Craving: Grasscloth Wallpaper
May 21, 2010
There's a half-wall at the end of my kitchen island that gets a lot of use. As you can see, it's the perfect height for guests to lean against and chat, a great place for setting a drink, and it hides my kitchen clutter from the dining table. Problem is, it's painted with the flat paint I prefer, and it's become pretty shabby-looking in its well-used role. Thinking that the space could use a little more textural interest, I decided to cover the half-wall in grasscloth wallpaper. Sounds simpler than it's going to be.
First, there's choosing the grasscloth. The options include many colors, patterns, and sizes of grass or reeds, with or without a sheen. I started with two big sample books from Sherwin-Williams. (They let you check out the books free for four days.) After eliminating anything with a sheen or metallic elements and focusing on the more natural-looking options, I narrowed it down to three and then settled on this one, from the Design by Color collection by Blue Mountain Wallcovering.
Word to the wise: if you want to use grasscloth for a very small project like mine, be prepared to buy much more than you need. I was informed that even though it's priced in single rolls, it's only sold in double rolls. And the stuff isn't cheap. There was a sale at Sherwin-Williams and I got the two rolls for around $70, including shipping directly to my house. I'm going to have a whole lot left over, so now I'm thinking of ways to use more of it. Maybe cover the seating side of the island with it? Bring a little more onto one wall of the dining room? Use it to cover blah-looking storage boxes? Placemats? Endless possibilities.
But we'll see how ambitious I am after hanging it the first time. Grasscloth has its own quirks and variations that can make installation a challenge even for an experienced wallpaper hanger (which I am not). I did find a very helpful and thorough article on how to do it here. There's a lot of good information on this page by Jim Parodi, but be sure to also download the PDF article he links to about 2/3 of the way down the page.
If you aren't bothered by its natural color variations and visible seams, just a touch of this natural material can be a gorgeous way to bring more texture into a room. It's an eco-friendly choice because it's a natural material, made without any petroleum-based materials. There's no off-gassing like there can be with vinyl wallpaper. Here are a few spaces that use grasscloth to beautiful effect. All photos: decorpad.
Here's a classic example of natural, undyed grasscloth wallpaper in a crisp dining room. Notice how it's used only within the niche. A good wallpaper hanger will trim the width to result in evenly sized panels on the wall.
Grasscloth can work just as nicely in a more modern space. It has a cozy effect in bedrooms.
Muted green dyed grasscloth combines with sleek beadboard in this high-ceilinged space.
Its effect need not be subtle. Flame-red grasscloth makes a bold statement in this sunny room.
When a room is tiny, it's best to play up the cozy factor rather than try to "expand" the room using light colors and spare furnishings. Grasscloth is a smart choice for this small reading nook. I would have used it on the ceiling, too, for a real cocooning effect.
To soften the effect of modern furniture in a nursery, grasscloth is applied to all walls and the ceiling.
It comes in patterns, too! The Moroccan motif on this grasscloth is the perfect complement to a sinuous focal mirror in an entryway.
No job is too small for Dwelement. Need help choosing wallpaper, now that it's back in style and removing it is easier than ever? I can help. A one-hour consultation for $60 might be all it takes to relieve your anxiety and finally get all those sample books out of the house. Just email me. —Diane
TAGS: how to hang grasscloth wallpaper wallcovering grass cloth pictures photos inspiration rooms texture interior design decorating help selecting wallpaper
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Space Saver: A bench in the dining room
May 19, 2010
Whether you have a small dining room or just a diminutive nook in the kitchen, this tip can buy you precious inches without a big expense. Take a look at the space plan below showing a table and six chairs in a typical small dining space. Yes, I think most builders and designers of spec house plans think that 8x9 is all the space one needs for a family dinner. And worse, that the light fixture should always be wired dead center. This causes people to plop the dining table directly under the light (of course), but it's the worst way to use space in a room this small. There's little room for circulation and no room for storage furniture.
Here's a solution that changes the way the room functions. By eliminating chairs on one side of the table and replacing it with a bench, there's ample room for moving chairs in and out, plus space for a narrow buffet to store dishes, glassware, linens, kids' projects… whatever you need the most in that room. The table now seats an extra person, and there's even room to store a spare chair in the corner. Of course, the pendant light has to move. This is an easy job for an electrician, or you can install a hook in the ceiling and swag the fixture to the new location.
Here are some inspiring photos of benches in dining rooms and breakfast nooks. Built-ins are nice but not required for a polished look. A freestanding bench is flexible, so you can change the room as your space requirements change. Always consider comfort. A bench should have some sort of cushioning, and the table should be positioned just right: with its edge even with the edge of the bench.
A sunny kitchen nook maximizes a small space. Photo: Better Homes & Gardens.
Casual and comfy with assorted throw pillows. Photo: R. Majumdar via Apartment Therapy.
A tufted leather bench contrasts with clean lines. Photo: decorpad.
Beadboard creates a cottagey, easy-to-maintain backdrop for this bench. Photo: decorpad.
Upholster a bench with black-and-white striped fabric for a European feel. Photo: decorpad.
A bench need not feel casual. Luxurious upholstery and a comfy back make this work in a more formal setting. Photo: decorpad.
Long and narrow spaces are particularly suited to this technique. Photo: decorpad.
Need a little help rearranging your space so it looks better and works right? I can help, either in person or online. In the Traverse City area, make an appointment for a Dwelement Interior Redesign Session and we'll have that room looking great within 2-3 hours. Elsewhere, order a Mini Makeover for a space plan and color plan along with a list of recommended improvements. For more info, just email me. There's never a commitment.—Diane
TAGS: small dining room breakfast nook how to arrange furniture need more space tiny room floorplan bench dining table storage ideas
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Inspired Idea: Create a Simple Mantel with a Shelf
May 18, 2010
A lot of builder spec homes today have fireplaces, because builders know that fireplaces are important features to sell a home. What they often lack, however, is a substantial mantel to help make the fireplace the focal point that it should be. Short of hiring a carpenter or buying a pricey mantel surround, there is a simple solution that just about anyone can handle as a DIY project.
Purchase a shelf that's just a bit wider than the fireplace. (Include the width of any tile or surface treatment if you have it.) Mount it where a mantel should be: 12 to 18 inches above the fire box. Now the fireplace has more presence and can be decorated in a more traditional manner (if that's your thing).
How to Decorate a Small Mantel
- My favorite way to decorate a mantel is to keep it simple. Choose one dominant object or piece of art. Then choose no more than two additional items that are progressively smaller in size. For example, a large painting, a potted plant, and a small clock.
- Forget symmetry, unless the rest of the room is strongly symmetrical. Arranging a mantel asymmetrically can be more interesting. Throw things off-center.
- Empty spaces are okay. Remember, the fireplace itself should be the focal point.
- Avoid collections of small items. With a small mantel like this shelf idea, it could be tempting to line it with a bunch of small objects. It won't have any visual impact, and it will give the room a cluttered look.
Having trouble arranging a room around a fireplace? If all you need is help with a space plan and maybe some color selections, my Mini Makeovers are affordable and fast ways to get professional advice. They're just $95 and include a space plan that uses mostly pieces you already own, a color plan inspired by your personal style, and a list of ideas for further improving the space. See examples here. To order, just email me. —Diane
TAGS: how to decorate a fireplace without a mantel shelf mantel hearth ideas improve fireplace on a budget
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Mini Makeover: Linda's Grown-up Living Room
May 14, 2010
Last week I randomly chose one reader's room for a free Mini Makeover. The winner was Linda, mother of four, and she asked for help with her living room. She's planning to build an addition soon to better accommodate the kids and their stuff, and wants the first room you see upon entering the house to be more peaceful and inviting. She writes:
"I have great hopes for this room once the addition over the garage is done. My goal is to move any and all things kid-related to the bonus room, and some of the extra furniture to the basement or bonus room. I want to consider making this a sitting room instead of a TV room like it is now by moving the TV to the new bonus room or to the basement."
Here are the three photos Linda submitted with her contest entry. The living room is large, open to the front entry and a staircase, with a door at either end leading to the open kitchen/dining space. A cathedral ceiling is open to the upstairs hall. The large window faces south, bringing in some nice light and a view of the front yard.
The problems in this space can be pinned on clutter, lack of a cohesive color plan, and multiple styles that are not tied together. We'll start by improving the flow within and through the room with a new space plan.
We're going to remove a few things and rearrange what's left. (Click to enlarge the plan.)
- Keep the piano, sofa, love seat, recliner, coffee table, end table, entry bench. And the fish tank, if you want. Everything else must go.
- Move the piano to the west wall.
- Move the furniture into a seating grouping as shown near the window, so traffic can flow around it rather than through it. The love seat is positioned to buffer the room from the front door. The other pieces are angled to create a harmonious line with the angle in the flooring between the carpet and hardwood. This new arrangement makes conversation easier than having seating pieces pushed to the edges of the room.
- Keep the entry bench where it is along the stairs and move the fish tank next to it, in the corner.
- Add a console table (sometimes called a sofa table) behind the love seat to create a buffer between the front door and the seating space. This creates a convenient place to drop keys and such when you enter.
- Consider adding a very narrow, low credenza for storage along the wall opposite the window. Scour rummage sales and thrift stores for something the right size (about 12" deep by 5-6 feet wide), then paint it.
Right now, there's a lot going on with color in the room. Four walls colors (the ceiling is a wall, too, especially when it's angled), multi-colored stone, several wood tones, painted wood, white wicker, neutral upholstery and carpeting, and a lot of green in the form of plants. In your Dwelement Style Questionnaire you indicated that you want a peaceful feeling in the room. You also said you prefer warm colors.
Keeping your input in mind, and aiming to update and simplify the space given the existing elements, I recommend a palette of warm neutrals. These colors were inspired by the stone wall accent and the wood tones in the room, and will complement your neutral furniture without making it visually disappear.
All paints are specified as Pittsburgh Paints from The Voice of Color collection, available from Northwood Paint in Traverse City. Use a satin finish for the walls; it is scrubbable but has a more pleasant sheen than a semi-gloss.
Walls: Taupe Tone 426-4
Angled wall above ledge and wall at far side of stairs: Almond Roca 425-1
Ceilings: Almond Roca 425-1
Accents for furniture, fabrics, rugs, and accessories:
Olive Gray 512-5, close to the color of your existing sofa and love seat.
Feldspar 554-5, to harmonize with the blue-grays in the stone wall. Repaint the bright-blue tables in this color.
Lion's Mane 216-5, drawn from the stone wall and the woodwork. This shade is nice for accent pillows.
Other recommendations and ideas
- Clear all accessories (everything!) out of the room, then rearrange the furniture. Then slowly add accessories back in. Then remove a few. :)
- Pare down the number of pictures in the room and group them in one area, such as the stair wall. Put them all in frames that are the same color. Black works well here. No need to buy new frames, just spray-paint the existing ones with a glossy black.
- You might be tempted to fill the wall opposite the window with a lot of little things. Avoid this and opt for a very large painting or framed mirror above the storage credenza. A mirror will reflect the window light and brighten the space.
- Move some of the plants in the room to other spaces, and scatter the remaining plants. The ledge would look nice with a single trailing plant positioned at the right side.
- Consider adding a 5-by-8-foot rug to the angled seating area. Try this option from Overstock.com. (Shown in space plan.) It's a steal in wool at $191.
- Add semi-sheer, floor-length drapes to the window to give it a more finished look. Keep it casual with the Lisette Tab-Top Panel from JCPenney in Copper Spice.
- Your lamps don't need to match, but if the shades do, it gives a sense of cohesion to the space. Simple white linen drum shades are a classic choice that blends with any style.
There you have it: a new room design accomplished with very little shopping. Sometimes you don't need new stuff, you just need a new outlook! Hope you like it, Linda. Send "after" photos! —Diane
Want a Mini Makeover for your own room? Just email me! Within a week you'll have a new vision for your space, for just $95.
TAGS: mini makeover online virtual long distance edecorating e-decorating space planning color consultation affordable interior design advice traverse city michigan interior decorator designer redesigner
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Inspired Room: The Domestic Transformer by Gary Chang
May 13, 2010
This is the ultimate example of smart space usage! In just 330 square feet, architect Gary Chang can turn his Hong Kong apartment in 24 configurations, complete with space for guests and a screening room with a hammock. Watch and be inspired…
Okay, so you're not an architect but you still have to deal with the challenges of a small space? I can help! Space planning and maximizing square footage are important components of my eDecor Plans. —Diane
TAGS: gary chang architect domestic transformer small space living video hong kong china studio apartment multiple configurations sliding wall system
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