Three New BFFs for Decorating

Sometimes, it’s the smallest things in life which can make you happiest.

It’s 13 years since I first painted a room, in my tiny London flat where you could practically stand in the middle of the room and reach all 4 walls. Even now, I’m still finding gadgets to make the job just a little easier and less of a trauma. Here are three that I’ve added to my toolkit this year, and best of all, not one of them costs more than a few dollars.

1. Flexible Paint Spout
My new BFF happens to be yellow, but this guy looks pretty similar. It allows you to pour paint easily (from different size cans) without dribbling it everywhere, and improves your chances of getting a good airtight seal when you’re finished. It’s really easy to wash and costs around a dollar. If you hate yukky dribbly cans, you need one of these.

2. Paint Edger
I was totally skeptical about this, and you could have knocked me down with a feather when I tried it and it actually worked. Previously, we had taped off the ceiling before painting the wall in an attempt to get a reasonably straight edge. This chap makes it faster and better, as long as the thing you’re edging meets the other surface at a right angle and if you’re careful to keep the paint off the little wheels. Best $4 – $5 I ever spent on decorating: I’ll never tackle another room without one.

3. Mini Paint Roller Kit
Not only is this cute in such a mini size, but it only costs $3 – $4 and will get you a more professional finish, faster than a brush, when painting furniture or similar sized small projects. I used one of these for my bedroom armoire and loved the quality of the outcome. If, like me, you hate washing larger rollers, this makes clean-up much easier too.

At this point, I could put in a nice, fancy disclaimer about not having received any incentives to promote these products. However, if you think for one moment this blog is influential enough to attract promotional requests, you’re totally deluded (but I love you anyway and thanks for the flattery).

Suffice to say, any manufacturer who sends me dark chocolate in bulk will receive a product plug on this blog. For everything else, opinions are entirely my own ;)

Home Office Mood Board

I suspect there aren’t many of us who can decorate completely according to our own tastes, without considering other household members.

Having (more or less) finished the master bedroom, the next room on my list is our dismal home office. It’s where we spend a huge amount of time and, as with many work spaces, was thrown together in a hurry when we bought the house, with function coming waaaay ahead of form. And since Beloved Husband is the techie genius in our marriage – not to mention major payer of our mortgage – his bits and pieces (by which I mean server, firewall, Cat 6 cabling and other gizmos which would look totally at home on the International Space Station) are pretty much ruling the roost.

A more sensible wife would abandon ship and go stake her claim on a little work area somewhere else in the house (probably making it look like this, pictured right). But since I actually really like hanging out with him (yeah, soppy), I decided to attempt to construct an office which works for both of us, meeting his requirements for practicality as well as mine for attractiveness.

He adores his rather ugly Ikea desk and won’t part with it because it’s height-adjustable and a perfect size. Fair enough. I’m in love with cubes so I’m sneaking some of those in somewhere, probably with a gazillion baskets to hide his electronic necessities. Happily, we both seem to think maps would provide a good style starting point and I’m hoping a very muted, neutral color scheme won’t spook him too much.

Here’s roughly what I’ve come up with:

Likely purchases at Ikea:
Galant Desk
, $160; Expedit Bookcase, $70; Drawer unit on casters, $160; Newspaper rack; Vase, $30; Clock, $5.99
And other items I may sneak in there when he’s in a good mood:
Poetry Rug –
, $429; File Storage Ottoman – Ballard Designs, $239; Map – National Geographic Store, $5.99; Office Chair – Target, $50; Missoni Home Erode Cushion, $102; Silver Ocean Globe, $45; Origami Platinum Fabric – Calico Corners; Signature Pattern Binders – Russell and Hazel

In true Struggler style, you’ll be amused to know that after three-and-a-half days of exhausting weekend effort, the paint is complete. That’s all. No stylish new furniture, clever accessories, oversize maps or nifty window treatments. Just the walls.

At this point I could refer you to Young House Love, who assure me it’s perfectly possible for one person to paint a room in about 4 hours (leaving time to complete the rest of the decor and get a manicure before lunch). But I’m feeling quite inadequate enough, without you all heading off to worship at the altar of YHL before leaving a comment here.

So, please share, if you have to take someone else’s taste into account, what’s the biggest point of contention? And how long did it take you, the last time you painted a smallish bedroom? Just please don’t say 4 hours. :)

House Tour: Master Bathroom

Curiously, despite proudly showing you the recent changes made to the master bedroom, I do not appear to have shared our slightly older bathroom remodel. Along with the kitchen, it was one of the first things we tackled when we bought the house, reasoning that the sanctuary of one blissful bath area would sustain us through other traumas.

The smartest thing we did during this back-to-the-studs effort was to remove a wall entirely. This was Beloved Husband’s bright idea and he deserves 100% of the credit for this neat tactic, which totally opened up two very small spaces and made them into one just-about-big-enough area. (Naturally, you’ll check your wall isn’t load-bearing before doing the same?!)

This ‘before’ photo was taken after demolition started, looking from the sink area into the tiny, dingy room which previously held the shower and toilet:

And here it is now, albeit with some photographic glare from the glass:

I was pleased to stumble across some attractive mini tiles at Lowes, which were used for the shower floor and corner seat:

The rest of the room is pretty self-explanatory. If anyone has tips for getting orchids to bloom again, I’d love to hear them. :)

I recently added a grommet header to the window blind, but otherwise this room has remained pretty much the same for 3 years. In a house where almost every other space is a work in progress, that’s a definite relief.

In a new home, if you could pick just one area to improve, what comes top of your list?

Before and After: Master Bedroom

This room wasn’t terrible beforehand, but it was very “blah” and had never felt right in the three years we’ve lived here. You can’t tell from these pictures, but the walls were a pale taupe, which was getting totally washed out from the light from two large windows. Our trusty pine furniture (shipped from England) was looking very, very dated – and simply awful when paired with plum colored bedding and curtains.


A sturdy pine armoire with nice molding details also made the journey across the Atlantic. What can I say, you’ve seen something like this a hundred times before, right?



The style of the art wasn’t right (not to mention being hung too high!), and I was permanently tousling with whether the wall with the bed on it, or the wall to the right (which happens to have a water view and attractive vaulted ceiling) should be the focal point of the room. After digging out some inspiration pics of beds against windows, I figured, to heck with it, and moved the bed so that it was on that wall. We have a second large window (facing the bed in the photo above), so loss of light was not a problem – although bright sunshine did create a challenge for an amateur photographer-blogger in her after shots. ;)

Once I decided I liked the new furniture layout, the real craziness began. It took me about 6 weeks to paint the bed, the drawers, the armoire, and the walls. Beloved Husband, poor thing, was recruited to do the ceiling. However, I kept the bedding and curtains, since they were only a couple of years old.

Here are our results:

Walls: Benjamin Moore’s “Stone Hearth(thank you, Maria Killam!)
Bed: painted in Behr’s “Swiss Coffee
Lamps: Lamps Plus

Dragonflies (high on wall above bed): Umbra

Drawers: Minwax white pickling stain
(not recommended – just use paint, instead)

Armoire: Painted in Behr’s “Verdigris”
(Thank you, Nester, for the courage to start this project!
Chair: HomeGoods, re-covered in “Carmen Miranda” fabric
by Full Swing Textiles

“Choose Joy” print: Eva Juliet
Cube side table: Amazon
Lamp: CSN (and thanks to Bromeliad for finding it!)

Sea Urchin beaded knobs: on clearance at Anthropologie
Accessories: from shopping the house :)

Beloved Husband deserves a big public hug for putting up with all this mayhem, including not getting too spooked by a wall color that appeared a bit too brown for his comfort, and for agreeing to me painting his dearest pine. I took on a little more than I could handle with all the aspects of this project, and with hindsight, I’m lucky he’s still talking to me.

So, hush, don’t tell him, but the most sacred guy-space in the house – our home office – is next on my list…

Proudly linking to:
Room Remix,
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