embracing the dark side.

Step 2 of my magic wand decorating scheme was to paint my living room.  The biggest challenge was picking a color.  I don’t know about you, but I’m very seasonally motivated when it comes to color choices.  If it’s summer, I want to go all light and airy.

But in the winter I want warm, dark and cozy.  Especially when our temps are hitting ridiculous lows like the -27 F we had last week, or today’s ‘practically balmy by comparison’ -7.

Dark walls have really been on my radar lately.  First I saw Danielle’s home office makeover for her husband …

Gorgeous, right?  You can read all about that makeover on her blog Finding Silver Pennies.

Then my friend Meggan, a.k.a. the thrift doctor, emailed me to say that she painted her sun room walls black!

As a reminder, I shared a full tour of Meggan’s home back in 2015.  At that time her sun room had pale green walls.  But now they look like this …

The dark walls are perfect for showcasing her milk glass collection.

And as a sidebar, isn’t that cupboard fab?  It was free!  As Meggan says, nearly everything in her house was either free or is from the thrift store.  She painted the inside of the cupboard in a minty green and switched out the hardware, but otherwise left it ‘as is’.

I think Meggan’s dark walls are perfect for emphasizing the amazing view out her bay window too.

Isn’t that gorgeous?

So after seeing all of this fabulous inspiration, I decided to embrace the dark side in my living room.  I went to Home Depot thinking that I could easily pick out a deep, rich dark charcoal grey for my walls.  I started pulling out the little paint chips and every time I grabbed a different one, it totally changed the look of the last one.  I don’t know about you, but I find that even when I have a specific image in my head of the color I want, I have a lot of trouble finding it in the store.  The terrible lighting in most of the big box DIY stores doesn’t help either.

Over the years I have found that it’s wise to bring home some samples and test them on my own walls and at various times of day to make sure I get the color I really want.

The Home Depot paint guy recommended I try these Sure Swatch thingies for that.

Instead of painting your test swatches right on the wall, you paint this 9″ x 12″ film and the temporary adhesive back allows you to move it around to different locations on your wall to see how it looks.  For example, you can see how it looks next to the window trim, and then how it looks on the wall that gets the most sun, or maybe the wall that is next to the bookcase.  You get the idea.  They were quite convenient, except I moved them around so much that the sticky back lost most of its stick-ability.

After studying them in various lighting conditions, I was surprised to find that I liked the color called Black Locust (Behr) best.  I thought for sure I was going to go with Grey Tabby (PPG) while I was in the store.  But I really loved the depth of the Black Locust.

Next came the easy part, first I coerced Mr. Q into sanding the edges of the existing horizontal stripes on the walls.

Today’s q-tip:  If you have taped off stripes on your walls, there will be ridges in the paint wherever it met the tape.  You absolutely must sand those down smooth before repainting your walls or you will see those lines.

Then I coerced my bff, Vonda, to come over and help me paint!

Jobs like this always go so much faster when you have some company.

We were done in no time!  The paint covered really beautifully.  We did only one coat of cutting in and two coats of rolling.

You guys, I absolutely LOVE this color!  And it works beautifully with my existing pale blue ceiling and front hallway color.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the farmer’s market sign from my dining room would look amazing hanging above that archway instead.  I made that using a cast off side rail from a bed.

My newly styled bookshelves really become a focal point in the room with the dark walls, although it was a little difficult to get a good picture of them on a gloomy day.

So, the last remaining item to take care of in this room is buying new furniture.  My old stuff is in terrible condition and has needed to be replaced for years now.  I have an idea of what I want but need to find the time to get out there and see if I can find it.  Then I suspect I’ll have to order it and wait 2 years for it to arrive!  So you’ll have to be patient and wait for the final reveal of this room.

In the meantime, I’m going to move on to the next room and see if I can get some of that tackled.

But first, tell me, have you embraced the dark side at your house?



step one.

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with Liz Galvan’s blog, Liz Marie Blog.  If not, you should definitely check it out.

I’m obsessed with her style.  I mentioned last week that I wish I had a magic wand for decorating and could just wave it and magically transform my house.  If I had that wand, I would wave it once and my whole house would now look like Liz’s house.

Not only do I love her style in general, but I also admire her bravery when it comes to things like painting all of her floors white.  I love that she doesn’t aim for perfection, or feel the need to spend a lot of money on every project.  Her recent staircase makeover is a case in point.

Well, as we’ve already established, I don’t have that magic wand so I’ve decided to start transforming my house in a more practical way, one step at a time.

Item no. 1 on my to-do list was repainting and restyling the built in bookcases in my living room.  I’ve totally taken my inspiration from Liz’s home office built in bookcases.

After all, my bookcases already had the bare bones in place.  They even have the same bead board backs.  They just needed a fresh coat of paint.  Here’s how they looked before.  White on the outside, and a blue green color on the inside.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that my handyman/neighbor Ken built these bookcases?  And he did it for the previous owners of my house.  I didn’t even know that until after we’d lived in our house for 20 years or so!  I always just assumed they were original to the house.

Anyway, they’ve undergone a couple of transformations since we’ve lived here.  The last one was a coat of blue-green paint on the insides that would showcase my pottery collection.

To prep the shelves, Mr. Q sanded them lightly all over for me and vacuumed up as much of the dust as possible.  Then I wiped them down with hot water and a cloth.

Next came two coats of Fusion’s Raw Silk (thank you Fusion for supplying the paint needed for this project).  It took most of two jars to paint the insides of the shelves along with the long shelf that sits on top of the radiator under the windows.

Fusion Mineral Paint is always my go-to paint for things like shelves.  It’s extremely durable and washable once cured.  It doesn’t require a topcoat, so less money spent on products and less time spent applying them.  I painted the plant ledge in my dining room window in Raw Silk two years ago and it has held up beautifully, even though it frequently gets wet and dirty.

I also decided to remove the wood corbels at the inner corner of each shelf and replace them with a rusty, crusty pair of metal brackets that I had on hand.  I found these at a garage sale several years ago and always intended to use them somewhere in my own house.

Luckily my bff was here helping me paint this weekend so I was able to have her and Mr. Q hold them in place so I could see how they would look before we installed them.

I gave the shelves a couple of days to dry thoroughly before putting things back in.  You need to give any type of paint time to cure to reach maximum hardness.  I find that is especially important for shelves that you’ll be putting lots of stuff on.  Total cure time for Fusion paint is 21 days, but surfaces can be gently used after 24 – 48 hours of dry time.

Next came the fun part.  I pulled out all of my black and white vintage goodies and started styling.

I brought in quite a few of my vintage cameras, as well as a couple of my vintage alarm clocks.

I returned most of my white pottery to the shelves as well.

I purchased this gorgeous old scale at Reclaiming Beautiful a while back and hadn’t quite found a home for it until now.

I added a few old family photos too.

I absolutely love the new look of these shelves, and now I can check off the first project on my magic wand decorating list!

Next on the list is painting the walls in the living room and as I mentioned, my bff came over to help me with that over the weekend.  I’ll be sharing their new look on Friday, so be sure to stay tuned!

magic wand decorating.

I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned it before, but one of the reasons I started this blog was to provide myself with some accountability for completing projects.  Yep, believe it or not, I often struggle with ‘follow thru’.  You’re all probably shaking your heads and thinking to yourselves “but quandie, you get so much done, how is that even possible?!”

You know what that proves?  It proves that my strategy worked!

Knowing that I need to get something finished in order to have a post for the coming week is often the motivation that pushes me to complete a project.

Not only does this work incredibly well for my furniture projects, but it has also worked fairly well for my own home decorating projects.  So far I have shared home makeovers on the Q Branch

The dining room

The living room and piano room

The master bedroom

The photo cottage

The front porch

and the guest room.

And let’s not forget the pantry

or the front stairs.

But somehow in 2018 I totally lost my mojo when it comes to redecorating at my house.  It all just felt so overwhelming.  I have a long list of decorating ideas in my head, but whenever I would think about them I would promptly feel overwhelmed by just how long that list was.  I would often say ‘if only I had a magic wand’ that I could wave and have it magically finished overnight (much like it seems to happen on TV).

But this past weekend I came to my senses and realized that I don’t have a magic wand and I’m probably not going to find one anytime soon.  If I’m going to re-do anything at my house I need to break it down into smaller chunks that I can handle in a day (or maybe two).

So that’s what I’m going to do with my living room and piano room over the next couple of months and hopefully by spring I’ll have a new look in those rooms.  In case you’re curious (and to help keep me accountable), here’s the project list:

  1.  repaint the insides of the bookshelves in the living room
  2.  repaint the living room walls
  3.  replace the living room furniture
  4.  paint the baby grand piano
  5.  replace the ceiling fan over the piano
  6.  repaint the piano room walls

So, six projects that will probably take a week or so each and will also take me away from furniture painting for a bit.  But that’s OK, this is definitely the slow season for furniture sales anyway so it makes sense to focus on something else for a bit.

I hope you’ll stick with me on this journey and help keep me accountable.  Up first, repainting the living room bookshelves.  Be sure to stay tuned!





let the decorating begin.

Normally I get most of my holiday decorations up on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  I’ve never been a Black Friday shopper, instead I like to spend that day putting up the tree and adding other holiday touches around the house.

But this year I was traveling home from Italy on Black Friday.  Speaking of which, one thing that really surprised me on our trip was how many Black Friday sale signs we saw!  Especially in Ravenna where we spent a little time on their pedestrian shopping street.  I had to take a quick photo of this window display because it was so fab.  I love the clock and the peg board on the wall.  You can’t see them in the photo, but there was a stack of vintage books on the floor too.

In hindsight, now I wish I’d taken a photo of one of the Black Friday sale advertisements.  Many of them were painted right onto the windows of the shops.  But I wasn’t thinking ahead on that one.

Anyway, celebrating Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday in November may be an American thing, but apparently celebrating Black Friday on the day after is universal.

So, after a bit of a travel related delay, I finally found the time to do some holiday decorating last Sunday and this year I decided to change it up a little and decorate our master bedroom.

I’ve never done much decorating in here in the past, but I’ve always thought it would be nice to have some twinkling lights and a small tree in the room.

The red and white knit stockings garland is from Michael’s.  It was on sale for only $6.  I just purchased one for our headboard, but my sister bought three of them and will use them on her tree.

The cable knit throw pillow is from Target.  The furry white throw probably was too, but I’ve had that for several years now.

I tied together small bunches of dried boxwood from my local Bachman’s, added some pretty silver ornaments that I purchased in Germany a few years ago and then hung them above my old photos on either side of the bed.

Over on the other side of the bed (ie. my side) I placed a stack of my favorite holiday decor magazines, a cup of coffee and a lavender topiary in the shape of a Christmas tree that I also purchased at Bachman’s.  I haven’t quite found the time to enjoy coffee and those magazines in bed yet, but I am determined to do that before the holidays are over.

My co-worker Jodie gave me the cute galvanized pot that the topiary is in, I just doctored it up a little with a Prima Marketing transfer from their French Pots IV set.

I added lots more holiday touches on the other side of the room too.

The little tree in the bucket is faux and I just purchased it a Target.  It was the perfect size for the old bucket.  I wrapped it with one small strand of battery operated lights which was just enough to give it some sparkle.

I also added a small strand of the same lights to the cotton bole swag that I draped over my old window.

I also purchased these cute little wooden houses at Bachman’s, one of them this year and two of them from last year.  They have little lights inside, but I’m finding that the light in the newest is one so much brighter than the other two.  Too bright in fact, so I don’t even turn it on.

My friend/co-worker/picker Sue gave me the calendar for my birthday last year.  It’s not really meant to be a Christmas decoration, but I like using it that way.

I purchased the paper tree from my friend Lori Miller at the Holly Jolly Market just before I left on my trip.  Isn’t it unique and fabulous?  Lori always manages to find the coolest things.

I’ve had this adorable little linen ‘woolens’ bag for years and I think I very well may have purchased it at Lori’s old shop, The Round Barn (it’s no longer in business).

I’d never really figured out a great spot for displaying it in the past though.  Turns out that it’s perfect hanging here on my cupboard in the bedroom.  Who knew?

The girls are not especially dressed up for the holidays, they pretty much wear their fancy jewelry all year long.

I did add a dried boxwood wreath hanging from a vintage hanger behind them.

It was fun snazzing up the bedroom with some holiday decor.  I think this just might become a regular thing from now on.

Speaking of things that become a tradition, tomorrow I’m heading over to my sister’s house for our annual Christmas baking.  I’ve pretty much perfected my ball rolling skills now, so this year’s baking should be a breeze 😉

I hope you have some fun holiday season plans for this weekend too!

re.design with prima.

A while back the folks at Prima Marketing contacted me and asked if I’d like to try some rub on transfers from their new re.design line.

After I danced around the room with glee for a few minutes, I promptly responded with um, yes!

One of the designs they sent to me is called L’Amour Et Des Reves.

As soon as I saw it I knew it would be perfect for the blank wall above my guest bed.  Normally I use the rub-on transfers on furniture, but did you know that they can also be adhered to walls, windows or even mirrors?

So last Saturday I decided to get to work and apply it to the wall.

The first thing you’ll notice when you remove the transfer from the tube it came in is that it’s in separate pieces.  If you’re used to the IOD transfers that come on one big sheet, this is going to be different for you.  The L’Amour transfer came in four sections.

I laid them out on my guest bed to get a better look at them.

First of all, let me point out that I have the floral section upside down in that photo.  Oops.

But what kind of clicked in my brain at this moment was that I could pick and choose which sections of the transfer I wanted to use quite easily.  Also, this would be super handy if you’re putting the transfer on the front of a dresser and you want to put each section on a separate drawer front.

Initially I didn’t think the full design was going to fit on my wall centered above the bed.  I had to contend with that slanted ceiling.  So I thought I might not use the floral section (as shown above), or maybe just remove that one narrow section of wording (as shown below, with the flowers still upside down).

However, as I studied the design I bit closer I realized that I could overlap the sections a bit and then the entire design would fit my wall.

Make sure you notice that at this point I still have the waxy backing paper in place so that my transfers aren’t sticking to the wall yet.  I wanted to be able to play around with the layout first and make sure it was going to fit.  And apparently this was also fortunate since I still had the floral section upside down, duh!

Once I had the entire design placed where I wanted it, I removed the lower three sections and put them out of the way on the bed.  Then I moved my yellow tape from the side of the transfer to the top.  That makes it easy to keep the transfer in place while you carefully lift the top sheet and remove the waxy backing paper from behind it.

 Next I just followed normal procedure for applying a rub on transfer.  Using the flat stick that came in the package, just start carefully rubbing over the design while lifting the clear sheet slowly making sure that everything is sticking to the wall.  This is really the trickiest part of the entire process.  Just go slowly watching to make sure that each part of your design is sticking before lifting away the transfer sheet.

And remember, if you mess up in a couple of spots you’ll probably be the only one who notices.  I messed up in about 4 different places on this one.  I challenge you to find them.

Once the first section was applied, I kept going.  Putting each section in place, carefully removing the waxy backing paper and then applying the transfer to the wall.

And hey, look, I got the flowers right side up finally.

I didn’t time it, but I would say it took me about an hour from start to finish to get the entire transfer onto the wall.  That includes frequent stops to take the photos for this post.

Isn’t it gorgeous?  Seriously.  Every time I walk past the room I have to stop for a moment to admire it.

By the way, were you able to pick out my mistakes?

I lost the bottoms of a couple of S’s, and the very bottom of the F.  My point in showing you these is to show that it doesn’t matter if your application isn’t perfect.  The designs are meant to look distressed a bit, not new and shiny, but old world aged.

That’s just my kind of design!

If you want to order your own re.design transfer, you can order online from Red Posie.  You can also find them on Etsy.  In addition, currently both the How to Paint Like a Pro and the Paint it Beautiful Facebook groups are hosting giveaways from the re.design line so be sure to check those out too.


a blank slate.

If you’ve been following my blog for very long, you’ll know that I have horizontal grey and white stripes on the wall in what I call my ‘piano room’ (for obvious reasons).

It took me a long time to get to these stripes.  I’ve painted this room so many times since Mr. Q and I moved in.  Well, first I stripped the existing wallpaper and then re-wallpapered with a white on white damask (very trendy in 1988).  Then I stripped that and painted the walls red.  Didn’t everyone go through a red phase in the 90’s?  Next after painting the kitchen its current dark color, I tried bringing that color out into the piano room too.  It looked awful, which I blame on a difference in lighting and a different ceiling color.  At that time the ceiling was still both white and popcorn-ed.  Next I tried a mustard yellow.  That never even made it beyond just one wall before I realized it was a terrible choice.

That led to olive green horizontal stripes.

I loved the horizontal stripes, but it didn’t take long after starting my blog to realize that this particular wall in my piano room was where I would have to stage all of my furniture photos in the winter.  And the olive green was not going to cut it.  Especially paired with the Miss Mustard Seed Kitchen Scale that’s on that buffet!

So I switched to white and pale grey stripes.  Somewhere in between there we also had the dreaded popcorn ceilings scraped off and I painted them in a pale aqua blue.

I loved the pale grey and white.  And immediately my furniture photos were improved.

But here we are almost 4 years later and I am absolutely fed up with trying to make those horizontal stripes work as a background for all of my winter furniture photo shoots.

They worked OK for some pieces …

For others they just really didn’t cut it.

I tried covering them up by layering various things over the wall, which helped somewhat.

But this year I decided the stripes had to go.  I needed a clean, blank slate to use as a background.

So last weekend I pulled out the paint I used for the white stripes and after sanding the tape lines, I painted over the stripes.

Today’s q-tip:  If you have used tape to paint horizontal or vertical lines on something, always sand over that paint line before re-painting.  Otherwise you will have a visible ridge of paint along those lines.

I was worried that the paint wouldn’t match perfectly and I’d end up having to paint the entire wall from base board to crown molding, but no, it blended perfectly.

And now I have the white background that I have been craving.

Well, except for that electrical outlet, but look how easy it is to edit that out, and while I’m at it, also edit out the thermostat …

As you can see over at the right edge of the photo, I still have the stripes in the living room.  And actually, I even kept the stripes on the opposite side of the room for now.  I may ultimately paint those out as well, but then again I may not.  I’m going to live with it for a while and see how it feels.

In the meantime, I’m very happy with my blank slate.

By the way, are you wondering about how practical it is to move that large cupboard out of the way every time I want to take photos of a finished piece?

At the end of the summer, Ken came over and helped me add wheels to the bottom of it to make it simple as can be to move it in and out of that spot.

I have to say, I always learn something new from Ken.  This time it was that you can get these extended length Phillips drill bits for your drill.  It made it so much easier to get in there and attach those wheels.

It might seem a little crazy that I’ve painted a wall and modified my furniture just to accommodate blogging, but I’m learning that it pays off to find ways to make the ‘things’ in my life more functional for me.

So if that means a blank white wall and a cupboard on wheels, so be it.  Right?




french pumpkins.

When it comes to fall decorating, I’m not exactly a traditionalist.

Last year I made a French pumpkin using Fusion’s transfer gel and a printed French opera graphic.  And you’ve all seen my ‘hello fall’ book page banners.

This year I decided to add another white pumpkin to my line up.

I started out with this orange wooden pumpkin wall hanging with a decidedly 90’s country look.  In fact, I do believe I’ve probably owned this since the 90’s.

First I de-countrified it by taking off the heart and the “Autumn Greetings” top.

Next I painted it white with some Homestead House milk paint in Sturbridge White.  Once that was dry I sanded it to distress, vacuumed off the dust and then added a Iron Orchid Designs transfer.

I totally ignored the fact that pieces of the design got lost in the cracks.  It really doesn’t matter.  I was going for a very distressed look anyway.

Next I sanded lightly over the transfer with 220 grit sandpaper.

Since I was planning to hang this outside, I added a top coat of the Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat to protect both the milk paint and the transfer.  However, you should note that Dead Flat is not intended for outdoor use.

I have it hanging on the carriage house where it is partially protected from the elements by an overhang and it will only hang here for a month or two, not year round of course.  Still, I’m taking a bit of a chance.  If it gets ruined I will only have myself to blame.

How about you, are you more of a traditional orange pumpkin sort of decorator?  Or do you also prefer some pumpkins with a french twist?