Category Archives: Design Diversions

Dip It?

When the blogger’s away . . . . she’s working on more projects so she can have something to blog about?

Or she’s having a melt-down about her job/future/creative career path and can’t get to the computer?

Take your pick . . .

At any rate, this blogger is back with a question – should I dip it?

Let me clarify — there seems to be a growing trend of furniture/decorative items that are partially painted/dipped.  Case in point, these gorgeous chairs I first saw on Desire to Inspire —


Now I have 4 matching chairs being hoarded in my basement and I’m thinking they might look a lot better getting this “dipped” treatment . .

What do you think?

Pillows (Really? Pillows? Yes, pillows)

I haven’t been around in my digital form lately, tending the blog.  Maybe because it’s because I’ve been too busy sewing pillows.  Well, yes and other things that are too boring to go into here.  So.  Pillows.

My straight line sewing skills continue to develop . . . At this point I think I’ve mastered the envelope back pillow.  I had some peace sign fabric I bought on a whim at Anatols hanging around my craft room.  Paired with some tweed-y fabric I picked up a Garden Ridge that at one point was destined for a project chair in the basement, I turned out a trio of “peace, man” pillows.

(There are two of the 20×20 peace pillows, they just don’t both fit in the rocker.  And if it don’t fit in the rocker, it don’t make it into the picture!)

Another pillow project was the test pillows for the white canvas I want to use for the Danish Daybed Sofas.  (That are still in the garage — and the foam that I was considering reusing STILL stinks to high heaven.  I don’t know that these CoMo owners did to it to make it hold on to such an aroma . . . ).  The idea for these pillows is to have Shenanigan lay on them a whole lot, to see how they weather such doggy abuse.  I’m sure he will be happy to comply.   But I also thought if I was going to the trouble of making some pillows, I ought to make them a little more interesting than just plain white canvas.  

So I drew a connected chevron pattern on them with black permanent fabric marker.  I was considering strategically coloring in some of the shapes but wasn’t able to decide on color/placement/yada yada yada so I finally just sewed  ’em up.

They’re real classy — I only bought one yard of the test fabric, so they don’t really close all the way without the help of some safety pins. . . .

Let the testing begin!

Shenanigan was the first volunteer . . . . then Sophie hopped up there too . . .

She doesn’t have this compulsion to be on TOP of the pillows like Shenanigan does though, she’s content to just be near them  . . .

That was where I left them this morning and it’s probably where they are right now.  It’s a dog’s life all right!

Am I the Chicken or the Egg?

As the blue-ing of the Thompson house progresses, I’m starting to wonder — am I a Chicken or an Egg?  Meaning, did I jump on the blue bandwagon after seeing it pull down the street past my house or am I up in the driver’s seat at the start of the parade?


At the end of the day, I’m not sure it matters.  I love blue.  I have always loved blue.  I have a sapphire engagement ring I wear everyday for chrissake.  Because I loved blue so much, I steered away from it as a decorating/design decision.  I was trying to stretch and try out other things.  Look where it got me — I ended up back at blue.  So, the morale of the story folks, is to always design/decorate your own home/treehouse/apartment/room above the garage to reflect YOUR tastes, loves and interests.  That way you’ll always love it.

I think I’ll always love blue. I think blue loves me back.

(P.S. — It’s also just paint . . . .So if blue and I have a falling out and get a nasty divorce, we can start over fresh with green.  Or tan.  Not purple.)

Stitch and Bitch Success!

** Content Warning – This is not your Grandma’s crafting! **

Working as a commercial interior designer is a great profession, but it’s not as hands-on as what you see on things like HGTV.  We work in AutoCAD, do Photoshop rendering and pick out materials.  But we also do ceiling plans, coordinate with mechanical/electrical/plumbing, do tedious room finish schedules and even more tedious shop drawings. 

So sometimes we designers want to get hands-on!  Together with some of my designer friends from college, we dreamed up what was at first called “D.I.Y. Day” to be sort of politically correct but then turned quickly into a “Stitch and Bitch” (way more fun).  JT preferred to absent himself (can’t blame him) and us girls took over the Thompson house for a Saturday of crafts. 

I was excited to get further in my New Year’s resolution of “bringing brunch back” so I went to town on that.

I found these great napkins at Ikea that matched the “stitch” theme and also had my beloved blue in them.  And yep, that’s a new rug hanging out in the kitchen — bought for under $30 online.  Sweet.  Ignore the horrible soffit, there’s a new light fixture going in this upcoming weekend . . . .

The girls pitched in with food (and cocktails!) and off we went . . . .

JT had set up the new Ikea Strind coffee table for us before he vanished into thin air and it came in handy having so much more free space in the living room now that the big ottoman has moved on to my brother and sister-in-law’s new house. 

I didn’t get a good before picture of it but Miss K came in with a busted up mirror from Hobby Lobby she scored for $8.  She had a big bag full of stuff and she took her frame to the horribly weedy front yard and made some magic with it.

She made a gorgeous little picture display for her little girl, Mila’s room.  She texted me a picture after, and I think the pictures of Mila with her mommy and daddy are what make it extra cute.  I love the fabric and ribbons and really, the overall pink and brown scheme they did for Mila’s room – very sophisticated but fun.

With all that she had to do, somehow Miss K even finished up first and came in to give us a hand . . .

Miss E had found some great inspiration images on Pinterest and wanted to do something spring-y for her front door.  Several yards of felt and some hot glue later, her wreath came out so great.

One of the nice things is that the felt flowers are wired on individually so she can change it out for the season if she wants (red flowers for Valentines day or orange and brown hues for fall . . . )

Isn’t it sharp on their black front door? I love it!

Now to me. . . . everyone I know seems to be having a baby girl.  So baby presents were in order.  I saw this adorable felt bootie pattern on Purl Soho’s website and wanted to try it out. 

I was the slowpoke of the group.  By the time brunch had wrapped up, I had only one unadorned bootie to show for all my effort.  I persisted in my hand-stitching and thanks to an extra long finale of The Bachelor, got one pair all the way done. 


Now I only have two more pairs left!!  All in all, the Stitch ‘n Bitch was great fun — it was nice to work on a project and be able to catch up with each other, drink really good cranberry-champagne mimosa-things and enjoy a beautifully sunny Saturday.  This might end up being a recurring event, but I think next time instead of starting off on a whole new project, I need to use these D.I.Y. days as a time to finish up all the ones I have started all over the house . . . .

Thanks to Miss K and Miss E for letting me share their projects!  Cheers – CT

Lights Out!

Dejected by a long week of short days and high stress at work, it seemed like we needed a little unwinding in the evening.  Ally at From the Right Bank had posted a sweet blog letter (you can read it here – note her blog was hacked and she has been having some trouble with images) from Heather describing a power outage and I took inspiration.  We decided Tuesday was “Lights Out Night” and grocery shopped accordingly. (Salmon and lobster pinwheels with baked potato, steamed broccoli and a broccoli risotto, so good.)

And husband bought me some flowers.

We didn’t really go all the way “lights out”, we just said no TV or internet.  We made a nice dinner, had some red wine and settled in on the sofa to read Steinbeck (The Pearl for me, East of Eden for JT).  All in all a great night and I think this is a tradition we will keep.

While digging through the box of candles for ones to light up, I inadvertently brought one upstairs that had a little history attached to it . . .
 Yep, that may or may not have been the high school dance that started this whole crazy thing.  We didn’t actually burn it, but put it out on the table for grins.  Also, JT’s cousin made those incredible turned wood candle holders as wedding gifts.  Love.

You guys may think we are just wine drinking slackers over here but some progress was made.  The kitchen is now bluer.

The ironic thing is that when we bought the house the kitchen was painted a soft blue color and had this lovely blue plastic laminate countertop (prepare your eyes for a hideous picture . . . )

Oh the horror.  It’s come a long way baby.  I’ve got my mind set that March is going to finish this one.

Another little kitchen item was installing some more functional storage solutions – #1 a Grundtal rail system from our last IKEA trip.

I’m noticing red wine was involved in this project as well.  Hey, it’s good for the heart and I am all about heart health.  Also, while I understand the mechanics of power tools, I try to avoid operating them at all costs as I am left-handed and convinced one will kill me.   JT is kind enough and right-handed so he’s the power tool man.

Since we have a grand total of 8′-6″ of countertop with accompanying under-counter storage, having a nice way to store some of our pots and pans is something we really appreciate.  It’s still simple, clean and miles away from that tower of clutter shelving we used to have but gives us a way to really maximize our tiny kitchen.

So that’s it for this week.  We’re just hours away from another weekend and I’m hoping to get some more Grundtal installed but also have some family moving duties to attend to.

Don’t forget – life is what you make it.  If you want more evenings drinking wine and reading classic literature with your high school sweetheart, then take Nike’s advice and JUST DO IT!  Or maybe you want something else like more time playing Scrabble.  JUST DO THAT TOO.  Maybe a project might not get finished as quickly, maybe you’ll have to wait one more night to pay some bills but it will all be worth it in the end.  The blue kitchen will just have to wait (although I am absolutely loving how that kitchen of mine is  coming together! . . . )  All in due time.

Grow where you’re planted

So many new(ish) vintage/thrift/retro stores are popping up all over St. Louis right now, that it’s making my weekends busy trying to get out and visit all these places (First world problems).  The next shop I was targeting is MoModerne, an antique/retro store down on Cherokee Ave (also spotted through Mr. Modtomic’s blog – he keeps me up to date on local shopping hot spots!).  I started following them on Facebook a while ago and they have been posting beautiful images of beautiful furniture.  I’ve wanted almost every item they’ve posted.   So, out of fear for my wallet, I stayed away for a while.  Then an opening in our calendar popped up this last weekend and I dragged JT down to see the place.

What did I find but a little bullet planter waiting to come home with me. (I’ve been dreaming about them for a while – see my posts here and here.)  Perched high up on the shelf, I didn’t notice it until a second perusal of the place prompted me to snatch the tag off of it before anyone else in the store could make off with my find.  When I checked out, the guy said they used to have a bunch of the big ones too.  Why, oh why did I wait so long?

I don’t know what kind of plant this is and it’s one of the few in the house that I haven’t named, but it’s looking pretty gosh-darn happy in its new home.  It feels pretty good to wish and wish and wish for something and finally find it. 

In related plant news Little Walter, the tree, seems to be doing better.  He finally stopped dropping leaves and seems to have stabilized.  I potted him in the IKEA wicker woven basket/planter I snatched up on our IKEA trip the weekend before last.  It was the only thing like it in the plant area and even the check-out lady seemed a little intrigued/puzzled by it.  All I know is it had a plastic liner for plants but a nice woven white/blue-grey pattern I couldn’t resist.   I keep moving him around the living room, but for now he’s living here:

The height isn’t quite right so he’s perched on one of the Target Alto stool knock-offs.  We’ll see.

What else.  Well, since we were down on Cherokee for MoModerne, we also checked out the Mud House (found through Third Story(ies), another STL blog).  I had a yummy chickpea salad sandwich.  I never would have thought of chickpea salad but I sure am glad the Mud House did.  They also had great interior space and some fun, funky artwork.  Another plus — they play good music.  It can be hard to not run out of a restaurant screaming if they play bad music.  There have been times where we have considered leaving the grocery cart in the aisle and abandoning our grocery shopping because the store used to play such bad music.

And the Oscars!  I made “murder” cupcakes (red velvet) complete with Ryan Gosling’s little face as an inside joke for JT’s movie-watching dudes. They were actually pretty easy to make with my handy 1″ diameter punch (plus toothpicks and some good old-fashioned Elmer’s glue).

All-in-all a good weekend.  On to a great week, right?  I had a small epiphany this weekend.  A little late but here’s what I realized:

Life is what you make it.  So be sure to make it what you want.

Another (little) project

My sewing machine and I are getting better acquainted day by day.  Soon, very soon, my sewing machine and I will be learning how to do zippers. 

Another new baby has come into our lives, this one is the son of one of JT’s band mates.  He is named Harrison after the best Beatle and I couldn’t resist a little Beatles’ inspiration.

“Here comes the sun. . . ” Little darling.  Harrison is pretty darling.  His nursery is all grey and yellow which is very sophisticated and fun.  Methinks the Eames rocker might look pretty good in little Harrison’s nursery as well.  I was digging the yellows together when I photographed it.

It started out the same way I did my monogram pillow (see instructions here) – normal acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium.  This time I used three different shades of yellow to give it a “beachy” feel.

The best part was how the sun really started streaming in when I was taking these photos.   I think George is somewhere up there smiling down on little Harrison . . .

May everyone have a little sunshine in their life.  Cheers!

Embarrassing admission ahead . . .

I bought the Jonathan Adler “Respect the Roll” toilet paper covers.  Not one but two.  I logged on to their ridiculous website, paid $2.99 per thing-a-ma-jig, waited 2-4 weeks for delivery and came home from work one day to this:

Things “respectfully” designed by Jonathan Adler.  I must be a media-marketing sucker.  I bought into the Target/Missoni craze.  Now I’m buying toilet paper covers?  And they didn’t even come with rolls of toilet paper in them, FYI.

Images from Cottonelle's marketing campaign

But I just love the pattern.  Green and blue.  And trefoils?  Yes please.

Since they have not yet touched toilet paper, I’m thinking they might live in the kitchen to hold dog treats for the spoiled-ass dogs.  Because even my dogs love designer things.

Is anyone else as big a sucker as I am?  Probably not, but now that I’m aware of my weakness for random cheap designer items made for the masses I can get help.  Have a great weekend everyone.  I’ll be at my therapist’s office.  (aka Target.)

Working for the Weekend

Most of you guys know, but both JT and I are full-time workers.  Really most people are full-time workers but there are a lot of bloggers out there who are not 8-to-5 office types so I thought I would say it.  We’re 8-to-5 office types.  And lately for both of us the office stuff has been a little hectic.  So after an 8-to-5 or 7-to-5 or 7-to-7, neither of us really want to come home and do a lot of little stuff around the house.  So we don’t 

But when the weekend rolls around, there’s so many free hours to work on all those little (and big) projects that go unnoticed during the week.  And small steps keep getting made.  I’m sorry if these little things are a little boring or tedious, but for us, it’s all we got right now.  At some point, I’d like to have some amazing *ta-da* before and after pictures.  But right now we’re kind of in the middle of everything and just taking baby steps to get on through.

So here’s this last weekend’s progress.

Wait, that doesn’t look like progress, that looks like laziness.  We actually took the dogs to Francis Park (a gem in South City) and ran them around so they were pretty bushed.  It wore us down too but when there’s nice weather and some sunshine, you gotta get out. (And projects gotta wait.  Them’s the breaks).  But for those of you with very discerning eyes, you may notice that I did paint the vent cover on the back wall that was driving me bananas.  Small thing, but it helps it blend away more now that it matches the wall color.  (It would be even more hidden but I took down the peperonia plant to water it and left it on the windowsill to get a little sun for the day.)

The other little thing I did was some spray paint fun.  We have had this nice large ice bucket for some time. (I think I got it as a college graduation present from my aunt and uncle?  Like I said, long time.)  In our first apartment, the baby blue made sense.  Now I wanted to make in our more sapphire/teal blue to give the kitchen a little color (and a little more storage.)

That before picture of the kitchen make me shudder and that was only a few weeks ago.  It feels so much different in there now!  I started out with the same spray paint I used on my “T” collection a little bit ago here.  But it ran out and a spray paint hunt ensued.  I visited Home Depot AND Lowe’s and neither had an exact match.  So I ended up having to start over with a Valspar can I got at Lowe’s.  The color had more blue and a little less green than the previous can, so I had to re-coat and re-coat.  And my little Rustoleum attachment spray handle didn’t work on the Valspar can either.  Boo.  I ended up Smurfing myself a little by getting some blue back-spray on my hand.  But it was worth it (although this next picture is a little underwhelming – the color is so much nicer in real life . . . .)

Now we have a nice out-of-the-way place for all our oils and vinegars that we buy in bulk.  JT and I cook a lot and from scratch too so our kitchen gets pretty heavy use.  I’m thinking on the upcoming IKEA trip (how many times can I mention this trip before it happens?  I think I’m up to 6.) I will get a little plant stand on wheels to put under the bucket and make it a little more useful so it can just roll out from under the buffet.    I also did my “I hate cords” trick and taped the microwave cord and it’s extension cord to the back of the buffet.  Cords be-gone!

We also had a visitor who bought one of our Craigslist items.  One down, one to go.  Now we’re left with this . . .

Just a little microwave cart waiting for a new home.  I moved Little Walter (the tree) over to this spot — he’s sick!!!  I had purchased and photographed him a few weeks before I got around to posting about him and now he’s not doing so good!  I’m hoping by moving him away from the exterior wall, he will stay a little warmer and spruce back up. I also watered him a little more but I have anxiety about over-watering and thus drowning my plants.  I set him up on the milk crate for now because a) I kind of like the height and am using it as a placeholder and b) I’m kind of nervous Shenanigan will lift his little stubby leg on Little Walter so I wanted to get him used to having a big plant near his level. 

 Any other ideas on what to do for poor Little Walter?  I was holding off on re-potting him until after the IKEA trip (#7!!) but I may have to bite the bullet and do it now. 

Have a great week everyone — it’s 8:08 now and I have some office craziness to attend to!

Christmas Recap

Some of you may have seen the movie Four Christmases.  Here at the T residence, we have Three Christmases. 

Christmas #1 was Christmas Eve at JT’s brother’s house.   Sophie and Shenanigan’s cousins “the corgis” live there. (aka Danny and Starck)

 Brother-in-law and sister-in-law just acquired a vintage Malm fireplace.  I’ve been coveting one for  awhile (old post on former blog here) and this one looks just perfect in its new home.  The “problem” (I say sarcastically) with our house is that we already have a fireplace so bringing in a second fireplace just doesn’t make sense.  Maybe our future house will have one of these bad boys ’cause they sure are gorgeous.

Brother-in-law and sister-in-law are also big fans of mid-century modern.  Here’s JT sitting in his present before he realized it was his present . . .

It was a nice, low-key Christmas Eve.

Christmas #2 began bright and early Christmas morning at my mom’s condo.

This picture (above) was taken after the devastation.   She has a nice two-story living space and hung some cool star fixtures from the loft above, scored on our one-day-Ikea-adventure a few months ago.

You can see my sister modeling her crochet chain link necklace along with her Cardinals World Series champion um, apron?  The stars are hanging up behind her.

My mom is always changing out her tablescape so this holiday she had styled a festive silver tabletop for our omelet brunch.

Sophie and Shenanigan traveled with us on Christmas morning, so I entertained them with a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas to keep them on their best behavior.  They were NOT attentive listeners, but did stay still long enough for one photo.

Christmas #3 was at JT’s dad’s house.  They live at the top of a bluff overlooking the Meramec River and have some amazing views.  I really liked their outdoor decorations on some antique fences they picked up at a barn sale.

I loved the “Happy Holidays” garland.

My father-in-law also has a great high-ceilinged living space and the tree filled the space nicely.  The lights on the fireplace and outdoors on the fences twinkled which added to the ambiance. 

Once I get better with this camera thing, I need to go around and take some good photos of the family’s living spaces.  Each house has its own distinct style which I love.  So that’s the Christmas recap.  Did anyone else have three Christmases or even four?  Who’s making New Year’s Resolutions?  I am!