Leftovers in the Little Office

I've been putting off redoing our smallest bedroom but I got tired of looking at its bare white walls, so I finally tackled it a couple of weeks ago.  It's a room almost entirely made up of leftover accessories and furniture, but Alex commented that it's the most coordinated of all of the bedrooms.  Funny how that works.  Here's the "before":

And now here are the broad views of the "After":

The dresser was left in our garage when we moved in, the mirror we pulled out of the trash, and the sconces were purchased for another project but didn't work out.  The wall paint was also supposed to be leftover but I made a mistake and bought some supplemental paint that was a shade darker than what I had been planning to use out of my stash.  It all ended up being Sherwin Williams Silver Strand.

The curtains hung in our basement for awhile until I replaced them with some others that I fell in love with at Ikea.  The nightstand is part of my childhood furniture set that is scattered throughout the house.  The orange chair belonged to my Gamma (paternal grandmother).  The lamp and teal pillows are more items that we had in our collection, leftover from our earlier lives.

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The desk is part of that same childhood set.  The chair was purchased from the neighbors across the street - originally intended for a refinishing project but I've stolen it for myself for the time being.

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I had this dresser in our other guest room for awhile but I decided to move it out since it was a tad too big for the space.  I love the wood grain veneer on the front. Please pardon the cords.

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Two new additions are this owl print (Rockfish Gap Antiques) and this gold framed box (Target).  The gold box has pieces of coral that my dad harvested in Hawaii before it was illegal, and the owl print reminds me of my Grandpa, Henry. When he passed, my cousin Chip noticed an owl hanging around in the daylight and decided it was a sign that Grandpa was watching over us.  I believe he is.

These birds are another item we had in our collection, waiting to be hung.  They were a gift from my Mom about 5 years ago and used to hang above our bed in our first apartment.  They used to be black (someone once mistook them for bats!) but I spray painted them white and gold to match the room.

This twin bed was mine in college.  The London print over the bed was purchased on clearance at Pottery Barn and was the color inspiration for the room (gray, orange, teal, gold & white). The duvet was a new purchase from Ikea, as was the curtain rod, and the frames in this part of the room.

This photo was taken by my dad when he was a student at Annandale High School.  It fits with the bird theme (can you tell I like birds?).

Another photo taken by my dad in high school.

On the desk -- more vintage cat art from a family trunk full of photos and prints; a lovely quote by John Wesley given to me by a friend at church, and an angel given to me this Christmas by my mother-in-law.  The wooden box behind contains all of my work files.

Over the desk, these rails were purchased for another project but didn't make the cut. Here, they're doing their job keeping me organized.


Valentine's Week: "Green" Wedding Elements

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!  Because it's such a love centric week, I thought it might be a good time to share some of the details of wedding this past summer (July 24, 2010).  Plus yesterday, my lovely husband reminded me that some church related publications had offered to include articles about our wedding if we authored you're going to be my test audience.  Here goes. When Alex and I started planning our wedding, we knew that our wedding day not only marked the marriage our of lives, but the joining of our families.  We knew that most of all, we wanted to be surrounded by the people we loved and who loved us in return.  We also knew that we wanted each and every part of the day to be a reflection of who we are as individuals and who we are together.  And of course, like most other couples, we wanted to plan a unique party that our guests would love.

To understand our wedding planning process, you must first know a little more about who we are.  Alex and I met in the fall of 2006 through the Wesley Foundation, the United Methodist Campus Ministry, at the University of Virginia.  We are both disciples of Christ, "stumbling students" learning to believe, with a tremendous respect for all of God's creation and for each and every one of God's children.  For each of us, caring for the environment is one of the biggest ways that we live out our faith.  For Alex especially, living a green lifestyle is a driving passion in his everyday work and life.  Our love for the environment helped inform the majority of our wedding-related decisions.  In our relationship, while Alex tends to "represent" the environment, I've always had a passion for people, God's children - for who they are, what they need, and what they bring to the world.  Related to that is my background in architecture and design - a discipline largely about learning to meet basic human needs while shaping human experience in the world (through the manipulation of space, use of visual, auditory, and tactile elements, etc.). Along with that, I've always had a love of history, art, and culture.  By combining our passions, our wedding day became a reflection of who we were, right then, as people of faith with a love for God's creation and everyone in it, embarking upon a new life together.

There were so many thoughtful, meaningful decisions that went into our wedding that it's difficult to describe them all.  Ultimately though, our wedding most certainly falls within the category of "green weddings."  For me, when I think of "green weddings" I often associate the term with expensive eco-tourism destination wedding packages or purely "organic" weddings with $5,000 organic wedding gowns and expensive organic food.  You should know that Alex and I budgeted a mere $12,000 for a wedding with 150 guests.  The average cost of an American wedding today is close to $30,000.  That being said, we set several different "green" goals for ourselves during our wedding planning process.  The first goal was that we tried to use local vendors whenever possible.  By supporting local businesses, we helped support the people in our community and also, in some cases, helped reduce carbon emissions by ensuring that our vendors were close by.  The second goal was to reuse items and find recycled/natural/compostable products whenever possible.  It's always better to avoid excess energy consumption by purchasing new products and if you have to buy something new, make sure it doesn't end up in a landfill somewhere.  The third goal was to generally keep emissions low and serve local, organic food.  Reducing emissions whenever possible can improve our climate and local, organic food is better for our bodies and the environment.  While balancing budgetary concerns, our desire for every element to be meaningful, and the needs of our guests, we tried our best to make our day as green as possible.

The first major "green" element of the day was my wedding dress.  On a spring break trip with the Wesley Foundation to Charleston, SC, I had been sorting dresses with a program called the Cinderella Project and found my $1200 Nicole Miller gown in the rack with a stain on it.  We were told if we found anything with a stain to remove it from the rack and we could take anything we liked.  So I did.  I had it dry-cleaned and the stain came right out.  Yes, my wedding dress was recycled (and free).  Though Alex had to buy his suit new, he was wearing eco-friendly shoes (per usual for him).

Another major element was the flowers.  We arranged to purchase coral zinnias the day before the wedding from two local farms and supplemented with additional organic flowers from Whole Foods.  Several of my friends and family members, under the direction of my mother (a former floral arranger), helped arrange the flowers before the wedding rehearsal.  Unfortunately, many of them wilted in the refrigerator overnight but the ones that survived were lovely.

The next piece was the decorations.  My bridemaids (sisters especially) helped make most of the decorations.  The pew decorations were made of natural burlap and at the reception, the table runners were made of unbleached muslin.  The reception tables themselves and linens were all rented and would be reused by the company.

We purchased the flower girls' baskets for $0.50-$1.00 each from a rummage store and revamped them with spray paint and a stencil.

At the reception, I used recycled frames that my mom had leftover and framed old family photos to put on the tables.

The reception venue was also a key piece.  We chose McGuffey Art Center in Downtown Charlottesville for our reception. While I was attracted to the character of building and the beautiful artwork alone, we also loved that it was an old elementary school (built in 1916) that had been re-purposed into an art gallery and studios for local artists.  Re-purposing older buildings and changing their program rather than demolishing and building new is an incredible way to keep material out of landfills and to preserve the history of a community.  I also knew that my family, which is chock full of artistic talent, would love the atmosphere of the space.  The one unfortunate downfall was that because of its age, the building lacked central air conditioning and our wedding happened to fall on the hottest day of the year.  On the bright side, think of all of the energy we saved by not cooling the building to 75 degrees!

Another major consideration was how our guests would travel from our ceremony to our reception.  Ideally, we would have had them both in the same place or within walking distance.  Because we chose to have our ceremony at our church (an incredibly meaningful place for us) and our options for reception venues nearby were cost-prohibitive or generally unsuitable, we had to explore other options.  Instead, we were given the incredible gift of a University Transit Bus by several amazing friends of ours to transport our guests.  The University Transit Bus system runs on biodiesel - a clean burning alternative to regular diesel made from plant products or recycled cooking oil.  By providing a bus, we allowed our guests the opportunity to save fuel and money by carpooling.

Finally, the food.  We purchased our cakes from a local bakery and found an up-and-coming caterer who fit our budget and was willing to buy ingredients from the farmer's market.  We planned to rent dishes and cutlery that were reusable but they were too expensive -- as an alternative, we bought plates made of sugar cane and cups and cutlery made of corn starch.  All of the paper products were compostable.

We did a few other little things like buying recycled paper invitations, recycled paperback CD cases for our favors, having our programs printed at a locally owned shop, and choosing a honeymoon spot within driving distance, but all in all, we were pleased with the choices that we made and the relatively low price tag of the day.  Looking back, I'm confident that though there are a few things I might change, the day was a perfect reflection of our life together.

All photos courtesy of Ben Hallissy

Modern Design Trends in a...bird's nest?

My sister, Jennifer, showed me this video that I think pretty well encapsulates the biggest current design trends: 

Though it's slightly embarrassing, I'm by no means innocent of this trend, as you can quite obviously see:

In our guest bedroom/office (above),

In our living room,

and Entry hall.  Just to name a few places.  My attraction to bird silhouettes has gotten so out of control that my family members automatically assume I'll like something just because it has a bird silhouette on it (which is sadly true most of the time).  I think what it boils down to though is that my personal style is modern with a classic twist.  The bird seems to be the official mascot of modern classic style these days.  If you haven't hopped on the "Put a bird on it" train yet, I'm sure after watching this video you'll start noticing bird silhouettes everywhere.

Apartment Tour - Guest Bedroom/Office

Sorry for falling off the blog wagon.  I've been busy trying to revamp my portfolio, among other things.  I hope to share that with you soon.   In the meantime, here's another installment in the apartment tour -- our guest bedroom/office (see the floor plan here).

This Pottery Barn pillow (on clearance for $11) was the inspiration for the color scheme in this room.  Originally, I had bought it with the intentions of transforming it into a smaller pillow for our living room sofa, but I decided to leave it as is and invest in new linens for my last-year-of-college bedroom (I had gotten overly tired of my very pink freshman dorm decor).  When I moved, I kept my college bed and linens and used them as a base for the design of this room.

Because this room used to be Alex's when the apartment was his and his brother's bachelor pad, there were already some marks on the walls that needed to be covered.  We decided to paint the wall behind the bed both to cover the damage and to serve as a focal point in the room.  I went back and forth on the color but ended up making a fast decision in the paint store to use this dark blue paint (Olympic D55-6 Sailor's Coat).  Go bold or go home.  With the coordinated, colorful linens, I think it really brings an element of drama to the room.  As a side note, the frames on the wall hold our UVA diplomas.  We decided that rather than spend $120 on diploma frames, we bought frames from Target for a whopping $35 a piece, matted to 16"x20".  You can hardly tell they're not custom.

Another factor in the paint color choice was that I knew that I was inheriting my paternal grandmother's mid-century modern chair.  The chair was upholstered in light orange fabric so I figured, why not let it pop by pairing it with it's complement?  I was a little concerned about using blue and orange since they're so obviously our alma mater's colors (wahoowa!) but the colors are muted enough that they work.  With the addition of some colorful accessories, frames, artwork, a recycled paper magazine holder and basket that we already owned, the room looks coherent.

At the end of the bed is my Ikea drafting table (one of the few new pieces of furniture we own) with my drafting board from my days in Architecture school.  The cabinets and desk adjacent to the drafting table were both pieces from the same set of furniture that we have in our dining room and our master bedroom (my dad built the set from kits in the 1960s).  I've been told that the cabinets used to have tapered legs of their own but they've somehow been lost over the years.  Since they're legless, I stacked them and used them to store the rest of my art and drafting supplies as well as our computer software, paper, etc.  To update the desk, I just changed out the hardware and it functions perfectly as a place to hold smaller office supplies (business cards, notepads, etc.).

Above the drafting table, I hung some childhood shelves to house vases and canisters filled with colorful art supplies.  We also keep our basket of coupons and take-out menus on these shelves (Sorry about the outdated calendar -- it's an older photograph!).

The last piece in the room is this bookshelf which belonged to Alex in college.  We use it as our "reference library."  It holds all of the college textbooks we held on to as well as consolidated binders of instruction manuals, information for the boards we serve on, etc.

Overall, the room has a significant focal point and a bright, colorful palette.  There are probably a few more pieces of furniture in there than I would like and a few frames missing, but overall it serves its purpose.  Now, who wants to come visit?