Redecorating Extravaganza!

When I was 19 and living at home, my parents' house caught on fire. No one was hurt, but we lost everything except a small pickup truck of stuff. We had amazing support from our friends, family, and community. My parents rebuilt on the same lot and now have a beautiful home. 

First moved in to our condo! (really before Redecorate Project 2012)
Traumatic events always change you. "The Fire" (as we call it) changed my attachment to things. I used to carry a ton of things with me all the time - just in case. I had collections of things. I loved my stuff. The fire was devastating and yet liberating. I found myself not needing to hang onto t-shirts for sentimental reasons. My memories don't go away just because I don't have that shirt anymore. One of the reasons we live in a small condo is so that we don't have space for a lot of things. I don't want my things to burden me. To weigh me down. 

After paint (before Redecorate Project 2012)

Yet, as much as I think I am separate from my stuff, I have realized through this redecorating project that I am deeply connected to it. I'm sad when we get rid of things. I can't find anything - even when I'm at work, which is untouched by this project. When we reorganize our homes, we reorganize our minds. How I think about living changes depending on what chair I have to sit in (or if I have a chair to sit in). 

During Redecorate Project 2012
I began this project because I wanted it to be easier to entertain at our place. I have a feeling I will gain much more than entertaining ease by the end of it.

And thus began redecorating project of 2012!

We scoured nearly every design store in the city looking for ideas. I surfed design blogs and gathered ideas. Finally, when we were overwhelmed with options, I enlisted the help of a friend who loves to guide living spaces through metamorphosis. She has been invaluable! As a bonus, she is super fun to work with! :)

The first big change was a new dining room table. 

Old Dining Table

While that table is lovely, sturdy, and stylish, it is too small. I wanted a table that is expandable for when we have guests visit. We ended up finding one that I had anticipated would be too big for our kitchen space, but it is perfect! I love it! 

New Dining Table
I'm still on the search for new dining room chairs though...

I have always hated the living room chair we've been using for nearly a decade. At first, I wasn't so sure about this new chair. I liked the no arms feature and the fact that it is super comfortable, but I wasn't sure about the "puffy-ness" of it. I wanted really sleek lines in all my furniture. 

Kitty fell in love with it and our new CB2 rabbit on a skateboard pillow (which I adore!). Now that we have it next to the new couch, I like this chair a lot.

I had originally thought that this polka dot chair might be a good dining table chair, but it was too tall for me to still use the table as an island. However, this chair works perfectly as a new desk chair. I also love how the colors aren't the same as everything else around it, yet it pulls things together. I don't understand it, but it works. 

The main struggle with the redecorating is creative storage. We have a small condo. Storage is crucial. So, we decided to use a wall that was sunken in a bit as a place for some creative storage. This is what it looked like in the middle of our redecorating (note the old couch).

This is what our new shelves look like today (note the new couch). Four shelves still need to be mounted to the wall... more on that later!

Coming up with ideas wasn't a problem. Figuring out which one to go with, was. I wanted something really creative, so I cut out pieces of cardboard to the size of shelves that I had found and liked. Then, I attached those shelves on the wall to see how they would look all together. The long blue tab vertical strips mark our irregularly placed studs.

While I liked this idea, I realized that I needed more closed storage than open storage. I also realized that if I hung everything on the wall, the project might drive me insane.

So, I created the next idea using a spreadsheet. This was much easier and less labor intensive than the cardboard pieces (but maybe not as much fun).

This is basically the idea we decided to go with. The top black/red squares are mirrors and the blue square is a blue poster we want to display. The problem with this idea is that our baseboards make this 1/2 inch too wide for our sunken wall....

While at the store, my decorator and I discovered this fantastic "garage door" cabinet that we ended up replacing the bookshelf with. I love the quirkiness of this cabinet! 

I soon discovered that putting together shelves is a long and arduous process. 

Instead of using a closed shelf like we had intended (and hadn't fit) the far left, we used a table we already owned and loved (and did fit). The top of the wooden table needs to be repaired, so I'm excited to try out some mosaic artwork for the top. I'm actually really glad we ended up using the wooden table here. I love how it adds some interesting character to the more stark and modern cabinets. 

Finally, we added some feet to the bottom of the cabinets and put some things on them to see if we had enough storage (and to get the stuff off the floor for a while!). We still have three white open shelves to hang and a large media case to hang on the wall. 

I've discovered many things about myself during this project. One of which is that I have no patience for hanging things on a wall. I don't want to think about what is behind the wall, and I expect the nail/screw to just stick where I put it. This is not the case. I don't know if we have cement, a water pipe, or electrical wires behind our wall. All I know is that it is beyond me to hang anything on this wall. The handyman will be arriving on Friday. :) 

The entryway has always been challenging. It has four doors and a hallway in its super small space. So, how do we liven it up without making it feel cluttered? Wall decals.

Seriously, how much more fun can I have? Wall decals are essentially stickers you put on the wall. However you want. They are awesome! Plus, they allowed me to create a coat tree in a very limited space!

So, here's our entryway wall before:

I first cut out all the branch pieces and attached them in several arrangements with blue tape before deciding what I wanted the tree to look like.

Then the fun began! I slapped those stickers on the wall and pretended I was an artist creating a beautiful masterpiece.

Martin attached some hooks to the wall on the branches...and....Voila! A coat tree! :)  or maybe I should call it an accessories tree...

How cool is that?! 

Next Projects:

It may take several months to get the rest finished, and I'm super excited to see what I discover along the way.