Category Archives: WALLS

Dining Room Update!

Just to refresh our memory, here is my original sketch for the dining room:


And finally the paint has ben laid and the chandelier has been hung!


Now for the fun part! As you can see we used the dark blue (Newburyport Blue) for the bottom half and kept the white molding throughout to give the room strong contrast. The top of the walls are painted with a slightly warmer white (Monterey White) that still adds enough definition between the stark white molding and the wall itself.

Now that I have been seriously thinking about this room, and by seriously I mean with a tape measure and budget, I have decided that a rectangular table will not work. The room is only 10′ X 10′ so the best option is to go with a round table that can be expanded when more room is needed at the table. This will allow for much more breathing room the rest of the time, which is most of the time, when the table is not expanded.

Here are my latest two sketches for the room now.

OPTION_3 DSC07509 copy

Now let’s see how close we come to this! Step one is to find the right table. Since the table is the center of the room, literally, it’s best to build the rest of the room around it. The table that I used for these sketches is available at Restoration Hardware, but is much more than I want to spend at $1,095, AND, it is not expandable. However, I will use this table as a jumping off point to find a similar look and style at a lower price, hopefully!

Everything else is more or less a stand in for now until we get the right dining table. But at least we have a sense of direction to start building!

Book It For Less!


This is a gorgeous bookcase. It should be for $2,099. If you can afford it then I say go for it, it’s on sale at Room & Board. For the rest of us that don’t have two grand to spend on a bookcase here’s the poor man’s option.


This version is sold at Amazon for $198. If my math is correct, which it usually is (cough cough) that’s a savings of $54,367. No that can’t be right. That’s a saving of $1,901. Still a good bargain for an almost identical look. Similar lines, similar design, similar colors, and a fraction of the price. Do I expect this bookcase to last a lifetime, no. Do I expect to get my $198 worth, yes! You could buy 10 of these bookcases for the price of 1 high end model. What’s that? Not cheap enough. Okay, how about this one?


Pretty much the same exact model as the one above but slightly cheaper at $175 from And you get free shipping!

Now before we all go out and buy these knock off’s you should know that there is a significant size difference (that’s what she said). The original $2k model is about 70″ wide and 72″ high. Our two knock-off models are only about 47″ wide and 62″ high. But hey, if you need more space just buy two knock-offs and you’ll still be way ahead of the game!

Prints Charming!

Neutral prints and ‘art’ are boring. Why is it that everyone hangs up the same bland prints or photos on their walls? The neutral colored leaves in a frame. Or the tan/golden/taupe trees with the sun poking over a hill. The millions of poster prints of Van Gogh and Monet paintings. My favorite are the wall hangings that include EVERY neutral color and tone in the book.


Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you want to have neutral colored prints and art, but your walls don’t always have to look so boring. Add a little playfulness and some color to what you hang. There’s millions of options out there so don’t be afraid to try something new and different. Add a bold color, an odd shape, a crazy photo. The good thing is that if you hang something up and you don’t like it, you can just take it right back down and replace it with something else.

Here’s an artist named Brandon Bird who creates some very unique and incredibly fun work. He takes a lot of ‘famous’ celebrities and other pop culture references and paints them in unique situations and different perspectives. His work is definitely for those with a sense of humor. In fact, I have two of his prints in my home now. The one below is called “No One Wants to Play Sega with Harrison Ford”:




Check out his online store to see if anything speaks to you. His work is very affordable and quite funny. He typically uses a bright and colorful palette, which can make all the difference in your home. But most importantly, his work is not all beige and tan and neutral and full of leaves!

Hang Your Head – UPDATE

I stumbled on this great article from theFIX, the blog part of It’s about how to use antlers and faux animal heads in your home. Check it out, there’s some good info here especially if you liked my previous post Hang Your Head. Faux animal heads are a very popular trend right now and the look can be had quite cheaply. Which is good, because like most trends you’ll probably want to change it soon enough anyway!


If you’re not familiar with MY HABBIT check out their website. It’s not just home decor they sell. Similar to One Kings Lane and Joss & Main, they have weekly/daily deals on all kinds of designer products. And if you’re worried about not being familiar enough with My Habit to actually buy something, don’t be. They are owned by I believe.

Hang Your Head


I stumbled on this really cool site called White Faux Taxidermy recently. I know what you’re thinking — taxidermy? Really? The key word is actually Faux, not taxidermy. Basically they sell resin sculptures made to look ultra realistic, here’s some info about how it’s done:

Resin Animal Heads Are Artwork, Not Stuffed
Resin animal heads do not have any actual animal parts. Rather, they are handcrafted artistic pieces that are made to look like animal head mounts. These modernistic taxidermy specimens do not involve a carcass. . . . These mounts are crafted using detailed photos and measurements of an animal. (Sometimes the animal is stored and then released after measuring and photography; sometimes the creator simply acquires the photos and specifications). From that point, the faux taxidermist creates a resin or fiberglass sculpture of the chosen animal, whether that is a deer, a bear or an elephant.


They make a wide variety of animals available in many different colors and finishes. And best of all they are very affordable. For example, a small bear head starts at just $30 and the larger one is only $95. Cruise around their website to see exactly what they have, it’s time well spent. These are great alternatives to the $500+ pieces professional decorators routinely use in their work. They have some ‘serious’ sculptures as well as some more fun and playful ones. And remember, these heads can hang anywhere from your dining room walls to above little Billy’s toy box, so be sure to check them all out!

A Star is Reborn!

Starburst (and I don’t mean the candy) mirrors are definitely in right now, especially in gold. In fact, the color gold is in vogue at the moment as well, we’ll talk about that in a later post.



The history of the starburst mirror goes back sometime, at least as far back as the Venetian Republic and that’s a long long time ago to you and me. But just because something has been around a long time doesn’t mean that it’s not good anymore. Look at Abe Vigoda for example! Some would say he gets better with age!

In any case, the starburst mirror is having a major comeback at the moment. They come in all different sizes and prices which is great for us. No matter if you have a small narrow wall or a large expansive one, there’s a perfect starburst just waiting for its’ chance to shine in your space. Here’s a few that I found today ranging in price from $35 to $140:

This one is from Lamps Plus and is $140, but it’s quite large at 40.5″ round. It weighs over 8 pounds but free shipping is included. This is perfect for that large space between two windows or above your bed (see the pic below). While the actual functionality of the mirror may not be as useful since the reflective surface is only 10″ round, but who cares! You’re not buying this mirror to do your make-up or style your hair.



Similarly priced is this choice from Home Decorators Collection.  It is $139, but shipping will cost you an extra $9, but it is slightly smaller at 35.5″ round. This mirror has a more aged gold leaf finish to it that adds a bit of the Renaissance to your room.


Suzanne Kasler designed this classic starburst mirror below and it’s a great deal at $99 from Ballard Designs. This mirror is 21″ in diameter and perfect for that smaller wall, maybe above a side or end table.



Here’s a very affordable option from Target for only $35. Also a smaller choice at 23″, the rays or bursts are a much more delicate and thinner style. This mirror may really pop on a dark colored wall where the thin lines can stand out more.


Sometimes Moore means Less . . .


Benjamin Moore that is! So let’s talk about paint brands.

The big ones are Behr (Home Depot), Valspar (Lowe’s), Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Glidden, and Olympic. There are more brands out there like Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart, but in truth each brand is made by another, they’re all related . . . so to speak.

Let’s get the boring statistics out of the way first. Here’s the JD Power rankings of best consumer paint brands:


Now I’ve done my fair share of painting and every time I do, about half way through the project, I remember why I hate painting so much! No matter what size the room, small or large, it’s the same amount of work to me. The actual act of painting the physical color on the wall takes just a few minutes really, depending on how much cutting in and edging you have to do. The BIGGER pain is all the mess and clean up that comes along with it. Set up the drop cloth, shake the paint, open the paint, stir the paint, pour the paint into the tray, open the ladder, get your brush ready, dip it NOT TOO MUCH, scrape some off, paint, dip it NOT TOO MUCH . . . well you get the idea. If that’s where it ended it wouldn’t be so bad. But then once you’re done painting for the day, or even after one coat, you have to clean everything up! Pour the leftover paint back into the can (I know you’re not supposed to do that because it contaminates the paint – I’m not made of money though so back goes the paint), hammer the can shut, pick up the tarp BE CAREFUL NOT TO KNOCK OVER THE WET BRUSHES, pack up all the trays and rollers and head down to the wash basin, rinse everything out DON’T USE HOT WATER YOU’LL RUIN THE BRUSH (but of course cold water does nothing), dry the brush . . . you get the idea again. In any case, it may not be the most difficult thing to do around your home, but it sure is one of the most time consuming. Wait, weren’t we talking about pain brands? Back to that.

Needless to say I’ve painted my fair share of rooms (that’s where we were). I’ve used the cheapest paint money could buy and some of the most expensive. There really should be some sort of scale in all the paint stores and home improvement centers that has a dollar amount from low to high and then a paint brand below it that corresponds to the cost above. There could even be a third line that goes from watery to pudding or thin to thick paint! Basically the cheaper the paint the more watery it usually is, the more expensive the paint, the thicker it is. And quality paint is all about thickness, or to be technical viscosity.

In my not so expert painting opinion the thickest paint I have ever used, as backed up by the JD Power study, is Benjamin Moore. Now you may be saying that’s great, but Benjamin Moore is a bit pricey, I think their cheapest level paint is still about $50 a gallon. Now this is where the title Moore means Less comes in. Yes, while $50 a gallon is a lot of money, it will cover your walls a heck of a lot better and last a lot longer than the cheaper $25-30 a gallon brands will. Plus, if you’re really good, you only need one coat of Benjamin Moore paint where you may need 2 or 3 coats of the cheaper brands, and that right there is worth big savings in both time and money! I’ve said it on this blog before, but when it comes to paint, you really do get what you pay for. There’s nothing worse than edging a room and having that long watery drip go down your wall because you saved $5 a gallon on the cheaper paint (oh yes, and to get the $5 back you have to mail in the proof of purchase and your receipt, and I’m sure we ALL do that right!?!). Even worse is not noticing until after it has dried that your paint is running in globs down the edge, nothing to really fix it at that point.

Now if you can’t bring yourself to spend $50+ on a gallon of paint that’s quite understandable. There’s no need to spend that much on primer or ceiling paint, as long as your careful about the globing effect in corners. It’s fine to buy the cheaper stuff to lay down as a base coat. You could also try buying a better quality of the cheaper brands and see how that works for you. Meaning, usually paint companies like Behr have 3 different qualities or levels of paint, basic, mid-level, and high end. Maybe try the middle one if price is an issue and see how that goes on. Spending even just a few extra bucks could make all the difference in your room!

I have other great painting tips, like buy the most expensive brushes you can afford so the bristles don’t fall out, and what type of finish to pick for which room, or how to edge around molding and corners, or how putting your brushes in the freezer between coats can save on cleaning time . . . but we’ll cover that some other day!

It’s All in the Decals!

Following up, sort of, with an earlier post about wall decals. My wife, who is also a graphic designer, has the unfortunate luck to actually have to go into an office everyday. Until recently, her work space used to be a dark, dank, dimly lit corner. But then they added some bright colors, moved some desks around to open up space and just the other day added this really cool decal to their wall.


Obviously as a graphic designer myself I have full appreciation for the content of this decal. But, from a more interior design prospective this is also a great choice. The contrast of the black and white decal on the red/orange painted wall is perfect! The Periodic Table of Typefaces adds some whimsy and fun to an otherwise typical office. Check out the link above to Scribble on Everything, there’s some other great decals on this site as well. This one was only $49 and look at how cool it looks. You would never be able to find a framed piece of art or print for anywhere near $49, at least not one that would take up this much space AND look good doing it!