Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Crush

Our family...we've been at the beach this week, enjoying one of our favorite times of year. This is our crew...that continues to grow with little ones each time we come back. It's been a great week :)

Hope you have a wonderful weekend...see you Monday!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

designBoard: Emma's Dorm Room

A month ago, Emma's mom, Tenia, contacted several of us bloggers about putting together some ideas for her daughter's dorm room - a great idea! I know that when I went off to college, I definitely wanted a cool room, but stuck to the regular big box store offerings since I didn't know any better.

And although big box standbys are great for their price (and thus can handle some dorm wear and tear without guilt), mixing them up with fun fabrics and accent pieces can really give the room a unique personality.

A tour of Emma's board:

1) The main fabrics in the background were the inspiration point. The green fabric is Robert Allen Les Fauves in Grassland, and the yellow fabric is Robert Allen Cats Cradle in Sunshine. I would keep dorm bedding clean and simple in white, but give the bed a bit of color with a big pillow made with the green fabric backed in the yellow fabric. I would also use the yellow fabric for some very simple curtains. Curtains go a LONG way in a dorm room! (even if you just install them with a tension rod)

2) For the desk, I would choose a classic Parsons silhouette. This one from Walmart is a great price at $50, and I would prime it and paint it a glossy lavender shade, like Plum Dandy from Sherwin WIlliams (don't forget to buy the $5 sample pot, which will be plenty to paint the desk). I would suggest searching on Craigslist for a traditional dining chair, and then painting it and recovering the seat in a green stripe fabric, or perhaps more of the yellow accent fabric. I would finish off the desk with a colorful gourd lamp in green or another bright hue - these lamps can be found at places such as HomeGoods or TJMaxx for around $50.

3) I'm a big fan of white bedding, as I've mentioned, so I would do white sheets and a white down comforter, but I would add color with the decorative pillow from #1, a blue cotton blanket used on top of the bed's flat sheet, a colored throw in a contrasting color and a couple of ikat toss pillows. I lived with white bedding in college, and it worked out great. If anything, I could easily bleach it and not worry about it if I got anything on it.

4) I would also take a trip to HomeGoods (or I hear Big Lots) to find a porcelain garden stool in an accent color - extra seating is always nice for study nights. And, it doubles as an end table for books or a perch for a dinner plate. A golden pouf is also a great place for friends to crash to watch a movie or chat.

5) Curtains and rugs are two items that aren't often used in dorm rooms, but can really bring a lived-in feel to a cinder block room (at least, mine was cinder block). The black zig zag rug is one of my favorites from Nate Berkus' collection for HSN and adds a nice graphic punch to the room.

6) Other accessories include some hip vintage horse head bookends and an original abstract painting - both can be found on Etsy. Skip the Twilight poster and buy some colorful art to bring all of your room colors together! 

Good luck at college Emma! Hope you find some inspiration to get you started!

p.s. Several other bloggers are participating in this fun inspiration board today, so keep your eyes open for some other ideas!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

DIY Boxspring Cover

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I opted for a boxspring cover instead of a bed skirt for our bed to keep the look clean and tailored. Another reason I picked the cover is that I wanted to make something custom for the bed using the curtain fabric, and covering the boxspring seemed easier than making a bed skirt.

Having now finished the cover, I can say that this is a very easy, no-sew DIY project. It takes a little time and patience like anything DIY, but no skills beyond ironing and gluing are needed. Read on for instructions on how to make your own!

Materials for a Queen size cover:

- 2 yards of 54" wide fabric*
- Iron on adhesive (like Heat 'n Bond) - 1 pack 3/8" wide, 1 pack 1" wide (it might not be exactly 1", because I can't remember, but around 1" wide is good)
- Fabric glue (like Unique Stitch)
- Staple gun
- Scissors
- Yard stick/ruler
- Pencil
- Iron

*A queen size boxspring is approximately 60" wide x 80" long x 12" deep. 2 yards of fabric will give you more than you actually need, but if your boxspring is several inches larger than these dimensions you may need to adjust your yardage. Also, if you are trying to line up a pattern, you also may need more fabric (and how much more depends on your fabric). If you are at "boxspring cover beginner level", choose a simple fabric to keep it easy.

1) Measure your fabric into approximately 15" long horizontal strips and mark the strips with a pencil (so each strip is around 15" long x 54" wide) . This does not need to be exact, but don't make your strips less than 15". I used one of those lap desks (you know, plastic top with bean bag underside) whose top was about 15" tall to mark my strips, but you can also do this with the yard stick and just good ol' measuring. Once your measuring is done, cut your fabric into your four strips.

2) Next comes the iron-on adhesive to "hem" the top and bottom of the strips. The reason I did this was to prevent the cover from fraying over time. I chose a very skinny width for my iron-on adhesive (3/8") because I didn't need a large hem - just enough to fold over the raw edge on each strip. Follow your iron-adhesive instructions for application. Fold over the top edge of each strip and the bottom edge of each strip, and use the adhesive to permanently hold the fold, thus creating a "hem".

After hemming each strip, you will also want to fold over the selvedge on the right and left side of each strip and adhere it so that the selvedge is hidden on each strip. (The selvedge is the edge of the fabric, usually in a different color, that has the name and fabric details written on it)

3) Once each strip has been "hemmed", it's time to apply the strips to your boxspring. (A side note: this project is indeed no-sew, and that's how I made mine. In hindsight, sewing the strips together to make one 15" long x 216" wide strip would have been a good idea, if you know how to do it. Keep in mind the selvedge of the fabric, which you'll need to hide with your seams.) I applied my cover to the top side of my boxspring also using iron-on adhesive like Heat n Bond. This time, I chose a wider adhesive to give me more hold (I think it was around 1" wide). I started at the head of the bed on one side, and slowly adhered the top edge of my fabric strip to the top of the boxspring with the adhesive. Make sure you press down nice and hard to ensure everything sticks together.

As I finished up strip #1, I started with strip #2, and made sure to overlap it over strip #1 to make the cover appear seamless (I lined up my stripes accordingly). I glued these seams together with some fabric glue (see below for a picture of the fabric glue tube) and kept going with my iron, adhesive, and overlapping all of my strips until I reached the other side (note that you are only covering the sides and foot of the boxspring).

p.s. In my picture above, you can see the selvedge edge of the fabric. I knew that edge would be overlapped, so I didn't bother folding over the selvedge, but for ease of instructions, just go ahead and fold over all of your selvedge edges in step #2.

4) You'll find that the two corners at the foot of the bed provide some fun entertainment in the form of excess fabric - but nothing some folds and glue can't cure. I folded each corner as shown in the below picture and glued the heck out of it as I went to keep the excess fabric in place.

5) Once you've adhered all of your strips to the top of your boxspring, call in a friend to help you flip over the boxspring (which should be done gingerly to not disrupt your strips). You'll attach the bottom edge of each strip to the underside of the boxspring using a staple gun. Most boxsprings have a wood construction, so stapling into the wood on the underside provides a good hold for each strip, and it's actually easier than using the iron-on adhesive.

Once you have stapled the bottom edge of each strip to the underside of the boxspring, you're done! Call you friend back to help you flip over the boxspring, and voila!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section - I'll compile any questions into one response, so check back if you asked something. Happy boxspring-covering!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thank you Washingtonian

Thank you to Washingtonian magazine for naming Aesthetic Oiseau one of DC's best design blogs in the August issue. And I'm in great company with DC by Design and Department of the Interior. What a thrill!

The AO House: Master Bedroom

Our master bedroom design started with a set of bedroom furniture that used to belong to Mama Jo (Carter's grandmother). The set includes a chest of drawers, vanity and lovely four poster bed. The bed is a double, so we'll be saving it for a guest room down the road, but I knew I wanted to use the chest of drawers and vanity.

Our previous bedroom had used black furniture and cool tones of white and light aqua blue (now in one of our guest rooms). With this "new" set of brown furniture, I was looking for warm, neutral tones that would lend themselves well to a gender neutral space. The word I kept thinking was "handsome".

I luckily found my inspiration fabric soon after we moved in, and from there, I was able to pick out coordinating pieces and created my designBoard. Do you remember it?

To make the below "after" images that much more exciting, here is a picture of our bedroom "before".

We live in a cape cod style home with slanted ceilings in our upstairs bedrooms, which Carter and I really love, but it does make furniture arranging a bit tricky since you can't push furniture up against 90% of your walls.

So, here is our bedroom now...

Since I found my inspiration fabric pretty early on, the design had been swimming around in my head for about a year before we actually got around to painting the room and putting it all together. And, I will say that everything came together just like I wanted and I didn't stress about it...don't you love it when that happens? (probably because I had about a year to think everything through and thus didn't make any rash choices that I later regretted!)

Some highlights for those interested:

- Paint is "Desert Camel" by Behr and I love it. Truly the perfect shade of tan/khaki for our room. Worked well with our lighting, and we painted our ceiling the same shade, which you can't really tell in the pictures, but it helped break up the choppiness of our sloped ceiling since the edges now blend together.

- The bed is the low profile "Louis" from Ballard Designs. The headboard is made of cane (hence why the light is streaming through it) - it was one of two furniture splurges for the house and we love it.

- Khaki blanket and "tufted" comforter are from Target. I bought the blanket one size too large to make sure that it tucked all around the bed since it is exposed when the bed is made.

- I opted for a DIY box-spring cover to keep the look of the bed clean with no skirt. Instructions to come tomorrow!

- The fabric I used on the back of the decorative pillow, Soleil Sun Stripe in Mocha by Waverly, is what I used for our curtains and our boxspring cover. Stripes strike again.

- Mama Jo's vanity serves as my nightstand/vanity and laptop desk on occasion. I found the bamboo tray on eBay, and the other knick knacks at HomeGoods. My vanity chair is a very nice hand-me-down from my sister-in-law. I just found some new fabric to recover the seat.

- Don't you love Carter's nightstand? It was one of my favorite finds for the room - the legs make me happy. It's from HomeGoods.

- Celadon lamps bring out the blue in my inspiration fabric. They are gorgeous and have a beautiful Chinoiserie gold finial. Christmas presents from my m-i-l.

- Bamboo shade is from Overstock (and we have inexpensive mini blinds that tuck behind it that we actually use for privacy).

- Mismatched sunburst mirrors are from HomeGoods (do you see a pattern here?).

If I find a good rug, I would consider it for the room to bring in some more color, but we like the look of bare floors as well.

I only took the "money shot" of the space, because the other areas of the room aren't quite finished. The chest of drawers/closet area is pretty plain (I'm upholstering a bench on this side of the room) and we have a deep nook which is empty at the moment. We're contemplating a reading chair/ottoman situation.

DIY box spring cover instructions on tap for tomorrow.

p.s. I took the bedroom pictures kind of randomly one morning when the light was good, so excuse my wrinkly sheets and my non-perfectly-styled bed. But, this is what the room actually looks like in real life, so that's better anyway, right? (Actually, throw a shirt or two on the vanity chair and some scattered shoes and my hair dryer hanging out of a drawer, and then you'll get the true picture).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Crush

Photo by Mikkel Vang via

A "tented" striped ceiling in the most beautiful shade of blue by Carleton Varney. If there was a tray ceiling anywhere in my house, you bet I'd be game for something like this. A reminder of how something as simple as paint (ok, and a ruler, and some tape, and lots of patience) can create a wonderful focal point. I'll also take that hot pink throw.

Hope your weekend is full of wonderful things - see you Monday!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Schumacher Lotus Garden

A big thank you to Heather who named my pillow fabric yesterday...I can't believe I was in the dark for so long (I had indeed tried to search it out with keywords, but never landed on the proper name).

Well, as soon as Heather armed me with the name, I skipped off to the Schumacher site to search for it properly, and discovered my fabric has sisters! And they are BEAUTIFUL. My mouth was agape as I reviewed the many colorways of Lotus Garden:





I'm hopelessly devoted. This is fabric perfection. Isn't each swatch a work of art? I'm all for the whimsical side of Chinoiserie, but this fabric epitomizes Chinoiserie elegance. The stylized birds and flowers are beautiful and I think the Tobacco strikes a nice chord between masculine and feminine. I also love the mix of colors in each option. And since I have the Lacquer, I can  attest to how drop-dead divine this fabric is in person. Ok, I could go on and on.

A fabric like this is a luxury (and worth every penny) but don't forget that a little yardage goes a long way. I was able to make a huge pillow that is the centerpiece of my room with less than a yard since I backed it with inexpensive coordinating fabric (which I also think makes for a more interesting pillow). And, I still have a piece left over to do something else in the room like cover a chair seat or make another pillow.

Consider small ways to incorporate stunning fabric - pillows, framed panels, a chair seat. Fabric this beautiful easily takes center stage, even in small doses.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Show and Tell

Show and tell time.

I made this pillow and I'm kind of in love with it. It might be my crowning achievement thus far in my sewing career.

The front-side fabric is by Schumacher, and I have very strong feelings for it. I based our entire bedroom design off of just this fabric. Recall the designBoard...I know someone will ask me the name of this fabric, and I actually don't know! Anyone know it? I picked up my yardage on eBay and never caught the name of it.

It's also the fabric Sarah Richardson used as "wallpaper" for her dining room:

The back-side fabric and welting are done in an outdoor fabric by Waverly from their "Sun N Shade" line called Soleil Stripe Mocha. I didn't intend to use an outdoor fabric for any reason - it just had the right hues of brown and ivory and the price was right.

I wanted our bed to just have one, large decorative pillow - and this is working out beautifully. I bought a king size pillow as the insert, and the dimensions are exactly what I needed. It wasn't easy (especially because there was a zipper involved), but I'm so happy I did it.

I know I'm teasing you a bit this week, but a reveal of the bedroom is slated for next week and you'll see how I translated the pillow into a room.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The AO House: Bathroom Peek

If at first you don't succeed...

This was our bathroom several weekends ago. Note the eleventy billion paint samples on the wall and resting on the back of the toilet and the edge of the sink.

After falling in love with this inspiration bathroom, I was determined that a blush pink paint color would look beautiful in our bathroom coupled with my ikat stripe curtain fabric (dangling on the left of the shot). I did my due diligence and searched far and wide for the perfect shade. I did NOT want to make the mistake of painting the whole room the wrong color.

Many of the shades were a bit too pink (and didn't look as nice as I thought they would) and some were too dark. Our bathroom has very little natural light, and the recessed lighting is not very helpful to the paint colors (which look marvelous in the store). After much deliberation, I decided on Powder Puff from Martha's new line at the Home Depot:

I was looking forward to trying this new paint line - the sample shades are all very attractive. The gallon was pretty pricey (I want to say something like $35), but the paint quality was lovely. A thinner paint that is easier to paint with, but has great coverage and true color. And it didn't stink up my small space. All great points.

The only bad point was that it was the totally wrong color. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Seems I can never get a break with paint. Even with samples, I manage to pick something that doesn't work.

Once I was done painting the whole bathroom, the color was just screaming "PEACH" on the walls (even thought it's more of a very pretty light beige in person - I think it only looked peach because of my lighting/bathroom space). Don't get me wrong - peach can be great in the correct context - but it just made the bathroom look dated.

So I threw in the towel that weekend. I was pretty frustrated, and decided that my shower curtain fabric was not helping me in the color choice department so I abandoned my plans.

I sat on it for a week, and decided to make life easy by picking-up a ready-made curtain that I liked at Target. It became my new inspiration point, and we finished the major work on the bathroom this weekend. Finally!

I still have some final changes to complete, but here's a sneak peek:

I will definitely do a full post on the final bathroom. As you can see, it's quite the departure from my original inspiration, but I like this version so much more! I'm glad I called it quits when I knew it wasn't right - hard to walk away from a plan you want to work, but in the end, this bathroom came together really quickly once I was happy with my picks.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Small Task, Accomplished

We had a very productive weekend. Carter helped me accomplish a slew of small tasks, which mainly involved hanging things on our walls. After 1+ years of being in the house, we still mostly have blank walls so every room feels unfinished. My goal this weekend was to start to remedy that.

One task on our list was to finally hang my plate rack in the dining room. This plate rack used to hold our wedding china in our last place, but I now have my wedding china stacked on our bar cart, so I picked up some informal plates to display (that I can also now circle in/out with my wedding china to create different looks).

I found a set of four blue and white porcelain dinner plates at HomeGoods. They were inexpensive and decorated in a pagoda theme, so they were perfect for the space (the centerpiece of my dining table is an oversized, blue/white ginger jar and the seats of my two head chairs are upholstered in blue/white pagoda fabric).

On a trip to Lucketts a while back, I found the most beautiful set of floral dessert plates in shades of green, chartreuse, lavender, plum and white - the exact shades of my dining room. My original thought was actually to put the blue and white plates on one rack, and the dessert plates on their own separate rack, but then I thought - why not combine them?

And I'm glad I did because I like the finished result:

You can't really see the pagodas on the blue/white set of plates, but I like that the geometric pattern of these plates frames the dessert plates so well.

It took us all of five minutes to get the plate rack up, but it was just one of those things that hadn't made it to the top of our list for months. And now, the room feels almost complete (just need to hem some curtains).

The little plate rack project also reminded me of my love for mismatched china. I love contrasting patterns used together in almost anything, but especially plates. It gives your table an interesting, layered look. Granted, I also love a full set of immaculately matched china, but mixing it up is always beautiful.

Like this amazing example by Miles Redd:

Design by Miles Redd via

Yes, please.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Crush

image via

Walls covered in delicious de Gournay, orange [velvet?] chairs and glossy gray molding, courtesy of Massucco Warner Miller. I love the lines of the chairs (especially the legs) and the height of the head chairs. Is it just me or could the room user a larger light fixture hung a bit lower? Either way, this room is wonderful...definite dining room inspiration.

I plan to make more progress on our bathroom this weekend in the hopes of actually finishing it! We'll see how it goes. Hope you have a great weekend - see you Monday!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Touch of Horn

I love a touch of horn in a room. I'm slowly amassing a little collection of horn accessories because every time I see something that's horn, I tend to bring it home.

Case in point, these horn pencil cups below. I picked them up on a recent OKL sale and I plan to use them as bud vases. They are lovely (and by Frances Stoia if you want to Google your own):

I also have a small ivory horn and wood keepsake box and matching picture frame in our bedroom and a small horn-handled magnifying glass in our living room. I find horn to be a chic touch in almost any space.

Remember this t-d-f Manhattan apartment by Miles Redd? He used a horn paint treatment on the door casing, baseboard, and ceiling molding of the bedroom. Genius. I'm in love with these images:

Both photos by Thomas Loof via

With an actual horn on the nightstand to boot.

If you are a horn lover like me and would like a touch of horn for your own space, I saw these lovely picture frames available at Ten Thousand Villages:

I think I found most of my own horn items at HomeGoods (or perhaps TJ Maxx) so be on the lookout next time you go!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fabric Joy

My, my, my, have I found a wonderful fabric to share. Have you seen Kravet's Teablossom print? Feast your eyes:

The coral version is just delightful. I see this fabric on a gorgeous upholstered bench and some chairs in a breakfast nook...or as curtains in a colorful, feminine, Chinoiserie bedroom. All of my favorite colors are represented - green, turquoise, orange, coral. I love using this kind of print to bring lots of colors together in one room.

Kravet is obvi to the trade, but I did see it online here for ordering. And if you do buy some, tell me what you did with it! Would love to see this fabric in action.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Every day, I take a moment to delight in something I'm passionate about - interior design. When I started blogging, I didn't have any expectations. I just knew it would be fun to put my [constant, consuming] thoughts on virtual paper. And fun it is.

There's actually a lot for me to say about blogging, but the singular best thing about this experience has been the people I have met, virtually and face-to-face. What felt like overnight, I was introduced to so many fellow bloggers that share my interest with the same passion and zeal - and I've learned so much from these new friends.

Today I stand with my blog friends remembering Marija of Holding Court. She shared our passion and our zeal. I did not know Marija personally, but a fellow voice is gone and it's a sad day in the blogosphere.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The AO House: Bathroom During

As promised, here are pictures of our bathroom "during". In looking for photos to post, I realized we don't have great ones, but these shots for the most part show what we've done with the space.

Click here for the before pictures. Now the during:

We started remodeling the bathroom as soon as we moved in, so knowing NOTHING about remodeling, we kept everything simple and white. We picked up the subway tile and the wainscotting at Home Depot. The wainscotting came in a nice kit with the chair rail and baseboard that was easy for Carter to install.

We found the floor tile (also white) at a local tile store, and the Kohler toilet and sink at Lowe's. The faucet fixtures we bought online, because I couldn't find anything I loved in the stores. And the tub, as I mentioned in my past post, we had reglazed white to cover its previous mustard color. The tub currently in the bathroom is a cast iron number, so it would be nearly impossible to remove it from the bathroom to replace it with a new one. For the hassle and expense, we decided reglazing was our best option.

It was a lot of work for Carter and his dad, but we're happy with the result and the bathroom (mostly to be used by guests) is now a fresh, clean space. It  definitely needed some color to warm it up and give it some character, which has been my project for the last couple of weeks.

This weekend, I finally found a good color to go with and I'm almost done with the final touches. Pictures to come as soon as the "after" is complete!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Crush

Shut up. I love this chandy. I could see it looking fantastic in so many different rooms. Could you imagine it in a dining room? As in, my dining room? Amazing. If you have a cool $2K and need a purple glass chandelier, click here.

My bathroom and I got in a fight last weekend. I had to walk away and regroup this week, and I'm willing to work on repairing our relationship this coming weekend. We also have a fun lunch date with great friends and more progress toward completing our fireplace on the schedule. I'm looking forward to it - hope you all have a sunny summer weekend. See you Monday!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The AO House: Bathroom Before

My current project is the main level bathroom. Well - it's not so current. "We've" been working on this bathroom since we moved in to the house in April 2009. This bathroom and the kitchen were the main projects that we tackled, as they both needed a complete gut job renovation.

Carter, his dad, and my dad all pitched together to complete different parts of the bathroom reno. And, it's actually been done for a good while (several months). When they were done with their genius work (you should see the tile job in our shower by my father-in-law), they handed me a beautiful white box, which as I've mentioned before, has been quite a challenge (so many possibilities).

As I will likely post more about the bathroom as it slowly comes together, I thought I'd show you what we were working with in some "before" shots:

Glorious mustard yellow/peach-ish tile

As you can see, it was old, dirty and way ugly. And yet, we didn't run away terrified when we toured the house. I'm actually very fond of this type of tile work typical of our home's era (1950s), but the color of these tiles was NOT working for me. We've decided to keep the tile work upstairs, but this tile (and basically everything in this bathroom) had to go.

Demolition begins:

Farewell sad little mustard toilet.

The finishes in this bathroom were one of the first things we picked, and looking back, I would have made some changes (doesn't that always happen) but overall, I'm happy with what we've done. The floor and shower have gotten new white tile, the walls have gotten beadboard wainscotting, the tub has been reglazed to white and we have a new toilet and pedestal sink.

I will post more pictures, but there is no fun in an "after" without the "before"!
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