Design Detectives

Need a Craig-ervention?

Our house has reached it’s boiling point…it’s busting out at the seams…we are addicted to craigslist! I know I’m not alone out there, scouring the daily posts, amazed at some of the smokin’ deals people are posting.  But after this weekend I have come to the realization that you CAN have too much of a good thing.  After living in a furniture-free house for the first year, I think it’s gotten a little out of hand…


Backyard Yard-Sale


We moved all the furniture that has got to go, to the backyard because the living room couldn’t take any more.  I’ve been told we are a pair of…well, a hoarder and an enabler.  I’ll admit I can’t argue, so I’ll have to improve. New house rule…get rid of what you want to replace BEFORE you buy something to replace it.  In theory it sounds good…then you find these:


Club Chairs

I am seriously addicted to tufting.  Okay, new rule starts NOW!



Moving Up In The World

I love moving! Not many people share my enthusiasm, but I love all of it.  The packing of boxes always helps me purge items that I could never seem to let go of on my own.  If I don’t have the energy to pack it, it shouldn’t make the trip. The actual excuse for exercise in moving box from house to truck, and truck to house. I have moved a lot, and learned that one box at a time is perfectly acceptable…slow and steady wins the race. And the excitement of having a fresh slate and new spaces to be inspired (and stumped) by. My current residence is the longest in my history, of living in one place (except my childhood home). Through my years in college and after I lived in a total of 9 different houses/apartments/dorms, and all of them were so different and created great challenges in my design. Imagine moving from a 780 sf apartment on your own, to a 160 sf bedroom with a roommate.  Talk about your lessons in downsizing and storage options! Well all this is leading up to Little Sister moving into her very first ‘home’. Not a dorm.  Not a sorority house.  Not an apartment (although she had a great one). A house with a yard and individual rooms!

From what I remember, back when we first moved into the house, it can take some time to have enough furniture to fill it.  I know how tempting the desire is, to run out and buy all new furniture and accessories to fill your house…but tread carefully there.  First, make sure you can afford it. Ain’t no deal like a craigslist deal. And second, what’s the rush? Big deal, so a few of your friends may judge you, and when you have company over you may have to use outdoor furniture for dinner (2 Easters in a row at our house!), and it may take a year before you finally cover up the concrete subfloor with your Costco snap-and-click laminate (carpet HAD to go before move-in). I feel like I am still trying to find my sense of style, and by slowly adding pieces over time, I don’t feel the urge to make a complete 180 and design the opposite direction.  I do recollect that each place I have lived, has had a particular ‘theme’.

Dorms – Red Gingham Bedding and yellow accents First year of interior design school…don’t judge me yet.

Friends House – Beachy; blues, greens with white-washed furniture and white bed linens.

Same Friends House, Part II – White bed linens, white-painted furniture with Victoria’s Secret pink striped tissue paper decoupaged on the drawers

First Solo Apartment – Red accessories and still white bed linens Poor college student decor and camping chairs in living room

Sorority House – Country Denim, red check, raffia and very little space

Apartment in Italy – IKEA and luggage

Solo Apartment as College Graduate – Vintage/Retro Kitchen and living area with red appliances, antique table and neutral khaki furniture…tropical bed linens from target. Can you tell it’s still a work in progress?

Buchanan Sofa

Current House – Under negotiation Trying to mix love of french and antiques, with old world and Tuscan style. It might sound easy, but the colors palettes are hard to agree on!

So back to Little Sister, who sent me some key elements that she would like for her bathroom. Great to have a place to start! A waffle weave shower curtain from Target, and Pottery Barn guest towels.  She has a great impressionist piece of artwork also, of a boat on water, so can you tell where this color scheme is headed?

Product Image Home Waffle Weave Shower Curtain - Light BlueGrand Embroidered Washcloth, Dark Porcelain Blue

Learning towards ‘beachy’ colors, there are so many directions one can go.  For example:

Beach Themes

Which direction would you head toward?

Witch of You Can be a Decor Wizard?

When browsing through catalogs, are you often in awe of the creative vignettes that showcase the product so effortlessly?  Do you wish your front entry could be picture perfect, warm and welcoming.  Do you hope that your fireplace mantle be the show stopping masterpiece of your family room? Do you try, in vain, to come up with brilliant and unique ways to display absolutely all your accessories perfectly?

Who is up for a challenge?!

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then let’s kill ’em with kindness.  Find your favorite furniture or accessories catalog (ahem…Pottery Barn for me) and choose a ‘showcase’ picture.  A table scape, a dining room hutch, a master bedroom headboard, what ever floats your boat. Then try to recreate it for a fraction of the price.  Need an example, check out this creepy, cozy set-up:

Pottery Barn Table Top

Let’s get a run down of the cost for this little set-up, shall we? (From left to right)

  • Metal-Clad Pillar Holder (Small) – $39.00
  • PB Pillar Candle (3×6) – $6.00
  • Voluminous Glass Canister (Medium) – $59.00
  • Spiders (Set of 6, Large) – $29.00
  • Spiders (Set of 6, Medium) – $24.00
  • Voluminous Glass Canister (Small) – $54.00
  • Chalkboard Pebbles – $16.00
  • Metal-Clad Pillar Holder (Large) – $79.00
  • PB Pillar Candle (4×8) – $19.00
  • Metal-Clad Pillar Holder (Medium) – $59.00
  • Voluminous Glass Vase (Medium)  – $39.00
  • PB Hand Dipped Tapers – $10.00

And that brings our grand table top total to: $433.00 Can you believe it?  It is really beautiful, and spooky at the same time.  Do you think you could make it for $40…or really challenge yourself and do it for $20?  Send me your before and after pictures and share your inspirations. If you need a kick getting your creative juices flowing, here are some more pics to browse.

Pottery Barn - Counting Crows

Martha Stewart - Glitter Galore Pumpkins

Beware the Creepy Crawlers

The last shot is one the ideas that is inspiring me, and I can’t wait to start! October is really here, so Halloween can officially begin.

Can You Ever Have Too Much Style?

I have learned that everyone has a their own opinion about style.  Which usually means  everyone has an opinion about YOUR style. too.  We are all guilty of this, so don’t feel like the cheese standing alone out there.  When you visit someone’s house, you are secretly taking inventory of some of the great pieces of decor they have.  And silently (remember to be polite) noting things that you would never in a million years want in your home.  I use to be of the notion that I had narrowed down my own style, and now I find myself shocked when something completely out of the ordinary strikes my fancy.  At first, I ignored ideas and pieces that I didn’t think ‘belonged’ in my style zone.  But then I allowed myself to let my style be ever-changing and growing.  Art Deco has always been one of my favorite periods of design, but I am falling in love with French inspired pieces, and love the charming Cottage style.  What’s a girl to do but…have it all!

I was pointed in the direction of a Style Test by Struggling to be Stylish (aren’t we all?) from Ethan Allan. The results of my choices reveal that my style is “Estate”

The verdict is in—your style is Estate. Estate is an eternal American summer. Sporty. Charming. Breezy yet cultivated. A union of antique inspiration and geometric clarity. Civilization in peaceful coexistence with robust outdoor life. In the main house or the guest cottage, effortless elegance.

BINGO! And just to test the accuracy of the results (and see if there were any other neat pictures), I took the test 3 more times.  Same outcome with each run.  It really does accurately depict my style…and in very few words.  I don’t know that I would have been able to describe my tastes to succinctly.

Ethan Allen - Beachwood Room

~love the wall stripes and the chair~

Ethan Allen - Southport Room

~beautiful wall treatment and cabriole legs~

The site gurus also noted that I might like their “Villa” style (of course I do) and took me to even more great ideas.

Romance reinvented. A high-end “decorator” look. Refined without fuss. Serene yet strong. Pedigreed while also modern. Inspired by French and Scandinavian design. A mingling of carved woods. handcrafted artisanship, and the dressmaker detail.

Ethan Allen - Verdigris Room

~elegantly, calming upholstery and natural accessories~

Did your quiz results produce any truths about your style?  Aren’t quizzes fun!

A New Direction

How do you find your personal design style? You search for things that inspire you, motivate you and that send your imagination into overdrive.  When it comes to your design style, you can be influenced by everything from the clothes you wear, to the music you listen to.  And there is no rule that you can’t mix and match! At the home of someone always styling high-fashion clothes you might find a collection of country chic furnishings.  And the classic polo and denim soul, might be lying low in their ultra modern loft. You are not bound by the laws of design to choose one style, and one style only.  You personal style comes from bringing together ALL of the things you love.  

Taste is relative and is the sum total of the intellectual and emotional experiences of the individual experiences of the individual. Taste, in order to be positive and vital, must be exercised and developed. Taste is changeable and is influenced by environment. A highly cultivated taste, a taste that is knowledgeable and eclectic, is likely to be exciting and provocative, a personal taste at its highest level.  

-Eleanor Brown, The Finest Rooms by America’s Great Decorators


How do I find mine?  I am learning that it is not like a homework assignment with a due date.  It can be ever-changing, and that is part of the fun. If you feel like you need a jumping off point take style quiz at Sproost and see what moves you.  

My Style Results


In looking at the styles I gravitate toward, I can see why I was so excited about the success of my first “Sprucing” project.