Real-time Redecorating

To say I've been in a design and decorating rut lately is an understatement. The truth is that outside of a few small projects I've half-finished and a few big ones I've started then stopped abruptly (that pesky kitchen island) and some necessary ones (taking down light fixtures in my windowless bathroom completely before realizing I need to hire someone to put the new ones up), it's been a whole lot of sleeping, Buffy watching and procrastination. The doing has ceased. The energy and inspiration have gone south. The well is dry. You get the idea.

Much of this has to do with the combination of two major losses in out family in a six-week span. Also my new day job with Habitat for Humanity is just as rewarding as it is demanding. Add a 90-minute there and back commute to the mix, and suddenly I'm Busy Barbie, crazy all over the place. Just enough energy to make dinner and crash in front of the TV. 

In a rare free moment, I entertained one of my favorite people, Mandy, this past Saturday. And when I say entertained, I mean "fed salad to on the living room couch because my dining room was in such a terrible state I simply couldn't abide anyone even SEEING it, let alone using it." I even rolled my bar cart into the living room to avoid even walking into it to get refills. I knew I had to jump on it this project.

Today as I finally rolled the bar cart back into the dining room after another long-ass work day, I realized how sad it was to roll all my favorite booze into such an ugly, unfinished corner. It was right then that I decided to do something about it.

The small corner nook I keep my bar cart in would undergo a real-time makeover captured step-by-step on Instagram. A challenge that might keep me motivated enough to finish. And free, since I won't be running out to shop for supplies or decor items. I must shop the house. Ready, set, go...

*7:28pm. Post first pic on IG. The gauntlet has been thrown.


7:33pm. Assess the situation and remove bar cart and other junk from the area.

7:35pm. Realize I need to paint. And spackle before I paint. I pulled out a built-in desk when I first moved in and spackled a bit back then, but there was plenty more to fill in. Head to garage for supplies. Also grab a paint brush, paint (the actual color I'd been planning on using for the whole dining room), sandpaper and a grout float, because that's all I could find to spackle with on the quick.

7:40pm. I turn on my favorite Spotify mix, then start spackling with the grout float to surprising success. And yes, it only took me five minutes. It's just a corner, about 16 square feet total, and I glopped it on because I knew I was going to sand really well. Plus, more of it was grouted earlier than originally thought. 

7:45pm. Second IG pic posted. 


7:48pm. Started blog post while spackle dries.

8:01pm. Check spackle. Not dry yet. Remembering that I glopped it on. Consider blow dryer to help the cause, then realize I have no idea where I put it since I haven't blown out my hair in two ears.

8:04pm. Shit. I forgot to feed Sailor. He's glaring at me. And by glaring, I mean looking at me with an adorable, sleepy neediness. 

Nice spackle all over my feet!

8:07pm. Cat fed. Spackle still not dry. Contemplate what art I'll use to fill the space and remember I have a set of amazing Tarantino art prints ready for the taking. I can also snag a floor lamp from my bedroom, and thinking about putting up an IKEA shelf to display something else really cool. 

8:14pm. Post third IG pic of Tarantino prints. Come on spackle! I'm gettin' antsy.


8:18pm. Decide to kill time changing into painting clothes. Can't find painting clothes. Shit.

8:23pm. Discover a box in my closet while searching for painting clothes. It's full of a bunch of bar decor, decanters and glasses I thought I lost in the move. This is fate. 

8:26pm. Post fourth IG pic of awesome bar decor.


8:30pm. Spackle still not dry. The sun is rapidly descending. Suddenly thrilled I don't have to work until 1:30pm tomorrow! Dare I turn on the TV?

9:21pm. Watching the second in a soon-to-be marathon of "This American Life" episodes on Amazon Prime. SPACKLE STILL NOT DRY. Also, I'm about 1 1/2 whiskey-sodas in. 

9:25pm. Spill the beans about the "something else really cool" and post the fifth IG update of this AMAZING Schlitz given to me by my grandmother. Gotta figure out how to hang it.


10:35pm. FINALLY the spackle is dry! Sanding commences.

10:55pm. A wipedown to remove all dust, then start cutting in. 

11:10pm. First coat on. Sixth IG post of paint cut in. 


11:20pm. Seventh update on IG. First coat done! Decide not to go to bed until the second coat is finished. Get "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" stuck in my head for obvious reasons.


11:30pm. I think about all the things I could be doing while literally waiting for paint to dry. Dishes, clean the toilet, read, pay bills, organize shit. What do I do instead? Have another whiskey and soda and start in on Season Two of Buffy. As if I haven't seen it fifty times already. I don't fight it anymore. The heart wants what the heart wants.

12:00am. I've fallen asleep in front of the TV and wake with a start. Have a small snack for a quick energy boost.

12:15am. Finally ready for the second coat.

12:30am. The second coat is finished. I vacuum again and try out the rug I want to use. Post eighth update.


12:59am. I'm restless thinking about what it' going to look like when it all comes together. Soon, my thoughts drift away and I'm out like a light.

7:30am. Up and at 'em. I decided during sleepy time to use the pair of IKEA shelves that used to hang in my bedroom to hold the Schlitz sign and other bar accessories. Spend the next twenty minutes tracking them down, then another ten gathering my shelf-hanging tools: Drill, driver, screw/anchor set, hammer, tape measure and small level.

8:03am. The first shelf is up! I'm loving how the gold brackets and white shelves play off the deep charcoal walls. Ninth IG post added.


8:15am. The second shelf is up! I try out the Schlitz sign. All is right with the world. IG update ten is posted.


8:32am. The art is hung. I'm in love. Update eleven is up.


8:40am. Tragedy strikes! While trying to straighten the super-crooked shade on an old Urban Outfitters lamp, I inadvertently broke the entire bulb portion of the lamp right off the top. Shit. That was the only spare lamp I had skinny enough to not take up too much space on top of the cart. No Plan B in sight. I make breakfast and decide I might need to make a quick Target run. Will decide for sure while I shower and get ready for the day.


9:30am. Fully breakfasted, showered and dressed, I've decided NOT to replace the broken lamp. This corner may end up a little dark, but I'm hoping the neon sign throws enough light to make the difference. I really wanted to keep things free, so going out and getting another lmp just doesn't seem like the thing to do. Moving forward...

9:40am-10:30am. With all the major elements in place, I put on my fave playlist again and start styling. I add a few small pieces of art under the shelf to compensate for the lack of lamp leaving a big gap between the shelf and the to of the bar. After lots of tweaks, it's done!

10:31am. Thirteenth and final IG update posted. 


Fifteen hours later, and this former eyesore is now an instant favorite spot. And I didn't spend a single dollar!

After it was all over, I did a quick photo shot with my actual, non-iPhone camera. Though to be fair, I'm not much of a photog. You may probably won't even be able to tell the difference. Oh well.

You can see a snippet of the (messy) kitchen through the French doors on the left. The doors will eventually be painted the same color as the walls.

These Tarantino prints by Adam Juresko really knock my socks off. If you like movie posters but, like me, think the ones released by the studios are garbage, check out his Etsy store. He has some STUNNING stuff. I have eight of his prints and planning on grabbing a few more. Plus, they're really inexpensive. And not Domino "inexpensive." Like, actually cheap. About $15.00 a print. Cheaper if you buy more than one.

The "print" on the left is actually what was already inside this gorgeous frame I scored at Salvation Army for $1.99. I attempted to design a piece of word art to replace it this morning, but I actually couldn't get the frame open. It's one of the ones you have to dismantle to get into. But then, I realized that I actually like this weird pen drawing. It's like a bird flying into the sun. The other print is a small shadowbox frame with my favorite Barbara Kruger piece inside. I cut it out of a book with her art (I know, that's sacrilege). I didn't get a great pic of it, but in the tiny text box, it reads CRAM LIFE INTO DEATH. You can see more of her art here.

The shelves I used have been in so many different rooms in so many different houses for so many years, I lost track of when I actually got them. I have about eight in total. This pair, however, I updated with gold-toned Run 'n Buff to hand in my bedroom. I took them down in the winter and have been wanting to hang them somewhere else. I'd like to go in and use the Rub 'n Buff to cover the silver screws, but, it's not real high on my list of priorities.

The little silver bulldog is actually a bottle opener. I got it on clearance from Willams Sonoma a few years ago. It is literally the only thing I've ever bought there (it was $10.00), but I still get a catalog three times a year and feel fancy as I look through $200.00 kitchen gadgets.

The small stemmed glasses were a gift Ali brought back for me from her Honeymoon in Italy. There used to be six of them. Now there are five. :( The orange footed jar came from my late grandmother's massive candy dish collection. I love the rich orange tone. It will remind me of her every time I walk by. The souvenir glasses are something I've been collecting just within the last five or six years. Ali is AMAZING at finding them for me!

The Swiss cross glass set was a Salvation Army find (in tiny print at the bottom they say "Thirst Aid"), and the ice bucket was found at a thrift shop in Oscoda, Michigan, where our family vacations.

The bar cart itself was a $15.00 find at an incredible, super-secret St. Vincent DePaul whose exact location I will never reveal. The tray on the bottom is what I eat off when I have dinner in front of the TV. Looks like I'll be finding a repIacement!  The ice bucket was from the Target clearance section (I think it's Threshold).

For those concerned that I painted the baseboards, don't worry. They will be painted in the same color. I just didn't feel like taping off carpet last night. 

The small tray is from IKEA, the set of wood-handled bar tools also came from my late grandparents. I always have a little dish on the bar to collect beer caps. I have quite a collection going. I'd like to epoxy them on a tabletop or something one day.

The bottom is where all the practical stuff goes. I did take a minute to put the Mr. Planter peanuts in a decorative jar, but other than that, this is purely functional. The rug is from H&M, but no longer carried. They have a great selection of housewares for a good price and low shipping costs. Check it out. The wine glasses and beer steins are from Dollar Tree. 

Not to boast, but I'm very pleased with my efforts. It's always a wonder to me how much cool stuff I've managed to collect over the years, and I love being able to style my space with things I already have. I hope you've found some inspiration in this real-time transition. Maybe you'll put yourself through a design challenge of your own making. From experience I can tell you it's a lot of fun to get so much done in such a short span of time. The time you put in may be missed in the short term, but the benefits last forever. Or at least until you decide to paint the walls again!

*all times approximate, as I didn't realize I'd be clockwatching until I sat down to write.