister's house in NY, a week ago. Soon after, she escaped to Las Vegas, to stay with my brother. I can't argue with that.

So my point is that we will all really appreciate ~Spring~ this year. We are craving sunshine and an air temperature that doesn't hurt. 

I heard birds chirping this past weekend as I lie in bed. 


They're a universal sign of hope. 

I finally felt the desire to do something inside the house, because truthfully, it's been pretty pathetic since I un-decorated after the holidays. 
Nothing says, "who gives a crap" quite like this sad display.

No need to make it pretty when all of North America east of Las Vegas is a frozen, miserable tundra. 

And now...

"Well...it's a lot of glass," said the Hubbs, when I asked him if he likes it. 

"A lot of glass."

Bless his heart. 

I Found One!

Yes, I named my Fiddle Leaf Fig "Figaro."

And yes, I jumped on the bandwagon. 
I drank the kool-aid. 
I joined the club.

I don't know how to care for plants. I have a few around the house. Let's just say some last longer than others, and luck keeps them alive, not my green thumb. 

But I asked a thousand questions, and the lady told me I could call them for help if Figaro heads downhill. They will help me trouble shoot for a better location and/or different watering schedule. 

Please don't let me kill it. I'm going to try really hard not to kill it. 

Now I need to find him a beautiful pot!