Master Suite

I wish I could say our master bedroom and on-suite bath were finished. I feel it’s going to be awhile yet. Still have to do the crown molding and a few other trim pieces before we will call it done. We moved into the master bedroom a couple of days before Christmas and were able to start using the bath a week or so before that. My husband put the tile up without issue in the shower. I’m so proud of him as it was his first tile job. It’s marble subway tiles and we had to purchase a wet saw suitable for cutting stone. I found a brand new one on Craigslist for half the retail price. The box hadn’t even been opened. My husband also installed the wood butcherblock counter (that I stained and finished). He also installed the flooring, beadboard, sinks, faucets, glass shower enclosure and shower hardware. He replumbed the vanity sinks and installed the light fixtures. I did the hardware and cabinet knobs. We replaced the GFCI outlet together. (My one wish is that I could have added another outlet near the vanity table but that was not in the budget.) Thank goodness for YouTube with videos that showed how to do everything we couldn’t figure out on our own!

We both contributed to all the painting as well as my youngest son who did the green paint in the bedroom and all of the inside of our walk-in closet. I really don’t want to look at a paint roller for awhile. I’m so thankful for Mico’s help!

While the almost-finished project is a far stretch from what my expectations would be of a professional craftsman, I am happy with our results. I am very proud and appreciative of my husband’s hard work –especially since he usually only gets one day a week off from his regular labor-intensive job! Gracias me amor! (Now if I could just get him up on the ladder to install the crown molding!)

Here are some “before” pics of the bathroom as a reminder of what the bath looked like before:

Before 1


Before 3

Before 4

Before 5


Here are some renderings I did of the remodel design:

Opt 6 View 3


Opt 6 View 2

Opt 6 View 1

Opt 6 View 4

Here are the “after” pics of the bath:

Master 1


After 1

After 2

After 3

After 4

After 5

These are renderings I did of the master bedroom:

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 1

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 1


Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 2

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 2

This is what it looks like now:

Master 3


Master 5


Master 2


Master 4

The over-all cost of this remodel was about $6,000. This included all the materials and the little bit of labor we hired which included moving the plumbing for the shower, installing the shower pan and installing the plush carpet in the bedroom. The brass bed (straight out of the ’80s and same genre as the the mobile home), came with the house. I want to try to refinish the cheap shiny brass finish to look like the antique brass of the beside wall lamps. Eventually, I’ll replace the door knobs to something that a little less ‘bright’ as well. I hear brass is back so I might be able to find something a little more updated.

The dressing table was a Craigslist find –it has a really heavy marble top that inspired the use of the marble subway tile for the shower. I think it must have come out of an old hotel. I am happy with most everything but the shower enclosure that we ordered online. It was manufactured in Canada and came via a New York distributor and was shipped to our home near the California Central Coast. Even though we saved a ton of money (I’m guessing about two-thirds the price of a custom glass shower), it was fraught with problems. The initial order included only the doors and was missing the side panel It was out of stock at the time this mistake was discovered. The base came in broken and they had to send another (also out of stock at the time)…  Over all, it took about four months to get this issue rectified. Even so there are small scratches on the stationary glass door and the frame was bent in one corner and a tiny divot in the replacement shower pan. These were discovered when we went to install them. Fortunately the divot is on the outside and can be repaired. No way were we going to wait another four months for replacements that may or may not come in perfect. I’d have to say the shower issues were the worst I’ve had to deal with regarding on-line product purchasing I’ve had to date. Everything else –counter tops, sinks, mirrors, hardware, flooring, tile (even the beadboard and trim) had no issues at all! Everything else was purchased from our local Home Depot.

Side Yard Design

This is my design for our side yard of the home we purchased a year ago August. I can hardly believe we’ve been here for over a year already! Perhaps it’s because we’ve been working away at remodeling it bit by bit (on the inside) since we moved here. We’re about 3/4 done with the master bath and the Home Depot crew is coming to measure the floor for carpet for the master bedroom on Halloween. (I picked that day because I wouldn’t forget and the measure was free and would be good for up to a year.) I promise when we get the master bath done, I’ll post the before and after pics!

Meantime, I have been dreaming of what to do about our tiny outdoor space. I want it to be as low maintenance as possible. I’ve posted my ideas for the front and have “tried on” many paint colors. We’ve finally decided on a warm medium brown color. I think we could live with it for a long time and we really don’t like it’s current sad gray color.

Now to give you an idea of what the side yard is now:  There is a long metal awning that spans the whole side of the house. An item of contention between my husband and I. He wants to keep it but I think it’s a worthless eye sore. It’s a typical “mobile home” type. (You know the type– with the scrolling cheap metal support posts.) It is also on the northeast side of the house so really does nothing to protect the house from summer heat. It keeps the sun out on the side that could really use it. In the past year we’ve had rain approximately four days, so that’s not a great reason to keep it either. Most of all, it blocks the views of the great old pepper tree that is always home to a variety of birds and provides lovely filtered light. It also blocks the view of the gorgeous liquid amber that is turning multiple shades of gold and red this time of year.

In addition there is a very large shabby looking sad storage shed that takes up much of the space. It’s so bad that the last owners left lots of stuff in there because they simply didn’t want to go in there after it. I don’t want to either. So (one thing hubby and I agree on) it needs to go.

My plan? Replace them both with a great big deck that we would actually use. So here you go.

Print Image

Side Yard 2

Side Yard 3

Print Image

Side Yard 5

Side Yard 6

Side Yard 7

Here are my most recent proposed ideas for the front view that faces south:

Print Image

Print Image

Notice there is no grass. We do not want to water or cut grass. (Overwatering is now considered a criminal offense here in CA so I’m sure this ‘zero scape’ would go over very well with the city if not our park managers.)

YouTube How To Everything

At one time when you wanted to know about something… you looked it up in a collection of books we once called encyclopedias. Parents of the 50’s and 60’s got a set of them when their children were little from a guy who went door to door convincing parents that their toddlers would never make it to college if they didn’t invest in a set. Never mind that by the time said toddler got to kindergarten they would be outdated. By middle school they used them to source their written reports anyway and the teachers were none the wiser (except when you copied directly out of one –dumb idea– they could tell). Then by the time the middle schoolers were in high school, they used the set that was a little newer in the school library and the home versions found their way into garage sales or became handy door stops or a mechanism for pressing flowers. All features that never got anybody into college.

Millennials have never known a world without computers. So if they tell their parents they have gone to “study at the library,” I would be suspicious. Though libraries usually have computers nowadays too. But kids likely have them at home as well. Early in the decade when you wanted to look something up. you could go to Wikipedia (the digital encyclopedia). Now you just Google  a topic and you’ll get lots of data. Tons of it! Probably way way more than you need and you have to shuffle through the ads of those who want to sell it to you, posted a picture of it on Pinterest, or links to numerous blogs that are totally unrelated.

Then God invented YouTube. (Actually it was invented by its founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim in 2005, but I like to think God made the world ready for it.) Nowadays if you want to be a music star, you record YouTube videos to get discovered. You want to see the newest viral pet videos (dogs saying “I love you” or cats doing un cat-like things) you’ll find them on YouTube. Even the very word “viral” has gone from indicating a nasty bodily infection to be used more comonly as an indication of a social media comment or video’s popularity. My husband and I have discovered YouTube as handy (desperate) DIYers. You want to know how to do, make or fix anything, you can find a YouTube video for it. Usually there are LOTS of them.

My husband is a welder. It’s a job that he thoroughly enjoys. So much so that when he comes home from working all day, he’ll spend hours watching YouTube videos of welding techniques. So when we decided to remodel the master bathroom it had to be a mostly DIY endeavor. Since we had just finished the kitchen remodel that we paid others to do (except the floor that my husband did), we had run out of funds and couldn’t afford to have the bathroom done which we needed to do because everything leaked and smelled bad. Everything that we’ve done that we didn’t already know how to do (which was pretty much everything except the painting and installing the vinyl plank flooring) we learned watching YouTube –including hanging blinds, installing the toilet, hanging beadboard panels, plumbing the sinks, installing the GFCI outlet and light fixtures, and tiling the shower. We paid a contractor to crawl under the house to plumb the shower because we wouldn’t. There are spiders down there.

A few years ago when we bought and remodeled our last house, we bought several high-end appliances. When we moved to our present “project,” we took the refrigerator and laundry set with us. Recently had issues with both and, of course, the one-year warranty that came with them has expired. The refrigerator’s ice maker was still making ice but refused to dispense it through the door. I googled the brand (Samsung) and found lots and lots of complaints about some defect inherent in the model. Complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears from the manufacturer. One post I read lead me to research the problem on YouTube. Voile! Though I am unable to fix the problem as there are no broken parts, I learned how to “reset” the icemaker and “unstick” the mechanism to be able to get it to function. usappliance_2268_238924793

About the same time as the refrigerator problem, my washing machine decided to quit working too! It’s a Whirlpool Duet that (at the time I bought it) was the top of the line only three years ago. After filling and doing a wash cycle, it would read an error message: E01 and F01, and refuse to drain. So I got out the manual that it came with that basically said to call Whirlpool customer service. Upon doing so, the service agent suggested I see a YouTube video that showed how to determine if the drain hose was clogged which would cause the waste water pump not to function. She sent me the link which I shared with my husband. He took it a step further and did some additional YouTube investigating. He learned how to access a clean out near the pump. You wouldn’t believe what we found in there! Enough change to buy a Big Mac and assorted other stuff. Even a disposable lighter and we don’t even smoke! After chipping away at the sediment that was packed in as hard as cement, my handy hubby reinstalled the filter and put everything back together.  The solution to fixing my “digital” machine was purely mechanical! Now it works better than ever!

Whirlpool Duet

You can complain all you want to about our over-dependence on computers and the difficulty of sorting the true from the untrue. (Our parents used to say: “Don’t believe everything you read!” ) But I can report very good success from learning stuff via YouTube. Really, just common sense.

The “Final” Final Design

I would have to say this is the design that I’ve ‘redone’ more than any –ever. This is the sixth (and final) rendition of my master bath design renderings. I think I just needed to convince myself it was the best solution for the space, our needs and our budget. In the end we incorporated products and aspects of the project that we could mostly install ourselves (my husband, youngest son and I). Leaving only the plumbing and electrical to the pros. I should also add that I’ve done way more kitchens than bath remodels and found this to be much more intense in terms of design and technical know how.

Opt 6 View 1


Opt 6 View 2

Opt 6 View 3

Opt 6 View 4

Much was driven by budget and making choices to get the most bang for the buck in the right places –like finding a prefab glass shower enclosure that was big enough. I think the Fleurco semi-frameless enclosure was the largest I could get for the space and is of excellent quality. We found the marble topped (and very heavy!)  dressing table on Craigslist. This inspired doing the shower walls in a coordinating marble subway tile. The other splurge was choosing the nickel finishes on the hardware throughout. This choice was made based on the shower head which was a gift from my friends at Brizo that I received when I visited their headquarters last July for the Blogger 19 Reunion. Who knew that polished nickel would be way less common than brushed or satin nickel? Not to mention pricey! I didn’t when I was so attracted to the ‘bling’ of the polished nickel so many months ago when I got to select the finish for my gift. So there is a mixture of finish types –most will be brushed nickel.

Brizo shower head

Brizo shower head

Where we saved money:

  • Light fixtures, square vessel sinks and faucets purchased on ebay.
  • Saving the existing cabinets, painting them inside and out, adding new crystal glass knobs (found on ebay and hoping the screws fit), adding toe valances we’ll make ourselves, and adding crown molding.
  • The mirrors over the sinks are basic wood framed plain mirrors that we will paint and add moldings to.
  • The countertop is a wood work bench top from Home Depot that we will finish with marine varnish.
  • We already have the round mirror that is over the vanity (used to be over the fireplace in our old house).
  • The fabric for the curtain and vanity stool cover I will sew from fabric I already have.
  • The flooring is vinyl ‘grip strip’ with the look of wood planks. This is the same stuff that we used in our kitchen but in a different style. It’s great for manufactured homes because it is fairly water proof and easy for homeowners to install. We are purchasing it from Home Depot. (They are getting to know me and Louie -my dog- on a first name basis.)
  • The white beadboard wainscot and moldings are also inexpensive and to be purchased from our friends at Home Depot.
  • The Brizo hand-held shower head was a gift and the toilet is a Delta that was purchased months ago from (you guessed it) The Home Depot.

collection I should add that vessel sinks in the master bath would not normally be my first choice, but we are keeping the existing vanity that is only 31″ tall including the counter top. So adding the vessel sink (shown above) should put the top right at 36″.

The overall cost of the remodel is expected to be about $6,000 plus any labor that we hire out (like the electrical and plumbing). When I first started this design process, my budget was looking closer to $14,000 plus labor –so I am pretty pleased with the savings and I don’t feel that I’ve sacrificed anything in terms of design. Perhaps one could argue the loss of a tub would ding the resale value.  However, there is plenty of room to add up to a six-foot freestanding tub in place of the dressing table if the need arose. Considering our community is restricted to 55+ residents, I’m banking most would appreciate an accessible large shower more than a flimsy mobile home “garden” tub and closet of a shower. Since I’m now retired, I expect this is a decision my heirs will have to make! =) How long this project will take is anyone’s guess since my husband will only be available to do this on weekends. I’m expecting months. Glad we have another bathroom!

Chief Architect Premier X4: master bath.layout

A Personal Benchmark Study for Ray Tracing with Chief Architect Software

Warning – unless you are are a user of Chief Architect software -this post will make about as much sense to you as me speaking Spanish to my Mexican husband.  He usually just cocks his head a little and says: “Huh?”

So what is the purpose of posting this on the blog?  I wanted to share this info with other Chief users that might find this study helpful for their own ray tracing efforts. It’s the least I can do as there have been so many Chief users who have generously shared their information and helped me through some pretty difficult processes over the years.  For my purposes, it gives me a quick access location to view the different rendering schemes for comparison.  I have placed them on three new pages at the top of this blog.  Each page represents the different benchmark sections: Quick (Interior Quick Ray Traces), Standard (Interior Standard Ray Traces) and Hi Qlty (Interior High Quality Ray Traces). I think by placing them here, I can quickly access them to evaluate the setting parameters for future renders as I produce them.   

This View

Frustrated with the outcome of a ray trace I’d been working on for a couple of days, I searched Chieftalk (Chief Architect program users forum) for some answers. Typical problems I encountered were things like grainyness and mysterious light dots that would inexplicably show up after running a trace for 5 or 6 hours. I even found old posts that I had written in the past that still had valid info from forum users even though these posts were more than a year old. What I found interesting were the varying differences of opinions -both from experts and users- about what different settings do and what they are supposed to do.  Also, what users consider reasonable time invested vs. ray traced results. I chuckled at some who were frustrated at a trace that took a whole hour! I’ve been doing this long enough now (9 years a Chief user and 5 computer systems later) to know that a high quality, detailed ray trace rendering may take several hours to achieve.  And, if what you use the program for is primarily to create high-quality photo-realistic renderings, then no it’s not a deal breaker when you compare it to the cost of programs that only do high-end renderings more quickly –they are MUCH more expensive.

This to me is a major improvement over the days it literally used to take back when Chief used PovRay. My ray traces then were not near the quality of what I can produce now. I recall times when I would be running a trace overnight, just to get up in the morning to discover it had crashed and had to start all over again. And this could go on for a day or two before I got any sort of results!  No amount of Photoshop finessing could fix major problems that I encountered back then. That was about the time many Chief users I know discovered other programs for rendering that were much more effective at ray tracing Chief views like Artlantis and Kerkythea (now Thea Render) both in terms of time and quality of output. Because my focus wasn’t directly on rendering in those days, I stayed with Chief which finally developed it’s own rendering engine, Phoebe, a few versions ago. It keeps getting better, but there are still some nagging problems that don’t seem to get better. Based on recent comments, the newest version, X5, still has some issues -so I won’t be upgrading from X4 right away. One great improvement in recent versions is how Chief handles transparent objects –particularly glass. Windows with light coming through into interiors and reflection and refraction of light through transparent materials like water and glass objects. Again –amazing accomplishments when you consider that it can now rival it’s more expensive software competitors.

The last few days I’ve been conducting a little research project of my own to analyze ray trace settings as they apply to a typical rendering I produce. I had two primary goals: #1 What do the different settings accomplish; and #2 How long the ray traces take when a given setting profile is applied to them.  Aside from establishing parameters to get the best possible results in the least amount of time, I can then use this information to standardize my rendering processes.  This will enable me to give more accurate quotes concerning time completion and cost estimates based on my cost of doing business.  It also allows me to create a high quality product at  a reasonable and competitive price –something I could not have done with the old PovRay rendering engine.  I’ve finally come to believe Chief’s Phoebe is powerful and stable enough to compete with the ‘big boys’.  Additionally, I feel I’m at a stage in my development as a program user  in conjunction with my artistic ability that I can maximize results and produce a viable service.  So are the stars aligned?  Well –about as close as they’ve ever been!

My approach to creating views and representing spaces is a little different than most other rendering professionals I’ve encountered because I place a higher priority in regard to the experiential aspect of the space by inclusion of decorative objects, textures and especially location-specific light quality.  This is the hallmark of my creations that I feel sets me apart from my competition and makes my renderings unique.  Thus, against the advice and comments I’ve found in the forum, I tend to use some large poly objects to the limit that my system will allow. (If I go over what my computer system is able to process, the screen just goes black, and I have to edit the plan until I come up with something that will not crash.) So to get the details I like (and I like a lot), I’ve discovered how to incorporate 2-d images –though it’s tough to get them to look realistic sometimes. So I use Photoshop to fill in shadows and touch up where needed. None of the attached samples have had any Photoshop work done on them so you may be able to tell objects that are actually 2-d images.

About the model used here: Each sample is the same plan with the same 800 x 600 pixel view. It was created in X4 32 bit (because I often use Sketchup models and Sketchup is a 32 bit program), and ray traced in the 64 bit version because it doesn’t hang up as easily.  The program is optimized for ray tracing over Chief drawing and drafting (a preferences setting for the program). The ‘adjust image properties’ has not been used on any of the traces either.  This is not the typical size of renderings I tend to create.  I chose this size for the expediency of running multiple traces.   Mine are usually much larger and can be up to 1920 x 1080 pixels.  I think if you could figure out what percentage the sample size is to your planned rendering size, you could adjust the expected ray trace time accordingly

There are 11 lights being used. The six vanity lights are point lights set at high quality with shadows with 60W bulbs. The three candles are puck lights flipped over, reduced to 1/2” diam. Point lights at 15W each. (still too bright- don’t know what to sub them with as that’s the lowest wattage available). There is one 4” diam recessed light on that is not in the scene that is 75W spot light. There is also an unseen 75W non-fixtured ambient light at 75W near the view’s station point at ceiling height. The sun is turned on as a light and colored orange to address the sunset.  Chief users are often confused about the number of lights you can use.  In ray tracing the number is not limited but each one slows down the process.  This is why kitchen and bath ray traces tend to take more time than other types of interior views.  Chief’s regular rendering (vector view) application is limited (usually to 8 lights) depending on the limitation of the video card’s memory.  Ray tracing doesn’t use the video card.  This difference is an issue of semantics because a ‘rendering’ is one thing and…. well… a ray trace is a rendering too… just different!

Some of the things that contribute to the long running times of this ray trace are a few high-poly objects.  These “poly hogs” have multiple polygon faces that may not be seen in the view but are part of what makes an object 3-d.  The more detail an object has, the more faces it has.   Also the bath water texture has a bump map applied.  This adds texture to an otherwise flat 2-d image so that it looks like it’s 3-d (the light areas are pulled forward and the dark areas are recessed).

All of the ray traces have some settings that are the same:  they are 800 x 600 size. For the ray trace settings: Under lighting tab -camera view settings is turned off.   Direct sunlight intensity is set at 5. Environmental light (outside) is enabled and is set at 5 and colored orange to address the sunset in the view.  The photon numbers where noted is the multiplier that is applied to the default ( not the actual number of photons).  Depth of field (F stop) is not used.

Standard and High Quality schemes:  “Use ambient occlusion” is checked  at the default settings (.3 to 1.0).

Laundry Day

Everyday is laundry day at my house.  There are four adults (me, my husband, my son and his significant other).  We process at least two loads a day in my large capacity HE laundry set.  The laundry room at left is not mine.  (Though I wouldn’t mind it if it were.) My laundry room doubles as my home office and sewing room.  It’s never quite as tidy.  It was one of the rooms that was part of our recent remodel that included turning an extra bedroom into a hobby/laundry room.

“For those of us who like to roll out pastry while watching the spin cycle…hehe..”

Someday when my son and his girlfriend move out, the home office will move into their old room.

My laundry room isn’t this big… but if it was! (

Until then, the laundry room is our multi-purpose room.

Laundry is not one of my favorite chores.  I don’t ‘enjoy’ ironing  or folding as some people claim to.  Though I’m grateful that I live in an age where technology really does most of the work.  I’m lucky to have a Whirlpool Duet Steam washer and dryer set that I purchased when we moved into our house.  The steam really does make a difference in the washer for making the clothes cleaner and getting out stains.  Even my daughter noticed when she was down visiting this summer.  HE as they may be (highly efficient), they are not cheap to run -especially if you use the steam functions.  What used to be a load that ran for 45 minutes to an hour now runs for an hour and a half to two hours.  While the machine gauges how much water to save, it still uses electricity that whole time.  That with the unbelievably high cost of sundries such as laundry soap, softener and the like, laundry has become expensive! 

I have recently been making my own laundry detergent .  It’s incredibly inexpensive and easy to make.  You get 576 loads (at 1/2 cup of the stuff per load) out of one batch that costs less than the price of a 50 ounce good quality HE liquid detergent bottle (that claims to do 32 loads).  I like that I know what chemicals I’m using and can make it as allergen free as the bar soap I use.   My first batch came out the consistency of jello, so I’ve had to cut back the bar soap to about a quarter of a bar.  (Actually thinking of switching to a liquid hand soap to avoid the jelling problem.)

If I had a laundry tub in my laundry room, it would look like this one.

I’ve also discovered a recipe for homemade fabric softener that uses inexpensive hair conditioner as the softening agent.  So far so good ~ clothes are getting just as soft and clean as they did with the expensive storebought stuff.  Though I think the steam feature of the washing machine has a lot to do with it.

My grandmother and my mom both had outdoor clotheslines.  Just think of the money and electricity we’d save if we dried our laundry that way.

My friend Glenna had her husband put up a line in the backyard.  She likes the fresh smell of the sun-dried, wind-blown linens.  She’s a collector of vintage glassware and tends to like  stuff from the Depression Era.  Her degree in sociology has not gone to waste since her retirement as a family counselor.  She now studies the culture of women and their crafts of the last century.  She’s enjoying her retirement as she quilts, sews and crochets beautiful pieces.  (Some of which I’m lucky to have.)  We’ve been friends for almost 30 years and have shared many trials and tribulations.  I think she’d appreciate this use of her clothesline (if need be… lol)

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.