Laurel Street Blog

Archive for February 2009

Look at these beautiful plates!

Look at these beautiful plates!

Like everyone else, I’m crazy for Etsy.com. Not only is the site filled with so many great hand-crafted objects and vintage finds, it’s a nice community site and every seller I’ve come across is thoughtful and creative.

I also love the emails the editors send out regularly that highlight great finds… they never stay in my inbox unopened for long. A few weeks ago, one of these emails featured a seller who caught my eye. When browsing her etsy shop and saw this set of three gold & black honey bee plates… there is no other word for it: I pounced!

In fact, there were so many other wonderful finds in the MadoniaBotanicals shop, I had to use great restraint to stick to my budget and just get the plates. Louise, the seller, has wonderful taste. In fact she’s got a few new things in the shop today… and I’m having to apply my restraint again.

Originally designed note cards from Louise

Originally designed note cards from Louise

But I must say, the plates are even better than that they looked in the store, and Louise packaged them in a beautiful presentation. When I opened the box this morning, the plates were all wrapped up in a pretty silken scarf, along with two thoughtful notecards of her own design and a fun little glass ornament.

In New Orleans we call that “Lagniappe,” which means a little something extra. It was a wonderful touch. Compared to the perfunctory packages I’ve received from eBay-ers over time, thoughtful Etsy sellers really stand out.

Little images I scanned and put in ready-made frames several years ago

Little images I scanned and put in ready-made frames several years ago. Nothing special.

Honey bees have a new home!

Honey bees have a new home!

Here are some other items I’m loving today in Louise’s MadoniaBotanicals shop – she’s having an art sale today!

Set of Fern Botanical Prints

Set of Fern Botanical Prints

Vintage Original Bird Painting

Vintage Original Bird Painting

And look at these wonderful pillows and prints Louise makes – all inspired by that great tropical Florida foliage:

Pokeweed on Hold Slip Cover

Pokeweed on Hold Slip Cover

Green Alligator

Green Alligator Pillow

Botanical Notecards

Botanical Postcards

Since we rarely have sleepover guests, our second bedroom was a bit overwhelmed with beds, dressers and two computer areas (one Mac, one PC).

Richard’s big-box particle board desk had collapsed during the move (pictured below, it is standing upright due only to gravity) and I had been working on the same tiny 24″ x 30″ table since I was an undergrad. I had been cruising craigslist for a ‘find’ of a sleeper sofa, but after months of watching the boards, never saw one I trusted.

I had been considering putting one of the computers in an armoire, to close off some of the computer clutter in the room. I found a few candidates but the majority required a lot of unfolding of doors, top and bottom, shuffling around of chairs, and general awkwardness. They all seemed to be made for people who rarely use the computer.

So I kept looking for desks and along the way I bookmarked a rug, a chair, new lamps, and even a sofa. Before I knew it, I built the whole ‘study’ from scratch with my browser and had it all delivered to me piece by piece from a variety of different sources.

The Before Shot: One can barely squeeze between the bed & the desk

The Before Shot: One can barely squeeze between the bed & the desk

The After Shot: Open & Organized

The After Shot: Open & Organized

Richard’s new desk anchors the left wall with accompanying hutch and matching file drawers. I ordered these direct from Bush furniture for about $600 for the whole set. I loved the ‘Chinese’ armoire (via HomeDecorators.com) because the work surface just folded down. No fussy doors and keyboard drawers to mess with to instantly clean up the room.

Hey there's a Mac in there!

Hey there's a Mac in there!

The ‘Chinese’ computer armoire set set me off in a design direction. A comfy, clubby, well-traveled look was what I thought the room needed. Leopard print on the floor, the Chinese Chippendale desk chair from Ballard Designs (a bit of a splurge, but it was my birthday gift) and a very inexpensive (faux) leather ottoman rounded the room out.

The room was small, so of course I planned everything out to scale in Adobe Illustrator before I ordered anything…

Plan for Study

Plan for Study

The paint color is Ralph Lauren “Library Mahogany” after an expensive false step with a something that turned out too orange from Benjamin Moore. The drapes are white linen, from HalfPricedDrapes.com. I recommend them for price, but they messed my order up twice and I ended up waiting longer for them than anything else in the room, including the sofa (which took about 8 weeks to arrive). But I’m really happy with their product, they gave the room a great finished look for not much money.

Richard's Work Area (Complete with Napoleon Bust for When He is Conquering virtual worlds)

Richard's work area (Complete with Napoleon bust for inspiration when he is conquering virtual worlds)

View From the Door

View From the Door

This antique table had been hidden behind a sofa in the front room, I love that I can see it in full in the ‘study’ now. This fantastic lamp was a relief to find on super-duper sale from Horchow.com. I really struggled to find the perfect light for this spot.

The Antique Table

The Antique Table

And that’s it. The room went from one that we basically ‘passed through’ to one where we actually hang out.

And since I never tend to FINISH projects completely, there are a few things I need to get too. I want some bamboo shades to layer underneath the drapes… Bright morning sun will clobber you between 8-10 am. And maybe one day we’ll treat ourselves to a small flat screen TV  to go above my red desk, so we can watch from the sofa, but right now… I think we’re good.

This trio of end / coffee tables belonged to my grandmother. They are not fine antiques, in fact, they are made of very light wood and were originally covered in a speckled light walnut veneer. However, these tables have wonderful curvy French lines, nice bronze hardware and cream marble tops.

 

My "French" tables in a leather finish

My "French" tables in a leather finish. Sister, the Rat Terrier is holding court this morning on the sofa.

 

The veneer had been banged up pretty badly over the past few years so last spring I decided to paint them. In fact, I painted them three separate times over the course of three weekends. I wish I had taken pictures as each of the finishes were very successful, and each in their own way, very wrong.

 

The table 'before' was a speckled light walnut veneer from the 70's... not much in vogue these day. Richard and Ella are still in vogue, however.

The table 'before' was a speckled light walnut veneer from the 70's... not much in vogue these day. Richard and Ella are still in vogue, however.

 

First I painted the tables in a cream color, picked out from the base color of the marble tops. I wanted a light, garden feel… but the result was that the tables were just too ‘precious.’

Still working on that garden feel, I bought two colors of green, on dark, and one slightly lighter. I also bought hide glue to crackle the lighter green paint atop the darker green base, and a small jar of gilt paint to pick out the running groove detail on the edges to the tables. After a lot of experimentation, I mastered the crackle technique and the tables looked great. But they were all wrong for the room! The finish was just too ‘cottage-y’ as opposed to ‘antique.’ 

And so, I had to do the worst job in the world… strip the paint off to eliminate the texture and any remaining traces of hide glue. UGH. (ugh ugh ugh). 

The final finish was a win and was very, very easy and fast. It was also risky… it was a ‘solution in a can’ from Rustoleum and I was suspicious. But I thought, well after all this, why not?  And I was getting to the point I never wanted to see a paintbrush again. Their “Classic Leather Kit” was just a can of flat red spray paint and an antiquing glaze. I sprayed the furniture in two coats, allowed to dry, then applied the glaze with crumpled plastic bags from the grocery store. Done, done, done. 

But why all this now? I’m getting restless about them again! I’m loving all the Swedish painted furniture that is sweeping the interior design world… these little tables would lend themselves very well, I think to that look. I’ve been googling all over to try to find a technique to simulate the effect, but haven’t yielded many results. I have some ideas, though, and this book may be helpful (I have to wait to Mardi Gras is over before I can get to the bookstore, though. The parade routes have me pretty much hemmed in until Wednesday. I can’t even get to a grocery store!)

I’m thinking something like this effect… picture via JuliaFosterAntiques.com who also has a wonderful written history of the Swedish painted furniture over time on her Web site. 

Swedish Painted Chest via JuliaFosterAntiques.com

Swedish Painted Chest via JuliaFosterAntiques.com. I love the blue.

Or, perhaps like this beautiful painted armoire from the hand of  Mitchell Settoon, fellow New Orleans blogger  (OptimismAndWhitePaint) who specializes in painted finishes:

 

Armoire painted in country Swedish style - via MitchellSettoon.com

Beautiful armoire rendered in country Swedish style - by the hand of Mitchell Settoon.

I was playing around with a newly installed plug-in for Firefox, yesterday morning. SimilarWeb loads Web sites similar to the one you are browsing in a little sidebar in your browser. Since I love Wisteria so much, I was hoping to find more sites like it. SimilarWeb found the usual stuff, but on the fourth pane of results it turned up a fantastic new interior shopping site for me: WellDressedHome.com. The Well Dressed Home  ‘Main Collection‘ yielded some fantastic finds at great prices. Here’s a few things that caught my eye… some traditional, some fun:

French Farm Pillow: I love that this pillow is both elegant and rustic. For me, its just the amount of toile in my house.

French Farm Pillow: I love that this pillow is both elegant and rustic. Its neutral palette would work well in any traditional setting. The design almost has a 'heraldic' quality to it, almost a coat of arms. Love it.

Preserved Boxwood Wreath: The door to my dining room would look great with this preserved boxwood wreath, and would compliment anyone wanting a Swedish touch for a room. I might even hang it from a freestanding wreath hanger on a hutch, buffet or mantle. At $39.00 this is a steal!

Preserved Boxwood Wreath: The door to my dining room would look great with this preserved boxwood wreath, and would compliment anyone wanting a simple Swedish touch for a room. I might even hang it from a freestanding wreath hanger on a hutch, buffet or mantle. At $39.00 this is a steal!

The Closet Under Old Management (Previous Owners)

The closet under old management (previous owners). Click to see it it's full, magnificent hideousness.

I’m not griping, really. To have only one closet in the entire house, it’s fairly big. In fact, this single closet was added during the renovation in the 1980’s. Houses of this age in New Orleans rarely had built in closets as they were considered additional room and were taxed as such. Early New Orleanians and others in Louisiana made great use of freestanding wardrobes or chifferobes for storage (and still do!).

To begin,  I took measurements and made my drawings. Actually, I probably spend as much times on my drawings than I do in construction generally. I want to be completely satisfied on paper before I make my first move. Plus, a good drawing helps Richard visualize the finished project and gives him some confidence that getting dressed in the dining room for two weeks will pay dividends.

:-)

However, tidy little drawings on 8.5″x11″ paper make a project feel smaller in scale. When you hold the drawings in your hand, it can be a little misleading in regard to what will actually have to happen!

Original Closet Drawings

Original Closet Drawings

So, I unloaded the contents of the closet to the dining room, got my hammer and pry bar and started pulling out the old stuff. Only one original feature was to remain, the original handy man vertical ‘cubes’ that run up the wall by the closet door. Originally intended (I suppose) for shoes, it’s more convenient for us to store folded shirts and shorts, so I’ll build in new shoe storage (the narrow vertical shelving along the back wall of the closet.

The new shelves would all be trimmed in fascia for a custom, built in look. Looking back at the original drawings, I planned to finish the tops of the shelving with crown but once complete, (and due tho the extreme height of our closet) it was unnecessary. Also in these drawings I had wanted to apply some component wire pull-out shelves but I discovered most new modular closet components are built at least 14″ deep. I was working off existing components around 12″ deep. So in the final construction, I just replaced those with additional, standard shelves. Here’s how the project went – not my best photos, I just took them with my iPhone since it was always handy:

Starting Point - notice 'cubes' to the left of the photo

Starting Point - notice 'cubes' to the left of the photo

All old stuff ripped out, my one support board to frame the dressing area and divide the load of the shelves along the longest left wall has gone up.

All old stuff ripped out, my one support board to frame the dressing area and divide the load of the shelves along the longest left wall has gone up.

Cleats for shelving go up. Getting all the cleats on the wall took a lot longer than I thought. Actually, everything about this project took a little longer than I thought ;-)

Cleats for shelving go up. Getting all the cleats on the wall took a lot longer than I thought. Actually, everything about this project took a little longer than I thought ;-)

Carpet goes down. I had never done this before, and the space was very irregular. I had to measure & cut the irregular shape 'in reverse' on the back of the carpet. Actually pretty easy to do. .

Berber carpet goes down. I had never done this before, and the space was very irregular. I had to measure & cut the irregular shape 'in reverse' on the back of the carpet. Actually pretty easy to do.

All shelves are in. Yay! Looking like a closet now.

All shelves are in. Yay! Looking like a closet now.

Fascia goes on to finish the edges, giving a custom look.

Fascia goes on to finish the edges, giving a custom look.

Paint is complete. Ugh, I don't like painting much, especially trim. This closet is nothing but trim. The color is Ralph Lauren 'Galvanized.' I bought a can of semi-gloss white for the shelves, too, but I thought this look was sleeker.

Paint is complete. Ugh, I don't like painting much, especially trim. This closet is nothing but trim. The color is Ralph Lauren 'Galvanized.' I bought a can of semi-gloss white for the shelves, too, but I thought this look was sleeker. I joke that it looks like I created a little Banana Republic in my closet.

Two weekends later, we are no longer getting dressed in the dining room! The photo is not great, but I designed that tall open shelf on the back wall to hold a custom wired lamp from Crate and Barrell.

Two weekends later, we are no longer getting dressed in the dining room! The photo is not great, but I designed that tall open shelf on the back wall to hold a custom wired lamp from Crate and Barrel.

Medicine Cabinet (view from the back of the closet). This was a last minute brainstorm for the dressing area of the closet. I picked up one with a simple top moulding and nice beveled edge for about $80 and painted it in the 'Galvanized" brown color. Great for incidental storage in the dressing area to keep the counter clean.

Medicine Cabinet (view from the back of the closet). This was a last minute brainstorm for the dressing area of the closet. I picked up one with a simple top moulding and nice beveled edge for about $80 and painted it in the 'Galvanized" brown color. Great for incidental storage in the dressing area to keep the counter clean.

Louis (Louie) likes his new room. He hangs out in here during thunderstorms

Louis (Louie) likes his new room. He hangs out in here during thunderstorms.

Santa Maria Novellas potpourri

Santa Maria Novella's potpourri

In a recent “101 Quick Make-Overs” story on the House Beautiful site, a designer Jackie Terrell recommended this potpourri with a caveat: 

“I don’t use fragrance normally, but there’s nothing quite like Santa Maria Novella’s potpourri. People walk into the house and say, ‘Oh, what is that?’ It’s just incredibly clean and fresh.”

-Jackie Terrell

That got me thinking about all the scent solutions out there (many that I have given as gifts, but personally don’t use in my home). It’s funny, I would always like to walk in my front door and smell something fresh, clean, or stimulating. In fact, I’ve given countless spendy reeded scent diffusers as gifts, but never purchased one just for me. And I don’t light candles often, even a few deluxe models I’ve received as gifts.

Then, I came across this great post about DIY scented diffusers on ThisYoungHouse.com the other day. I loved the idea that I could make a diffuser myself, out of my own favorite fragrances, with things I have around the house.

DIY Scent Diffuser (via ThisYoungHouse.com)

DIY Scent Diffuser (via ThisYoungHouse.com)

I will definitely try this out, it’s a great idea.

However, right now I’m covered in the home scent department. Working on the living room, I ordered a new seagrass rug from NaturalAreaRugs.com to give the two front parlors and the dining room some parity (that giant, busy Persian number that was in there before has never really worked in any room it’s ever lived in).

The fresh seagrass scent is a knockout… I love it (though I could see how it might not have universal appeal). It will fade in time, but not for a good long while I hope.

It’s ‘vintage’ and nicely packaged (and a quick ship!) from DonnaGrayce. What a great magnifying glass – really. It’s 11 inches longs and contains a super secret letter opener in the handle. Here’s my customer appreciation pic:

TY DonnaGrayce!

TY DonnaGrayce!


Laurel Street Blog

Nate and Louis

Well, hey there. I'm Nathan and this is the Laurel Street Blog. It's a place for talking about design, decor and DIY (with small amounts of snarkery snuck in). I'm a pretty restless guy who loves house projects and lives in a 150+ year old cottage on Laurel Street in New Orleans. Since the house always has something going on with it (or falling off of it) I'm subsequently blessed with a never-ending supply of Web content to share. Oh - and you can drop me a line anytime LaurelStreetNola@gmail.com. Enjoy!

Can I get a tweet up in here? Follow along @LaurelStreet

The Laurel Street Cottage

February 2009
M T W T F S S
« Jan   Mar »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
232425262728