Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ta Da! The new bathroom revealed!

This is going to be a condensed version of how the rest of the Denver Extreme Makeover project went! (Just check the local time...)
While Denise got right to work sewing our custom window treatment, I began cutting in the base color of the bathroom. Many of you know my love for the soft gray-blues from Sherwin Williams, and that is the pallet we chose. The beautiful blue dupionni silk and silk ball fringe helped make that decision easy! I started with SW Rainwashed as our base color. Always include the ceiling in the same color. This is a design principle that I have made my trademark for my entire career. It's finally starting to catch on!
Silk ball fringe Denise was using to make window treatment from Susan's stash

Having shown Denise my recent designer room for Bucks County's annual affair, she agreed to the 10" stripe design and we got Fred to indulge us in additional templates made from scrap lumber he found in my Dad's garage! After getting the primary color completed the second day, we set about to mark the stripes, tape and paint. Sneelock's templates require the constant confirmation of the level. My contrast color for the stripe was SW Halcyon Green

Check out our creative use for Glad Press and Seal! We sealed the toilette tank and the exposed plumbing pipes. It worked like a dream.

Taking the tape off is always a great event. The amount of tape is amazing!

We then primed the vinyl floor with Zissner primer. It is a lacquer based product that bonds paint to almost anything! Ceramic tile can even be painted with the use of this product, although I have only successfully painted wall tiles and back splash tiles with it. Never tried a floor, yet!

You can find it at Home Depot. It felt like flat, smooth ceramic tile when we finished the priming. And, the floor looked a million times improved just with the primer!! We knew we were on to something.
Floor with primer only
First coat of paint on floor
Second coat of paint in a glaze or ragging, done with plastic bag!

With the new sink installed, mirror, light fixture and wall cabinet with glass doors, we hung the art, added accents that were both furnished by Black-eyed Susan and pilfered fromDenise's home, and here is the finished room!
Details on back of the toilet: small button fern, BES; Monogrammed soaps in lidded glass compote, BES and Homegoods!

Top of cabinet with glass doors. We hung this over the toilet. After several attempts to find the perfect way to fold the towels, we filled the cabinet with the perfect shade of handtowels and one row of toilet paper! Who knew toilet paper could become an accessory?! Way cute.

Great accent of framed buttons. We hung this above the toilet paper holder. A gift from years ago, yes, BES!

New light fixture (remember the retro one?!); Home Depot, new mirror; Home Goods, vintage ceramic lid hung as art (a personal favorite accent), and new hook for a hand towel; Home Depot.

Full shot of the glass door cabinet and accents below.

Denise's handiwork; silk board-mounted valance with silk ball fringe. Wrinkles, a sure indication of pure silk! Ahhhh! Beautiful!

Framed photographs of Susan's original botanicals from Temple University. We framed these in glass frames, no matts. The wall color shows through and is delightful! Photography compliments of Sneelock, frames; Michael's Craft Store. Also note the new towel bar, accent towels are hung, but no hand towels yet! (okay, I was in a hurry to take my photos!)

Detail above glass cabinet. Round accent mirror; BES, vintage books and Fleur di Ly's; Denise's private collection, reinvented!

New vanity! A great improvement; Home Depot.

Full length view of completed room! Note the painted floor and beautiful small broadloom rug.
Delightful, restful, intriguing, a thing of beauty.

Happy Birthday, dearest sister.
Blue eyes; compliments of Mom.
Okay, so I didn't give you the condensed version! I just couldn't leave out any of the details. Together, Denise, Sneelock and I took this powder room from dated and dingy to a favorite room.
We can do it for you too!
And, for the record, check out this delectable home made birthday cake that my darling 82 year old Mother made for me. At my request, yellow cake with lemon filling and white mountain frosting. YUM! Always a scratch cake. Always to die for. Thanks, Mom!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Extreme Makeover Denver Edition

I've just spent a few days in Denver with my baby sister, Denise! We share March birthdays, 14 years apart, one on March 26, the other March 27. Along with my two daughters and mother, she is my best friend and one to be admired in all ways.

This year, for her birthday, Sneelock and I gave her an extreme makeover for her powder room. The powder room in any home, is often one of those that often gets pushed to the back of the line. But, once it gets your attention and takes on a transformation, it can be one of the most interesting and charming rooms in the home.

Denver, on the whole, has limited interesting architecture! Denise lives in one of the most sought after neighborhoods in Applewood, Colorado, but the home she purchased several years ago was in need of some tender loving care. She has the Petersen creative vision and drive to tackle the task, and did so---except the powder room! Thus, our gift of labor and love to her for this year's birthday celebration. The spring blizzard helped keep our attention and our snowbound day (on her very birthday!) aided the cause.

The first step was to assess the room and decide on a basic plan, what can we work with, and what has to go. I had some vague idea, mainly based on a color direction which was largely driven by several silk remnants and trim that I had brought along. Denise is an expert seamstress and one of her assignments was to fabricate the window valance. My goal was to complete the entire makeover, soup to nuts, in the three days we planned to be there.

Take a look at the room at the onset of the project!

Check out this totally retro light fixture! There is likely someone out there who would pay good money for a pair of these! Not for this project. It was one of the first things to go.

This was the one thing that we were not really planning on changing, or rather removing. We had thought we could just paint the base...but as the plan quickly came into vision, I was certain that there was something that would update the room in and set the tone for style. We determined that we could easily remove the outdated 80's fleshy tile back splash. It would, however, mean that some serious spackling would have to be done. It didn't take long to go with the "let's replace this" plan!

Another shot of the existing vanity, unsightly towel bar and tile.

The previous owners had accented the door style with this lovely pink contrast color. Yikes!

This original solid vinyl floor (circa 1980) was so badly worn and stained that no amount of scrubbing would improve it. Right away, I determined we could paint it! I'll tell you more about how in the upcoming posts.

This was the wall covering, complete in tones of mauve and powder blue! Oh, yes, this had to go. As we examined the condition of the paper , I decided to paint right over the top of it. This is not always the best idea, but the paper showed no indication of lifting. In this quick three day trip, there was no time to remove wallpaper if we wanted to see a completed room before we boarded our plane home.

We pulled off one tile, then another and another! (It was actually satisfying prying off the ugly fleshy tiles!)

After reviewing the project and making an initial design plan, we left Sneelock with some assignments and headed to Home Depot for some serious shopping. We needed instant availability for this quick remake.

We found success at Home Depot, and when we arrived back at home, this is what we saw piled up on the driveway! We screeched for joy! I also failed to mention that my 89 year old father helped with the demolition! He was a fine builder in his day, and really enjoyed lending a hand. And, of course, we loved having him on the crew.

Rushing into the powder room, this is what we found! The project was really under way now.
This was the morning of day one. Fred spackled and did some major drywall patching. (Did you see that horrid mirrored medicine cabinet? It was the wrong size and could not be centered over the vanity. It was just wrong! There are some things that just can't be worked around, and this room had plenty.

There's plenty more to show you. For now, I've got to get myself back on Eastern Standard Time for tomorrow! Stayed tuned for day 2.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gift of love

Friday 5:30pm. The night shift begins....again, but I'm thinking this is close to the end.

All day long, we carried load after load of resource books to my new office, basement, small one-room upstairs studio.....where will all this go?! After spending the morning painting at the designer house, I must admit that my energy as well as mood were down. I'm darn tired of all this laborious shuffling, outfitting, squeezing, rearranging, and making miracles happen!

Looking around the store, it seemed overwhelming at this hour. How in the world would I get the store looking good, all things re merchandised from the intermingled new things that had been displaced from "making room", find homes for the 10 loads of resource books in my personal office, AND, stay sane and productive? I wasn't feeling too positive, to say the least. I knew I was close to the end of all this, but there seemed still, an insurmountable task ahead for the night. I set myself to the work ahead.

Sneelock was there (somewhere), adding new shelving, removing existing fixtures that needed new homes, here and there. As I worked and dinner crossed my mind, Sneelock came into the room and I asked him what he was doing? He told me with a certain degree of accomplishment that he and Ryan (my cabinetmaker son) had just gotten my design table in my car. May I remind you that this table is the old library table from the New York Library. It is vintage, 12 feet (yes, really!) long, and 50" wide. There are drawers all the way down on both sides. It was no easy task to disassemble the table and took quite some time to do. I LOVE this table. I believe that I have noted it several times in the sorting documentation, and always with fondness. Sneelock has no attachment to it whatsoever! I insisted on storing it for my final retirement home. I can just picture the entire family and all the grand kids around that table! Fred had been dreading the task of taking it down, not to mention the unhappy task of storing it--against his wishes.

Now, picture this. I'm sure that Fred thought that I would be pleased that one more monumental task had been completed, bringing us closer to the end. Instead, this move on his part brought me to a heap on the floor in tears. I can't begin to tell you the disappointment I felt, as I had wanted to photograph the table "at rest" I guess you could say. Under normal circumstances, that table could be found with 3 or 4 huge projects laid out on the top-fabrics, paints, wall coverings, furniture layouts---generally, I was the only one who held the key to the puzzle thereon. The thought of a photo of the table empty seemed to bring me to a point where I could let go of that space. When I tell you I lost it, well, that is an understatement. I attribute much of my reaction to the stressful days, weeks, and months, and the emotional state that I found myself in this late Friday night. I burst into an outrage that I'm sure Sneelock was not expecting. "How could you do that?! I told you I wanted to take a picture of it! I can't believe it, I just wanted a picture of it!! Why didn't you tell me you were going to take it down?! I just can't stand this any longer, I can't do this anymore....." Well, you get the picture! For some reason, this was the final straw , and I melted into a pile on the floor and simply sobbed.

There was no one there, of course, and I let the tears flow. I had felt like doing this on multiple occasions, but now, it happened! Fred quietly disappeared and I let out my emotional reaction freely. After about 15 minutes, I got myself up and began to put myself together again to face the work ahead. I felt better. Fred had noticeably left me to recover, without comment.

Within the next little while, he appeared again. He had been gone for some time and I queried him regarding what he had been doing.

Sneelock had put the table back together again.

He and Ryan painstakingly took it our of my car, unsecuring the over sized load, reassembled it, and prepared it for my final photo. I burst into another rush of tears, as I realized what a sacrifice it had been for him to do this for me, his unconditional love for me being so real with this gesture. He did it for me. He did it because I had been so disappointed. He did it because he loves me.

I cannot retell the story without more tears. Sneelock. He is a wonderful man. I love him.

Here it is. My beautiful 12 foot table, drawers missing. Also missing since the last move, about 4 years ago, are fabulous horseshoe shaped stretchers that will someday be reinstalled along the floor. The table means nothing to Sneelock, but I do. I am a lucky woman.

Another closeup

It may be many years before this monetary thing that I love has a place in my life, but I will remember often and with great tenderness this loving gesture from Fred.

First day of spring! (a few days late...)

Although the day began with a dusting of snow on our roves and driveways, the first day of spring was celebrated as a long awaited new beginning.

I marked the day with the documentation of our annual stand of daffodils at the threshold of our development (never mind, I had to brave the snow showers while taking this photo!)

And, for myself, a new haircut! It still takes me by surprise a bit in the mornings, but I'm getting used to it, and I'm definitely getting used to the time it cuts off my prep time in the morning!

Welcome, Spring!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The next step

Another update on my designer room

I think I told you that I love using chests of drawers for uses other than their intended bedroom use. I have a great one in the store that suddenly came to vision to use in our room. Most of the furniture will be very Swedish, light wood and natural linen. I decided to paint the vintage chest of drawers the lighter color of the two wall colors. I adore painted furniture. The color can make it fit into any decor: white or aqua is fresh with cottage or shore themes; black, of course, is dramatic with any decor from urban to traditional (a personal favorite!); taupey-latte-like color would be wonderful in foyers; lime green perfect for a nursery or tween room. Well, you get the picture!

Rita came to the rescue once again and met me with gloves in hand, all ready for the project. We did a little light sanding and wiping, prepared the drop cloths and started in. Dear Rita is always cheerful and ready to help, and,never wants for conversation either!! She always has some entertaining way of telling her tales and doesn't waste any time getting started either. My daughter, Michelle, has said from the time she was a young college student, that she wants to write a book some day with Rita as the main character!

Here's the chest, painted with the new color. It looks really great next to the wall. (I have ordered a very unique lamp from a favorite vendor with a grey shade that has an Italian wedding manuscript written on the shade!) I just love any kind of beautiful manuscript. It will be he perfect accent for this chest. It's magical how a coat of paint can transform a piece of furniture for a new look. I love Habersham furniture and own 4 or 5 pieces of it. One of their trademarks is to paint the hardware. I suggest doing this for a custom look and the interest is so stylish.
The drawers were drying, sorry! I also suggest a satin finish.
While we were painting, I had arranged for three rugs to be delivered from a great resource we love in New Hope,quite close to the designer house. It is a Persian rug gallery that specializes in antique investment quality rugs. I'll get more into the "investment" later!

My friend, Ben, the owner of the rug gallery, graciously agreed to pose for the purpose of documentation, as he was telling us about the rug that we selected. He is so supportive in loaning us this beautiful rug. The beauty and value can only be appreciated in person,so I hope you will come and see for yourself. We stopped by his gallery a week or so ago and selected three to choose from. He and Sneelock met us there and hauled the three large and heavy rugs into the room, so as to see them in the actual light and color of the room. This is always the best way to select a rug.
Here is the carpet that we selected. This one was my first choice in the gallery, but the moment it was unrolled, it was confirmed! Perfect.
Here is the history of the rug. It dates back to the mid 1800's and comes from western Persia. The appraised value is $48000.00. This is where the investment comes in! Here is the great thing about fine rugs: one, they are durable and will withstand the rigors or everyday use. Two, they never loose their value. We are so lucky! This is the perfect rug to add warmth, sophistication, and style to ground the soft neutral furnishings. Another design tip: a fine rug is never out of place for any room of fine design.
To end the documentation of the day, Rita agreed to a self portrait with me. (Yes, this is my paint smock,but since we were only doing furniture, I wore some of the new jewelry that I just brought into the store! It's way cute,come by to see for yourself!)
Thanks again, Rita! One step closer...stayed tuned.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Meet Eddie!

I'm so happy to say that we made some major progress today! Of course, that was after Sneelock and I worked until 11:30 the night before installing the brackets and rods for the fabric books and furniture fabrics.

I made a decision to keep my silk library. Ah, the wonder of silk! There is a wonderful range of silks in solid taffeta's, satin stripes, embellished embroidered silks, printed wonders...the list goes on and on! For those of you who enjoy textiles, they are quite a joy. Take a look at the pile of books I brought over from the previous design studio:

While working on organizing and sorting by vendor and size, one of my cutest clients came in. Enter Eddie and daughter, Wendy. Eddie has been a darling repeat customer of mine for as long as I can recall. She was admiring a table that I had fashioned out of a tall table base and a large floor mirror! I agreed with her that I liked the look. Our conversation went something like this, and from that moment,I knew that I would need to share this one.

Eddie: "That table is great!"

Susan: "It is, isn't it! It's cute, but it's not very functional."

Eddie: "...just like us!"

That pretty much says how I am functioning these days! I guess by my tired appearance, it was pretty apparent. Eddie then indulged me with a self portrait for this purpose.

So, meet my cute friend, Eddie, with the greatest sense of humor! She lit up my day.

I had to tell Eddie that several years ago, my own darling Mother said, "I'm too old to be pretty , but I can still be cute!" We both decided that we would also settle for cute! And now, I'll look forward to the next time this cute lady comes to visit. Thanks, Eddie!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A closer look

I wanted to give you a closer look at the designer room walls, after the tape was pulled off! While there, measuring for the draperies , I snapped a few shots of the room to document the great effect.

This is the wall adjacent to the mantle wall, painted black! Note the painted ceiling, same color as the lighter stripe. One of my trademarks, painted ceilings. Yes!

And this is the wall looking into the dining room. Pardon all the mess! My blue tape is there for the cleanup, ladder and assorted chairs.....but overall, I really like the effect! More to come, but I can't promise what when I'll be able to add to the report, as this week is the final move week for the new design studio. How in the world both of these monumental projects happened at the same time....obviously, I left my head somewhere else...

Wish me luck!


Thanks to several dear friends, (including one of my design clients!), we were able to get my personal office furniture moved from the second floor of my previous studio to the new design studio in the back room of the retail store...honestly, I don't even know how it really happened. I know for sure, if it weren't for these darling, supportive, and dear friends (not to mention Sneelock, of course!), there is no way this would have happened.

Here's my wonderful moving crew:

Fred (Sneelock), Vincent, Dom, Omar

Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for Omar, he came in as the last customer of the day to look at several mirrors I had suggested for his home. Kindly, he offered to help us with several heavy pieces of furniture. I'm not really sure he knew what he was getting into, but I felt like he was a gift straight from heaven! He was the final piece of the puzzle that allowed us to get these large and very heavy pieces down the stairs and across the parking lot.

Thanks, guys!

There is still so much to do in this next week, I really can't think about the whole week! I'm just taking one day at a time and trying not to think right now about the inevitable "night shift" as I have come to call it. The resource library has amassed a huge number of various books and catalogs , and condensing them down has been no easy task!

But, for now, another giant step has been made.

My previous executive desk has now been delegated to my two project managers to share...this is my new tiny "executive" desk. I'm giving it a thumbs up! I've always loved this small desk and never agreed to sell it. Now, I know why! I really only need room for my computer and a lamp. The rest of the time, I'll be helping customers with the fabulous new resources we will have to offer.

I guess you could say, it's darn cozy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Now that's a great color!

It wasn't until the last 10 minutes of the final phase of painting that I finally said out loud, "Now that's a great color!

I'm speaking of my designer house living room....

When I selected a color, I did it in a late afternoon, just in time to call in the order for pickup late that day for the painting to begin the next morning! I had been mulling over several color pallets in my weary mind, but hadn't really selected anything until forced to say, "this one".
I love color and have never been afraid of it. My own house is full of a mix of vibrant, medium warm, rich tones and a great relief with a loft in Artemisia, a personal favorite grayed robin egg color. I knew it would be difficult to top the color I selected for the Princeton Designer House last spring, but I can tell you, that right up until the last brush stroke, I was not loving this new color!
Because I seldom don't like a color that I have selected, I was quite concerned! This is not the time to try out a new color and then be disappointed!
We are using all natural linen Swedish feeling furniture for the room and I pictured a warm gray tone. I selected SW Warm Stone and SW Brainstorm Bronze to paint a wide 10" awning stripe. The first paint day, it seemed too pinky-taupe to me! Yuk! The light in the room is strange, and there are certain times of the day that I really liked it and other times that I really didn't!!

Well, today, we put the personality into the paint job as we painted the awning stripes! Yes! At the end of the day, when the last blue tape was pulled off, I loved it! I think I'm on the right track.

As I have mentioned, this entire painting project has turned out to be a hands-on, do-it-yourself project. Generally, these designer house projects are executed by my favorite subs who support the effort. This year, no such luck! It couldn't be a busier year for me, either....
So, take a look at what a dear personal friends, Sneelock, and myself can do when put to the test!

Sneelock came up with a handy invention to help me expedite the striping process! It was a huge success. Here we are showing the great idea. He cute masonite boards the exact size (actually 1/2 inch shorter) than the two heights we were marking off), added a "handle" for me to hold on to and had them ripped to the perfect width for my project. You can choose any width, I selected 10" for a wide awning stripe Place your template on the wall, using a long level every three or four stripes to ensure you end up with perfectly straight stripes. Mark the placement with a hard pencil. (Too soft a lead will make too dark of marks). We marked at the top and bottom of each stripe and several short dash-marks in between. Place your tape to make sure that you paint over the pencil marks. What a fabulously easy way to mark off the room! It was even easier than I had imagined, as Sneelock himself ended up marking the entire room in a little over an hour. Sweet! This is a really great invention and I highly recommend it for simplifying this process. Fred (Sneelock) later agreed that he could be persuaded to take orders for his new tool.
The second idea which proved so valuable for a perfect finish, came from one of my favorite subcontractor who used to do all of my painting (he's gone on to bigger and better things....like concrete design and venetian plaster!) Charles told me what kind of tape to buy-Scotch 2" blue tape with the orange center. It costs about $10.00 a roll, but claims to be safe even if left on for 60 days!! He recommended that we take the tape off immediately, however. Peel the tape off at a 45 degree angle AWAY from the fresh paint. Take care not to get the wet paint from the tape on the wall or yourself! The best tip he gave me: use a cereal spoon to press down the edge of the painted side of the stripe. It lends to a great firm seal and prevents bleeding. Great tip, Charles! It worked!

Those are the kitchen spoons that I am holding!

Here's Rita! This is the real tool that is needed in order to complete any overwhelming task. Rita has been a friend for about 18 years. We became friends when she worked for me in my millinery business, making and producing hair accessories and hats. She has the most amazing engineering mind you can imagine and is totally practical! Although Rita retired from Black-eyed Susan several years ago, I can manage to pull her into projects whenever I need to be bailed out. With my family so far away, I consider Rita and her husband, Vincent, to be my brother and sister, and they don't disappoint me. Add to all all this the supreme entertainer, and you have the perfect companion for a day of work. Let me tell you, she knows how to work! I love this woman! Thanks, Rita. (My mother is the head of her fan club)!

Third team member, Vincent, surrogate brother! With me on the ladder, Vincent was ready to trade paint roller for cutting in brush and bucket. Never a complaint as he kept track of the "light bucket" and the "dark bucket".
Both Rita and Vincent indulged me for a moment of self portraits as we finished the day.

Vincent beginning to remove the tape. The room took on a strange look with the blue tape in place. I was really happy to see it come down. Continue on.......

Sneelock stopped in to check on the crew in the late afternoon and got involved removing the tape. I'm telling you, this team of four was awesome. We were booking! (Sorry, they're not for hire)!
There is nothing finer than dear friends who serve willingly and are there to be supportive under any circumstance. They are a true blessing in my life. Here's to Vincent and Rita. I love these two!

The "big blue ball" of tape after removing!!
I can't believe that I didn't take an overall view of the room for your approval as we were leaving. Stay tuned for this.
Finally, at the end of the day, when the last bit of blue tape was pulled, I couldn't help but say,
"Now that's a great color!"
And I can't tell you how happy I was to hear those words, at last.