Sunday, March 6, 2011


Vanity framed on end wall of powder room. We could remove the tub shower
and install a feature like this on the back wall.

Another way to build on family room stair wall at right of wet bar.
This could house china and dining room storage.

Flush door for powder room with streamlined
hardware, diminishes bulk of existing wood panel doors. Lose the stripes.

Another end wall vanity with toilet in same place as our  downstaris bath.

Lighting treatment with shutter wall effect, white plastic reflects light
against dark stained wood

Ceiling treatment. Not to my taste but the dramatic lighting, framing
light color on ceiling dresses up the powder room

A large antique cupboard used as vanity with large surface area. Toilet is exposed, See other examples where
a divider screens the commode from rest of bath.

Wall sconces, mirror wall, large scale artwork,
toilet at right behind door in niche. Our vanity is where the toilet is.
remove the tub/shower at back, replace with vanity and move toilet across
room replacing the existing sink and vanity in niche.

Understairs powder room and streamline door with hardware.
Excellent use of confined space. 

Trompe l'oeil ceiling treatment wiht chandelier; toilet screened by half-height wall.

Another screened commode; this one with tile surround. This arrangment
could replace shower/tub with commode add divider and archway treatment.
I don't like a tile floor treatment for the powder room. 

Treatment for backstair closet at top of landing over family room.
Right now there is a tall narrow closet with no racks or shelves.
It would be easy to frame this in and use the open arch idea on top and add
to our book storage.  It would make a nice upstairs book stash for guests wanting reading material
but not wanting to go the basement library to find one.

My Partner has a huge armoire like this that we have to put in the basement foyer area at
bottom of basement steps. The ceiling is high here so a wall treatment in synch with the antique piece
to dress up the bare white drywall space. Maybe wood panels or wallpaper. Someting to make arrviing in the
basement more than the ordinary experience, continue through the cross hall and into the library. 

The laundry room has bad tile flooring or vinyl; either way it's butt ugly.
We will definitely replace with this black and white check florring. 

Microwave placement

The kitchen remodel on our new house was done well but it's only skin deep. I've already gone into the raw unpainted dark wood cupboard interiors that will involve a lot of extra work and expense on  our part. Another downside is the owners are leaving no refrigerator and there is no built-in microwave. So what? Well the fridge we can do something about. We obviously can use a countertop microwave but it takes up room, they usually look lousy and you're always wiping up around them. I did some surfing to find examples of microwave placement in kitchen remodels to get some ideas. One of the main points to emerge almost everywhere was that a kitchen microwave should be as close to the fridge as possible. Make sense? Yes. Other than melting butter and chocolate for recipes, the microwave is used primarily for reheating cold foods from the fridge or freezer so it makes sense to keep them together. Here are some microwave stories to pique my imagination.
Here's a framed=in microwave next to the fridge. I don't like having no
counter or ledge to set the hot food down after removing it.

This vented microwave is built in over the range. It's not near the fridge. 
Our Fridge area lines up with the hall entry with no separation.
I like this idea of a paneled wall section hiding fridge from the family room. Extra pantry cupboard not a bad idea either

This option adds a fridge-depth cupboard that holds
a microwave. Again, no nearby ledge.

Here the built in microwave is on the left of the fridge. Still no
ledge or countertop surface underneath

Here the microwave is small and at a greater height but still near
the fridges and this one was counter space below.

Here the microwave is placed near double wall ovens. Could work as we have the
same double wall oven placement. It's not near the fridge but it does have conterspace.

This placement shows no advantages, not near the fridges
no counter space directly underneath.

Counter model next fridge; at least it's partially concealed by a full depth framing of the refirgerator. 
This placement is unusual, plenty fo counterspace but nowhere near the fridge. Not ideal.

This ones looks squeezed in and seem to high up for my taste. I'm 6'2 so I could deal with it, but the elderly and
children would be cut off from microwave usage with a model mounted this high. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Closet Space

Ok, I covered this below but I went back to my house photos to look at the master bedroom closet area, exterior and interior to see how to deconstruct it. These photos reaffirm my conviction that this house suffers from overuse of crummy doors all over the place. If you design closet space so it's functional and beautiful it doesn't have to be shuttered behind ugly doors. In my apartment I have a large open walk-in closet off my bath/dressing room and it never looks bad. I somehow manage to keep it in order.
I am so ready to rip off those butt-ugly doors, reorient the shevling layout, add built-in shelves at different depths for sweaters, shoes, etc. I'm open to using crate and barrell close organizers with those fabric covered pull out drawers that go into dark stain wood cubes. I have a few I use for accessories and I love them and the way they look. I've had them for years and they made it from NJ to Atlanta with no damage.
Open closet inspriation for enclosed master closets between master bedroom and bath. There are 3 doors I can do without. The door to the bathroom. This is our master bath.  The toilet is at far right inside it's own water closet with, you guessed it, another butt ugly door. It does have a window high up on the wall which helps but the point is we don't need "privacy" with a bathroom door. The shower stall will keep bathers warm in cold weather. The bathroom is so large and has a skylight and window so it's no guarantee it will ever be "warm" in damp Atlanta winters anyway. Closing the door wont' save us.
Next are the the narrow slit doors to the master closets on either side of this carpeted breezeway. With all the doors open at once and two men trying to bath and dress at the same time, it would be a nightmare.  I want all the doors out and those narrorw closet framing walls ripped out so we get one big open wall space for installing new shelving and closer oranganizers. We can coordinate paint, wood for shelves, even rip out the carpet and install new flooring for the space to cut that expanse of broadloom that runs like kudzu all over the top story of the house. 

Here are both closets, spliced together. The each have double-sided two-tiered
clothing racks with accesoriy shelves on end walls.  Rip all this out of both
closets and make continues shelving all round even over the bathroom door and
expand the closet and floorspace for dressing.

I'm repeating this inspiration photo to show what can be
achieved in a bathroom/bedroom connecting space with
thoughtful closet organization ideas.

New House Ideas

In talking over our house purchase my partner and I are starting to think about the decorating phase. We know there are fundamentals to take care of first, like painting raw wood cabinet interiors so they don't look like dark holes where you store cookware and china and pantry items. Ditto for the closets. Everything was refaced beatufully but interior shelves and cupboards throughout the house are dingy and dark. This is a major undertaking in a house this size.
I've been gathering inspiration from designing blogs. Mostly, I'm trying to overcome really bad entrances and exits in the living room (narrow openings with glass french doors off the foyer and a solid frame door painted white in the back left corner of the room going into the crosshall behind. These have got to be overhauled and altered unrecognizably. I have to somehow make them stand out as some of the best features instead of trying to mask them as a decorating coverup never really fools anyone, least of all the decorator. Easiest ideas are the costly ones involving highly skilled labor which may not even be available here: such as a flush jib door with a discrete metal door handle for the back wall opening, or papering a section of the wall and covering the jib door as well with the same paper to really make it disappear until you need to open it. This way the stupid door is nearly always shut. If open, the doorframe in the living room is exactly lined up wth the study door behind it instead of section of hallyway wall I could decorate in a bold way to make the view beyond the door attractive. Unless I cover the study door in fabric or use a bold paint and tie it in with a bold wallcovering for the crosshall, it will be a dead-end ugly view of a typical suburban white paneled door with an ugly knob or if left open, a view of the study and it's half-size window. I plan to give the study a bold look as well but doing the living room, hall and study at great expense right off the bat is, well, a bit batty considering we are not rich.
The good news is it stimulates creativity to think of the best interim solutions we can live with while giving the whole ensemble some style.
Because of the raw wood cabinet interiors, I want to focus on the kitchen cupboards first, then the master bath and master closets. I've found great examples of how to open and redo the master closets by using a great deep color to set off clothes and build on my small start at closet organization with open shelves and drawers.

Plan for living room back (shortest) wall. Built in
bookshelves up to existing moldings. Ceiling is 9ft but
molding takes about 1foot of that. Cupboards on bottom
to store clutter possibly china we use for the dining room as we
have no butler's pantry. We'll skip the ladder. The top shelf is
for complete works and collectible titles we want out of reach.

Flush closet doors (at right), strip existing hinges and trim
from master bedroom closets. Still too "WHITE"

Wall sconces installed on either side of Dining Room sideboard.

Pantry storage, but where? Basement wine room?

Use dark grey/black paint and replace ugly hardware
for doors. Great contrast if using white walls.

Downstairs bath is a full bathroom with shower stall and tub, not
a powder room which is what we prefer. After all there are 4 other
full baths in the house.  I like this paneling and tile treatment.
We'd have to rib out the tub/shower to get this amount of space.

Closet organization: cubes, shelves, hanging rods, etc. The master closets
face each other in a small breezeway between master bed and bath.
They are "walk-in" but there isn't much floor space and they each have those ugly
fake panel doors (stark white, of course) with ugly pewter/nickel finish doorknobs.
Yuck! See below for a doorless solution to join the two separate closets, tying in
wall color, paint, etc into a single space. At least we are both men and there will
only be men's closthes on display. And besides, it's our bedroom so who is going to
be inspecting it?

Another dark door color with metal hardware.

The study has two double-door closets side-by-side on
a long wall. Door placement in this photo is identical to
the study;. Door at right is that problem door lined up with the
narrow living room opening across the hall and closet doors at
back are repeated. Right now they stick out like a sore thumb with
brass knobs and louver panels. Yuck Again! Smooth Finish flush doors with
invisible hinges, covering doors with wallpaper blends in with the room decor. A great
way to make these eyesores disappear.  Sure I like the storage but I don't want
an elegant room I want to spend time in to scream "Look. Wall Storage!" constantly.

View of dark door paint with light stain floor. Our foyer is painted white
and the wood flooring is even lighter than this. Have to coordinate dark paint color

Here's my open closet idea.  If the facing closets
do not have load bearing walls we can rip the drywall
and framing out and open both and the "breezeway" disappears,
there's more light from the bedroom and bath shining through
and we can unify them with a bold color statement that goes with
menswear. See men's closet photo down below.

Great Exotic powder room statement. Oh for
a true downstairs powder room. I know it sounds
indulgent to reject a full bath here, but no one is
going to shower or bath down there. The study will
not be used as a bedroom.

Another contrasting door color to make a virtue of bad
door placement. 

Attic guest room twin bed treatment. Paper the window
wall with a nice print, coordinate bedding accessories
with the wallpaper color, sisal over broadloom to add
texture and hanging bed lamps because the two twin beds
have no room for end tables. They have to share the chest
surface for water glasses, books and eyeglasses, etc.

Stain or dark contrasting color on cupboard interiors.
I'm not married to white for interior cupboards but I need the paint color
 to reflectlight, not absorb it, to see what's inside.  My eyes
ain't getting any younger, kids.

Typical bad boring dull suburban bath. 

Same bath reborn. Botanical illustrations from a
magazine pasted all over the wall. Textured framed mirror
or medicine cabinet. Neutral shower curtain replaces cold
metal stall frame.  Certainly softens and beautifies
the room. Not sure I want to wash and disinfect a curtain
liner when I have 5 bathrooms.

Floor to ceiling bookshelves, no discrete cupboards and no ledge
to stack books on. This one is backed with paper or panelling or the
wall treatment for the rest of the room with open backs? 

Another contrasting door color with downscaled hardware.
This door might work instead of two narrow glass-paned french doors
now hung in the living room foyer entrance.

More door color contrast. Blue foyer, violet door color
for living room doors.

What do with our huge cookbook collection? We have some
shelf space above the kitchen desk and we may use the ugly food
pantry next to it by ripping off the door and shelving more cookbooks
and some heavy cookware. 

Looks crowded, doesn't it? but scale is still right even for a smaller
room. It's intimate instead of cluttered. Console and painting mounted
on mirror over-scaled, while chairs and occasional tables are small scale with open legs
for air and light to travel. Dark glazed walls add luxury and mirror reflects
bookcase wall opposite.  Use floor lamp or wall sconces for lighting instead of table lamps
in living room where there's no floor space for lamp tables. Put armchairs or settees against the bookcase
and mirror walls and install sconces at reading height instead of lamps. 

Always remember sconces facing a mirror reflect nighttime
lighting and warms the room up for inhabitants.

Possible LR treatment with wall mirror and desk jutting
out into the room from the wall, lamp near outlet on wall,
of course.

This looks like stain. More trouble than paint and you can
tell what you may get with paint whereas stain is pain. It's always
uneven and streaked. No Thanks. I do like the contrast in tone.

Kitchen cupboard interior paint: Tiffany blue.

There is an arched window at one end of our LR. Maybe building an
arch for the single door exit on back wall will complement that and
get rid of the suburban box look.

Here's my closet idea with a great red that works well with
menswear fabrics and dress shirts. 

Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain black for LR doors

Benjamin Moore Just Black for doors