Friday, February 26, 2010

BHG Editor Tackles Her Own Home -- And Its Popcorn Ceilings!

Amy Panos, an editor at Better Homes & Garden magazine, redid her 1970s suburban home about a year or so ago. 

Here's a look into dining area as it is today:
A fresh, hip cottage look.

After a very pregnant Amy climbed into my Jeep SUV -- well after conquering her own reno challenges -- to go scout homes for BHG with me, I immediately wanted to talk ceilings. I knew her home once featured popcorn ceilings. What did she do to "fix" the problem?

Bumpy, dirty popcorn ceiling

In case you've been spared (I grew up in a house with them), let me explain.  These ceilings seized the American residential scene back in the 1950s and up until the early 1980s.  It was a quick and cheap way.  And now, most people want  them gone, gone, gone! Amy certainly did. However, the problem isn't always so easy to remedy. Usually, it involves some messy and time-consuming scraping. Plus, if the ceilings were sprayed with this icky stuff prior to 1978, then that means they might contain asbestos (possible cancer-causing agents). In the case of the latter, experts say it might be best to leave them alone. You can read more about that here , a link that offers guidance on how to tell if you have asbestos in your "popcorn."  Happily, there are options: 

Amy's beaded board ceiling.

Rather than deal with the mess, Amy chose to put 7-foot beaded board planks directly over the textured original.  Great look -- and a solution ($3 a square foot) that doesn't break the bank.  It sounds like all you need to do is to find trusses or ceiling joists where you can nail or screw in the planks. Perhaps you could use some kind of adhesive to help with the hold?  I bet someone at Lowes or Home Depot could say....  What do you think?  Isn't it a good idea for even those ceilings -- sans popcorn -- that might need added personality?

This is the Before shot of Amy's room. The beaded board certainly adds character, don't you think?

Her window seat in the dining area.

If you'd like to read and see more, go here to BGH to read "A Blah to Beautiful Living Room Makeover." All photos above are from Better Homes and Garden magazine. (p.s. Amy had a girl, who now enjoys two brothers.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Godiva Chocolate Chandelier!! Plus, my book winner...

Delicious! That's the word that came to mind when I saw this chandelier -- all but the lights and wiring were made from Godiva Chocolates:
Designers said the most difficult thing about creating the items for this TV set was stringing the chocolate beads for the chandelier. Wow.

Can't you just see it hanging above your dining room table all lit up?  When dessert is ready to be served, just lower it and allow your guests to indulge.... Larry Abel and Raymond McCallister of LarryAbelDesigns  designed this amazing piece of edible and functional art for Oprah Winfrey's TV set.  Here's the link to her show and more chocolate visions.  In case you can't wait, here are a few more I picked up to entice you:

Chess anyone? On a table made of the dark confection, of course!

A milk chocolate vase filled with a bouquet of white chocolate flowers.

Oprah (left) invites a few audience members to inspect the chocolate goblets.

When the show ended, Oprah invited the audience to come up and do some sampling. The designers said in their interview that the set shouldn't melt right away under the intense hot lights used to illuminate her stage. They expected it to last at least an hour under the circumstances....

Congratulations to Kay at cardinalkay!!  She won the design book that I offered as a giveaway, in celebration of my one-year blogging anniversary.  KAY:  Please send me an email with your mailing address. And thanks to all for dropping by....cheers.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Win this Design Book! Modern Farmhouse Gets Attention!

I celebrated my one-year, blog-posting anniversary this past week! My how time flies!  In celebration, I decided to share a design book that I've thoroughly enjoyed. Just leave a comment below, as a form of entry into this Giveway. You have until this Monday (Feb. 22) at midnight. I will draw a name and make the announcement on Tuesday.  Either leave me your email or link to your blog -- or come back on Tuesday (Feb. 23) to see if you're the winner.  I know some of you are familiar with this great big book. It's called Downtown Chic  by Robert and Cortney Novogratz.  I reviewed the book here . 
Popular retro-modern Texas farmhouse

More people over the past year, it seems, wanted to see this retro-modern farmhouse, which I posted last May. Check it out now , if you'd like to see or re-visit it.

From Downtown Chic

Thank you so very much for visiting my blog now and during the past year!   I also want to give a great big thanks to Joni at Cote de Texas for sharing blog tips. So kind. I appreciate it.  Please leave a comment to enter the design book giveaway!  See ya again on Tuesday. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our Remodeled Galveston Beach Cottage

Come on in!  Our 4-year-old red-tri Aussie, Sam, is at the gate ready to say hello.
Since it's winter now, this hibiscus isn't showing off its beautiful yellow blooms -- yet. We recycled the plants the previous homeowner had planted. We placed this one and its sisters along the parameters of the property; they had been up against the house blocking the window views. (I'll show the yard and screened porch another time when weather permits.) We also carved out this red-brick walkway, using the pavers from the back patio (a space we took to construct a master bedroom).  Our "little white picket fence" is actually 5 feet tall in front and then as it circles the house heightens to 6 feet -- done that way to meet city code requirements.

We actually completed our remodeling journey about 2 1/2 years ago.  I posted a little something about our house last spring when Remodel magazine featured our cozy cottage in its May issue.  (I'm in the magazine biz, so I encouraged people, as I always do, to go buy a copy in support of the industry.)  
Needless to say, we love our seaside place and have been enjoying a winter escape from Colorado.  It's a great place to gather with friends. In fact, you'll see some Mardi Gras beads scattered about along with a few margarita glasses (smile) in some of these photos.  Oh, to take a look at the crowd on the island -- click here -- this past weekend; all 5,000 hotel rooms were booked)!  Just recently, I thought I'd post our Before photos (click)  as well as a peek inside during the remodeling process (click). 

We painted the walls light blue, and the molding and baseboards (which we added) a crisp white.  We purchased new furniture for this house since our previous chairs and sofas were too large for the space. I looked high and low for this trim Robin Bruce sofa to sit in this spot.  I had it upholstered in a Sunbrella fabric -- brown with white pin stripes.  Discontinued Pottery Barn cane chairs sport cotton covers I had made.  I didn't originally include mauve in the color palette; it just evolved.  I'm already thinking about recovering the cubes (click). Perhaps in a white or off-white canvas -- ?  And I'm thinking about layering the seagrass rug with a striped cotton rug by Dash and Albert (which I plan to carry in our store, The Green Plum).    I don't want a lot more pattern but figured it might work if I change out the cube slipcovers.  A recent dhurrie post by Joni at Cote de Texas (click) (you may need to scroll down in Joni's post but, lucky you, you'll get a few treats along the way) inspired the thought to add a soft striped pastel rug. What do you think of those ideas? 

I'm adding a shot of this old green desk because Vicky over at Room Service -- Decorating 101 wondered what graced all of our table tops (click) . Well, here you go . . . collected shells, books and a couple of Buddhas (the large one I picked up at an antique show in Boerne, Texas, and the other one was purchased while visiting friends in Holland).  I have a blue cashmere throw (love it!) folded over an old chair from Galveston's famous or shall I say infamous Baliense Room (click) (which Hurricane Ike sadly took 1 12/ years ago).

I selected this shot to show because you can see a hint of the original red brick chimney (to the left). The chimney inspired us to choose old Chicago brick for the stove backsplash.  Think it offers nice continuity.  We placed beaded board in the rest of the area.

The color on the open cabinets is a blue-green shade. The color in the previous photo is probably more accurate. The floors are painted white.  I happened to have this jute rug to place down, but I think a striped Dash and Albert one might be better, don't you?

Yep, the cabinets look blue here, but they actually have more green to them. As you see, our whole area is an open-concept plan (aka "American style"). Rather than stick with the original four rooms, we opened up in order to live and entertain maximally.  (It's a small place!)

Our favorite place to be . . . and Sam's, too!  The window seat.  I carted that large fish under the table all around Guadalajara, Mexico -- until it landed here. As you can begin to tell, we decorate using our travel finds.  They all remind of us of times with friends, which we treasure. 

Not really a beautiful shot but it shows where everything is. The countertop is soapstone.
The pantry is where I'm standing, to the right, and the utility closet is to the left.

Our guest room. The white bedding is Eileen Fisher. Found the bedframes at an antique shop in New Orleans. 

Just a look back to the hall way. We placed a berber in the bedrooms, since we picked up the wood floors in here to use in the kitchen and utility areas.

The full bath. We added a half; you can see how they connect through the mirror.
Thanks for coming by. See you back here again on a sunny day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mardi Gras in Galveston

My daughter took this photo with her phone.  A fun time on the island.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Vote for Your Favorite Designer and Win Chance at Custom Room Design

When Traditional Home asked for the name of a young interior designer -- under the age of 40 -- whose talent deserved recognition, I had mentioned Houston's own Julie Dodson.  Julie, 34, did make Trad Home's "to watch" list on page 17 in the March issue. She's among the 20 young men and women who are definitely making traditional hip, clean and elegant.  Among those cities represented: New York, Washington, DC, Houston, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Baltimore, San Francisco,  Dallas, Atlanta, Knoxville, Little Rock, Portland and Cedar Rapids.  You can also meet the designers online.  Vote for your favorite and win a chance at receiving a custom room design utilizing Duralee Fabrics (the sponsor of the contest). Wouldn't it be grand if someone in the blogging community won?!!  Check it out, if you like.  Let me know what you think.  In the meantime, meet Julie :

Julie favors French furniture, a cleaned-up traditional look, comfy down sofas, and color palettes of soft blue-grays, creams and whites .... A peek into this dining room reveals a sophisticated taste for color:
Here are a few more rooms she's designed:

What do you think of Julie's work? And what about the others? Who are some of your favorite under-40 designers?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Aspen Mountain Home: 13 Things to Love.

This cozy 2,500-square-foot English-inspired country home is located in Aspen, Colorado . I drove in for a visit via Independence Pass from the east side of the Rockies on a beautiful August day. Colorful flowers spilled from window boxes snuggled close to the sides the houses. That's all it took, to be honest, to make me fall in love with this bustling mountain "village."  This is the house I went to see:
The first thing I noticed and loved about this house is the wonderful blue shading on the shutters and window mullions. Secondly, I like the shingled wood siding. Thirdly, the unpretentious architecture seemed to extend a warm invitation to stop.
And, of course, the fourth reason why I love this house:

Beautiful window boxes!  I want to find a place for these lovelies at my own house. 

I like its easy and warm style. It's not a "decorated" look, which seems to always pull me in.

I love sitting at a desk with a wonderful outdoor view. Plus, for me, there's something rather nostalgic and charming about the old wicker chair.  

I love a covered yet open porch accessible from various areas of the house (in this case, the master and living-dining areas). Here's another shot:


I like an open-concept kitchen that flows into other living areas of a casual home. It's nice to promote conversation and participation when you have people visit. 

Love a window at the sink -- that opens!

An outdoor fireplace!  This one is on the back porch, which you might have noticed in one of the photos above. It's a dual fireplace, meaning it's usable from the living room as well. 

Not too shabby when a fresh-water creek flows through your own backyard -- just steps from the back porch.

A sweet guest room embraced by casual white-painted clapboard walls. Pretty and simple -- with a window that opens!

Love the fact that they collected willow branches from their land to construct part of the railing. Rustic charm -- and a unexpected conversation piece. 

Did you enjoy the visit as well?  What do you think? 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Remodeling Our Galveston Beach Cottage: Six Ideas to Share

Our Before (top) and After Floor Plans:

I would like to share what I think made our beach cottage renovation successful:

1. We trusted our instincts.  If there is no architectural or historic significance to or in a space, have the courage to tear down walls and remove previously added decorative items  to suit your own tastes (i.e. we removed a tin ceiling the previous owner installed in one area of the house).  If in doubt as to what to remove or do, ask an architect, a respected renovator, an architectural historian at a college, or someone from your local historic preservation alliance to come take a look, to give you feedback.

This space above was taken where the old kitchen was. Walls removed.

2. We considered the neighborhood. We took note of the surrounding houses primarily because we didn't want to overbuild or make our renovations inconsistent with the surrounding style. I think this is an important consideration should you ever want to sell the property; you want to get your money back -- or some of it anyway.

We wanted to simplify the porch is what I meant to say in that cutline above.

3. We talked to people. In determining what and how much we would do to this house, we invited a few professionals inside before we did anything. One fellow suggested that this old house might have a chimney hidden within the wall between the living and kitchen space.  We did see the top of a chimney in the attic so we were hopeful. And when it came time to tear down the wall, we instructed caution. Our reward was finding an intact original brick chimney that probably serviced an old cook stove.  We know love having that architectural feature.

As a visual reminder, this was the BEFORE to the space above:

4.  We hired professionals sensitive to what we want to accomplish. McDaniel Construction Company took the extra step to have our bungalow declared a historic property by the Galveston Historic Foundation . GHF  then submitted our application to the state of Texas.  This was a biggie, as it allowed us to re-use the 1920 wood and glass windows in the newly constructed areas of the house (see floorplan).  Otherwise, we would have had to install new windows and compromised the look we wanted.  Additionally, this declaration allows us to replace windows with old ones even now should they ever be destroyed during a hurricane.  
5.  We recycled materials. As you can see with the floorplan, we took space from a small closet to add a half bath, which connects to the renovated full bath.  We reused an old door found elsewhere in the house as a pocket door, which slides inside the wall between the half and full baths. Pocket doors are great space savers!  We took the living room windows, which looked out onto a small brick patio, and placed one in the bathroom, rebuilt for stability reasons. We installed the other two in the newly constructed master bedroom space.  We wanted carpet in the bedrooms so the McDaniel group harvested the wood flooring in the bedrooms to install in the kitchen space, front door entry and new utility area, which previously had Linoleum floors.  We also reused the red brick pavers on the back patio where we had our new bedroom space constructed.  We had someone carve out a front walkway using the recycled brick.  When it came time to landscape, we had to remove some of the foliage (it was so overgrown), but we replanted much in more suitable areas. 
This is newly constructed space. The white doors here open to a small utility space. The front space is where our fridge now sits. Here's the Before space from a sightly different angle:

6. We maximized space. We wanted to achieve a smart use of space.  That's part of the reason we decided to open it all up. But we looked for storage opportunities, too. Like here (Before is below) :

I'll show more of what we did in my next post. Hope what I share here is useful to you or friends who want to do some remodeling or renovations.  See you soon. 
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