Category Archives: In Our Chicago House

Idea for Unique Wall Hooks

I lost a closet this year. It didn’t go anywhere. It’s technically still there. It turned into a really cool Indian-Moroccan (with a dash of Turkish tulip textile thrown in) sitting nook in our guest room. And as a recent young teen guest used it, as a sleeping nook!

Stenciled Closet Nook with Silk Cushion

When you travel, do you take all your stuff out of the suitcase? I’ll hang up things that I don’t want wrinkled. But I try to pack knits and things that don’t wrinkle much. So I leave most clothes in the suitcase and pull them out as needed.

My husband though, the first time we traveled together, he put all his clothes in the hotel room’s dresser drawers! Who does that? Does anyone else do that? It never occurred to me. I guess I thought the dresser was only there to hold the TV! I’d worry about “out of sight out of mind” and check out of the hotel with my clothes still in the dresser drawers.

So my husband’s natural question, from his perspective, to the loss of the guest bedroom’s closet was: “Where are people going to hang their clothes?”

Ummmmm … I had no answer. I suppose it’s not a good answer to say I expect everyone to keep everything in their suitcases. Probably not generous host behavior, huh?

Then I thought … decorating opportunity. It’s an opportunity to do something different. Hooks would do the job. But not just any ol’ hooks.

These hooks:

Hobby Lobby Knobs and Hooks

It’s a collection of hooks and big drawer knobs from Hobby Lobby. I just pulled out different shapes, different patterns, and brown things and blue things from the bins. There’s ceramic, wood, metal, even twine! It was as easy as that.

And — a tip for saving a few dollars — download the apps from craft stores on your phone because there’s always a coupon, usually 40% off, right there in your phone! Because the day I needed hooks, Hobby Lobby unfortunately didn’t have their 50% off knobs and handles that seems to be going on every other time I go there except this one time. Of course that’s how the world works.

Here you see the knobs have different heights. Not a problem. I like the variation:

Unique Knobs and Hooks

Setting them up like that for that photo gave me an idea to scatter them on the wall, all “El Fenn Riad-like:”

El Fenn Riad Marrakech

But frankly, with only five hooks, it looked bad any way you looked at it. It looked like I tried to line the hooks up but was too lazy to line them up. Maybe with 11 hooks it could have the “controlled confetti scatter” effect. But it wasn’t 50% off time, so no more hooks.

Here’s all the patched blotches to fix the holes after the first attempt:

Oops

Yepperdoodles, that’s exactly what you want to see when guests are arriving any second from overseas for their first trip to the U.S.!! When your wall finish has five colors in it including a glaze, otherwise the fixed spots will look flat and obvious! Which leads to another tip: Always keep your left-over paint and label the cans. I painted these walls 10 years ago. I was able to quickly find a few of the colors and dab them over the patches to blend it all in. Then I dried the wall with a hairdryer because the doorbell rang 120 seconds after I finished painting!

Do you ever answer the door after doing something crazy and try your best to come across cool and calm? People have no idea I was pointing a hairdryer at the wall when they were pulling in the driveway. People have no idea what crazy person they are coming to visit! Er, um, maybe NOW they do …

Why are some hooks blue on an orangey-paprika wall? Here’s why. There’s some brave color contrast in this room:

Wall Hooks in Guest Room

It also likely wouldn’t have been obvious to anyone but me that these are supposed to be hooks. So thus the hanger and the little demonstration with the bag there.

So if you need hooks, check out things that usually aren’t used as hooks!



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If You Want a Closet Sitting Nook, You Gotta Give Up a Closet

Follow along over the next few weeks as I turn a plain ol’ white closet into a colorful, patternful sitting nook! Here’s an inspiration photo:

Closet Nook Inspiration

This is the space that’s going to turn into something like the above photo:

Closet Makeover Before

Blah, yeah?!? There’s a bit of work to do! I’ll be sharing a few DIYs during this project:

  • How to make a pierced metal ceiling lantern like the pricey ones you see on Pinterest, but DIY inexpensive and easy!
  • How to build a seating bench with hidden storage under it, so you have *some* storage in the closet.
  • How to make a foam cushion but not any ol’ cushion – this one is silk and stenciled with patterns!
  • Tips for making professional-looking pillows.
  • How to paint new walls to look old.
  • How to turn plain wood into an exotic wonderment of stencils and patterns.

So watch for the series of upcoming posts both here and at Paint + Pattern!

To kick off this closet makeover project, I’ll answer an obvious question:

How can we give up the storage space of a whole closet? How?!?

Well … discipline and choices. That’s the answer. It’s not an easy answer. It’s not a super sexy answer. I struggle with accumulating stuff. But the stuff that was in this closet hadn’t been touched for many years. So do we really need that stuff? And, if this closet was holding things we don’t need, we really don’t need the closet either. Right?! That’s one way to look at it. Do you have any closets full of things you haven’t used in a long time?

It comes down to being honest with ourselves about what we really do and don’t need. And ridding our lives of some stuff. That’s what I’m doing now – moving stuff out the door in one way or another: giving it away, throwing it away, donating it to Goodwill, selling it on eBay.

What you see hanging in the closet above is not what was there – that closet was crammed with crap from floor to ceiling, from wall to wall. The stuff is now pared down to that final batch of old clothes to be shipped out.

And, the stuff is not moving to another place in our house. That’s not a solution for us. Our older house has a pathetic lack of storage space by today’s standards. As one example, two hall closets – a closet by the front door and an upstairs linen closet – were lost to retrofitted central air conditioning ductwork. Imagine the shock when we toured this house and kept opening closet doors to find a faceful of ducts. Why did we still buy this place? Clearly, not for storage space.

So, on top of the existing lack of closets, I’m giving up a closet! It is possible to carve out unique spaces in our homes, no matter the size house. This project is proof that can happen. Decide how you really want to use the spaces available to you, and adjust how much stuff you have accordingly. Yes it does involve making choices, and maybe making cuts deeper than you think you can do. I just know the sitting nook I’m creating will make me much happier than a closet full of stuff.



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A Rare Behind Scenes View of My Blogging “Office”

My “blogging office” is a black leather Natuzzi sofa in our family room. I’ve sat here so much over the past 3+ years, the middle cushion got a bit squished! The view above the laptop screen captures everything I love about decorating with finds from our travels. It captures the style I often share on this blog. So I thought I’d share my “blogging office” view with you today. Here is what sits right in front of me:

Travel Mementos On Our Family Room Coffee Table

There is a frame from Z Gallerie, with a picture of us at Hanumanalaya hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia near Angkor Wat. We were a little bit younger back then! And a red lacquerware box found in Thailand, sitting on a tray I recently found at Arastan in Bangalore, India. That gold key is the key to the India pied-à-terre’s main door. The pressed flower coasters are decades old, from India. They’re all sitting on an old crackled Chinese chest.

The sliver of rug in the background is a rug my husband picked up in India in the 90s. I think it’s a Bukhara style rug? This room is full of black and red and gold – drama!

And on the other half of the Chinese chest is another tray I made from a picture frame a few years ago:

Collection of Lacquerware Boxes

The tray holds a collection of Burmese lacquerware boxes we found in an antique shop in Chiang Mai, Thailand. They’re supposed to be old, not newly-made like many sold there today. And I sure hope they are old! I thought this arrangement needed a little bling, so I added the little shiny Moroccan brass box found last week at Leon & Lulu in Clawson, Michigan. I love things with little finials!

In the background you see a Chinese burlwood cabinet we found in Baan Tawai, Thailand years ago, and had it shipped here. Even with shipping it cost far less than buying it retail here. (Well, of course retailers count their travel expenses and for us it was vacation so I don’t count those expenses as I would if I were buying things to re-sell.) And wedged between the cabinet and fireplace are cardboard boxes holding candle supplies, LOL! Forgot that’s there, I can’t see it from the sofa.

An overhead view:

Burmese Lacquerware Boxes

Love this tall finial shape:

Old Lacquerware Boxes Found in Thailand

Z Gallerie used to have the best picture frames, but I haven’t seen these there lately:

Hanumanalaya Siem Reap Cambodia Photo in Z Gallerie Frame

And a nice big view of the outdoors too:

Blogging Office

Finally, as a wrap-up, here’s a bigger picture view:

Family Room

That cardboard race car is my boy cat’s scratching post. He’s such a cool cat, he leans on the race car’s hood, like a dude! So cute. He’s often sleeping there while I’m online. If you have a cat that needs a race car, here it is – it comes in lots of colors now.

The brick fireplace may make a big appearance here in the coming months. It’s a big dark hulking presence in this pretty small room. I’m planning to cover the fireplace with light tile with a bluestone hearth. And maybe a custom built wood mantel, but haven’t decided on that yet. We’ll see. Whenever I do blog about it, it will be from this spot on the sofa!



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