Category Archives: The New House

The Great Color Conundrum

I’ve got a huge confession to make. We have lived in this house for almost a year now, and about six months into it, I got tired of living with so much bright color. There. I said it. It’s good to get that off my chest.

It’s not that I don’t like color or appreciate what it can do for one’s mood, but there was just so much of it all around me. After a while it no longer seemed to reflect mine and my husband’s personal taste. And let’s face it, the eye does need a rest after a while. Am I crazy for having a change of heart so quickly? For me, bright color is like the guy you thought you’d marry and love forever, but turns out you just want to date him on the weekends.

So about a month ago I made the decision to start removing the bright color from our main living spaces and injecting more neutral tones into the home.

First up was the living room. Here’s where we started.
colorful-living-room Nice and bright! The teal overdyed rug is was obviously the major source of color in the room (besides The Walken).  Step number one was to replace the rug with something that had a little more texture and neutral colors. Enter the Beni rug…
eric-on-beni-rug I purchased this rug on sale at and it’s honestly one of the best purchases I’ve made for our home. I knew it instantly when we rolled it out on the floor. It made the room feel so much warmer and more like home. Perhaps it’s because I had a cream shag rug in my last house and I just missed it. I don’t know why, but I love this rug. And obviously Eric does, too!

After replacing the rug I noticed that the wall color seemed a bit on the colder side of gray. It was the only gray color the builder offered at the time, and to tell the truth I think it really worked well with the brighter colors. But now that the color was gone the gray-blue hue stuck out like a sore thumb. The room looked cold and I needed to warm it up. So I turned to my Sherwin Williams fan deck and picked out a warm greige color called Alpaca. It had the exact same tonal value as the original gray, but the hue was slightly different. If I hadn’t told anyone that I repainted the room, they probably would have never noticed. Here’s a photo of the color as it was going on the wall. Can you see the difference?
paint-colors Even if no one else noticed the change, I noticed and it made me very happy. Michael requested that we keep the back of the house light and bright since we have all those lovely windows, and I think SW Alpaca was a perfect fit. So then the room looked like this.
painted-walls Ahhhh! Much better. So clean and fresh and full of possibilities! You may have noticed I switched out my colorful pillow covers for more neutral covers and some furry lumbars from Arhaus. When going neutral it’s important to add more texture. Texture gives a room life and keeps it from looking flat and boring.

The coffee table tray got a little makeover as well. It went from this…
coffee-table-tray-color To this.
coffee-table-tray The oversized tray is from West Elm and I love how large it is. It’s the perfect scale for my ginormous coffee table. I purchased a new one in the silver leaf finish because I have so much brass and gold in the room already, and this girl likes to mix her metals. The Kate Spade hot pink crystal vase was switched out with a vintage tortoise shell vase from Flair Vintage Decor, a new grouping of books were stacked up, and my little faux marble black and white Target tray was added for another layer of texture. Topping it all off are my vintage antelope figurines and my mother-in-law’s crystal votive holders which add an element of sparkle to the mix. Whether you’re creating an entire room or a simple vignette, it’s important to bring in a good mix of materials so that you have a variety of finishes. This grouping is great because I have elements of glass, metal (silver and gold tones), wood tones (in the vase) and paper.

So there you have it… The living room is well on its way to being a cozy retreat for the Julians. There are only two things left on the to-do list for this room: 1) install a larger light fixture, and 2) create different artwork. Both of which are in the works as I type. I hope to be posting on those updates in the next few days. Can’t wait to have photos of a finished room! Hope everyone has a great week!

Featured Artist: Brian Tull

Happy New Year everyone! Wow, wasn’t 2013 the craziest year ever? The Julians went through a whole year of constant change, and it seems many of my friends did as well. While I’m happy that 2013 is done and over, I will say that I will always be grateful for the change (sometimes forced upon us) that will transform our lives for the better.

One of my new year resolutions is to take time to finish unfinished business, and that starts right now with a post I promised weeks ago. Do you remember the glimpse I gave you of my Chanel painting? Here’s a better view.

My friend, artist Brian Tull, painted this for me. Brian and I go way back, and in fact he was the first person I ever hired off the street to work for me at the publishing company. His full name is Brian Lee Tull, and I affectionately call him BLT.

Brian has been painting professionally for many years and is now represented by Tinney Contemporary Gallery here in Nashville, TN. His preferred painting style is photorealism, although he has been known to create the occasional abstract piece. The scenes he creates are often from the 50s and are cropped in ways that create tension, leaving the viewer wondering what is just beyond the edges.

for-we-walk-by-faith For We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight | oil on panel | 60″ x 36″
1635_miles 1,635 Miles | oil and acrylic on panel | 40″ x 40″
we-talked-about-love We Talked About Love | oil on unprimed birch panel | 42″ x 25″

Aren’t his works amazing? I swear I could just reach out and dial that old rotary phone. I love his compositions and I’m a sucker for photorealism. It’s no wonder his paintings sell before he can even hang them in a gallery.

I have always wanted an original BLT, so when we signed on the dotted line to build this house, I asked him if he would consider doing a special painting for the new place. A majority of my career has been in advertising and I’ve always loved the iconic Chanel ads, especially the line of Warhol prints. I did a search and found the poster I remembered hanging in the ad agency where I worked years ago, tweaked the colors to my color palette, and handed it over to Brian.

I was so excited to see the progress that he sent me regular progress photos. He’s such a good friend!
changel-stage-2 And here’s Brian, all smiles as usual.
brian-tull I have a pair of jeans that look just like that. Don’t we all?

I picked up my Chanel the week we moved into the new house and found the perfect place for it.

I just love the bright colors, the faceted bottle and the iconic brand of Chanel. And I’m so grateful that I have a piece of art from a close personal friend that means so much to me.

So do you guys have any cool art you love? Was it a gallery purchase, a thrifted find, or something you painted yourself? I’d love to hear your stories!

Buh-bye Stripes!

About a month or so ago I was hard at work striping the foyer. While it was good in theory, when it came right down to it I just couldn’t finish it. The color was all wrong for the rest of the house and it didn’t have the vibe I was going for. I got no further than this:

foyer-almost-done I know I said I was going to finish it but I COULD NOT bring myself to do it. I knew something was wrong so I put a halt to the project and lived with it like this for about a month (yes, with the blue tape, too!). For whatever reason the stripes were a hit on Halloween as all the little trick-or-treaters and their mommies gazed into the foyer in amazement and said “I love your walls!” The realtor in the model home told me that no one else in the neighborhood decorates with vibrant color, let alone graphic stripes, so I guess it was somewhat of a spectacle for them.

Well if that was a spectacle, get a load of this!
foyer-from-hall Bet ya didn’t see that coming! I’ve seen tons of chic rooms dressed with Thibaut Tanzania wallpaper, but at $115+ per single roll, those spots are just a little too rich for my blood. I decided to tackle it DIY style, similar to what Kristin did with her curtains, but with a lot more crying and fist pounding. Here’s how it went down…

I knew I wanted to do spots of some sort but most pre-made stencils had more rounded, dalmatian spots. I really like the random and somewhat jagged look of the Tanzania spots, so I drew out some spots in Adobe Illustrator and made my own template using Danika’s repeating pattern tutorial.

I went to my local sign shop and they recommended a thin vinyl product that already had a low-tack adhesive backing. Awesome, I thought. Now I won’t need to buy spray adhesive. The stencil was cut on their big fancy vinyl cutter.

cutting-stencil And I came home with a shiny new stencil!

finished-stencil The first application to the wall was a breeze. I carefully lifted the stencil, placed it on the wall and smoothed that sucker out. The vinyl was thin so I figured rolling on paint with a foam roller would be best. This was too easy, I thought to myself. It was all going so well…


Until I lifted the stencil from this second application and it stuck to itself. AAARRRGGGHH! You know what happens when low-tack meets low-tack? It becomes high-freakin-tack! As I tried to pry the stencil from itself it started to tear. (Cue the crying and fist pounding)

I have no photos of this part as I was too consumed with trying to get it back to a usable state. I had to walk away for a while and let my very patient husband work on it. When he was tired of trying to save it I went back to it and managed to get it all flattened out again after about an hour. It was torn to bits in some areas so I Scotch taped that shit back together. I mean, what the heck, it’s spots, right?

I got back to work and managed to get two more sections painted when disaster struck again. There was a lot of static and a breeze caught it and…I was DONE. There was no way the stencil would be salvageable. I spent the rest of the evening trying to figure out how to get this wall done. It was Sunday, so having another stencil cut that night was not an option. It was also not an option that I was going to spend good money to have another one cut only to have it stick to itself again.

Later that night I had the bright idea to have another stencil cut the next morning, but this time spray some talcum powder on the back to reduce the tackiness. And wouldn’t you know, it worked like a charm. Whew!

foyer-from-front-door I FINALLY got to hang my Chinese Chippendale pagoda mirror that I scored on craigslist months ago. We hung it on the wall and I sighed a huge sigh of relief. And the Chippendale console table is one that was left over from our estate sale this summer. It got a little makeover with my friend Molly’s spray gun in Sherwin Williams Eros Pink. The little rug is a handmade Persian Kerman that I picked up at a yard sale and for now it will stay in the entry, but will eventually be replaced with a long runner. I’m still working on that. For the most part (at least for right now), this foyer is finished.



As I type the words “this foyer is finished” I can’t help but ask, should I stencil all the walls in the foyer? Would it be way too much? Or maybe just paint the other walls in the darker gray color of the spots? I’m on the fence about it. I think I’ll live with this for a while and take my time contemplating my next move. That seems to work best for me. :)

The Great Room (in progress)

We’ve been here two months and it seems like we’ve been here only two weeks. So much to do and so little time! I can’t complain too much, though. We are thoroughly enjoying this new house and I am enjoying the decorating process immensely (when I find time to actually do it, that is).

I’ve shared a few terrible photos of what certain parts of the house are looking like, and have apologized a thousand times over for crappy photos. So today I thought I’d share some better photos of the great room that I took with the Canon Rebel this morning. Despite the colder temps it’s a bright sunny day outside. I may as well take advantage of it while I can.

Great Room from Hall This is the view of the great room from the main hallway. The painting over the sofa is entitled Beyond the Limelight and it was one of the paintings my aunt created for her series Rock Gods. She was kind enough to let me give him a new home for a while. You’ll also notice my Chanel No.5 painting to the left, and I promise I’ll post more about that piece soon. It’s a huge painting that needed a large wall and I think it fits that space perfectly. I can see it from the kitchen and also from where I sit on the sofa. I think it’s important to place art you really love in places you’ll see it often.
Great Room from Kitchen And here’s a view of the great room from the kitchen. It’s sparse, but it’s getting there. The sputnik chandelier was an design choice I made over the summer, and I love how it adds major sparkle to the room when it’s on at night. My fiddle leaf fig (aka “figgy”) has been temporarily propped up on a chair so he can get some light to those lower leaves. Once I get my cable box situation sorted out near the fireplace, figgy will inherit the antique brass faux bamboo table so he can have a chic perch.

And let’s not avoid the elephant in the room…can you say HUGE BLANK WALL? I obviously need to get my ass in gear and get a gallery wall together, but it seems like such a daunting task. It would help if I took stock of all the art I have around the house. Maybe I’ll drag everything out today and see what I can whip up.
Coffee Table And here’s a little close up of the coffee table. Just a jumble of books, boxes, a tchotchke and an orchid all corralled in a tray or two.

There are definitely a few things I’d love to change about the room. For starters, I need better pillows. These black and white Ikea pillows are getting us by, but I really need more variety, color and texture. Over the summer I had this idea that I would use some massive 24×24 pillows I had gotten from ZGallerie, but that dream has since faded when I realized that they would slide and fall down on my leather sofas. Anyone else have that problem? It’s super annoying. For now all I can do is drape a throw over the arms of the sofas in hopes that the pillows will have something to grip and stay in place. I know, #firstworldproblems, right?

Aside from that, I still have to hem my drapes, and I’ve been thinking of taking the builder blinds down for now since we never seem to use them at the back of the house. I have a swivel glider chair in the garage that is just waiting to be brought into the great room, so that will be added in the corner near the kitchen.

So that’s all for now. I’ll do my best to post up more pics soon. Who knows… maybe I’ll have a gallery wall to show you in the near future!

Chinese Chippendale Chairs

This last week I decided to get my dining room into some sort of working order since I might need to actually serve a meal to guests in the near future. Truth be told we’ve already had several guests but we’ve been eating at the coffee table so there’s been no real urgency to get this room shaped up. My dining chairs have been hanging out in the garage and that makes for a not-so-happy husband. He’s been taunting me with the Charlie McCarthy head lately…

charlie-mccarthy-1 He likes to place Charlie in random spots throughout the house to scare the crap out of me. Believe it or not, I never noticed him in the fridge because I was so tired when we moved. Here’s where I found Charlie this week:

charlie-mccarthy-2 Creeptastic, isn’t he? Okay, so about those dining chairs… I found these Chinese Chippendale chairs on Craigslist in Chattanooga. They have always been my dream dining chairs and I finally scored them! I drove a total of four hours for these and they were worth every drop of gas. Here’s what they looked like before (minus the heinous pleather-covered seat cushions):


Don’t be fooled, that is not a gorgeous wood finish. They were laden with cigarette smoke and there were several spots where a dog had gnawed on the legs. They had to be cleaned, sanded and painted if they were coming into my house. Since I had just enough Chiang Mai Dragron fabric left over from another project, I thought I’d paint them a dark gloss gray to let the fabric really pop. I painted them up…

spray-under-first Then removed two layers of nasty upholstery from the seats and recovered them.

reupholster-dining-chairs And ended up with this.


They were pretty, but the gray just clunked against the saturated yellow-orange tone of the burl wood table. Bummer. So I got a wild hair and decided to go with purple. I have purple tones in my hot pink runner just beside the dining room and I needed a darker, substantial color to ground all the yellow tones in the room, so I decided purple would be the perfect compliment. The chairs were repainted (by my lovely husband, this time) and voila!

dining-chair-finished Purple Chinese Chippendale chairs! They’re definitely different, but right now I’m totally digging them in the dining room.

dining-room-october-2013 I’m still playing with the settings on my camera (yes, we found it!) so I hope you’ll forgive the weird contrast in this photo. I’m hoping to play with it a bit this week and see if I can snap some decent shots to give you a progress report around the house.

So have any of you traveled great distances for the furniture of your dreams? How far were you willing to go? I’d love to hear your story!