Color, texture, pattern and shine – Vol. 1

Any fellow “What Not to Wear” geeks will immediately understand the title of this post.  Stacey and Clinton have a mantra that they incorporate into every episode: in order for an outfit to be successful, you need to incorporate each of those elements.  They don’t all have to play a major role — a hot pink quilted plaid suit with piles of gold jewelry would have all 4 elements, but be overkill.  But having at least a hint of each adds visual interest to what you put together.  As the design half of this operation, I’ve been keeping those same principles in mind as I plan out how our home will look when it’s finished.  It’s a daunting task, especially considering that more than half of the square footage of the house is all open space, but with separate living areas incorporated throughout the flow of that space.  The living room, dining room, hallway, and den are all fully visible when you walk in the front door…  so everything has to coordinate and flow, without being one-note.

Which brings me to my new obsession, and I can’t believe I’m about to type this…  I have fallen madly in love with wallpaper.  Oh my god, do I love it.  I have always hated wallpaper, for my entire life — it just always screamed “old fashioned, and not in a good way” to me.  And when we bought this house, the wallpaper in it confirmed my disgust.

Here’s an example — nasty, ugly patterns in the kitchen.


I couldn’t wait to peel this stuff off the walls and cover everything with clean, simple, colorful paint.  (Except for the bathrooms — we’re totally not changing the wallpaper in those!)  Our painter friend balked and said we should be replacing the wallpaper with more wallpaper, and I was horrified.  But to humor him, I agreed to check out the selection at a foofy-foo design place where he could get us a discount.  I figured maybe we’d find one or two designs that would work in a couple of the rooms, and we’d still paint the rest like I wanted.  So a few weekends ago, we went to the foofy-foo place and spent about 2 hours studying their selection, and it confirmed exactly what I’d feared — everything in their books was exactly what I didn’t want our home to look like.  Page after page of paisleys, florals, and plaids.  The designs were fine for someone with more classic/colonial taste, but for a modern home they just wouldn’t work.  We drove home, accepting that wallpaper just wasn’t going to work because there was nothing we really liked.  On the way home, we passed our local Sherwin-Williams and Jack was like, “shall we go in and at least look at their wallpapers?”  We had some time, and it couldn’t hurt, so I said why not.

You guys, Sherwin-Williams is a freaking WONDERLAND for wallpaper!  We ended up spending the entire afternoon there, giddily camped out with piles and piles of sample books.  It completely turned my perception of wallpaper on its ear.  Yes, there were plenty of classic designs that we bypassed…  but oh my goodness, the modern choices were INSANE.  It made me want to buy 10 more houses, because I was so sad I couldn’t buy everything I saw!

Jack says no to the black-on-black zebra print.  😛


Here’s one example of what we were drooling over: a line called “Layers” by a designer named Edward Van Vliet.  All of the designs are super modern and graphic, and developed in such a way that you can mix and match everything so it all coordinates as you transition between the various spaces in your home.  I mean, look at these amazing combinations together!:

Here’s one color family — gorgeous neutrals, with cream, gray and even an amazing charcoal-on-charcoal gray pattern.


Here’s a closeup of that gorgeous charcoal one.  Hard to tell, but the negative space in the pattern is actually slightly raised and textured.  Pattern, texture, and shine all in one!


Here’s another series, in more of a natural wood-tone family.


And my favorite color combination: orange and aqua!


Sadly, these papers were just too modern for our house.  We were able to select one from this line for our guest bedroom, a lovely simple grayish-cream that looks like linen.  But after about 4 hours there, we left having ordered an entire house’s worth of wallpaper!

I’m a total wallpaper convert now.  They add another layer of color, pattern, texture and shine to a room that you just can’t get with paint.  Thinking about what we’ve picked out for each room, I’m beyond excited because it’s going to add a whole new dimension to each space.  We’re not going to share what we’ve chosen yet, because we want to wait until it’s all up on the walls.  But in the meantime, the shipments have started to arrive and we’re SO EXCITED!!!!

Hello, my babies!  eeeeeeEEEEEeeeeeee!!!!


No lie, when I saw the wallpaper that’s going in my home office, I got so excited I licked one of the rolls.  SO EXCITED.

So, yeah!  Wallpaper!  If you’re redecorating a room, we highly recommend considering it.  Or just go to your local Sherwin-Williams to geek out over their selection, it’s so much fun!

It’s been a busy week here at Biohazard Manor.

As I mentioned in our last post, I’ve been working on de-nicotine-ing as much of the house as possible.  A lot of it was removed when we stripped the wallpaper and tore out the carpets…  but there are several surfaces that aren’t getting stripped or painted that we need to scrub down to get rid of the stains and the ashtray smell — mainly the kitchen cabinets, and the wood paneling in the living room and rumpus room.  Nicotine stains are truly amazing, because the stuff practically bakes onto every surface and is next to impossible to remove.  Thank goodness for this cleaner called LA’s Totally Awesome, it’s been a lifesaver because it dissolves the stuff like it’s nothing.  Soap and water barely make a dent, but this spray is genius.  (And you get it at the dollar store, which is even better.)  If you don’t want to see any more freaky nicotine cleaning stuff, skip the next few photos and go down to the next block of text, where you’ll learn about the unexpected construction Jack had to handle this week.

Dressed up to tackle the nicotine and grease in the kitchen!  I took everyone’s advice after the last video and wore gloves and a fumes-blocking mask.  Even with this heavy-duty cleaner, it took 4 hours to clean the kitchen because of the amount of grime.


This is one of the kitchen walls a few seconds after spritzing it with Totally Awesome.  I know, totally nasty!  But it also shows how amazing that cleaner is, that it completely dissolved all that baked-on nicotine and grease with just a few sprays.


And here’s a short video of me cleaning one of the AC vents from the living room.  We thought they were a sort of bronze metal, but nope.  (Again — nicotine sludge.)

Okay, enough grime for one weekend.  Besides all the cleaning, Jack has been super busy dealing with an unexpected issue in the living room.  When we bought the house, we knew from the inspection that there was a little bit of dampness along the baseboards in the corner that joins the living and dining rooms…  so last week, Jack removed the baseboard there to see what was going on.  And he discovered this:


I’ll back up for scale.


Turns out there is a little pipe in there (you can see it in the middle of the photo) that was capped a long time ago, but has been leaking inside that wall for years, rotting away the support beams.  Oh yeah, did I mention that’s a load-bearing wall?  Because it is.  (More on that in a sec.)  So we went from “hmmm, let’s get rid of that moisture” to “OMG we need to rebuild part of a load-bearing wall to keep the house from going *pppfffttt*”.  Thank goodness our contractor was able to fit us in to fix it a few days later…  he cut out that section of the wall, repaired everything inside, and made it like new:


So now we’re a bit poorer, but back on schedule for everything else we have to fix to make this house habitable.

So, let’s go back to this load-bearing wall thing.  When the rotting was uncovered, that little pipe was driving Jack crazy: there’s no bathroom on the other side of the wall, so why was there a pipe in there to begin with?  After much brain-wracking, and an intense study of the architectural plans for the house, he figured it out: our dining room used to actually be the patio!  Which is why that wall is load-bearing — it used to be the outside wall to the house, and that pipe was probably the line for the garden hose. Which MEANS, and it was confirmed by one of the plans Jack found in our stack…  our house wasn’t BUILT in 1957, it was RENOVATED in 1957!  We couldn’t figure out why all the architectural plans said “renovation”, until Jack found what was probably the very first rendering done for the 1957 owners; it showed that our dining room is where the patio used to be, and the cool “rumpus room” and the beautiful big patio off of it, plus half of the kitchen, were add-ons as well.


It looks like the 1957 owners bought a smallish L-shaped rancher, and completely gutted and renovated it into the mid-mod pad it is today.  All the stone exterior, the cool huge windows, the custom kitchen, the entire back of the house, all of it was done as part of a massive rebuild.  Which then begs the question: when was our house ORIGINALLY built?  The county property records list it as 1957, but we now know that’s not the case.  So we’re probably going to have to go in person and dig through hard copy documents to find the actual build date from the 1940s?  1930s?  We shall see!