Friday, November 14, 2014

Minimalism vs. decor: where the rubber meets the road

I've been working on a number of minimalism posts having to do with food, and house size, and money.  They are turning into giant unwieldy tomes that need editing and and breaking up into smaller topics and blah blah blah they are taking too long.  So I thought I'd throw a quick little topic I've been thinking about out there in the meantime.  Can you adopt minimalism at the same time as being a decor enthusiast?

Minimalism starts with the concept that the "having of stuff" is not what defines your life.  Your life should be built around people, not things.

The notion of decor is, on the other hand, essentially defined by the having of stuff.  Pretty stuff. Stuff that will look nice on your mantel and in your bedroom.  Stuff that will make people walk into your house and gasp in delight at your design chutzpah.

What's a girl who likes (and sort of used to write) design blogs to do?  Can you be minimalist AND own pretty things and decorate your house and oh, say, RE-decorate your house again in a year or two just because you like to?

I feel uncomfortable with the question, because I fear the answer is no.

There are minimalist decor blogs, and they seem to revolve around the Scandi-chic look.  Paint all your rooms and the floors white, put up one black spider-arm sconce, a shabby vintage MCM sofa or leather sling chairs, a wooden trestle table, and the back wall of your house is floor to ceiling windows, and voila, minimalist decor.

But what if you like lots of color? You have some handmade quilts your grandmother made that you like to use in the bedroom?  You prefer layered rugs so your feet don't get cold traversing the bare floors in your wintry Scandinavian house?  Where does minimalism end and excess begin?

For a long time I've lived closer to the maximilist side. Only in the past few years have I thought about taking the minimalist plunge. I put away all our knick-knacks a while back, then brought a few back out.  But other people in this house also want to display stuff, so the majority of the tchotckes are probably going to be donated soon.


I read design blogs where people buy lots of knick-knacks, and it doesn't bother me--I don't feel the need to accumulate these things.  I can look at someone else's stuff and enjoy the beauty of it in someone else's house without feeling the need to own it.

Pillows, bedding and curtains, on the other hand, make me burn with envy.  Expensive pillows? I need them.  Bedding for every season?  Guilty.  To the trade fabrics that cost thousands of dollars? I WANT them. How do I justify spending thousands of dollars of fabric?  (I don't, but I want to.)

I  have more art than I have wall space.

 I also read design blogs/magazines/books where a room has cost $50,000, or a $100,000, or more.  If you can afford that, is it excessive?

Where does minimalism end and excess begin?  On the fifth painting or the fifteenth or the fiftieth?  When is your stuff too much?

Discuss amongst yourselves, please.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

One Room Challenge, Week Six: The Big (Seven Eighths) Reveal

As the title might indicate, I'm not quite done.


See Week One, Week Two/Three, Week Four, and Week Five.

I had some unexpected expenses last month and my budget ran out.  The room looks pretty good for nearly done.  

You might recall that the bedroom was originally navy blue, and the bathroom was full of gross carpet.



Since we are selling our house in the spring our realtor rather forcefully gently suggested that we paint the bedroom a neutral color and get that carpet the hell on up out of here.  As much as I liked the navy, I was thinking of painting the bedroom white anyways.




I love it.  It is so bright and airy.


I took an old canvas, painted it blue, threw a few stripes on it.  Nearly free art.






The only thing that I planned on doing and didn't get done in this room was new pillows. My budget ran out and I didn't want to buy something cheap just to be something new, so I'll eventually get the otomi pillow and embroidered shams when I save up some more pennies.

One thing I really like about the all white walls is that it makes the stupid pony wall less noticeable, and the space flows into the bathroom a bit more cohesively.


The new tile floor makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE.  Totally worth it.  Although my feet are freezing walking on that cold tile now.




I started painting the cabinets ugly beige, then changed course and just slapped a fresh coat of white on them.  I also decided to avoid mixing metals and am not going to put hardware on the cabinets.


We extended the tile into the toilet room.  You may remember Lady Vader from her time in the downstairs powder room.


Remaining to be done: I had hoped to get a window treatment up over the tub, and change out the vintage 80s Hollywood vanity light, and figure out what to do with the shower door, but it didn't happen.  The carpet will also be changed out, but not until right before we are ready to list the house.

I thought about framing out the vanity mirror with MirrorMate, but it is a few hundred dollars because of the large size.  I'll re-assess that decision in February.

The bathroom area looks SO MUCH BETTER now with the new floor.  I think the new floor took the room from "this is a gut job and I will make a lowball offer for this house" to "eh, its fine for now, although we'll have to do something with that tiny shower eventually." It is still dated, but it looks clean and functional.  I think a window treatment and a new light fixture would also go a long way towards making it feel a bit less white and sterile.    

Thanks to Linda at Calling It Home for giving me the incentive to get moving on this room!  See all the big reveals here.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

One Room Challenge, Week Five: Brass is stupid

The One Room Challenge continues.  I am way behind.

Catch up on Week One, Two/Three, and Four.




The cabinets were finally painted a fresh white this week.  Not by me.  My painter came by to discuss the estimate for some outdoor work and I wrestled him into the master bathroom and wouldn't let him leave till he painted the cabinets.  


In my original mood board, I wanted to paint the cabinets gray and put on new brass pulls.  I've obviously not painted the cabinets gray.  Now I'm debating whether to put hardware on the cabinets.

The entire bathroom has polished brass accents, except for the faucets.  The shower, the mirrored doors on the closets, and all the hooks are 80s brass.


While readers of design blogs know that brass is back, I think brushed brass is popular, not this shiny lacquered brass.  I hesitate to put brass knobs on the crappy cabinets, for fear of turning off potential buyers.  I also think mixing finishes by putting silver or nickel knobs on the cabinets will turn off potential buyers--it will just scream "I don't match the other outdated finishes in here, you'd better replace all the brass!"

I think I'm probably just going to skip the knobs and leave the cabinets plain.

My last brass dilemma is whether to replace the shower door.  Essentially, I have no desire to spend any more money whatsoever in this bathroom for other people--replacing the flooring was expensive enough.


The bottom of the door is corroding--it is literally crumbling away.  You'd think that would be an automatic "of course you should replace it."  However, that brass is not an in-stock option at any big box home improvement store, it has to be special ordered, and it isn't cheap.  If I went with the cheaper in-stock silver doors, then I'm starting down the road of half the bathroom is silver, half is brass.

My preference would be to figure out a way to clean the corroding part, and then slap Rub'N'Buff all over it.  That seems like I am turning into one of those homeowners that when you write a design blog you say "some jerkface previous homeowner did [insert terrible DIY fix here]!  Can you believe that dumbassery??"

I think I'm ok with that.  

I kind of have a lot to do this week if I want to finish by next Thursday.

See the rest of the link-up party at Calling It Home.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

One Room Challenge, Week Four: Oh Noes!



I started painting the cabinets "Silver Drop."  Which looked very silvery on the paint chip.  The bathroom looks a bit stark with all the white and I wanted a soft pale gray to break up all the white.

On the cabinets it looked like "dirty ecru" mixed with a bit of "ugly beige."   Not gray at all.


I stopped there.  The cabinet still looks like that; it has been a busy week and I haven't gotten to the paint store yet.  Odds are  high that these cabinets will be painted in a fresh coat of white rather than go through the drama of picking another gray.  Hopefully they will be painted before Week Five.

Only two weeks left.  Ack.

Check out the One Room Challenge linking participants here.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Minimalism: how I got started

Over the last few years I've gotten interested in a minimalist lifestyle.  I'm not sure "minimalism" is really the best descriptor of what I'm doing.  I think "intentional living" might be a better way of looking at it.  This shift in perspective has impacted so many areas of my life.  It has made me think differently about my house, my clothes, my kids, the food we eat, how we use our money, and our lifestyle.

Some people go whole hog into minimalism and take themselves down to some tiny number of belongings. That is not me.  I'm more of a whatever floats your boat kinda girl--you want to live in a dumpster with a mattress, three pairs of pants and ten bow ties?  Go for it, if that makes you happy.  I am not quite that invested, but I am interested in having less stuff in order to have more room for my life.

I've been following Jules's William Morris posts over at Pancakes and French  Fries for a few years now. William Morris is the source of the quote that is all over Pinterest:  "have nothing in your house that you do not know to be use, or believe to be beautiful."  That was where the first seeds of minimalism were planted--I can live without this stuff, because they are not contributing beauty or substance or helping me live my life.

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Last year I read two posts by the Nester that really had an impact on me.  The first was This Is the Next House.  The point of that post is to stop waiting for the next house to make your life perfect---the house you are in IS the next house, compared to the last one.  After reading this I sold off and donated nearly everything in the Garage of Doom that was being held in abeyance for the next house. (Of course, six weeks later I bought a house that was twice as big as our rental and I could have used some of that furniture, but eh, I was happier without it.)

The second post that really resonated was Nobody's Dream Job.  This post is GENIUS.  Pure genius.  To paraphrase, it says that my job is being a stuff manager, I spend all day long organizing my stuff, yelling at my kids to put away their stuff, washing and drying and sorting our stuff, training my kids to be stuff managers, and dreaming about buying a bigger house so that I can hoard more precious stuff, and no, I don't get paid to hold that job, I have a different job that I get paid for and I use that money to buy MORE STUFF.

HOLY COW, people, holy cow did that one knock me over the head.

I would like to spend less time managing stuff.

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At the core of intentional living is figuring out what is important to you, and then acting on those life values.  I've spent the past year reflecting on what my values are, and whether or not our lifestyle reflects those values.  I've decided that our current lifestyle doesn't reflect what I want it to.  It is not all hookers and blow over here, but our cash flow could be better allocated to things that are more important.

Choosing smaller, less expensive options is not a popular part of the American Dream.  It is sort of the antithesis of the American Dream. It is certainly not a popular choice  where we live in Orange County, California, home of conspicuous consumption and ridiculous wealth display. But, that is where we are headed.

We will be downsizing our big house.  Owning a nice big house was a priority that we thought we really wanted, but now that we have spent the past eighteen months with how much of our money it actually costs, and how many other things we are deferring in order to live in this house....we think we can do better.

More on this journey in future blog posts.




Thursday, October 16, 2014

One Room Challenge: Week Two/Three



It is week three and I am making good progress (see Week 1 here), but progress has stalled a bit.

We ripped up the carpet and had tile installed in the master bathroom.


It looks FABULOUS. (Although lets admit that anything would have looked more fabulous than the grody carpet.)


I also painted the master bedroom and bath from navy blue to white.  It took forEVAH.  Never again will I use Dunn Edwards paint.   (FOUR COATS. And it could use a fifth but I ran out of paint and refuse to buy more.)


I am trying to paint some art for my room.  I never get this stuff right on the first try.


There is still a ton of stuff to do! I am falling behind!  The cabinets need to be painted.  I have scoured all of Orange County for new Euro shams and window treatents and can't find what I want. And so on and so on. Best get to work, as they say.  

Check out all the linking participants at Calling It Home.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

One Room Challenge: Week One (a week late)

The One Room Challenge returns! I am a week late!  It started last week, but I just wasn't ready.  But I'm here now.



I am excited to play along at home again (see last time here and the time before that here).

We are putting our house on the market in the spring, so the realtor gave us a giant list of things to fix around the house.  One of the items was "paint the master bedroom a neutral color".  Apparently people who don't read design blogs doesn't know how cool navy blue is.


The most important thing we were told to do, even if we chose to do nothing else, was to take out the supergross berber carpet in the master bath.


Those will be the two biggest changes in the rooms.  Everything else is adding color and texture through fabrics and paint.


I think the three people who read my blog on a regular basis are thinking to themselves, "goodness, Lisa, that mood board is so....gray.  Usually your house looks like a crayon box threw up."

Yep.

The bathroom is going to be very neutral, much  more neutral than I would choose if I were staying in this house.  The bedroom will still have a lot of color from art and bedding, I think, but with lots of white as the background.

Come back next Thursday and see how far I managed to get!  See all the other linking participants here.