Month: July 2014

Entryway Damask Wall: A Tutorial

As promised, here is a closer look at the focal wall in the entryway.  I knew I wanted something unique – something to add energy as soon as you walked in the door.  The Mister suggested painting it crimson. Frankly, I wasn’t at all surprised by his suggestion, since crimson is his favorite color.  If he had it his way, our whole house would be decorated in crimson, gray, and white as an homage to our favorite college football team, but I digress.

Mister’s other suggestion was to do something with a damask print, since the rug in our dining room is a tone-on-tone gray damask, and it would help the spaces flow nicely without being too matchy.  Again, he suggested CRIMSON damask, but I told him that in the interest of keeping our house from looking like a bordello, we might want to try a more neutral color.

Ultimately, we decided to go with Martha Stewart’s “Seal” – the color we had used above the board and batten in the dining room.  It’s a lovely smokey gray with quite a brown cast.  It’s very warm and welcoming and it pairs nicely with the ever-present builder beige the previous owner painted in EVERY room of the house (It’s like the orthopedic shoe of paint colors – incredibly practical, and incredibly boring).  “Seal” has been discontinued, but in my experience the paint formulas are still in the Home Depot computers, so you can likely have it mixed up in Glidden paint.

My next step was to find a damask print that was fairly simple, since I would be free-handing it onto the wall (I totally cheated on this – more on that in a moment).  Onward, to google images!  Now, I’m going to be totally honest here – I can be a bit, um, particular when it comes to symmetry and balance.  While I don’t mind asymmetry, it has to be perfectly counterweighted or it drives me nuts.  So, I decided to mock the entryway up in photoshop with the different damasks so I could see which one I liked best.  This was the victor:

grey damask
oooh….ahhhh…my virtual house is so clean!

I printed off  the damask pattern on my laser printer, and I was ready to go.  But Sarah, you may ask, how in the world was printing off the pattern on a tiny piece of paper going to help you get it blown up and on the wall?  Well, here’s the cheating part I mentioned earlier – I used an opaque projector.  We’ve all seen the old-school projectors our teachers used in grade school (and if you haven’t don’t tell me because you’ll just make me feel old, lol).  But those are clunky and hard to find, and they require a transparancy.  An opaque projector can project anything onto a surface – even 3D objects.  This is the one I used, which I snagged with a 40% off coupon at Michael’s.

available here
available here

I know, it’s spendy, but I can see myself using it for a bunch of projects, so I deemed it an investment piece and moved along 😉

First hurdle – lighting.  Because the projector uses a light to throw the image on the wall, it is best if the room is actually pretty dark to start with – it makes the contrast on the projection easier to see, especially if you are pushing the magnification limits like I was.  I happen to have several very large windows that all shine on the entry, and there was so much ambient light that I couldn’t see squat.  The practical solution would have been to wait until it was dark outside rather than doing this at ten in the morning, but I am impatient.  So instead I drew all the drapes shut, and covered the remaining windows with blankets and cardboard, like so:

microfleece – the next trend in window treatments

I am sure my neighbors thought I was crazy – even I was reminded of the Law and Order episode where the killer covered his windows in foil to keep out alien mind-controlling beams.  Then again, my neighbors probably already think I am crazy, so no harm, no foul – sometimes you just have to let your crazy hang out, y’all.

Second hurdle – my damask needed to be HUGE.  We have typical 8 foot ceilings, and I wanted the damask to be cropped off at the edges, so it needed to be about 9.5 feet tall.  Because my damask was so large, I had to project it in pieces – the magnification power wasn’t high enough to do it all in one go.  I’m not going to lie, getting it all to match up wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, especially since I was McGuyver-ing balancing it on an assortment of boxes I had around the house to get it to the right height.  It was really difficult to make sure everything lined up and was level.  And when I say really difficult, I mean bring-chocolate-and-wine frustrating…

…poor Mister – he never knew what hit him when he walked in and observed that my painstakingly lined-up damask looked “a little crooked.”  The conversation went something like this:

Me: What do you think?  I have been working on it all day and I’m finally making some headway!
Mister: Looks great!  You know it’s a little off, right?
Me: *eyes begin to redden* What do you mean, “a little off?”
Mister: Well, you know, like a little cattywampus…it goes uphill a little.
Me: *insert freak out moment of epic meltdown proportions here*

In the end, after I put on my big-girl pants and stopped throwing a hissy-fit (just keeping it real, folks), we worked together to get it right.  I sketched the outline in pencil first, like this:


…and then I went back and filled in the outlines with my paint.  Ultimately, it was easy, I promise – like a giant coloring book page.  A few words of advice:

1) make little x’s in the areas you want to fill in (you can see mine in the picture above).  It seems silly when you are doing it, but it really helps ensure you don’t make any mistakes later on.

2) outline with a bristle brush, and then fill in with a foam brush.  I didn’t do this at first, and there were several areas that looked patchy so I had to redo them – goody.

Here is a series of pictures to show you the progression – I highly suggest working from the top down, and taping off your edges if you are worried about getting crisp lines where it meets other walls and/or the ceiling and floor (I didn’t, but I am a rebel like that).

damask progression Despite my meltdown in the middle, it turned out really well, and it brings such personality to the entry.  The best part was that I already had the paint, so it was basically free!  Woo!

Till next time,


Entryway makeover and an introduction…

Let’s get the formalities out of the way, shall we? Hi! I’m Sarah, and my hubby and I are in the trial by fire process of fixing up our very first house. It’s a 1932 cottage (hence the incredibly clever blog name), and while it has its quirks, we love it. Much of the heavy lifting had already been done for us (well, sort of – more on that in future posts) since the house was a flip, but in the process of renovating the previous owner stripped away much of the charm that was in the house :(. So, we are on a mission to bring back that charm, while still keeping with our modern aesthetic – blending the two into something new, homey, and uniquely ours. Oh, and we’re on a preeeeeety tight budget too, so expect creative thinking and DIY projects.

Speaking of which, I just redid the entryway of our little house. Here’s (a terrible iphone picture) of what it looked like before – try not to run away in terror!

Yep, it’s a beauty, isn’t it? Cheapo college-era wire shelves? Check! Shoes everywhere, all out in the open? Check! Pathetic attempt at a drop-zone for all the mail, bags, and general nonsense we lug home every day? Right there (those would be the baskets overflowing with stuff, in case you missed it, lol).

Needless to say, this was not the first thing I wanted people to see when they walked into our home. However, we are a “no shoes” house – those dark floors show every speck of lint and dust someone’s shoes may track in – so getting rid of the storage wasn’t an option. And as much as I might fantasize otherwise, the reality is that the mister and I are not going to stop leaving our bags and such by the door. I knew I needed something with hidden storage to stow away all the shoes, and I wanted to turn that little nook into a focal point. So, off to Pinterest I went – a search which turned up these examples of gorgeousness (drool).

Entryway ClosetMudroom makeover -
via House of Smiths
DIYEntryBench creative cain cabin
via Creative Cain Cabin

Problem was, I wanted something:
a) fast
b) cheap (or better yet, free), and
c) with a minimum of building (what can I say, we had just finished 450 linear feet of hand built fence, and I wanted a break from power tools).

After some looking around the house at what I already had, I realized that while the Ikea bookshelves (similar) we had in the office were full, they really didn’t need to be – at least half the stuff on them we never used or needed. Just like that, I had the first piece of the puzzle! For free!

So I packed up some of our stuff, gave some more of it away, and moved the now empty bookcase into the entry nook. On its side and with some legs from Ikea added, it was a perfect sideboard. Add in a painted damask accent wall (more details on that in an upcoming post), some lighting, and a few accessories, and this nook went from bedraggled to beautiful.

All it took was one weekend and ~$70.00. I also added some of these baskets from Target to store shoes, and the rest of the cubbies house a basket of stuff for our fuzzy daughter, Isabelle, as well as bags and the aforementioned crap-ola we bring home each day.

So now, drumroll please, the after pictures!


….and for comparison’s sake, a side-by-side:

I know the pictures are not up to snuff.  Nighttime photo sessions + iphone camera = not so hot. I will do better, I promise! I also still need to add the finishing touches, like a new overhead light (our house was FULL of the dreaded boob-lights…ewwww), and maybe a small piece of art on the short wall.  But seriously, I love it so much, y’all, I can’t even tell you. For now, I’m a happy girl!

Till next time,


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