Category Archives: WALLS

To Display or Buffet, that is the Question

I am about to start redecorating my dining room soon. Currently we have a hand-me-down dining set with matching table, chairs, and china cabinet with hutch on top. The whole set has certainly seen better days, but has very much served it’s purpose. Recently I was at JC Penney and walked through their newly designed home section. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do so. Very modern and stylish, yet still very affordable, a big plus in my eyes! You wouldn’t think that a store like JC Penney, that sells $6 sweaters and $12 jeans, would  have such a cool home section, but they do. Jonathan Adler, Michael Graves, Conran, and Martha Stewart (among other designer names) have even signed on for exclusive lines with Penny’s.

So the question is, do I stick with a hutch style cabinet, or do I go with just a buffet cabinet with no hutch/display shelves on top? The dining room isn’t very large, only about 10 X 12’ish. The problem with EVERY cabinet/hutch that I’ve ever seen is that they are way too large. Usually they come in two pieces and weigh about 3 tons each. It takes a team of oxen to carry the furniture in to the house. They require an entire wall dedicated to propping them up with barely any room on either side. For these reasons, and the fact that my dining room is so small, I think the buffet style cabinet alone is enough. It will open up a whole wall essentially and still give me about the same amount of storage as I would have had with the giant hutch. Granted, I will have to find other places to display some items that are currently living in my hutch, but you can always rotate them in and out of whatever ‘display’ space you end up using, weather it’s on the table or buffet top, or in another room altogether.

So, back to JC Penny. A new dining room set can cost you thousands, or hundreds depending on the quality. I say thousands before hundreds because when it comes to wood built cabinets and tables you truly do get what you pay for. Yes, I could get a complete dining room set, table chairs, cabinet, hutch for as little as $900 at some discount furniture store (I mean you Value City, more on them later). But it will be made out of pressed board with laminated wood grain, and maybe it will last for a couple years before the shelves begin to sag and the ‘wood’ begins to turn color. But if you spend your money on quality constructed items made from REAL wood and made by REAL manufacturers who know what they are doing, that set will last a lifetime, quite literally!

Here’s the buffet cabinet I am thinking of at Penney’s. It’s designed by Conran and is currently $1,275. Of course there are always coupons and credit offers that can knock this price down a few hundred bucks, not to mention the perpetual sale JC Penney’s always seems to have going on. I like the lighter oak wood veneer finish with the geometric squares along the front. This will add a great contrast to the walls behind it which will probably be painted a dark royal blue with white walls and trim above.


Design by Conran Icarus Grid Sideboard

I’ll keep you posted on the progress as we begin to start redesigning the whole dining room. Next up, table and chairs!

Goldiloks And The Three Frames?

You can usually tell who hung something on a wall by the height at which it was hung. Tall people hang pictures, mirrors, etc very high on the wall close to the ceiling. A real no no for me. Short people tend to hang things too low on the wall so you’re almost walking into them. As for myself I am not particularly tall, ok I’m short, but I am the ideal height to hang things! At 5 foot 8 inches I am just about the average height of men and woman in America (woman average around 5’4″ and men 5’10”).

The most important thing to remember when hanging anything on the wall is EYE LEVEL. If you’re not sure how high something should be hung just think about the average person’s eye level. So for you tall folks, sorry, you’re gonna have to bring it down a few inches. And likewise for us shorties, we have to raise things up a bit.

Take a look at the drawing below and use it as a guide next time you are hanging that portrait of Aunt Louise and Uncle Ichabod.


With the basic eye level rule of thumb you really can’t go wrong.

Get the Modern Family look!

Following up on my last post I said that I would be picking a few highlights from various ‘famous’ living rooms and showing you how to get a similar look for your home. I decided to start with Modern Family as most people would like their rooms to look more like this than The Golden Girls, presumably.

Take a look at the image below so we can know what we’re aiming for.

Modern Family

Modern Family

I’ll start with the paint, the gray blue slate color of the walls we see in the entry way above in particular. This is a great color for someone that is sick of white and beige but not ready for reds and bright greens. There is just enough blue to actually make it colorful, but also enough gray to keep it somewhat neutral.

While it is tempting to skimp out and buy the cheap paint, don’t! Trust me, more often than not you really do get what you pay for. I’ve painted a lot of rooms in the various places I’ve lived, and some I haven’t lived in, and the one thing I have been able to take from that is don’t buy the cheap paint! Drips, runs, spills, watery, pealing, are just a few words that come to mind when you skimp out on the paint.

My favorite paint is Benjamin Moore. It is quite pricey but goes on much thicker and covers more surface area than the cheaper brands, so in the end the price evens out a bit. A quick search on the Benjamin Moore website and a similar ‘Modern Family’ palette is found called Nimbus Gray. It’s almost a perfect match all around!

Benjamin Moore Sample

If you are afraid of adding this dark of a color to your wall, especially in smaller spaces, remember you don’t have to paint the whole room the same color. Try painting the main wall the dark color, an accent wall essentially, and then the two side walls in a lighter shade of that color. Or, in the pale yellow as shown above. Paint companies actually do a pretty good job at matching complementary colors for us, so we might as well use that tool, hell it’s free.

Now let’s take a look at their couch. There’s nothing extraordinary about the sofa, pretty standard as far as shape and size goes. The color is sort of a cross between pale yellow and light camel. So what can we find that’s similar AND affordable for our budget? Take a look at this choice below from JC Penney’s home store called the Friday Twill ($955 on sale).


This mock slipcovered sofa is a great deal at just $955 right now! This is that classically comfortable sofa that you can just plop right down on and read a book, watch TV, or just snooze away the afternoon. And coming in under $1000 for a new quality sofa is pretty scarce these days.

Now how about some pillow talk? Pillows are one of the best ways to add color and texture to any room. When I say this I don’t mean you should add 47 colorful pillows to your sofa and chairs and leave the rest of the room blank. I simply mean a few well placed and well patterned pillows can bring the whole room back together. *NOTE: Never add 47 pillows to anything unless you are a sheik of some sort.

Sticking with the Modern Family decor as pictured above, let’s take a look at this pillow from Pier One Imports called the Scatter Daisy Stripe Pillow ($15).


This brightly colored pillow is going to make your living room pop in an unexpected way. Most people would think that a pillow this bright would overshadow the rest of the room, but that’s not true. When you introduce an accessory that includes some of the colors already existing in the room it actually helps make those other things pop as well. Your eye ties the reds together, the yellows together, the blues together and so on making everything work as one.

While these pillows are made to be used outdoors, that doesn’t mean they cannot be indoor pillows as well. In fact, what that means to me is that these pillows are going to be remarkably stain resistant and durable, which is a very good things in a living room! And for $15 you can’t beat the price so buy a few.

And finally, let’s shed some light on the whole situation with this mustard yellow table lamp from called the Distressed Honey Mustard Handle Table Lamp (there’s a mouthful) for $107.


This lamp has a unique shape that will add some character to your room without becoming the centerpiece. One thing to think about with ALL lamps is the shade. Just because a shade may come with a certain lamp you buy, that doesn’t mean that’s the shade that HAS to go with it. In this case a slightly lighter shade, or conversely a much darker or even black shade, may work much better for you.

So those are my four quick elements to getting the Modern Family look. What are yours?

Decals, decals, decals

If you would have told me a few years ago that hanging a wall decal in your living room was a good idea, I probably would have said “SURE BUDDY, YOU DO THAT!” In my defense, the only wall decals I had seen up to that point were those FAT HEAD sports decals for kids rooms and man caves. Not exactly high style.

But recently I have seen more and more designer wall decals. They come in many sizes and a wide range of prices. This is the perfect solution for those of us who have a large empty wall and lack the coordination and skills it takes to cover it with photos and paintings that are all perfectly level. How many times have I tried to align a group of photos only to get to the last one and realize they’re are all misaligned? Or on the flip side, how many times have I tried to make photo frames look scattered and random on a wall only to discover that it just looks messy and all together wrong?

Here are a few ideas that can work for larger walls.

CHERRY BLOSSOM from You can customize the color of the blossoms and the branches as well as choose which size you want (starting at $35).



BIRDS ON A WIRE also from ($25-$75).



Keeping with the birds, TARGET offers this affordable option for about $15.



DANDELION BLOWING IN THE WIND is a very cool option from dalidecals, especially on a dark wall. And like many of the other sites you can customize the decal for your color scheme.
The extra large size of this is only about $65.



The good thing about all these decals is that they are affordable. If you hang one up and decide you don’t like it anymore, you can just peel it off and replace it with another!

Note: I would probably not suggest these decals, or any decal really, for smaller walls less than 8 feet or so in width. It may end up looking like you forced something into that space that wasn’t needed. For smaller walls stick to paintings, prints, and photographs that are appropriately sized.