As you probably know by now, I'm in the midst of designing a big renovation of my own on a small 1923 Spanish that we're enlarging with a 2nd story master suite and a more spacious, open floor plan living, dining and kitchen area. 

This is the vibe ... the architecture will be very spare and restrained, white walls with black trim, not a lot of ornamentation, letting the beauty and integrity of the Spanish architecture do most of the talking.  The decor will be that blend of traditional and mid-century, rustic and modern that I love so much ...

Lately I've been stumped about how to incorporate enough book storage into the new space.  I grew up a librarian's kid and a big reader, not to mention all the design and photography books that Marc and I tend to amass in our lines of work, and this doesn't even begin to address the kids' books that pile up all over the house ... we need bookshelves!

Since we're working with an open floor plan, there's not a ton of wall space for built-in bookcases.  Pretty much none, actually, because what limited wall space we do have becomes really important for hanging art to set the tone of our home.

I spent all weekend sifting through online images, trying to find a solution.  I toyed around with the idea of recessed shelving on the wall beneath the staircase, but decided that I really don't care for this look. I don't like the way it accentuates the triangular shape of the stair structure.

Storage beneath the stairs can look better when it's enclosed, especially in a home with lots of beautiful paneling and molding millwork ...

But in a Spanish home where the architecture is more restrained, more about expanses of smooth plaster walls and untrimmed arches with very little molding or ornamentation, to me the stairs become an important sculptural element.  See what I mean? ...

(all images via my pinterest board ... I told you I was a pinning madwoman)

I like the top and bottom images best, with no wood trim on the wall beneath the stairs, just white plaster and a beautiful and simple black iron railing.  It seems to me that with this look, to break up the wall below with any sort of storage or shelving would look busy and choppy and just wrong. (In fact, this exercise made me realize that I need to re-locate the laundry closet door from the wall beneath the stairs to another spot instead.)

So in the course of all my image research I think I may have arrived at a solution for getting the necessary book storage into our home.  I'm thinking a long, low shelf that wraps around the perimeter of the living room may be the way to go. 

I absolutely love the vibe of a room filled with books, and I also think the low ledge could be a really interesting way to display art. 

To pull this look off you'd have to be really honest with yourself about how your family lives, and whether the top ledge would be a constant catch-all for crap or whether you'd be able to keep an intentional, curated collection of art and objects there.  I think we might be able to swing it ...

So what do you think?  That's what I'm ruminating on this Monday morning :)  

Hope you're having a good one!


So you know how I've been coming at you all year long with little monthly DIY projects for the "Year of Change" designer challenge I'm a part of with some of my ultra crafty designer friends?  

(Last month's bookshelf styling challenge was a particularly popular one, along with my banana leaf powder room, though I loved the patio makeover and the stenciled entry too!)

For September we tasked ourselves with creating DIY wall art.  I made two paintings for a client's new guest room, a very lively and colorful space that was just begging for a bit of equally cheeky and playful art.

I've been known to dabble with a paint brush now and then, but I don't really call myself an artist, not in that sense anyway.  Yes I decorate homes which is obviously a highly visual job, but at least half the time when I try my hand at my own DIY wall art, I end up hating the results.  Which I guess means that about half the time I think it might be kind of sort of ok?

At any rate, when I make art for a client it's usually just as a placeholder because often their goal is to gradually build up their "real" art collection over time, but we need something on the walls in the meanwhile.  This way I don't feel the pressure to create a masterpiece, and they know they can always change it out for something they like better!

So as part of this month's design challenge, I first made a painting that is (very) loosely based on an Alexander Calder I saw come across my Instagram feed one day (hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right!?)  I love the poppy orange and the deep cobalt blue and how they echo the color palette of the bedroom ...

Here's a sneak peek of the rest of the room so you can see the larger context ... sorry but I can't show you more because the entire house will be featured in next month's Rue Magazine!  Eek!

This is the real deal Calder ... obviously better than mine by miles, buy I'm cool with that :)

And then I painted this little guy to kick it on the little orange lacquered desk ...

Both frames were thrift store finds.  I've told you before that I never pass up an interesting frame when I'm out thrifting, no matter how ugly the art within it is.  Custom framing is such an expense that it's worth gathering good frames when you find them and then sourcing (or making) new art to fit.  (See this post for what constitutes a "good" frame.)

Looking for more DIY art inspiration?  Check out my DIY abstracts round-up, a DIY wall mural approach,  and the large-scale photos that I love to hang.

And be sure to check out the handiwork of my fellow designers in this challenge round!

*Tricia and Erin the Suburban Bitches


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