Thursday, June 25, 2009

We All Start Out Somehere: My First Laboratory

Let me start out this post by saying that I am trusting you here. I'm letting you in on where design all started for me, and it's not pretty. :) As designers/ homeowners, we all have our labs in which we experiment, our homes. I attribute so much of what I've learned today from my frist apartment after college. I think I did pretty much everything one SHOULD NOT do in decorating. hahahah I really probably shoudn't have even been ALLOWED near a paint can. So, I thought it would be fun to share some photos with you, but be ready for some scary stuff!

To begin with, let me tell you that I was aware that a home should have flow with colors & a tone that relates to one another throughout the rooms, but I totally disregarded this because I knew I would only be living there for a short time & I wanted to go crazy with colors, to experiment. And experiment I did...

We painted the living room was a bright olivey green (a fun color actually) I had lots of things from my grandparents who have travelled extensively in the East and got really "themey" around that. (like the Temple Rubbing, above.) I found the table below for $64 at my favorite thrift shop and was in LOVE with it until we broke it doing SAKI BOMBS on it. :( The poor little legs just gave right out!

I ended up replacing it with this one below. I also can't tell you how proud I was of the arrangement of mirrors. Virtually everything in the space was a hand-me-down so it never really felt like "me."

We painted the kitchen in a terra cotta and (here's where it gets bad) the dining room in BLUE. hahaha oh well... talk about flow! The rooms were fairly closed off from one another but from one point in the entryway, if you looked just right you could see all 3 colors at once. I kid you not, I kind of loved it & would stand there to see all 3 colors at once, telling my roommate, "Oh look! If you stand here it's like a rainbow!!!" hahahahaha

In the end, over the course of one short year, I painted my bedroom twice, my bathroom twice and the dining room twice, and I repainted my roomate's bedroom in a crazy mustard when she moved out because I thought I was going to stay there with my husband when we got married. (Although we ended up buying our townhouse.) At this point in time, I had "themes" for my rooms. (Please check out my post on kitsch here.) This room was going to be "Tuscan." :)

This was one of the most educational paint jobs we ever did. (To be honest, at the time I LOVED the bright mustard) We learned about faux painting & glazing & were able tone it down a bit more in our next house.

We also knocked over an entire gallon of paint on the white carpet and had to rip it out to expose the hardwood parquet underneath. Now, this was an apartment and when this happened, I did not expect to get my deposit back, but they did give it back!! WOW love them!

My bedroom started out a robin's egg blue. The color below is what I was going for & when the robin's egg blue went up I learned how much darker & brighter paint appears on walls than it does on the swatch. Again, really educational. The 4 poster bed was my first "real" purchase ever. It was from Bombay Company & I loved it.

This purchase & room redo happened about 10-11 months into the 1 year, so I wasn't there for long! Below, I also learned from studying these pictures, how to style. At this point, I didn't even read design magazines or books & really had no clue how to go about doing it. I just photographed the spaces exactlty as they were, without paying attention to how pleasing it would look in a photo.
When I painted the bedroom & bathroom a pale blue & got the Bombay bed, I would say it was at this point that I started getting a sense of what was "me." I repainted my bathroom a pale blue to match the pretty toile shower curtain I got from Restoration Hardware at a wedding shower. (below)

I wish I had photos for you of the dining room & kitchen. All the pics above were one of the first times I'd ever taken photos of interiors & I also have to say, I learned a lot about styling & angles & lighting from taking these shots. I learned you should try never to use flash (as I did in lots of these!! :) as it makes the room look dark & cheap. (But here's another trick-- I TOTALLY use flash in my "befores'!!! this is twofold: 1) the afters look way better in comparison, haha but 2) You get lots of detail when you're using them for referencing on projects)

Anyway, I think it's so interesting to see how we all start out at the beginning and have the ability to educate ourselves. It was through my experimenting & eventual education & reading-reading-reading that I began to grasp what good design was. I'm not going to kid myself though, I'm sure I'll one day look back on where I am right now & feel the same way I do about this apartment!! Our tastes are constantly evolving & we're constantly honing our skills.

I had to laugh when I read an article about Darryl Carter experimenting in his first DC condo and calling it his "laboratory." Well, his experimenting led to a spread in Met Home!! Like I said, we all start out somewhere!!