Friday, January 20, 2017

How to Find the Best Affordable Lighting for your Coastal Home

Finding the right lighting can make a huge difference in the overall look of your decor. In my case, I want light fixtures that complement my coastal aesthetic without being too thematic (i.e. no anchors, fish, etc.). I also don't want to spend a fortune. Over the last two years, I've been able to find some excellent resources for lighting that fits my style and also fits within my budget. Here are some tips on how to find awesome coastal fixtures at an affordable price.

Tip # 1: Don't act your age.
By that I mean shop the kid's versions of your favorite stores like Restoration Hardware (RH Baby & Child), Crate & Barrel (The Land of Nod), and Pottery Barn (Baby, Kids, Teen, & Dorm). They often have almost identical products for that cost significantly less than those in the main store. For example, I shared the lights in my downstairs bathroom in my last post.

This is the Mariner Sconce from RH Baby & Child. It sells for $149 compared to the almost identical Starboard Sconce sold by Restoration Hardware for $379. Yes, less than half price.

Sometimes the kid's stores have options not available in the main store. This pendant over my kitchen sink is the Fisherman Pendant from PB Kids. It sells for $99. I couldn't find anything I liked as well anywhere else. And if you keep an eye out, you can often find coupons for 15% or even 20% off the regular price. By the way, you can see more of my kitchen makeover here.

Tip #2: Shop the outlet stores.
I've had very good luck at Restoration Hardware outlets. You can't always count on finding what you want, but if you can go back periodically, it will probably pay off. I even hit a couple of different outlets to find a pair of sconces. The savings are usually significant plus the outlets often seem to run additional sales like 40% off everything. Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel also have outlet stores.

I found this Circa 1900 Steamliner Flushmount ceiling light for the downstairs hallway at an RH outlet for about $70 versus the regular price of $289. By the way, I just noticed that this is on final clearance on line for $149.

Tip #3: Ikea
If you think Ikea is only about simple modern designs, think again. This is my all-time favorite coastal pendant--the Ottava pendant light. I have it in the entry/home office alcove which has a high sloped ceiling. It looks even better in person than it does on line. I just love it. The price? $35. Yup $35. 

Ikea has some other great options, too. Take a look at the Ranarp pendant (right) (2 sizes, 2 colors--$25 & $40), the Foto pendant (left) (2 sizes, several colors--$20 & $25), and the Hektar pendant (center) (2 sizes, 2 colors--$25 & $60).

Tip #4: Consider additional options.
Besides these sources, there are lots of other great possibilities.

  • Ebay--is a good source especially if you know what you're looking for. Have your heart set on an RH fixture, but you don't live anywhere near an outlet store? Try searching ebay. Chances are, it's there.
  • Home Improvement Stores--Home Depot & Lowes have some great options at reasonable prices. I really like the Hampton Bay Brushed Nickel Warehouse Pendant from HD for $30 (top left) and the Millennium Lighting Neo-Industrial Vintage Sconce from Lowes ($70) (bottom right).
  • Big Online Retailers--Overstock has some terrific options like the Harper Blvd Gracie Colored Glass Bell Pendant Lamp in Soft Aqua for $81 (top right). Wayfair has a great selection, too. I particularly like the Harwich 1 Light Flush Mount in burnished bronze for $74 (bottom left).

  • Craigslist--You'd be surprised what you can find on craigslist. If you're a little intimidated by shopping on craigslist, check out this post with some tips.

I hope this post has been helpful to you. Good luck in your search for lighting!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bathroom Makeover on a Tight Budget

You know, it just occurred to me as I keep showing you these before photos of the house, that you must be wondering what we were thinking when we bought this place. Yeah, there was a point when I was wondering that, too. If you missed the earlier posts, you can see the before and after of the kitchen here and the upstairs bath here. And up now, the downstairs bathroom. First, the lovely before photos.

Where to begin? The gold and white tile? The peeling wallpaper? The grimy sheet vinyl floor? They all paled in comparison to the chocolate brown tub. A major overall was in order, but the budget  was anything but major. 

Here's what I was going for--a calm beachy look:

And here are the after pics:

I know the original bathroom looks like it was going to be a gut job, but this whole overhaul cost less than $2000. Along the way, I came up with some ideas that saved a lot of money. I thought I'd pass them along to you in case you're struggling with a similar remodel. 

Tub & Tile:
It would have cost a fortune (I estimated $2000 minimum) to rip out the existing tub and tile and replace them, but living with a chocolate brown tub was not an option. So instead of replacing them, I had them reglazed in white for a total cost of $650. The shiny brass tub hardware didn't fit with the look I was going for, so I found a shop that did metal replating and I had the hardware replated in brushed nickel for about half the cost of purchasing new hardware. Total cost: $850 Savings: $1150

Sink & Vanity:
The old vanity was gross and falling apart, but the new vanity and top I wanted was about $1000 and new faucets were another $150. Instead I purchased a simple white vanity without the top which was less than $350 and reused the existing vanity top and faucet which were in good shape. Total cost: $350 Savings: $800

Mirror & Lighting:
The mirror was a lucky find at Home Goods. It became the focal point of the new bathroom and set the color scheme. I wanted some really nice sconces to flank the mirror. I loved the look of the Restoration Hardware Starboard Sconces, but at $379 each, they were way too expensive. Did you know the RH Baby & Child Mariner Sconce is virtually identical for less that half the price? It's sold as a plug-in sconce, but it includes directions and hardware so it can be installed hardwired just like the Starboard Sconce. It always pays to look at the kid version of stores like RH, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel. They often have similar items at more affordable prices. Total cost: $450 Savings: $500

Floor & Walls
To replace the ugly vinyl floor, I found some ceramic floor tile with the look of stone on sale for less than $1 a square foot. A similar looking natural stone tile was $12 a square foot. We ditched the wallpaper and installed white beadboard on the bottom half of the walls and painted the top half in a pale aqua shade. The dark brown trim got a coat of glossy white paint. Total cost: $150 Savings: $1000.

Thankfully the existing toilet was not dark brown and it was in good shape, so we kept it. Total cost: $0. Savings: $300.

So the total cost was about $1800 versus my original estimate of $6000-$7000. I probably spent another $100 or so on the shower curtains, towels, and other random stuff.

Cost Breakdown & Sources:

Mariner's Sconce in Antique Brushed Nickel  Restoration Hardware Baby & Child ($149)
Mirror--Home Goods ($149) (similar)
Wall color--Benjamin Moore Sea Foam
Trim color--Benjamin Moore Super White
Floor tile--similar to TrafficMaster Portland Stone Gray Home Depot ($0.89/sq. ft.)
Bamboo shade--Overstock ($39)
Vanity--Hampton 48" vanity cabinet--Home Depot ($334)
Tub & tile reglazing ($650)
Replating brass tub fixtures ($200)

Here's one more look:





Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tips for Creating a Gallery Wall

Gallery walls--i.e. using a collection of objects and artwork grouped together to cover a large area--continue to be a popular trend. And for good reason! It gives small pieces that would otherwise get lost or go unnoticed, the chance to have a big impact. Gallery walls also allow you to collect pieces over time rather than spending a fortune on one large piece. You can always add additional pieces or rotate pieces in and out of the grouping. It's a  unique and personal way to decorate your walls.

I created this gallery wall to go over the sofa in our family room. I was able to incorporate a number of pieces I collected over time from thrift shops, flea markets, and online merchants. I had most of the pieces framed at Michael's during a 50% off sale. There's a lot of wall space in this room, so I'll be able to expand my collection if I find new pieces I like. If you want to create your own gallery wall, read on.

How to Create Your Own Gallery Wall

1. Determine overall size and shape of the space. In my case, I wanted to create a rectangular shape to go over the sofa with a maximum size of 76" wide and 36" high. On a stairway, you might want to use a triangular shape or maybe a diamond shape over a fireplace. Pretty much anything goes.

Coastal Living

2. Decide on a unifying theme for your display. This gives your grouping a common ground so your arrangement looks intentional, not random. You can choose a theme based on subject matter, color, or size, Another way to unify your grouping is to frame everything the same way. I decided to go with vintage sea life prints. Other ideas include family photos, black and white prints, ocean related art, boats, blue pieces, sea shells, maps, nature, etc. You are not limited to framed art--consider including flat baskets, typeface, found objects, clocks, old signs, mirrors, lanterns, trays, etc. In the photo below from New England Home, block and tackles make an eye-catching display on a stairway.

New England Home

3. Collect the pieces you want to use. You may have too few or too many. That's okay for now. Find a clear area of floor to work on. Piece together newspaper or something similar to create a template of the exact size and shape of your grouping. Now start placing your items on the template to get a pleasing arrangement. In my case, I had one large piece (34" x 28") and four smaller pieces (approximately 14" x 17"). I ended up using the large piece in the middle and arranging two small pieces on each side. One of my smaller prints is vertical while the other three are horizontal, so I had to work with that. The bottom line is, you want everything to fit inside your template and to have more or less equal spacing between the individual pieces.

Pinterest (source unknown)
4. Now figure out if you have to add or subtract any pieces. If you have gaps, think about the size and shape of the object you need to fill that space. Shop your house--maybe you already have something that will work.

Pottery Barn
5. Once you have your arrangement worked out, use a broad felt tip pen to outline the objects on your template. Now remove the artwork and with painters tape, attach your template to the wall. Then just hang each piece of art so it fits in its outline on the template. Once everything is in place, simply detach the template from the wall. Now, step back and enjoy your gallery wall.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Snow Day on the Coast

The last two days have brought snow and more snow. It's been a good time to make soup, relax around the fire, and just chill out. Although everyone loves the beach in the summer, it's certainly beautiful in the winter, too.

Wreath: LL Bean Coastal Evergreen Wreath; sled: RI Antiques Mall; Light fixture: Wayfair Nantucket Wall Lantern;Paint: BM Stonington Gray (body), BM Patriot Blue (door)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fireplace Makeover

Happy New Year everyone! Today I'm going to share the makeover of our fireplace. When we bought this house I was delighted to have a fireplace, but the fireplace itself was nothing to write home about. There were shiny brass and glass fire doors, a lovely white and gold tile surround, and a pink tile hearth. Did I mention the tile was breaking off? Yeah. Nice.

I really wanted the fireplace to be the focal point of the room. It's quite large--5' high and 8' wide, so it fills that  whole end of the room. It's the first thing you see when you walk in. The mantel itself was really quite nice. It's oak with some great detail, but the rest of it was pretty awful.

Here's what it looks like now:

Nice improvement, huh? 

The first step was to ditch the glass doors. Doing that really opened the fireplace up and improved the proportions. With the doors the fireplace itself looked too small in relation to the mantle. I found a nice simple fireplace screen at my favorite consignment store for $20 and found a set of tools on Craigslist for $15. 

Next, we had to deal with that awful tile!! When I saw this tile at Home Depot, I knew it was exactly what I wanted. The colors remind me of sea shells and beach pebbles. At $13 a square foot, it was a little more than I wanted to spend, but it was too perfect to pass up.

Then I found the hearth tile on sale for around $1.30 a square foot. It's similar to this tile.

After the tile was installed, we decided to get a set of propane logs. Can I tell you how much I love starting a fire by simply pushing the button on the remote? Plus it really does a great job of heating the room in winter. With 16' ceilings, keeping this area warm is not easy. Now we can sit and watch TV in comfort. 

I originally wanted to paint the mantel and surround white to match the trim. My husband (who usually just goes along with my design choices) had a fit. To keep the peace, I agreed to keep the wood as is. And you know what? He was 100% right. I am so glad I didn't paint it. The contrast of the warm wood tones is just what the room needed.

We updated the sconces on either side of the fireplace. The originals looked like something from a medieval castle.

We replaced them with these Pottery Barn Napa Wine Barrel Sconces. Apparently they've been discontinued, but you may be able to find some on ebay or at a PB outlet store.

I found the mantel challenging to decorate because of the scale. Little stuff gets lost and looks silly. I finally came up with something that works. For the left side I found this wire candle holder at Home Goods. The whale, made from upcycled oil barrels came from a local store.

On the rights side, I used a large vase from Home Goods filled with beach stones and dried grasses from Ikea. I added a fishing creel that I got years ago at Brimfield and a beautiful shell given to me by a friend.

I've tried a number of different prints for this spot. Again, scale was an issue, but so was color. I now have this print from Pottery Barn in the 28" x 42" size, with a distressed black frame and no mat. I think the colors work really well in this room with the sandy neutral tones and the graphic navy stripes.

And there you have it! My completed fireplace makeover!