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Dressing the Walls a Little

Part of the reason we’re not completely unpacked yet is that its much more fun to do the little things like hang curtains and art than say deal with this:

Office Mess

The Mess that is the Office

Speaking of office mess, did you find that the amount of paperwork needing to be filed increased like 100% after buying your house? Between the gazillion mortgage papers, insurance, inspection reports etc. etc. we’re in need of a few more filing cabinets.

But anyway, here are the fruits of some of our procrastination…

We finally hung the mirrors behind the couch:

sofa with mirrors

Mirrors behind the couch.

And we figured out placement of some of our paintings. This was no easy task because there is a perplexing lack of empty wall space in our house. Every wall seems to have windows, doors or entryways into other rooms. And also the artwork we have is very modern and took some thought as to how to integrate with our new antiques pieces and more vintage look.

But here’s what we came up with:

7Bee painting by Justin Kauffmann

7B painting by Justin Kauffmann

This painting (apart from being an amazing work) has incredible sentimental value. It was given to us by the painter Justin Kauffmann (JustinK) on the occassion of Jeff’s 30’th birthday and also a goodbye gift because we were moving out of the apartment we shared in the East Village with Justin and his then girlfriend Amy (and two other friends) to move to Ft. Lauderdale. It’s called “7 Bee” and was inspired by the bar 7B at the corner of (where else?) 7th and B, which was our local hangout and where we met most of the people who are now our closest friends. Over the years we had become close to the owner Huddy and his daughter Nicole who manages the bar, and this painting hung there until Justin gave it to us the night before we left. If you look in the upper left hand corner you can see the number seven and a Bee and also in the typography appears the word: “Vasacks” which is the official name of the bar (Vasacks Horseshoe Bar.)

The next day we were all packing up to move out and Justin was throwing away a bunch of his paintings that he didn’t like so much…of course we jumped all over that! This next painting is one of the ones we snatched up:

Stair Corner with Art

Corner of Living Room by the stairs with another JustinK painting

Now that the recliner had found its way to the porch, we were able to put a smaller Ikea chair we had there and the whole corner is working much better. (I love that painting so much!)

The other super modern-looking piece of art we have is an original print by Ilya Bolotowsky, a Russian-born abstract artist in the Neoplasticist movement (think Mondrian). Somehow my grandmother (who is also an artist) acquired a bunch of his original prints and had one this one framed and gave it to us as a gift:

Bolotowsky above mantel

Bolotowsky Print Above Mantel

Unfortunately the half wagon-wheel window reflection from the front door is totally distracting in this picture and it didn’t fare so well in storage and needs to be de-wrinkled… But anyway, seen in context of the whole room, the painting works surprisingly well. The bright reddish-orange adds a much needed dash of color to the very muted gold/blues in the rest of the room and adds a modern crispness to what was starting to look a little too shabby/frumpy.

Speaking of shabby frumpy, here is the question of the day!

I am debating whether or not to whitewash the faux fireplace. The guy who I bought it from did a faux “umbered” treatment that is goldish/yellow and matches the color of the living room, but maybe a bit TOO much?

Do you think it would look better whitewashed (watered down layer of white paint) or totally white?

Fireplace as is

Fireplace as is: “Umbered”

Fireplace photoshopped to have a whitewash (umbered still coming through a bit)

Fireplace photoshopped really white almost like trim color

So what do you think?


27 Responses to “Dressing the Walls a Little”

  1. Great paintings! Gorgeous fireplace! As for the colour question… It’s hard to say without being bale to stand in the space, but why not do your whitewash treatment on it, live with it a little while, and then toss on another coat of paint to go trim-white if you still aren’t loving the umber? (Of course, looking at the fine fine job you’re doing with the place — you don’t exactly need style advice from the likes of me!)


  2. Love the painting over your fridge! Its a nice contrast.

    As for the painting the fireplace. Do you really like the fireplace? If so, whitewashing will be a way to get it to stand out. If you don’t love it so much, painting it a solid color will make it fade away a little bit. So it depends upon the look you’re going for.


  3. i love your contemporary art!!! such nice pieces!!!

    i’d say totally white it all out!!! i think the umbered look looks kind of an 80’s decoration technique- ugggh. hahahahaha!!! i think all white would look stunning…


  4. Can’t help you with the mantle. LOVE LOVE LOVE the 7B painting. By the way…I’ve stumbled out of there many a time myself. ;)


  5. Jen, believe me I do need advice.. and your is so helpful, who knew there was such a thing as roman shade kits!

    Mrs. Limestone, good question, I love it a lot more than having NO fireplace, but its not necessarily the one I would have chosen if I could have any fireplace in the world. But I guess in general I like mantels as a centerpoint to a room, so I guess I sort of want it to stand out but not too much?

    Antibride, I’m so glad you like the art! Yes, that umbered treatment does look a little 80’s.. and worse than that it looks dirty when I look at it compared to the white versions, so I’m definitely doing something. Do you think I should go as far as even a solid semi-gloss?


  6. Iloveupstate, so funny – I wonder if we were ever there at the same time? Unfortunately now its SO crowded and its a very different crowd than when we first lived there.. its hard to even walk in sometimes on the weekends. Definitely not what it was. But we have so many great memories there.. not to mention a huge collection of photobooth pics taken there over the years!

    Did you ever see the painting when you were there? It was hanging over the side of the horseshoe towards the windows and towards the back of the bar. There was also another justinK painting of a big blue head that used to hang over the main entrance!


  7. Who do we know in Malibu that can go pick this up and cheaply ship it to us? SUCH great stuff (and charity tied too!) but they will not ship. I’m frustrated! Eek!

    http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZtheartofelysium

    Re: 7 & B – I think I stopped going there in the late 90’s. Mickey Rourke was almost always trashed and sleeping on the bar…before he got all fug.


  8. OMG, WHAT!! That is crazy, can’t we convince them to ship it to us?? Wait, what about that Ubid.com service? Maybe they’d do it. Oh no, what have you done to me.. I’ll be obsessing about this all day now. Wait, my sister lives in LA.. maybe I can get her to ship it to us. Yeah, she’ll love that ;)

    LOL @ Mickey Rourke.


  9. I think I like the fireplace as is. The photoshopped whitewash doesn’t seem to make that much difference. However, the full white paint job may wipe out all of the details.


  10. Lsaspacey, hmm really? Yeah I guess its not too different but it looks less “dirty” dont you think?


  11. I love the idea of painting it white! It will blend with the trim nicely. Cohesive but definitely still the focal point of the room.


  12. Um, and what’s this I hear about a roman shade kit? That would be so utterly helpful!


  13. Kimberly, honestly I wasn’t sure I wanted to bother until I photoshopped it.. now the original color looks tobacco stained to me! I think I’ll try to attempt something this weekend.. as if I don’t have enough to do!

    It was a comment that Jen / Domestika left on my post about the frumpy curtain behind my sofa .. she mentioned roman shade kit. I’ve never heard of them either but a google search revealed: http://cgi.ebay.com/ROMAN-SHAD.....dZViewItem


  14. Thanks for the kind words, Ariana! Yes, basically a roman shade kit is usually a handy package of the cord and hardware that you need, plus instructions – just like that one you found on ebay. Somewhere or other buried on my site is an article about making your own roman shades / blinds, that has a link to some excellent illustrated instructions, but I don’t have the url handy (and it’s too hot to think / I’m too lazy to go look for it right now!)… I love roman blinds, and do think it’s a style that would suit your home!


  15. I say whitewash, whitewash, whitewash. I’m really not a fan of faux finishes of any kind. Your style seems to be more “clean white shabby,” if that makes any sense, and the beigey mantel just seems out of place.

    When I was making roman shades (http://ellenjane.typepad.com/a.....t_and.html), I used personalized patterns from the website http://www.make-roman-shades.com. You give them the measurements of your windows, and they make a custom pattern that will fit that window exactly. They also include a list of the materials needed for that exact window. I think it cost about three bucks per pattern.

    I found the really detailed instructions (with my measurements in them) to be helpful. Sometimes when I’m sewing I’ll have trouble envisioning how everything is going to fit together, and this really helped. The sewing wasn’t the bad part. Mounting and hanging them was.


  16. I tried to make Roman Shades once. It was bad, but I’m a spaz. Smith & Noble has a sale going on now. I have to remember (hah!) to measure my bedroom windows this weekend.


  17. What if you painted the fireplace black? I don’t really think the fireplace is all that attractive but I understand wanting to have the fireplace if for no other reason than decorating the mantle. If it was black, the small lines of it would go away and it might even look more regal and substantial.

    If black seems like too much, I vote for white semigloss.

    I’m also wondering if the art above the chair is placed too high. It looks like it lines up or goes over the door height. Art should really line up with your eye level, that way you can see the details easier.

    Please tell us about your sofa, if you haven’t already. I love the color.


  18. The paintings rock in your house…to be honest, when I was first reading and you wrote about “modern” art work…I started to question it, then scrolled down and LOVED it. The work is modern, yet vintage so it goes great with your design.
    My vote is for the semi-gloss white to match the trim paint for the fireplace. I have a craftsman built in 1920 and there was NO fireplace in the house, so what does a girl do with Christmas stockings? I bought a fireplace mantle with the trimmings like you have and it is white. It matches my existing trimwork, and people constantly think it is original to the house until they look closely…I also think doing so will show off the artwork more.RIght now, it takes away from it… As for the details not showing, I don’t really agree. Take your beautiful dresser and vanity for example…same idea? GREAT look! …have fun and good luck!


  19. yes!!! i’d say go as far as the white semi gloss!!! i think it would look much more harmonious with the whole dining room theme… good luck!!!


  20. If I may add a thought: those details on the mantel are too fussy for its dimensions: and the contrast between those and the artwork makes them really stand out. Can you get rid of them completely? If not, paint them out.

    I’m toying with the idea of picking up the red in the painting and putting that on it. May be too “modern” though–perhaps the yellow in the painting would work? The only reason I’m not in love with the white is the utter contrast you’ll create with all that black. It may be a bit too jarring. (But perhaps, since this is faux) you can paint the firebox something–I like a colour that imitates green brick–and that’ll lighten up the black hole immensely. (or maybe that’s the place to pick up the red….)

    You should scout about for different andirons too–or just do away with the logs entirely and try something else. I keep a big basket with rolled up throws in it for the couch in mine in winter.


  21. Your blog is so much fun to read!!! Love what you are doing.
    LOVE the modern art work in the older home. Great contrast and punch of color!!!
    I’d say paint the mantel the same color as the trim it would look more cohesive to the rest of the home.
    I think what might bothers me most about the mantle are the dodad appliqu├ęs, (the 2 urn-like pieces at each corner and the scaloppy thing in the middle) Can these be removed? If it leaves holes, those could be filled then painted over.
    I think then it would have a fresher but still vintage house look!
    Keep up the GREAT work and best wishes!


  22. This is the same challenge I have with doing housework. I would much rather play (decorate).

    You have such a hip little cottage! I love the artwork. It really gives the house so much personality.

    My vote for the mantle is whitewash. It looks a little warmer and looks better with the picture/frame if it still has a little color. I would whitewash to see how it will really look, and if it doesn’t look right, then paint it white.


  23. I just read the other comments … Alana’s idea of red might be cool too.


  24. Kitchen looks great! Love the art work.


  25. Ok, seems like the common consensus is mantel must be painted in some fashion or other and the appliques are ugly!

    I think I’ll try whitewashing/painting before removing them though, as JennyB pointed out, they worked in the other pieces so we’ll see.

    @Lori, you have a good eye (as your blog attests to!) I agree that painting should come down a bit. The sofa is from LaZBoy of all places.. I don’t remember the name of the fabric though. I think it was one of the Todd Oldham fabrics they offer.

    @JennyB, your fireplace sounds lovely, did you put in on a firebox? Or just mount to the wall? I ask because i want one for our master bedroom and can’t seem to find the kit to make one.

    @Ellen, thanks for the tip about the shade patterns, I think I came accross that in my surfing. Though I think maybe you overestimate my craftiness ;)


  26. Nice artwork!!! hee hee. Miss you guys!


  27. […] Amy & Justin. Justin now lives in Atlanta, and is the artist behind all of the large paintings in our house. […]


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