I was drawn to the shabby chic style when I first saw Rachel Ashwell’s book in a Barnes & Noble display while trawling for treasures on a weekday lunch break.
No, really. I was mesmerized.
(Photo #1. Rachel Ashwell’s first book, Shabby Chic. This hit was followed by Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide, The Shabby Chic Home, The Shabby Chic Gift of Giving, Shabby Chic: Sumptuous Settings and Other Lovely Things, Shabby Chic Interiors, Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces, and Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie: And Flea Market Treasures.)
“So beautiful!” I thought as I hunched over the display, pouring through Rachel’s mini-tome of time-worn lacy enchantments, my mind cranking through endless permutations of unpretentiously posh accessories washed in vintage sunshine. It’s such poetry! Such fabulous frump! So worn out and yet at the same time, sooo grand! So lived in but so sparkly! So crinkly and crumply and crackly! Sooooooooooo FRENCH and OMG! So forgiving and so ding dang effortless! The interior fashion equivalent of a woman who radiates glamour while clad in flip-fops, ripped jeans, and an oversized rumpled white shirt!
HTF does she do that? I mean, if I dress like that, I look like a hobo. My favorite wall colors are black and strong purple. I like guns. I have a rapier tongue. I sure don’t shy away from battle.
In short, I’m not exactly what most folks would call a sweetheart.
But let’s think this through. It’s just a bunch of slipcovers and old furniture. Right? A couple vintage-y mirrors with peel-y painted frames and some random, charming odds and ends found at the bottom of a dumpster? Maybe I can salvage some cute bird houses from my neighbor’s trash? Hot glue them with broken antique earrings and other random trinkets and pretty doo dads? How about a cracked vase here and there filled with fragrant blooms? Some fluffy feathers and glittery conch shells and don’t forget the fucking doilies? Lots of drippy chandelier and candelabras, for sure. Just throw in some tattered fabric, strings of pearls dangling from paper mâché cereal boxes, a few broken garden statues, a vignette of plastic sugar cookies nestled in sweet saucers, and wall plaques emblazoned with cheery instructive sayings and other pious platitudes.
And oh, of course, lots of chalky white paint and dainty chipped teacups floating from strings in the air everywhere.
It could be heaven on earth.
In hindsight, I can only think of only two more spectacular mismatches in my entire life.
Some things are just not meant to be.
One must wonder, then.
Why’d I do it?
Just Another Manic Monday
Because I wasn’t myself. Because
July 24, 2006. Ohhhh, yaaaay. It’s move-in day Monday.
Just shoot me.
For several reasons, I wanted it to be move-in day Saturday. Nope. Not in the cards. ‘Cuz I was fleeing an HOA-governed condo in Irvine, which meant other people controlled moving day truck traffic, and Monday was my assigned day to get the hell out of Dodge. Which meant I had to take two days off work, and I’d surely pay a price for that.
You’d think moving a 40-year-old single gal out of a one-bedroom condo would be no bigee. After all, how much crap can one human being accumulate and then stuff into 932 square feet. I didn’t even have a cat.
(Photo #2. My condo in Irvine. I kid you not, this place started out with beige carpet and decorator white walls and ceiling. You can see from the photo my shabby chic interior decorating sensibilities had blossomed and were on the verge of explosion.)
But, alas, I was genetically blessed with an affliction known as shopaholism, so I had, by this time, squirrelled away more than my fair share of art and choice chachkas. And much to the delight of workplace leadership, I was genetically cursed with an affliction called workaholism. This meant I got to pay two people to pack my stuff while I worked, then I got to stay up the whole night before the move executing a last-minute mad dash pack-out of what remained.
So there I sat on move-in day Monday, in a red leather club chair next to an elevator outside my CCR-regulated front door, bleary-eyed and very willing to let the moving guys do it all. I watched box after box emerge from my former abode. Box after box after box after box after box after box after box after box after box. More boxes. And more. And more. And more. And why would it stop there? Here comes more! And another. And another. It looks like my condo is barfing boxes. Why didn’t I keep my shopping under control?
“I’ve died and gone to hell,” I thought.
Oh, no you haven’t. Not yet, anyway. Work leadership and those working in support thereof are calling over and over with a relentless barrage of questions and ill-timed missives. “Where’s this” and “what do I do about that” and “what do you think about this” and “what are you going to do about that” and “when are you going to get it done” and “be sure to call in and check your messages.”
“One day, I’m gonna blow my stack,” is what I thought, but the words coming out of my mouth were “it’s there” and “I think you should do this” and “I think that about this” and “I’ll do this about that” and “I’ll have it all done by next Monday” and “of course I’m checking my messages.” Jeepers. I’m checking them every hour.
I guess it was my fault for moving on a Monday. 60-plus hour work weeks were pretty standard fare back then, so the workplace owned my Mondays. It also owned my Saturdays and Sundays, but at least traffic was lighter on the weekends.
(Photo #3. My red leather club chair and a throw blanket that looked like the skinned hide of a red Cookie Monster.)
Which is the second reason I didn’t want to move on a Monday. I was moving from Irvine to Orange, which meant the moving van caravan had to plow through 10-plus miles on the 55 north in lunchtime OC traffic.
After that, it was an adventure in rewind.
Boxes purged from my condo were hoisted from trucks, settled onto the shoulders of movers, and then deposited into my new 1,450 square-foot cottage. One by one and sometimes two by two they went, interspersed with the delivery of more furniture and kitchen stuff than I could remember buying. Some of which I didn't even recognize.
By the time the last item made its way into its new home and I paid the bill, it was 5:00 p.m. I jumped over a trunk and rolled into the sofa where I sat in a frozen stupor for a while, contemplating my lovely little historic cottage and where the hell I’d packed my toothbrush, make-up, underwear, and most importantly, where’s the wine?
“Time to unpack some stuff,” I thought as I climbed out of the sofa, back over the trunk, and stumbled over a metal bed frame. I was wearing sandals, so in the midst of my acrobats, I split open the top of my right foot.
I could see a trip to the ER in my near future. Blood began oozing from the gash at precisely the same time my cell phone started to tinkle.
“Work,” the message on the screen cheerfully announced.
I answered. “Hello,” I said as I stared at the blood running down my foot and onto the wood floor.
It was the boss. “Did you draft a summary of the xxxx case for my mediation tomorrow?” he asked.
I’m thinking, no, of course not. It’s a freaking mediation and maybe you can read the file yourself. And, it had been years since I’d been subjected to a task this menial. If a case summary needed to be drafted, it was, more or less, a trivial chore for other lawyers in the firm. I had my name on the door. Now this was all for show, of course, but, in theory, I was a “partner.”
“I need you to do it before I leave tomorrow morning,” he said.
Suppressing my irritation, sort of, I explained I didn’t have Internet set up yet at the house, couldn’t access the file, and reminded him again that I was in the middle of a move. Can so-and-so do this particular task, I queried. So-and-so knows the case as well as me. I didn’t mention it was completely within the realm of possibility that he also knew the case as well as me.
“No. I need you to do it,” he said sharply. “You know the case best. If you can’t get on line, then you need to come into the office and do it here.”
Then, he softened. “Just do something stream of consciousness,” he offered. “It doesn’t have to be Hemingway.”
Right. Everything I did was Hemingway.
But, as always, the softening kept me on the peaceful side of that thin line between me and a declaration of war. He knew me well, and, back then, we weren’t yet prepared for civil war.
After spending an hour or so locating and digging through boxes marked “bathroom,” none of which actually were in the bathrooms, I located the peroxide and bandages, pinned the wound together the best I could, wrapped the appendage, and hobbled out the door.
No need for ER.
Back I went down the 55, this time south, to the office, where I worked until after 11:30 p.m. drafting the most super magnificent mediation talking points summary I’d ever concocted.
July 25, 2006. I woke after my first night in the new house starving. No food in sight.
After fiddling around for a while opening boxes and looking for essentials, I got in my SUV and began cruising Chapman Avenue in search of a Vons. I finally found one a few miles away and, roaming the aisles aimlessly, filled a basket with enough to get by until the weekend.
Back to the car I go. Crawl in. Oh, wow. I have no gas. At least there’s a gas station next to the grocery store. I pulled in to the station, got out, and unhooked the fuel dispenser. I could hear the ding-a-ling of my cell phone in the SUV, so I set down the dispenser and retrieved the phone.
It’s the boss. He proceeds to regale me with a thrilling blow-by-blow of the mediation while I cradle the phone and juggle a gas pump handle. Turns out it went really well. Client is so happy. Thank you so much for your summary. I know you worked hard on it and it was great work and I really appreciate it. I can’t rely on anyone else to do that kind of work. You’re the best, he gushed.
Etcetera and so on.
“And don’t forget we’re leaving for the airport at 4:00 on Friday,” he reminded me.
Shit. The firm’s Vegas trip. I was hoping I’d be let out of this one. So much unpacking to do, so little time. So many fucking boxes. I had neither the time nor the tolerance necessary for another booze-fueled Vegas desert adventure. Especially in the month of July, for crying out loud.
Wracking my beaten brain for an angle, I say I don’t think I can go. I had the perfect excuse. I couldn't get on a plane because I didn’t have a driver’s license. In fact, I hadn’t had one for over two years, because a very special friend forged a USPS mail forward card which sent all my mail, including stuff from the DMV, to a property management company.
Yep. A random yet true story. For more than two years, I used a passport to board domestic flights for all work-related travels because I had no copy of my license and neither the time nor the inclination to do anything about it.
“I can’t find my passport,” I lied. I almost cringed when I said it. It was tucked neatly in my purse. Continuing my yarn, I explained the move had been so crazy, I thought I might have put it in one of the boxes, but I wasn’t sure which one.
I was rolling my eyes at myself. His bullshit radar was finely tuned. My bullshit skills weren’t that good. He was annoyed that I even tried.
“You need to be on this trip,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll find your passport.”
July 28, 2006. Needless to say, on Friday, passport in hand, I boarded a flight to Vegas. It was a lawyers-only trip. Two of the attorneys had just taken the Nevada bar examination and were already in town. We were meeting them there with full intentions to whoop it up in celebration.
I can’t remember the entire cast of characters at the firm at that time, but I do remember one female attorney who was a definite “odd girl out.” There were a few of those over the years, but I recall this young woman well. She was enduringly happy and totally impervious to all the snips and snaps that went on behind her back during her short tenure at the firm.
I glanced at her while we were in the air, wondering how she’d survived this long.
As I’d partially predicted, much of the evening was spent finding ways to ditch the odd girl out and poking fun at the bows in her hair and her choice in handbags. “What’s the point in inviting her just to bag on her?” I wondered.
To her credit, she plugged along like a foot soldier in a flak jacket. Nothing seemed to get under her skin. She sat smiling through the speeches about what a great team we all made and what great lawyers we were, totally oblivious to the fact she wasn’t and never would be “in the fort.”
Life can be so stunningly ironic.
I made it until around 11:00 p.m., at which point I felt I’d put in enough face time to buy a reprieve. Released from the custody of my party-hardy colleagues, I departed the VIP table at whatever roof-top bar we were at and hit the strip for the long walk back to our hotel through arid desert heat.
Back at my room, I dropped with relief onto the bed and pulled the covers high under my nose, hiding from freezing blasts of air coming from the AC vents. I thought about my new home. I wondered why the bank was dumb enough to give me a $995,000 loan and why I was stupid enough to sign it.
Whatever. Laying there, I moved on to thoughts that made me happy.
How would I decorate my new house?!
Historic Cottage Shabby Chic Experiment – The Master Bedroom
July 29, 2006. I returned from Vegas the next day, happy to be free. The distraction of the trip would buy me a work-free Sunday, so I spent the day unpacking and plotting furniture placement and paint colors. I knew I wanted a few rooms to be dark and dramatic. But I’d been captivated by the shabby chic style.
Couldn’t I just do one room shabby chic? How about two?
It seemed like such a good idea. I just wanted to disappear into the magic world of rumpy comfy elegant shabby chicness and never be seen again.
Over the Next Two Years. Work continued to occupy most of my time and mental resources. The house, on the other hand, occupied all the financial ones. I was a gladiator by day working my tail off to pay for a house which, at least at that time, I really couldn’t afford, and a DIY amateur home decorator by night.
Just living the dream.
It didn’t take me long to pick rooms for my shabby chic experiment. The first was the master bedroom, a space that spent more than 80 years as an attic before being converted into a master suite during the 1980’s. With its funky pitches, wonky walls, and fireplace, it was an obvious choice.
So much shabby chic potential!
(Photo #4. The master bedroom attic conversation at the Orange house as it looked on the day of the home inspection during escrow. The prior owners used a downstairs room as their master bedroom, mainly because shoving a bed up the steep, narrow staircase was approximately like getting Santa’s big butt up a skinny chimney.)
(Photo #5. The master bedroom had a window seat. It was the perfect book nook. Perfect wine and champagne nook, too. I just had to take precautions to ensure my little yappy white dogs didn’t go tumbling out the code non-compliant windows and splat onto the walkway below.)
(Photo #6. The pleasantly beige master bedroom looking from the side of the room with the window seat. There was a sky light which, during my first year of ownership, had to be replaced when rain started to pour in. The area my friend is walking over is where koi fish eventually would be painted on the floor.)
I’m sure I had a specific decorating vision for the master bedroom floating around in my head. I just don’t remember what it was. I’m think it looked something like this.
(Photo #7. Shabby chic bedroom purloined from worldwide web. It makes my heart sing.)
Alas, there was a small glitch in my shabby chic plot.
I had art that looked like this . . .
(Photo #8. Oops.)
. . . and this . . .
(Photo #9. Uh oh.)
. . . and this.
(Photo #10. Hmmm.)
As a result, I had to pull back on the shabby part of the chic, and the room turned out like this.
(Photo #11. My first foray into shabby chic decorating.)
And I sort of liked it. I already had a couple goopy crystal floor lamps, a faux garden fence I picked up at Ganahl lumber, and Bella Notte bed linens. I also had a cute antique turquoise side table which I inherited, via mom, from my great grandparents.
The bones were there. Now its time to be fussy.
I moved the furniture and added some butterflies. And look at the ballerina skirt bench and the minty feathery doughnut on the faux garden fence in the photo below. Shabby chic on steroids! As is the frothy silky champagne-and-feather toss pillows on the bed, the “Simply Shabby” (Rachel Ashwell for Target) quilt on the window seat, and the “Always Kiss Me Goodnight” and “Sweet Dream” wall plaques.
(Photo #12. I moved the bed and added a shabby chalky pink crystal floor lamp to make sure I didn’t stray too far from my vision of time-worn romance and delightful distress.)
(Photo #13. The butterflies on the wall helped tie in the art. Okay, bright green Mexican folk art wooden butterflies aren’t textbook accessories for a shabby chic room. Neither was the Schonbeck chandelier with multi-colored crystals and a metallic cord wrap. But whatever. I worked with what I had.)
The view from the other direction was less fluffy and feathery. I couldn't work my colorful, whimsical, darkly-framed art into the "calm and restful" decor. But I tried. I threw in a sweetie-pie "Wish" plaque I picked up at an Old Towne Orange shabby chic boutique. I also moved art around the house so I could keep the softer, prettier pieces upstairs.
The whole thing looked like it was decorated by two people who didn't like each other.
(Photo #14. LOL. Shabby chic? What can I say?)
Historic Cottage Shabby Chic Experiment – The Dressing Room
Before moving into the cottage, I spent many brain hours, usually while driving, sorting out what room would serve what purpose. There was an oddball room off the kitchen which, when the house was built back in 1900, was the second of two bedrooms. When the owners in the ‘80s converted the attic to a master suite, they built a staircase leading upstairs from the second bedroom for access.
So essentially, this downstairs bedroom turned into a pass-through. There was no door or wall at the top of the staircase, which meant the downstairs bedroom and the upstairs master were now, more or less, open to each other.
There also was a major dearth of closet space in the house, and of course, being a lawyer, I had lots of suits and black pumps. So, my interior designer friend, Catherine, sketched out a closet design for the back bedroom (I already had beautiful mirrored doors that I’d legally confiscated from my condo).
Then a vision popped into my head.
How chichi! How country urban vintage! I’ll turn the back bedroom into a shabby chic dressing room!
(Photo #15. The staircase leading directly from the master bedroom to the downstairs bedroom, destined to be a dressing room, on the day of the escrow inspection.)
(Photo #16. From the other direction, the bookshelf in the staircase leading from the dressing room to the master suite. I know. It’s an absolutely fabulous house. That’s why I sacrificed so much of my life to buy it and then doll it up.)
(Photo #17. The view up the stairs to the master bedroom not long after I moved in.)
(Photo #18. Another photo of the dressing room, taken on inspection day from near the bottom of the staircase and facing towards the kitchen. The prior owners used the room as sort of a television room or a den.)
(Photo #19. Again, the dressing room, this time pictured from inside the kitchen.)
(Photo #20. The ceiling in the dressing room. I didn’t care for the fans and light fixtures in the house. Those would need to go.)
Armed with a decorating vision for the dressing room, I went on a shopping and furniture painting rampage. I bought a Simply Shabby rug from Target and, from some cottage warehouse superstore, a matching frilly girly poofy stool adorned with tulle and fake posies or something. I painted the vanity a soft silver and littered the room with mirrors, a pink doll with feathers (was I on drugs?), and hung a pink sequined mini-handbag from the armoire.
Of course, the armoire was brown, and the curtains I bought on sale were a little more glitz than shabby. And there were color pops here and there, but overall, the shabby chic vibe was alive and well in my new dressing room.
(Photo #21. The dressing room pictured from the staircase landing. Hannah is lounging on my new Simply Shabby area rug. Okay. Ouch. The hot pink chair doesn’t work with the decor plan, but therein lies the problem. I just couldn’t not do color.)
(Photo #22. Oh, pink. My dresser, which I painted myself, reminded me of strawberry yogurt. How I just love pink. Notice the “Once Upon a Time” plaque and the “mirror mirror on the wall” mirror? I just love stories with happy endings.)
(Photo #23. All of these decorating oxymorons were pre-Mike, so I had to hire an electrician to take out the tropical motif ceiling fan and replace it with this light fixture. It’s more edgy than shabby, but therein lies the second problem with my foray into shabby chic. It’s just not that edgy, and I love edgy.)
(Photo #24. I was so enamored with pink that, in 2007, I took a Friday off work and spent that day and the weekend painting my dressing room and the armoire Martha Stewart’s “Paris Pink.” You can kind of see the pink walls and the pink armoire in this picture. Unfortunately, other than the picture below, these are the only two pictures I have of the room when it was pink. It was super pretty.)
(Photo #25. Apparently in deference to my goals of ethereal loveliness, I switched the green curtains for beaded white ones covered in Swarovski crystals. The apple green settee? Not too shabby. But I couldn’t help myself, and after my husband’s dog got a hold of it, it got real shabby. The feathery fairy hanging from the curtain rod is shabby, right?)
Historic Cottage Shabby Chic Experiment – The Guest Bedroom
In my mind, I was doing preeetttttyy okay with the shab. My own version, at least. Admittedly, things were starting to morph away from shabby chic and, mostly because of the dictates of art and my seething passion for color, were becoming just a wee bit eclectically glam. We’ll just call it Glam Frankenshab.
I was feeling sort of buoyant about my perceived decorating successes, so I thought I’d push my Glam Frankenshab style further, into the guest bedroom which was off a dining room that I was using as a den.
(Photo #26. The downstairs bedroom which, as shown in the photo, the prior owners used as their master bedroom. It was buttercup yellow.)
(Photo #27. Here’s the same room after I moved in. The painting is by my grandmother. I can’t explain all the wall art with little sayings, like “Dream” and “Wish” and “Sweet Dreams” etc. sprinkled throughout the house.)
My execution of Glam Frankenshab, in this room, began with new paint colors. I was not in love with the existing yellow walls, but I really liked a few of the colors in Benjamin Moore’s historical palette. After much consideration and planning, I chose Stratton Blue, Wythe Blue, Palladian Blue, and an Affinity color which I think was called Slip (not sure).
I then took another Friday off work to commence my next painting project. The room was, for sure, deviating away even further from shabby chic, but I couldn’t yet let go of some of the soft touches that, at least theoretically, define the style. Bedding from Soft Surroundings, a garden column, a straw hat, and some crystal here and there kept the romance alive.
I guess I unwilling to let go of anything that felt like an antidote to my daily slogs and fights as an insurance litigator.
(Photo #28. The bedroom not too long before I lost my marbles and painted it orange. Notice the reprise of the green drapes? Looking at the photo now, I really do like the room. Just lovely, although I’m not sure why I didn’t take the lavender paint onto the baseboards. What a great Air B&B room it would make!)
(Photo #29. As you can see by comparing this photo to the one of the master bedroom, art and light fixtures are part of a constant traveling road show in my house. As you can also see, I painted yet another armoire to tone down its dark tones and Tommy Bahama feel.)
The Crap Circles
Nothing throws a wrench in a shabby chic room quite as profoundly as dog poop.
Spring-ish 2008. I came home from work and plopped onto the couch, assuming my usual position in front of the t.v. clutching a glass of wine, sipping and pouring away the remains of the day. Or night.
Around 11:30-ish I climbed the stairs, making my way up to my delightfully feminine master bedroom to commence my Cinderella slumbers. Two little white doggies bounced up the stair steps behind me.
“WTF is that?” I thought as I made it to the landing, my eyes going straight to the carpet. There was the most perfect brown circle in front of the bed. Huge circle. And I mean perfect. Like it had been drawn with a protractor.
You’ve seen pictures of those crop circles in the U.K.? It looked like that, but brown, and in my carpet.
(Photo #30. Sort of like this?)
On closer examination, I realized it wasn’t a crop circle at all. It was crap. A crap circle. More specifically, dog crap.
But which one of you two munchkins did it? And how?
It was a mystery that consumed my life for two weeks. Each evening I’d return home and bound up the stairs to see the poop art on my carpet. The crap circles became more and more elaborate, looping over each other, swirling here and there, and always so weirdly protractor perfect. I thought, I’m going to take a day off this weekend and spy on the dogs. I want to know which one of you is proficient at sacred geometry.
And that’s what I did.
The next weekend I caught Owen executing the most perfect poop protractor circles he’d done yet. Scoot scoot scoot. Round and round he went. One circle done, oh, my butt’s still itchy, let’s do another one. Scoot scoot scoot. I should have stopped him, but truthfully, I really did want new floors.
And that’s what I got.
I decided on solid hickory and ordered the floors from some place in Texas. Catherine helped my find an installer and picked out some swanky swirly black and white hotel-like carpet for the stairs and landing. Wood floors were installed, and I had them painted white. Then I painted the walls white myself. Why stop there? I slathered the white walls with Benjamin Moore’s “Glitter Effects” paint.
I’m such an ice queen. Sparkle sparkle!
(Photo 31. Master bedroom when it was white on white on white on white. The apple green settee has traveled up the stairs. You can see the light enhancing the sparkle effect and luminescence in the paint. The room looked like Snow White’s disco.)
(Photo #32. “What’s this? Competition?” says Owen as he examines little white swirly things on the black carpet. The white vanity is the same piece of furniture that was painted the soft silver down in the dressing room. “Mirror mirror on the wall” has also been dragged up the stairs.)
Okay. I’m Bored. Ditch the Doilies.
As I discovered through trial, error, and other snafus, there weren’t many artistic statements to be made through the vehicle of shabby chic design. As lovely as it is, the style just doesn’t lend itself to unrestrained creativity, other than trying to find a different way to do exactly the same thing in roughly the same color. And because of that, by the time 2010 rolled around, I’d broken the chipping, peeling, whitewashed decorating chains that temporarily bound me.
I was free.
Let's start with the whitewashed floor and work from there!
Years before, in a fun decorating book called The Paris Apartment: Romantic Décor on a Flea Market Budget, I’d seen a trompe l’oeil koi pond painted on a wood floor that I really liked. I looked at that photo over the years, thinking, okay, one day, I want that on my floor. Or maybe a close approximation.
(Photo #33. Claudia Strasser’s The Paris Apartment. Mostly due to color choices and art, my style deviates from The Paris Apartment, but this lavish little book has sparked lots of my decorating ideas.)
My koi didn’t have washes of age and softness like the floor pictured in The Paris Apartment. Instead, they were painted big and bright by our friend and artist, Kathleen Jewell, in 2010 as a wedding gift to me and Mike. She also painted pretty turquoise swirls that spanned the bedroom floor (a fitting homage to the crap circles, I suppose), an exquisite lily pad near the fireplace, little lacy vines traveling up the ceilings, and a peacock on the wall by the bed.
(Photo #34. Kathleen's trompe l’oeil koi pond on the master bedroom floor.)
(Photo #35. The master bedroom photographed by Will Hare in 2011 for the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review.)
(Photo #36. You can sort of see the peacock by the bed and vines traveling up the ceiling in this real estate photo taken by Grant Rivera. We drabbed out the bedding mostly because we slept with four dogs, all of whom slobber when they snooze.)
(Photo #37. This photo of a mirror Mike and I made out of vintage costume jewelry comes from a shoot Romantic Homes and Cottage & Bungalow magazine did at our house in 2010. Ultimately, I think the house likely wasn’t a good fit for these publications, so the editors used our kitchen for an article in a specialty kitchen and bath magazine. Hillary Black then used some of the photos for her blog, Flea Market Décor.)
(Photo #38. The carpet on the staircase and master bedroom landing made the mood of the space more sophisticated and artsy, despite its white walls. Kathleen also painted colorful birds on our pitched ceiling, which you can see over the piece of art mounted on the door.)
My dressing room also got a coat of paint on the walls and ceiling. As much as I loved pink, the house was taking on a different kind of vibe, so we painted the room in Benjamin Moore’s Chambord from the Affinity line. It’s a deep, rich purple. Additionally, we painted the dresser and armoire metallic platinum.
The paint glammed up and transformed this room.
(Photo #39. The staircase leading to the master, post-purple paint.)
(Photo 40. This earlier picture of the dressing room shows the rich, gorgeous purple paint color.)
(Photo #41. Grant’ Rivera's 2016 real estate marketing photo of the dressing room depicts a brighter wall color than the eye actually saw in person.)
(Photo #42. No dressing room is complete without a Browning Prosteel gun safe. We’re so happy it never fell through the floor. Our talented neighbor, Sylvia Lopez, made the uber fabulous ottoman. I bought the peacock floor lamp at an Old Towne Orange boutique called "Two Sisters," which unfortunately is no longer in business. The Polynesian wall statues belonged to my grandmother.)
Last and not least, we transformed the downstairs guest bedroom, painting it orange and turning it into a home office. I painted the room myself, including the metallic gold touches here and there, against everyone’s advice.
On completion, it became one of my favorite rooms ever, mostly because there’s something about a really bright orange room that lifts and cheers the spirit.
(Photo #43. My red club chair sits happily in a brightly-painted home office. The paint is Benjamin Moore’s Festive Orange.)
(Photo #44. The office from another angle shortly after I painted it. The table, which ended up at my business office, is another one of my painting projects. I added black tulle tied into bows and big pieces of crystal to the red and black lamp behind the table.)
(Photo #44. Here’s another photo by Grant. This time, in the photo, the room actually appears less vivid than it did in person. By then, in 2016, we had replaced the office furniture with some gorgeous French antiques collected at several Old Towne Orange shops.)
(Photo #45. The art in this photo, and throughout the office, is by Victor Ostrovsky. He was an agent in the Mossad before retiring and becoming a painter and writer.)
* * *
That’s all for now, folks.
The last few photos above sum up how well I stuck to the shabby chic plan.
I'll take my lumps and chalk it up as a learning experience.
Having learned our lessons and oh, so much more wise, Mike and I are continuing busily to work on the kitchen here in our Michigan home. It's been an adventure. We’ve run the gamut trying to settle on paint colors, everything from hot pink to pale pink to black to burgundy to orange to blush to red to . . .
. . . well, I'll give you a clue.
It’s going to be a shabby chic fail.