One Room Challenge The Scenery House

One Room Challenge Week 2: All About Curtains

April 11, 2018

Green Guest Bedroom with Vase and Tassel Quilt

It’s week 2 of the One Room Challenge! Take a look back at Week 1 to for a refresh on my plans to makeover our guest bedroom.

If you’ve hopped over to this post from the ORC website – welcome! I’m Emily, this is my blog, and I’m working on undecorating the 1929 tudor-ish home I share with my husband, Andy, and our corgi, Penelope. This is where I should describe my style so I guess I’d say it’s something along the lines of traditional-modern which doesn’t sound like a real thing. I am glad you’re here.

If you watch my stories, you know I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about curtains and shades for the guest room. I’ve done light filtering shades in most of the windows in our house, but this will be the first room to get curtains. And guess what? I’m overthinking it. Come with me on my overthinking-the-curtains-all-week journey.

Curtain Challenges

  • How high should you hang curtains if you’ve got an angled ceiling?
  • How do you hang long curtains when you have baseboard heaters and not burn your house down?
  • What if you want 2 different light filtering options?

How high to hang curtains with an angled ceiling

How to hang curtains with an angled ceiling

One of the greatest crimes against curtains is bad hanging. Hang too low or too narrow and you’ve made a mistake. The internet pretty much agrees (and you can’t swing a cat without hitting a curtain hanging diagram on Pinterest) that you need to hang those babies HIGH AND WIDE. I like to go by what the queen says (Emily Henderson, of course) and hang the rod 2/3 of the distance between the top of the window casing and the ceiling and extending 10-12″ on either side.

I’m dealing with walls with two different ceiling heights due to an angled ceiling line from the angle of our roof. On the long wall with the wider window, the angle starts just 9″ above the top of the window casing. Using the 2/3 rule, I’d need to hang that curtain rod about 6″ above the window. If I went by the ceiling height of the other wall, I’d be hanging the curtain rod 16″ above the window casing.

The curtain should match across the room so even though the ceiling is higher above the second set of windows, they’ll still need to be hung at the same height. To make the angled ceiling look as tall as possible, I’m going to hang the curtain rod as close to the beginning of the angle as possible, at close to 9″ above the window casing. The same will go for the other set of curtains.

How to hang long curtains with baseboard heaters

I was pretty worried about hanging long curtains in front of baseboard heaters. I definitely did not want shorter curtains that would fall above the heaters because that’s just not my look. I searched the internet and found these general guidelines:

How to Safely Hang Long Curtains with Baseboard Heaters

When hanging curtains in front of baseboard heaters, the curtains should fall 1″ from the floor and hang 2-3″ from the edge of the heater.

For me, that means that my curtain length shortens by 1 inch and curtain rod brackets become an issue. I know that my baseboard heaters stick out about 2 3/8″ from the wall. Add 2 inches to that, and I need brackets that are at least 4 3/8″ long from where they mount to the wall to the middle of the part that holds the actual rod, where the curtains hang. I ordered brass curtain rods from Crate and Barrel without knowing the brackets were only 3 1/8″ long end-to-end, so they will be going back. I’m eyeing up a similar set from CB2 that are listed as 4.5″ deep but I think that might be cutting it close. I may have to go with a double rod set, which would have brackets with a depth of 6.5″.

Two options for filtering and blocking light

This room has a general need for some light filtering and privacy, so we decided to go with the simple (and perfect) IKEA roller blinds we have in the rest of the house. The challenge comes in the form of an outdoor light that shines into the guest room at night. We want our guests to be comfortable, and I know wouldn’t be able to sleep with a light shining on me, so we decided blackout or room darkening shades would be the best pick to make our guests sleep well.

If you remember from last week’s post, the previous owners used blackout roller blinds in this space and we’ve kept them up (despite their scallop shape) since we bought the house.

Removing old window blinds

Goodbye scallop edge roller shades! Andy popped the old roller blinds out of each window and then unscrewed and removed the new hardware.

To install the new IKEA SKOGSKLOVER roller blinds, Andy marked the placement of the two hanging brackets along the top of the window and used the holes to mark the new drill locations with a pencil. He then drilled into the frame around the window and secured the hanging brackets with the included screws. The main shade piece then rocks/snaps onto the brackets.

Just a note to everyone on why you don’t see me in these pictures doing this work – I pride myself on being a seasoned home DIY-er but I have been struggling with a shoulder injury since October and have had to take it easy. Andy has been sweet and kind in taking over doing a lot of the labor on our projects that I otherwise would help with – so that’s why you see him and not me!

one room challenge ikea skogslover roller blinds

one room challenge ikea skogslover roller blinds

one room challenge ikea skogslover roller blinds

What I love about the SKOGSKLOVER roller blinds is that they fit our windows perfectly, they filter light beautifully, they have built-in stopping points so you can match their length along multiple windows, and they roll up smoothly with one little tug – like some kind of machine magic.

Blackout curtain options

I have been going back and forth on different blackout drapes for this room. I’ve been bugging everyone on Instagram about it and I’m here to bug you about it in this blog post. My first instinct was to brighten the room with white or off-white curtains. And then I remembered how much I’m into tonal looks and thought maybe a matching green or lighter shade of green could work.

I am a visual person and too impatient to wait for all the curtains to arrive to see everything all together. I took some photos of the room, patched two of them together in Photoshop, and threw in some items from the mood board from my One Room Challenge Week 1 post.

Option 1: White Pom Pom Blackout Curtains


[Option 1: curtains | lamps | nightstands]

I put these pom pom blackout curtains in my week 1 mood board. I was worried that pom pom curtains are for kids and teens – these specific curtains are, in fact, from PBteen. I like how the white curtains add brightness against the dark walls, but I am worried that there will be too much white and too much high contrast when white bedding is added. What do you think?

Great tip for those looking for blackout curtains – check teen and kid stores! I am not a parent myself, but I have learned that parents love having blackout curtains to get their kids to nap when they need them to.

Option 2: Light Green Velvet Light Blocking Curtains


[Option 2: curtains | lamps | nightstands]

These SANELA curtains in gray-green are the first of the two green velvet curtain options, both from IKEA. They are not lined, but I think the dark velvet will do a good enough job blocking out the light. At 98″, they are longer than I need them to be, but I’d want to take out the grommets and sew in tabs instead anyway, so hemming away the extra length won’t be a problem.

I’m really liking these as an in-between option. The lighter green looks great with the pink accents I want to include and ties together the dark walls and light bedding really well.

Option 3: Dark Green Velvet Light Blocking Curtains


[Option 3: curtains | lamps | nightstands]

The drama! These SENELA curtains in dark green from IKEA almost perfectly match the walls. The sheen from the velvet would add just enough interest but let the dark green walls really be the star of the show. I think these curtains are the coziest option but I wonder if they make the whole room feel too intense.

Leave a comment and tell me which curtains you’d pick! PLEASE.


One Room Challenge Guest Participant

Remember to follow along and see what the Featured Designers and Guest Participants are up to for week2!

Hey heads up: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Old House Design One Room Challenge The Scenery House

One Room Challenge Week 1: The Guest Bedroom Plan

April 5, 2018

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Before

I’ve decided to do a crazy thing (with the sweet encouragement of Ashley from The Gold Hive, one of last year’s winners alongside the fantastic Natasha Habermann) and jump in as a guest participant in the Spring 2018 One Room Challenge! Participating itself is not a crazy thing at all, but I do consider it bold to jump in and get on board less than a week before it kicks off. If you’re not familiar, every spring and fall, 20 featured designers selected by the ORC team participate in a 6-week challenge to decorate one room. In addition to the featured designers, hundreds of other folks with blogs join in on the challenge as Guest Participants <— that’s me.

If you’ve hopped over to this post from the ORC website – welcome! I’m Emily, this is my blog, and I’m working on undecorating the 1929 tudor-ish home I share with my husband, Andy, and our corgi, Penelope. This is where I should describe my style so I guess I’d say it’s something along the lines of traditional-modern which doesn’t sound like a real thing. I am glad you’re here.

So what room am I going to transform over the next 6 weeks? It’s gonna be our guest bedroom! This challenge came at a great time because we were already planning on sprucing up the space for Andy’s dad’s first visit to our home in May. Participating as a guest in the ORC will help me stay on task and stay accountable.

The most dramatic change in this space would typically be painting it a new color. Buuuut we already did that about a year ago. I also blogged about big plans for our moody guest room in this post but never moved forward on more than the paint. For the real, true before, though, let’s go take a stroll back in time and look at where we started.

Listing Photo for Boys Room

Here is the listing photo of the guest bedroom. If you’re not sure, yes the ceiling is blue.


This is a more accurate photo of the green color of this room. The green walls and blue ceiling worked well as a room for the young boy who lived in it, but not so well for soothing our guests to sleep.

Our guests genuinely loved the space lamp, and if I were a fun person, I’d have kept it. The stars and planets glow in the dark, even. I am no fun and it is gone.


Behold the scalloped window shades. This won’t be the last time you see them. They are, in fact, still up in the guest room as I type this.


I include this painting process photo so you can feel like you’re there with me. I’ve always been one to cut in first but I’m hearing so much lately about people rolling first and then cutting in. Also, this is the room where I learned the hard way to always paint the ceiling first.

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Before

Painting the walls Behr’s Black Evergreen made a HUGE difference in this space. The rug and bed moved over from our apartment guest room as did the desk and chair(s). The only new things we’ve put in this room are the wall hanging, the mushroom lamp, and two pillowcases.

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 BeforeThe vintage end tables from our apartment living room have been serving as nightstands until we find the right replacements. I love them but they are too deep and are too squeezed into the space for my visual comfort.

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Before

I can’t wait until we have a guest bedroom with two matching nightstand and lamps. I’ve actually never had two matching nightstands and two matching lamps in all my furniture and lamp owning life. I got that lamp with the funky shade from Urban Outfitters probably 10 years ago now. I no longer care for it.

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Before

The windows in here are beautiful and let in the best light in the afternoon. We have kept the scallop hem shades in here because they are blackout shades and one of the exterior house lights shines in at night.

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Before

The guest room has a long wall that we’ve left completely blank all this time. The door on the left leads to the hallway and the door on the right is a closet door. I can’t get over how this dark green paint makes the woodwork glow.

The Challenges

  • Creating a space that our guests find comfortable, soothing and perfectly cozy
  • Providing the accommodation of a nice hotel while feeling like home
  • Finding a solution to block out the exterior light and morning daylight for sensitive sleepers
  • Solving the tech charging dilemma – an extension cable propped on top of a nightstand is no longer acceptable

What We’re Planning on Keeping

  • The bed + mattress
  • The ceiling light
  • The ceiling and wall paint
  • The rug

So you’ve seen where we’ve been and where we are, are you ready to know where we’re going?

One Room Challenge Green Guest Room Moodboard

[ Paint | Curtains | Curtain Rods | Roller Blind | Flushmount Ceiling Light | Bed (similar) | Brass Double Lamp | Nightstand | Flower Print | Painting Print | Quilt | Sheets | Dresser | Pink Lamp | Mirror | Blanket Ladder]

These are the beautiful things (or similar beautiful things – I’m giving myself permission to change my mind here) that I’d like to see in this room, along with things we already own. I’m a little worried that the walnut nightstands might be too dark against the light rattan bed and light dresser –> I would love your opinion! I’m also wondering if painting the dresser is the right call too. I definitely want to bring in more pink and gold/rust accents in accessories and bedding because they’ll look so good against the deep green walls.

Guest Bedroom Layouts

Where am I gonna put this stuff?

SketchUp Layout of Current Guest Bedroom

Our current guest bedroom layout is pretty simple and not ideal. The rug placement is awkward, the nightstands are really packed in there, and when two guests stay, one draws the short straw and has to squeeze into the bed on the tight side by the window. I like that this layout allows for a desk, but I’d like to have a dresser in here for guests that stay more than a night or two.

The new layout makes for a much nicer room-entering experience. We are going to add blackout curtains to block unwanted light and layer sheer, light filtering roller shades mounted inside the window frames. Moving the bed to underneath the windows gives us much more room for nightstands and for guests to move around the room comfortably. A small dresser is just enough room to store folded clothing and to give guests surface area to lay out jewelry and odds and ends at the end of the day. Adding a blanket ladder will be a great way to store extra blankets in plain sight and also provide an extra place to hang towels if our guests don’t want to hang them in the bathroom.

That’s so many things! It feels like so much but at the same time, it feels manageable, which worries me because I know myself. I feel a time consuming DIY brewing in my brain.

Remember to follow along and see what the Featured Designers and Guest Participants are up to!

One Room Challenge Guest Participant

Hey heads up: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Before and After DIY The Scenery House

Our Two Weekend, $600 Kitchen Facelift

March 26, 2018

kitchen facelift oak cabinets neutral pinterest

We started the year with some pretty optimistic ideas about what big projects we could tackle this year – I even made a lofty 2018 project plan post about it. A new kitchen was a front-runner for our big-budget project for the year, but we soon realized the kitchen we want just isn’t in the cards for 2018. We let ourselves be bummed about it for 24 hours and then set to thinking about how we could give our current kitchen a facelift so we could make it more liveable for the next year. Because we do want to redo the whole thing SOMEDAY, we didn’t want to put too much time/effort/money/sweat into it to turn around and tear it all out in a year or two. I also didn’t want to make it SO liveable that we would put off a remodel indefinitely. With all this in mind, we set the following guidelines for ourselves:

Project Guidelines

  • <$700 total spend
  • No renovations/knocking things down/removing cabinets
  • No painting the cabinets
  • Let’s stick to things we can order with quick, free shipping or things we can pick up locally
  • Let’s get this done in a weekend or two

The Kitchen: Before

kitchen facelift before outdated giant fan

the worst kitchen fan with fronds

Oh yeah. Take in that fan.

honey oak kitchen cabinets coffee nook before

At the end of the kitchen is an extra space that Andy uses as a coffee nook.

oak cabinets with leaf hardware

Leaf hardware!

The biggest issues we have with our kitchen are not fixable under the guidelines we set – we don’t care for the aggressively honey oak cabinets, the shape of the upper cabinets, the Ubatuba granite countertops, the faucet, the curvey ornate wood business above the sink, the vented microwave that is not actually vented properly and also is hung upsettingly low above the stove and a fridge door that opens into a wall. *Deep breath* we’ve accepted that these things are beyond our control… for the time being.

So what the heck can you do?

  • Remove what’s left of the wallpaper border I ripped down over a year ago (don’t worry, I’ll show you)
  • Finally, dispose of the dead stink bug that’s been stuck in the corner by the ceiling for maybe a year and also shame ourselves about it on the internet so we don’t let that happen again
  • Paint!
  • Replace the outlets/switches with white (not almond/ivory) ones
  • Get a nice rug to really tie the room together
  • Style those shelves, good heavens, Emily
  • Recaulk the backsplash

Let’s get to it!

Weekend 1

Ok, well before we get to the first weekend, I told you I’d show you the wallpaper border looked like when we moved in.

kitchen facelift aggressive wallpaper border

kitchen facelift wallpaper border removed

I know. Of course. What a perfectly aggressive match for that fan. When I pulled the border off the wall, it left some paper behind and we just lived with it. It was an improvement. It also left behind a darker green painted border, leftover from when the kitchen was a darker shade of green.

Ok, back to weekend 1 of the great kitchen facelift!

how to remove wallpaper border

We used a wallpaper remover spray and a metal scraper to remove the paper backing. There was some adhesive still left so we went around a second time and cleaned it all with TSP substitute. I promise I did some of the scraping too, Andy just looks better doing it.

kitchen prepped for paint

Next, Andy removed the old light fixtures, leaving the recessed lighting (which I kind of didn’t realize we had because of THAT FAN.) Even with a ladder in it, the kitchen looks so much roomier sans palm leaf fan. Andy taped off the cabinets and hung plastic drop cloths to protect all the things. I patched areas where the plaster fell away with the border and cleaned up a messy patch job from when the A/C vent was installed. Then, I painted the ceiling Benjamin Moore’s Simply White from our paint stash.

After that it was just more painting. Cutting in, rolling on, just a lot of painting. And then more painting until we fell alseep, the whole weekend gone in a blur.

Weekend 2

I picked up my brush and climbed the ladder once again to finish painting the coffee nook and touched up other areas I missed in the kitchen. You may have noticed the chair rail in the coffee nook, which matched the orangey oak wood of the kitchen. Rather than tear it off (that’s demo, folks, and we said no demo!) I decided to paint it. This is my tiny attempt to be more like House of Brinson, ok?

I tore out the old caulking between the countertop and backsplash on the sink side of the kitchen. It took forever. Andy recommended I try heating up sections with a hair dryer to make it easier to pry out and it worked so well. Just don’t heat it up too much or it’ll melt and come out in tiny globs rather than one nice strip.

Andy swapped out the old leaf hardware with the new hardware we ordered from Amazon. He also replaced the old ivory outlets and switches with crisp white ones. Because our house is old and the wiring is old and every person who has owned it has done a new dumb thing concerning electricity – this was a harder task than it should have been. Andy communicated with my dad and to solve the mysteries lying behind our faux GFCI outlets via several hand-drawn diagrams. I found the diagrams lying around the house and at our place of work and it was like that moment in movies where the lead character finds a secret room full of drawings and pictures for a dramatic reveal that someone they love is losing their mind. Anyway, with the help of my dad, the internet, and Andy’s persistence, we have outlets that work.

Enough about that, let’s look at our new and improved kitchen!

The Kitchen: After

Kitchen Facelift Oak Cabinets Classic Gray

Andy and I wanted a moody color in the coffee nook but definitely wanted to brighten up the kitchen. I didn’t want to go full on white on the walls, so we looked at a variety of light grays, but most looked too cool against the warm (too warm) white of the backsplash tile. We went with Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray on the kitchen walls and Benjamin Moore’s Wrought Iron in the coffee nook. Both ceilings are Benjamin Moore’s Simply White.

kitchen facelift oak cabinets classic gray walls

styled kitchen shelves plants wrought iron paint

The kitchen and coffee nook are separated by shelves. Before our facelift, these shelves were sorely neglected junk collectors. Now that our kitchen is much more pleasant to look at, I wanted to pretty up those shelves with books and plants. I’m excited to restyle this over and over again.

kitchen shelves plants sonos dark walls

Amazon Kitchen Pulls and Knobs

The new hardware is simple and classic.

Kitchen Counter Tool Caddy Eucalyptus Tea Towel Granite Countertops

The Coffee Nook – After

Coffee Nook Wrought Iron

Coffee Nook Plants Bodum Coffee Nook Storage Painted Chair Rail

I really love that painted chair rail.Coffee Nook Storage Leaded Glass Window


kitchen facelift moodboard

[ Ceilings – BM Simply White | Kitchen Walls – BM Classic Gray | Coffee Nook Walls – Wrought Iron | Light Fixtures – Stratford 1-Light Semi Flush Mount | Light Bulbs – Daylight Edison Bulbs  |Cabinet Pulls – Franklin Brass Pulls | Cabinet Knobs – Franklin Brass Knobs | Rug Runner – Edessa Tribal Medallion Rug ]

The Cost

  • Light Fixtures – $195.98
  • Light Bulbs – $9 ($27 for 6)
  • Rug – $83.85
  • Cabinet Hardware – $65.80
  • Paint – $84.00
  • Switches + Switch Plates – $60
  • Caulk, Drop Cloths, Misc Supplies – $100

Total Spend – $598.63

Hey heads up: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Art + Design Shopping

7 Really Good Things on Etsy Right Now

March 16, 2018

The Best Things on Etsy | The Sweet Beast

[Favorite Etsy Find: Rug by GUR hangs in our guest room with the Hanna Pink Lamp from CB2]

I was rambling to a friend this week about how it’s so hard to find the good stuff on Etsy these days. There’s just SO MUCH on there – which is great – but the last few times I visited, I got tired of sifting through all the things and gave up. And then I thought that if I’m struggling, maybe everyone is, and maybe I can help by finding and sharing some of my current favorites. Let’s go shopping.

7 Really Good Things On Etsy | The Sweet Beast

Rug by GUR | Monkey’s Fist Earrings | Palisades Grey Mug | Folded Paper Scarf | Sisters Print | Eyes Cushion Cover | Lotta Earrings ]

These picks really represent my top interests in that they are either textiles, earrings, ceramics, ladies, or pillows or combinations thereof. We have the Rug by GUR pictured hanging in our guest room – we just picked up a metal rod at Home Depot and slid it through the sewn edge at the top and attached some string. Magic!

I know the maker behind the Monkey’s Fist Earrings and she is extremely talented, savvy, and thoughtful in everything she does. I have a different pair of her earrings and a big beautiful necklace but have always had my eyes on those mint knot earrings.

The gray glaze on matte gray stoneware on Mud to Life‘s Palisades Grey Mug is so simple and stunning. Speckled ceramic mugs have been my go-to vice but I think I’m ready to embrace some stripes.

I’ve had the Folded Paper Furoshiki handmade scarf in my Etsy favorites for years. They also make a beautifully executed wooden hanging display pole set so you can hang the scarf as wall art.

I purchased a wooden block necklace from Depeapa years ago and am loving her Sisters Print. I am forever drawn to prints depicting women, especially wearing good orange-red lipstick.

Zana Products has such good, clean and fun prints on textiles it was hard to pick just one thing to feature here. Their Eyes Cushion Cover has tassels on the corners and would look so good on my guest bed.

Statement earrings! I can’t get enough of deeeez. And statement earrings that with gold, pink, black and speckles? Dang. Gimme these Lotta Earrings!

Happy Friday, happy shopping.

Hey heads up: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Friday Favorites

I Love the Internet

March 9, 2018

Shiny Eggs Still Life Painting

I love the internet like I love this still life painting I had to have as soon as I saw it. I look at the internet all day and I see things I like. If I like it, maybe you will too.

So, let’s look at the internet together.

This isn’t new from this week but I can’t stop thinking about the Hawkins NY home tour from Sight Unseen. It’s modern, Memphis, 80s, traditional, and farmhouse all at once and it’s perfection. Blending all those styles in one home is a bold move but they’ve executed it perfectly. Of course they have, they’re the folks behind Hawkins New York. Thanks to my friend Jen for sharing this with me and knowing I’d love it.

Making It Lovely - Custom Curtains

Nicole (Making it Lovely) inspires me endlessly with her dark walls and unpainted woodwork – I really can’t get enough of her Victorian home. And now she has me wanting curtains. I just have to figure out how not to burn our house down with curtains + baseboard heaters.

I think about the work I do and the love I have for the people I work with a lot, so these words from Sara Hendren (via Swiss Miss) spoke to me:

The people you spend time with literally co-create who you are, down to the near-cellular level. You’re building a life. The ones you build it with will be critical to your professional success, not because they’ll be in your field, but because they’ll be in your corner. The good ones will give you a kind of emotional buoyancy and a head-shrinking perspective that will nourish the person you’re trying to become—and yeah, that’ll enhance your job performance immeasurably.


The extremely talented Ashley Goldman of The Gold Hive was a guest on the Style Matters Podcast this week. Her drive and hustle inspire me to get it together and do better, and she’s been personally supportive as I’ve ramped up my game. I really enjoyed hearing her talk about reigning in her taste to decorate for the home she has and what will suit it and how she tackled her One Room Challenge. Slow decorating is ideal but in blog life, there’s pressure to pull things together quickly – give her episode a listen!

Kim Verbist Interiors Dining Room

Are you following me on Pinterest? I’ve been pinning up a storm, especially kitchens and dining rooms like this one from Kim Verbist Interiors.

Did you see good stuff on the internet this week? Don’t let me miss anything good.


Before and After Old House Design The Scenery House

A Budget Basement Stairway Makeover

March 7, 2018

Sloped ceiling entryway with wall hooks

The stairwell to our basement (or the stairwell to our home FROM our basement, if you’re the glass-half-full-type) was a dingy place. We use it every day on our way out to our garage to go to work and again on our way home – it begins and ends our days and yet it was a depressing afterthought.

It was Andy’s idea to spruce up this space to improve our daily lives. Plus, we could do it on a tiny budget, using  leftover paint and supplies from other projects. Still, this project was not high on my priority list – what can you really expect from a basement, I thought – and so we started it and put it on hold, on repeat for a year.


Basement Stairway Project Before

Here she is in all her glory, holding our abundant stash of bags reusable and otherwise. And knotted up party garland. And a single plastic hanger. This is real life, friends.

Double Sided Tape Residue On Walls

The previous owners did a thing in this space where they hung photographs and papers up on the walls (and ceiling!) with double-sided tape. They took all their memories with them but left so much tape. And goodness gracious was that hard to get off.

Andy tried applying heat with a hairdryer which was slow and didn’t really help. He tried Goo-Gone which also didn’t cut it. And then he just sanded them off with a fine grit sandpaper.

Basement Stairway Project Before

It was a huge improvement to be without the tape but wow, everything still looked filthy and dinged up. The hooks were mismatched with ones that looked original to the house (or at least authentically old) but had been painted over, plus some newer replacements.

Basement Stairway Project Before

Andy removed all the hooks and the old Carbon Monoxide/smoke detector and I filled in the holes and patched whatever gouges I could in the walls using Ready Patch. I let it dry and shrink then filled again, finally sanding when everything was good and dry.

Painting Prep

Basement Stairway Project Before

Then we cleaned everything with a de-glossing cleaner – it gets the grime and grossness off and preps surfaces for paint. I don’t always use this before I paint, just when things are real dingy and I’m not sure how well paint will adhere to the old surface.

Painter’s Caulk is Important

Basement Stairway Project - Painters Caulk Before and After

One of the best ways to make your paint job look pro is to use painter’s caulk to fill in gaps in trim work and messy corners. Molding in old homes often separates and leaves gaps as it settles, shrinks and expands over the years. It will often separate from walls too – sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. Painter’s caulk is the perfect thing to fill in and seal those gaps. I use DAP Fast Dry – it dries fast and is paintable in 20-30 minutes and doesn’t shine through paint. You might have noticed those nails… I can’t do anything about those nails.

Paint is Magic

Basement Stairway Project - Process

I painted the baseboards, ceiling and walls in Benjamin Moore’s Simply White (used in our bedroom), leaving the space above the horizontal board for a special touch of Raccoon Fur (from our living room). If you watch my Instagram Stories, you might remember a poll I did asking if we should do the dark color on top or bottom – dark on top won!

Basement Stairway Project - Process

Almost finished!


Sloped ceiling entryway with wall hooks

Look at that! It’s so much more welcoming, clean, and functional. We have evenly spaced hooks and a room that doesn’t creep me out. I used to not want to hang coats or bags in here, as it just seemed too depressing and dirty, but now I’d even let guests hang their stuff in here.sloped ceiling with hooks close up

sloped ceiling accent color

We swapped out the old light fixture with a super slim LED light from Home Depot for around $20. Andy also replaced the old Carbon Monoxide/smoke detector with a Nest Protect like we have in the rest of our home (I wrote about the smart home devices we use in this post.)

brass hook detail and pittsburgh lithograph

[ hooks | print ]

Brass Patina Hook vs. New Brass Hook

Speaking of hooks, I debated at length about whether to use the original hooks that were mounted on the wall or use new ones. I ordered 5 Classic Solid Brass Coat Hooks from House of Antique Hardware all the way back in April of 2017 and they stayed in the box they came in until March of 2018. I even did another Instagram poll and it was pretty close, with the original hooks winning by a small margin. But once I took the new hooks out of the box I fell in love with the shape of them and remembered why I picked them in the first place. They are a shiny lacquered brass with a touch of antique-ing. They look classic but clean.

We also hung this print from Alternate Histories who takes old lithographs and photographs and adds unexpected creatures like sea monsters, Godzilla, or zombies. Look once and you’ll think we’re the classy type with local lithographs on our walls, look twice and we’re kinda weirdos.

detail of white vans and someware floor mat

The trim looks sooo good now all caulked up and painted. The floormat was a gift from my wonderful mother in law from Someware but it looks like it’s been discontinued.

detail of sun hat and backpack

Fjallraven Kanken Backpack | Introvert Enamel Pin ]

I use my Fjallraven Kanken to carry my laptop and iPad to work with me every day. My Introvert Pin is one of my favorite accessories. I picked up that big sunhat at a CVS last summer because I had been out in the sun for 15 minutes and am perpetually worried about sun exposure. This whole space is styled to encourage spring to please come soon.

brass wall hooks from house of antique hardware

The new hooks are so perfect. They look like they could have always been on these walls, holding things for almost 100 years.

Basement Stairwell Before and After

Here’s one last look at that before. It’s really amazing what you can do with the stuff you already have and a few carefully selected additions.

Cost Breakdown

  • Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur Paint – leftover supply $0.00
  • Benjamin Moore Simply White – leftover supply – $0.00
  • Painters Caulk + Painting Supplies – leftover supply – $0.00
  • 5 Classic Brass Hooks – $57.94
  • LED Flushmount Light Fixture – $21.37
  • Total – $79.31

A simple and inexpensive project like this can have such a big impact and make a part of your day so much more pleasant.

Furniture Interiors Inspiration Shopping The Scenery House

Art Above the Couch

February 23, 2018

What art for above the couch.

I know, Penelope. What are we going to do with that big blank wall? We’ve been living our livingroom life with just the blankest wall behind our sectional. About once a month, I look back at it ask my husband, “ugh, what are we going to do with this wall?”

Living Room With Blank Wall

[sectional is the IKEA Kivik in Orrsta Gray | wall color is Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur]

So first off, I know I want to break up that space on the left with a bookcase. This also solves another of our house problems: we have nowhere to store our books right now. I cannot stop thinking about the Crosby Bookcase from Rejuvenation. It’s been on sale for a long time (which makes me so worried that it will go away for good someday soon) and sometimes, it’s even more on sale. And every time that happens, I promise myself I’ll just order it already. I’m also ready for a refresh on this blanket/pillow situation.

Anyway, this is a post about wall art and not a post about how much I want that bookcase from Rejuvenation, nor is it about blankets and pillows.


Living Room SketchUp Overhead

Ok, so what are we looking at here? This is an overhead view of our living room in SketchUp for you to understand the whole layout. And where that dreamy bookcase will go.

SketchUp Living Room

Here’s a pared down shot as if some of our walls and fireplace were invisible. Whatever, it helps! Ok so now you know what we’re working with.

Are we over gallery walls?

Gallery wall from Avenue Lifestyle

[source: Avenue Lifestyle]

Gallery walls have been around since the Salon was packed to the gills from floor to ceiling with the works of new painters, eager to show off their work. The above gallery wall from Avenue Lifestyle is beautifully executed with great visual balance.

I thought I was getting tired of gallery walls, that they’re overdone and stale, but I realized it’s just that they’ve been done dirty. When big box stores got into the gallery wall game with pre-made sets – with their matching frames and art – something was lost. To make a good gallery wall (much like making a well-decorated room) you need to build it over time with pieces that mean something to you, with things you’ve held onto over time. This is why you should always have something vintage in every room, there’s simply something about age and old quality that adds the depth and character needed to “finish” a space.

Andy and I have collected a lot of prints over the years but not original paintings. I think we could reuse a lot of what we already have and carefully add to it with our photographs and some original pieces from artists we love. But what other ideas are rolling around in my head, making a decision so tough? Well…

What about the gallery grid?


[source: Elle Decoration]

I’ve been seeing some stunning gallery grid walls around the internet these days. They are perfectly spaced with art or photographs in the same style or treatment. I’ve seen them with matching chunky mats and small photographs, using negative space so tidily.

Tidiness and minimalism are two things I gravitate toward but am often incapable of executing because I just like too much stuff. Also among my concerns (I told you, this whole thing has been making me throw my arms up for months) is: would a gallery grid feel too carefully calculated? Too intentional? Are those good things? I don’t know who I am anymore.

What if we just keep it simple?

How about one large art?

Yellow Brick Home DIY-large-frame-27

[source: Yellow Brick Home]

This large grassy print and DIY frame from the ever-talented Yellow Brick Home duo, is a simple but big-impact move. I can see a big and beautiful photo print from one of Andy’s trips or an original painting working so well here. Heck, I can make my own art.

If I go this route, will I agonize about the importance of picking that ONE PIECE?

Please help! How are you feeling these days about art abouve the couch? How about my couch specifically? Are you pro gallery wall? All for a gallery grid? Or down with one large art?