Saturday, March 31, 2012

What Is Black And White And Red All Over?

The answer is: My new painting. 

I have a really long red wall in my bedroom across from my bed which has been calling out to me for some decorations.  I wanted something cool to look at, so I decided to paint a large canvas 36 X 48.  There were of course so many options, so many directions I could have gone in, but then I was inspired.  Because my bedroom is red, white and gold, I didn't feel that bringing in more colors would look good.  I wanted a predominately white painting.  I settled on modern, abstract art.  I used several different brush sizes and I used acrylic paint.  Here is the final result (I think).

Another view.

I don't think it is obvious just looking at the painting for the first time, but there is a theme or rather a pattern.  Can you tell what it is?  Keep thinking about it while I show you some texture and a close up of my favorite section.

Okay, since my blog is about telling you how I accomplish my projects, I will start from the beginning.  Have you guessed yet what the theme is?  The idea just popped into my head, blame it on Gucci and Louis Vuitton monogramming:  the painting is made of equal amounts of my initials IG layered and layered on top of each other in white, black and red. I very much wanted texture and heavier areas of paint.  Here is the progression of the layers.  I would love to know what you think of the final product, good or bad, comment below.  Layer one and two.

I really liked this stage, especially what was going on at the bottom on the left side, but it was still too obvious that I was painting I's and G's so I kept going.  Almost there.

And the final product, back to the first shot I posted above.  Now you can't help but look for the letters, right?  That's okay, they blend in much more which was my aim.

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for MORE CREATIVITY!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Have A Dream

The study, doesn't that just sound snooty?  But, I love calling my desk area, my study.  I have a grand design ready for that space but I haven't had the chance to execute my vision yet.  Right now, I have my red computer armoire from my previous apartment but I keep the doors wide open so I can store my guitars and other large items behind them.  Here's what it looks like now, but a little messier to be honest.

First of all, red is not working for me, I know its temporary but still.  My painted cabinet which I posted about previously, will be updated to fit more with the new color scheme.  Yes, that is a big statue of Green Tara on the left.  This setup is supposed to be temporary until I can afford to hire a carpenter.  One day.....

Here is a very elementary sketch using Paint of what the study will one day look like.

Much better right?  Can you even tell?  Let me explain what the wobbly white lines are.  On the left side of the purple wall, you can see open bookcase which will be in white and the back of the shelves will be open so you can see the purple.  Underneath, will be a low closed cabinet with doors for some storage.  To the right of that, will be a desk with hopefully a small drawer or drawers.  Underneath the desk will be a rolling printer cart that I will make. It will be very compact and as small as possible.  Above the desk, will be two faceted crystal pendants (already picked out) for light and I have this idea to take one of my photos and to get a poster size print made which will take up the wall space above the desk, maybe.  To the right of the desk will be more open shelves, however, there will be less of them to accommodate the taller closed cabinet.  I need the taller closed storage space for my guitars and my pre-lit non-denominational holiday tree.  Top all of that off with white crown molding both in front of the built-ins but also all around the apartment.  Also of note, is the ceiling fan that I bought to replace that ugly ceiling light.  The fan is still in the box because I haven't had it installed yet.  Concept I Minka Aire in white

You will notice that I have sketched out a little on the blue wall.  This is my TV wall and currently I have those large cabinet built-ins from my previous apartment against the blue wall.  Once loved, I now can't wait to get rid of them.  Here's a shot from when I just moved in.  While I'm at it, the couch is eventually going to be replaced too.

Picture this sexy large flat screen Samsung TV will the very small edges (Samsung Smart TV)  And underneath a beautiful large white electric fireplace mantel.  A very compact shallow small cube/cabinet with shelves for my electronic components. 
Something like this:

Much more floor real estate this way and so much more streamlined and modern.

I have picked out the fireplace mantel, what do you think?  Dimplex Kenton in white

Can you see it all?  What do you think of my designs so far? I want some feedback in the comment section below. 

As I look at these pictures, I realize how far I've come and how far I have yet to go but I have a dream...

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for more creativity!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Diamonds Are My Best Friend, Forever

If you have read any of my posts thus far, I think I've made it clear that I really like bling, jewels, gems, sparklies and shiny objects in general.  Even going back to childhood, I was always very partial to them.  I'm not sure when or why that started exactly but now that I'm an adult and I have free reign over my decorating, I have felt both compelled and free to express this proclivity in full.

Let's review some of the decorating bling I have already showed you before I illustrate my point in new ways.

Here is my jeweled headboard notice the hanging ruby chandelier teardrop:

Perhaps you will recall my bowl of crystal paperweights in all types of gemstone cuts:

How about the Bling Frame mounted over my couch:

The crystal finials for my new curtains, not to mention the silver sequin curtains:

This could go on and on...

Alright, I know you want me to keep going, so here are some new things you haven't seen.  In my new place, I have a couple of bifold closets.  Another opportunity to add bling!  Really nice crystal pulls are very expensive.  I'm a woman with a budget, so I got creative.  In one word:  Ebay.  I found these awesome pulls from ebay.  The only problem is that they came with european size screws (millimeters) and they weren't long enough.  I went to Home Depot but they didn't have the size I needed. Long story short, this nice man from a local hardware store re-threaded the pulls, which I didn't know you could do, so that they fit US size screws.  Great guy.  Because the crystal is surrounded by the silver metal, the light refracts like a diamond instead of passing through like with a clear crystal.  It's hard to capture the full beauty of these pulls in pictures so I am including the ebay picture too.

In my red bedroom on my closet doors and because I only needed two, I splurged and got these red crystal pulls from Klaffs:

In my old apartment in NYC, I had a bowl of acrylic gemstones.  I was at Disney and they had an Aladdin shop, not sure if its there anymore, and they had a bin full of acrylic gemstones and you could buy a little pouch of them.  I didn't buy them there, but that sight stuck with me.  I wanted my own treasure!  I thought they would be easy to find online but I could only find the gems that were flat on one side and often they had holes drilled in them.  I went to the bead and trim district in NYC and went store to store until I found the mother load. I bought a whole bunch of different colors and different sizes. I pretty much cleared them out.  Here's what they looked like in my old apartment.  Excuse the dust.

Wow, that is a lot of dust.  I had all sorts of ideas of putting the gems in between two pieces of glass and hanging it so the light would pass through the gems.  I thought about using epoxy resin or some clear substance to pour over the gems and to suspend the gems in a lucite type of piece.  I searched for a rectangular vase that was very slim but ended up finding this cute vase from Crate and Barrel.  This is what the acrylic gems are up to now.

I have crystal lamps, rhinestone picture frames, a bling mirror on my dining room wall and more.  I have to save some for later postings but I'll give you a few more visuals.

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for more creativity!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Picture, Picture On The Wall, Which Of You Is Fairest Of Them All?

Deciding what to put on your walls is not easy.  There are so many different ways to go design-wise.  At the end of the day, you need to pick a vision and just go with it.  I like to put things up on my walls that mean something to me and or really appeal to my aesthetic.  In my previous posts, you can see some of the things I've chosen, but here I want to talk more in depth about my favorites.

In my old apartment, while redesigning, I found on ebay these gorgeous very large jade carvings.  I had to have them.  They came from far away and when I opened the box, my expectations were exceeded.  I got the idea to frame them and hang them on the wall which was a fantastic way to display them.  I was lucky to find shadow box frames from Michael's Craft Store that were the perfect size.  The frame and the matte inside were boring white.  I wanted to customize the frames.  I purchased a red matte board for the back of the shadow box.  I then took the white matte boards and cut out a cool design in the corners (you'll see).  The jade carvings were relatively heavy and I had no idea how to secure them in the frames.  So I sought expert advise.  I went to my local picture frame store and asked them what to do.  I couldn't believe my ears when the gentleman told me to use regular Elmer's glue.  Who knew?  It worked like a charm.  But I'm not done yet.  I got some gold spray paint and painted the wooden frame around the shadow box.  It was in keeping with my design palette.  One means longevity and the other good health or maybe it was good fortune or good luck, I'm sure I wrote it down somewhere.

Here is a picture with these in context.

Sadly, I can't figure out how to use them in my new place. Anyone want to buy one or the pair? I could change some of the coloring and potentially use in my red bedroom.  I could also paint the jade but that would be a shame.  If you are wondering what those pieces were in between the two frames, I got these Indian looking ashtrays at Urban Outfitters and took plate hangers and put them up.  You would never know they were ashtrays. 
I also got this silver beaded candle holder and it was pretty when the candlelight flickered. 

Another, more recent favorite wall hanging was inspired by a childhood memory.  At the house I grew up in, there were these bushes that flowered and smelled so good to me.  I remember cutting off some of the little white and pink bouquets and bringing them to my mother.  Or putting them in a cup in my room to enjoy the scent.  A few years ago, I remembered them and had no idea what they were called.  I searched online looking at the pictures, hoping to recognize the flowers. I remembered that they looked like little puff balls or little wedding bouquets.  I even went back to my old house on a covert mission, but sadly the occupants seemed to have just bulldozed the bushes out and all that remained were shreds of dead wood.  My friend and I even stopped along the road a few times thinking we had found it, but they didn't have the scent.  Finally, I went to a nursery and described the flower and scent, sort of similar to lilac, to the guy there and he knew exactly what I was talking about - the thing I was searching for was a Viburnum Carlessi Bush, otherwise known as Koreanspice Viburnum.  This bush only flowers for a few weeks in April of each year AND to my delight they had some bushes for sale! Even though it was past the time of flowering for the year, I was in heaven.  I promptly asked my good friend, who was driving around with me trying to find them, if she would plant the bush in her yard if I bought it for her.  She said of course.  I had to wait almost a whole year but sure enough it bloomed with the beautiful fragrance I had yearned to experience again.  So, for the last couple of years, "Ilana's Viburnum bush" has happily flowered.  I tell you this story because I want you to understand the importance and meaning this flowered bush has for me.  Naturally, I kept a clipping and pressed it and now the Viburnum has a place of honor in my home the whole year through, a little reminder of something that made me happy in my childhood (I'm getting teary).  I found a great big frame at Joanne Fabrics and a matte that had an 8 X 10 opening.  I found a pretty pearlized textured stationary sheet of paper from Michael's to serve as a background and elmer glued the pressed flower to the stationary paper and then put it all together. It is now hung in my dining area. I wanted white on white and remember that there will be the Graham and Brown Darcy wallpaper behind it eventually ( or see previous posts).  Here are the visuals, I wish I could somehow post the scent too. 

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for more creativity!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

If You Can't Afford It, Make It Yourself

Once upon a time, I was in the furniture section of ABC Carpets in Manhattan and I fell in love with the Tibetan or Chinese painted cabinets.  They were very expensive.  Even on ebay.  What does one look like?  Here are a few examples.  You should really search google images to see how varied and colorful they are.

Aren't they pretty and old looking?  I had to make one of my own.  Of course, it wouldn't be old for a long time, but that's okay.  Those were once vibrant and fresh.  I had a spot in mind in my old apartment in NYC and that meant in the hallway across from the bathroom.  I needed a bookcase anyway.  The cabinet had to be shallow because it was in a tight spot.  I ended up getting a pine bookcase with doors made to my specifications at Gotham Cabinet Crafts.  I decided to paint the cabinet a base color of a darker red.  I used Ralph Lauren's Kilim Red.  I also used a clear gloss on all of the inside shelves to cut down on scuffing and marks.

The picture is old.  Sorry.  I then had to lay out very carefully how I wanted the cabinet to look.  I decided to use the Chinese mythology as inspiration.  I knew before everything else that I wanted a dragon and a phoenix on it.  It is hard to explain it all but I used: the four elements- water, fire, air, earth. The four seasons- winter, spring, summer, fall.  The four directions- north, south, east, west and the symbols for the four creatures that would center each pane- dragon, phoenix, tiger, snake.  I found inspiration for what all would look like online and got started making templates on tracing paper.  I then painted a light background on each of the panes.  I taped the stencil on to the pane and with a pencil, I traced very hard the outline of the drawing so that a clear indentation was seen on the light background.  Then I carefully outlined the indentations in black paint.  This was a painstaking process and took a long time but I felt it was necessary to get everything right.  I didn't want to free hand paint it and make mistakes.  Here is what the process looked like.  First the drawings on tracing paper.

Two of the panes, traced and outlined in black.

After all the outlining was completed which included the chinese characters mentioned above in all four corners of each pane, it was time to start adding more detail and then to start painting.  It took a long time to paint and I took my time to get it right.  When I finished the panes, I made stencils using a heated stencil knife for the wood around the panes and then for the outside border as well.  Several stencils were made. Here are a bunch of detailed pictures.

One with flash so you can see more of the colors and details.

Now for some close ups!

For the dragon, I made the scales have texture so you can feel them when you run your fingers over them.  For the snake, I wanted the water to look more realistic and I used shading throughout to give the paintings more depth.  I hope you enjoy.

Now that I am in my new apartment, I find there is too much red and so I am going to modify the borders to fit the purple wall color behind the cabinet.

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for more creativity!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Don't Stress, Creatively Hide That Mess!

A very important thing to keep in mind when decorating is that beauty has to include functionality and sometimes functionality inspires the beauty.  This was the case with that darn elliptical machine that I barely used.  I wanted the functionality of being able to exercise at home, but the machine is hardly beautiful, so I got creative and designed a pretty way to hide the machine.  Let me explain. 

I got this idea to use curtains to drape around the machine.  Sitting on the couch, just looking around the room, I would just see pretty fabric hanging. But, when it was time to use the darn thing, I would be able to pull the curtains back, pull the machine out slightly from the wall and be able to jump on it and exercise my little heart out.  In my previous post, A Bedroom Fit For A Queen, I talked about the curtain room divider I devised.  I decided to use the same curtains for the exercise machine enclosure.  I also stored my suitcases in this area.  I got a fancy federal valance that went with the pattern which was called Serenity Paisely by Croscill.  I purchased them from Bed, Bath and Beyond, as usual.  The federal valance was perfect because it made a great shape due to the pleating and folds.  I hung the valance from the ceiling by pre-drilling holes, inserting screw anchors and then using curved hooks. I attached the valance to the curved hooks using very small clip on curtain rings.  I then used three panels of the Serenity Paisley and using safety pins, of all things, I attached the panels to the hanging valance.  One panel on the left, one on the right and the third in the middle to slightly cover the other two.  I installed a curtain hold back on the wall, so that I could sweep the three panels over to the holdback and get the curtains out of the way completely.  In my last two posts, I talked about the other half of my apartment for the most part, here is the other half of my old apartment.  Please excuse the mess, I was making my way over to that side and besides Rome wasn't built in a day.  On the right you will see the built-ins I re-purposed, see my previous two posts for more detail. Next to the built-ins, you will see the curtain storage area of which I have been describing.  A close-up pending.  On the left side you will see the red computer armoire and my new study area, which I will talk about shortly.  Straight ahead is the tiny kitchen and the long hallway where my closets were and the bathroom and the front door. Note my lovely track lighting and my tiny disco ball!  On the wall between the kitchen and the hallway, I was planning on getting or making a very small fireplace mantel (because I just love fireplace mantels!)  You can see the cardboard box I was using to see how the mantel would fit.  You can also see my red Harmony Rocket electric guitar from the 1950's, thanks to my friend Sheala!  And you can also see the canvas fabric covering the upper built-ins on the left, another crafty way to hide open storage.  Way down the hall, you can almost make out my coveted painted cabinet (Future Post Alert).

Because I just have to, here are pictures of my old really old tiny kitchen.
I did say old, didn't I? Old, Old, Old!

Walk in, turn to the left, turn to the right, you have now seen the whole kitchen. 
Fun times... but I digress.  Here is a close up of the curtain enclosure.

Believe it or not, those curtains are covering a 6 foot long elliptical machine.  Pretty though, isn't it? I wish I had a picture of the curtains pulled back, but I don't.  You would never know that the panels and valance are connected by safety pins!  Okay, moving on to the computer area.  Remember in my older post, I had a huge L shaped desk on the other side of the room?  Well, that was too big and not pretty enough for my new design.  I found this computer armoire from Home Decorators,  It was a bit hard to put together by myself, but I managed it. I also got a matching tall three drawer file cabinet.  I would watch out for buying file cabinets online because the file drawers  didn't open all the way and the hanging file orientation for letter size was sideways.  Anyway, just make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.  I also picked up a side table to match the armoire and the filing cabinet.  Another way to hide the clutter, close the doors.

Okay, so you can't see the file cabinet which was on the right and I apparently never took a picture of it.  I got all these pretty storage boxes and put my pens and supplies in them to keep them looking good. For example, I had a box with my computer's software CDs.  Decorative boxes really do the trick.  

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for more creativity!