30 January 2010

m21's 72 hour guest room makeover

yikes! last week, m21 was honored to find out an intern from the nearby belgian consulate would be staying with us for 3 months, but our guest room was hardly ready for any guest, let alone a long term one- it was basically empty, not even a bed, so we had to start from scratch to furnish it. to make the whole situation even trickier, m21 found out on monday that he was having a guest who was arriving on thursday, leaving us only 72 hours to transform our extra bedroom from drearily empty to fully furnished fabulousness! plus, m21 had to try to make it as chic as possible- don't want anyone reporting back that american decorators aren't as good as those from the continent!

the entry vestibule of our guest room, accessorized with items pulled from other areas of the atelier. we didn't repaint this tiny anteroom, as the blue-gray matches the hall that leads into into it. you might be thinking that a bowl of fruit is an odd accessory for a bedroom, but m21 likes to make sure guests from different timezones have water as well as something to nibble on, should they they wake up jet-lagged at 4 in the morning; that way they don't have to stumble downstairs and rummage through a strange kitchen to stop their tummies from rumbling...

needless to say in addition to the time constraint, budget was also an issue in our guestroom transformation. in the past, our trusty aerobed is where we've consigned our guests (hey, if you are staying here for free, you can hardly complain, right?) but an aerobed is hardly suitable for an extended stay, so we knew we'd have to lay out several hundred bucks for a bed from ikea; which in turn, meant that all the other furnishings had to be cheap, cheap, cheap. (did we mention they should be cheap?) so armed with little more then sweat and fairy dust, m21 set out to furnish his guest room on a budget and a deadline!

our starting point for the project was paint, and you've heard this next bit of advice from a million sources, but m21 is going to repeat it again: when decorating, paint provides the the biggest impact for the least amount of money. normally when conceptualizing a room, m21 likes to start with a piece of furniture for his inspiration; every designer is approaches conceptualization differently- some start with a fabric or wallpaper, or art or a treasured accessory; our old boss always started with a rug, and we once attended a lecture once where a very prominent decorator said she started with nature, a leaf or a stone found on the property (which we thought was odd- most "big" job sites are nothing but dirt in the planning stages so who'd want to start with that?), but anyway, you get the idea, and in a fairly radical departure for us, instead of starting with a piece of furniture, we started this time with paint (heck- we didn't have any idea of what furniture we'd end up with anyway!)
the room was stark white with one blue-gray wall to tie it to the entry vestibule. since maison21 is NOT a fan of an accent wall and has never been sure why he painted it that way to begin with, the gray had to go! (shown here primered over). we also knew that white walls were probably not the best choice so we would need to repaint; the room will be sparsely furnished, and while white walls look great with a minimalist look if the pieces are all of museum quality, but with our planned mix of thrift store and ikea, they would probably just make it all look junky and cold... :-)

we also started off in a way we'd NEVER recommend for others- rather than testing out swatches on the wall to see how they will look in the space and react with the light (truly, the only way to find the right color), we just purchased a gallon straight from a tiny swatch in our fan deck, and went for it. to make things worse, it was a color we've never used before, so we were really taking a chance! but sometimes rules are made to be broken in these types of unusual situations; plus we are confident enough in our mad decoratin' skillz that we knew whatever color we picked, we could work with it, or even around it, if necessary.

when we paint, we roll on our wall color almost to the corners, then freehand the edges- tape is for sissies! just kidding we use tape all the time, but when dealing with the ceiling, it really is easier to freehand a straight line- just use a 1-2 inch angled brush, fully loaded with paint, and go! make sure the brush is of very good quality though, or fahgeddaboutit- use tape in that case.

we choose benjamin moore #1183 camelback, hoping for a classic masculine camel color as backdrop for our guest, but what we got when we put it up on the walls was more toffee then camel- almost too dark- but what the heck, the room is sunny enough to handle dark walls, and in a happy accident kind of way, we even liked it better then what we had originally envisioned (not that we really had a choice at this point with only 48 hours until our guest arrived- we were living with it, no matter what!) oh and btw, in the interest of saving time, we sprung for the premium one coat coverage base- which was total BS- it took us 3 coats to cover, same as always, when painting a saturated color over white! next time we'll save the bucks and use the cheap base.

while we were waiting for the paint to dry between coats, we then hit the local thrift stores to see what we could rustle up for furniture! at our first stop, we picked up a big art glass floor vase (with some flowering branches, a floor vase is a great way of taking up space in a sparsely furnished room), and at our second stop, we picked up a pair of battered black 70's campaign-style chests, as well as a black and white ceramic lamp, and thus our theme was set- black and white was the order of the day! it would be pretty against our toffee walls (we hoped). we also picked up a vintage painting for $25 bucks- the colors were all wrong, but we could fix that with a coat of the same white paint we were using for the trim of the room. then off to ikea for a bed and mattress, and in the interest of saving money, instead of springing for an ikea platform bed to sit the mattress on, instead we purchased a box spring and a $19.99 black box spring cover with which to disguise it. not a perfect solution, but cute enough, and far cheaper then buying an ikea bed we didn't really want anyway!

we had a fantasy about refinishing these chests, but 72 hours is not enough time for that kind of decorating perfection, so we just cleaned them, then touched up the chips with a sharpie (it's a trick we learned from an professional antiques restorer, so it's not such a half-assed solution as it sounds). m21 finds that people get scared of the battered and damaged, but once you put a bunch of stuff on and around the less then perfect piece, the little scuffs and dents are never even noticed...

last, once we got everything all pulled together, we thought our black, white and camel (ok- toffee) scheme was a actually a little bland; not even the fresh flowers we had added provided enough pops of color... (tip- flowers *always* class up a joint; even a budget makeover gets a 'lifestyle" lift from them!) so we typed "rug" into craiglist to see if we could find something- anything- with a spot of color to help out. thank goodness we found a vintage danish rya rug located not so terribly far away. it had a lovely gradation of blue tones, which would work perfectly with our walls, and was the perfect size for our oddly shaped room. it was also a splurge on our budget, but sometimes you just gotta bite the bullet and buy the pretty, ya know? and talk about last minute- we literally purchased and spread it out with minutes to spare before our guest arrived! like our chests, rug wasn't in perfect condition, but it was clean and colorful, and since the bed would be covering a big chunk of it, it really didn't need to be flawless...

so are you ready for the reveal?


and after:

not so bad we think, and the best part is our guest really likes it!

the painting in photo you may recognize, as we painted and posted about it last year; art glass floor vase we bought specifically for the room and filled it with papyrus snipped from our front yard; the chic vintage white chair we borrowed from a friend who had it tucked away in their garage; and the table we made with our own two hands when we took a woodworking class way back in the 90's- it's been stored in a closet for years, as it doesn't really go with our decor anymore, but we can't just get rid of it since we nearly lost a finger while making it! (not really, but we did discover while taking the class that table saws terrify us, so it easily *could* have happened... ;-)

nightstand ain't so bad cleaned up, is it? told ya so! same for rug! vintage ceramic lamp is topped with a black and silver target lampshade we bought about a dozen of while they were on clearance, many, many years ago; our stock is just about gone now, but talk about a well spent $3.99 (each). they sure are versatile!

the vintage painting was an ugly still life- we painted the whole thing black, including frame, then applied thin artist's tape for the lines and coated the canvas portion with the same white house paint (pratt and lambert "designer white") we used on the trim- all done on the floor of the bedroom while we were painting the walls- talk about multitasking! the duvet and pillows, we again picked up at our beloved target while they were on clearance a few years back (we purchased new white sheets and towels for our guest at target too; we think the thomas o'brien towels are surprisingly good quality for the price, and guests should always have plenty of clean white towels). on the nightstand are a stack of books, as well as a scented candle- m21 thinks reading material and a scented candle are musts in a guest room, in addition to the fluffy white towels and fresh flowers. we also like to provide a robe (pilfered from past vacation spots) for our guests to lounge in, because who has room in their luggage to pack a robe? but they sure are nice to have at your destination...

well, now y'all know why m21 was rather light in his posting last week- hard to type while holding a paint brush! whaddya think of our makeover? would y'all be brave enough to paint and redecorate 72 hours before a guest arrives? is maison21 a crazy fool for even attempting it?

29 January 2010

cheap 'n chic pillows: unison sale

m21 loves a cheap n' chic accent pillow- such an inexpensive way for anyone to to perk up a tired room- there is always room in the budget for a pillow, y'know? so this morning when we received an email alerting us to these simple, modern, and cheerful pillows on sale at unison, we had to share. m21 particularly loves the bolster version at $25 bucks a pop. yum.

24 January 2010

m21 loves pets on furniture! (and *you* can help them get comfy)

are y'all familiar with desire to inspire's series of posts of "pets on furniture", run on mondays? if not, and you are an animal lover (or a furniture lover, for that matter), get on over there- the photos will warm your pet and furntiure lovin' hearts! last monday, kim and jo were kind enough to feature richard in their post and this week, we sent them this picture of mona, happily resting on our living room sofa, in hopes they'd like to include it in this monday's feature:
"cute picture", you are probably saying to yourself (how could you think anything else? mona doesn't take any other kind, naturally ;-). you might also be wondering "what's up with the bags of dog food sitting in for a pair of decorative pillows on the end of your sofa, m21?" and no, maison21 is not being sponsored by purina. the bags are there because mona, as well as every other animal who ever came out of a los angeles county SPCA animal shelter, all need your help to make sure their cousins currently awaiting adoption don't go hungry...

you see, last week, the los angeles times home section ran the most disturbing article about how the SPCA animal shelters in los angeles county are running out of food for the animals in their care and are seeking emergency donations. that's right- running out of food- in the second largest city in america! according to the article, the shelters didn't include money for food in their budget because they've always been supported by corporations who donated the food for free; but this year, due to the recession, the corporate donations stopped. couple that with the enormous amount of animals being turned in to our shelters due to the foreclosure crisis in southern californa, and now the shelters have had to turn to the public for emergency donations of food to keep their little charges fed. hence the dog food bag throw pillows- we are taking them to administrative offices of SPCALA tomorrow morning and we are hoping that our blog friends in southern california will do the same at the shelter closest to them. the animal loving gals over at desire to inspire have generously agreed to put the word out about the situation here in southern california by linking their vast readership to the LA times article, (and this post) in their weekly "pets on furniture" post tomorrow, and if anyone else out there in blogland would care to do the same, i know we could make a difference...

mona, m21, and all the other SPCALA pound puppies, past, present and future, thank you from the bottom of their furry, tail waggin', little hearts. now move those bags off the sofa, please- mona needs to get comfy!

21 January 2010

all over the place... (rainy days and mondays always get me down)

greetings from wet and soggy los angeles! m21 has been a bad blog-father this week- hardly posting, as well as ignoring comments and emails (sorry) but you'll have to forgive us- we've been a bit all over the place lately- as in physically, mentally and emotionally, all over the place!

m21 feels like he needed a boat/car this week! the cool amphibicar picture from wired- all sorts of great obsolete gadgets in their post, if you like that sort of thing (we do), you should check it out.

we started off the week reading a facebook status update by our nephew complaining about his sucky monday: had his wisdom teeth pulled (ouch), the san diego chargers lost the playoffs, dashing his superbowl hopes yet again (oh dear) and oh yeah- his mom was in the hospital because she was in bad car accident. what?!? thank goodness, the painkillers addled his brain a bit- his mom was in a car accident, but my big sis was ok, and NOT in the hospital. she was driving home from northern california, and while winding through the grapevine, lost control of her car in the heavy winds and rain that have been pummeling southern california this week. her car hit the guardrail, but miraculously, she was unhurt and no other cars were involved. m21 hopped in m21mobile and drove to gorman (ie, the middle of nowhere) to rescue her. not what he had planned for a rainy monday, but he was certainly happy he was able to do it, and that his sister was ok. shook up, but ok. yay!

m21 hates, hates, hates, driving in the rain. those of you in other parts of the country may find this amusing as it's inescapable fact of everyday life, but sorry, we shouldn't have to do it here in sunny southern california- it just ain't right!
they say any accident you can walk away from is a good accident, and while that's true, m21 thinks perhaps to avoid them, maybe here in southern california, people just shouldn't drive in the rain at all. maybe we can have "rain days", like they have snow days in other parts of the country. m21 isn't criticizing his sister's driving by making this statement- far from it- she merely tried to avoid hitting another car who fishtailed into her lane, causing her to react and and spin out, but that's kind of our point: we southern californians shouldn't drive in the rain because we don't get enough practice to be any good at it! like anything else in life, be it driving or decorating, the more you do it, the better you become at doing it, plain and simple- so by having only half a dozen chances to practice every year, even the best drivers in LA can't ever get enough "rain time" to be any good! so we should just stay home!

hence "rain days"- an idea whose time has come! people can stay home and enjoy the weather from the safety and comfort of their living rooms. that's what m21 was going to do before he ended up driving to gorman (it was a real holiday- MLK day- remember? so we weren't even playing hooky or nuffin'). we even planned ahead for our rain day, buying logs for a roaring fire and some cheap n' cheery daffodils to perk up the gloom of the week's worth of storms being forecast...
note to self: when the skies are black, and the winds are blowin', daffodils just don't cut it. stick to hot toddies for rainy day cheer, m21!

during the continuation of the storm yesterday, in between mopping up soaked windowsills (our southern california homes, like our drivers, aren't prepared for rain either- virtually everyone m21 knows had water coming inside their homes this week!), m21 cleaned and polished a pair of lucite lamps who will be eventually headed for a client's bedroom. they still need to be rewired, but they are so pretty in our dining room (yes, we had to test drive them), we might wait until the skies clear up to drop them off at the lamp shop! ;-) and speaking of clients, one of our other clients took a "rain day" today themselves, and rescheduled our meeting for next week- our idea is obviously spreading!
normally, we try to style our photos a bit better, but we had our "decorator" bag out to remember to take to our canceled client meeting, and forgot it was in the frame, so please excuse the level randomly poking up on the left... this picture wasn't taken at night btw, but at 4 o'clock in the afternoon- it's *that* stormy here...

in fact, we almost canceled one of our own appointments today too (a haircut), as it was still raining cats and dogs this morning, but in this case, we're glad we didn't take a "rain day"- not only was our big bush of hair making us look positively homeless, our inner junque whisperer™ told us to stop by one of our favorite junque shoppes after the appointment since we had a block of free time due to the canceled client appointment! yay! and are we ever happy our inner junque whisperer™ is like the US mail and never stops for rain, sleet or snow, as we found a seriously cool piece of needlepoint art! m21 has had a hankerin' for some vintage needlepoint to hang in the atelier, but everything he has run across has been too "gramma" for his tastes, so this lil' number fits the bill pretty nicely. we wish "anne" had used white for the background of her "pottery" masterpiece so it would work in our breakfast nook a bit better, but no matter- it was cute, and cheery for a bargain price, so we'll enjoy it until we put it in the marketplace for someone else to snatch up!
framed in blue lucite, no less!
well, we warned you this post would be all over the place in the title right? funny, sometimes we get annoyed reading other blog posts that skip all over the place- "wait? where did the needlepoint come from? i thought we were talking about rainy days?"- but somehow, today, on our own blog, it seems appropriate- car crashes, daffodils, lucite, needlepoint and all... maybe because it's still storming outside, and the unusual weather has left us a bit more unusually scattered then normal...

we leave this hot mess of an "all over the place" post with a pop classic by the immortal karen carpenter. keep dry, and stay happy (and focused), people!

19 January 2010

this made me laugh...

because m21 knows the owner of this tongue all too well... (heck, if you take away the bent plywood and vinyl toy receptors, it could even be our own)!
via core77, but we found it through a bunch o' good folks on twitter...

17 January 2010

sweets for the sweet!

last weekend, m21 had the honor of attending a birthday party for his sweet little friend lucy, as she celebrates her 3rd year of life, and let me tell you- if you are ever in a bad mood, go find a dozen kids under the age of 5 to hang out with for a couple of hours- instant happy! if there had been puppies or kittens at the party, m21's cold little heart might have burst from happy/cute overload!
not that m21 saw much of the kids, because outside of sitting down to eat some cake, they could barely be pried out of the bounce house! that was okay- just watching them go bananas inside, and hearing their laughter was fun enough!

the birthday girl, while not so interested in actually exiting the bounce house, was nice enough to occasionally come to the mesh sides and bestow a kiss or too. m21 called them "prison kisses" for obvious reasons (don't tell me m21 is the only one to have kissed loved ones though prison bars on visiting day? everyone has done it, right?)

this little cutie, rogan, actually came out of the bounce house to greet m21 with a wordless hug and scurried back inside. he is the happiest little guy on the planet.

rogan's adorable big sister grayson (with her uncle javi) is every inch the princess as you can tell, and she is sporting a crown she stickerized herself at the crafts table. um, bounce house and crafts table? when m21 was a kid the only thing we had at our birthday parties was cake, and we were lucky to get it! and we walked 5 miles in the snow to get to school everyday too! even summer school!

here is the birthday sweetheart blowing out her candles- i don't know if mommy is actually so much helping lil lucy blow out the candles, as she is restraining her from running back into the darn bounce house before the last chorus of "happy birthday" was even finished!

which brings us to the second sweet reason for this post besides the birthday sweetheart- that cake! when maison21 saw it, he went absolutely crazy for how gorgeous it was, with pretty flowers made of dried pineapple and fresh strawberries, and the artisanally applied frosting- just rustic enough to almost appear home baked, but too polished to really be homemade, unless you are friends with martha stewart! maison21 has been dreaming of it ever since- not only did it look terrific, it tasted terrific too- dense vanilla cake filled with berries and whipped cream frosting. yum! when m21 asked where the cake came from, he found it it was baked by one of the guests, bethany kenyon, who along with her husband jonathan miertschin, just recently launched their own baked goods business, daisy mae sweets and treats.

bethany also whipped up a bunch of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for the kids, which were equally as yummy (and as pretty) as the cake. m21 truly loves how the look of bethany's creations, straddles the line between homemade goodness and slick professional catering. doesn't hurt that they are delicious too, but as in most things, for m21, appearance is (almost) everything, so daisy mae's aesthetic is particularly appealing- just look at the pictures- we're sure you will agree!

m21 was so impressed with the treats, he wanted to share them with y'all, in case any of you in the southern california area might need some sweetness for your next special occasion. next time maison21 is asked to bring a dessert, he is ordering one of bethany's pies, and swearing he made it himself...

be sure to visit daisy mae's website, to see even more of bethany's mouthwatering creations!

ok- gotta go. we're starving now!

16 January 2010

a milestone?

or a monkey on my back?

1001 tweets, and every single one, a 140 character masterpiece. swear.

15 January 2010

i ♥ LA

how can you NOT love a city where you can have a staring contest with a french bulldog wearing sunglasses while stopped at a red light?
snapped on my way home from the PDC

14 January 2010

tobi, tobi, tobi!

2010 is going to be a shiny new year after all! one of my favorite blog writers has rebooted her laptop and started blogging again after an absence of far, far, too long. if you haven't visited tobie et al before her recent hiatus, do make a point to visit now that she's back, as tobi's writing is not to be missed. it's laugh out-loud funny, sometimes dark, sometimes even inscrutable, but always, always entertaining, and one of best, most original blog voices out there. i may not always get what she's talking about, but i "get" this woman. love her.
tobi's new boyfriend from her latest post...

and fer crissakes, someone give tobi a book deal! i have no idea what she does for a living while working for 'mr. fussypants', but i don't think she's being paid to write, and that is a crime. for now though, go visit her blog while she's still toiling for free...

13 January 2010

5 bucks to help...

everyone can afford $5 to help earthquake relief efforts in haiti- text "yele" to 501501, and 5 dollars will automatically be billed to your cell phone, or if you'd rather donate with a credit card, or donate a larger sum, click here.

12 January 2010

guess who?

you might think this is a pricy albrizzi box from a fabulous and chic modern design store like moss or twentieth, but you'd be wrong.

le tarjay. $9.99.

you're welcome.

09 January 2010

a year in the life of a room... (and a wee bit of design philosphy)

well, a year and a half in the life of this room, actually...

in the summer of 2008, the late, great domino magazine sent out emails to bloggers asking for shots of their homes for inclusion in a feature on blogger's homes for their october 2008 issue. of course, when domino asked, m21 scurried to take some snaps! unfortunately, m21 didn't make the cut for domino but all was well, as the pictures ran later online on the material girls blog, and were also published offline, accompanying our 'blog watch' profile in home plus scotland magazine.

the reason we mention this, is this morning we snapped the same basic angle of our living room to give a potential buyer an idea of the scale of a chinoiserie screen offered in our marketplace (as you know, that's our favorite part of our "catch and release" personal decorating- we get to use pretty stuff and then pass it on before our decorating ADD gets bored with it!). our living room is basically the same in both photos you'll note- we just moved a few things around, and shifted out one dramatic piece (the etagere) for another (the screen). maison21 is a firm believer in using a dramatic, large scale "something" in a room whenever possible- be it a screen, a sculpture, a painting, an unusual etagere- there should be something big(ish) and a little unusual, to catch the eye and spark conversation. (you can tell by the pictures, we also enjoy the small things- never met a tchotchke we didn't like!)

by switching one major element, m21 thinks the room feels a bit different in each photo, yet hopefully preserves the eclectic vintage modern/traditional tension we love to use in our own personal decor. for m21 and his magpie nature of collecting the newest, shiniest bit of pretty, change comes fairly naturally, but he doesn't think anyone needs to be tied to a particular piece, or to a exact room arrangement. rooms can be fluid and grow, yet still retain the overall look and style you hope to achieve, after changes are made... in other words- if your room isn't perfect now, it can be in the future if you keep working on it, changing and rearranging; and if it is pretty darn close to perfect at this moment, don't be so tied to it that you never attempt to make it even better! it's all part of the fun of decorating...

summer, 2008

january, 2010

which version do y'all like best? or neither? m21 won't take offense- promise! it's all likely to change soon anyway!


maison21 grew up in southern california, and the weather here just isn't hard to predict- if the sun is shining, it's nice outside. easy, breezy.
sunny = warm

so that is why m21 just can't wrap his head around the weather forecast on his google homepage for his friends back east- if the little sun icon is not obscured by clouds, in our mind, that means it should be warm outside! honestly, we have trouble fathoming 24 degrees, yet sunny! it just doesn't seem right, unless we have pieces of fiberglass strapped to our feet and are zooming down a mountain. even then, that sh*t is cold...
same sun icon, two wildly different outcomes

and no we aren't trying to gloat- just observing that sunny and below freezing is a foreign concept to us. it's just plain weird... (those of you with frostbitten noses can return the sentiment in kind when the san andreas fault finally blows and m21 slides into the ocean).

perhaps the stupidest product of all time, yet we kinda wish it did get cold enough here to buy one for mona ;-)

in the meantime, stay warm, kids. wrap yourself (and your best friend) in a snuggie, curl up with a good book, or your favorite trash tv, and enjoy your day from the safety of a warm bed- and if it lasts much longer, should m21 make up the guest room for you?

07 January 2010


if you didn't look so guilty every i walk into the room, i wouldn't constantly suspect you of being up to no good! remember, the ashy paws incident was only a month ago, so you are still on probation, buster!