Grown-Up Luxe, with a Sly Free-Spirit Bohemian Bent (Part II)


It's done! I'm so excited by this one – the color, pattern and texture overload makes me sing. 

The overall goal of this makeover was to bump up the personality in Andrew and Darby's already incredible home. I mean, look at those details. The original woodwork, double french doors, and built in window seat are just so perfect. All I wanted to do was amplify those features and make the room more closely reflect Darby's vibrancy.      


The other major concern was the room's lighting. As you can tell from the unedited iPhone before photos the room didn't get a ton of natural light. The main windows in the room, despite being southern-facing, were shielded by a front porch overhang. The three small windows near the entry were shadowed by their close proximity to the neighbor's house.

It's not dark anymore!


Ok, yes, these after photos are professional photoshoot photos, but really, the new wall color is the real game changer. And, it's not white! 

The original paint color in the room was an off white with subtle yellow undertones. I wanted a lighter paint to help brighten the space, but thanks to this post knew white wasn't the best option for a room without great natural light. Instead I looked for light greys that veered warm rather than cool and closer to white than ivory. After narrowing it down to these four, I chose Valspar's Possibility and I love the outcome.


I wrote about the wallpaper decision-making process in the previous post and now I'm just going to gush over how in love with it I am. I'm so into the way the abstract knots in the wallpaper relate to the organic circular shapes in the rug. It's neutral, but interesting, detailed, but not busy. Seriously, I'm thrilled. 


I also tweaked the furniture layout slightly. In the bottom right before photo you can see there was a lot of unused space between the seating area and french doors. By swapping the sofa and chair placement I was able to add in a sofa table and create a vignette featuring Darby's existing killer pair of MCM lamps behind. 


Now, when entering through the front door, instead of walking into the side of a sofa you're greeted by these smaller scale charmers:


And this guy:


Actually, this moment with the chairs, moroccan tray table, wicker planter and insane vintage floor lamp is totally my favorite; and, it happened on a whim. The week before installation day I came by for one final walk thru and to drop off the vintage leather safari swing chair I'd intended to use. After scoring it at an estate sale I'd been storing it in my living room until I could get it to Darby's. Unfortunately, once in place I realized it was not going to work. In my house as a side chair next to my sofa it was fine. Here, in a more formal seating arrangement across from the sofa, it was laughably low – like an adult awkwardly sitting in a child's chair low.

Luckily, before there was even time to panic, Darby suggested trying the two matching Ikea chairs she had in her sun room. They were currently covered in an apple green fabric that had seen better days, but she thought Ikea might still carry the slip covers. Darby for the win! The Mellby slip covers were still available and arrived via WeDeliverOmaha the day before this photo shoot!     


I'm pretty sure having a built in window nook is the epitome of, like, every adult's childhood fantasy. I mean, they're totally made for cozy naps, juicy novels, and twirling your hair round your finger whilst playing it cool when talking to Bobby Tomlinson on the cordless, right? 

To play up that fantasy I draped Mexican serape blankets as slip covers and, using textiles in varying, but coordinating prints/colors/fabrics, made most of the throw pillows pictured to fill the bench seat. 


This was such a fun and rewarding project – a great home, with an inspiring homeowner. 

And because transformations are addictive, here's this:



* Thank you Bethany Gilbert for the incredible AFTER photos!

Mediocre Drivel

The problem with running a project-based blog is sometimes there aren't any projects. Or time. Fine... or money. I'm really trying to get better about posting with more frequency; and I live with the mild, but steady nagging sensation that I must figure out how to make this blog sustainable. Nevertheless, most days I squelch that calling beneath hours of Netflix and taco pizza.

So while I haven't actually come up with any lasting solutions, I have decided to blab about the mediocre drivel that's kept me occupied recently. Hold onto your butts, this is riveting stuff. 

A few months back my friend Adrienne and I co-hosted a bridal shower for Glenna and Bryan at my place. These events always light a necessary fire forcing me to finish the many half-started projects or ideas I've been side-eying and avoiding for too long. The first and major of these accomplishments was finally painting my dining room white.  


I'd been meaning to paint it white way back when I painted the living room and I even got as far as painting one wall during some free time in March. However, running out of paint and general laziness prevented me from finishing. The night before the party is when I decided it had to be completed. In a fit of desperation I enlisted the help of my charming husband who despite his inexperience - having never painted before - was agreeable and ultimately indispensable. I finished the last wall early the following morning, mere hours before the first partygoers' arrival.   

Oh yeah, and chairs! Luke found these at our friend Tiffani's and schlepped them back for me just a few nights ago. I feel like a grown up now that I have matching dining room chairs, and also like a childish schoolgirl.


My other greatest recent achievement was solving the issue of the lack of a toilet paper holder in our guest bathroom. It's a strangely tiny first floor bathroom - directly off the kitchen, and roughly the size of a typical half bath powder room - that someone decided to shove a full sized tub and shower combo in. For about two years we've lived with stacked toilet paper rolls on the back of the tank and complacently acquiesced to the barbaric yet practical reach-around method. It has always bothered me that we don't have a designated holder for the toilet paper; but the bathroom really is so small - to attach a holder to any free wall space would inevitably crowd the occupant and require the most unnatural contorting of one's arms to reach, unroll, and pull the paper. The only real option is a stand alone floor toilet paper holder. But man are those ugly.    

I mean, sure you can find good ones, but they're expensive and who wants to spend good money on such a base-level item? So after years of putting it off I MADE A TOILET PAPER HOLDER. I told you, this is riveting stuff. 


I'm not sure what's stranger, that I intentionally shot and edited product-style photos of a homemade toilet paper holder, or that I actually DIY'd a toilet paper holder in the first place. The design is simple - 7/8" dowel cut into three parts, connected with 3/4" copper fixtures, glued into a hollow wooden box I had on hand. I stained the wooden box with several coats of walnut stain because I hated the original orange faux maple color and covered both the box and the dowel pieces with several coats of polyurethane to make it all wipeable (it's a bathroom after all). I don't know if it's even worth documenting (which is why I'm lumping it in with all this other stuff). Regardless, it was totally worth making.


Other great recent news: I am now the happy resident of a single-sofa living room! A few weeks ago Luke got the itch to rearrange his music room creating extra space for us to stow the grey sofa we've been hauling around with us the past few places we've lived. You know how it goes. It's a definitely seen better days, but isn't in that bad of shape and ultimately seems too nice to get rid of sofa. It's also a nothing special, found it at a local furniture store on clearance, made to look mid-century kind of sofa. I'm just stoked to no longer have two full-sized sofas in the same room and happy to fill the vacated space with plants.


The bulk of the rest of my time has been spent thrifting, frequenting estate sales, and abundant hoarding. 


Most of these goodies are intended for my current client project which is developing quite nicely. I'm excited to show you a few of those details in the coming weeks. 

The Gilbert's Basement

A few months ago my friend Bethany asked if she and her husband Allen could hire me to help decorate their basement. They'd recently finished a mini basement refresh in which their old carpet was replaced with an updated neutral, all the walls - including the existing dull sage green wainscoting - got a crisp coat of white, and they purchased a modern grey sectional for optimum Netflix binge-watching. All of these changes helped diminish the typical dark basement vibe and provide a nice neutral foundation. However, after living with the changes for a while they felt it lacked the coziness of a room interestingly and intentionally decorated.

Bethany is a talented photographer, incredibly stylish, and has great taste as evidenced by her already lovely home. So, I suspect she and Allen mostly wanted to throw their fledgling designer friend a bone. And I was incredibly excited to accept their offer! 

Sometime between agreeing to work on the basement and before chatting with Allen and Bethany about their vision I saw this picture on Kelly Wearstler's Instagram. I was completely inspired. I couldn't get that rich cobalt blue out of my head and sent a quick text to Bethany asking how she felt about the color. To my joy she was into it! After we got together to chat about what they wanted for the space I came up with this inspiration board filled with cobalt, lots of pattern mixing, and a killer wallpaper from Graham and Brown:

Gilbert's Basement

Gilbert's Basement by mpettipoole

Initially, my idea was to paint the wainscoting cobalt. I thought it would be just the right jolt of energy and enhance that detailed character around the room. While she was keen on so much of the inspiration board, in the sweetest way, Bethany expressed that she and Allen were both apprehensive about that idea. Having spent so much time covering the previous sage green she didn't relish the idea of an even darker color encircling the room's perimeter. Totally reasonable. She may have even saved me from making a big mistake anyway. Instead, we've decided to paint the back of the built in's and the media console cobalt. This should still give us the punch of our inspiration blue, but help keep the room looking light and fresh, and most importantly, not basement-y. 

Tomorrow we'll wallpaper the accent wall and I'm excited for the room to start noticeably taking shape. At this point my only experience with wallpaper was watching my mother cover almost every room in our house during the mid-90s, but I'm feeling moderately prepared after viewing multiple youtube videos and googling various forms of the phrase "how to wallpaper." Wish me luck.