Lucky Find for the Office (Or: I Really Should Be Working on a Foam Core Model...)

Get it, lucky...for St. Patrick's Day?! Lame, I know. Thank Andy for that. Cheesy humor is contagious - I can't stop myself anymore. Dumb jokes aside, I was lucky to score this pretty thing from the thrift store for seriously cheap:

See that blue tag? That means 30% off. Of $10.50. I got this thing for $8 and some change after tax. I felt a little bit like I was stealing from Children's Hospital.


The price isn't the lucky part, though it is a total bonus. This whole thing started when I decided to stop into the Seattle Children's Bargain Boutique one day about a month ago, when I was procrastinating killing time while running errands. I go to Aaron Brothers pretty often for project supplies (it's in the same complex), and had been curious about what sorts of things might be inside this bargain boutique. The first thing that I noticed is that it's so much more organized and clean-feeling than the standard Goodwill/Value Village thrift stores in my area. People donate some really good stuff, like amazing original artwork - block prints and paintings and drawings - and pretty vintage hats. And they had a pair of turquoise leather chaps. Wish I would have gotten a picture of those bad boys. It was super tempting to take them home as a joke. They weren't there on my last visit, so I can only assume Macklemore stopped by and bought them. I am so sure he frequents Shoreline.

See? He wears western-y stuff sometimes. (Source)

Anyway, the lucky part is that I saw it on that first visit, about a month ago, and almost snatched it up, but then I saw this weird thing on the top and it scared me off. None of the tutorials I found online about switching out light fixtures included anything about weird plastic plug-in boxes.

Anyone know what that is?
Andy said he thought it looked like a European plug.
I have yet to Google it.

Plus, if you look closely, that copper wire is fraying, which doesn't seem safe to me. Did I really want to try to teach myself how to rewire a light fixture? Getting down to the technical stuff in lighting class was not my favorite. So I put it back.

But I kept going back to that light in my mind. The metal was in perfect shape (unlike my other brass score, our guest room headboard, which needs some serious soapy love) and it was a great scale for the room. With some round bulbs (like this) and maybe a color change on the wood arms? Just quit.

So yesterday, I was procrastinating taking a break between working on finals projects, catching up on blogs. I was swooning at Manhattan Nest over Daniel Kanter's seriously gorge new office space, and found the motivation I needed when he talked about his vintage light fixture: "I rewired the whole thing (which is really very simple, I promise!) and with a few new pieces of hardware and bulbs, it was super easy to hang up!"

Well, if it's very simple and super easy... As I reread that now, I realize he probably meant compared to tearing down walls and patching plaster, but whatever. No going back now! I have been debating tackling a version of this light tutorial for over our kitchen peninsula. So really, what's wiring from scratch vs. taking wires out and starting over?

I decided to further procrastinate grab Tank and go for a little ride back to the Bargain Boutique. I was sure it wasn't still there, but if I was wrong, it was meant to be. So glad I was wrong (and that I decided to go look in the hidden corners, because it had been moved)! She was just as I remembered: the foundation of her style is great, she just needs a little accessory tweaking to make her look current again.

I figure, if for some reason I can't take this thing apart to rewire, I can always donate it back and Children's can make some more money off it from someone who knows what they are doing. And if it does work, then I can grab some of those awesome round LEDs and some black (or possibly white but probably black) paint and a ceiling plate and my tall husband to help me install, and we will be in business. Oh, and a weekend devoted to actually cleaning out this room. Considering we can hardly walk into the room packed with moving boxes. Minor details...it's all so easy in my mind!

For now, I will just stare at our new light fixture, envisioning it done and working perfectly in our office.


Balance (Or: Hey! I Finally Have Some Free Time This Quarter)

The way my mind works is funny sometimes...not so much "LOL" funny (although let's be honest, I'm hilarious...) but funny in that it gets so caught up on big tasks in front of me that I lose track of everything else. Last quarter was mostly just fighting my way through art classes and a power tools class. I'll pause while you visualize my 5'0" night owl self getting up for an 8:30am class, to work with table saws and drill presses twice a week. Some people were scared for my safety. One of my friends said "make sure you have your coffee! I wouldn't trust myself." Another person said "they let you do that?!" Yeah, and I have all of my fingers intact, so, win for me.

Anyway, since I was so preoccupied with trying not to cut a limb off or have a mental breakdown at the thought of having to draw a self-portrait with charcoal while looking in the mirror, the house and it's organization/unpacking sort of fell by the wayside. But now I have a little more life balance. And for me, balance equals creative energy. Somehow, magically, in those three months I gained a little clarity on the aesthetic of our house - curbing that design ADD without really even thinking about if. And now I can't stop wanting to decorate. Which gives me great blog content. I definitely want to talk about my school experience, since that is what inspired this in the first place...but school stuff doesn't normally come with pretty pictures of new sofas scored (ahem, free) on Craigslist.

(Via Instagram - @alissasuejohnson)

Yep, that is her - right now she is SO DIRTY. The filter doesn't even show a fraction of the 5 years of dust and crud on her. Right now, she is confined to our garage. But just like Norma Jean, or those 90s makeover movies, give her a tan and a glamorous dress, maybe a new hairdo, and she will look like a million bucks. Now that I am thinking about it, maybe Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman is the right pop culture analogy here...

So stay tuned for some design process and school progress information - if I don't get too engulfed in this home design stuff...


Virtual Shopping: H&M Home in the U.S.A.

The blog post was finished. I was all dramatic about how I needed these products in my life, and lamenting - while my bank account sighed in relief - that they were not yet available to us here in the States. So I visit the web site to grab pictures to make a little mood board, and what do I find? H&M Home products available in the U.S.

Be careful what you wish for...

Apparently I have been under an online-school sized rock (seriously, online classes are so much more time consuming than regular on-campus ones), because I missed the announcement. And lots of things are already sold out.

These products are super budget-friendly, even for a design student like me. Which means they're dangerous. And that I now have some prioritizing to do: Need, Really Love, Love, Like, Can Wait. Because right now, it seems, I am into everything. Especially cheap & stylish. If I didn't prioritize, I would end up on Hoarders. (Sidenote: My wonderful mother unknowingly taught me this Need thing. I'd see something I wanted while shopping and she would tell me, "You don't need it." So I'd have to put it back. While shopping for herself, she'd ask, "I love it, but do I need it?" So now when I am shopping and see something I have to have, I exclaim to whoever is with me, "Oooh, I think I need these!")

Anyway, back to the H&M Home line. While I haven't seen anything in person yet, it looks pretty good from the photos - I think they did a perfect job of styling their products in the catalog looks (they broke it down into Basics, Modern Minimalism, Bohemian VintagePlayful Retro and Kids). They sell you the lifestyle. For example, while browsing their photos, I found myself wanting everything in those pictures - an oversized neon letter or funky piece of furniture - which they obviously don't sell. What they do sell, though, covered a lot of my bases; that is, things I am almost always drawn to:

Before you proceed: please excuse my mood-board making skills. These were made in Power Point. I am in desperate need of Photoshop but haven't pulled the trigger on a purchase just yet.

1. Candle, $5.95 | 2. Blanket, $34.95 | 3. Pillow (cover only), $17.95 | 4. Apron, $9.95 | 5. Candle Holder, $6.95 | 6. 2-Pack of (Over-dramatic, IMO) Storage Baskets, $14.95 | 7. Soap Dispenser, $7.95 and Soap Dish,$6.95

I'm not an apron person but I would totally wear that one while attempting DIY projects. I am a very messy, clumsy creator, and I feel like "Bless this mess or do it yourself" is a good message to those around me while I am in the process. And those NYC Transit bath accessories? I need them. I have had an obsession with New York since I was like 8 years old. I will visit one day...but I am afraid I will never want to leave.

1. Faux Leather Pillow (cover only), $24.95 | 2. Blanket, $79.95 | 3. Purple Floral Pillow (cover only), $14.95 | 4. 2-Pack Guest Towels, $9.95 | 5. Mug, $5.95 | 6. Yellow Floral Pillow (cover only), $12.95 | 7. Fuchsia Pillow (cover only), $12.95 | 8. Round Velvet Pillow, $19.95 | 9. Ceramic Jar, $12.95 | 10. (King/Queen) Linen Duvet Cover Set, $79.95

They pretty much have all of the floral-style bases covered: bright & pop-y, modern & minimal, soft & feminine, black & white. And all the texture. This was a good move. They do a better job of depicting all of their varying textures on their basics page, but I thought I would include some of my favorites. See how dynamic a neutral tone-on-tone look can be, simply by varying the textures of your pieces? Totally not flat and boring. The round velvet pillow is my favorite...for today.

1. Horse Pillow (cover only), $9.95 | 2. Faux Fur Blanket, $69.95 | 3. Gemstone Pillow (cover only), $24.95 and Glossy Pillow (cover only), $5.95 | 4. Gold Foil Script & Linen Pillow, $17.95 | 5. Various Blingy Candle Holders, price varies | 6. Jacquard Pillow (cover only), $24.95 | 7. Copper Glittery Pillow (cover only), $12.95 | 8. Zebra Print Pillow, $9.95 | 9. Bunny Candle Holder, $6.95 | 10. 2-Pack Guest Towels, $9.95 | 11. Bird Pillow, $9.95

I would have passed over that bird pillow until I saw it styled here. Now I want it in my own dining room. See what I mean about their styling? Amazing. Also, I have two faux fur blankets already, but I think this one needs to be ours too. (Anyone else read YHL? I feel like I would hoard black ceramic animals instead of white, like they do. I guess I just prefer black accessories? Why do I feel racist against white ceramic animals while I type this?)

So much good stuff. This doesn't even do it justice. Now I just need to figure out how to close my wallet and instead trick people into paying me be the one others hire to make their spaces look amazing. In the meantime, there's a killer pair of floral curtains that I need to get for the office.

What are your favorites? Anyone else excited that H&M is offering home stuff because they love the brand's styling but none of their clothes ever seem to fit right? Just me & my shortness? I like to say that home goods and shoes always fit...


Weekends (or: HomeGoods-Induced Design Anxiety)

This past weekend, while Andy was getting his haircut, I stopped by HomeGoods for some biodegradable dog doo bags (is my Seattleite showing?). Which, my husband lovingly told me, the fact that I knew those existed at that store made me weird. Whatevs. One, we both already know I'm a weirdo and two? Duh, a good HomeGoods trip always requires going through each department, and of course I am not going to miss the pet department because dog treats are expensive and we have a group of neighborhood kids who knock on the door every day and ask to give Tank some treats. So we have been running low recently.

[A short side note: HomeGoods is relatively new in WA, with just 2 locations. We had been teased for a couple of years with commercials telling us to 'be HomeGoods happy', with no explanation as to how we might achieve this level of happiness, so needless to say, I was excited that my SoCal town had given me that opportunity. So for those who are still unfamiliar: think of an entire store the size of TJMaxx or Marshall's, for just the housewares section. And better products than you might typically find at those stores, because they send them all to HomeGoods (same group of companies).]

Anyway, I walk in and as usual they assault me with their new products that I didn't know I totally needed rightthissecond until, well, right that second. This time? Emerald green bed sheets. I wish I had thought to take a picture but I was too busy frantically searching for a twin size. You know, for the twin mattress we don't have yet to fit the brass head/footboard that we do have for the guest room in the house we aren't currently living in full time? That's normal, right?

Our $25 Craigslist special. It needs a good cleaning, but it's in good shape otherwise. When we were unloading it into our garage, Andy asked me how we were going to attach it to the frame, as there are hand-looking things where we normally see holes to attach a box spring frame. So yeah, there's that to figure out, also. I feel like I am this bed's proud parent, overlooking small quirks and thinking it is totally perfect. Something that isn't totally perfect? Our dirty garage walls. If you had seen how filthy the landlord left the house for us and how much subsequent scrubbing and near vomiting I did in the first two months, you wouldn't have repainted on their behalf, either.

So I discover that there are no pretty emerald green twin sheet sets. Serious bummer. In attempting to forget about that gorgeous emerald color that has suddenly taken over my brain, I find myself in the food section to pick up the essentials - three jars of stuffed olives and a bottle of vermouth generic brand olive juice cocktail mixer. Because why not make a martini or two when we get home, to drown the sorrow of not finding a set of sheets that I suddenly have convinced myself that we need? I mean, not urgently need, but eventually. And in my flustered state, I left without looking for new cutting boards, so I had to make a trip back later that evening. If you were wondering whether I double-checked for a twin set during that second trip, the answer is obviously yes.

One of these days, I will purchase photoshop so I can mood board the heck out of the ever-evolving plans for our house and people who aren't inside my head (ahem, everybody) will be able to see what I am talking about. Until then, I guess just try to trust me when I say that green would look awesome with that brass.

So now, several days later, I can't stop thinking about them and I can't find anything close anywhere else so my anxiety is telling me I won't be able to find them when it is actually time to start dressing that room. Design problems.

Really though, (affordable) textile people, Emerald was named Pantone's Color of the Year for 2013. I feel like you are all missing out on the opportunity to jump on that bandwagon to cater to design trend slaves.
See? Emerald MADNESS. It was actually even more emerald-y the other day. (screenshot: Pantone home page)

Yes, Pantone + JCP has a line of bed & bath products (check it out here), but their emerald bedding doesn't even come close to the ones I found. Less saturated, with just a strip of the color at the top...but, they are meant to go with the very emerald duvet cover set and super bold emerald-on-emerald would end up looking nuts. Just as too much white (in the sheets below) with our white duvet cover would be super boring. (Yes, we already have a comforter - but we use it with our futon guest bed down here, so I am not completely a hoarder.)
Not the same. I want these emerald sheets to own the fact that they are the color of the year. Not just give me a glimpse of it. I feel like you could have made JCP do a little better, Pantone. (photo: source)

Luckily, these next two weekends will be so amazing that I will forget all about silly design probs. Thursday (holy cow, as in tomorrow - what day is it again?), one of my best friends comes to visit for a few days, so a little SoCal exploration + adventure will ensue. This chick is a really good time. I can't wait - my soul needs this.

The two of us at a Sounders game last summer.

She heads back home Monday, and the next day Andy and I will travel up to Coeur d'Alene to visit one of his best friends. I am picturing a lot of lake and cocktail time, some sunshine...oh and fireworks, obv. Observed from a safe distance, however, as they scare the heck out of me. Traumatizing childhood experience that my mind has completely blown out of proportion, naturally. It should be pretty great. You, know, as long as I keep a safe distance from explosives.

What's that you say, Anxiety? My summer quarter online classes also started this week? And I'm somehow already behind? Why must you always rain on my parade?


I'm baaaack

Holy blog hiatus. I may have been a tad ambitious in my idea to start a blog and school at the same time. And then, after a school break, I couldn't find myself wanting to write. I was creatively exhausted. Once I got over that exhaustion & ideas for posts started coming to me, I'd visit my blog and get annoyed with it. The look just didn't fit right with what I wanted to portray. And, as with any space, virtual or physical, I believe it must reflect you and make you happy or else you won't be productive or even want to spend time there. So I finally shelled out $15 for an awesome new design that I'm obsessed with and that I think reflects my design aesthetic. I even changed up the title a bit, just to try it out and see how it sticks.

So now that I feel like I can breathe again in my little online space, I hope to spend a lot more time here - and I hope other people do too! I have a couple of draft posts that I hope to publish in the coming weeks about the last few semesters of school, just waiting to be edited and photos added. Oooor, I get busy and end up neglecting my poor blog for another year or so. Guess we will find out...

And since I think posts are lame without pictures, here are a few for you to look at. Mostly of my dog, probably. I haven't pre-picked them or anything, so we will both be surprised with what ends up here:

Oh, here's a good one. One of my projects for lighting class. Which I thought would kill me but actually ended up inspiring me later on. One of the many post ideas I have.

Holly Becker repinned one of my pins once. I had to capture the moment. Sure, she was repinning my pin about her book, not about some cool rug I liked or whatever, but still. She acknowledged me. Virtually. It's like we were meant to be best design friends.

My dog, the most vicious pit bull in all the land. I only take selfies when I am capturing a good cuddle sesh with Tank.

I think that'll do. I'd like to say I will be back soon but I don't want to make promises before I really know what I am doing. So, I guess, until next time, whenever that may be?


The Big Decision to Return to School

I’m epically indecisive. I tend to overanalyze everything until I freeze up and just end up making no decision at all. For something as small as what to eat for dinner or what type of cooking utensils to buy for our kitchen. So you can imagine how long it took me to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

It’s funny, when I was younger I always got excited thinking about going off to college and being on my own. I never would have guessed my college career would go on this winding, untraditional course. I guess that’s what happens to dreamers and planners…nothing ever turns out the way you think it would. So at 22, I ended up in a real career job with an actual path of advancement I could build toward. Without even finishing my associate’s degree. It taught me that hard work does pay off and that sometimes a degree isn’t required to advance in the business world. Sure you have to fall into the right situation…but when you do, there are no limits to what you can achieve.

A couple of years later, I had advanced into this amazing job, in an earning position that my friends were still working their way up to, as they were a year out of college and had been thrown into this giant recession. I felt so grateful. But here’s the thing –I knew deep down that the career path I was on probably wasn’t for me. I also knew that there was a rapidly shrinking window of time in to actually finish my degree. If I waited too long, I wouldn’t ever do it. But I knew I would probably be a complete idiot to go back to school at this point. My husband has a job in construction and while he works hard for a great company, they were at the mercy of the economy. There is never a guarantee that they are going to win the next bid – that’s just the nature of their business right now. And I didn’t know for sure what I wanted to go back to school for anyway; I would have just been doing it for the sake of returning to school. That wasn’t something I wanted to gamble our mortgage on. So I stayed put for a couple of months while I dreamed and planned and changed my mind and was generally confused.

This went on until we got word that Andy would be moved to an approximately two-year project in SoCal. We had been married for all of two months. Neither of us was super excited about the prospect of spending our first two years as husband and wife in a long-distance marriage. The decision to leave my job was made for me. It was bittersweet – and sad and terrifying – leaving this company that had taken a chance on me, that believed in me and had a plan for me and helped me learn & succeed, to come to California with no job and only a very rough plan.

I made the move right in the middle of spring semester down here, so I took an online course offered through a school up by us in Washington during their spring quarter. It was something Andy talked me into – Intro to Interior Design. I got hooked. I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life. I would finally have that creative outlet I craved; it would give me the freedom to have the lifestyle I wanted once we decided to start a family. But I was terrified at not being good at it, at running out of ideas, at not being original enough or creative enough. That’s when I knew I would be sticking with it; something that simultaneously excites and scares the crap out of me will always hold my interest and push me to be better.

It all couldn’t have happened more perfectly for me. I was able to dip my toe in before I made the decision to jump.


Numero Uno

So...I came up with the idea for this almost 6 months ago.  I've always enjoyed writing and was feeling inspired after discovering a new passion.  But then I started school full-time in a new place.  And I guess it made me overwhelmed and a little unsure of myself - I know I would love this career path, but what if I was just no good at it?  That self-doubt, coupled with the fact that I hadn't gone to school in about 5 years sort of scared me into putting this whole blog thing on hold.

After coming out of my first semester unscathed, my confidence is slowly building and I realize that blogging will actually help to prepare me for my future career.  Writing in such a public forum was always scary to me because I would be putting my thoughts out there for people to judge and I wasn't sure I would ever really be up for that (I'm a huge perfectionist and won't commit to something unless I know I can do well).  But this is something that I will need to get used to pretty quickly.  I can't feel offended if someone doesn't like or "get" my design point-of-view or my personal taste - this is something interior designers encounter on a regular basis.  It would also be nice to have a place that I could share things I am obsessed with, since I'm pretty sure my husband doesn't really care about the new amazing side table/shower head/mirror/living room design I just found.  He humors me though.

I also thought my blog could serve as a sort of "what to expect" for those considering going into the design field.  Lots of people have been curious as to what exactly my schooling entails and what the advantages were of getting a degree vs. jumping right into the field.  I have to admit that I wasn't really sure what to expect at first...and it would have been nice to get a first-hard account from someone who had already done it.

So that's what this will be - a mix of pretty things I find online that I love, my experiences in design school, probably a lot of adventures in decorating our own home(s) and experiences living in a new place/in two places (it's complicated).  Oh, and hopefully getting over my fear of not being perfect.  Wish me luck with that one...
Site Design By Designer Blogs