Archive for the ‘Décor’ Category

And while we’re on the subject of new lighting

This image, from the Style At Home booth at the Interior Design Show in Toronto, has been floating around the web for the past couple of days.  The painted floor is amazing, as is the fabulous bright springy styling — a sign of things to come for those of us being socked by winter weather right now.  But what’s really terrific is the use of paint cans as lighting fixtures.

It reminded me that I had recently snapped an equally cool use of paint cans as light fixtures…except this one was a little less sleek. 

Just as inventive though, don’t you think?

These fixtures — using brand new paint cans or well-worn ones or any other vessel entirely — are super-easy to make on your own.  All you need is the object of your choice and one of these:

And if you want to hardwire it rather than plugging it in and hanging it from a hook, pick up one of these:

Have you ever created your own lighting?  Pendant?  Chandelier?  Lamp?  Please share!

Image credits: Re-nest (originally from Poppytalk, similar image can also be seen on Aubrey+Lindsay’s Blog); Paige Lewin; West Elm Pendant Cord Set; West Elm Industrial Pendant Conversion Kit


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It’s been about six months since we moved in and I think it’s about time we begin to address the lighting situation. Don’t you?

Let’s deal with the kitchen today.

Um, just the eat-in area.

So here we are (and yes, I know we have to do something about the windows and the walls too, but *focus*, people), the pub-tastic pendant that lights our breakfast and dinner everyday.

I’ve been gathering suitable replacement options from my favorite lighting sources across the web-o-sphere.  I happen to love vintage lighting fixtures as well, but let’s stick with these for now. 


What’s particularly interesting about light fixtures is the huge range of pricing.  In previous homes, we’ve bought the cheapest-of-the-cheap fixtures, and laid down some decent cash for others.  There’s definitely a difference when it comes to ease of installation, quality of materials, and quality of lighting brightness, tone, etc., but in my experience, not as much as the price might cue.  So, can you name the most expensive and least expensive fixture in this lineup?

No cheating.

Photo credits, from top to bottom: Paige Lewin (just in case you’re looking for some stock shots of seriously bad lighting); Shades of Light; West Elm; IKEA; Ballard Designs; Circa Lighting; Room & Board; Z Gallerie

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Logic quiz:

Poor self-image is to fashion magazines as WHAT is to home decor catalogs?

I don’t know either, but sometimes I feel like I have it, whatever IT is.  Occasionally I get sort of taken over by staging my house…rolling up the throw blankets and storing them just-so in a gorgeous basket (you’re cold? grab one of these!), propping the white ceramic fish platter in a plate holder on my kitchen counter (look, it’s art!), stacking up a pretty set of books by my bedside (who has time to read?).  Maybe it’s some form of OCD, or maybe it comes from buying and selling multiple houses in the past five years (never know when you’re gonna have to put it on the market!), but I suspect that some of the obsession comes from looking through too many home design catalogs and shelter pubs.

Luckily, my little brother pointed me to a hilarious site that reminds me how idiotic some of those scenes from Pottery Barn (and others) are.  Catalog Living follows the fictional life of Gary and Elaine, the passive-aggressive, accessory-obsessed couple who live in your catalogs.  Created by actor and Tufts graduate Molly Erdman, Catalog Living now serves as my daily reminder that I shouldn’t worry if my throws aren’t just-so.

{But really, a little staging never hurt anyone.}

Image credit: Catalog Living, January 20, 2011

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It seems like the school year *just* started.  And then it was Halloween.  And now, in exactly one week, we’re going to be roasting turkeys, mashing potatoes and generally stuffing ourselves like proverbial pigs seated at gorgeously decorated tables in holiday-decked houses. 

Oh, what’s that?  Haven’t taken down the paper spiders from your window or jack-o-lantern from your porch? 

No worries.  Join me on Life.Style with Christine Koh on The Pulse Network tomorrow at 1 p.m. EST (or anytime after that)  for some super simple, wallet-friendly, use-what-you-own ideas to make your house and table gorgeous for the big day.  It’s going to be awesome.  Like Oprah and Nate, except with less hair and makeup.

{If you’re on Twitter, feel free to tweet us during the show at @mudroomboston, @bostonmamas and @thepulse}

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The weekend is almost here, and for many of us it’s going to be a nice long one.  What are your plans?

In between a big family dinner, writing and some good old-fashioned quality time with the kids and hubs, I’m going to be working on our home office.  Want a peek at the fabrics?

Looks like I’m finally going to get some of that girly I’ve been wanting for so long.

Have a great weekend, friends!

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Best laid plans.

I don’t know about you, but when I move into a new space (which is more often than I’d like), I try to have it all planned out before the big day.  The furniture, the wall colors, where the lamps will go.  Everything.

But sometimes things don’t turn out exactly like you expect.  There’s enough space for the couch on that wall, but looks terrible.  Your pots and pans don’t actually fit in the cabinets.  The TV is perfect right there, but the deck door allows a little beam of the neighbor’s outdoor light in exactly when you want to watch The Real Housewives airkiss and then rip each other to shreds.  You get the picture.

Anyhoo, it turns out that one of the AWESOME things we didn’t count on was that our fabulous extra-narrow cherry farm table that used to be in our dining room fit perfectly in our new kitchen, so we didn’t have to buy a kitchen table and it freed up a whole room.  Frankly, I’ve always thought formal dining rooms were sort of a waste of space, so rather than doing a home office/guest room combo (our original plan), we have the unexpected opportunity to have an entire room dedicated to an office (can you hear the chorus of angels?).  I’d like our space to be:

Peaceful, with lots of work space,




separate, but equal,


and of course, well-styled.

Image credits: House Beautiful, Southern Living, Cottage Living, Stacy Style (who, by the way, rocks, and if you tweet you should follow her @stacystyle)



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A few weeks ago, I noticed that one of the blogs I follow started doing something called “Wordless Wednesday.”  Then a few weeks later, another.  Call me slow, but apparently this wordless business is sweeping the blogosphere, and as a working mom of two who is attempting to set up house, keep up a blog she loves and do some design work on the side, all without moving to Crazyville, I’m totally for it. 

So here’s my contribution to Wordless Wednesday…a sneak peek of our new-to-us house. 

Then (a mere 4 weeks ago)…

…and now

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Cabinets: If you have a good enough layout and solid wood cabinets, don’t go to the expense and headache of ripping out and starting anew.  Paint ’em and replace the old knobs with some sweet new hardware and you’re on your way to a new-to-you kitchen.

Appliances: Shop for floor samples at high-end appliance stores and stores recommended by your plumber and/or electrician…chances are you’ll get a better brand, better design, better service and lower prices than at some of the major retailers.  Also, make sure you investigate and act on all possible rebates…we saved nearly $500 using rebates alone.

Countertops: I always assumed swapping out our mid-century laminate for a new surface would be a major production and a major expense, but as it turned out, it was neither.  The countertop came off with a couple of turns of a screwdriver (watch out for built-in lazy susans, as the guts are often anchored to the countertop).  As for the granite, we went through a company specializing in counter surfaces, rather than a big-box home store.  The price was competitive and we felt the owner had a strong sense of pride in his workmanship.  When the first counter cracked coming off the truck in our driveway, the company immediately located a similar slab, cut it and had it ready for installation the next day.

Measure twice, shop once: There are, for example, different sizes of undercabinet hoods.  Make sure you know the size before you spend time driving to pick up what you think is the right one.

Get a guy with a truck: Preferably a pick-up.  You can save hundreds if you’re willing to dispose your current appliances, transport new ones and install them yourself (or arrange the installation yourself).

Sourcing: Find contractors and tradespeople through a local real estate agent.  Agents can provide a veritable yellow pages of you-can-rely-on-me plumbers, painters, electricians and so on.  If an agent is recommending a home professional, you can be fairly sure that he or she has delivered on time and on budget.  You can also be confident that they’re going to continue to do so for you, as contractors don’t want to risk a bad report since agents provide a direct line to new business.

And a few personal thoughts:

– If  you’re someone who struggles with decision-making, redoing a kitchen can be torture.  So if you can’t decide, go with white cabinets, black granite and stainless appliances (with as little black accenting as possible).  The look is timeless, transitional and peaceful.  If you want to go bold, amp up the surrounding wall color and fabrics.

– If possible, do everything you can to avoid buying a counter-depth refrigerator…choices are limited and they cost about 50% more than their 30-inch cousins.  Unfortunately, we had no choice.

– For a subtle, unexpected countertop, go with honed, rather than polished, granite.  Honed granite has a matte finish, rather than a glossy reflective one.  Honed granite can be more susceptible to surface staining, but there are products to help combat such risks.

Ultimately, a kitchen renovation doesn’t have to take over your life or your wallet.  We hadn’t moved ahead with making the most-used space in the house our own because we just assumed that the expense and disruption (but mostly the expense) would be too much.  We won’t be making that mistake again…

So how about it, all you kitchen remodelers, have anything to add to the list?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Photo credits (from top): Marston Knob from Restoration Hardware; Onyx Marble & Granite, Inc.craigslist

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Yesterday, one of my friends commented what a shame it is that just when you get everything exactly how you want it in your home, it’s time to leave.  Never were truer words spoken, particularly as it related to our kitchen.  My husband and I had talked about redoing our kitchen since the moment we moved in…the layout was good and cabinets were of excellent quality, but it was terribly dark and stuck in the 1950s.  I tore out countless shelter magazine pages, built my inspiration board, picked colors, picked knobs, hemmed, hawed and trusted that we would do it …someday

But then when my husband landed his new job and we were faced with the stark reality of putting our house on the market, our big dark kitchen faced us too. Our real estate agent, a consummate professional and trusted friend, advised that we think seriously about redoing the kitchen if we wanted our house to move quickly.  He said to trust him, and although it was hard for me to swallow that we were going to make such a substantial investment, just to turn around and leave it sitting there in the honed granite and stainless steel, we went for it.  I even said I’d kiss his feet if we made our money back. 

Guess it’s time for me to pucker up.

BEFORE (in case you couldn’t guess)


AFTER (hear the angels singing?)

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Miss me?





It’s been a looooong time.  Miss me?

Over the past six months, my family has had a *few* changes, causing me to take a little unexpected break from The Mudroom.  Between the husbandlosinghisjob-goingbacktoworkfulltime-startingasidebusiness-husbandfindinganewjobanhourandahalfaway-puttingthehouseonthemarket-gettinganoffer-havingtheofferfallthrough-puttingthehousebackonthemarket-gettinganotheroffer-searchingforahouseinatownwithnoinventory-lookingintorentingforayear-finallyhavinganofferaccepted-researchingnewchildcareandschooloptions-finishingkindergarten-packingpackingpacking-movingclosingmovingagain-anddecidingthatmyhusband’sformercompanymayhavedoneusafavor-{breath}-                                                              eventhoughitdefinitelydidn’tfeellikeittwodaysbeforemybirthday, it’s been a little busy, y’know?

Anyway, I have missed The Mudroom so very, very much, and among the many wonderful things that have come out of this last six months is that I now have a new house (well, not *new*, but new to me) on which to make my mark!

To whet your appetite, check out some rooms that I designed and decorated from the asoflastTuesdaynolongerourhome…

Hope to see you again soon!



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