Design on a Dime

Well maybe not a dime ~ Actually free because I did my own design work.  Maybe I should call it “Design for My Time”.   All of the photos I’m showing you are a culmination of decor efforts and wheeling and dealing I’ve done over the past 20 months since we (my husband Niceforo and I) purchased our home.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for almost two years already!

Powder Room

This is the new powder room (part of our recent remodel). It’s really hard to take pictures of a tiny space like this without getting myself in the mirror’s reflection. I love the waterfall faucet that looks something like an old hand pump that I got on ebay. The towel rack was from Ross. It was wrought iron that I painted white. The flower vase was from thrift store.

Attic Access Cover

This is the attic access cover that is now directly over the sink in the powder room. (It used to be in the laundry room in the same spot before we remodeled). I covered it with a piece of leftover backsplash material from the kitchen that had the fleur de lis pattern and had my husband trim out the edges with leftover baseboard trim to make a frame. Then painted the whole thing with chrome spray paint. When it was dry, I painted it with some leftover flat white latex paint then wiped it before it completely dried creating the antiqued look you see.

I like to think of myself as a savvy shopper.  Everything you see I’ve purchased from bargain sources both online and locally at thrift stores and discount stores.  I like shopping at Ross and TJ Max.  Usually I know what I’m looking for before I go into these stores, but often come out with unexpected treasures.  I regularly peruse ebay, Amazon and craigslist.  A few items are family heirlooms like much of the glassware in the china cabinet and the quilts displayed that my mom and BFF Glenna made..

I found this shelf on Craigslist and spray painted it barn red. It’s showcasing a lovely platter that was a gift from my friends at the GE Monogram Experience Center. It’s not only a beautiful addition to my new pantry wall but it’s very handy for hanging my aprons and cloth shopping bags (so I don’t forget them on the way to the grocery store). San Luis Obispo (town near us) now charges you for using plastic bags instead of your own cloth bags. I’m guessing our town is not far behind.

The living-dining room is long, narrow and has vaulted ceilings.  The curtains were chosen solely to enhance the drama of the tall space and to finish off the windows.  My son Mico and I had quite an adventure hanging those 120″ curtains!  I don’t do ladders and am terrified of heights.  So I am so grateful to have had his help hanging them.

Clearly, my taste is ‘unique’  by many standards.  I’m drawn to French Country and Shabby Chic… though I also like Victorian details.  So I tend to blend them preferring to use bright colors and rich woods. I love living with items that have a story behind them, especially family heirlooms that tell the story of my family or recall memories of the people they represent or places where they came from. I spend a lot of time in my home (since I live and work there) and believe firmly that the only person I really need to impress with my design aesthetic is me.  Fortunately, my husband likes my style and I take his taste into consideration too… otherwise I think it would look way more ‘girly’ than it does.  The point is, when you decorate your space ~ do what makes you happy (and try not to piss off the other people who live there ;-).  Keep in mind there are basic principles of design (like balance and symmetry) that can be applied to any style aesthetic to make a space ‘work’.

Entry Table Detail

The top two old books on the table are tattered and torn from the 1920’s. I doubt they have any value to anybody but me because they belonged to my dad.

Living Room

These wing chairs were Craigslist finds and the stained glass table lamp and firescreen came from ebay. The floor lamp is also stained glass which my mom gave to me many years ago.

Living Room

The table in the foreground used to be a large end table my parents had in the 70’s that had dark wood. I painted and distressed it for a shabby look. I purchased a used glass covered painting -ditched the painting and used the glass and frame to cover a quilted piece my mom made. I painted the frame to match the table. The Chippendale settee was a great find that I got while working for an office furniture company in Texas for the price of having it delivered to my house. It had been a return from a customer and I got it at their warehouse sale. I had it reupholstered in the blue buffalo checks when I moved back to California about 10 years ago.


Just this past weekend my husband and I were checking out the local thrift stores and found this mirror. It’s a Chinese reproduction that was a steal for $40. It’s in excellent condition and has some lovely painted detail. I thought it coordinated perfectly with my dining chairs and china cabinet.

Dining Area

The chairs were the biggest expenditure for this space. They were purchased on ebay. Details on the wall include the scrolling metal planter boxes (from Ross) that coordinated with the existing chandelier. They are filled with thrift store silver trays. Some of them I made into chalkboards with chalkboard paint. The table was a Craigslist find. I’m thinking of painting it a pale yellow to match some of the other painted furniture in the living room. You’ll recognize the vintage tole trays on the wall from a former post. I purchased some of them while visiting Eugene, Oregon, at some antique stores. A couple came from ebay.

China Cabinet

You might recognize my china cabinet from another former post where I relayed our ‘adventure’ in collecting it from an ebay seller in Simi Valley. I’ve paired down the contents (considerably REALLY!). Many of the items were family heirlooms. My great grandmother collected cranberry glass and I’ve added to it.


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