Tag Archives: Interior decorating

Location, location, location (and the view)

Back when COVID-19 was just an obscure outbreak in central China, my Beloved and I spent time with a real estate agent (within six feet of her!), driving around Lake Travis (when driving around was socially and medically acceptable) and looking at property (touching countertops, flipping light switches–we were gutsy back then).

Lake Travis is a reservoir lake on the western edge of Austin, Texas. After spending winters for a decade glamping in various locales in the southern United States, we had determined the Austin area to be “the one”: the one place in which we might consider spending multiple winters. Affordable, geographically and culturally interesting, not too humid or too hot (at least in the wintertime) and the people here reminded us of the good-hearted Midwesterners with whom we’d grown up and spent our summers.

Just before the pandemic was officially declared, we closed on a condo on the north side of Lake Travis. It was one of the first properties we viewed, and we kept coming back to it for its location, price and view.

Oh, the view!

View from the deck

Even on a cloudy day, the view from our deck is impressive.

We’ve now been sheltering in place here for two weeks. We’re quite content keeping ourselves busy unpacking, repairing various doodads and decorating. If we’re going to be stuck somewhere, March in central Texas is lovely. I’ll share some of our condo updates in a future post, but for now, I’m sharing a sunrise. Here’s to the sun rising tomorrow.

Sunrise over the lake

It’s Travel Tuesday: Let’s check out Waco, Texas

It’s Travel Tuesday and today, in keeping with the theme I began Sunday when I mentioned Joanna Gaines in conjunction with decorating the church-renovation-that-was-not-to-be and the book review Monday of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ memoir over on my author blog, we’re going to visit Waco, Texas.

Waco is south of Dallas-Fort Worth on Interstate 35, and my Beloved and I made a stop there on our way home this spring from Yuma, Arizona. April is a great month to pay a visit to Texas; not too hot, not too cold, just right. We camped at Hamm Creek Park near Rio Vista, Texas (northwest of Waco), and the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush flowers growing in the ditches in April were breathtaking.



The Silos

If you’ve heard of Waco, Texas, before it might be because of the government siege of the Branch Davidian’s property near there in 1993. But it wasn’t a religious or political pilgrimage that brought us to Waco. We came for the shopping, specifically Magnolia Market at the Silos, which home designers Chip and Joanna Gaines opened late last year. The couple, who star in “Fixer Upper” on HGTV, spent $1.4 million to transform the vacant Brazos Valley Cottonseed Oil Mill in downtown Waco into a shopping mecca for home décor and food trucks.

Parking is tricky. We found a spot on a nearby street, but apparently there are alternatives. Plan to spend some time there because you might be standing in line. Grab some food at one of the food trucks outside. When we were there, Tyler didn’t even go inside. I stood in line mere minutes, but once inside, it’s a madhouse, kind of like spring break at Disney World.


I took a picture of these tulip bouquets to match my sweater instead of buying one.

For me it was worth it, but bear in mind: It’s a store, not a museum. I left with a T-shirt, a candle and a box of stationery, which is fine with me, but if you’re coming for the design ideas, you might as well stay home and watch the TV show.


Magnolia Market selfie

We would have liked to drive around Waco to see the homes the Gaines’ have renovated, but if there’s a list of such homes or a map that exists somewhere, I couldn’t find it. We found a couple of other cute shops and malls to visit, and we enjoyed that. We did not see the Gaineses. Still, our visit to Magnolia Market felt special being there if only because you can see Joanna’s hand in the selection of items for sale and the way the store and property is decorated. I also found a little bit of inspiration in one of the wall hangings for sale.



Does this work of art make my front door look like a lush?

Oh, my god, has it been three years already?!

Yes, it’s been three years since we painted the dining room (and the living room and the kitchen).


Time flies when you’re … um … not painting every wall on the main floor of your house.

In any case, when I showed off the before-and-after pictures of the dining room following that transformation, I left out the north wall, which has looked pretty much like this for three years:

entry way before

A little naked. It’s an expanse deserving of something dramatic, so my Beloved and I have looked for that Something Dramatic for a while now (I still can’t believe it’s been three years of dithering–I could have had a Mona Lisa commissioned, painted and paid for in that time). For a while, we were looking for something gnarly (as in literally gnarled) or possibly a unique piece of driftwood.

No dice.

This week, my Beloved painted the front door. What possessed him to do this, I don’t know, but I can attest it was not me who put it on his Honey Do list. It used to be a sort of tired pine green. Now it’s a lovely shade of Pinot Noir.

He apparently also got tired of waiting for the perfect Something Dramatic to show up unbidden at our front door so he went trolling on the internet to find something to adorn the spot above the church bench. He found Something Dramatic, and it arrived at our front door today:

entry way after

I think it’s cool. If you stare at it long enough, it feels like you’re traveling through the galaxy in hyperdrive.

Hey, wine has an other worldly lure. Maybe we should have gone with Pinot Noir three years ago.

Close-up view from the edge of the universe.

Close-up view from the edge of the universe.

Fairest mirror on the wall

In the vein of my continued fascination with paint and its transformative effects, here’s a look at the dresser mirror I upcycled for my Adored stepson’s bedroom makeover:

dresser after

You can see the matching nightstand across the room in the mirror reflection (you can see a little picture-taking hand, too).

mirror close upThe first three coats of the mirror were in Shalestone (same shade at the dresser drawers). The final coat came from a bit of leftover Pumpernickel from the dining room downstairs (remember that makeover? here’s a peek). I brushed it on and then immediately wiped it off with a paper towel. I was attempting to replicate the look of the floor lamp in the room, and I’m not sure I completely succeeded, but I like it a lot better than it looked before. The finishing touch was three coats of polyurethane, so the mirror is a bit shinier than the dresser, which received only a wax coating.

Here’s how the dresser and mirror looked before (no, I take no ownership of the empty Fireball bottles on the dresser in the before shot):

Steamer trunk as art

Among the things I learned first-hand this year was how paint can transform a beat-up piece of furniture. I used liquid latex back in October to promote a dark dresser without personality into a shabby chic credenza for my office.

But I’m a kindergartener with finger paints compared to Rockford artist Theresa Rowinski who turned my very old steamer truck into a work of art.

I inherited the truck about 15 years ago from my grandfather who probably got it from his mother-in-law (my great-grandmother). In all likelihood, it transported one of my ancestor’s belongings from Europe to America in the hull of an ocean liner at some point more than 100 years ago.

I came late to the “paint fixes anything” show so it is my ex-husband who can be credited with painting the dirty, beat-up truck a pale yellow. He made it better but not much. It had good bones but wasn’t much to look at. Here’s how it looked recently in my spare bedroom:

Guest bedroom: After

See there? At the foot of the bed? It contained my scrapbooking supplies.

My Beloved hated the pale yellow and thought it deserved something better. So his Christmas gift to me was to have Rowinski repaint it, only this time, the trunk became the artist’s canvas. Her work is amazing. See what she did with it:

painted chest

I mean, it’s so beautiful I can’t bear to relegate it to the spare room anymore. I’m going to find a home in my master bedroom for it.

Here are a couple of close-ups of the top and front:

So often, I think of furniture for its functional value, but I love what paint — especially paint applied by a pro — can do for furniture’s aesthetics.



Last before-and-after of the office redecorating project: The closet

The first things people often think of when they think about getting organized are their closets.

Oh, how easy it is to shove clutter into a closet and close the door.

Unfortunately, clutter multiples in the dark.

While it may be the first thing unorganized people think of, it’s also often the last thing they tackle. And so it is with me, friends.

Here’s the last before-and-after of my office transformation:

My office closet before the redecorating project.

My office closet before the redecorating project.

Since my office is a converted bedroom, there’s a standard bedroom closet in it. This is both handy and dangerous. Prior to updating my home office, the closet stored gifts, gift boxes, gift wrap (all that is behind the closed door), knitting projects, suits, boxes of old files and whatever else had no home in my office.

files beforeI found a new storage location for the gift-related paraphernalia and moved all the old files down to the basement so I could make room for my current files. My current files used to be next to my desk, and they were a mutated union of good intentions and poor follow-through. I don’t even have a good Before picture, but you can see a glimpse in this cutaway from in front of my desk.

It’s taken me two weeks to sort through all the files, dump bags of irrelevant material and re-alphabetize all them into the files drawers, which are now wisely situated inside the closet. Look! The drawers now close!  And I can close the closet doors, too, clutter reproduction risks be darned.

The closet after.

The closet after.

I painted the closet — including the ceiling — in a slightly brighter yellow than the walls of my office: Butternut.

clothes hangingI also rehung all my suits on matching hangers and organized them by color. Normal people will wonder if maybe I should have my head examined, but if you’re a fanatic for organization, this impresses you.

It won’t stay this way forever — or even for long — but it’s perfectly organized right now, and I’ve got the photographic evidence to prove it.


Picture grouping brings office space together

My Beloved hangs the moon for me. Or at least he hangs my pictures.

Putting my office back together after the paint job and bookcase installation has progressed to picture hanging today.

For those of us who love before-and-after pictures, here’s the space behind my desk before:

desk before

And here’s the space now:

desk after


Let’s start with one of the best new features of my office: The crown molding hung a few inches from the ceiling. Dad installed it with the bookcase last week (it matches the top lip of the bookcase on the wall opposite this one), and I love it. We dropped rope lighting inside and connected it to the room switch so I no longer have to cross the room to fumble with the desk lamp in the dark.

crown molding close upI saw this technique in a friend’s bedroom, and the soft lighting sets a calm mood in the evening. Here’s a shot from the top of the crown molding. Tin foil tucked beneath the rope lighting concentrates the illumination upward. The approach also made painting the ceiling easier. The ceiling is the same color as the top 9 inches of the wall (Pittsburgh Paint’s Sawdust, a light yellow), so no one had to cut in the wall color at the crease.

Before I get to the main picture grouping, I’ll note the bulletin board is now repainted (a smoky purple we never used when we repainted downstairs last year) and hung vertically to make space for the inspirational “Life” wall hanging found at a flea market this summer.

Because my computer monitor is a bit of an eyesore in the after photo above, I took another shot of the wall:

wall hanging close

Picture frames before.

Picture frames before.

The images across the top are Gustav Klimt works (same artist who created “The Kiss” in the bottom left). I salvaged the smaller prints from a weekly planner I bought but never used in 2004; I couldn’t bear to part with the beautiful pages when the year came to a close. They’re displayed in heavy frames I found at a garage sale for $1 each and repainted with the same Milk Paint white I used on the credenza.

The gold frames (right side) used to be chrome with a ridiculous ship decal in the corner (must have picked them up on one cruise or another, but there were no images in them when I found them in the closet). I spray painted them gold (same at the hardware on the credenza) and found a couple sweet photographs to tuck inside.

faith hope loveI really love the profile shelf in the middle. I’ve collected those portrayals of  words from 1 Corinthians 13:13 over the past couple of years but never displayed them together.

The whole space just makes me happy. My Beloved remarked, “This is so Monica.”