DIY 12-Foot Long Double Desk

February 9, 2014

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Last week I shared our recent office makeover, including the DIY 12-ft long double desk we built. Today I’m here to give you the how-to so that you can build your own.

This really is a pretty simple DIY project (especially compared to our DIY Old Door Console Table that we built from scratch), that even the less-DIY-savvy of you can do pretty easily.

I had been thinking about this project for a while, so I already had an idea of what I wanted (here are some similar desks that I used for inspiration: thisthis and this), so I measured our space to see what would work best and then made this quick sketch to show Drew. He was on board immediately (he was ready to overtake the room that had long been only my office) and we came up with a plan.

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We started with a trip to IKEA (the closest IKEA to New Orleans is in Houston, TX, so we made a weekend trip of it), where we purchased three of these BESTA bookcases, along with these feet for the bottom of them (the BESTA bookcases have a variety of feet options, so you can change up your look if you want something different).

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Once we were home, we cleaned out the room, painted it, and then put our bookcases together and placed them where we wanted them in the room. The spacing of our room turned out perfect for these! We set those couple boards on top to mimic the desktop, just to make sure the height would be okay. It really depends on the height of your chair, but for me, the desktop is a touch higher than I would have made it for myself. However, I’m sharing this desk with my husband, who is a big guy, and the height is perfect for him. (I’ve been sitting on a pillow in my chair, which makes it the perfect height, but I’m going to look for a taller office chair at some point.) You might find that you don’t actually need the legs on them to be the right height for you. (The BESTA Bookcases without legs are about 25 1/4 inches tall, with legs ours are 29 1/4 inches tall.) With the desk top attached, our desk turned out to be a total of 31 inches high.

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Next, we made our final plans for the top, measuring to see how long we wanted our desktop to be. Our wall is about 12 feet long and we wanted the desk to be slightly shorter than that, to give it room to actually fit in the space (it is a free-standing desk, not a built-in, so it doesn’t need to be completely flush against both walls). We decided 140 inches long would be perfect for us. We made a trip to Lowe’s and bought three 2x8x12 untreated pine boards and had them cut down in-store to 140 inches. When choosing boards, make sure you lay them flat on the ground in the store and pick ones that are as flat/straight as you can find. (We had some issues with one of our boards being warped because we didn’t check them well enough in the store!) After we got them home, we gave them a good sanding to smooth the surface and also to remove any stamps/marks on the wood. Make sure to also wipe them down and remove any dirt/dust before staining.

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We are still really happy with the finish of the top of our Old Door Console Table, so we used the same method and same stain for this project as well. We used Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, 2 coats of Minwax Wood Stain in Dark Walnut, and (later, after the desk top was attached) we gave it three coats of Rustoleum Water-Based Polyurethane in a Satin finish.

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I would recommend staining your wood outside or in some other well-ventilated area. Since we live in an apartment, we were forced to do this inside (with the windows open and a fan blowing the smell out), but it was still pretty stinky. After the stain has cured for a day or two, then you can start attaching the top boards together.

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We used these long metal connector bars that we found at Lowe’s. We used 4– one on each end of the desk and one in each open space (where our chairs go). Make sure you pull the boards together as you screw these in, to prevent large gaps between the boards.

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Once we had the top boards connected together, we measured out our bookcases, put them in the right places, then set the wooden top on top of them. We left a couple inch overhang on each end and each open chair space is 32 inches. The bookcases are only 15 1/2 inches deep, whereas our top is 22 inches deep, so there is a 3/4 inch overhang on the front lip of the desk and about 5 1/2 inches of space left behind each bookcase (which has turned out great for storage of art materials!).

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Once we had everything situated where we wanted it, we used these small L brackets to attach the top to the bookcases. There is a slight gap between the bookcases and the top on ours to accommodate the curvature of the wood (no wood is perfectly flat!), but when making your own, you might find that you don’t end up with as big of a gap there (one of our boards was slightly warped). The weight of the wood also holds the top down, so we didn’t think it needed more attaching than a few of these on each side of the bookcases.

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After everything was attached and together, I gave the top 3 coats of Satin finish Poly and let that cure for a few days.

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So happy with how it turned out! It is the perfect space for Drew and I to work. We each have plenty of storage space in the bookcases and lots of work space on top (with plenty of space between us so we don’t bother each other while working either!).

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It also makes the perfect use of the space in this room. It might be a 12 foot long desk, but it doesn’t feel like it takes up very much space in the room! I still have room for my easel/art stuff on the other side of the room with plenty of open floor space to spread out in the floor if I’m working on a crafting project.

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See more images of the room, here.

Budget Breakdown:

IKEA (BESTA Bookcases ($46.75 x 3 = $140.25) and BESTA Legs ($8.50 a pair x 6 = $51.00) family discount pricing + 15.78 tax) : $207.03
Wood for desk top (3 2x8x12 boards at $7.43 each): $22.29
Metal Connector Bars (4 at $2.80 each): $11.20
Metal L Brackets (3 packs of 4 at $2.27 each): $6.81
Stain/Wood Conditioner/Polyurethane/Foam Brushes: already owned (but would be around $30 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)
Screws, Sandpaper, etc… already owned (but would be around $10 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)

TOTAL: $247.33 

$250 isn’t bad for a 12-foot long desk for two! Plus we sold Drew’s old desk on Craigslist for $100, so that brings our out-of-pocket cost down to under $150!

One of my favorite projects that we’ve done together and we are already getting a ton of use out of it! Yay for pretty projects that increase our productivity!

P.S. We did plan ahead and made sure that whatever connecting methods we used (the metal connector bars and L brackets) could be disassembled rather easily in the future to move to a different house. We also thought ahead before we bought our 12 ft long boards and measured to make sure that we could even get them in the house. Some things that you also might want to consider before building!

Office for Two

February 2, 2014

The last time I shared photos of my office/studio, it looked like this:

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It continued to look like this until about a week and a half ago. Now it looks quite a bit different (but we’ll get to that in just a second).

The room was great before. It was pretty. It was functional for storing my things. But I felt a little like that was all it was being used for. Just a room to house my stuff. During college, it was great to have this space to myself. I needed a quiet spot to write papers and do homework. However, now that I’m out of school, I found that I didn’t really use the space as much anymore (only when painting). I still work some from home, I still blog, and I still spend a lot of time on my computer, however, I found this space to be too quiet (and lonely) for me to work in very often. Since Drew and I both work away from home during the day, we only get to spend time with each other at night and on the weekends. If I spent all that time working in here, with him working in the other room, we would never see each other. So we would both end up bringing our computers into the living room where we could work together.

So we decided to give this room a little makeover. One that would make it work a little better for both of us. Now it looks like this:

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I’ve always loved the look of double desks (especially since Drew and I both do a lot of work from home that we need office space for) and I’d been envisioning one for this room for a long time. This wall is just the perfect spot for it. (Inspiration: this, this, this, thisthis and this.)

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We built the (nearly 12 foot long) desk ourselves using Besta bookcases from IKEA (outfitted with these legs) and wooden 2x8x12 boards that we stained/sealed/and put together. A longer post coming soon about exactly how to DIY one of your own. (We did a few things differently, but our process was very similar to this one.)

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We ended up painting the wall behind the desk with chalkboard paint (Valspar from Lowe’s) and it is one of my absolute favorite things about the room. I’ve always admired chalkboard walls and I love the functionality of this one (inspiring quotes, to do lists, etc.) and the gorgeous statement it makes (I’m so into high contrast these days!). It took about 3 coats of paint to cover our wall and even though our walls are bumpy plaster, it still works great. If you do this in your own home, remember to “season” the entire wall with chalk dust before using (it makes what you write on there easily erasable without leaving an impression of what you wrote on the wall), but I will warn you that it makes a huge mess! Totally worth it in the end though.

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The other walls in the room are painted in Grey Ghost (Valspar from Lowe’s) in a satin finish. I love the contrast of the black chalkboard wall with the lighter grey walls and the white bookcases, etc.

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I’ve found lately that my style is changing quite a bit. I’m into really high-contrast and neutral spaces (black, white, grey, gold, and wood), with just smaller bits of color (and I would even like a little less color in here, but I’m working with what I’ve got — LOVE this office), patterns, abstract art (when wasn’t I into that though), elegant but with a more casual feel (love the imperfect to do list and the art taped right on the wall), contrasting textures (matte black wall with satin grey on the other walls, smooth white bookcases with an imperfect wooden desk top), a little old with a little new, and a little bit of quirk. This is definitely my favorite room in the house.

See more of my office/studio inspiration on my Pinterest board, here.

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The room feels so much bigger now! Not only is it such a better use of the space in our small apartment, and more functional, but it also provides so much extra storage and organization. It is so nice to have a desk with shelves. I didn’t even know how much I missed that before with my open desk. The small gap behind the desk bookcases, between the wall, is also great for storing art paper pads, unused art frames, etc! A nice little accidental perk!

This room has come so far from the before pictures in this post!

Now I’m on to the search for a larger rug for this space!

****UPDATE**** Want to build your own DIY Double Desk? Check out the how-to, here



My desk chair is from World Market, Drew’s wooden desk chair was thrifted, baskets on the built-in shelves and the middle desk shelf are from Target, other smaller baskets on desk shelves are from Michael’s, rug is from Target, curtains I made out of sheets from TJ Maxx, easel is from Craigslist, pink curvy glass lamp is from Home Goods (got it on vacation years ago in Charleston, SC), standing lamp is from Target, shelves DIY built-in out of IKEA Extra-Deep Billy Bookcases, Painting Taboret is IKEA kitchen cart, big white ornate frame with painting inspiration pics is thrifted and turned into bulletin board, big ornate gold frame is thrifted, elephant print on bookshelves is from this Etsy shop, Live Simply print from this Etsy shop, small purple/yellow print on bookshelves we got in Portland, OR but is Old School Stationeersgreen elephant piggy bank is from Urban Outfitters, glittery gold frames on wall are from Michaels, prints in them are prints of my paintings, wooden abstract painting on desk is by me, two taped up paintings on my side of the desk were bought at an estate sale and painted by Pierce Jonassen, taped up painting on Drew’s side is by me, crewelwork embroidery in gold frame was thrifted, white ceramic turtle is from West Elm, gold plant pot was thrifted, silver desk lamp is from IKEA, and rose window print is from here.

Christmas Decorating

December 17, 2013

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I just love how cozy our house is at Christmastime.

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We kept our decorations really simple this year, only putting silver/gold/white ornaments and beads on the tree, snowflakes on the windows, and my favorite Christmas print up. Our apartment doesn’t have a ton of storage space, so we can’t have too many seasonal decorations. The beads on the tree are all ones we have caught at Mardi Gras parades here (most are from our first Mardi Gras in New Orleans).

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This year, in addition to small, normal tree lights, we also added some bigger globe lights as well, which gives the tree a really pretty effect. I saw the idea on Vintage Revivals. We used these bulbs from Target. The glass jar candle luminaries on the TV console are from our wedding.

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My glittery, metal snowflakes that I hang from the curtain rods might be my favorite part though. I did that last year too (you can see them a bit in this photo from last year). It is the closest thing to falling snow that we get in New Orleans!

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On one side of our French doors, I’ve been taping up our Christmas cards (we’ve gotten a few more since I took these pictures). I had visions of clipping them up onto a string with pretty gold, glittery mini clothespins, but that never happened. Maybe next year. It is strange. This is the first year that I haven’t had a Christmas break/vacation. I get a couple days off work, but that’s it. I’ve never worked right up until Christmas Day before. It is definitely different. I miss having those weeks off before and after Christmas to decorate, bake cookies, shop, drink hot cocoa, spend time with family, wrap presents and sit by the fire and crochet. There was always a peacefulness surrounding the slowing down during that time (often because we were snowed in at home). I feel like Christmas this year is so much more rushed without that down time.

In front of that door, I pulled out a basket (that usually lives behind the door with magazines in it), and made it into a mini wrapping station. It is holding all our wrapping paper, boxes, tissue paper, etc.

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Speaking of wrapping presents, my wrapping has also been simple this year. Paper from Target and simple stick-on name tags. This doily wrapping I did a few years ago would have been pretty with our simple, neutral decorations this year, but that didn’t happen. They are all just going to be ripped open anyway (and we have to transport most of them back to Illinois with us), so I’m not losing sleep over the fact that there aren’t any bows.

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Wrapping up the tour is my favorite Christmas print from Lindsay Letters (she now has it available in white/gold too, here and a canvas print here).

I only put up decorations in our living room, since that is where we spend most of our time when we are at home in the evenings. In past years, I’ve also put decorations in the foyer and some in the kitchen as well. I like the simplicity of our house this year though. Are you a whole-house decorator? Maybe one day when we have our own house and more storage for decorations I’ll decorate more rooms.

Here are a few other past Christmas posts:

Merry Christmas 2010! (the Christmas we got engaged) and Christmas Eve that year (Here is our engagement post in case you are interested)

Christmas Shortbread Cookies (from before I was Gluten-free)

Christmas Decorating (our first year in this apartment)

Doily Christmas Wrapping

Our First Rowland Family Christmas Card (last year)


P.S. Linking up to The Nester’s 2013 Christmas Tour of Homes

Container Garden Fail

October 27, 2013

The last couple summers, I’ve grown basil and other herbs in my kitchen window box (Just do a quick search in my search box, there are several posts about it). Basil, especially, has always done really well in there. This summer however, we decided to try doing bigger container gardens outside the front of our apartment. We started last January with growing all our plants from seeds–cucumbers, green peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, rosemary, cilantro, basil and parsley.

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We had a couple seeds that either didn’t sprout or didn’t make it, but most of our plants did really well for the several months that they were inside. Once they outgrew their tiny little seed pots, we re-planted them in 5-gallon plastic buckets. Drew drilled several holes in the bottom of each bucket for drainage.

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Once it warmed up outside, we slowly transitioned each plant outside, letting them stay for a few days underneath the small porch roof in front of our house, so that they could slowly get used to the outside environment.

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Several weeks later, we ended up with our only crop of the season, this one tiny cucumber:

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We made sure they got enough sun and watered them every evening or two, but after being outside for a month or so, they all just sort-of stopped growing or started to shrivel up. I know the New Orleans summer sun is pretty brutal, but other people’s plants survive here? I’m not sure exactly what the problem was. The sun was too direct? Too hot on them after being inside so long? They didn’t have adequate drainage? We didn’t fertilize them?

I was traveling a lot this summer, so I can’t say I was the absolute most attentive plant mom, but they definitely weren’t neglected and Drew looked out for them while I was out of town. I just don’t know why they weren’t at least slightly more successful. I grew up in the country and my family always planted a huge vegetable garden that I would help out with, but this was my first time trying containers. I’m used to the Illinois planting season, but still new to when to plant outside in New Orleans. Maybe I should have just gotten them outside a lot sooner, so they got used to being outside before it got so hot?

This is what they looked like as of today, right before I dumped them out:

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They obviously look bad here, I hadn’t even touched them the last several months since they stopped growing/producing anything for me. But see those green peppers in the front? They weren’t even dead, but hadn’t grown even an inch the last five months they’ve spent outside!

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Anyone else had success with container gardens? Any fellow New Orleanian gardeners? Any advice for me?

The week after I helped my little sister, Kelsey, move into her dorm room, I spent a few days in Nashville with my older sister and her kiddos before heading back to New Orleans. While I was there, we got the chance to check out the Southern Living Idea House 2013 on the Fontanel Estate in Nashville.

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I was super excited to check it out, I mean who isn’t excited to check out a house featured in a magazine and designed by Southern Living? I figured it would be fabulous and I would be left wanting a house just like it. However, that was not the case. While many of the design elements and the grounds were pretty, I was a little disappointed overall. I expected some gorgeous mansion, but in reality it was a collection of several buildings that felt really choppy and separated. It was ridiculously impractical for any family to actually live in (the main house only had one bedroom and the rest of the bedrooms were located in separate buildings connected by a wrap around porch). That made more sense once I found out that they planned to use it as a bed and breakfast for the Fontanel Mansion estate after it was done being open for viewing as the Idea House, however I found the choppy layout uninspiring.

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Many elements of the design were pretty, but overall I was a little underwhelmed by that as well. There were only small snippets here and there of things I actually found inspiring. I thought overall the design choices were pretty expected and maybe boring? I know my design style is not completely traditional, but I still respect and find inspiration in other design styles as well. To me, for this to be an “Idea House” (essentially setting a goal for people to use it as inspiration), I personally don’t think it took enough risks in the design choices.

Here are some pictures and things I did like though:

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On the outside of the buildings, I did like the taupe-y grey paint color, combined with the creamy soft white trim, the darker neutral shutters and the brick/stone color on the bottom. Not exactly a new or groundbreaking design choice, but I thought it was pretty and classic, while still feeling modern/updated/2013. I do like the more classic design style of the building contrasted with the more modern steel railing and cute metal gutter system. I also really liked the Oil-Rubbed Bronze outdoor light fixture above the door (although you can’t see it super well in these pictures).

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That little building opened right up to a bedroom with two full/queen beds (not pictured) and then this little nook/kitchenette area (above) and a bathroom around the corner. I thought the wallpaper in this room was pretty and I really liked the wide plank dark wood floors and the creamy white trim.

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I thought this little kitchenette area was really beautiful. I love the wallpaper, the dark stained butcher block counters, the open shelving and the white accessories. However, I don’t think this area was super practical. I know it is an “Idea House” and so they aren’t exactly expecting guests, but design inspires me when it is both beautiful and practical/useful. I thought this area was beautiful, but was it useful? There was a small fridge, but there was no stove top/microwave/coffeemaker or any type of appliance to actually make food prep possible, therefore there was absolutely no use for any of those dishes, other than maybe a glass. Add a coffeemaker and a microwave, and then maybe it would have been a practical space. (but I think those are things the design team should have addressed)

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Turn the corner from the kitchenette area and there was this beautiful bathroom. I did really like this room. I thought all the marble tile was really pretty (love the hex tile on the floor!) and the lines of the sink are beautiful. It was very classic, but also felt new/clean/modern too. For a small bathroom, the layout of this room was designed well and it really did have it all– a walk in shower, a separate little toilet nook, a beautiful sink area and this nice little closet/storage area right across from the sink (below).

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Throughout the buildings, I did really like this style of molding. It was really pretty, but also really simple.

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Moving on to the next building, the door on the left led to a bedroom, bathroom, sitting and kitchenette area and the door on the right went up stairs and led to another bedroom and bathroom. You had to go outside and in the other door to get to the spaces though, they were completely separate. (Which makes sense if they plan to use it as a bed and breakfast, but as a house, the spaces were too separate.)

I did love the color of the wooden doors though, the transoms above, and the schoolhouse style light fixtures on the porch ceiling.

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Right outside those doors, on the porch, was this nice little seating area. The design here doesn’t overwhelm me, but the sectional and garden stools are nice.

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The left door (in the photo above) led to this bedroom/seating area. I liked the dark color on the walls in here, the sliding barn door to the bathroom, the open wooded/metal shelving, the white accessories, the white fireplace/mantel, herringbone pattern on the inside of the fireplace, abstract art, the tall curtains, the fiddle-leaf fig trees and dresser/side tables next to the bed. Overall, I really like this area and was one of my favorites in the whole Idea House. I think it is pretty and classic, but also has newer/modern elements. I think this was one room that really melded a good blend of the two together (while still keeping a country, Southern Living style). A lot of these elements are really popular right now (fiddle leaf figs, sliding barn doors, open shelving, white accessories, drum shades, etc), so although I like the room and I like a lot of the elements, I’ve seen them all already on design blog after design blog, so I wouldn’t say there is any element in this room that just overwhelms me with inspiration.

That doorway in the back led to another little kitchenette area that was cute (but also similar to the last one I already talked about). I didn’t get a good picture or get to study it very well because there was a guy painting in there while we were there.

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Sorry for the grainy picture here, but this was the sink area of the bathroom connected to the above living room/bedroom. It was spacious and had a nice closet there, but I think my absolute favorite element was that mirror on the vanity area. LOVE that shape. Behind where I was standing to take this picture, was another spacious room with a big tub and another spacious room off that one with a toilet in it. I didn’t include pictures of those rooms because I wasn’t that inspired by them and actually thought that the space in those areas was a little wasted (the toilet room was huge and just had a toilet and small dresser/table in it).

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Leaving the bedroom/seating area above, going out onto the porch and entering the other door, you were greeted by this staircase, then a bedroom and bathroom on the second floor. I do like the lantern light fixture in here, but the art is a little bit of a disappointment. I’m all for gallery walls, but this one was really uninteresting. This tall, neutral room would have been a great place to add a little more interest, color, pattern, anything really that would be eye catching and make me want to treat this as a room, a place where I would actually stop and look at the art, rather than just walk on by and on to the next room.

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I did like the sliding barn door in here as well, although when you slid it open, it opened a closet/eave area of the house. While it was neat that that room was sort-of secret, it meant you couldn’t close the bedroom door without opening this big closet, and therefore couldn’t have both rooms closed at the same time. Might not be practical for a real house.

One thing I really do like about this room was the fact that the ceiling is painted a color, while the walls are neutral. I love the idea of treating the ceiling as a 5th wall, and love the fact that they gave it some interest. I think it adds a nice cozy factor to the room.

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I really liked the windows throughout the entire set of buildings. They were all like these, with the muntins forming squares of glass, rather than the traditional rectangle. I thought they were a slightly more modern take on this traditional window style.

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The ticking pattern on the walls (and everywhere else) was actually fabric. I thought it was really interesting that they covered the walls in fabric, rather than wallpaper. They used to do that to cover the stone walls in castles back in the day. That isn’t something often seen in interiors these days and was inspiring. How cool would it be for the fabric to be a really cool pattern? There are lots of possibilities with that and I would love to see more interiors explore this. It gave the walls a nice softness. I’m curious as to the process involved (how they hung it, how they covered seams, etc.) I should have studied it further when I was there.

I’m not however the biggest fan of the fact that the walls, curtains, chair upholstery, lamp shades, curtains behind the bed, etc are all the same fabric. It gets a little too matchy-matchy. I would have loved to see them pair the walls with some other fabrics on everything else.

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A walk around the porch again led to the main house. This porch swing was nice and the ropes to cover the chains were a nice touch, although one I’d seen before. The big triple white door behind the swing was the door to the library/study (I’ll show it later).

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The porch of this house was enormous, it wrapped around all the buildings, so there were lots of little areas. I like the polka dotted rug and the side tables above and I’m in love with the beautiful trestle table in the outdoor dining area below. The geometric rug below is nice too.

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This beautiful wood herringbone door below is the center entrance to the main area of the main house. While I absolutely love this gorgeous wooden door and the transom above it, the door itself is a little small/skinny (less grand) of an entrance for it to be the main entrance to the house. The doors to the library/study were also on the front of the house, but were bigger (there was also another larger entrance on the opposite side of this front door, symmetrical to the library/study entrance).

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That door opened up to this enormous living area. The tall ceilings, horizontal paneled walls, windows along the top, and rustic wood beams were gorgeous. I liked the sliding barn doors here again leading to the kitchen area.

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This room was very pretty, but again I couldn’t get over how separated it felt. I mean who needs two separate living spaces in the same room? (a bed and breakfast maybe, but not a real house) In my opinion, this room felt like a little bit of wasted space. It took up almost half of the entire main house, but only functions as a living room.

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View from the kitchen (above) and view into the kitchen (below).

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I LOVE the old crocks on the kitchen island. My dad has collected these old crocks all my life and has a ton of them. (I have a couple in my house that he gave me). I really love the old patina they add to this otherwise more modern space. I also love the trio of plants themselves and the pretty ceiling pendant.

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I loved the deep teal-y blue color of the kitchen cabinets (the pictures online from Southern Living don’t show the color accurately at all!), although they did make the room seem really dark (and therefore the pretty big room seemed a little on the small side). I also love the butcher block counters (and the way they contrast against the white and blue in the room). The sink faucets here also have a really pretty shape. I did like this room, although it seemed dark and made me wish that ALL the cabinetry wasn’t painted such a dark color (This would have been a great room for two toned cabinetry). I would have also liked to see a little more open shelving and a little more personality in this room with art/accessories. It feels a little on the too industrial side for me.

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The laundry room was pretty, although pretty basic, but it did have nice windows in it. I love laundry rooms that have a counter top over the washer and dryer. I wish I had that in our laundry room, it would be so convenient. The sink and faucet in here are pretty too (although I would have preferred an apron front sink and perhaps a different skirt around it). This room was right off the kitchen, and on the opposite side of the house from the bedroom (and other buildings with bedrooms), which isn’t horrible, but it seems like it would have been more convenient on the other side of the house.

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I like the windows and the rug in here, but overall I thought the dining room was really disappointing. It was at the back of the house and almost seemed like an afterthought. The decor in here wasn’t anything spectacular and for a place (along with the kitchen) that seem like they are usually at the heart of a home, this room didn’t feel like that.

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The back porch was really spacious as well. I liked that the fabric screens rolled up and down to block light when needed.

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The master bedroom (or the only bedroom in the main house) was right off the back porch, but I didn’t include pictures of it, because it was really boring. This shot (above) was of part of the master bath/closet. The waterfall marble counter top on the sink was kind-of pretty, but the rest of the room isn’t anything special really. That room in the back was supposed to be the master closet, but it felt more like a mudroom or locker room.

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Ahh, the library/study. This was by far my absolute favorite room in the house. I liked the rich dark wall color (it made it cozy for a room that is meant to be quiet/serious), the tall windows with transoms, the geometric chandelier, and the patterned curtains. For me, this was the most inviting room in the entire house(s).

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Love that magnifying glass above. I think the thing I liked the most about this room was it was the one that had the most interest, pattern, accessories, and artwork. I think those things really make a space.

Last but not least, this bedroom was on the other side of the main house, in its own little building, directly across from the first room I showed you. Overall, I think this room is a little boring and hotel-ish, but the headboards are pretty.

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That pretty much wraps up the tour. There are some rooms I left out, these ones are just ones that I found the most inspiring.

I’m sorry if this post was a little negative about the SL Idea House, but I left it with such a disappointed feeling. I expected to be wowed and over-inspired but I really wasn’t. I’ve thought a lot about why I felt that way, and I think it has to do with several things.

I think that for an “Idea House,” too many of the choices were too boring. They were expected choices, not overwhelmingly creative and innovative ones. I know I might read more design blogs and keep up with the design world more than most people do, but I’ve seen these same choices over and over again. I expected more creativity or innovation or something. I think color is one thing they could have been a little more innovative with. I love color and I love bright colors and I know that not everyone does, but a lot of the rooms in this house were too neutral or they used expected color choices– light blues and greens, browns, some reds, etc. I think the teal-y blue color in the kitchen was perhaps a step in the right direction, but I would have loved to see some more creative colors and color combinations used throughout, even if in just small doses. Peacock, mint or teal blues, perhaps lavender or more raspberry pinks– there are a lot of really hot colors right now that would have been more refreshing to see.

I would have loved if the spaces had been set up in a more inspiring way (less of a bed and breakfast and more of a real house), but I guess I understand their decisions for practicality in the afterlife of this Idea House. However, I think the absolute biggest problem I had with this Idea House was that it felt like a Pottery Barn store or a furniture store, not a real-lived in home with a story. I guess that is to be expected, but I found it to be a little stale. The pieces all seemed new, they didn’t feel collected over time. There wasn’t any personality. The art and accessories were lacking. I didn’t see any paintings or art that I thought were very inspiring. I would have loved to see some vintage landscape paintings mixed in with more modern abstract pieces, prints, and black and white photos. I wish that they had used the art and accessories to make the Idea House feel more like a lived-in home, rather than a hotel or store.

Which maybe brings me to an even greater point, that interior design (to me at least) is more than just harmony of objects in a space, the beauty of rooms, or the quality of the pieces. It’s about the story that they tell–the art, photos, books, knickknacks, furniture pieces, memories–all showing a picture of their collected history together. They describe the personality and the history of the people who live there and what the interests of those people are. I love a pastiche of things in a space. A mixture of styles and pieces, thrifted tables next to handmade curtains next to a modern light fixture. But I think the story of them is what equally interests me, and why I find myself drawn to design blogs where people tell the stories of their own houses and I can see the rooms and the things in them change as time passes, how those areas are both beautiful and practical for their lives/families. In light of the amazing resource that is design blogs, I find that decorating television shows, magazines, and I guess Idea Houses too, just don’t captivate or inspire me in nearly the same way.