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My Little House Design: August 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gold Leafin' It Up

Trends are so funny. I remember 10 years ago thinking that people who had gold frames in their houses were so out of touch. I was all like "hello, only black frames are cool." Oh how the times change. Now it's all brass and gilded antique frames...I'm loving it. Go figure.

Like I mentioned in this post, I have a lot of different types of frames in my house. My current favorites are these antique gilded frames from flea markets.

A couple of months ago I decided to jump on a collection of bird prints from Etsy. I sat on them for a while because I didn't have frames. I thought they would look really nice in gold frames, but after looking around for a while it occurred to me that new gold frames are too expensive and finding five matching used frames was too hard, so I took matters into my own hands. I got inspired via this photo:


The idea behind this photo is that you can use a gold leaf pen to had faux brass corners to a frame. Such a great idea! I liked it so much that I decided to just gold leaf an entire frame. I found some plastic frames in the clearance aisle at Michael's for around $4 each. They were a kind of weird sparkly grey color. I also bought two gold leaf pens. I had no idea how much "ink" it would take to cover all five frames. There is really no skill required to gold leaf a frame. I did it while watching TV and talking to a friend. It took quite a long time to do but I am happy with the result.

I only needed one gold leafing pen after all so I returned the second one. Good thing considering each pen was $7.99! My technique was to do about 1" zig zags to cover the frame. Some of the dark grey frame did show through the gold but I like that look, it gives a little texture. But a second coat with the pen would give it more solid gold color if that's what you are going for. A pretty simple update to clearance frames if I do say so myself. The frames plus the gold leaf pen and the art cost me a grand total of $55. Not bad for a five piece art collection.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Buy Art

I did a post about Etsy, but there are so many more great places to buy art online. Here are a few of my favorite places to buy art.


Animal Locomotion: Plate 733 (Elephant) by Eadweard Muybridge

Apres Grande 12 by Christian Chaize

I love 20x200. I haven't actually bought anything from here but I do hope to some day. The best part about this place is that you can get most of these prints for $24! They have a huge selection that rotates a lot. It's good to check this site often because the $24 prints sell out quickly.

Canvas & Canvas



Canvas & Canvas is a shop whose goal is to "rescue the world from sad walls." Such a fun goal, right? The prints sold here are around $160, but they are on stretched canvas and they are 2'x2' so it's a pretty good price for such unique art (they are usually a limited edition print with about 100 in circulation).

L'Affiche Moderne

N.5 from the BALLET series by A. Borisov Studio

I love stripes 2 by Van den Heuvel Daphne

L'Affiche Moderne is a European company that ships world wide. The prices are listed in Euros but a smaller print from here will run you about $50. Not bad for cool art, especially since you can say, "Oh yes, that ol' thing is from Europe." You'll sound super pretentious and people will want to be you.

Little Paper Planes

Bird in Flight Large Format Print by HANDSworkshop

Matthew Walkerdine Print 3 by Matthew Walkerdine

Little Paper Planes has a huge selection of prints under $25, under $50, and under $100. I love it when shops give you the choice of looking in your price range. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a piece only to find out it is $400. These two prints are $25 and $35 respectively.

Bold & Noble

New York City Type Map in Sheer Slate

Trees around Britain in Yellow Moss

Bold & Noble is an English company that sells typographic art. I love all the maps made of the city names. The prices are listed in pounds but these prints here will run you around $68. That's not cheap but these are pretty big prints around 2'x2.5'.

Happy art shopping!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thoughts on Gallery Walls, Pt 2

Deciding on the type of gallery wall you want is one thing but filling all that wall space is a whole different animal. Here a few of the things that I have filled my walls with:

1) Framed Photographs. I prefer color photographs, but black and white is nice too. It is easy to just grab whatever 4"x6" prints you have lying around but I highly recommend only framing 5"x7" photographs or larger so that they can be easily seen (I do not currently follow this recommendation but I hope to in the future). I like to put up favorite travel photos or funny pictures from childhood like these:

2) Prints. Yes, you can buy prints from Etsy or a local artist, but the prints I am talking about are free printables. All you need is a color printer and voila! You have amazing free art for your walls. I really like Vintage Printables. Here are a few that I have printed and framed:

3) Notecards. I love to frame notecards because sometimes they are just too pretty to give away (I'm pretty selfish I guess haha). Last year Missoni did a line for Target and I bought a set of notecards that I love. I've used most of them as thank you notes but I saved a few that I have framed on my walls. I also have several vintage postcards framed. Almost every antiques store has a bin of old postcards for $1 or $.50. I love to look through them and get a few that catch my eye.

4) Fabric. I like to frame fabric. If the fabric has a nice pattern it can look like art when framed. I also think it looks cool if you use fabric as a faux mat. If the picture is simple than a patterned fabric mat can add more visual interest. (Yes, that is a child smoking a cigarette but don't worry it's fake and it was hilarious.)

5) Art. Art can be expensive so I like to get mine from unexpected places. My number one favorite place to get art is a place called FREE. Okay I'm just being annoying but seriously a lot of my art prints were hand me downs (I have amazing friends and former employers). Another good source of art prints is an art museum. You'd think that art museum shops would be super expensive and they can be but a lot of times their prints or postcards are pretty cheap. Take for example these two Hopper prints. The top one is a professionally matted print that was given to me and the bottom one is a $10 print from the MET framed in a clearance frame from Target. I also have found framed art at garage sales and thrift shops for decent prices like the little floral below.

Those are just a few of things that fill my walls. What do you like to put on your walls? Have you found any great and unexpected pieces lately?

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Thoughts on Gallery Walls, Pt 1

I love a good gallery wall. If I had to describe my style it would be 'eclectic vintage with a side of gallery walls.' In my fantasy land my walls are covered floor to ceiling with art and photos and other beautiful things. What I love about them so much is that when people come over to your home they can almost instantly get a sense of who you are as a person.

In my opinion there are two kinds of gallery walls. Matching and uniform and eclectic and mismatched. Both have their merits so lets take a look at them both.

1) Matching and uniform.



This type of gallery wall is definitely more popular in homes across America. They are very pleasing to the eye and they are easier to accomplish in your own home. I love this look when all the images in the frames are related images like black and white photos of the same city or all portraits or something like that. The problem with these types of gallery walls is that it can be expensive to buy that many frames that match. My tip to getting this look is getting frames from garage sales or thrift shops and then spray painting them in a uniform color like all black or all white. An easy way to create a template for a gallery wall like this is to use painter's tape and computer paper to test out the placement of your frames. Oh, and always use a level.

2) Eclectic and mismatched.



As I am sure you can guess this is my favorite type of gallery wall. I love the mismatched look of these walls, it's as though they have been collected and cultivated over years of travel and experiences. The best thing about creating these kinds of walls is that there are no rules. You can uses whatever frames you want, whatever art you want, and you can go rouge and do unframed items. The daunting thing about this type of gallery wall is the fear that it won't look the right kind of 'mismatched.' Well my advice is this: Do whatever you want. It's your house! If you have thirteen black frames, five white ones, and two natural wood frames... use them all, mix it all together and do it with confidence. If that is hard for you I'll try and give you a few tips from my own gallery walls.

Here is my process for creating gallery walls:

1) Choose your wall. It can be a large main wall, a smaller section of wall, or a hallway. Once you find your wall get a good idea of the size of it (4'x6', 2'x5', etc) so you can plan your frames accordingly. I like to lay my frames out on the floor before I hang them so I can move them around until I find the perfect lay out.

2) Consider the surroundings. What color are the walls? What furniture will be near this wall? What is the overall feeling of this room? Will people be walking past or sitting under this gallery? Are you looking to showcase family photos or your map collection? Once you answer these questions you will have a better idea of what type of gallery suites your room best.

3) Use what you have. If you want a perfectly uniform gallery wall you may have to make some purchases but if you go for a more free form look you can easily pool together what you already have and make it work. Gather the frames you have and start playing with arrangements. Don't worry if the frames aren't filled with the perfect pictures yet you can work on that later (in fact, tomorrow I'm going to post on what to put in all those frames).

4) Push yourself. This may seem like a weird step for gallery walls but this is something I really try to do myself. Yes, perfectly matching frames with perfect family photos in black and white looks amazing but an important part of designing your own home is accepting imperfection. Don't second guess yourself. If you like something go for it. Maybe you've never seen black and white frames mixed together but that doesn't mean it won't look good.

5) Go with the flow. Probably the best thing about gallery walls is that they are fluid. I have rearranged, added, and subtracted items on my gallery walls several times. Some changes are simple like exchanging one photograph for another or spray painting a frame, other changes are more complex. A couple of months ago I bought a larger piece of art and decided to add it to my dining room gallery wall so I took down two smaller items and added the new large piece in their place.

The first image is from about a month after I moved in and the second is just a few days ago. You can see the difference between the two. Is started out smaller and over the past few months I got a little bolder and when all the way to the ceiling. Tomorrow I'll be back with my tips on what to fill all those frames with.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Campaign: Dressers are Better than Politics

I am so over the political campaign. But you know what I am not over? CAMPAIGN DRESSERS. Furniture is so much better than politics, so let's talk furniture. I first heard of these lovely vintage gems about a year ago via a blog called Honey and Fitz.
(Source) I had never seen a dresser like that before and I thought it was so beautiful. Honestly, I kind of like the 'before' better, but regardless I was intrigued. After a little research I found out that campaign chests were actually used during campaigns in the 1700-1900s. They were built strong and compact so that they could be moved from campsite to campsite during campaigns and battles (for use by the generals). The brass hardware kept the corners from getting scuffed up. Interesting, right? I thought it was interesting and I knew that I wanted one ASAP. My game plan was simple: Craigslist. So while I searched and searched for weeks and weeks I appeased myself with all this eye candy.
(Source) But eye candy can only satisfy me to a certain extent so back to my Craigslist search I went. My Craigslist tip is this: don't be too specific in your search. I basically look at everything because most people don't label their stuff correctly. For this particular search I used the keyword 'dresser.' Yes, it takes more time to search through everything but you are more likely to find hidden gems that way. For example, if I searched 'campaign dresser' and found one it would likely cost a lot more because whoever knew to list it as a 'campaign dresser' would probably charge more than someone who just had it listed a simple dresser. Does that makes sense?
Finally, my daily Craiglist trolling paid off. This picture is the definition of a hidden gem. Look at that nasty thing! But I knew the second I saw it that it was a campaign dresser. The description was 'solid wood dresser' and the seller was asking for $240. I got her down to $200 and I went and picked it up. It was rough looking in person. It was very dirty and all the beautiful brass hardware was painted over, but I knew it had potential. I didn't take any pictures of the clean up and paint job because I wasn't blogging at the time so here is a brief rundown. I thoroughly cleaned it using diluted vinegar and water. Then I removed all the hardware that I could (a few pieces were really stubborn). The next steps are basic 'how to paint furniture': 1) sand it 2) wipe it down 3) paint it 4) paint it again 5) let it thoroughly dry. The real challenge to restoring this dresser was the painted hardware. I wanted to restore the hardware to it's original brassy goodness so I used the following tools:
(Source) These random tools were my best friends for about three days while I scrubbed and scrubbed that dang hardware. Again, I don't have pictures of it but they would be boring even if I did. After I removed all the hardware I dumped them all into my crockpot full of water and half cup of vinegar. I put the crockpot on low heat and let the hardware soak for a good long time. I took them out and let them cool a little bit and then used Brasso and steel wool to scrub that paint off. Large chunks of the paint came off with just warm water but there was paint stuck on that I really had to work at. The Brasso and steel weel did their job but it took a looooong time. After what seemed like 800 hours I got those babies all shined up. The few pieces of hardware that were stuck on the dresser I skipped the soaking stage and just used the Brasso and steel wool on.
I thought about painting the dresser a lot of different colors. If it had been wood stain when I got it I probably would have kept it that way but since it was already painted I had a world of colors to choose from. As you can see from my inspiration images I like the bright and bold ones the best. I was thinking of something crazy like bright blue, but eventually I decided to just keep it a crisp, clean white. Why you ask? Because I like crazy colored walls so white furniture will stand out more again them. Plus, brightly colored furniture looks great in white rooms and as I mentioned here I don't do white walls. Plus furniture is harder to paint than walls. For this dresser I used white semi-gloss paint and I am so very, very happy with the finished product.
So that is journey of my campaign dresser. What is your dream find from Craigslist?

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