Friday, March 30, 2012

What to Do With Kitchen Soffits

I've posted about this before on this blog and on my home staging blog - but since this project has been featured on some other blogs and the topic is very popular, I thought it would be a great idea to post it once more with some additional information on how I created the look.

This is a sort of "before" pic, but this was after we added the crown molding

Soffits (or bulkheads) above kitchen cabinetry makes a home feel dated. And if you paint the soffit a contrasting color it only makes your cabinetry seem smaller and it makes the height of the kitchen less tall looking.

If your cabinets are in good shape, you should add crown molding to the ceiling above the cabinets and add some trim molding to the bottom of the soffit. 

Me...putting the first woodgraining layer on

Since these cabinets were in great shape, we decided to go with an oak woodgraining for the soffits and moldings. The "trick" to getting the oak woodgrain (or any faux wood) right is to try to match the underlying color of the cabinets.  Oak has a glow to it so I first used a medium tone yellow base paint (1 part Woody Yellow and 1 part Neutral White basecoat from Faux Effects) and then I did a pale gold metallic paint over that (a pale wheat color from Faux Effects Metal Glow line). You could also just do a gold glaze over the basecoat - just enough to give it a glow.

After - doesn't this look better, more updated and...tall!

Then I made up a glaze for the woodgraining layer.  I used Chestnut Brown and Earth Brown Glaze and went over (in sections) the soffit and moldings.  I created the woodgrain by removing the glaze with a wipe out tool.  I used torn pieces of corrugated cardboard.  Then when it was dry, I took a paintbrush and darkened the grain to match what I was seeing in the cabinetry.  I also used a graining comb for the smaller areas and around the wood grained areas (you can buy this at Home Dept I believe - or at Michael's).

Then I overgrained the entire surface with the same graining material as the first layer.  I had to adjust the color here and there because the color of the oak cabinets differed in various sections.  Some I had to make a bit darker...some cooler.  Then after everything was dry - I did a faux marquetry design on the soffit...the fun part of the job!

You could use any border stencil for this.  I used Renaissance Scroll from Jeff Raum stencils. I used some mahogany, ebony and cherry Stain and Seal from Faux Effects for this technique. However, you could also look at Royal Design Studio's line of stencils.  The owner, Melanie, has many that I love - the Showcase Scroll is one of my favorites.  If you'd like to try a carved wood look, try the Palermo Scroll or Endless Acanthus Scroll.

It takes time and a lot of practice to do woodgraining, but it's worth it to take the time to learn.  It has come in so handy so many times for me.  If you don't have the time (or patience) and you'd like to re-do your cabinets that have soffits - you can paint them a white or off white and antique them and it will give you that updated look.  As long as you add the crown molding, your cabinetry will seem taller.

Hope you enjoyed this!

Sharing with...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Would You Love to Have a Jolt of Daily Inspiration? Read Abigail Ahern's Blog

I can't remember how I came across this quirky, creative and wonderful UK designer, Abigail Ahern, but sometime last year I stumbled upon her blog, which I follow and read daily. Not only does she give you great ideas to try in your home...but the way she writes about design is so refreshing and funny while passionate and informative.

 Maybe it's the Brit humor that I love (I must love it because I'm willing to read it at 2AM if I am having a sleepness night - that's the time her blog reaches me here in the US)...but more than's her style that is very captivating and fearless.  I sincerely recommend that you check out her wonderfully witty and creative blog. With blog post titles like "Tips for Laid Back Lairs," "Pushing Boundaries,"  "Decorating Changes Lives"  and, my fave - "Yabbering" you know you are in for a different kind of design discussion.

Her lively and vulnerable writing style will ease you into taking risks with your own decorating attempts. Willingly, she tells you of her failures (with paint colors and other design techniques) as well as her successes (her new BBC TV show "Get Your House in Order"...and her brilliant set design on the BBC cooking show with Heston Blumenthal).

She holds a Master Class Design School at her house (there are several coming up this year - check her blog for dates) and she may be doing one in New York City this year as well.  I hope so - 'cause I would love to meet her and be inspired by her energy, enthusiam and creativity. 

On her blog you also get to meet her two kids - her dogs, Mungo and Maud...who have their own Facebook page mind you!

So, if you are looking for some wonderful design inspiration (besides here, of course!!) on how to make your home really unique, I suggest that you read Abigail's blog.  If you're in London, she has a shop in Islington.  Next chance I get to be there, that will be my first stop.

If you would love to take some design risks in your own home...but you need a guiding hand, please call me at 631 793-1315.  Have a happy day!

All images via Mix and Chic except for the last photo via Abigail's blog.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Some Pinterest Favorites: Patchwork Chairs, Sofas and More

I can get lost adding images to my Pinterest boards.  I guess part of the reason is that I love to get the emails from Ben and the Pinterest gang  telling me how many people repinned the images that I have chosen.  It's like a validation of great taste - or that's what I tell myself anyway! 

This week I found a company called Squint Limited that's based in London. They've been around for quite a while and I know that they have been featured on many blogs in past years - but due to the interest on Pinterest, I thought that it warranted another look.

A Victorian Chaise via Squint

I love the delicate fabric combinations and the textured looking silver-gray finish on the legs. I also love how the rest of the frame is upholstered - instead of showing the wood. It really gives it a different look - not your usual!

Beautiful wing chair and pillows from Squint via JuBella

Look at the beautiful detail on the back of this wing chair from Squint via Design Milk

They will upholster just about anything...chandelier shades and styrofoam wreaths.  Image via

They'll cover the entire lamp...not just the shade. 

And they choose some incredible colors!  Image via Squint

This table gives me a lot of ideas, like handpainting, striping and stenciling something similar. 
 Image via Squint

I love this.  I can see it being done with stencils and handpainted motifs.
Upholstered chest from Squint via Design Milk

And how beautiful is this peacock mirror?

Anything is fair game for re-upholstering for Squint! Image via

The company was started by a former painter and sculptor, Lisa Whatnough.  She had a penchant for collecting antique textiles - and this was a wonderful way to put them to great use.  The prices at Squint - will make you squint but you can see how much time, creativity, passion and energy went into every one of these pieces.

Perhaps you will use these images, as I will, as inspiration for projects that you can make during the year.  My mind was going wild with thoughts of how I can use my own collection of fabrics for upholstered chairs that I have (that need some new clothes!)...and also some lighting and furniture pieces that I can re-do.

Hope this inspires you as well.  Let me know what you think of these fabulous pieces!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Worst Trends of 2011

I may be a little late on this discussion...but I thought it would be worth a quick blogpost.  In January, Elle Decor magazine asked 5 designers to talk about the 5 worst trends of 2011 that have overstayed their welcome.  You can read the article here.

One designer, Sheila Bridges, said that DIY was one of them.  Just because a piece of furniture could be reclaimed doesn't mean it has to be.  I think that if something is about to fall apart, or if it's an ugly piece to begin with - without any shape or style - then I think that it should be left at the garage sale, thrift shop or curbside.  But, with all of the people who are writing DIY blogs and their countless readers - I think that DIY has never been stronger, more creative - and wonderful.  Sheila may be the designer to the stars - and, most notably, Bill Clinton, but I think she may be a bit mistaken in her assessment of a trend that has really taken hold and I don't think it's going to go away quietly. 

DIY has probably grown in recent years due to the recession.  People cannot afford very pricey furniture and they looking for budget-friendly ways to decorate their homes. I have always been a fan of re-doing furniture and will probably keep doing it even after the economy rebounds.  It's a beautiful craft and, if I must say so modestly, it's something I do well.  It also saves a ton of money for all of my clients and in this day of ever-increasing squeezes on our pocketbooks - I am glad that I can give them a beautiful home without them spending a fortune.

A $20 bamboo vanity/desk that I found in a Port Jefferson NY thrift shop!

Here it is in another staged home I did
Some of the bamboo wrungs were missing but my husband found a few "look-a-likes" around our house (stem supports from faux orchid pots) and replaced them.  When I found the piece it was sitting right outside the basement of the shop in a natural but very grayish state.  I cleaned it up and I spray painted it with gloss white - and voila - a lovely little accent piece. I use this a lot when I'm staging because it's very light and transportable and I think it looks beautiful.  In the future, I'd like to do an etched design on the glass - I think that that will really be lovely.

A $25 Craigslist find revamped with Annie Sloan Chalk paint and Royal Design Studio stencils

Our JC Penney entertainment unit - revamped. You can read about how I did this here

A garage sale find - quickly revamped with Annie Sloan Chalk paint and stencils

These are just a few things that I have done that I have some photos of. I have to begin photographing the many things I've done over the years. 

Using Books in Interior Design is on the List of the Worst Trends (but not on my List!)

The other design trend that's supposedly due to die out is the use of books in interior design.  I agree that it should not be done willy nilly but if you have lovely books just collecting dust in a bookcase - I think they should be stacked on a coffee table or placed on a console behind a sofa...or even stacked next to a chair in a reading area.  I do this all the time in my own house and guess what?  People pick the books up and start reading them!  Just yesterday two of my friends picked up design Mary MacDonald's recent book and said they would probably buy it!  If it was just sitting in my bookcase - it wouldn't have had any attention!  If you'd like to read my blog post on using books in interior design, go here.

Would love to hear and read your comments on this!  Thanks

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A New Way of Looking at My Blog

Hi everyone.  I am sorry that I have been a bit tardy in writing.  I was busy with some last minute client projects - some window treatments to install...a faux finishing project and a home staging project.  Then - over the weekend, I took a wonderful Blogging Class (Road Trip, Blogging Your Way NYC) with the delightful Holly Becker, the wunder-blogger (did I just coin a new word?) behind the successful decor8 and Leslie Shewring of A Creative Mint.  There was so much to learn but I know that I came away with a lot of very important ideas.  I also learned how to operate my Nikon 3100D Digital SLR camera much better - and I learned some new tricks on PhotoShop Elements. Here are some of the pictures I took at the workshop.

One of the other delightful things about taking the class was finally meeting one of the first people who ever commented on my blog - Shawn Byles of the blog Jamaica Byles.  Shawn is an awesome textile designer and I encourage you to check out her blog. She will be revamping her blog as well though, after attending this wonderful workshop.

The Big Aha Moment: I think that the one critical thing that I learned was that I needed to share my creative process on my blog.  What inspires me to create such and such a faux finish or to concoct a particular color scheme in a room. My inspirations come from many, varied places - it could be a photo of an old house in Provence, the colors in a painting, an advertisement in a magazine.  Inspiration is everywhere.  But, as a creative person - I usually just show the final product. 

So, not many people really understand the process that brought that particular look together.  I now know that I need to "tell the story" behind a room, a color scheme...a finish.  I know that I have done that at times (especially when I am giving some of steps in the recipe) but I am not "showing" the whole story.  Not only the reason behind the look, but the process: Show the tools, the bottles of tints that comprise the color, the bucket of plaster and me applying it.  Or when it comes to using fabrics in a room - perhaps I should show the fabric showroom and how I come to choose several fabrics amid a sea of possibilities. 

To compose those shots, it takes another skill that I am only beginning to develop - styling.   It's one thing to pull some colors, finishes and accessories together in a room...but to pull it together for a photo shoot is another thing. I have to exercise this muscle and better my eye for this. I know that I will be taking a ton of photographs until I am happy with the result.  For the above photos I must have taken hundreds of less of than beautiful shots before I loved the result.  Learning to work the camera (changing the fstop and the shutter speed...the ISO) plus styling the photos is new to me so it will take a while to really get the hang of it.  But, I know that it will make my blog more useful as well as beautiful to my readers.

Holly Becker from decor8 blog...and me

Thank you Holly and Leslie for a great class.  Looking forward to implementing everything I learned!
And...thank you for reading!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Someone Stole My Lucky Charm!!

I am always amazed at people's generosity and, conversely, their propensity for stealing things!  For the most part, I've only experienced the good side of people...but every once in awhile - I see the ugly underside of humankind.

My company, besides doing decorative painting and design, also does home staging. Yesterday, I had to de-stage a home that sold very quickly despite it being the dead of winter.  In the home, I had placed the first item I ever bought for my staging business...the Coco lamp.

The surviving twin!

This lamp has always been my lucky charm.  Whenever I've placed it in a home for sale - the home sold quickly. I'm sure that there were many other reasons why the homes sold fast...but I do know that most people coming into homes I've staged have wanted to buy everything in the home.  Maybe that should have given me an idea that people coveted my staging inventory - but I never thought someone would actually steal a fairly large item like this!! How does somone walk out of a house with this tucked under their arm? Someone must have noticed, don't you think?

Back in 2008, I had an inkling that I wanted to enter the staging business, so I started to buy things for this new enterprise.  This was the first thing I purchased.  It sat for a while in my garage...but soon I was staging vacant homes - bringing in my other purchases from Ebay, craigslist and some high end estate sales.  I had to do everything on a budget - but I think that my purchases were very wise and so in a few short years, I had enough inventory to furnish 6 or 7 homes. 

In a $3.5 million home, the Coco lamps helped sell it in 3 1/2 weeks

Many home staging companies rotate their inventory every year or so and buy new - but I tend to keep my pieces around for as long as I can (especially when the pieces help to sell the home quickly). I would rather revamp them with paint, different fabrics - pile on different pillows and throws - rather than sell the items and purchase new.

Here they are in a more modest home - that sold in less than 7 weeks

What I loved about these lamps was that I could place them in an expensive home, a little cottage or a mid-priced property.  I could put them in a living room, sitting room, Master Bedroom or an entryway on a console.  That's what I look for in an accessory - how many places can I use it?

If anyone knows where I might be able to purchase this lamp, I would love to know.  I have looked on Ebay countless times (because I've wanted to buy several pairs of these lamps) - but to no avail. I don't think it's being made anymore.  There are some numbers on the bottom - it says
Cat# CL2148. Date May, 2008. It was made in China. There's also a bar code - and maybe if I go to my lighting store, they can look it up.  The homeseller, a real estate investor, has offered to pay me for my loss. So - I hope that I can replace it!

But - the blogosphere is an amazing I am asking my blog readers if they know how/where I can buy another one, I would appreciate hearing from you!  I have a wonderful designer friend here on Long Island looking for me as well.  She's a fantastic hopefully she will come through for me.

I would also love to hear from some other home stagers and realtors on how they make sure that the contents of their listings are not stolen.  I have insurance - so I am safe there. But when something meaningful is stolen...there's no insurance that will help you with that!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...