January 21, 2009

Creating a silk purse from a sow's ear

Kelly @ JAX Decor & Design
There’s a lot more that goes into decorating a room than slapping a coat of paint on the walls and sticking in some furniture. It takes time and patience and planning and a lot of work and the willingness to admit when you’re wrong and learning from your mistakes. Having a friend who’s a professional designer doesn’t hurt either!!

Warning: Not all the pictures below are pretty!!

In the spring of 2007, I decided I HAD to decorate the living room. Mainly because it looked like this:

It was basically a mish-mash of furniture and random pieces that had nowhere else to go. I was tired of the wall colour, unhappy with the layout, and just fed up with the overall BLAH feeling it had.
I came up with a plan -- and I wanted to have wainscoting in teh room. The chair rail was already there, so we used that as a guide to install simple grid-style wainscoting.

Hubby did the installation and I did the painting – I think he got the easy job!! I also painted the ceiling gray and the walls cobalt blue.

And then I bought a couple of mirrored chests and a zebra rug to add some glam and some funk.

And then my friend Jenn (Jennifer Terhardt of Bestellt Interiors in Langley, BC) saw what I was up to and offered to help me. She thought I was going in the wrong direction with the room, and she had some ideas for me that she wanted to share.
In November 2007, Jenn came to Ottawa for a week and we spent three days together shopping like fiends. Not even snowstorms or malfunctioning cars slowed us down. We hit every HomeSense in town – more than once. Winners, The Bay, carpet stores… we were on a home décor mission!! I also had to find Jenn a new pair of long black leather gloves to replace the pair Squirt chewed and destroyed. Bad Squirt!!

By the time Jenn left town, I had a new carpet, coffee table, a sofa and two chairs on order, a big gold-framed mirror, picture frames, lamps, accessories… HomeSense is my friend!!

A couple of months later, the sofa and chairs arrived and I was ready to start putting the room together. The furniture was placed, the curtains were being made, and it was time to accessorize. Another BC friend, Hayley, flew out to Ottawa at the end of February to help me put the final touches on the room. Brave move for someone who wears open-toe shoes with bare feet year-round, snow or no snow!!! She also wanted to iron my duvet cover – how could I turn down an offer like that?!

I let her loose in the living room, and she worked her accessorizing magic. She found some of my mom’s crystal pieces tucked away in the dining room, and displayed them on the mirrored chests. She moved a clock from the family room to the table behind the sofa. She arranged the clock and armilliary sphere just so (I try really hard to keep them in their exact spots, but it isn’t easy!!) She showed me how to arrange a bouquet of tulips.

So the finishing touches were done. Now all that was left to do was empty the room completely and paint it :-O ARGH!!!!!!!!!! Me, I like to paint first and then put a room together. But Jenn told me painting has to be the LAST thing you do. Silly logic I say, but she’s the expert, so I did what I was told.

The plan was to paint the ceiling gold and the walls gray – the same colours as the curtain fabric. The gold I picked was good, the gray, not so much – as soon as I put the room back together, the newly-painted gray walls suddenly looked brown. A really nice shade of brown, but I needed gray, not brown. Grrrrr!!! So, out everything came AGAIN so I could paint the walls AGAIN.

In order to salvage the leftover wall paint, Jenn told me to try mixing it with some leftover gray paints from other projects. I poured in some of this one and a bit of that one, and the resulting colour was perfect!! Yay!! I started rolling the “new” paint onto the walls – and it was CHUNKY. WTF?!?! So I headed to the paint store with the can of my chunky paint and they were able to match my custom colour, minus the chunks.

The chunk-free paint went onto the walls, the furniture and accessories went back into the room, the mirror and frames and curtains were hung, and the chandelier was installed… FINALLY, more than a year after I came up with my original vision of the living room, it was done!! And it didn't look anything at all like my original vision!!

I added my own personal touches to the space -- the zebra bench and the purple cushions and the zebra dish. Jenn tried to talk me out of them, but I think they're awesome!!! The zebra bench is my absolute favourite piece in the room :-) All the pictures on the wall were taken on a trip to Luxembourg and Belgium, so the artwork creates a nice personal memory.

So what did I learn from my first big decorating experience?? A lot!! For starters, I just about perfected my painting technique ;-) And I learned that.... have to have lots of patience to pull a room together, because there's lots of waiting involved -- especially when you order furniture. takes a lot of time and legwork to source out just the right items, but it's definitely worth all the effort.

....I'm a most excellent shopper -- and I'm now the most popular customer at my local HomeSense :-)

...painting is the last thing you do -- even though I still think that's backwards!!

And finally, I learned to stick to my guns and make decisions that are right for me, even if other people don't agree -- purple and zebra print rock!!!! :-D


Kat said...

I'm so glad you stuck to your guns. I adore the zebra bench, and that punch of purple is great! I've love this room since you posted it on Micasastyle. This post has helped to inspire me, we are spinning our wheels on the direction for our living room, foyer and guest bedroom. We'll just take it one step at a time and see what happens. But painting last? I'll take your word for it, but what a pain the you know what lol. Great post, Kathy

Kathysue said...

I love hearing the process and seeing where you started and where you ended up.I love the paint color,so soothing and the wainscotting treatment is wonderful.Your room looks inviting and sophisticated.Great Job,Kathysue

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