Pedicure: paint a little happy under toe

The Manse just had beautiful Hickory hardwood installed in the downstairs, and the hallway of the upstairs.  The hardwood that is original to the home in the two upstairs bedrooms it was determined, would remain.  Having never been refinished, they are substantial enough to withstand a serious sanding, and could then be refinished, but I think that after a good buffing, and the right shade of paint, they will look pretty spectacular.

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Hoxton Hotel . Paris

I am a fan of painting floors.  I’ve painted on new hardwood that I just had installed, and on floors that have seen better days.  There is something that feels coastal about a painted floor – though distressed and casual is not the look I am going for in this instance.  I’ll ask for the finish to be high gloss.  This small upstairs bedroom, with it’s twin beds, deserves to have a little drama.

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Benjamin Moore . Bridal Rose

The walls are going to be painted in Benjamin Moore’s Bridal Rose – a color that I am fond of, and which made an appearance in No. 2 in my bedroom.  It’s so subtle most people don’t see that it’s pink.  It’s sophisticated, not girly and that suits me too.

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A little worn, but they’ll be good as new.

I want to pair it with a hue that resembles this seating area in The Hoxton Hotel in Paris. It’s dark and a bit muddy or moody and that appeals.  If you happen to know the name and maker, please do tell.  I plan to email the hotel and inquire.  There will be no moldings in the house, so I will plan to paint the floor, the base and the interior doors in the hue.

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A slick and sophisticated look.

Think preppy, but all grown up.  Fingers crossed I get the approval I am looking for.  I’ve been told I can do a single room – anyway I want.  I am hoping that wasn’t followed by a …. as long as I love it too.  I think in the end, it will meet the approval of the Owner.

Happy Sunday.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Painting with bold hues

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Little King . Brooklyn . NY – Photograph by @cainite_via Instagram

I’m a rule follower.  I always have been.  I like the structure of a rule.  I feel that following them has kept me out of a good deal of trouble over the course of my life.  I’ve liked them, I’ve hated them (while still begrudgingly holding true to the line), and apathetic to them too.  So why is it then that this “so called rule” bugs me so much?

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No. 3 Waltham Street . Benjamin Moore’s Deep Royal

Article ,after article, I read about the cardinal sin of painting a small space in a dark hue. “Don’t even think about it” some warn.  “Turn you eye toward the barely there pigments” others instruct.  To that I simply proclaim – “What the “f#!x?

Left:  Keepsmilinghome.blogspot  Right:  No. 2 in Benjamin Moore’s Peacock Feathers and Cole and Sons Wallpaper

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “This rule should be broken”.  It should be broken frequently, and with a bold disregard to the prevailing authority.  Sometimes rules simply must be cast aside as ridiculous and archaic.  I’m not saying it to be a rebel, I’m simply disagreeing with the premise entirely.  I’ve lived my life in small spaces.  I’ve colored them dark, and light, and cozy.  We humans like a cozy spot to call home, and wrapping yourself in the warmth of a rich, deep, hue really is all the to-do.  Am I expected to live my life in white because I live small?  I think not.

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As we turn back, and enter the dark days of winter, I encourage you to embrace colors that have a little personality.  Start slow if you must.  The interior of a closet, a powder room, a small mud room or laundry room.  Test it out if you don’t trust me yet – I won’t be offended, but be prepared to begin an affair with your bad side….and I mean that in the best possible way…of course you know that.

Let’s Get Seated: finding the “right” chair

As I look around my tiny little apartment I wonder to myself how it’s possible I could need more seating options?  After all, I’m sitting on a stool as I write this.  It’s true, it was originally intended for my outdoor deck, but I have used it as a side table in winter, and now as a perfectly good perch from which to convey my thoughts to the world.

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Bungalow5 . Taboret . in its new incarnation.

 

From this vantage point I can see 2 Louis Ghost and 2 Victoria Chairs – the iconic design by Stark for Kartell, at my dining table.  I have used those for so many purposes to date, it seems a bit crazy that I ever entertained the idea of retiring them from service.  They are light weight, easy to move, incredibly strong – supporting over 300 lbs. for all their airy, light appearance – they are lifers in my world.

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Oly Studio . Neta Benches front and center . Louis ghost and Victoria’s all around.

I’ve previously mentioned that I have a teensy stool obsession.  I don’t think I’m ready to seek counseling, but if I cave and get one or two more, I might need to admit myself.  I see two Bungalow5 Taboret Stools in the living room.  I have owned these since No. 1.  They were black when I first purchased them, but I had them repainted, in a pale peachy blush – the color in fact is ….. wait for it …. Benjamin Moore’s Salmon Berry.  How shocked you must be that I’ve referenced a Ben Moore color.  He will forever be like a new boyfriend to me, and I simply can’t resist exalting his dreamy qualities to you all.  He’s beyond.

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Benjamin Moore . Salmon Berry

Lest you think I am done, I can also see two Oly Studio Neta Benches.  Their Zebra Raw Hide upholstery is hard to miss.  These were also purchased for No. 1 at a time when I could barely rub two nickels together to make a dime.  They cost a fortune, even by my standards today.  One of them had a most unfortunate accident, which resulted in its leg being severed. I spent a good deal of time in search of a furniture doctor that could repair the damage, adding even more cost to these little stools.  Saber legs (the name given to their curved shape) are very delicate.  Just in case you were wondering.  Every time someone sits on them, I wince a little, and hope it holds.  We’ve been through to much together to part ways.

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No. 1 . The Oomph Chair front and Center.

There is the Oomph Slipper Chair, which was in No. 1 and then found a new home in the Surf Shack, but which I have borrowed until I can make the decision, which is what has brought us here today.  That was a bit exhausting, and I didn’t even mention all the other stools that have found their way to other homes over the years.  When they get adopted, I can assure you, I have done my due diligence.  They won’t be used as a stepping stool in some drafty garage.

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Souflee you’ll have to wait for another day.

So here’s what I am considering.  It’s no secret that I want the Kelly Wearstler, Pouf Chair, with it’s gold metal legs that defy gravity, but I am not getting it.  It’s simply too expensive.  Sorry Kelly.  Instead, I have been contemplating swivel chairs.  There is something so enticing about being in motion, and being hypnotized into relaxation, all at the same time.  It’s just the trick I need in order to let go.  It’s two swivels and an acrylic from which we must choose.  How did I land on an acrylic in the mix you ask?  First, it’s beautiful.  Second, the versatility of acrylic in small spaces is undeniable, and therefore should always be part of the conversation.  You don’t have to choose it, but don’t exclude it.

No. 1:

Bernhardt Interiors:  Hastings Swivel Chair . $1420. Overall: 30″ w x 34-1/2″ d x 35″ h

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Bernhardt. boxy but crisply tailored.

No. 2:

Ballard Design:  Larkin Swivel Glider . starting at $899.  Overall: 33 1/2″H X 29 1/2″W X 36″D

Ballard Larkin

Ballard . pretty lines . a little messy.

No. 3:

Worlds Away:  Duke BG Acrylic Klismos Chair . $1437.50 Overall: 21.5″W X 31″H X 19.5″D

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Worlds Away . Duke . undeniable versatility.

Please weigh in – don’t make me decide on my own!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mom’s out there.

La . La . Laduree: ain’t we livin’ the dream

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Geometry . Beautiful

Every once and again I come across a restaurant or a retail store that I want to move right into.  I think to myself, who needs a kitchen (in the case of a clothing store), or who needs a closet?  Well, I absolutely need a closet, but I could pull in beautiful lucite racks made by the caring and talented hands of the Brooklyn Gals at Lux Holdups.  Those would work.  Those would most definitely work.  There’s a timelessness to lucite that makes the installation glide seamlessly into any era. Masculine or feminine – ca march – it works.

I first visited Laduree in Paris on the Rue Royale when I was just 19 years old.  Now they have locations is fab cities everywhere.  Their pale green bags and boxes, accented with gold, won me over before the first French Macaroon, in all its pastel, delicate elegance melted on my tongue.  They are like rose petals in every hue, and my love of color has me mesmerized by the silver dollar sized delights.  It doesn’t stop there though. The stores design is perfection, as my friend Samantha House would say.  Pastel perfection with a geometric twist.  I love screens, and diamonds, and circles, and squares.  It provides a viewfinder to something beyond.  Draws your attention to a scene, or color or space, that you might otherwise not notice.

 

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Green and gold, black and white …it’s all stunning.

Laduree is a garden party, it is a fairy tale, it is a fantasy.  Life can be well…exhausting.  Laduree, and spaces like it, are replenishing.  Your shoulders drop, your lungs fill with oxygen, your synapses start firing.  I tingle, just a little bit, and not in a way that I think I am having a stroke, and need to google WedMD to see if I am dying.  In the good way, like I am a child again, and possibility, creativity, and imagination reign free – in a place before the adults told you otherwise.  That’s Laduree.  It’s Alice in Wonderland without the creepy animal heads at the tea party.

Ladurée Celebrates Its New Beverly Hills Boutique With Jimmy Choo

Peachy Pink Perfection and Lattice Delight.

The ice cream parlor green, peachy pink, the black and white diamond floors, and daisy accented walls, the layers of lattice, and pastel pallet of paints is precisely what I long to reference when I design No. 5.  Finding a millwork specialist that is willing to do something out of the ordinary – and not charge me an arm and a leg, will be the challenge. I’ll find them.  This week, after being turned down three times by Electrical Contractors too busy to help, I pulled a guy off the street to do the work.  I literally saw them out the window, dragged them into my unit, and begged them to finish the job that my contractor  could not finish himself.  Thank you Giroux Electrical Contractors.  girouxelectric.com.  You were my Knight in shining armor.

Getting close friends.  Really close to finished now.  No. 5 doesn’t seem so far away.  Happy Saturday.

You know how to whistle don’t you?  Just put your lips together and blow.  Whistle worthy desserts.

Money Can’t Buy Me Love: Finding a way

Money…what a disdainful word.  I sometimes love it, sometimes hate it, and often live in fear I won’t have enough of it.  This is all normal.  Everyone must make choices, decisions, look longingly at an item, or a destination that must wait for another time.  This longing is a good thing.  It forces you to ask why you want something (in my case it’s typically because it’s beautifully designed),  and it keeps me up at night, devising ways in which I might obtain said object, or falling into a fitful sleep where I dream I own it. That about sums up my obsessiveness in a nutshell.

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Amir Khamneipur’s . Gold Table

Unrequited love got me thinking about this.  A few months back I read House Beautiful’s edition about small spaces.  They featured an interior designer’s home in Manhattan.  Just 700SF.  Amir Khamneipur’s home is exactly the home I would craft if I had that kind of money.  It’s so clever, it’s a grey goddess of color beauty, and it’s accented by mirrors, and metallics.  I am a big fan of all.  It features a gold dining table with a powder coated base in off white.  It’s heaven, and I have been like a lovesick teenager doodling images of it on the pages of my notebooks, expressing my adoration at every turn, and finding a way to bring it up, casually in conversation.  Ugh, a fool for love.

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www.thechroniclesofhome.com – Jen’s DIY Grasscloth coffee table.

This table is in fact, one of Mr. Khamneipur’s own designs.  You can buy it.  This tiny little bit of a table, just 2 feet wide by 44 inches long, runs at a cool $7900.  Well that price made my love go stone cold.  The table is too small for even my little dining nook.  If I am completely honest I had a moment of total insanity when I contemplated getting two to fill the space.  Please!  It clearly was not meant to be.  Fate has a plan for me, and it’s not Amir’s table.

Left:  Grasscloth Wallpaper . Wallpaper Direct  Right:  Benjamin Moore’s Peach Cloud

I got to thinking about customizing a piece that will appropriately fit the space.  I do want that gold top, but the logistics and timing, not to mention the cost, had me considering another option altogether.  What about grasscloth?  How hard could it be to do make one on your own?  Surely, there must be someone out there that does just this thing.  Well in fact there is.  I found a gal who has a blog called The Chronicles of Home.  Jen even lives locally.  Now she is a DIY’er, and I am not.  I like to say – “You Can Do it….I can help”!  Jen made her own custom grasscloth covered coffee table.  Quite lovely.  She riffed on a World’s Away Design, covering the base in grasscloth as well.  Me, I plan to have my Dad construct the table, and my wall covering expert paper it.  Once it’s papered I plan to run two fat gold metallic stripes down the center with a peach stripe crisply inserted between the two before I varnish the whole thing.  I may paint the legs gold too instead of covering them in the grass cloth.

Left:  Ralph Lauren’s Metallic Gold Paint Right:  Farrow and Ball’s Lotus Wallpaper.

Love should be willing to meet you at least half way, don’t you think?  Happy Home Adventures.

 

 

Mad Dash on Moving Day

Never enough time in a day, and often too much time to make decisions that would better be made in a few minutes.  I say this having no evidence whatsoever that my agonizing and indecision, my procrastination, and hemming, have resulted in any better a decision making process than those made on a spur of the moment.  Those spontaneous decisions don’t carry the weight of uncertainty, or result in costly scheduling delays.  How could they.  You simply make them.  What a novel concept.

Well it looks like I am at that point, like it or not where I will be making many a decision which are the result of months of delays, and which I could pretend to myself were made in an organic and spontaneous fashion.  If for no other reason than to make myself feel better.  This late Sunday, the decisions are exhausting.

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decisions . decisions.

I will leave the comfort of my sister’s home, and head to my new home.  I will paint the freshly painted walls with a host of new sample colors and when I awake in the wee hours of the morning, I will make a bleary eyed decision on the new living room wall color.  I simply cannot live with Alpine White, which screams yellow to me.  To name it white seems like false advertising.  Come on Ben Moore.  I thought you were on my side.

Left:  Benjamin Moore’s Calm – Right:  Benjamin Moore Vintage Taupe

I’ll shuffle down the hallway to see if I can locate a box marked bedroom, and dress my beloved bed.  We’ve only been separated a short while this time, but I miss it nonetheless. If I can’t locate it, or muster the energy to dig it out, or climb to the top of the stack and bring it down, I’ll just crawl on top of that unmade bed and close my eyes.

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Benjamin Moore . Cloudy Gray

Tomorrow is another day.

Hope you close out January strong.

Work in Progress: me and everything I do

There’s something so reassuring about knowing I am not finished.  I understand many people like closure.  I know they want some defined moment that says, “I’ve arrived” or “I’m done…finally”.  Life rarely presents perfect moments, so for me, knowing that I can get better, do better, learn something that I’ll apply the next time, is both gratifying, and comforting.  I don’t have to beat myself up for falling short, for not having the right words just when I needed them, for not knowing the sequence, the consequences, the heartbreak.  Oh we type A’s can be tough on ourselves.

A good decision.  Installation of an original South End door…Perfect.

I attempt to preemptively prepare for this – I do it with varying degrees of success.  Today, I know that I got some things wrong.  We boarded before we had the electrician wire – mistake.  We painted the kitchen cabinets before we ripped out the countertops –  mistake.  We are still in the process of negotiating AC, and will have to enclose before we have approval – delay – additional cost.  I’ve spent hundreds of dollars sampling colors for the new place.  If anything is certain, despite my best efforts, one or more of the colors I select, will not turn out the way I intended.

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Finding my way….Galbraith & Paul Fabric and Farrow and Ball Lotus Wallpaper with Benjamin Moore Paint Samples

C’est la vie.  Note to self, don’t do that again.  There will be another opportunity.  While I will surely make new errors in judgement, and come across situations I hadn’t been faced with before, they will be new, and I will learn from them too.  Sometimes these lessons feel like a black eye, and sometimes they feel like a gift.

Left:  Dove White  – Right:  Cloud White, Benjamin Moore

This tiny little Hanson Street property feel like a gift, even if I do have dark circle under my eyes.  It is going to be a petite bijou – a little jewel, and what gal doesn’t love jewelry?  No gal, I know.  My charming little bedrooms are going to be havens – the corridor leading you to the a perfectly aligned point, each door installed at an angle.  My not so subtle reference to the bow of a boat.  My need to express my coastal upbringing ever-present in my design.

“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.”  John Ruskin

Left:  Lavender Blue.  Right Top:  Violet Mist.  Right Bottom:  Whirlpool – all Benjamin Moore…it’s the best!

Cheers to vitality.  Apparently I have a lot of it!

Kitchen Confidential:spaces that are pleasing to the palette

While I might want to believe my intentions are good, I feel a touch of guilt over my somewhat unsustainable leanings.  One of the very first impressions that my new little home will make once you walk through that door – which also must go, so I am sending up prayers to the Gods of the Trustees … of the condominium that is – that they approve its replacement.  It simply won’t do for the first, first real impression.  But what of the second, once that door opens, you look directly into the kitchen.  A kitchen that has black granite counter tops flecked with mauve.  You can’t make this up.  Followed by shaker cabinets, stained in an orange hue, and sunshine yellow walls.  “Perfect” says my Father and building advisor – “I’d move right in”.  Oh how we disagree.

Left:  Hanson Door . Not to be mistaken for a handsome door. Right:  Original South End Brownstone Door – reclaimed from an earlier project – how sustainable!

When it comes to matters of the heart I have been told I’m too picky.  Discerning perhaps, and since the kitchen is the heart of the home, I plan to keep an eye on it.  My eye is telling me that the cabinets must be changed, the countertops must go, and my heart is telling me to do the right thing where our environment is concerned.  Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t present a pickle for me.  I’m going to keep those cabinets and paint them.  If you know me at all – the countertops are no longer welcome.  If the suit makes the man, the countertops dress the kitchen, and you wouldn’t put that bird on your Thanksgiving table without dressing it, would you?  Don’t answer.

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Simply divine.  Painted cabinetry done right.

Ensuring the coat that will hang over that suit, suits your longing for quality craftsmanship, I recommend getting a professional.  While it’s not impossible to engage in a DIY painting party, cabinets are tricky.  They are finished with, well a protective finish designed to allow you to scrub the dirt and oil that is right at home in one’s kitchen.  Cleaning thoroughly with a TSP Solution, sanding, cleaning again, filling any gauges or grooves, and then painting is a tricky endeavor. Dust likes to get in every nock and crannie. Unless you are planning on erecting Zip Lock Barriers, Installing Hepa Filters, and  constructing a clean room for spraying the fronts, the quality you are likely to get will be sub-par.  If you find yourself tempted to google any of the terminology I used in this paragraph, just skip it, and look for a Pro.  Trust me, the money you spend will be worth it.

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Devon Kitchens . my cabinetry crush.

Even my own builder doesn’t like to paint the cabinets.  He says it makes him nervous.  Whenever anyone says something can’t be done, I simply remind them about the Pyramids.  Of course money was no object for the Egyptians, and it most definitely is for me.  Still, I’ve painted a picture of how I see this culinary hot spot, and so it will be.

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Benjamin Moore . Catalina Blue.  Did I get it right?

Happy Sunday.

 

Tone Deaf: neutrals that sing pretty

Neutral isn’t exactly a melodic word.  I’m afraid for many it elicits feelings of the lukewarm, of the refined, of the boring.  However will I scale that steep hill of prejudice and ensure that my new space is happily sophisticated?

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White, cream, tan, brown, grey, and black are all essential neutrals.  They are not necessarily quiet, as is evidenced by black and white combinations, or dark chocolate and a cool stark white, but they can be.  Warm creams, paired with tan or taupie grays, and whites that incorporate trace amounts of the primary colors – Red, Yellow, and Blue, and your secondaries – Green, Orange, and Purple, create the subtlest undertones.  I know this, and I know which neutrals sing the prettiest tunes to me, so why am I denying myself the sweet sound of gray?  I love it.  I am hypnotized by it.  This is not poetic license to sell a point.  I literally become entranced, and am calmed by gray spaces.  For me it is the perfect cool compress to a heated day.

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Amir Khamneipur’s Manhattan Apartment . House Beautiful.            Heaven to me! 

The reason is simple.  When I started this quest, I promised myself that every nest would be different.  Now I suppose I could have sold a book about ten gray, one bedroom condos, but even writing it sounds a little boring to me.  So number four is going to be cream and white in the living area, some variation of sage green or slate blue in the kitchen.  The bedrooms are still to be determined.

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I would be lying if I said this palette didn’t make my chest tighten a bit.  My breathing become a little shallower.  Who would have guessed that something so bland could initiate a panic attack?  Don’t worry, I won’t pass out.  With my new Stephanie Shank Painting as my point of focus, with all its beautiful peaches, and sea foams, sky blues, and purple hues, I can feel the rosiness returning to my cheeks.  I’ll get through this, and I know just how I’ll do it.

Benjamin Moore’s:  Left . Paisley Pink.  Right Top . Tissue Pink . Right Bottom . Wild Aster.

Accent colors will play an important role in this new home.  In keeping with the soft whistle of a tune I am creating, the shades will be pastel.  Pinks, violets, pale blues, and greens are all getting serious consideration at this stage.  To give it a little edgy interest I will throw metals in the mix, perhaps a brass legged coffee table, brass hardware throughout, fabrics of varying textures for those that feel the need to touch everything…like me.  Ah ha, it’s feeling more interesting by the moment.

Left . Oly Studio’s Diego Cocktail Table . Right Top . Schumacher’s Najang . Right Bottom . Knoll’s Boucle Classic Fabric in Cream.

Painted Into a Corner

Ever feel like that?  Wondering to yourself how it was possible you didn’t see where this thing was going?  Seven minutes, a floor plan no one can, or will verify, an inadequate video, and a few pictures cribbed from the on-line posting.  That’s what I have to go on by way of making my design decisions.  Oh – it’s ill advised to do it this way.  Mistakes will be made, unnecessary expense paid.  Why wasn’t I born with that patience gene?

Option 1:  An asymmetrical built-in in the living room which would house my enormous television or a decorative plaster wall.

These are questions I often ask myself and clearly I am unwilling to change.  I will be designing it before I have the keys and can sit quietly in the middle of the living room and figure out why the space feels so small when it’s got such great volume.  12 foot ceilings are pretty grand.  Is it the size of the windows, the standard doors which are a little too wide and not quite tall enough, or are there simply not enough squares in my corner?  I’ve lived in spaces far smaller than 708 feet.  In my experience these questions get answered in dramatic aha moments when you are finally given time to be in the new home.

Option 2:  Keep it clean and simple.  Left:  Benjamin Moore – Chantilly Lace (cool)  Right:  Benjamin Moore – Swiss Coffee (warm).

These moments are sustaining.  This gal can’t be expected to only experience the type of aha that comes along with an unforeseen conditions report, followed by a change order, a schedule delay, and if you are me, tears of frustration.  Some of it has to be good, and much of it is.  That’s the news I would like to share today.  Remember, paint is cheap.  If you do find yourself in that corner, as I often have, just sit tight.  Let it dry, walk right over that problem, and start again.  It’s not finding yourself in the corner that presents the challenge.  It’s not exercising the muscle that let’s you find your way out.

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Farrow and Ball . Lotus

Option 3:  Paint and select accent wall for the use of this sophisticated wall covering.

You see what I just did there?  Gave myself permission to make lots of mistakes.  It’s Sunday.  Absolution abounds – if you are prone to similar mishaps, just remember, some corners are cozy.