Category Archives: Design

Top 5 most common design mistakes

I get these types of questions all the time! The plan was to post my top 10, but 5 proved to be packed with lots of information that’s sure to get your wheels spinning! So let’s dive right in, shall we?
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#1. Mounting draperies too low. I’ll start out by saying that “it’s not your fault.” This is a design industry problem. Most stores only stock a standard 84″ drapery length. This is slowly changing, but still a big issue! Take a look at the below sketch. The #1 tip I tell people is to mount your drapes from floor to ceiling! This one tip will make such a huge difference in your home and will make your space look 10 times larger! Most high-end companies stock these lengths, but for a less expensive option IKEA is my go-to. They stock many options up to 120″ in length, and for a low price.

#2. Tchotchkes — too much stuff on your bookshelf or table! A space filled with 10+ small objects can look cluttered and disorganized. If you would like to display small items, try pairing one or two things with a large statement piece. It will better showcase what you’re trying to display. Notice the variation of height in the below photo. This helps to add interest and is pleasing to the eye. Don’t be afraid of LARGE decorative items. They provide for a cleaner, more high-end look!

#3. Small picture on a large wall. Unless you’re going for the ultra-modern art gallery look, stay away from this common mistake. Don’t be afraid of the large mirror or artwork. I usually choose the largest option when faced with an artwork size dilemma. A great way to use your smaller photos is to group them together to create a gallery wall look. Like this example:

#4. Fear of color. You should never be afraid of anything when designing a space! Choose what you love! I’m not saying that you have to use bright colors. I, for one, prefer a neutral, grey-toned pallet with color accents that can easily be switched out — such as pillows or flowers. But if you love the look of a red wall…go for it! It’s your space, and it’s just paint! :)

#5. Poor lighting. Proper lighting can transform a space from drab to fab! To adequately light a space, you need to think about lighting all levels of your room. Most rooms have a center ceiling fixture, which just isn’t enough. Think about adding canned lighting and/or track lighting to accent artwork on a feature wall. In addition, you’ll want to choose lamps or task lights for more specific directional light. A proper combination of all of the above will help you achieve that model-home look as seen in magazines.

Lots of love,
Mary

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Kitchen Makeover 1.2 – Painting the Cabinets

Well Hello there! Let me say a belated Merry Christmas to you and Happy New Year! I’m feeling so much better now and almost out of the woods. Still ridiculously tired… but that comes with the pregnancy territory.

Continuing with my Kitchen Makeover series, I have a few more tips and lessons learned to share with you regarding the cabinet painting process. To view the first two posts of this series click, 1. Kitchen Reveal, and, 2. Kitchen Makeover 1.1.
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Using a Paint Sprayer:
Click here for a link to the spray gun that I purchased by recommendation of the employees at my local hardware store. They said it was the best one they had on the lower end scale and considering that I’m not a professional house painter and only need the gun for my home DIY projects, I was told that I didn’t need anything more heavy duty than this. You’ll need to practice on cardboard or scrap wood before going for your cabinets. It takes a little bit to get used to the gun and make the right adjustments. The only downside that I found to this sprayer was that it needed to be cleaned out very frequently or the paint starts to clump a little bit. Not sure if this is a common problem with other sprayers, but it’s an issue that I ran into. Other than that, it did a fine job.

Caulking:
One of the most important tips that I will give you for this project is to CAULK YOUR SEAMS/CRACKS! It seems like such a little thing to mention, but I’m telling you it makes such a huge difference. Caulking properly will give your cabinets the finished and more high-end look opposed to a cheep job. After you paint that first coat, you will notice every seem and crack will start to show. I would recommend that you get a paintable, kitchen/bath caulk and fill every seem, including where the cabinet meets the wall.

Hardware:
Sometimes just adding hardware alone can update your kitchen to a more polished complete look. And you don’t have to spend a lot to get the WOW factor! I found my hardware at Ikea (link here) for a fraction of the cost that I would have spend at my local hardware store. Even if price wasn’t an option, I think the look of the Ikea hardware was the best choice. Since I was working with existing cabinetry that didn’t reflect the modern styling that I prefer, I chose a very contemporary long and squared-off hardware handle. This added a modern effect and enabled me to almost camouflage the traditional shape of the cabinets. The stainless steel on the hardware complemented the existing appliances and the contemporary backsplash.kitchenreveal4

In my last post of this series, you may remember my little rant about the irritating “paint dust” that comes with the use of a spray gun. Since that post, a more experienced friend of mine told me a tip to solve that problem. It sounds like common sense to me now, but sometimes we need be told the answers! Basically, tape your clear plastic drop cloth to the ceiling and drape down to create a “wall” border around your work area… thus no paint dust escaping to the rest of your home. Why didn’t I think of that? Genius I tell you!

Now that my cabinets are painted, I absolutely love them and I’m so so happy that I did it… despite all the hard work! Your wondering now if you should tackle this project yourself or hire a professional? I guess it depends on who you are. I am not a perfectionist, so this was a “good enough” result for me. The finish is smooth and it looks good both from a distance and close-up. But if you start to really look and inspect the paint job, you will find imperfections (which is okay for me). If your a type-A personality, you may want to hire a professional. I seriously got to the point where I just wanted it done and didn’t want to spend another dime on paint. Next up in this series, I’ll be sharing the details of backsplash installation!

Check out all the posts in the Kitchen Makeover series!

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Lots of love,
Mary

Interior Design – Are you stuck?

Since I started this blog, a little over a year ago, I’ve gotten numerous inquiries and requests regarding interior design services. I’ve had to turn folks down because I just haven’t had the time to offer a complete service through execution. After some thought, I’ve decided that what I can do is offer a consultation service.

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source: http://www.hgtv.com/designers-portfolio/room/transitional/living-rooms/2337/index.html#/id-7832/room-living-rooms/designer-4294964450

Would you like your home to look like the photos you see in a magazine? Where the lighting is perfect, the colors flow, and the furniture placement just seems to work? But you don’t know where to start, right?

Or maybe you’d like to work with what you have, on a minimal budget, but you need a little help with furniture placement, color selection, etc.

I have two package options available:

Design Consultation Package A – $100
A one hour consultation in your home answering questions, helping with color selection, etc. This package is available to customize to your needs. This could be design advice for one room or tips through your entire home. We can move furniture and work with what you already have in your home, or I can assist and answer questions regarding a complete design plan including color selection, furniture, lighting, drapery, etc.

Design Consultation Package B – $175
A one hour consultation in your home with complete design plan portfolio for one room. During this service we will sit down and first identify your ideal design style, wants, and needs for the specific room that you choose. We will talk about a complete plan from floor to ceiling including everything from paint selection, fabric options, window coverings, furniture choice and placement, rugs, lighting, etc. Within one week of your consultation, I will provide you with a portfolio complete with floorplan, paint color samples and photos so that you have everything you need to execute your design.

If you’re interested in one of these consultation packages, send me an email (link on sidebar), and I will be happy to schedule an appointment time or answer any questions you may have. I’m located in the East Valley of the Metro Phoenix area, and  am unable to travel outside of this general location. Services are available in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and Queen Creek. Please inquire if you have any questions at all!

Lots of love,
Mary

Kitchen Makeover 1.1 – Painting the Cabinets

This is kind of a funny story… you see I had thought that this was going to be a Saturday project. Bahahahahahahhahaha! Yeah, a few weeks ago I wasn’t laughing so much, more like crying! Just being honest with ya’ll! But am I glad that I did it? YES! If your thinking of painting your kitchen cabinets, just know that it is a big job. There are so many different tutorials out there and so many different ways to do it, how do you know where to start? Well, I’m going to share my experience with you complete with all the mistakes and successes. Feel free to comment or email me if you have any specific questions that haven’t been covered.

Last week I revealed my before and after photos of the complete kitchen makeover. To read the entire article and view additional photos, click here.

Before:
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After:
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After viewing and considering many online tutorials, I decided to use one that I found on Pinterest detailing instructions from a professional cabinet maker. This tutorial was posted by allthingsthrifty.com. Click on the below photo for the Pinterest link which links back to the specific cabinet tutorial.

Source: allthingsthrifty.com via Mary – on Pinterest

This tutorial is very detailed and extremely helpful! Things you should know that I didn’t expect:

1. The paint that is suggested (pre-catalyzed lacquer) was not easy to find. At least in my area, none of the local hardware stored carried this product. I had to drive 30+min to one of the larger Dunn-Edwards Paint Supply stores to find it. And be prepared because it is expensive – about $75 per gallon for the tinted lacquer and about $50 per gallon for the clear lacquer!

2. Prep-work takes longer than the actual painting process! I kind of knew this going in, but wasn’t expecting how much longer the prep-work would actually take. Remember, I thought this was going to be done in just one Saturday? Well, two days into the project, I was finally done with all the prep-work and ready to paint.

3. I totally underestimated the size of my kitchen. In addition to what’s pictured in my before/after photos, there is also a desk nook space and double sided butlers nook in the kitchen hallway area. Also, I decided to paint under the island the same white color in addition to all the interiors of the cabinets. Lets just say I went through way way too many gallons of paint. That was unexpected in both the budget and time spent category.

4. When using a paint sprayer, be prepared for the “paint dust” that gets EVERYWHERE! I was not ready for this. The kitchen area was well taped off and drop cloths covered every exposed area of the floor. Sounds good right? Nope! When painting, even with all the windows open, dust covered every exposed inch of the downstairs level of our home. This meant that I had to deep clean everything after the project was complete. And since this project took way longer than expected, it was a bit of an inconvenience during that period, to say the least. Not to worry, this “dust” doesn’t stick like paint — it’s just a little irritating.

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So why did I choose this process over all the other tutorials out there? Well, I wanted to do it right! There probably are quicker ways to paint your cabinets, but I was going for the professional look. I’ve seen painted cabinets where you can tell that someone picked up a brush and painted them themselves, but I didn’t want my cabinets to look cheap or hand-done. Also, since I was going for a modern clean styling, it made the process a bit more difficult because it had to look “perfect”. Normally, when I paint vintage furniture pieces, I work with the imperfections and bring out the beauty of each piece with distressing techniques, etc. This was totally different in that the style I was going for did not allow for distressing so the imperfections had to be hidden and not revealed. Does that make sense? If you want more of the shabby or antiqued look on your kitchen cabinets, the process should be a lot easier than whats detailed here and you may be able to get away with a different/less-expensive paint to achieve the look you desire.

This post is getting to be a bit long and I don’t want to overwhelm you. I’ll share more tips with you on another day. I understand that I’ve been sharing a lot of the “negatives” with you thus far and I absolutely don’t want to discourage you from this process, but rather inform you so that you know what your getting into and can be more prepared than I was. I will leave you with this: I LOVE MY KITCHEN! And yes, I would do it again!

Check out all the posts in the Kitchen Makeover series!

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Lots of love,
Mary

Floe – A Vintage Transitional Dresser

Hello Friends! Two nights ago I was up late and had the urge to paint something… I think I was up till like 1am, which is so not normal for me. Once I got started, I just couldn’t stop until it was complete. I’m so glad I finished! Not to get all artsy on everyone, but I didn’t have to think about how I was going to paint this dresser — It just sort of came to me! Introducing Floe:

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I was going to stop naming my furniture pieces, but what fun is that? She just looks like a Floe to me. This mid-century modern dresser has really good bones and the classic modern straight-line shape. Check her out before:
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Please try to ignore the surroundings (my pile of thrift store finds from the day). Yes, that owl is ugly now, but just wait till I’m done with him! :)

I used one coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the color Provence, distressed, and applied a heavy coat of dark wax. Generally, I’m told that you’re only supposed to apply dark wax after you have applied a base coat of clear wax. Well, sometimes I like to break the rules! And I don’t think that art should have any rules right? You just have to play with it and experiment with different colors. I’ve tried this with a white before and it turned out terribly wrong. This time – A big win!
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I only used one base coat because I wanted a lot of the wood undertones to show and I planned on distressing a lot! Since this piece has such straight simple lines, I decided to stencil a design onto the front and leave off the hardware (notice the handle grooves under each drawer). This adds just enough interest and maintains the modern styling since the stencil print is so large.floetransitionaldresser4

I used a paint I already had in the garage (A custom mix in the navy family), and offset the pattern slightly. The stencil is from Royal Design Studio and titled “Large Fabric Damask”. It can be purchased here.
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After painting the stencil design, it was then distressed again, finished with Annie Sloan Dark Wax, then AS Clear Wax. Floe is a feminine, beautiful, classy, vintage masterpiece and I love her!

I’ve posted this piece on craigslist here.
Lots of love,
Mary

linked up here:
Furniture Feature Fridays

DIY Centerpieces

If you are one of the fabulous ladies from the San Tan Bible women’s ministry, you’ll recognize these photos! This past summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to design this year’s centerpieces for our church’s weekly women’s ministry meetings. I truly LOVE doing things like this and was excited to get started.

In an attempt to keep the budget as low as possible, I began to search the web for DIY inspiration. Again with the chalkboard paint, anything is possible! Simple boards cut to size from the hardware store, framed out with painters tape and painted. These can seriously be used and reused in so many ways! I purchased the yellow polka-dot fabric to add that pop of color, and incorporated a cut square of striped wall paper that was actually a thrift store find from a few months ago.
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Real mercury glass is expensive! But luckily, clear mason jars are not! Especially if you get them at Hobby Lobby on a day when glassware is 50% off! Just type “mercury glass” into the Pinterest search field and you will literally stumble upon a dozen tutorials. They all basically give the same instructions. 1. Lightly spray the inside of your glassware with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. 2. Lightly spray the inside with “looking glass spray paint”. 3. Wait to dry. 4. Repeat until you get your desired look.
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The natural elements of the wood block as well as the twine add just enough warmth to make it all work. I’m really happy with them and can already think of a million ways to recycle each piece of this project when the year ends… it’s just in me!
Lots of love,
Mary

Daddy’s Day Surprise

Happy Fathers Day to all daddies out there! We had the best day enjoying time with our little ones. Adi helped me make a cake for my husband and I was able to pull off a surprise project for his office. I’m so excited to show you!

Have you heard about the $5.00 engineers print that Staples offers in their print department? I got my inspiration from Pinterest here:

Basically, I took the kids outside with their “I Heart Daddy” chalkboard sign and took some photos. The same day, I sent my photo to the local staples copy center and ordered the engineers print in 3’x4′. The print was ready in minutes.

I then had a thin light-weight board cut to size at home depot. A little wood stain, adhesive spray, and mod podge later and voila!

Daniel LOVES it and now he has a large statement piece for his office at work. We’re sure to get some looks when we haul it into the office! Maybe we’ll hang it after hours… hmmm.

Hope your day was as lovely as ours was!

Lots of love,
Mary