Thursday, June 25, 2015

In the Category of Totally Unnecessary Projects: The Coat Closet

We have a coat closet right inside the front door of the house. It is definitely nothing special, but it's a nice-sized closet, conveniently located, and I think it could provide a really special surprise when you open the door.

Here's how it looks today: 

Not so special, huh? I haven't done a single thing to this space, other than shove a few random items into it, as well as a couple of empty wooden hangers. This closet will basically only be used when we have guests. We have a mudroom at the back of the house that is our main coat/purse/bag dropping area, as well as another cedar closet where we store out-of-season outerwear, so there's no need for us to store our own coats and things here. 

But, I've had in my head for a while that the closet used for guests or when entertaining should be really pretty. And, it's a small enough space that we could do something really special without it costing an arm and a leg. 

I didn't have this closet painted when the rest of the house was done, because I knew I'd want something other than the neutral grey we did in the majority of the house, but I hadn't made up my mind what that other color would be. 

I was thinking it would be a good place to do a fun color, maybe something like a periwinkle blue, like the wall color in this gorgeous room:

Bright green accents and a periwinkle room with fireplace  (Katie Rosenfeld/Michael J. Lee)

Or fuchsia, like this fun bedroom:

My hesitation with paint though, is that I don't want it to be dark and cave-like, but the bold colors I'm drawn to tend to be darker. There is an overhead light in the closet, but dark paint can just suck up the available light in a really bad way even in a large room, so it would likely be much worse in a closet. 

If not paint then, of course my mind immediately goes to wallpaper. I've said it before and I've said it again: there are SO MANY amazing wallpaper options available. Think beyond the sad maroon and hunter green kitchen border you might have seen in your friend's parent's houses back in the day. I've used five different wallpapers so far in this house, and I don't think I'm finished yet :)

But, what wallpaper to choose for a closet? I think the coat closet is a good place to go with something a little whimsical, but still elegant and pretty. 

Solidly in the whimsical camp are these hot air balloons by Fornasetti. Super cute, but maybe a shade to little kid for our grown-up house: 

Whimsical wallpaper from Fornasetti.

In a gender-neutral nursery though? Slam dunk. 

This one is a little kooky (also by Fornasetti), but I totally love it:

Facial #wallpaper. De Nooy interieur & exterieur Voorthuizen

I will confess I would be a little weirded out by this wallpaper in a bathroom as shown in the picture. But in a closet, would it be too creepy to have a bunch of faces staring at you as you retrieve your coat on your way out? I don't think so!

Rounding out the Fornasetti section of this post, here's one more I love:

Rollover to zoom Click to enlarge

It's an image of various people watching the theater from box seats, and I think it's just so charming. 

But, I just don't think any of those are the perfect option for this space (though you can bet I'll be wracking my brain to think of SOMEWHERE to use them).

So, if not these options, maybe something metallic? That would bring a bit of shine to the space and I like the idea of the closet having a little jewel box feeling to it. 

I found a few metallic/shiny papers I like, such as this one, from Rifle Paper Co:

Queen Anne (Ebony)

It's a black and gold metallic. I think the pattern could be overwhelming in a large space, but in a closet it might be pretty.

I also have liked this cream and gold floral for a long time:

Petal Pusher Wallpaper -

I actually might use this one in E's big girl room in a bit though, and I hate to repeat materials from one room to another. 

Or, Coronata Star from Osborne & Little is SUPER gorgeous (the stars are shiny in some of the colorways):


But, I did stars on the dining room ceiling, so I probably don't want to repeat that motif here, regardless of how much I like this wallpaper. 

So, where does that leave me? Well, for the moment I've narrowed it down to a few colorful, fun and whimsical (but still elegant) choices:

PiP Flowers in the Mix Dark Blue wallpaper

Oh man, this one SLAYS me. I mean, those colors - I can't EVEN. Also, funnily enough, E has this really cute thing she does with peacocks lately whenever we see them at the zoo, so I think using this paper could be a really sweet way to commemorate this phase in her life. 

I also really, really like this cherry blossom option from Anthropologie:
Cherry Blossom Wallpaper -

Simple, pretty, and in keeping somewhat with the color scheme of the house. 

One more I'm considering, which is decidedly more graphic and modern is this number from Cole & Sons:

Circus 93/6020 - Geometric - Cole & Son

Again, not something I would choose for a large room or a space that gets a lot of use, unless you had absolutely the right type of modern house for it, but for some reason I keep coming back to it. 

So, I still have some pondering to do on this one, and believe me when I say I have a LONG list of projects I still want to finish before I'm ready to invest in gussying up a coat closet we don't use. Nevertheless, I like to be prepared on the design plan when I am ready to pull the trigger on this project (likely sometime in 2017 :)).

What would you do with a coat closet? Paint it and forget it? Would you choose any of the above papers or something else entirely? I'd love to hear from you, and of course, thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Basement - Part 2

If you missed part 1 of the basement reveal, you can find it here.

One of the main functions our basement needed to provide was space for a large family room where we could have an enormous TV and entertain large groups of people. B is so wonderful about letting me have free reign to do whatever crazy stuff (i.e., zebra wallpaper) I want to our house and decorate and furnish it really however I see fit, so I figured the least I could do was try to give him the basement of his dreams. We don't use the word "mancave" in this house (all areas of our house are for our whole family), but definitely one of the key uses for the basement is a place for B and friends to play cards, watch sports, and relax. 

The main feature of the family room space is this wall, complete with built-ins, fireplace, and the aforementioned TV:

I am so happy with how this space came together. The different finishes work together great in my opinion and add a great deal of warmth to the basement.

The fireplace stone is a particular favorite:

It's this very shimmery, almost metallic charcoal grey and it looks so pretty next to the textured carpet and rustic wood. I also am so glad we incorporated the fireplace. I think especially in the winter months it will be great to have a fire going while we watch movies football. 

The built-ins were done by the same craftsman who built the basement bar area and were custom built for the space, which was essential given some of our requirements:

They are stained the same finish as the bar area woodwork (a custom mix of two Sherwin Williams stains) and are just exquisitely built. The attention to detail and work quality is just top-notch. The shelves are adjustable, but I am planning on leaving them as they are now - symmetrical and evenly spaced.

The shelves are full of lots of fun objects, photos, and books. I definitely kept the overall look more rustic and masculine down here, which is a nice counterpoint to the rest of the house.

The cabinet doors on this piece are simple Shaker-style doors,and the closed storage provides a place for A/V equipment to be kept accessible but out of sight, as well as board games, puzzles, and throws to have a home.

Looking opposite the TV wall, you'll see this area:

The exposed red brick you see is original to the house (it's the chimney) and I love the character it adds. The basement is, of course, full of brand new materials, but I happen to love some of the quirkier original details you often see in an old house. Retaining the brick was a way to bring a little bit of that character into the basement, and this small section makes a big impact.

The artwork is a large black and white historical photograph of the Italian Market in NYC. It hung in our dining room in the old house, and I was so glad to find the perfect spot for it in our new home. It's a great piece, and it's nice to have an item that reflects B's Italian heritage in this space. We hung it over a modern metal and wood console table. I'll probably tuck a couple of stools under here for extra seating whenever I find the right ones, but I think that's the only thing missing in this area. 

One very key item that is missing elsewhere in our family room is our sofa, since we are still waiting on the fine folks at Crate and Barrel to send it to us. We ordered this one, and it's massive and looks super comfy. 

Lounge II 2-Piece Sectional Sofa

It's over 9 feet long and really deep, which should make it perfect for movie night snuggles and afternoon naps. I selected a custom upholstery, rather than one of the in-stock options, so I have to patiently wait for it to be built and shipped to me. I'll be sure to share updated pictures once it's finally in place (follow me on instagram: @jcintani to get the first look!).

Continuing on past the TV area is the game/play area. This area is sadly also lacking in furniture at the moment, but here's how it looks now:

I'm on the hunt for the perfect poker table to be centered under that chandelier, as Muhammad Ali looks on approvingly. 

It's definitely been a challenge to find something suitable. Why are all game tables so cheesy, with the green felt and whatnot? No offense, but that's just really not my thing. I'm holding out for the perfect table and chairs -  either a great vintage piece or a clean-lined modern version. So until then, we'll have to settle for playing the greatest game in the history of mankind:

I think I can live with that :)

Moving on to the other half of the game room, is a space where eventually we'll install a pool/ping pong/air hockey table:

Right now it's housing some of E's larger and less-attractive toys. It's the perfect spot for that and it's nice to have room for her to just run around and make a mess. There's a definite need for some additional art in this space, but since we're sticking with black-and-white photography for the most part, it takes some time to find nice pieces that are appropriate in scale, subject, etc. All in due time!

Beyond the double doors you see in the picture above is the exercise room (ignore the photobomber):

So the most important part of any exercise room is definitely a TV, and we're good to go there. This is a nice big room with space for at least two machines, as well as a yoga/stretching area and some weight racks. We have settled, I think, on the equipment we'll get for this room (a Concept 2 rower and an elliptical) so now it's just a matter of ordering it. I don't think the exercise room will get a ton of use until the weather is colder, so we're holding off a bit for now in favor of other necessities. You know, like leopard chairs

As you can see, there's still some work to be done on the basement, but overall it's really come together nicely considering it's only been finished with construction for about 2.5 months. 

I'll of course provide updates as the remaining furniture items come in, but even now with it being only somewhat finished we still love to spend time down here. It's the perfect spot for E and Murphy to chase each other around, and we look forward to many more fun times down here over the years. 

In the meantime, here's one more shot of the basement today:

Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Basement - Part 1

Of all the projects we undertook with this house, the basement renovation was easily the biggest. 

Here's a reminder of where we started (see this post for more details about the original basement): 

Concrete floors, a janky staircase, and cinder block walls. In short, not exactly a place you'd want to spend a lot of time, unless you're a serial killer.

The basement had great potential though, and I knew it could serve a lot of different functions for our family, which it does. 

The door leading to the basement stairs is in our kitchen, which makes it very convenient: 

We completely re-built the stairs so that rather than having that 90 degree turn as you see in the picture above they are straight. This required a lot of super boring stuff, such as moving the furnace and water heater as well, but the end product turned out great:

The Tastee Inn & Out print was a fun purchase at the fundraising silent auction for Junior League of Lincoln, and I love it very much. Sadly, the Tastee in Lincoln went out of business a couple of years ago, but the one in Sioux City is still going strong as far as I know! And now I'm suddenly craving onion chips and dip :) 

The open door you see at the bottom of the stairs leads to my craft room. It's a nice big room, but it was in major disarray when I took these photos, so no pics of that room today! It is painted this super fun Benjamin Moore color (All A Blaze) - it's intensely bright, and I think it's perfect for a creative space:

Most of the basement is done in this fun grey patterned carpet:

It's a fairly flat weave and I like that it has some pattern and interest without being too crazy. 

Looking to the right from the bottom of the stairs, there's a hallway:

The doorway on the left leads into the bathroom, and the doorway on the right leads into the storage room.

The bathroom turned out really great; in fact, it's one of my favorite spaces in the whole house:

In particular, I love the encaustic concrete tile in shades of grey and white. It turned out so pretty!

I went a little more modern with the fixtures in this bathroom, which was fun:

We included a nice-sized shower (no tub) in this bathroom as well, so we could easily host overnight guests in the basement, or provide a nice place for slumber parties when E is a little older.

The storage room is nothing special, but I'm including a picture of it here just to show the size, as well as the nice shelving our contractor put in for me:

It's an L-shaped room, so the other leg of the L has our furnace, as well as a spot for our deep freeze and a few other miscellaneous storage items. Out of the total 1800ish square feet in the basement, we kept about 350 unfinished for storage, which I think is about the right amount.

Okay, back out into the hallway to the left of the bottom of the stairs is this view:

First, the bar area:

It's configured like a galley kitchen, with everything but a stove. There's a full-size refrigerator on the right, a dishwasher, and a wine fridge below the counter, as well as a bar sink. 

The bar front was designed by me and executed by our wonderful contractor. I knew I wanted to include corrugated metal for an industrial look, and I really like the juxtaposition of this material with the more refined wood.

All cabinetry, the bar, and the wine racks were custom-made for the space and I'm very, very happy with the craftsmanship. There's tons of storage space in this area, which has been the best thing ever. It is SO NICE to know that I have several empty cabinets and drawers that I can use for storage when needed. 

It's also great having a second refrigerator that is basically empty (except for soda and beer). It came in super handy when we hosted E's birthday party here last weekend, and I imagine it will be used a lot for holidays and other parties as well.

The floor is a grey wood-look ceramic tile, and the counters are poured concrete. I left the concrete finish raw so that it would weather over time. I have always loved concrete counters, and while I don't think they are ideal for a kitchen, in a basement bar I thought they were the perfect choice.

The nine-clock piece on the wall is a vintage find, that I think is just so cool:

HOWEVER, of the 9 time-zones included, not one is Central! Which means every time I want to know what time it is, I have to do math like a busta. 

Well, that ended up being a really long post with a lot of pictures, so I think I'm actually going to split this basement reveal up into two posts. Next time, I'll show the family room area, game room, and exercise room. Here's a little sneak peek in the meantime:

Thanks for reading!