Wainscoting wishes

An amazing, beautiful, fantastic thing has happened around my home recently.  Remember how I was pining away for wainscoting up my stairwell….well…finally, FINALLY, after almost five years of living in our home, my wainscoting wish has come true.

First, let’s take a look back at what we started with.

When we first moved in, the front hallway and stairs had dark trim and industrial, grayish-white on the walls.  Dreary, dreary, dreary.

Then, a couple of years later, my color-fearing husband decided he wanted to go bold or go home in the foyer so I took him up on his offer and painted it the deepest, most delicious red I could find, offset by white trim. (pay no attention to the man in the closet…he’s just building shelves and this is apparently the only picture I have of our stairwell pre-wainscoting.)

Now, let’s take one more look at my inspiration photo.  This is a scan of a page ripped out of a Pottery Barn catalog year ago that I have kept in a home folder ever since.  I used it many times to show exactly what I wanted to multiple people who came through my front door.  You would be surprised how many people equate wainscoting with beadboard…which could look nice in some foyers, but is decidedly too rustic a look for our home.

Probably the most important feature to me in the picture above is the chair rail cap along the top of the wainscoting.  Since our stairs go around a corner and the banister only goes half way up, we’ve needed something to hold onto for fear for hurtling down the stairs for a long time now.

So how did my wainscoting wish come true?  After hemming and hawing over it for years and finally deciding to nix the DIY route for fear or truly messing it up, we decided to go the professional route.  Well it turns out our neighbor across the street is a fine carpenter and it turns out that he finally didn’t have a better paying job (bad for him, good for us) and so he finally had some time to come over and do some fine wood working.  First, he pulled off the existing molding –  you can see what I mean in the pictures below.

Then he mapped out exactly where the panels would go so that he had a better idea of what materials he needed to purchase.

After mapping everything out, my neighbor got 1/4 inch plywood and cut it to match the guidelines he had put up the stairs.  Then installed 1/2 inch plywood stiles.  Of course our walls are 100+ years old a a fair bit wonky, so there was some wood shaving going on as well to make sure everything fit well.

Of course, I failed to get ANY more in progress pictures which is a shame but I can at least explain it to you all, so not a total loss…and who are we kidding here…what you REALLY want to see is the final result, right?  Right??

Ok…without further ado…here is the final result:

Um.  Hellllooooo G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S!! So how did he do it?  After installing the plywood backing and the stiles, he went about cutting and installing a bazillion pieces of trim along the inside of each of the sections.  After that, he added the chair rail to the top and then as a final touch (that we certainly wouldn’t have done were this a DIY project and which totally makes the whole thing amazing) he added trim along the bottom of the chair rail.

Below is a detail shot (albeit blurry) of the trim he added below the chair rail.  Can you see the itty-bitty, teeny-tiny piece he did to wrap around the corner?  I mean really!!  This is an expert job, people!!

Another detail we were the beneficiaries of since we didn’t go the DIY route was that he shaved the existing window sill down to exactly match the chair rail and look like one seamless piece heading up the stairs.

I can not even begin to express to our neighbor my gratitude for this amazing transformation.  It is everything I ever thought it would be and more and there is NO WAY we would have come up with the same result on our own.

So…what potential DIY projects have you passed off to a professional and was it worth it?

Tags: , , , , ,

The Art of the Display

I've been thinking quite a lot about how I'll display my hundreds of prints, posters and artful pieces when I move into my new home. I know it's unhealthy to house such an artsy obsession (and certainly not storage-friendly!), but I flock to a pretty picture like bees to honey. Or something like that.

Anyway, I've got a few options for art displays. Care to join in on the decision-making process?:

What do you think? Any display inspiration I've missed, and how do you display artwork in your own home? Spill in the comments below!

All photos via Pinterest.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Memory Keeper’s Wall

I've shared before my love for a good gallery wall.  Below is one we installed in our home earlier last year.  I like that you can easily change out the pictures to go with the seasons or with what is relevant in your life.  And I like the eclectic look of mixed frames on the wall.


I've also shared how much I adore this simple installation above the fireplace.  The grid keeps everything from looking too chaotic; creating a large focal point over the mantle.


So it is only natural, that I want to share this installation with you all because it inspires me every time I see it. This is a small reading area directly across from the galley kitchen in my in-law's home in Pittsburgh.  For all other intents and purposes, my mother in law can be considered a minimalist.  While she has some pieces that she displays, there certainly is not an ounce of clutter in her home.  Which is why it is always so pleasantly surprising to happen across this room in the kitchen. 

The display of pictures is vast and yet never overwhelming.  Instead, with the cozy couch and fireplace it becomes a wonderful place to sit and congregate while meals are being prepared.  The walls of photographs are a family history lesson with snapshots from vacations and posed pictures from weddings.  I remember the very first time I "made it" onto the wall…I knew long before I was ever engaged to my husband that I was part of the family because up on the wall was my smiling mug releasing a hawk in Scotland while on a family vacation.


Each photo is displayed in an acrylic frame with a cardboard insert.  Upon removal of the cardboard insert, each photo has the relevant information…the who, what and where, of the photo.  Yup…that's me taking a dive out of a plane three years ago!


Perhaps the thing I appreciate the most about these walls is that no matter how many times I have visited and no matter how long I have stayed, I still find new things to look at every time I sit there.  It is a conversation starter for those people who have graced the wall themselves for years just as much as it is a conversation starter for anyone who is new to visiting.  And isn't that what home design is all about?  Creating comfortable spaces that encourage conversation and instill a feeling of warmth?  


 Have you ever seen something like this in a home you've visited?


(photos: 1, 3-6: Miriam Z. Bradford; 2: James Merrell)

Tags: , , , ,

A Gallery for Every Home

Not too long ago I created a gallery around a reading nook in my dining room.  I wrote about the entire process here if you interested in the logistics of getting something like this together.  Ever since first spying the gallery that inspired me, I have been drawn to other galleries in other spaces.  It is a transformative application that really can be successfully incorporated into any style.

This gallery of found objects interspersed amongst various styles of frames is a wonderful accent to an eclectic, yet classic room:


Tags: , , , ,