My Cute Little Cottage

We bought a house! What, you didn’t know? We did. We bought our very first house, and somehow in this crazy buyer’s market, we got it for asking price. All the stars really aligned on this one. But because we’re not millionaires, it isn’t perfect. Its size is actually one of the reasons we managed to get it. You see, when you deal with a real estate agent, you get emails of listings customized to your criteria. If you want a minimum of 1000 square feet, you don’t get sent any listings for houses smaller than that. Our house is 995 square feet. It’s missing floor space half the size of a tiny closet so it fell off the radar of a  lot of people. So guys, if you’re looking for a house this way, put your limit lower than what you actually want. No use missing out on a great house over a lack of space smaller than a bath tub.

So yeah, this is a small house. It’s so small that when I google image search (I do a lot of this lately) “small house decore”, I get to look at the most glamorous houses twice the size of my own. Helpful, eh? But when it comes to any kind of art, there is no such things as problems. There are only new ideas, and new sources of inspiration. When your house is small, don’t be silly by trying to decorate it as though it’s a mansion. Yes, some very opulent pieces are great for balance and interest. But don’t lie to yourself. It’s just sad. Instead, focus on each aspect of your house in a positive way. Cottages are small. Cute little fairy houses are small. And those are awesome. They’re so charming and cute. So we’re going to go with that, in an adult-friendly way of course. We’re going to accentuate what we have in a way that makes it look like we wanted a tiny house the whole time.

Size doesn’t tell you shit about what it looks like though, so I’m going to go off the trail here a little bit and describe it to you. It’s a 1921 bungalow, with a garden for a front yard (yes the whole thing) and a charming back yard which we just discovered has an apple tree. Across the front of the house is a 4-season sun room. The living room is about 16 x 11, the same size we had in the apartment, with a pretty little fireplace with red and blue tile. Next to the living room is the master bedroom, which has french doors opening onto the sun room. Behind the bedroom is the bathroom and second “bedroom” (ie big closet because a bed can’t reasonably fit there), and behind the living room is a tiny formal dining room with built-in china cabinets on either side of the door. Going across the back of the house is an eat-in kitchen, with plenty of floor space but almost no counter space. It’s also yellow, and the appliances are so small I think they were made by Fisher Price. It needs work. But it has cork floors, which is super soft and eco-friendly. The rest of the house minus the bedrooms has the original hardwood floors, and original wood trim.

The house is in such great condition that it feels like walking into a 1921 house back in 1921. It’s solid, perfectly maintained, and original. The previous owners have all respected the house’s history, which is a huge thing for us. They left the lazy susan in the kitchen wall, and even the garage must be from about the 40s. On the day we moved in we found a whole pile of legal papers relating to every owner the house has ever had. It was the coolest thing ever. Other details include that the builders were perfectly aware they were building an over-sized doll house, so the master bedroom has a dresser built right into the wall with an ancient pull-out tie rack(!), and the stairs going to the fully insulated basement have a drawer in them for shoes. This is just genius, I highly recommend it. When we finish the basement one day, we’ll have twice as much space. I’m already jumping for joy over the storage. Nobody likes having useless shit in their face all the time when they live in an apartment. It’s half the reason our Christmas decorations were up half the year. There was simply no other place to put them. This by the way, is greatly remedied by decorating for christmas mardi gras style. It gives you 2 more months to leave that shit up without embarrassment. It’s also way more fun, and an excuse to drink more. I digress.

So that’s the plan, go with what we have in a positive way. We’re going to play up the small, not play it down. Here’s an example I’m particularly proud of. We have piano windows in our house. Another smart move by the builders, because you don’t want to look at your neighbor’s wall, but you still want to let light in. But the rule for curtains has always been that they should reach the floor or they’ll look like flood pants. With piano windows this doesn’t seem to make any sense. And I hate blinds. They bore me. Give me opulent luxurious curtains please. So we found ourselves a little stuck. Big curtains would look silly on our piano windows. Small ones would make it look like a basement. What I remembered then however was that when I was a kid, my mom (who goes on a different crafting kick every few years) would actually paint windows to look like stained glass. She could make real stained glass too, she did it a lot when she was a teenager. But you can actually create the look through special paint. It also peels right off, so it’s non-permanent and if the next owners are boring they can get rid of it in a snap. So here’s what we’re going to do. The bedroom is going to be stained-glass-painted in spider webs. This creates privacy while letting in the light, and is just awesome. It also ads that elegant little touch of “fairy house” without looking like a five year old designed it, and appeals to my gothic sensibilities, which refuse to let go. The larger windows, which we actually do look out of, will have spider webs painted in the corners, with pretty jeweled spiders hanging down, just to tie the whole thing together. I’m super excited for this. I’m a damn genius.

Keep in touch here to see how it all turns out, bit by bit. Then who knows, maybe you’ll see me on Nate Berkus’s “House Proud.”

Ribbon and Lace

About a month ago, we bought our first house. As I planned the boudoir I hoped to have (I got a joke of a second bedroom/large closet instead) , I accumulated a lot of ideas. Last night I had a dream where all the paint swatches I picked up had black lace patterns on them. But really, isn’t that kind of genius? Generally speaking, google image searches incorporating this idea aren’t that great. Maybe it’s because most people have really lame taste in colors so the rooms look like one giant doily, or maybe it’s because the pattern is too small to really discern. But I think there’s some real potential here. It’s just in how you apply it. You can go subtle, or you can go bold.

The most subtle way I can think of is using lace as a stencil to paint over your baseboards. I don’t need to go into too much detail here. But it would be a really cool little accent. You could also take it a step further and use it for the bottom half of your walls to give the effect of wainscotting, either lace itself or again as a stencil for a contrasting or complimentary color. Lace can be applied to your walls using starch, in a method that also allows you to wallpaper with beautiful fabric without any damage to your walls if you’re renting from a nazi. My favorite idea for lace at the moment is using wide lengths of lace ribbon to create vertical stripes. Now that I think of it, you could go gingham with this method too. That is if I’m not talking out my ass on this one. I’m sure some interior decorating genius could make it awesome. The easiest, most dramatic, and unfortunately most expensive method would have to be this. Don’t you just love this?? If I could afford all that lace I think my new big closet would look like this.

So what’s your favorite? Do you have any more ideas?

Now the next thing is something I already do but the picture above gives me ideas for expanding on that. Ribbon as storage. I’m not high. I have a LOT of flower hair clips. There is no box large enough to hold these things. So what I have is a wide gold ribbon from a christmas present hanging from the wall beside my dresser mirror. All my flower and feather hair clips are clipped to this ribbon. They’re easily accessible there and it looks great, like some sort of garland. Now I’m also thinking you can hang a ribbon horizontally to hold and display jewelry in a similar way. You can drape necklaces and bracelets over it. You bought this stuff because it was pretty, you might as well show it off. You could put it at the top or bottom of a mirror or picture, or on a bulletin board. And personally, I would be more inclined to put things back where they belong if it was just tossing them over a ribbon right in front of me. Otherwise I might just leave it on the dresser. I’m not a very neat person, you should see my dresser, it should be declared a national emergency. The other great thing about this is you can adjust your ribbon to the length you need. It’s very versatile, unlike a box that you have to dig to the bottom of and then it gets too small as you get more stuff. I’m really liking this. I think you should do it.