Tag Archives: home decorating


Thought I’d found the perfect rug/runner for the staircase for $100, free shipping. Realized the reason I loved it was that it resembled the end of a bolt I had in my office. Dug that out. It’s as wide as the stairs (5′) and 6.4 yards long. More than enough there to carpet the stairs, wall to wall, and I only want a runner. Also, it’s a slubby upholstery fabric with a light backing (like a plastic rug backing, but not as thick) — I have no idea how well it would wear, as a rug.

I could fold the sides into the middle and make a runner rug with a double thickness with the fabric I already have.

I just don’t know what to do. I’m in a style conundrum.

Do you like just one style of stuff in your home? Aren’t you lucky! My dad was a designer/engineer. I was raised to see/appreciate good design in everything, forks to forklifts. He liked modern, I don’t as much. I married an artist, also heavily into design, modern art, and how things look. Also, I was teased, a lot, as a kid, because I had no dress sense, so I decided that I didn’t know what was good or bad.

The result is at 60+ I’m trying for the first time in my life to really decorate a house and I don’t know if I want country, artsy, sleek, minimalist, modern, vintage, or industrial. So far? The modern couch (with a blue/black plaid throw from Pendleton on it) sits in the living room with a painted country jam cabinet I hauled out of a basement, rehabbed box bookcases bought for shows, and a modern coffee table, selected because it was in the attic and fit the very tight space.

There’s a large oak flat file coupled with an antique French baker’s table on the opposite wall. Most of the art on the wall is DH’s photos and there’s a mix of decorative stuff on top: the jam cabinet holds a cat sculpture, some silk flowers, a bird cage, a blue bird and a camera at the moment. the bookcase holds a “books” sign, some silk flowers and two large jars.

The couch is worn, but starkly modern. the throw is 1960s style plaid (not neon), the club chairs are about 1970s “modern” unadorned black fake leather.

The coffee table (also modern) holds a bellows from a very old wood enlarger. The lights are rehabbed theater cans, and there’s a wood casting mould on the wall too.

When the room is tidy, I quite like it. The main problem is the stuff, the things cluttering up the space ruin it, but I like it. I have ideas about new throws and one or more ottomans for the club chairs, but haven’t settled on anything yet.

My problem is that I don’t know why I like it enough to find more! I like the pieces. I love black painted steel stuff, so the mould, lights and the bellows on the table fit that, as does the wood stove and the screen for it. I like large plaids and thick/thin plaids, that takes care of the throw on the couch. But that’s it.

We had a modern house in Florida. We bought the couch for it. The club chairs were small, comfy chairs that are so simple they’ll go with almost anything, and they were cheap in an antique store. The flat file is a tool. The antique baker’s table was bought on sale and has become essentially a work platform. The jam cabinet was rescued from a friend’s basement of a house she was going to sell, they’d stored paint in it (and the mice lived in it) for years. It took a lot of work to destink it and clean it — and I love it.

All of it has simple lines. No ornate carvings, no sweeping curves or arches. The couch is the most sculptural piece of furniture in the room. I’d buy a cozier couch except we already own this one and I actually like the looks of it a lot, but it is NOT cozy. And cozy, warm and comfortable are the only things I know I want, except for simple lines.

I know people talk about styles so that they can talk about groups of things instead of one thing or the other, it’s a way of grouping. I get it. But I don’t know HOW to use what I know to go look for throws for the club chairs on ebay, for example.

“Blue plaid” doesn’t work, nor does “1960s plaid” (found one I loved listed this way, but not two). Neither does looking for more copies of the throw I have at the manufacturer’s site, it seems they no longer make it. So I tried other variations and found the same things I’d already seen.

I’m frustrated. I know what I like when I see it, but have no shorthand way to group those things together which anyone else will recognize. “Simple lines” is wonderful, but it brings too many results. “Blue thick plaids” does the same sort of thing. I can’t find rugs, throws, house designs, curtains, etc. which suit me. I look in home decorating sites or magazines and I find most pictures are either too stark or not to my taste at all. I put stickies in decorating books/magazines of the things I like, usually it’s a small percentage of what’s there.

Because I appreciate good design (as promoted by my Dad) I see and appreciate a great many things, which further muddies the waters quite a bit. I can (and do) look at a lot of things and think, “That’s nice design.” but that doesn’t mean I want to live with it. That last piece is vital, and it’s really very easy for me to forget. There are a great many things here I purchased because I thought they were well designed! (But not because I wanted to live with them.)

It’s supposed to be my taste, right? It should be easy. I suppose this is the result of decades of being told what I should appreciate (Dad), that my taste wasn’t any good (Abuser), and the resulting belief that I had no right to impose my taste on anyone.

I’m so confused!

(You can find further discussion about this here.)

3 More Rules: Practical, not Pretty M’Dear

These are more decorating and other “rules” that I’ve come to:

  • Do NOT buy an inset bed, that is a bed which sits down in the frame. It looks great, but. . . underbed storage is limited or inaccessible, it’s hard to get the bottom sheet on, and it can be harder to get into or out of. It looks great, but is not so great in practice.


The bed shown is the old Malm bed from Ikea. Ikea doesn’t sell them like this anymore — no surprise!

  • Do not buy white/beige flooring or carpeting. This one is pretty obvious, except. . . I really, really love the way a large expanse of white flooring looks. I learned this the hard way. If/when I buy carpeting the next time, it will be mottled, not a solid color, and as close to “mud” colored as I can get and still both match my decorating AND be something I don’t hate!
  • Make dirt/mud catchers. This is another learned lesson. The door mats in our home are all hard, raised rubber. We have a dirt driveway. Dirt gets tracked in — it needs somewhere to go. If you don’t trap it, it goes all over the house. So, I have a raised rubber mat, a “fatigue” mat outside our front door. I have a piece of it just as you get to the wall to wall carpeting too. In another month, or less, I’ll have pieces in front of any major walkways in or out of the house. I don’t need to be as diligent in spring/summer/fall (except off the dirt driveway) as I do in winter. Almost always, winter entry means MUD instead of just dirt.

I don’t want a traditional doormat, because it traps the dirt inside of it — and then that needs to be cleaned out! The fatigue mats have holes in them, the dirt falls through. Clean it up and you’re done. If the mat gets muddy, hose it off, clean it off, but no beating or vac required. Is it pretty? No. But like the bed, I’ve gotten to where pretty isn’t my first concern — less work or easier work is.

Home Truths & Musings

These are my “rules” that is, they’re the things I’ve found that make so much sense I’m using them to make decorating, purchasing, or other decisions and choices.

  • Flat towel racks hold towels better than rounder ones, but towels need to be folded to look tidy.flat towel rack
  • Hooks don’t require folding towels, but the towels might not stay up very well either. towel hook
  • Towel rings are probably the best compromise.towel ring 2
  • Colors go out of style less often than patterns, so use more solids than patterns.solid color fabric
  • “Classics” whatever they are, are classic because they don’t go out of style. This includes basic geometric patterns: dots, stripes, plaids, etc.
  • Black and white is probably the absolute classic color combo, use it!

black and white deor

Which is all well and good, but most of the images of black and white decor, even the one above, I find too stark and cold! I want more color in there and more softness. I think I’d leave the couch alone, but use a thick cushy rug, a salt & pepper combo perhaps? I’d want more color on the walls and side table too. I’d want a warmer white paint.

I guess I’ll never be a successful decorator? My taste is just too cluttered, too many colors, too soft? I went through many images to find the one above; the others weren’t even close.

I like jewel tones, love the depth.

But I also like what I call “dinner mint” colors. I like industrial, retail, farmhouse, modern, classic and deco. I’m not that fond of shabby chic or boho, but like elements of both.

[Previously, I would have said I had eclectic taste. It’s totally over used, and has gone from an interesting description to way beyond trite — it’s an unthinking label for clutter and lazy writing. So don’t tell me I’ve got eclectic taste, please!!!]

I like simple lines.

The problem is that knowing all this doesn’t really help me design the house.

  • It has gotten me away from buying paint of whatever color to buying shades of white.
  • It has caused me to buy less patterned material for house projects.
  • It means that the repro luggage rack we’d been using in the entry was moved to the bathroom as a towel rack.
  • It means that the new shower “curtains” are just two shower curtain liners, one each solid black and solid white.

I kept making/finding things with peacock blue in them. Apparently, I really really like the color. I surrendered to that. Peacock blue is a hot color for boho. Finding an image of black and white anything with something peacock blue even close to something I’d put in my home wasn’t easy. This is as close as I got, and it isn’t! The stripes are too bold. Put black and white tweed on the big pillows and make the smaller pillows black and white and peacock pinstripes, and it would be a lot closer, but . . . .

black & white and peacock

I don’t know if others go through this type of editing/worry/? or not. The idea of “designing” my space to suit me is brand new. For decades, my space has been a dumping ground. Editing the stuff, culling or finding, so that I can have a warm home with quirky touches is fun!

What’s New?

We bought wood for the winter.

I’ve painted all but the last pantry shelf on the small side. The last shelf was both slanted and warped, so last night after a lot of debating what to do, it got removed. The remainder of these shelves will be painted. (And probably the wall too, although I make no promises regarding that.) The original idea was to use up the Potter & Ball primer and samples we’ve got. I’m still working on the primer, but I used up one or two of the samples (I had 8?).  Taking out the bottom shelf solved more than one problem. I needed a place to store 1/2 gallon bottles of stuff and didn’t have any. Right now they’ve been shoved onto the bookcase in the dining room. I forget the food is there and this creates a lot of waste. Not good.

So, the idea is that the dry stores in 1/2 gallon mason jars are stored on the “new” bottom shelf (actually the floor). I have a small crate I’ll use to take up some of the unused space. All good! The crate will be used and the out of place storage will be moved, etc.

I and the neighbor’s son have been working on the yard clean up. Yesterday he removed the racks from where they’d been last year. One of them fell over. I picked it up and restocked it in a slightly different location. It fell over again and knocked over the 2nd rack! At that point, fortunately, it was spring. And, disgusted, I just left it. He’d move the wood last week. My job today, well one of them, is to finish the clean up in that area.

There were 4 pieces of furniture and the table saw dolly in the way in the wood rack. Right now, 2 of the pieces of furniture have been moved. The other two should also probably be moved today. Then we get to figure out where we’ll store the table saw dolly. At that point, the oak logs which need the mawl to be split apart several times before they become actual firewood can be moved into the wood shed. If I’m lucky and there’s room, the wood splitter etc. can also move there too!

If all this happens, the yard will be much cleaner and we’ll be a lot more prepared for winter around here!

Re house organization? I’m working on it in dribs and drabs. I haven’t tackled a new area in a while, but in the past few I’ve tackled the cabinet under the sink, the bath closet and the pantry. I got the laundry caught up, but there’s a pile down there which needs to be put away, again.

And one of these days, I should write the piece I was thinking about yesterday, when your partner hands you “caulk” and . . . it will probably be good for a laugh (or I hope so!) but I haven’t time to write it now.

Have a great Thursday!


I need to actually cut fabric. I’ve been avoiding it. I have the kitchen curtains to make. Remember this?


and I have linen tablecloths to cut up/sew for the bedspread.

Like I said, I’ve been avoiding it.

I’m not a great seamstress first of all. Secondly, almost never do my crafty “great ideas” work the first time, the way I expect them to. Usually I can kludge something together, eventually, but they almost never work the first time, as planned.

It occurred to me not too long ago that I have the large masking paper. I could make full-size patterns, and I think I will. But I’m still worried about cutting the stuff up. I always seem to forget things, like seam allowance or hems. Or I think something will work and I just don’t have the skill required.

This has been true since the apron I struggled with making in junior high and the clothing class I took in high school. I was always making clothes for my “baby sister,”* because by the time I got the seams straight, the patterns to match, etc. the piece was at least 2 sizes smaller than when I started.

(*I don’t have one!)

In other words, I don’t do well with fabric!

I know someone who sews for money, makes $ selling fabric things on etsy. I could ask her for help I guess? Dunno. I have ONE shot at this. If I mess it up  by cutting the fabric wrong, it is almost unfixable.

One more time:


Decorating problems! (retitled post)

I’ve been doing something very dangerous, for me… I’ve been reading decorating and organizing books!

Dangerous? Well, sort of, it makes me want to dive into decorating the house, when of course I can’t; there’s too much stuff in the way. On the other hand, this is a good thing as it got me thinking about next steps.

For the laundry to pantry conversion: I’ve got room now, I can move the ironing board storage and get the first of the wire shelves I want for the pantry. If nothing else, I can start the summer vegetables there now.

In the living room: I can move the small retail shelves out towards the window, and put some plants there too.

In my office, about the same, although the plants have to go in trays on top of other things.

Obviously, I am READY for spring to happen, big time!

Because my mind is wandering down these verdant paths, I was also thinking about how to make the flower pots etc. that I use MINE not just mass produced pieces. I have a bunch of terracotta pots outside, and they can be painted with milk paint (which I already have), to whatever color scheme I choose.

Color schemes are one of my decorating “demons.” As usual, I like too many. I love bright slight pastels with black & white. I love that color scheme with bright red accents. But on the other hand, I love muted pastels with Swedish blue or blue-green accents too. The two do NOT seem to go into any cohesive whole. It’s problem!

The larger rugs in the house (mostly Crate & Barrel’s old “color block” area rugs) are the first, colors, black & white. The large hand-loomed rug is too. Originally, it was going to go into the living room, but it won’t fit. The wood stove on one side and the air intake for the furnace on the other side of the room take up too much space. If my friend Barbara was still alive, I’d ask her if she could customize it and I’m sure she would have, but I don’t know any other weavers. (The job would be a total pain, the rug is HUGE and HEAVY!)

My original notion was to make the intense colors/black & white mix downstairs in the public space and the muted pastel shades upstairs in the private spaces (bedroom, bath).

The black & white/intense color scheme is similar to this newer rug from Crate & Barrel:

The muted pastels color scheme is like this, sort of. I like more color than this too, but not much! (I’ll edit the photos to get the credits in there. Sorry!) [This image came from a BHG site. I cannot relocate the image to give credit where it’s due. ]

I love how thick and heavy the hand-loomed rug is. I love its brightness. I really don’t like that it’s just too damn big to go where I want it. It fits the room, the room doesn’t fit it! DH & I have talked for years about getting the intake for the furnace off the floor, we even had a quote from a guy who did duct work. Unfortunately, he retired before we could afford to have him do it, and we don’t know someone else who could do it. That’s a solvable problem, but it seems a bit extreme to do this NOW because I want to put a certain rug in the room?

Maybe I should just sell the rug? At the moment, it’s folded in 1/2 in the “dining room.” If we move the big, English antique table from the “dead corner,” the rug could probably be unfolded. That’s what  I think I had in mind. But I had this yummy notion of putting my feet down on the thick handmade rug in the middle of winter, like now. There’s still wall to wall  upstairs, something both of us want to change. (There’s no flooring under the rug, just plywood sub-flooring, and all the rooms upstairs are one big piece of carpet. Ideally, we’d do it all at once.)

THIS is the type of thing which causes me to own too many rugs, and have not enough space. Until we solve the design problem or decide to get the rug cut down, the final design of the living room, kitchen, and bedroom are in limbo.

Of course, it’s in limbo anyway, as  there’s too many boxes to actually move a rug in, but there are ways and there are ways. Most of the stuff in the living room came from our offices last October. The plan was to move all of it back into whichever room. We CAN go through the stuff and pare it down. It would be nice to actually be able to find some of the things that became “missing” as we did this!

I need to walk before I can run. So, today’s plan: make bread, freeze asparagus (I didn’t do it yesterday) and move things around/clean up the living room in front of the double windows enough that I can put the metal shelf there, with the idea that I’ll plant veggie seeds in pots.

I know myself, if I don’t do this with a reward system, I won’t get it done. So… .Asparagus first, it will ultimately probably take the longest.

First bread and kitchen cleanup, get the dishwasher going. Then start on the living room About the time I falter there, the bread should be filling the house with wonderful smells and the hot bread will provide a wonderful break probably right about lunchtime.

I’m off!


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