The Apartment Project: Serene Master Bedroom

As I logged on to Design Cents just now I was shamed to see that the last post was from Christmas. Yikes. How does the time slip away like that? I don’t even have kids yet! The tricky thing about having creative interests in more than one area, and, ya know, “dreams” that you’re still attempting to pursue at 32, is that you can so easily get stretched in several directions at once until you’re spread so thin you can’t even look up to see where you’re going. Suffice it to say, between working a full time job, auditioning for plays, working on graphic design projects, being a wife-sister-daughter-friend, serving in church, etc., my writing has sadly been neglected like an orphan that was in the back of the food line and there was nothing left by the time she got to the front. Sad analogy, I know, but that’s how I’ve viewed my little inner creative writing child – like I just have nothing left to give.

And you know what, that’s okay. I believe there are seasons for different things, especially when you have many different passions. It’s okay to focus on one thing for awhile and try to do it well rather than forcing yourself to split your focus so much that you’re not doing anything well. Just be sure to listen when you inner creative child is calling out for attention, and make some time for it when you can. So, in answer to my creative child, here we go…MB prep

There were a few things I knew I had to work with when decorating the master bedroom – we were not going to buy any new furniture, and we were not going to paint the walls. We already had a good, quality wooden bedroom set that Hal had inherited from his grandfather, and we didn’t want to have to repaint too many walls when we decide to move. So my main focus was the textiles and wall decor.

MB bed straight onThe blue-gray/turquoise color theme was carried through from the rest of the apartment. It is such a soothing, beautiful color, and really helped to create a serene feel in the master bedroom. I searched high and low for an inexpensive duvet cover that I liked, but sometimes you just have to pay a little more to get what you want. The porcelain blue lattice duvet was from Pottery Barn.

MB windowsThankfully, I was able to save a little money on the curtains, which I found at Target. Between the curtains is a lantern with a thousand paper cranes in it that we received as a marriage blessing from a friend.

I fell in love with an olive leaf and lavender wreath that Pottery Barn was selling, but it was around $80, so I decided to get creative and make my own. I purchased all the supplies from Michael’s for about $20 and put it together in less than an hour.

MB side tablePlaying with shapes can help to create visual interest. The two square mirrors above the side tables help balance the circular wreath, as well as bounce light around the room.

The art on the walls is a mix of very inexpensive options. Under the wreath hangs a handful of notecards of Impressionist paintings clipped to twine with clothing pins. We have a large poster of Monet’s “Water Lillies” framed on one wall, and a small print of “Le Printemps” by Pierre August Cot on another. Once you’ve seen the originals of these amazing works of art at the Met, they leave a lasting impression. For one of my birthdays, Hal printed and framed the poem, Ode to a Woman Gardening by Pablo Neruda, so that hangs on another wall.  MB angle with Monet

Our master bedroom is now a place of serenity and relaxation. We worked with what we had, adding a few key pieces in a soothing color scheme that makes it all cohesive. In the morning, the sun shining through the turquoise drapes almost makes it seem like we are floating under water on a sunny day. MB whole


The Apartment Project: Delightful Dining

In January, my husband, Hal, and I relocated from New York to central Florida to settle down closer to family. My parents graciously welcomed us into their home while we pursued jobs and got our ducks in a row before we could find an apartment. It was a wonderful, frustrating, patience-trying, lesson-learning four months’ wait before things finally fell into place. By the time we moved into our own apartment it felt like some magical dream come true. One huge perk of transitioning to Florida, is that for the same amount of rent we got about three times the space that we had in New York. Now that I have some space to work with, I can scratch that decorator’s itch and play. The Apartment Project series will focus on one room at a time as I decorate our new little home and attempt to overcome the challenges of apartment living.

Dining Room Before


We’ll start things off in the dining room. The first obstacle to overcome in moving into an apartment, is that sterile, “apartment white” paint color that is freshly slathered on every wall when you first move in. Our landlord allowed us to paint with the caveat that we had to repaint it “apartment white” before we moved out. Since it’s kind of a drag to paint and repaint, and it is not super cheap, we compromised by just painting the living and dining area to break up the white and help our main living spaces feel more cozy. We used Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray.



For years we had been living with a mishmash of hand-me-down, cheaply made, particle board furniture (what I like to refer to as “college style” living), so with this move we decided to start investing in quality furniture pieces that would stick with us for years to come. We purchased a modern farm-style table that seats six. It was important to us to invest in comfortable, upholstered dining chairs, because in our last place we hardly ever ate dinner at the table as a result of the painful, rod-in-your-back style chairs.

The two oil-paintings on the wall are original works by Mary Baker. Click on her name to check out her Facebook page, where she’s working on some exciting new digital art pieces. Her traditional oil paintings are a real treasure, and people usually mistake them for photographs at first glance.

Also displayed on the wall are some eclectic plates I had picked up from a thrift store in Brooklyn, a few postcards Hal had collected in Europe, and a fun nod to Shakespeare, our matchmaker. Hal and I were both actors, and it was through Hal’s production of As You Like It that we met. Shortly after we were married, we played Miranda and Ferdinand in The Tempest.

As a wedding gift we received four place settings of the wedding china we had picked out from Hal’s grandmother. Recently, I looked up that pattern to see if I could add more place settings to our collection, but that particular set had been discontinued. So I purchased white Strawberry Street plates from One Kings Lane, that can easily be layered in with the wedding china.

For a little something fun, I put up a chalkboard on the partition between the kitchen and dining room, where I like to write out the menu when we have guests over. MenuFinally, nothing finishes a space off like a fresh bouquet of sunflowers.Sunflowers

DESIGN FEATURE: Hand Lettering Artist Chris Wright

Handlettered 1A few months ago my brother turned me on to this company called Hand Lettering Co. I checked out their site and was immediately drawn in by the many wonderful designs of artist Chris Wright. He takes inspirational quotes and transforms them into hip pieces of art. His eye for design, balance and very cool fonts is exquisite, and his ability to execute his ideas is even more impressive.

I was surprised how inexpensive his prints are, and immediately ordered four 8 X 10 designs. They did not disappoint. In person, they were even cooler than online. Included in the packaging was a Handlettered 5charming little bag that contained a couple of stickers of his designs, and a Thank You note that said, “Our desire is that these goods that have made their way into your hands would be a blessing to you.” I thought to myself, “wow, this is a really special artist that not only takes great care with his work, but obviously cares about people as well.” I decided to reach out to him and see if I could do a blog feature about his work. He graciously agreed to let me interview him, and here’s what he had to say….

Handlettered 31. How and when in your life did you first become exposed to the art of hand lettering, and start to practice it yourself? I have always loved art and been particularly drawn to vintage/retro signs and their unique lettering. About two years ago, when I decided to branch out and start my own business, there were a number of hand lettering artists whose work I began to follow and keep up with. This inspired me to the point where that Christmas I started practicing the art myself by drawing various Scripture prints as gifts for family and friends. It just grew from there with more practice, trial and error, and an increasing enjoyment of the art.

Handlettered 22. Did you study something design or drawing related in college, or are you completely self-taught? I have mainly been self-taught. I took a few design classes in college, but nothing quite like what I am doing now. I like to keep growing in knowing and perfecting the art of hand lettering and design, so I enjoy taking various online classes and tutorials, as well as learning from other artists online and what they’re doing. There’s a wealth of wisdom available now in this age of internet and technology!

3. Do you have a muse? What inspires you? Much of my inspiration comes from old signs, labels, and packaging. I love the typography and the flourishes and detailing that can be found on some of the most random and likely forgotten pieces of the past. There are also so many brilliant lettering artists out there. I love to follow their work and that keeps me very inspired as well.

Handlettered 44. Currently, what is your process for creating a new piece? Do you start with a freehand sketch or work with a digital program? I always start with a hand drawn sketch. Then, once I’m happy with the sketch I will ink it. I like to have it as complete as possible while still in my sketchbook. After that I scan it, bring it into a computer program where I will add various textures or colors, depending on the piece and the style I am going for.

For more of Chris Wright’s process and work, go to the source. Visit Hand Lettering Co. and purchase some of these hip, uplifting, and beautiful designs. And as always, let me know what you think.


What To Do With Cards That Are Too Beautiful To Throw Away

Hals CardMy wonderfully generous mother-in-law loves to send us cards. It is not uncommon for my husband and I to each receive five beautifully curated cards for any given holiday. Now, these are not the kind of cards that you might pick out at the grocery store with a big “Happy Birthday” on the front, and a generic message inside. No, no. She has a knack for finding unique, high-quality notecards, that are blank inside and have a picture done by some fine artist or local photographer on the front. They are truly special and worth saving. But what to do when their initial shelf time is spent? I couldn’t bear to throw them away, so I’ve come up with some alternative options for artistic display.

Goodwill framesThe first is obvious, but worth demonstrating- frame them and display them as art. For an affordable and sustainable option, I went to Goodwill and scrounged up three rather outdated but cheap frames. I sanded them and painted them with a very inexpensive craft paint from Michaels.

darker purple pic


I wanted to combine two cards in the larger frame, so I asked about getting a custom matte cut and was quoted over $20. This was much more than I intended to spend, so I settled for the poor man’s matte- a 79 cent piece of heavy cardstock that I laid the pictures on top of. From far away you can’t tell the difference.

Two blue pics






Another alternative is to string a few cards together with twine and clothespins. This has a quirky, homey look and can be displayed vertically or horizontally. I recommend grouping cards with a similar look and feel.

Cards on string 2Cards on string







The third option I was unfortunately unable to demonstrate for you because it only works with a particular kind of furniture. If you happen to own a coffee table or side table that has a glass layer over wood, you can remove the glass, lay out a few beautiful cards as a collage and place the glass on top. This will add personality and uniqueness to your furniture, and it’s easy to change out.Card Dreams

So let’s put an end to throwing away those special cards just because the holiday has passed. Displaying them as pieces of art is sustainable, personal, and fun. What are some other ways you reuse cards?