Thursday, October 30, 2008

Creating A Vintage Kitchen In A 1950’s Ranch

Contributed by Liz from Mabel's House.

Our house was built in 1952, a year when atomic fabric, turquoise appliances, and June Cleaver were at their zenith. Unfortunately, when we came into possession of our beloved ranch, the kitchen was less than exciting. Gone was the 50’s charm and in its place a dimly lit, gold painted den of claustrophobia.

The only source of light was a large flickering fluorescent fixture, which emitted a blue tinged hue onto the gold painted walls; creating a nauseating effect. To make matters worse, there was no pantry of any kind.

I began to collect pictures of kitchens like a woman possessed. I tore them out of magazines, downloaded them from the internet, and on one occasion I whipped out my ever present camera and took pictures of a friend’s kitchen during a dinner party. Apparently, obsession knows no bounds.


My first mission was to find breakfast area furniture. I began to haunt flea markets and yard sales. We purchased the hutch/shelf at an antique mall for $75 and painted it a crisp white.

The table and chairs were not as easy to find, but eventually I stumbled onto this set (a bit worse for wear with scratches and a burn mark, but solid oak) for a mere $65 at a yard sale. The woman selling them was getting divorced and these had been her ex-mother-in-law’s. She couldn’t sell them fast enough. As Tony Curtis said in Operation Petticoat, “Where there is chaos there is profit.” I painted them to match the hutch.

We found pantry space in the broom closet next to the refrigerator. Then we chose a pale, dove gray wall color to brighten up the space and contrast with the white cabinets. It’s Seashell Gray by Valspar and available at Lowes. It’s the perfect neutral; airy with a seaside cottage feel.


We replaced the large fluorescent fixture, choosing a stainless track light to compliment the stainless appliances. We also added a pendant light (also purchased at Lowes) in the breakfast area. Never underestimate the difference lighting can make; it seemed to add another 100 square feet to the space.

As far as accessorizing, I used vintage bowls and pottery acquired from antique malls and yard sales. An inexpensive chalk board (the trim spray painted white) hangs near the fridge and pantry. In the breakfast nook window I hung lace café curtains (from Wal-Mart) and an embroidered valance from an estate sale.

For more vintage inspired rooms decorated on a budget, please feel free to swing by and visit us at Mabel’s House.

Check out more after pictures of this vintage kitchen!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

MicasaStyle's Design Spotlight

Our goal at MicasaStyle is to help designers, amateurs and professionals alike, to inspire and share decorating ideas. And with so many fabulous rooms being added to MicasaStyle everyday, we thought it was time to highlight some of the most inspiring rooms. So, we will be selecting rooms from our site that awed and amazed us and feature them on our blog. It’s what we like to call ‘MicasaStyle’s Design Spotlight’.

Our first design spotlight is shining on one of our most popular rooms and still holds one of our highest ratings on the site: Low-Budget, High-Style, Grad Student’s Apartment. Looking through the photos filled with extravagant wall art and unique decorating pieces is inspiring enough, until you realize that the ‘starving grad student’ who designed the apartment did it all for only $1200.00. We decided to ask the designer, Tom, about his experience in decorating the room and just how he pulled off this modern/contemporary look on such a small budget.

The key factors in Tom’s decorating decisions were inspiration and compromise. Tom didn’t have a clear vision of what he wanted in the beginning but knew that he loved a modern, Asian-contemporary style and wanted to experiment with Feng-Shui. After some tweaking, his idea finally evolved into a theme of the 4 elements: earth, wind, fire, and water and he also incorporated the Chinese concept, Bagua, which represents the 8 corners of element, or 8 aspects of life. The compromise part came in to play when Tom realized that his budget didn’t quite support his tastes. A few hand-me-down rugs, drapes and several furniture pieces were too costly to replace so Tom worked with them instead.

Tom also opted not to purchase thousands of dollars worth of art and instead got his hands dirty and made some of his own. One of the most amazing parts of Tom’s apartment is that the expensive looking wall art is made mostly from Styrofoam. Inspired by his father, Tom used Styrofoam (about $5 per 2’x4’ sheet), metallic paint and some decorative materials, such as mirrors and glass beads, to create truly expensive looking art like his Shui (Water element) piece and the sunflower constellation mirror. His ‘Strength’ (Earth element) wall art, made from gluing together mosaic tiles and inspired from the Beijing Olympics, is another eye-catching piece that makes this room so unique.

Aside from how easy this decorating project was on the wallet, the way Tom personalized the décor to really make it his own is one of the reasons it blew us away. At MicasaStyle, we wanted to share this room to help encourage our designers. If a ‘starving grad student’ can create such a beautiful space, there’s no reason why you can’t too.

We’ll leave you with a few tips to help other novice designers on a tight budget:
1. Window shop to find the look you like, then figure out how to do inexpensively.
2. Try to keep the main pieces of furniture neutral and express the look and feel through decorative pieces and art. (This makes it easier to redecorate your room later on down the road if your tastes change.)
3. Decorate all in one month and keep the receipts, so if you don’t use anything or a piece doesn’t work, you can still return it.
4. And when in doubt, consult MicasaStyle.

A special thanks to Tom (naddhee) for letting us feature his apartment and sharing his decorating experience. For more details on Tom’s room, check out his space at MicasaStyle.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

South Florida Modern Condo

Contributed by Interior Designer, Lorrie Brown of My Design Secrets.

This 3 bedroom condominium in South Florida was designed for a European client. The requirements for the project were unique because the client was going to be using the space himself as well as being used by international clients when he was away. So the two biggest challenges were to create a comfortable inviting environment in a small space and to develop a design that would be aesthetically pleasing to a number of people with different backgrounds and tastes.

The small foyer just needed some lighting and a mirror and small table to hold keys and sunglasses. This shallow table from Design Within Reach was perfect.

The living room is 15’ x 17’ and oddly shaped so we were short on space. My first goal was to unify the space with color. We painted the walls of the entire condo in Benjamin Moore Timothy Straw (2149-40) and we also installed very durable Berber Tuftex carpeting in a color that would not show traffic patterns. The wall color and flooring is a great back drop for the palette we planned on using which were white, black, brushed chrome and wood tones. I selected simple medium scaled furniture from Artefacto to make sure it did not overwhelm the room and left space to access the sliding glass doors to the patio. The ceilings are 9’ tall so we hung the drapery hardware from the ceiling so the draperies created some drama and the appearance of higher ceilings. We also installed Hunter Douglas honeycomb blinds inside the windows for additional privacy and to prevent fading of the furnishings.

The living room has Eastern exposure and has a lot of natural light so we chose the tripod lamp from Design Within Reach to create a sculptural focal point in the room and create a lot of great general light in the evening. Linen throw pillows from Crate and Barrel were an affordable accent to the sofa and gave me the opportunity to repeat the green tones in the room.

In the dining room I chose a round table to maximize space and to add some softness to a room that has many angles. The plant and the artwork from The Artful Home adds some personality to the space. I chose photography because I find that it appeals to a wider group of people than drawings or paintings. I chose this chandelier from Lightology because it has a very light feel to it and can be made larger or smaller for different looks. I also installed a dimmer for mood lighting.

Overall I was very pleased with the result of this project. I was able to design this space so that it felt larger and more modern in a short amount of time and the client was very pleased.

Check out more of the condo after pictures!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

3 Out-Of-This-World Home Theaters

Do THX subwoofers and 15-inch floor standing speakers make your heart race? Does the thought of watching T’Pol or 7 of 9 on a 50-inch wide screen HDTV give you shivers? Is there anything better than watching the death star blow up while being nestled between a surround sound system powered by 8 amplifiers? What if it were in your very own home theater? Well, anyone can dream but these people are living proof that money can buy hi-tech, super sci-fi home theater happiness. Try not to drool too much.

Star Wars ‘Death Star’

Arguably the best Sci-Fi film series, Star Wars, inspired this awesome home theater that looks like the control deck of the Death Star. Any Star Wars fan will tell you it looks pretty accurate and that’s probably because it was designed by Doug Chiang, the lead designer of Episodes I and II. Also helping to add some authentic touches were the owners, Vic Wertz and Lisa Stevens, who used to run the Official Star Wars Fan Club. And it wasn’t hard for them to get their hands on some Star Wars memorabilia, considering they have a 3,000 square foot museum filled with items like the Millennium Falcon model used in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and the lightsaber used by Ewan McGregor in Episode I. Yeah, we’re jealous too. Follow the force for more juicy details.

The Matrix

Morpheus said you must see it to believe it, and in this 33 x 19 x 11 feet home theater, seeing it will be no problem. Genesis president, Bill Anderson (Mr. Anderson… coincidence?) and interior designer Lezlie Trujillo created this futuristic Matrix home theater and it’s packed full of acoustical products to achieve optimum performance. This theater was also the winning entry for Cedia’s Electronic Lifestyles Award for Best Home Theater Level V: over $900,000.00. That’s right, this baby cost nearly 1 million dollars to make, but you and I know it’s totally worth it. If you can handle it, take the red pill to see more.

Star Trek ‘ Next Generation’

4 years of planning and six months of work resulted in this impressive Star Trek home theater complete with ready room and private bar. Yeah, you heard right - private bar. The main attraction, the theater, was modeled after the NCC-1701D Enterprise from the ‘Next Generations’ series and is chalk full of realistic sound effects, motion-activated air-lock doors and can even simulate a Romulan attack. It was also named the Top Theme Theater in 2007 (we’re not surprised). If that isn’t enough to get your pointy ears tingling then beam on over for more unbelievable photos or check out the video!

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

French Country Kitchen in Greek Revival Home

Contributed by Jean of Renovation Therapy (formerly I Love Upstate)

My house is a circa 1839 Greek Revival in upstate New York. I bought the house because it had great bones and incredible potential. I'd also been in love with this house since I was little so when it went on the market, I scooped it up.

From a style perspective, the kitchen was my worst nightmare. Faux green marble laminate countertop, electric cooktop and faux brick linoleum. Did I mention the green ivy that was painted around the edge of everything? Where to start? Anywhere! Anything would be an improvement in my book.

First things first, I found an incredible contractor; Matt Alexander. He understood me, he had great ideas, he worked around my lack-luster budget and he delivered. He also emailed me lots of pictures when I wasn't on site. I couldn't ask for a better contractor.

With the help of Matt Alexander, we ripped out the floor and took it right down to the subfloor. The floor was sanded, patched re-insulated from below and then we put down several layers of

Ace Hardware's floor porch enamel called "Warm Scones". I was concerned that this would be hard to keep clean but a friend who is a decorative painter tipped me off that watered down Windex and a damp mop would do the trick. She was right!
Matt's team ripped out the ceiling in the laundry/breakfast nook area and we gained about 3 feet of space. We installed 4 recessed lights from Home Depot. We also had much bigger windows installed in this area

and also across the room above the sink installed. They are Integrity by Marvin. Let there be light! While we were ripping out the ceiling we discovered a brick wall. I opted to not cover up the brick. It was funny having removed the faux brick linoleum to later discover a real brick wall!

I donated my old refrigerator to a local retired couple, their fridge had bit the dust and being on a fixed income, they were struggling to replace it. I was thrilled to help. My new refrigerator is from Lowes, it's a double door unit. I'm still not used to the whole double door thing. I suppose I'll come to love it in time. I also picked out the new gas cooktop at Lowes. I was able to supplement this purchase by selling the old electric one on Ebay.

The hardest decision was the countertop. I looked at granite, Corian, butchers block, zinc, pewter and on and on. I literally spent months agonizing over the counterop. I finally settled on butcher's block. I opted to purchase it at Ikea after reading several reviews from other bloggers

who had purchased Ikea's version. The price was incredible and the installation was very easy - and it matched the butcher's block on the island. Score! The backsplash is bead board from Home Depot.

The walls are painted Lowes' Valspar Laura Ashley Cowslip #1. That's a mouthful! The trim on the fireplace, doors and backsplash are Cowslip #4. With the help of 518's Finest Painting (another awesome contractor that I'm very pleased with!) we primed the ceiling beams. The beams required 2 coats of Kilz primer and we had to use the spray can version in a few spots to truly cover some

hard grease spots. Getting rid of the dark beams really made the room seem much larger. We also installed this great vintage faux bamboo lighting fixture, a total score on Craigslist.

The curtains are actually tablecloths from Williams Sonoma Home, I put them up with clips from the Thomas O'brien line at Target. Shhh. Let that be our secret!

Check out the after pictures of the finished kitchen!

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