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Design-and-Color Challenged

I love to decorate. Love it. Just take a look at my sidebar and see how many decorating blogs I regularly (daily) check out. But I'm not good at it. Really. It's one of those things that I keep hoping "practice will make perfect" but I know, in all honesty, that although I might get a little better with lots and lots of practice, it's not something I'm a natural at and therefore it will always be difficult for me. I don't "see" things like Layla does. I envy Kim's artistic talent. And where would I be without Kimba's blog for inspiration? And I love Rhoda's style. The person that I wish I knew in person, hands down, is Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick. Well, I do hope that I get to know her a little bit next month as I have asked for a design consultation with her. But for now, I have these two:Tom and my stepmom Bonnie spent a couple of hours today talking about what it's like to live with someone who loves beautiful things but doesn't know how to put it together (that would be me) and some big-picture design/color ideas from Bonnie.

In my past 14 years as a homeowner I have grown a lot. I know a lot more now about what I like. I'm better at saying "no" when someone wants to give me something they think I need but I don't like/don't think it will fit in with my "look". And I'm starting to understand scale. I understand quality and demand it more often. But really, my husband is and always will be 100% better at color and style than me. I am impatient and after going to the paint store with Bonnie on Saturday and not being able to find the perfect-green-that-I'm-looking-for-in-my-living-room in under 5 minutes I was done. I know design takes time, but no matter how long I think about it, it's just not really ever going to "come" to me, KWIM? So here we are. . .
Our living room is a funny thing. It is HUGE. We really have never been able to figure out what to do with it. We have lived here 3.5 years now and still don't know what to do with it. We didn't even have furniture for the first 2 years!!! Really. I figured out my paint colors pretty quickly -- they weren't what I had in mind in my "dream" home, but we had to make them work with what we already had -- finances and a 300 mile move demanded it. So I picked a greyish-green for the kitchen, a deeper-end red for the dining room, and a soft yellow for the livingroom and up the stairs. Well, we are now tired of the yellow. And tired of an incomplete room. And my stepmother is a decorator. And she was here this weekend. Here is a tour. . .The first picture was taken from the front door, turning to your left, and the above image is (obviously) looking at the front door, standing in the doorway leading to the kitchen. To the left in the picture is the stairway leading up.
The kitchen, as you can see, no longer green. (The stairway is now on the right of the picture.) Tom painted it this gold-ish color in October when I was away on Fall Break with the kids. I *love* the color (he was "tired" of the green) but it just doesn't go with the yellow any longer so it's time to change it. Green is what I have in mind, but not the grey-green we had in there. An olive-y green. There is some of that color in the rug under the unbelievably messy coffee table (which always looks like this)and look. . .I see a box from CHRISTMAS still there. The things you "see" in pictures. Nevertheless, I digress. There is this specific green color in that area rug and in the picture above the buffetwhich is my absolute favorite piece of furniture in my house (it sits between the two front windows). It's really my father's buffet, from his mother, but it didn't "fit" into the condo that he and Bonnie moved to several years ago so I was allowed to keep it for now. . .and still thankfully have it. . .I love the storage but mostly I love the piece. I've done pretty well with accessorizing the top, thanks to Sarah's blog inspiration. The angel was on top of the Christmas tree and never quite made it back into storage. . .Marie loves it sitting out so we'll keep it for awhile longer. With the snowmen.Yea, the sofa table. I don't much like this piece of furniture either (with my Bible still sitting there from church) but for now it's what we have. We bought all of this really great quality oak furniture -- coffee table, end tables, sofa table -- piece-by-piece when we were first married and it was great with what we had at the time. But now I'm looking for something more traditional. With more storage. Someday. . .
Anyway, storage IS a problem for us. . .the stuff stacked to the left of the table? All of our schoolbooks and such that we use to "homeschool" and play school. The bottom shelf contains table clothes, a basket I adore but have no where to display, and it looks like a box of Kleenex. If you pivot you see this:I really can't believe I am posting my messes for all the world to see but I'm keepin' it real today. This is our family desk (my dad was checking out everything he was missing by not having a television here). I do clean it off and 2 hours later it is usually back to this. Again, lack of storage. There aren't any closets or cupboards or anything around to keep this stuff in so here it all is. Bonnie suggested putting all of this behind closed doors and I agree. . .but don't have a few thousand (or even hundred!) to spend right now to do that. So it's just a matter of not letting it get this bad. Moving on. . .Here is a shot looking into the dining room. We are now on the left side of the room with the kitchen entrance on the other side of this long wall between the doorways:
Tom's cousin Debbie is also a talented decorator (she suggested the kitchen paint color) and accessorizer (is that a word?). She thought I needed a "collection" so for my birthday a few years ago she purchased a couple of crosses for me. It caught on and now I have several and quite enjoy growing this collection -- which I have since learned, from blogland, is called an array.
Here is a shot from the other end of the room:
What, you ask, is that green stuff peeking out at the bottom of the photograph?? Why, it's this:
My husband can't resist plants. This one started off small enough but it morphed into this in less than a year! He has the green thumb, I don't. And the stuff stacked behind it? More games and puzzles. . .remember, no storage. (BOTH buffets are full of games and puzzles too -- which were purged right before Christmas.)
This is a BIG, HUGE empty corner. I tried making it a craft area and had it all down here for 6-8 months but I couldn't stand having all that JUNK in my living room. So back upstairs it went (where I don't use it nearly as much) and I'm back to this empty corner. Bonnie suggested making it a reading nook. I like that idea :)

Speaking of Tom's green thumb:Plants are everywhere. And I wouldn't mind so much if we had flat surfaces for them. But for now, here they are. . .the scraggly tree-looking thing in the middle of this buffet was about 6 feet high and we put it on our front porch this summer. . .it about died off so I guess we'll leave it indoors now. I'm happy with this piece of furniture too and it's placement in the room. I also like this arrangement at the bottom of the stairs:It's simple enough and doesn't get in the way. In the fall and at Christmas I had hung wreaths on the mirror and am missing that decorative touch. . .I've seen some pretty cute V-day ones floating around. . .not a priority right now though.

I wanted to show you one more consideration. . .Whatever color we paint the living room, we have to take it all the way up the stairs and to this common area:(That is the door to the girls' bedroom, the boys' bedroom is behind the camera, the bonus room to the right and the bathroom door between the sofa Thomas is sitting on and the television.)

So. . .picking out a color in the living room effects a large section of the house. It's a lot of paint and time so we need to be careful about our choices.

What did the design team decide?
I'll get back to you on that.

Feel free to give me your opinions too! No one can be more critical than I am, I'm sure. I'm thinking this will be fun to transform. . .


  1. My opinion? You have a beautiful home. I'm no good at decorating - I know what I like, what I respond very strongly to, but haven't the slightest idea how to make it happen. I know where you're coming from with your storage issues - I'm eager to see if you find a solution!

    Thank you for the advice on my Friday post. I need to apply the Rule of 3 to my everyday life, especially in the face of the changes we're going through. I appreciate any little bit of guidance!

  2. Jenni,
    Your house is beautiful! I wish I had advice for you, but I am decorator challenged too, lol! I have been doing my blog for about a month, if you want to check it out.
    I need a digital camera bad, but I am hoping to get one in a few weeks! I hope school is going well for you! Take Care!

  3. I get a kick outta you having furniture in your house. It just looks strange to me. I think I feel more comfortable with nothing there :)

    Aw, I miss you! Have a good week!


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