Decorating home, one element at a time.

A Fantastically Inspired Nursery

“You have the most popular nursery that no one has seen.” – Jackie

If you’ve read this blog before, you already know a couple of things:

1. Jackie, my dear co-blogger, has written about her beautiful nursery decorating. Check it out right… HERE.

2. If Jackie and I were decorating politicians, our platforms would be anti-store-bought themed nursery sets. Our nightmares have us fleeing from things that are too matchy-matchy. I specifically spelled this out after carefully defending a motif in my home, which you can see……. HERE.

With this second point in mind, my husband and I had long ago decided that should we have a baby boy, we would decorate his nursery based on one of our favorite movies, Fantastic Mr. Fox. In case you have missed this Wes Anderson gem, here are the reasons we find it inspiring, especially for our decorating purposes (movie photos courtesy imdb.com/20th Century Fox) :

1. The story itself is about family: a dad, mom, and young son. This could easily be us!

(Seth relaxing while I paint and listen to my records)

“Ash”- a cutie like baby

2. The colors: All of the colors are bold and saturated. We were really struck with the golden jacket of Mr. Fox, red of Farmer Bean’s apples, and the yellow of Mrs. Fox’s dress. Hints of blue make great pops of an accent color, too.

3. The textures: the movie is stop-motion animated, making everything realistically tactile. For example, Mr. Fox himself has so many textures- the corduroy jacket, his soft fur, and the glassiness of his eyes. Textures through the use of different elements and prints (checkered, polka-dot) create visual interest and are perfect for a developing baby.

4. The great outdoors setting: the “nature” of the movie allows for bringing the outside in. This topic is even addressed in the plot, as the characters deal with the destruction of their natural habitat. (They fight back with flaming pine cones.)

5. The maturity: the humor of the movie makes it not just for children. It has a classic quality and nostalgic feel. Anytime I can add vintage qualities to a room to give it a more comfortable aesthetic I do. And besides, is a nursery only for a baby? I wanted this room to be an extension of who we are, just as baby is a part of our family.

For these reasons and more, Fantastic Mr. Fox was our inspiration. Taking these concepts, I present Judah’s nursery!

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The nursery is a small room, but that can be the perfect setting for a bold, saturated color.

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This changing table was the first “official” purchase. I fell for the color when I saw it on craigslist and the price of $30 sealed the deal. The alphabet wall hanging I purchased two summers ago at the local, famed Normal Park neighborhood sale. It is handmade and frightfully old. The creatures have quirky colors and many have red eyes, including the Rat- which is a character in the movie who also has red eyes. It hangs from a stick.

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The cover here is brown with brown stars- like Ash’s official bandit mask. Here my bandit reorganizes his diapers.

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 The toy fox has jumped into a large basket box that serves as a toy box. I got it for a steal with plans of embellishing it, but we’ll see if that happens! All the textures make for a fun place to play.

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There’s a photo shoot going on?

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Baby needs a place for his sweater and cap.

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I love this little vignette. The handmade sweater was a gift from dear co-blogger, Jackie. His cap is from another close friend.

The iron cast hanger was a garage sale pick up.

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Every nursery needs a comfy spot to sit. After searching high and low for the perfect chair/rocker/glider I found the perfect blend of function and aesthetic in our living room: our midnight blue poang from IKEA. With a couple of gorgeous handmade throws as gifts, it is the best place for a story.

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Of course, perhaps the best accessory is a fun pillow. I saw many cute “fox” pillows on etsy, but sometimes the thrills don’t make it in the budget. Instead, I came across this red, metallic (hard to see the shiny here) iron-on decal at JoAnn’s. Another clearance pillow and I had a sweet and easy DIY.

Speaking of DIY and IKEA- the graphic tree curtain is another IKEA pick-up. And speaking of a literal pick-up, it also hangs from a mighty stick on curtain tie-backs.

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I love the black-and-white graphics on the curtain. I think every room in a house should have a black-and-white element. It seems to add a sophistication and yet stays playful.

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It is important to my husband and I that we support real artists and fill our home with their artworks. So it was wonderful when were given one as shower gift! We have “Hellephant” here now to be apart of our story time. This was given to me by my cousin, Jewel Renee, who is a very talented artist. She knew I especially liked this adventure of “Hellephant” (there are many!). The colors fit perfect in our scheme.

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“Hellephant” isn’t alone. On the other wall he is joined by none other than a “Mr. Fox” and “Mr. Badger.” This artwork is the most direct reference to our inspired nursery. I found them on Etsy, from an artist named Michael Jonathan Smith in the L.A. area. Also on display is a prized giant pine cone I got from a local treasure store. Here is a close-up of Mr. Fox (minus the clear “repin” and “like” buttons on the top left):

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Isn’t he dapper? I love the vintage colors and “stained” print. It looks as if it was torn from an original copy of the book.

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And what a better place to store a book than here! This bookcase comes straight from my childhood room and my mother’s before me! My grandfather made this back in the 1960s.

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As we round the room we encounter my artistic addition to the room: birch trees!

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In a post to follow, I’ll show the easy steps I took in completing this project. As a new and somewhat paranoid new parent, I did not want to hang anything above the crib. These tree silhouettes add great balance to the room as they pull the eye up and continue what the graphic curtains started.

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There is still some room on the wall to the left of the trees for showcasing more artwork and some shelving… to be continued!

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To my surprise- though surprises are almost daily for this new parent– it turns out that baby’s room cannot escape the trendy need to have his name displayed. However, I adore this exception to my rule, as it is the banner from his baptism and a beautiful reminder of that special day.

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And another thrift store find: metallic owls. Whoooo doesn’t like that?

Finally, the most comfortable spot must be the crib.

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Baby has many friends to keep him comfy, not to mention a beautiful quilt handmade by a friend. The colors and patterns are everything foxy for our little fox.

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Little Fox

So if you are looking for a unique inspiration for a nursery, or any room for that matter, I suggest finding the book, movie, object, quote, or artwork that inspires you. Let it allow you to reinterpret it into a whole new experience. You will love the process and with cobbled finds and handmade touches, it will truly be original in every way.

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Paint a Thrifted Cabinet

Long, long ago, I, Jackie, found this cabinet at the Salvation Army just minutes from my house. I was drawn to it immediately, and stalked around it for several minutes as I decided if I could reasonably purchase it without disrupting home harmony (the spousal balance must always be maintained!), so much so that I inadvertently caused another Salvo shopper to think he should ask me about his intended purchase, purporting that I wanted to talk to him. (Egad! No! I’m here for the cabinet!!!)

So I got the cabinet, and as I pondered my redo, I knew that I wanted to paint it and that I wanted to find a color unique enough to offer color and interest to the room where it’d go yet neutral enough to allow the cabinet to move from room to room as my whim directed.

And there is lots of whim-directed decorating going on around my house. I get bored easily.

When I first brought the cabinet home, my husband said, “Paint that sh*t gold!” And I thought about it. And I liked the idea. And here’s what happened after that.

I chose a color called Brass Patina and went to down painting in the basement. Before beginning, I lightly sanded the entire piece and removed the door’s knob.

Here’s another shot:

After three-ish coats on all surfaces and complete drying (it didn’t take too long–I did this all in a few hours one morning), I carried the cabinet upstairs. Check it out in the better lighting of my kitchen:

Close up of the knob I chose to replace the original:

And here’s the cabinet integrated into a room! *Note: my living room is never this shockingly clean. I am slightly appalled at the cleanliness myself, seeing this picture again. =]

Turn a Salvaged Board into a Bench

I, Jackie, don’t think I can honestly claim to come up with most of my good decorating ideas (dudes, have you experienced the collaborative idea-world that is Pinterest???) BUT, I will say this: I can definitely recognize a good idea when I see one.

Case in point is this project, that I found in DIY paradise, ReadyMade. (Seriously, if you love to DIY—and not just decor but food and drink and fashion and more—get thee to ReadyMade a.s.a.p.)

There’s something about having a touch of the rustic in a colorful and/or funky room that delights me so. It’s a lovely counterpoint to the smooth, the saturated, the slick—and when you pair that rustic with the unfussy but strong aesthetic that is the hairpin leg…I had to have one of these benches for my house. So I made one—and you can too.

Follow the guidance of the ReadyMakers for all of the how-tos (why reinvent the wheel? I did exactly what they said) and I’ll take you on a photo journey through the making of my bench.

Here we go!

Notes: I found my board in a pile of ‘leftovers’ at Doc’s Architectural Salvage. It has a slight crack in it but is still remarkably strong. My hairpin legs are from a 60s era end table that had two levels, so the the above pic you’ll see a set of legs to the left—the 12″ or so ones I used for this project, and a shorter 6″ or so set still looking for the right project home. Look for a board and/or legs everywhere—you might find a junk table at Goodwill for 5 bucks that have the perfect legs for repurposing.

Want one more hairpin leg project? Check out Rachel’s hairpin leg project.

Remember me?

Rachel here.

I know, right?! (<—- the valley girl phrase that I try to avoid, but it works so well here and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t kinda like it.)

Remember me? I once participated in this blog and then as my kind (and patient) co-blogger pointed out, I was hit with what shall simply be known as the first trimester. Anyway, 31 weeks have past and believe it or not, within that time I have “cobbled.” However, this cobbling has been different, as it has occurred under the affliction of a pregnant-brain. I’ll just say that my mind is more cluttered than my house. I find myself overwhelmed with projects and the pressure to complete them (and then blog about them!).

I’m sure this doesn’t affect just a pregnant brain. All one really needs is a job, or kids, or errands, or commitments, or a husband, or friends, or really- A LIFE- in order to keep one away from the passions that really shouldn’t be overwhelming.

Unfortunately, I am the type of person that needs consistency and routine, because once I’m “out of it,” it can be hard to get back “in to it.” I blame my perfectionist approach to all matters artistic and the unnecessary pressure I put on myself. However tonight as I chatted with Jackie and continued to tackle the projects of the house (which I love to do), I realized (or remembered? #pregnantbrain) that cobbling really is a process. Sometimes it takes time to “get it right” and that’s okay (#themonalisawasn’tpaintedinaday)

So I’m back! And while I may be rusty at blogging and flustered with all of the projects- that’s okay.

Remember this?

I bought if for super affordable ($10? $15?) off of craigslist for this space in the hall (aerial view from stairs):

After debating about paint colors and lining prints, I realized that the only thing I knew for sure I wanted to do with it was add some hairpin legs.

I credit Jackie for this inspiration, as she had just completed a beautiful bench using such hardware! Here is a teaser for her upcoming post. Look at those legs!!

I measured the height I wanted to add to the piece to bring it to an appropriate height and found another great deal for the 8″ legs, this time on ebay. I should mention too that not only do hairpin legs make for a classic mid-century modern look, but they are very strong. This was important as the shelf is already heavy as it is made of solid wood and I planned to house my prized mid-century modern collection in it, too.

After an easy installation process (I’ll let Jackie get into those details) and what was probably a good month of deliberating about all of the many possibilities of how I could change/paint/cobble it, I realized that what it wasn’t for was for collecting mail or all of the other things that got shoved into its useful cubbies.

This was going to have to be a work-in-progress.

Though I’m now pleased to say, I’m happy with it as it is! I guess I just needed some time to realize it. Maybe it will change someday? I won’t worry about it 🙂


Look at those legs!!

Editor’s note: I went back and reread my “The Cobbling Patient” post which started this project. Funny enough- I used the phrase “the mona lisa wasn’t painted in a day” back then, too (sans the frivolous hashtag). I guess this is a lesson I keep learning.

I’m back!

Not Only Am I Verbose…

…I can tweet too!

Hey it’s Jackie. No seriously, I just joined the world and got a twitter account. Now I can post all the random brain bursts that occur to me when I’m out thrifting or stalking antiques or whatever it is I do to satisfy the Decorating Muse. Twitter for the random; blog for the rambling verbosity mentioned in the title.

Follow me @thriftraff.

Yes that’s right, I’ll be playing the roll of [your] belligerent, thrifting rabble-rouser for the rest of forever.

Shelves for People Who Hate Shelves*

Jackie here.

I confess it: I lead another life. Well, another decorating life. And it’s called the Facebook photo album. What am I talking about? Whenever I buy some new piece of junk [read: awesome thrifty item], I snap a photo of it, hook my camera up to my computer, import and upload that sucker in under two minutes, slap some sassified comment about how much I spent/what my plans are in the photo info box and baby, I am done. It’s not like this blog-thing where I am programmed by my spastic writer’s nature to see this blank space and think:

OOOH I MUST FILL IT UP WITH WORDS.

But here’s the benefit of having a FB album I tend to tend to (nice, two parts of speech!) so easily and readily: I’ve got a grand repository of picture-inspired bloggo ideas to draw from when I finally get around to it.

Today’s topic: shelves. Which I hate.

And this is a problem because there’s always crap I want to put places, and gee wiz, it’s hard to do that, as well as effectively decorate a room when you hate shelves.

Well–let me nuance that. I don’t hate shelves–things you can set other, smaller things upon–it’s shelving I hate. It’s Big Box aesthetics. It’s boring, stupid, yucky poo poo crap that passes for interesting decor.

So what kind of shelves does a person who hates shelves put up? Let’s go to the tape!What you’re looking at is my solution to the shelving, you bore me, dilemma: thrift and vintage crates and boxes. Starting from the top left, you’re looking at a Goodwill crate ($4), a vintage box ($7) and a vintage diet rite crate ($15).

Immediate benefit of this type of shelving: they’re interesting all on their own. WHAAAAT! Most shelves when empty we’d like to see fade into the sunset because they’re so banal, but when you choose vintage/thrift pieces of different sizes and depths and colors of wood, visual interest is pretty much automatic.

Here are the boxes from the side:

So because these objects did not come into the world thinking they’d be going on a wall as shelves, I had to get them ready to be hung up. I purchased some sawtooth picture hangers from Lowe’s (get them just about anywhere that carries hardware) to hammer into the backs of each box/crate—don’t be scared; this is really easy! No nails needed whatsoever. Just grab a hammer, and in mere moments you’ll have a bunch of easy-to-hang objects. If you’re hammering these into something with edges of varying heights (like the rightmost box of this cluster), either place the box on a book so the long edges of the box are hanging above the ground or fold up a towel in half and in half and in thirds, and set the box on that. This’ll prevent you from bashing it up and adding unplanned character to the edges.

Before you actually hang anything on the wall, mock up your placement on the floor by sliding the boxes around till you have a cool setup. I even traced the boxes out on kraft paper and stuck the paper shapes on the wall to figure out what I liked and at what heights (TIP: don’t hang your arrangement too high. It should be more or less at eye level.) After I had a sense of where I wanted the boxes to be in relation to each other, I started to map out on the wall all nail placement locations. And there’s a really, really easy way to do this:

Toothpaste.

Run up to your bathroom, grab your mangled tube of white paste, and totally and completely simplify object-hanging. Stick a glob on the picture hanger on the reverse indicating where the nail should go, hover the box next to the wall till you have it where you want, and press it against the wall. Remove the box carefully—don’t smudge! You’ll have a perfect indication of where you need to put the nail.

Once your boxes are hung, it’s time to fill. SECOND TIP: DON’T OVERFILL. It can be so tempting to look at an arangement of shelves and think, gosh now I should put something in every available spot. By  no means should you do this! Negative space—the empty area—is just as important to the overall look as is picking fun objects.

It took me awhile to get it right when I first ‘merchandized’ these shelves, but here’s what I came up with:

I’ve changed a couple of things since then, but the basic  idea remains: I didn’t fill every ‘spot.’

So that’s it! The shelving-hater does shelves. What unconventional shelving types have you tried in your home?

*DISCLAIMER: The shelf-loathing expressed in this blog post is a particular hang up of Jackie’s. Rachel is much more rational in this aspect of decor. We’ll let Rachel come forth with her own issues as she is ready. =)

Hey We’re Back! and a Quick Cobble: Thrift Store Decor

Mein Gott! How long has it been?

No, Rachel and I did not pass away. And no, we haven’t stopped decorating. What has happened, you ask?

Well: after 9 months as a SAHM, I, Jackie, needed to get back to the workforce. So I got a job and I’ve been work-forcin’ since mid September doing that other thing I love: writing.

And Rachel…well, I’ll let Rachel tell you for herself here what’s been consuming all of her energy. I’ve got to say that I understand completely, as just over a year ago I scribed this piece about my own experience.

But all that aside because now it’s time to freaking decorate something. Or at least talk about a means of decorating that is often overlooked by the novice (or even experienced) decorator: the thrift store.

I think my favorite thing about Goodwill and the Salvation Army is, if I ever see any knick-knacky thing that strikes my fancy, I snatch it up and buy it without more than half a second’s thought because it’s THAT CHEAP. So I’ll often buy random object I’m simply drawn to, even if I don’t have a particular plan in mind for them. This is half of the fun of being a thrift store shopper, and half the reward, too. While the ‘impulse buy’ certainly exists within the walls of the thrift store, it hardly carries half of the weight it does in other locations. So after completely avoiding Black Friday Madness (ew), I hit the thrift on Saturday to see if I could make my own marvelous retail adventure.

Here are the results!

Picked this baby up for $2.99. Initially I was thinking, oh man, sweet place for a plant. Or maybe a chic garbage can? Oh the possibilities.

And then…

Check this baby out! The moment I saw it, I was entranced. And for a cool $20, I decided this one was worth jumping on–I’m always on the lookout for distinctive pieces.

The specs: the shelf/cabinet is solid wood, and it has a label on the back that indicates it was made in Franklin, IN. As a resident of Indiana, I love me a made-in-Indiana piece. I figure the shelf is 50+ years old, making it awesome.

What next for this piece? Probably a coat of paint. When I asked my husband what color, he said, “Paint that s*@% gold!”

You got it, honey. I’m scouting some vintagey hued gold tones to freshen this baby up. Updates soon!

And while you wait for me, hit the thrift stores near you and tell us all about your cheap, unique finds. I can’t wait.