Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

TV Tray

One of the advantages of our house situation is that we already have a lot of furniture to work with.
One of the disadvantages of our house situation is that we have a lot of old, weathered furniture to deal with.

I know I shouldn’t complain, and for the most part – I love what we have to work with, but then there are some items that are just too difficult to love.  Enter the 1970s? TV Trays.  One is currently hiding in the basement, which was fine with me.  For years though, *D has insisted on keeping this TV tray on our beautiful front porch.

TV Tray Close Up Glory

The legs are old and super rusted.  The top, while well-made and sturdy, has suffered years of being left outside year round.  It has also seen its fair share of parties over the past few decades, so overall the poor TV tray is looking a bit beat up and stained.

Enter my friend Rustoleum.

Rustoleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover

I was actually shocked with how quickly *D agreed to let me spray paint his beloved TV trays.  While planning for this, I kept envisioning these relics updated in a deep Navy blue.

So I sprayed the TV tray down with the hose in the backyard.  Then, I scoured it with my trusty metal wire brush.  And then I spray painted the hell out of it.

TV Tray - Mid Update

Full Disclosure/Lesson Learned:
Wear a stupid face mask.  I did not, and suffered for it.
And by suffered, I was dizzy on and off all afternoon – and the underside of my nose looked like I spent the day snorting Smurfs.  Not a great look, I’m told.

I left the middle part mostly untouched, as the plan was to utilize scraps of performance vinyl wallcovering to finish the tray part.

This was tricky, as the indented part of the tray was not a clear shape.  So, I just eye-balled it when I did the cutting.  Not the most accurate, but for a TV tray on my porch used to hold *D’s ashtray – I wasn’t worried.

3M Spray Adhesive

I used 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive to attach the wallcovering scrap to the table, because I had some left over from wedding crafts last year.

I am mostly satisfied with the 3M spray, but the edges are coming up a bit.  I blame the weather as well, and have mostly solved this with frequent applications of CrazyGlue.

As my initial TV tray project progressed, I went a little crazy.  Maybe it was the fumes I was inhaling?

In my spray paint insanity, I remembered this sweet garage score, and turned my little TV tray project into a whole porch overhaul.

I blame the fumes.

Two Tier Wooden Side Table

This mid-century side table was found in our garage.  Made from a cheaper sort of wood, *D and I debated whether or not to save this when it was unearthed from the garage.

We decided to keep it, if only just for this season.  We entertain a lot – especially during the summer months – so an extra surface was nice to add.  Since we were/are not sure if we are going to keep any of these items post-Renovation, we did everything the cheap and easy way.

Just like with the TV tray, I sprayed down the table, let it dry in the sun, and hit it with my wire brush.

These projects, and this blog, are definitely an exploration in learning from mistakes.  When I worked on the TV tray, I spray painted first and then cut the vinyl.

Not wanting to chip or mess up the paint on the side table, this time I decided to measure the vinyl first.

So I cut the vinyl down loosely to cover the bottom of the table, and then fine-tuned the cuts with my scissor and ‘vintage’ box cutter.

Measuring White Vinyl wallcovering

See that smudge?   No worries about that!  This performance vinyl wallcovering is fully scrubbable.

Think I’m crazy for picking white?  It was the only scrap I had, and seriously this stuff is durable.

Cutting Edges with Vintage Box Cutter

At this point, *D checked in to see how I was doing and to observe my techniques…

After cutting the pieces perfectly to size, and putting them aside, I spray painted the whole table with the same Rustoleum Navy. Again, I left the tops clear where I was planning to lay the vinyl.

Painted Side Table

After covering the table and the pieces of vinyl with spray adhesive, I very carefully slid the pieces into place.

It was at this point that *D saw some issues with my technique.  Again, everything is a learning process.

Finished Side Table

Don’t you just love the contrast of the navy and white?!

Inner Shot of Side Table

After the second completed piece, I really started to lose my mind.

I hauled the tables up to the porch and was instantly proud of my work.

But then I looked at the coffee table that we had found and spray painted two years ago – and suddenly it looked really sad.

White Coffee Table

To the backyard!  I only had one, mostly full can of spray paint on hand so this piece was just touched up a bit.

Laying the Vinyl

At first, I was going to reign myself in and merely spray paint the table.  But then I saw these other vinyl wallcovering scraps in my hoarding bin, and started experimenting.

I waited a bit to show *D, but at this point my insanity had caught on.  He paused his yard work and started experimenting with me.

This is how we learned yet another lesson:
It is actually better/easier/more exact to spray adhesive the pieces onto the piece uncut first.  THEN, you should go back with the box cutter and cut exact edges.

Finished Coffee Table

Isn’t it beautiful?  I especially love the coffee table, as that was a total collaboration between *D and I.  Newlywed bliss, remember?

So together, we carried the coffee table to the porch to join its other painted buddies.  Including the wicker chairs I discussed here.

And after all that hard work, sanding and painting out in the sun, what could be more refreshing than to perch here with a special order British shelter magazine, my *D, and a cocktail?


Porch Shot

Another reason we love suburbia.


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Window between Basement & Powder Room

Situated under the stairs seen here, there is a window placed in between the door to the basement (left) and a full bathroom.  On the first floor.  This little nook is in the vicinity of the main entrance of the house and the living room.

I have no idea why a full bath was placed here – on the first floor – but we have decided to redesign this space to only be a powder room.

But – in the spirit of full disclosure, in an anonymous way –  here are pics of the bathroom as it stands now.

Sink & Bowl

This is the view you are greeted with when you walk into the bathroom.

Also – you may notice that these pictures are severely cropped.  Being that this bathroom is in an awkward spot on the first floor – I almost never set foot in it.  So, this has become the “bachelor” bathroom and is not in the best shape.

On the right hand side is a narrow shower and standing area.

1st Floor Shower

This space would be much suited as just a powder room and then pad that extra shower area into the kitchen behind it, or something else.  We have not begun the actual floor plans, so this is still to be determined.

This shot below was taken while standing right outside of the shower, looking towards the door.
Again, I apologize for the odd crops/lousy perspective – but some things don’t need to be shared.

Inner Bathroom Window

Now, you may be wondering about the walls.  Yes, the entire room is wood paneling.  And if you are wondering if it’s real – let me clear that up for you.


This entire room is paneled with that fake wood product – which is not the most water friendly.

To say that our house is a true, shanty Irish shrine to wood paneling is clearly an understatement.

So even though the renovation is still six or seven months away, I’ve been keeping myself busy by dreaming about how this powder room will look when we are finished with it.

Here comes the inspiration!  Check out my Powder Room Mood Board, made on MyDeco.com.

Obviously there’s a lot going on here.  Let me explain.

The whole room has been inspired by a wallpaper that may or may not exist.  It’s a Thibaut print from the 1920s, found by a studious home furnishings editor with an enviable collection of vintage Interior magazines.  With my persuasive ways, I’ve been trying to encourage the art director at Thibaut to rerelease this print.  Here’s hoping this happens, as it has shaped the entire room design.

Nothing would make me happier than to have a powder room fully papered with old school Navy inspired tattoos.

Along with the sailors and mermaids and American flags, we’re taking this room in a full nautical/marine direction.

Enter Mister Sea Horse.

Mr. Sea Horse

Do you even need to ask where we found this?  Basement.

We have a bronze faucet set in the second floor bathroom now – which will be relocated to live here on a very rustic vanity.

Above said vanity, we are starting our hunt for the perfect Port Hole Mirrror – you know, to keep the nautical/marine theme going.  Too much?  Or just right.

For the window, we will need to get new, dark shutters – you know, to mind our privacy from our neighbors.  But to really lay the marine theme on thick – I am thinking of tackling my first window valence.  I have some nautical fabric in red on yellow – very similar to the image below.

Nautical Red and Yellow Thibaut Pattern

I’ve never upholstered anything – but I plan on DIYing this.  Crazy?  Possibly.

And then – even though I had already considered the room ‘finished’ as far as the design goes – I stumbled across this DIY Rope Shelf tutorial.

I found this link first on the Craftzine Blog, posted by Jessie from the blog Imperfectly Polished, on the CSI Project.

Imperfectlypolished Rope Shelf

Is that not perfect?!

We are not exactly sure how the room will be set up, so exact orientation of everything is still to be determined.  Wherever we put this – whether above the toilet or on a separate wall – you can guarantee that we will be tackling this DIY this as well.

Oh, and remember Mr Peg Leg?  *D thinks we should shove a metal rod in the wooden shaft of the leg and make this a toilet paper holder.

I cannot wait to share after pictures of what may turn out to be the funniest powder room ever.

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It has been our plan to begin construction sometime in 2012, so as we start the downhill run of 2011 – it is time to start designing.

One of our goals for the ‘deconstruction’ of our house is to keep some of the decorative elements and maintain the architectural integrity of the original house design.  This is a very lofty goal, with a lot of issues on all sides – but one we are tackling together.

With the slow summer days upon us, I’ve been attempting to get some design ideas down on paper so that we are better prepared for next year.

So here begins our foray, in the front foyer.

As of now, this pineapple-esque light fixture hangs from the horrible cardboard drop ceiling between the front door and the staircase.

Welcome Pineapple

I never paid any attention to this light before – but recently, a friend (Sammy the Supplier) explained that pineapples are a symbol of hospitality and welcome.  No wonder Williams & Sonoma includes them on their gift wrapping.  Armed with this new knowledge, I am thinking we will keep the pineapple right where it is.

The glass is a weathered amber color, perfect to blend in with our “natural with a kick of humor” decorating style.

Welcoming Foyer, complete with Pineapple

We have decided to paint the living room (to be photographed and discussed in depth at a later date) a sort of neutral color, but will wallpaper the staircase wall and hallway on the second floor.

As of now, the plaster walls are starting to crack along the stair case, at least until the first landing.  Then, the original damask wallpaper comes in.

How fun is that?!

stair case

I know this is a dark picture, but that is more true to life.  Part of my inspiration for wallpapering the stair case is to brighten up the space.

*D and I love the damask print that his mother had picked out, and have decided to honor her design selection and also use a damask in this space.  A much updated damask, though, to be sure.  I’m thinking softly metallic, to keep the light from the landing window reverberating around.  Oh, and something durable.

As you can tell from this angle, the window on the landing invites tons of light into the house.  To keep up with our love of light yet commitment to privacy, I will probably be sewing a sheer curtain to replace the crappy shade we currently have.

This room is my inspiration for the curtain – featuring the lovely Dominique linen.

Down the stairs

Looking down from the stairs, *D’s mom’s OG Gallery Wall still hangs.

Don’t you love that arch in the ceiling above the stairs?  That will surely stay.

OG Gallery Wall

Sweet little wooden frames house embroideries, painted pictures, dried flowers, and other fun sundries in an OG Gallery wall feature.  We may try to clean and save some of these, but we are also letting friends take them home as souvenirs.  Mrs Tipa Tipa left hers behind, but it’s still here waiting!

To document the house as it stands now – and to evaluate the furniture and decorations that we already own – I’ve been playing around with the Moodboard function on MyDeco.com.

Check this out –

This includes:
So what do you think?! 

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When *D was a baby, his nursery was adjacent to his parent’s room.  Wanting to always hear *D’s chirps, cries, and other baby noises, his parents opted to have the regular wooden door removed – and replaced it with a screen door.  The illusion of privacy, with clear range of sound.  Future nursery designers take note.

*D abandoned his nursery for the much “cooler” third floor in his teens, so this room has been somewhat neglected over the years.  And by somewhat, I mean completely.  Other than being a sometimes guest room to our favorite guest, the Right Rev Joe, this room has remained as seen here.

Craft Room - Owl Wall

Check out the cracked plaster walls.  While this does show the sad state of the room – it also really highlights the quality of the walls.  I do not know when these walls were put up, but I would not be surprised if they were original to the house – so we’re talking 1910.  Although I’m pretty sure that Owl light switch is ‘new.’

Here’s another plaster wall – showing off the lovely fabric curtain that acts as the door.  See that trio of baby pictures?  *D’s mom was a twin, so we have this picture proudly hung here.  This is probably the only decoration in the room that is safe from my DIY/Spray Paint habit..

Craft Room Entrance

Again – being that this was originally set up to be a nursery – you have to be a little amused by the decorations.  Dinosaur border?  Check.  Weird metal wall sculptures?  Staggered for effect.

Dinosaur Corner

This picture really captures a lot.  You can also see a bit of a lighter square in the middle of the picture.  A Hershey Park poster used to hang here, but in a fit of cleaning I threw it out.  No, *D, no one will buy that in a garage sale.

But those odd metal flower pieces are definitely up for debate.  To keep?  Gift?  The more I look at them, the less jarring they appear – combined with dreams of red high gloss lacquer sprucing it up a bit…  Am I crazy?

And the aqua-colored radiator…  I cannot wait to renovate and finally make this house energy efficient!

In the opposite corner, the tiniest, most cluttered closet sits.  Another indicator of how old this house is, the closet is quite small.  But as you can see – *D’s parents used every square inch of this closet to house clothes, Christmas decorations and who knows what else.

Craft Room Closet

It should be noted that this is not the only space for Christmas decorations in our happy home.  Most dressers, drawers, closets and cubby holes have at least one small touch of Christmas hidden inside.  As a complete Christmas junkie, this should delight me.  But the amount – and the condition of some items – is definitely concerning.  To be sure, we will not be tossing any of these once beloved items, but will be selling at every garage sale – and gifting to tacky Christmas enthusiasts when appropriate.

Below the Christmas decoration shelf, you will notice some of the oldest, scariest wire hangers known to man.  Makes me understand Mommie Dearest…
  And my favorite detail of the room!  Can you tell what is going on in here?!

Closeted Wallpaper

Wallpaper in the closet!  I love it!  The periwinkle ground – the Liberty-esque yellow blooms…  It’s the perfect amount of humor and kitsch – at least in my opinion.  It’s little gems like this that make me realize how unique this house is – and encourages me to keep going with my own design plans for the renovation.  Expect lots of wallpapered closets!

While the renovation project is still another year off – we are making do with what we have.  As you can see in these photos, we are not engaging in any major make overs.  It is just not worth the time, money, or energy.  And in the case of this room, I lucked out – as we agreed that it would be nice to have one room to contain all my crafting supplies and half finished projects.

With a lot of cleaning and dusting, and arguments over what to keep and what to trash – this is now my craft room.  Complete with work table, cutting mat, old school Singer Sewing machine – and plenty of space to work.

Sadie the Singer

That is my Singer Sewing Machine, Sadie.  More on Sadie to come…

In addition to the solid wooden craft table (which already lived in here), I set up my lovely college dorm room plastic drawers, in attempt to stay organized.  I’ve carted this set with me since Freshmen year of college, and have never been able to part with it.  Now, these sticker covered drawers house all my crafting tools – and my Type A self couldn’t be happier.

Now for my favorite part of the room – the view.  This is what I think about when people ask us why we don’t live in the city.

Craft Room View

Stay tuned for projects completed here.

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here we go!

It has been recommended that I start a blog. So this is me, doing just that.

I hope that the interwebs appreciates my humor and gusto as my husband (hereafter referred to as simply *D) and I deconstruct his childhood home in Suburbia. We pre-inherited a 100 year old Side Hall Victorian house in a beautiful suburb of NYC, in New Jersey. This home happens to be in the town that both *D and I both grew up in.  Although we weren’t technically high school sweethearts, you get the drift.

After years of being somewhat neglected (due to several factors, which I will not bore you with on here), it is time the house gets a big overhaul. So that is where we (and you, dear blog-readers, aka Mom), come in.

So bear with me as I translate our finds and our work onto this blog.

I will share the before pics, the during pics, and the after pics – over the course of the next two years. Or ten years, based on *D’s lofty ideas of design and construction…

This journey will not simply be photos of our unique house. It should also be noted that *D’s parents both had an affinity for knick-knacks and for compulsive saving. As we go through the house, room by room, we often have to stop and consider why something was purchased, what usage was intended, or why something was saved.  I plan to share these little treasures with you all along the way.

And in addition to posting about the treasures we unearth, I will also be sharing lots of other goodies.

To celebrate our first year of marriage, I’ve arranged several small weekend trips for us to take together, exploring new cities and sights.   So expect some honest reviews, tips and fun pics – including my favorite of the HV/AC Farm. Stay tuned.

Another reason I felt compelled to start this blog was to review and highlight some of the cultural goodies this great Garden State has to offer – but is often not recognized for.  So expect some yummy restaurant reviews, cultural events, home tours, etc.

And lastly – to finally capture and share all my design forays, crafting binges and DIY moments of glory and shame, I will share all my tips, true stories, and of course pics.

That’s right – all while DeConstructing Suburbia.

We’re not all white picket fences and green front lawns out here.
I promise.

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