Friday Fluff: The Shapely Manor

Does anyone remember the episode of Family Ties where Elise and Stephen Keaton go out of town and leave Alex in charge? And he turns the place into a cozy little B&B called Keaton Manor, and rents out rooms?

Yeah, so the other SP bloggers are living it up in Minneapolis this weekend, leaving me in charge. WOOOOOOO! My sisters Mallory and Jennifer will be cleaning up your rooms and cooking you comically bad breakfasts, while I will be taking your money!

No, not really. But it provided me a handy way of mentioning two things:

1. Y’all, I’m it for the weekend, AFAIK, and I’m new; so go easy. I’ve got a very long and theological post in the works, but I think I shall save it for tomorrow, because we’ve had lots of posts today and I don’t wish to overwhelm. (Edited Saturday PM to add: I’m SORRY, I’m SO sorry, but it will be Sunday. I just keep obsessing and editing. It’s just such a fraught topic, so personal to me yet so prone to giving offense, and I already gave offense once before… blah blah, anyway, if I don’t put it up by tomorrow night then give me grief for it because that will mean I’m really obsessing way too much. ) And if you need something you can email me at teenageradiostar at gmail.

and

2. Let’s talk about cozy interiors! (Er, the connection was that B&B’s often have cozy interiors. Was that clear?)

See, we are moving to a new city in two weeks, and our new home (while not fancypants) is nicer than our current home, in that the new home has wood floors and granite (I think?) countertops and solid doors and whatnot.

What it lacks is color and quirk and personality. Not that I fault the previous owners for that because when your house is on the market that’s precisely what you’re supposed to do — make everything look generic and neutral. But once we arrive, we are getting down to bidness in terms of adding color and quirk. But most of all we want to be welcoming; we want there to be people coming over, playing, eating, relaxing, connecting, etc.

So anyway, what does the SP collective consciousness say in terms of making a house/apartment a home? How do you make a space welcoming, and what does that mean to you? What are some rooms and homes that you’ve loved? If you want to go all Derrida and talk about whether violence is inherent in “hospitality,” go to it! If that’s not fluffy enough for a Friday, another burning question I have is how we all feel about orange kitchens. (Specifically orange kitchens with black countertops? Too Halloweeny?)

What say you?

122 thoughts on “Friday Fluff: The Shapely Manor

  1. Arwen, awesome! And you don’t feel like you’re in a locker? Is your living room pretty big?

    (I should do a Google image search for synonyms of “orange,” I’m realizing. Perhaps I should start a list. Terra cotta goes at the top.)

  2. Also, I’m currently hunting for housing and it’s really really stressful.

    We found The One, I think, and are now waiting as our app dukes it out with many other apps.

    Any shapelings who are good at using jedi-mind tricks are welcome to practice on our rental application … . *G*

  3. I could totally be into an orange kitchen with a black countertop, if the orange was more burnt orange than kid-Halloween orange and the black had some depth to it.

    However, I did a stint with Gothdom in high school, so I may be suspect.

    After the ’80s and early ’90s where every room in the house was painted off-white or white, my parents had a great revelation when they painted a bedroom a nice medium blue in an eggshell finish. Now about half the rooms are colors, and a few are even eggshell. I can say that paint color AND sheen definitely help make a place more inviting.

    Yes, that’s kind of technical, but, well . . .

    Also, pictures on the walls. We (my husband and I; I do not live with my parents) only have them in a few rooms, but every place we’ve bothered to hang something looks more ‘us’ than the rooms where we haven’t.

  4. Pretty big, and it’s only two walls. With art and floating shelves and bookcases (although I painted the front edge the same colour, so they look like “built ins”), and a white mantle piece and a million books … so it’s not uninterrupted.

  5. For me a welcoming space has always meant books, so the first thing I do when I move is make sure there is a bookcase and/or shelf in every room. Cookbooks, bathroom reading, a pile for use as a nightstand, etc.

    As for making something a “home,” I think time is the only thing that will flip that switch.

    Orange kitchens . . . I guess it would depend on the orange. We were talking about the semiotics of bodies yesterday, but orange is a really interesting color for it’s (lack of) symbols. Other than Halloween, what does it really represent (in Western type cultures)?

    Historically, I’ve felt most comfortable in yellow kitchens, but how much of that comfort was a function of the owners and how much was a function of the colors, I could not say.

  6. Oh, yeah, and I’m with Stephanie: definitely art on the walls. And books. For me having books and art and my Benjamin Fig (which I’ve had for 14 years now, growing him up from a wee twig) – well, those make Home.

  7. I think Stephanie and Arwen have hit on it: Hang Stuff Up. Even in the kitchen. Art, shelves. Utilitarian or just decorative. It breaks up bold colors and also makes a home feel like people actually live there. Oh, and books. In every room there must be books. Maybe I’m projecting . . .

  8. All of the paint company websites have cool tools that let you mess around with color palettes. I really like the way they’ll give you ideas for accent colors that you never would have thought of, but that are super cool!

    I did my bedroom in a coral/terra cotta that contrasts so nicely with my dark green bedding. Very cosy!

  9. I love writing things down in various colors and taping them to my walls; I’ve been doing it since I was little. Around my bedroom and bathroom mirrors, I have lots of Bible verses, quotes, and song lyrics; having them around helps with my self esteem. The other day, I took a section of one of the walls in my bedroom and named it “The Dream Wall”. I wrote down several dreams and goals I want to accomplish on pieces of paper and taped them to the wall.
    I’d really like some nice photography for my apartment, and I need to buy a nice fancy frame for my dipolma.

  10. I’m with bellacoker: for me it’s books. We’ve lived in this apartment 16 months now, and we’ve got all the bookshelves up but one that we have yet to find (for cookbooks), and we haven’t gotten around to hanging ANY of the pictures. But it’s still been home from the moment we put the bookshelves up and the books on them.

  11. Sounds like we’d feel comfortable in each other’s spaces. *g*.

    I remember seeing a housing expert on TV talking about the “clutter” of books and limiting oneself to one small bookshelf and thinking, whoa whoa whoa there, lady. That’s wouldn’t feel like home for me, it’d feel like a hotel room.

  12. I’m picturing a nice melon color; I think that could look fine with black countertops. As long as it’s not too out and out safety orange you should be able to avoid year round Halloween. My kitchen is a bright saturated yellow with deep blue accents, a la Provence . . .

  13. I think a more orangeish-red shade, perhaps with blue accents in decor could work. Pure orange might be a tad halloweeny, but then who says that’s a bad thing. :-) Anyway, I’m a huge orange/blue evangelist.

  14. Oh, and as we’re talking about what we do with our homes, I’ve just put up a “This is a Diet-Talk Free Household” sign on the corkboard right next to our front door.

    If anyone’s interested, I can send them a .png of the sign I made. A word of warning, though, it was supposed to be a pinkish-purple, but came out way more pink than I intended. :) (Now I just need to make a button for the side-bar of the blog.)

  15. My kitchen is a bright saturated yellow with deep blue accents, a la Provence . . .

    This is what I want for the hypothetical kitchen in my hypothetical house! And I want a blue and white china bowl with lemons in it, a la this.

  16. I remember seeing a housing expert on TV talking about the “clutter” of books and limiting oneself to one small bookshelf and thinking, whoa whoa whoa there, lady. That’s wouldn’t feel like home for me, it’d feel like a hotel room.

    One? Small? Seriously? My mom, who’s not even quite a book nerd like me, at least has one LARGE bookshelf in her living room. (And a few others scattered around the house, including two 7-ft numbers that are technically mine.)

  17. nah, if it’s the right orange, it’ll work. you could do a wash over it, with another similar (maybe yellow-spectrum?) color to add interest and not make the transitions from wall to countertop so stark. i don’t know how often they meet in this kitchen, i think we need pictures.

    ooh, decorating a new nest! so fun! can i squee just a little bit?

  18. @The Bald Soprano: I’d love to see the diet free household sign!

    I love my bookshelf! For the first six month of living in my apartment, I didn’t have any furniture. i pretty much lived on the floor. Then my friend’s mom brought me some furniture, including a dresser, a bed, and a bookshelf. My apartment felt so much more homey and happy once I set up the bookself and filled it with books. I actually need to get another bookshelf for my bedroom. I have my keyboard set up there, along with a huge pile of music books and sheet music.

  19. This Friday Fluff is so timely since we’ll be signing a contract soon on a house we’re buying. Move in should hopefully *crosses fingers* happen next month.

    We’re in a unique situation that we already knew the sellers. They’re my husband’s coworker and his wife. They are so nice and had already planned on doing all these great renovations to the house. So we’ve been allowed to choose the paint colors, bathroom vanity, wood flooring, etc.

    My husband and I are not afraid of color, but we’ve learned that painting one room all one color can be overwhelming. So we’re doing accent walls mostly. And I already have a general theme in mind for each room.

    It helps that we already have some artwork we really love and feel is a good representation of our personalities. We prefer to have art that is created by our artist friends or from local artists. I hope one of my friends will let me commission her to paint a summer skyscape on one of the walls, and I have another friend who will soon be delivering an enlargement of a beautiful photo she took.

    My plan is to have one piece of art or framed photograph be the inspiration for the colors and styles in the rooms.

    I also plan on using all different types of decor materials. For instance, one wall in the master bedroom and back bedroom will have wallpaper, of the more modern type. A friend of ours has one wall with a wall mural type wallpaper – it looks like a forest. AWESOME. There are also (very expensive) wallpapers that are three-dimensional, and texture is a key component of my decorating sense.

    I think I’m going to try out some of these wall stickers I’ve been seeing. I would probably only do part of one wall, two at the most.

    I plan on having lamps with bright metals, dark metals, paper shades, glass shades…I don’t want to stick with the exact same thing everywhere. I strongly prefer natural materials like hardwood and granite, but I know we just will not be able to afford the real thing every time.

    I really could go on. Can you tell I’m excited? I am! But I’ll shut up now.

  20. When we bought our house, it had flat, cheap, white paint. How do I know it was cheap? The sickly blueish tone and it’s magical stain-acquiring ability. Everything in the house was white or pale blue. Now our kitchen is black and red (the movie Beetlejuice was my inspiration), but living room is gold and burgundy, and the bedroom is orange and purple (I used a pansy to pick out paint).

    Color was obviously a big deal for us, specifically changing from cold to mostly warm tones. We also did a lot of clearing, and threw out truckloads of crap left behind. We also put in a ton of shelves and a pantry. For me, a cluttered house just isn’t welcoming.

    Finally, we also ripped out the old (half dead) lawn and replaced it with garden. Now you can see something pretty out of every window in the house, and that’s a nice feeling. It’s amazingly refreshing to sit in a garden, even a very small one, and watch the bees and butterflies.

  21. Bald Soprano: I’ve been thinking of putting up a similar sign. I’ve been debating if I should just simply state ““This is a Diet-Talk Free Household” like you did, or if I should go a bit broader and say, “This is a Self-Hate Talk Free Home” or something similar.

    But then, I really really hate diet talk and want to make sure I don’t have to hear it in my own home. I’m sure some of my friends and family will think me crazy, perhaps too authoritative, but it’s my home damniit!

  22. Oh, and can I just say how much I love the name Shapely Manor? It makes me think of some awesome hotel where we Shapelings could hang out.

  23. I can’t even make a house for my sims that doesn’t look half-assed and completely mismatched, but I do know that one day in the misty future when I own my home I will get a big bucket of magnetic paint and another bucket of whiteboard paint and have the bestest whiteboard wall ever.

    My other plan is wall decals because I’m afraid of commitment and they are low-commitment.

  24. Nothing says “home” to me like dog hairs and apple juice drips on the floor, interspersed amongs the crayons, legos, newspapers, computer cables and sneakers.

    If you can’t achieve that look right away, you might focus on ensuring conversation-friendly seating — comfortable chairs with a place to put drinks, stools or a small table and chairs in the kitchen so people can hang out with the cook, etc. A place becomes a home by filling it with your love, and that comes from spending time with friends and family.

  25. To me, a house feels like an inviting home when there are flowers and welcome signs out front. Nothing tells the neighbors that you’ve “moved in” better than those things. As for the inside….something on the walls is crucial, in my book. I lived for 6 months in our new house without anything on the walls and furniture in the living/dining area. Hubby WAS a minimalist type–never hung a picture in his own pad/clusters of piles of stuff here and there….functional.

    When we combined our households, I had to “help” him overcome that “keep everything new looking” mentality by just picking up a hammer and nail while hearing him gasp in the background as I hung up a picture. That first nail in the wall of crisp, new drywall opened up the possibilities for me. I painted feature walls in one color, hung shelves, placed floral wreaths and swags, put knobs on the kitchen cabinets, bought rugs for the kitchen floor, dropped a welcome mat at the front door, and hung curtains in every room. It took me a year to finally feel like I had made this place our home.

    In 11 years, I have changed out furniture, curtains, gotten plantation shutters, new carpeting, tiled the kitchen and bathroom floors, added more pictures to the walls, and painted, painted, painted. I don’t always follow the rules (like keeping family photos out of formal spaces-hell that’s where ALL of mine are!) but my house feels like home. Family photos are essential for marking your territory, so to speak, and letting everyone know that you have settled in.

    Good luck with your new home! Be sure to be outside a lot so that the neighbors have the opportunity to stop by and introduce themselves.

  26. I’ve been house-hunting of late also, and am over the moon for a cute retro-looking house that’s close to DH’s new job. It’s odd, because it’s mostly painted white, but it’s charming and adorable. I can’t wait to get in there and make my very own B&B for two.

  27. Sorry, y’all, I had to go deal with something crawling across our counter that I SHIT YOU NOT looked like some kind of larval intestinal parasite. It was the size of a maggot, but crawling like an inchworm. I found it right where, five minutes earlier, I had been dishing up ice cream. I still haven’t identified it, but every website I looked at made me start to feel faint (actually, I’m not joking) so I’m back to this.

    WOW WHAT GOOD IDEAS! Thanks, y’all. Can I come visit your homes? They sound charming. Also, I’m sensing paint quality matters? I honestly didn’t know that, though maybe I should have. (Er, what’s a wash?)

    Mary Sue, I agree with you w/r/t black countertops — and one could say the same about (sigh) the white tile floor, also in the kitchen — but I don’t think we’ll be able to change those right away, until we accumulate a bit of the money from my new job.

    If you can’t achieve that look right away,

    Oh, Trabb’s Boy, that is the one thing I’m sure we’ll accomplish right away.

  28. re the orange kitchen: A Sarah, i saw a superfantastic awesome droolworthy kitchen in GOURMET magazine, and it was orange and black. well, primarily black, with a french cooking range (!), grey-neutrally counters, and a partner desk that was bright persimmon orange. alas, i have scoured the net, and can’t find a picture – you want i should scan it for you?

  29. Charlotte, drop me an email so I can email you the file –I couldn’t find contact info on your blog.

    If anyone else is interested in the sign, please drop me an email (the dot bald dot soprano AT gmail), since I have to go to pick up my aunt at the airport in about twenty minutes and won’t be able to read the comments after that.

  30. Two things make a house a home for me:

    1. cat hair
    2. my stuff

    As much as I complain about the cats’ non-stop shedding, I understand it makes the house feel like we live here. Yes, I vacuum regularly. Even more regularly now that we have a house with hardwood floors (the cat hair doesn’t stay in one place like on carpet, it gets blown around and forms colonies the size of small satellites).

    And my stuff….I like clutter. Not so much I drown in it, but every time I tour a professionally “decorated” house I feel like I’m touring a very fancy hotel room. I know a lot of people would look at my computer table and wonder how I get anything done here, but I look around at this stuff – MY stuff – and feel comforted.

    I don’t understand buying stuff because it “goes”. I have more than enough stuff already, and you want me to throw out the stuff that actually means something to me and replace it with stuff that just looks good? That seems so wasteful and out there to me.

    One small bookcase? We have three small bookcases in the bedroom – and one room is the library full of LARGE bookcases. And we still need to find some more room for books. I just don’t get people who don’t read.

    We’re going to do the countertops in the kitchen and have found the perfect stuff – it’s man made, but looks as close to real stone as I’ve ever seen, and *doesn’t show crumbs*. I’m in heaven.

  31. I have black countertops, and they’re not too bad. I keep a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol diluted with water handy, and it works well, at least as long as I don’t keep anything on the counter.

    Heck, A Sarah, you can visit. Bring wine.

  32. I have black quartz countertops (with flecks of dark green and gold) and none of my walls are orange, but I have some orange and flame red cookware that looks great, as well as cherry red kitchen towels and stuff. So, I know that if you mix up several shades it works. Also, texture helps with bright colors, I think.

    Personally, I love white walls, but that’s because I have a dark house, as well as dark furniture and floors, and lots of artwork.

    Something I do that makes a house look like mine is use colors that are less than traditional for decorating, including plenty of purple.

  33. I was surprised to find out that the same paint looks different in different rooms and at different times of day. (I felt overwhelmed by the colors in our house and repainted it to be light and neutral.)

    Oddly enough, to me our cat-clawed furniture is a very homey touch. That and the battered up cat tower.

    I’ve found that the number of books quickly outpaces the places to put them no matter how many bookshelves I get.

    My grandmother, who kept a tidy house, had a beautiful kitchen with a plaid ceiling, or so my mother told me.

    And those are all of the random thoughts I will post for now.

  34. Also, I’m sensing paint quality matters? I honestly didn’t know that, though maybe I should have. (Er, what’s a wash?)

    Cereal, but yeah, paint quality is huge. Also be careful about saturated color, because paint tends to be slightly darker on the wall than on the swatch. If you get cheap paint it will look dull and dirty within a year. Flat paint can look cheap also, unless you’re going for an effect and choose an interesting color. My neighbor is a real DIY person, and she painted a wall with a combination of different flat paints in shades of brown and terracotta. It looks like stone, but in a cool way, not an obvious decorator-magazine kind of way.

  35. and one could say the same about (sigh) the white tile floor, also in the kitchen — but I don’t think we’ll be able to change those right away, until we accumulate a bit of the money from my new job.

    Rugs. They help with fatigue when you are standing in there cooking or doing dishes, plus they’ll cover up the white.

  36. We have a terracotta living room which we call the library. It’s not overwhelming because you can only see it past the books on the dark blue wall-mounted shelves. Also, a dark bottle-green leather two-seater wing-backed sofa and a small lighter green chair. And navy blue curtains. And a print of Rothko’s “Violent, Green & Red (1951)” on the chimney breast because after I deocrated the room I saw it and realised it matched.

  37. Oh, angela, if you would, that would be SO wonderful. Thank you! But don’t go to too much trouble.

  38. ooooh, decorating!!

    Re: orange walls. When I moved into my place the walls were this sort of salmony color (raw-salmon-orange, not cooked-salmon-pink) and I was not fond of it. Friends would come over, say, “oh, I don’t know what you’re talking about, the orange walls are cute,” and then half an hour later, looking twitchy, would say, “Actually, OK, I get what you’re saying about the orange. It’s a bit much.” So I painted the living room green.

    That said though, I think if you were to pick a lighter, butternut-squashier sort of creamy golden orange it would look awesome.

    My bedroom is a bright sunny yellow and I love it.

  39. I thought you said “orange kittens.” I love them. If you can get your hands on a couple, I’m sure home will feel homey.

    Otherwise, you’re talking to someone with no decorator sense. If my apartment is as neat as possible, then it feels homey. Otherwise, I don’t even feel welcome there. And bear in mind that 1.) I’m not neat at all and am bad at throwing things away, so 2.) it’s very rare that I achieve a state of order. Also, this is probably a shocker, but although I love to read, I hate to have a lot of books around. I’m a fan of the library.

    I like the idea of an orange kitchen. I was planning to do mine in a Swedish-ish red and blue theme at one time but never got around to it.

  40. I think what makes a place homey depends on you. Because different things make us feel at home. For me, books, pictures, and plants make it feel “finished.”

    Check out the HGTV website for inspiration. I’ll bet you get some good ideas from that. There is a show called Rate my Space where people put up pictures of rooms they have decorated (and that need to be decorated) but I found a lot of good ideas from it. Creative floor ideas, bookshelf ideas, wall colors, etc.

    I like neutral walls because I want my stuff to stand out more than my walls. But I lived in an apartment that had beautiful latte colored walls and white trim. It was really striking and everything I put in there looked fantastic.

  41. Rugs. They help with fatigue when you are standing in there cooking or doing dishes, plus they’ll cover up the white.

    Consider ones with a non-slip backing. My mom has a tile kitchen floor and a rug by the sink and I think I used to trip over it weekly.

    I mean, I trip over air, carpet, and my own feet frequently, but . . .

  42. When I was a kid we lived in a house my dad had built, and my mom had chosen all the colors. She had kind of cream colored countertops in the kitchen (with just a tiny bit of orange in it) and the sink and light fixtures were a matching dark orange. It was actually pretty cool, although my dad hesitated on the really dark colored fixtures, since he’s in real estate and always thinks about the re-sale.

  43. A Sarah, no trouble at all! i will scan it tomorrow as i have a sharon jones concert tonight and plan to be dancing like a maniac for the entire evening :)

  44. Animals, books, and my collection of old movie posters are what make a house home for me.

    I’d go batty in an orange-and-black kitchen, but then, ours seems to have that effect on some people too: it’s got turquoise walls, with white cabinetry and appliances, and window valances in bright multi-stripes. And a textured beige tile counter I would dearly love to replace, preferably with matte-glazed 4×4 tiles in yellow and turquoise. I expect when I’m done, folks will blink. I’m working on fixing up a vintage chrome dinette, too, with formica and upholstery in yellow, light grey and black, and dream of a yellow fridge.

    I like color.

    One of the things I like best about our house, though, is the dedicated book room. Not that we don’t have books elsewhere, because we do. But we have an extension off the garage and alongside the back garden that we’ve lined with books, and it’s really pleasant … bamboo floors, a window looking out into the garden, two rocking-chairs, and, usually, a couple of the cats as well.

  45. Rugs. They help with fatigue when you are standing in there cooking or doing dishes, plus they’ll cover up the white.

    I’ve got a padded rubber mat, in blue — like the kind used in hair salons, but cheaper. I got it from Amazon, of all places. Anyway, it doesn’t shift, it washes, and it’s very comfortable.

  46. I got a ton of inspiration for color palettes from this book

    It was hugely valuable to us when we painted our house (warning, we ended up using almost 30 different shades on the walls and trim!)

    I hadn’t painted anywhere I’d lived since I was a kid, and it made such a huge difference in making the place feel like it is ours. We aren’t living there at the moment, we’re living in another city, and it was a huge shock to go back to white walls!

  47. I love the idea of orange somewhere! It’s one of my favorite colors and it comes in some of the most interesting shades. I helped my Aunt and Uncle pick out half of the colors for their Yellow House. (The exterior was painted yellow and three of the rooms inside were also, just in different shades.) I told them to use a jade green for their kitchen, offered the single burgundy accenting wall in their sitting room, and the custard for their dining room.

    C: For making a home quirzy (quirky-cozy) look at some of your favorite clothes and pic colors from there. My parents are FINALLY buying a house soon and for the first time in my life, I’ll get to paint my room. Seriously. A lot of my favorite clothes include these gorgeous yellow-plus-red colors and I decided to do my walls an off-white with the largest wall (one with windows, preferably) being done in carrot and pumpkin vertical stripes. (Not that neon orange carrot color. The I-just-came-out-of-the-ground color.)

    People tend to stray from a lot of bold, strong colors because they’re afraid how it will look. What you really need to remember is that the furniture in the room mixes with the color on the walls too. Depending on the darkness of the wood in your hardwood floors, you need to really balance the color in the walls off of it. Being creative and prone to odd color mixtures that somehow work, I’ve gone and helped my mother’s former employers (custom home designers/builders/furnishers) come up with colors for rooms (I was supposed to get a semi-internship this summer but they had to downsize a bit).

    I remember there was this one cherry wood that had a burgundy sort of finish (it looked something like this: http://www.edroman.com/customshop/wood/images/cherrywood.jpg ), and they had trouble picking a color for the room. I was helping my mom in the office and I offered gold as a choice in colors. The customer really liked the idea and I got to help in the project for that room. I even got paid for it! To pick the design to furnish the room! It was awesome. xD

  48. My dream kitchen is based on Yellow Submarine. I want glossy white walls and cabinets, but with images from the film painted or decoupaged on them. Mr. Twistie has suggested a whole row of characters from the film doing the Killroy was here thing over some molding high up the wall. I want every cabinet to have brightly colored knobs that contrast with the colors on the doors and don’t match one another. And of course, the arch from the dining room into the kitchen will be painted green on the inside, because you have to cross the Sea of Green to get to Pepperland.

    The countertops will be bright, white glossy tiles with random ones in gloriously bright colors, too. I’m thinking a cobalt blue tile floor.

    I want to do a washed-out terra cotta in the dining room. I think it will be the perfect thing to show off the great dark wood/black wrought iron/pebble glass chandelier that Mr. Twistie installed when he found it for free by the side of the road back in the mid-eighties. He doesn’t get why I love that chandelier so much, but it’s really awesome.

    Color is a beautiful thing. Oh, and I say that if you feel like doing orange walls with black counters, go for it. If you decide later that it’s too halloweeny for you, you can always repaint the walls – or even just add an accent that breaks up the color a touch. And if you decide that the halloweeny feel is making you happy, well, it’s already there making you smile.

  49. I too must say ‘sweet baby cheeses, nononono’ to brighter salmony-orange for a kitchen; my mom, who usually has impeccable taste, recently did that to hers (but with brown accents), and it hurts my eyes, brain, and soul.

    I am, however, completely in love with the downstairs paint choices of whomever lived in my condo previously; light and dark matte olive green, alternately, on the walls of the living room, and glossy charcoal in the half bath. I put a dark red sofa in the living room, which sounds like it would be an inadvertently Christmas-y nightmare, but it’s really very warm and cozy-looking.

    Also, Eucritta, I now want to paint a room turquoise. :)

  50. I do not have decorator sense at all. My apartment is random, chaotic and usually really messy. It’s like a 12 year old’s room on steroids. And I’m 30.

    But when I’m at other houses feeling envious of their great homes, it’s the ones that are colorful but not over the top- just deep, warm, cozy colors.

    And I really don’t like orange but I’ve seen it work surprisingly well in homes so I say go for it.

  51. Houseplants make my apartment feel like home, preferably with quirky and colorful pots. For the especially lived in look, leave a few brown leaves on the plants so there’s no doubt they’re real. But not too many, because a collection of entirely dead plants says nothing and no one thrives here. (Better to go with none or fake plants if you have a brown thumb.)

    Also, having a visible collection of board games makes me think I’d like to stay awhile and hang out with you. My last roommate wanted me to hide them in a closet, but I liked having them on visible shelves so people could say “Hey! You have >>>! I haven’t played >>> in years!” and then we’d quickly be past the awkward small talk stage and into the having fun.

    As with everyone else’s comments, YMMV.

  52. I agree on all the prior points
    - color
    - wall hangings/art
    - books

    But to me, inviting means seating. As a guest, if there isn’t a place to park my self, then I won’t be there very long.

    Chairs, couches, stools, cushions, all arranged in conversational groups.

  53. I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to an orange kitchen, is that my grandparents had a very wacky 1970′s orange kitchen, with orange and white wallpaper that had country-kitchen-themed vignettes on it; orange and brown and gold berber carpeting (yes, in the kitchen!); and a brown laminate table with mustard yellow pleather club chairs on roller wheels. So even though, by today’s and probably any decorating standards, it’s kind of a train wreck, it still makes me feel like I’m seven, am around people who love me, and am about to get a cookie from a big ass owl-shaped ceramic cookie jar.

    *sniff*

  54. I’m not into orange kitchens, especially with black countertops (which sound gorgeous, BTW). For me, orange in a kitchen has become cliche. I know it’s probably considered neutral, and I by and large try to stay away from any color that doesn’t make a choice about what it wants to be (like all the shades of beige), but maybe a greyish blue would work out well, depending on what color your cabinets are. It’d give it a really modern look.

    I’m buying a house in the next couple months, so these things have been on my mind as of late. : )

  55. Nothing new to add, I don’t think.
    To me inviting means comfy place to sit. Several chairs, rather than loveseat/couches (b/c of the whole “personal space”, they can’t be efficiently used unless you’re all reeeally good friends). Going along with that, at least somewhere on the floor that’s comfortable to sit (rug or big floor cushion).

    My living room walls are not quite terra-cotta – like that, but more of a red, but not RED, more burnt orange, but not orange, more red… I love it. The walls in the hallway and foyer connecting them are a pale yellow.

    Also, we have this book by Christopher Lowell that I loved having when we moved into a new house to start from scratch. Not necessarily the exact suggestions in it, but the way he talks about what to do first, then next, and what to leave off until you have more money, etc. made for good strategizing.

  56. To feel at home somewhere I have to clean it, top to bottom. I’m talking washing walls level of cleaning, not just vacuuming or dusting.

    I can’t help it. My grandmother was an old school German hausfrau and I’m clearly her legacy. Cleaning is how I mark my territory. I can’t feel comfortable in a space until I’ve cleaned it enough to feel sure I won’t encounter any nasty surprises.

    I also inherited my Mom’s curtain gene. I didn’t get the gardening gene, but I sure as heck got the curtain one. I love curtains and will buy new ones with any excuse. Also they make rooms look so. much. better! It helps make you feel like you live someplace rather than occupying a generic space.

    I’ve lived in in rental places my whole adult life and I gotta say, I’m really, really, REALLY tired of off-white, gray and beige. I understand that the neutrals are vital for people who rent out spaces, but sheesh.

    Some day when I have my own house (next year? Maybe?) I’m going to paint every room some kind of color. I’m rather fond of pale peach for walls, with light blue or light green trims. It works with all my furniture, and it’s color that’s neutral enough to be adaptable. Of course, at this point I will just be happy to be able to put all my bedroom furniture into my actual bedroom (the dresser is in exile in the office because there’s no space).

    My sister painted her smaller bedroom a dark pink and all I can think when I go in there is that line from Steel Magnolias – “Looks like it’s been hosed down with Pepto Bismol.”

    DRST

  57. Like others have said, I feel like it’s home when I unpack my books and hang my art. I’m a big believer in setting up the bedroom first so I have a put together space to relax in as I get everything else pulled together. It takes time though. I still have boxes I never unpacked in my garage from moving last year.

    About orange and black. I love orange. I have no orange walls, but lots of orange pillows and accents (and clothes.) My in-laws painted their kitchen a creamy yellow-orange last year and they have black counter tops. When they first showed us the paint color, I was a little worried, but it turned out warm and wonderful. I really like it. I say go for it. You can always repaint if you hate it.

  58. Timely post. We moved a month ago and I finished unpacking the books today. The bookshelves in the living room (built-in, one of the big selling points) look much nicer with books on them than with random moving-related junk. It looks like I live here. That and the comfy couches make the room inviting.

    I love my bright yellow office. It’s too tiny a room to be anyone’s bedroom, but it’s perfect for a desk, some cabinets, and more bookcases.

  59. the tagline for that Christopher Lowell book makes me depressed, given the agony I go through anytime I try to put together an outfit more complicated than jeans + a top. If it isn’t tiny or on a computer I can’t seem to make it look good.

    the owl cookie jars, though, those are instant winners.

  60. I forgot one thing…..CHANGE THE TOILET SEATS! ha ha
    Whenever I moved into a new apartment, that was the first thing I did along with cleaning. I know it’s just me, but the thought of sitting my butt on the same seat others sat their butts on…well it conjured up all kinds of paranoia. And I’m not one of those people that can’t use a public restroom….just didn’t want something that I used multiple times a day in my own home to have someone else’s butt legacy…TYVM.

  61. Ooo, a home decor thread. Perfect for this HGTV junkie.

    Uh, what shade of orange?

    My bedroom is sponge painted in three shades of blue, my sewing room is aquamarine and the guest bedroom is white with one wall painted in burgundy. The living room is light khaki.

    When I had the powder room installed I decided to go bold and chose terra cotta. Looks more pink or orange depending on the light. Liked it so much that I had the redone bathroom painted in a similar color, a shade called Guava Jam.

    Both colors would work with black granite without looking too Halloweenish.

  62. killedbyllamas, a definite yes to olive-y greens and dark red. When we moved we wanted to replace our big old sectional sofa that was falling apart with a sofa and two chairs. We fell in love with this deep red/maroon couch, even though it was a “lot of look”. But it was really hard matching chairs to it….until we walked by a pair of silver sage-olive green chairs with black wood with the sofa cushion we were carrying around, and the combination just *popped*. It doesn’t look a thing like Christmas, just all very coordinated. Now I just need to get the drapes to match the sofa…

    DRST, your Pepto Bismol story reminded me of one of the rooms in one of the houses we looked at when we were house shopping. It was painted completely – and I mean COMPLETELY, including ceiling – in Pepto Bismol pink. It definitely made an impression, but not in a good way.

    Worse was the room painted completely in a just short of flurorescent green. We commented it was like being in someone’s stomach after they’d eaten at the salad bar. (There is a reason they tell sellers to neutralize their house before putting it on the market. Most buyers see stuff like that and think “paint required: lower offer”.)

    I just thought of another way I lay claim to a living space: I cook in it. It’s not mine until I’ve cooked a full meal or three in the kitchen.

  63. BIG kitchen. I once slept in the house of professional cook, with a semiprofessional kitchen – six fires, two ovens, very large wooden tables at the right height to slice and mix, a proper set of knives (I got one when I got married, so there’s no need to take care of that), very good light… The house of my dreams has a kitchen like that, with a comfortable chair and a table on which I can spend my afternoons.

    Then, a garage in which I can build things. “Things” being anything between a table and some electronic device. I would have to learn more on how to do that, but I would really love it.

    Also: library. If I had the chance to have a house without any money constraints, I would have it with a library. And a catalogue to keep track of the books/dvds. And more books than I have (well, I wouldn’t have to pay the rent, so I could use that money for my books).

  64. If we’re going to get into horrible house stories … my husband and I once looked at a place that had a basement completely covered — floor, walls, ceiling and bar in the corner — with bright orange shag carpet. We took one look and went, ‘Ewwww.’

    There was a place with a bathroom all in black and blue, too. Just standing in it made me feel hungover.

  65. the tagline for that Christopher Lowell book makes me depressed, given the agony I go through anytime I try to put together an outfit more complicated than jeans + a top

    lol – it’s not that bad, because with an outfit you have to put it all together at once. The book is basically common sense, but of the type I do not myself have. His basic idea is to first make sure the room looks good – paint color you like, floor you like. Then put in furniture you like, then add in accessories you like, etc., with tips on how to choose things that will be versatile and go well with anything but aren’t all beige. Seriously common sense to other people, but with tips I need like the most terrible thing to do is have one thing you can’t get rid of and decide to do all the decorating around it, because then you’re stuck with IT forever.

  66. For a kitchen, especially if you or anyone in your family is not a morning person, the most important thing is to NOT choose a color that is so obnoxiously happy that it will make you want to destroy things when you see it while stumbling towards the coffee pot. :)

  67. I’m gonna vote “no” on the orange kitchen– it’s already so often a hot, busy room, and painting it a “hot” color is unlikely to make it feel any cooler or more serene.

    Plus (and I speak from sad/hilarious experience) finding the right, tasteful, sophisticated shade that’s more “upscale gourmand” than “vomited creamsicle” or “1970s shag” can turn into more of an exasperating process than one would expect.

    That said, in the PNW or the Northeast, all of this may be less critically vital than it is in the South.

  68. Anyway, hands-down the best book on decorating and making a house a home I’ve ever read was “Use What You Have Decorating.” By a Ms. Ward, as I recall.

    It’s not so much the stuff itself as it is arranging the stuff in a way that’s conducive to conversation and visual orderliness. A lot of her advice is pretty mainstream now, but at the time, it definitely was a breakthrough.

    But I still see loads of people with all their furnishings pushed up against the walls of these big-ass living rooms– everyone just sits there and stares at the TV because the furniture grouping makes conversation so freakin’ difficult.

  69. Plus (and I speak from sad/hilarious experience) finding the right, tasteful, sophisticated shade that’s more “upscale gourmand” than “vomited creamsicle” or “1970s shag” can turn into more of an exasperating process than one would expect.

    ROFL! Get this gal to the naming department of a paint company, stat! “Vomited creamsicle” is so very… um, vivid.

  70. Wow, I’m late!
    Well, here are my two cents:

    cent 1) When I moved into my apartment last year, the big thing that made it feel like home was when I got the little things displayed.
    I have a penguin collection (figurines, stuffed toys, pins, candles, etc…)
    Once I had fun things on the fridge, my kate bornstein autograph on the wall, and the penguins on display, then I was “home.”

    Cent 2) My mom’s kitchen has pastel orange and yellow walls, but the counters, table, etc are light wood color- you would need a more saturated color against black.
    Perhaps a more orange-red? Or pair orange with another color?
    As long as it’s not a big bright orange, I think you’ll avoid the “halloweeny” look :-p

  71. I like warm colors and a place to sit. My own housekeeping skills are minimal though, eldest is currently reading a book in the huge pile of clean laundry I should be folding. I also have some braided rugs made my my husband’s grandmother, which is cool.

    My favorite colors are pale shades of lemon and cream; but part of that is that I like dark wood furniture and they set each other off. Blue and white kitchens with accents of lemon are my ideal.

    Books. Yep. I have very nice in-laws, they gave us ten bookcases for Christmas (the inexpensive put them together yourself kind) and I have unpacked about half our books into them plus the ten or so miscellaneous ones we already had. I’m hoping for another ten for our anniversery… It’s been so much fun to see old friends as I unpack, Elizabeth Boyer, all my old Brust’s, Susan Dexter, Bischoff, C.S. Friedman, a boatload of Gemmel’s and Clarkes. And for some odd reason Walter Jon Williams, except for Aristoi.

    Cats are good too. Fish as well. Random projects like my half cut quilt and half done braided recycled jeans rug. Plus music. I’m not musical, but I love to have something playing in the background. A tea kettle on the stove, mine has a dragon on the spout. Extra towel racks in the bathroom, never met a bathroom yet with adequate room for towels. My Mom has a cool wooden rack with bars that swing out at different levels that holds about six towels I think.

  72. Twistie’s Yellow Submarine kitchen sounds fantastic!

    When I do get a house (which will be years from now), I want it to have warm colors and comfortable seating. I want to create a very welcoming enviroment, somewhere you can come and de-stress and feel safe. I also want a deck so I can have fabulous outdoor parties!

  73. Kitchens: I tend to prefer kitchens that aren’t too overwhelming in color because I’m really into cooking and food and I think the visual aspect of food is important, and strong colors can influence the appearance so that what looks good your kitchen doesn’t look good elsewhere. (Because light reflecting off the walls can ‘tint’ things even though it’s not visually obvious to you.)

    So I go for colors, but stuff from the more neutral end of whatever hue I like – my last kitchen was a sort of neutral light green, which worked to keep the kitchen looking friendly and inviting but at the same time wasn’t a strong enough color to dominate anything.

    As far as a house generally seeming inviting – I don’t want to say stuff looking used necessarily, but stuff that doesn’t look like the only way you can keep it nice is by NOT using it – like all-white furniture would make me nervous because I’d be worried I’d sit and somehow have a catastrophic spill. :) Little touches that can help to show that stuff is actually used (without the stuff looking worn) is things like a throw in close proximity to the sofa, coasters on the coffee or end table, a box or basket of books/magazines within arm’s reach of the sofa or comfy chair like someone’s just put the novel they’re reading down for a break.

  74. Paint is cheap and I love color. Our kitchen is Benjamin Moore Pear Green and Tangerine Zing. The funny thing is they match our Fiesta plates almost perfectly. So I’d be down with an orange and black kitchen. Maybe find one shade you like and paint 3 of the four walls the lightest shade on the card and one wall the POW! most saturated color on the card. That’s usually what we do.

  75. I think the place where you live becomes a home over time. I would invite friends and family over now and then again many times over the evolution of making the new place yours. That way, you have the “remember when those walls were covered in hideous wallpaper?”, “remember you laughed so hard that milk came out your nose, you remember we were painting over that horrendous sterile white?”. All that is what makes it your home. No matter how many times you move, those memories make each one a home.

  76. For me, home = Books, lighting and wallpaper. Yes, wallpaper. I hate paint. Books live everywhere — I even have a floor lamp that’s also a bookcase.We have books in every room (and bathroom reading ranges from Harper’s to Guns, Germs and Steel to Slayer Slang) — they’re a feature, not a bug! I also hate overhead lights — they cast weird shadows if they’re not supplemented with accent, spot and task lighting. So we have lots of task lighting, table lamps, floor lamps, et cetera. Since I moved a lot as a kid, I ended up with few books, many overhead lights and plain white walls. Those all say temporary to me.

    I haven’t reworked the kitchen yet (okay, not true — it still has the greenish grey formica countertops and the standard boring oak cabinets, but the backsplash is big, creamy patterned tiles turned diamond-shape and we have a fabulous sink.) but the breakfast nook has this patinaed bronzy paper. My partner, however, is a paint fan, so we compromised — the LR, DR, den and our bedroom are painted; the kitchen, baths and my office are papered.

    Under-cabinet lighting is worth every penny. I use the little puck lights, but there are others that work, too. It’s nice to be able to go into the kitchen in the middle of the night, pour a glass of water and not wake the neighborhood with the Big! Freakin! Kleig! Bank of International Airpot runway suitable fluorescents. It’s also helpful in winter or on dark days to avoid shadows.

    Our LR and DR are the same, big open room, so they share the same warm grey walls, black drapes, white roman shades. The art is very cat and dragon-centric (we’re SF and F geeks…) and tends to shades of red, black and purple. Lots of dragon statuary on high surfaces. Furniture is black or silver with red accent pillows. The den leads off the great room, and since I had to paint, I wanted a RED room. It is — Ming Dynasty red. That’s where the video monitor and associated devices live with exercycle and the treadmill (I am not slogging to the gym in a blizzard, durnit and if I want my daily BtVS, Dr Who, Torchwood, et cetera fix, I’m doing my cardio) and the red really perks up my mood in winter and motivates me to actually enjoy, not just endure, my workouts. We matched the grey curtains in there to the grey in the other room.

    My office is full of built-in floor to ceiling bookcases (that I did my very own self with my lady brain and lady strength and my power tools, and yes, I’m quite proud of how they turned out, and no my partner didn’t do it for me, nor my dad nor brother (which I lack) nor did I pay some contractor to put up with me…). Problem with that, though — I’m short and we have cathedral ceilings. So I have a ladder, too. Office is very Regency/Federalist — little writing table desk, acanthus leaf stripey wall paper in black and cream.

    We have wood floors, too — partner’s allergic to… air, maybe? Definitely dust and dander (but our cats are his…. ) so hardwood was our best bet. Two rugs — one in the LR and one in my office.

    All this is preface — a lot of people were astonished when I said we were turning the (formerly emerald city house) red, black, grey and white/cream, but it really turned out nicely pulled together and suits our tastes and personalities. Once we gut the kitchen and redesign it (alas, not this year, but maybe next…) into functionality and get around to arguing out the bedroom colors (Our bedding is red, black and white, but I want a silver ceiling so we’re trying to figure out a good wall color in there) and I learn to shut my partner’s office door (that’s his domain and I don’t ask… though I itch to redecorate it in Dr Who theme if he ever goes out of town for a week… He’d love a TARDIS computer armoire…) it’ll be done and ours.

    I think any colors work if the people who live in the house love them and they reflect the personalities of those people. If you’re in love with terra cotta or persimmon or amber, go with it. (Even good paint is pretty cheap if you decide you hate it…) And do peruse the wallpaper books — you might find something you love, and it’s easy to hang if you realize that “pre-pasted” is as much a lie as “waterproof,” “the check’s in the mail” and “but honey, I’m allergic to latex.” (Not that these aren’t sometimes true, but…)

  77. OMG I LOVE YOU SNIPER! I FOUND ONE THAT’S A SIBLING OF GRANDMA’S COOKIE JAR!! THANK YOU THANK YOU!!

    Re the orange kitchen… I should say, actually, that what I’m calling the kitchen is part cooking area and part nook, and it’s the cooking area with the black countertops. There isn’t much wall to paint in the cooking area owing to the many cabinets, so in some ways painting the wall orange means painting the nook orange and painting a wee little strip near the ceiling of the cooking area orange. So one thing I should consider is that a paint job on the wall would divide up that space into two more distinct spaces. Which might be fine, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

  78. If I were buying a place, instead of moving to a new rental next month, I think I would kill for some built-in bookcases. I have enough bookcases for my books for now, but I love the look of built-ins, and my impression is that, if you’re willing to lose some space in a room, they’re not that hard to construct (says the girl who only vaguely knows how to wield a drill).

    My roommate has always been hardcore about painting, and I love our turquoise and yellow kitchen/dining room, and think it’s silly to have to paint it back when we leave — wouldn’t the next tenants like bold and lovely colors, too? (Perhaps not.) But my room in the next place is already painted purple — it’s like they knew I was coming!

    I’ve been reading Apartment Therapy and Uncluttr recently, and while not everything on those blogs works for me, it’s nice for ideas.

  79. wouldn’t the next tenants like bold and lovely colors, too? (Perhaps not.)

    What is bold and lovely to one person is jarring and an assault on the senses to another. Yes, that’s why you neutralize :).

  80. Ellen Kennon paints are the best. They are full-spectrum colors, blend nicely and have a vibrance that other paints don’t have.

    I could do an orange kitchen, especially with the black to counter and ground the brightness. I’d do some bright royal blue accents. In fact, I’ve concluded that painting anything a bright blue makes it better. I saw it in a bathroom with beige and lemon yellow tile that most people would paint beige and you’d just feel sick every time you’d go in, but with the bright blue paint, it works.

  81. Hmmm… I’m renting with limited options for decorating so my advice might not be useful, but I find that the little things make a bigger difference than the colour of paint used in making a place feel homely.

    My bedroom is a warm, dark, inviting little cave; dark wood furniture (most of it cheapo stuff that I restained and prettied up to make it look fancy), purple/plum and reddish coloured bedding, curtains and lampshades. Not too many mirrors, since I don’t want it to look like a porn set, but I did make sure to add lots of nice warm-looking fabric things; I do a lot of sewing so a couple of little table toppers made from scrap fabric, a little cushion on the window sill for sitting on when I want to be nosey, and a beat-up old armchair from the old house covered with a throw. Beat-up old chairs in bedrooms are a must for me; don’t know why, but if there is a little bookcase next to it the bedroom instantly feels homely.

    Frontroom; the owner of the house had the frontroom all painted white, but a build in shelving unit had light green paint inside and the curtains were a micture of all kinds of greens and gold. So my sofa got recovered in green fabric and I have been making allsorts- patchwork tablerunners for the coffee table (in different shades for different times of year), extra cushions on the chairs for cuddling, an entire wall that is slowly being taken over by bookshelves and some of my better poppets up on a shelf, with my stone collection (geology rocks!) and some of the OHs better sketches spotted about the place. I am trying to cram in as many family photos as I can but am not allowed to put holes in the wall!

    Kitchen-wise I LOVE dark counters, but you might be better off with a lighter colour on the walls to stop the room feeling dingy. Maybe make the kitchen country-style with lighter walls and dark accents. Country-style kitchens with herbs hanging up to dry are always welcoming.

  82. My aunt had an orange kitchen – bright orange, like the basic Crayola color – and I loved it. It was bright and cheery and welcoming. She did not have black countertops, though, so I don’t know how that would go.

  83. Totally read that “orange kittens”. I have nothing but positive feelings towards orange kittens :)

  84. Got to second the paint quality opinion. Buy good paint, preferably eggshell, especially if you have children/pets. Makes for easy cleanup. Oh, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are magic on cleaning smudges, hand prints and other smut on walls.

  85. Don’t forget primer!

    Here are a few pics, including one of the orange kitchen in my previous apartment. I believe the color was “Tangerine.” The color in the bedroom was “Caribbean” (both from Lowe’s, I believe their house brand), and the bathroom color is Benjamin Moore Marlborough Blue. That one I actually got from a Queer Eye episode, where the straight guy had tiles in the exact same color as mine. I hated those tiles, but they were better than the other option in the building, which was a salmony pink.

  86. i’m back from the sharon jones concert and i have pictures to share!

    here is the entire page from the magazine:

    Gourmet April 2009 #1

    and here are the kitchen photos, cropped:

    Gourmet April 2009 #2

    Gourmet April 2009 #3

    ENVIOUS SIGH . . .

    now i want a “yellow submarine” kitchen too . . .

  87. Savagewoman, on June 27th, 2009 at 1:22 pm Said:

    Totally read that “orange kittens”. I have nothing but positive feelings towards orange kittens :)

    Oh, good, I’m not the only one. I am strongly in favor of orange kittens as well. I have one on my lap, making it hard to type.

  88. Whenever the subject of wall colors come up, I feel like such an odd-ball. I do not like warm colors – red, orange, yellow = ick (IMO, of course). The colors on the walls in our condo are sage green and light taupe, with a striped wall paper (taupe, sage green, and eggplant) under the chair rail in the living area. These colors were here when we bought the place, and were completely designed for our furniture, which is all shades of green and/or purple. I’d love to repaint the kichen, but cannot for the life of me figure out how to integrate it with the living area.

    Anyway, despite the cool colors, I think our place is cozy. Part of that feeling comes from the book cases with family pictures (as well as books, of course!), part from our over-sized, squishy sectional, and part from the afghans I have on every piece of upholstered furniture. I love these afghans! They don’t particularly match our decor, but they were lovingly made by my mum or my husband’s gramma – what could make us feel more at home??

    And while I don’t love warm colors, I recently visited friends with way more design sense than I have. The colors in their kitchen/living area: Orange, black, and white. It was lovely, home-y, and stylish all at the same time. The orange was more on the red side, and was on accent walls. Also, it was more in color washes rather than one solid wall color – perhaps from wall paper?

    So, I think if you find the right color of orange for your black countertops, it will look great!

  89. Cute pics, Zuzu! I love seeing what other people do with their spaces. The turquoise bedroom is gorgeous. I love that color. On that note, I hope you post pics eventually A. Sarah. What can I say? I’m nosy.

  90. Awww, thanks, juliah! I’m trying to decide what to do about the fact that it’s way too long. I would break it up except I’m not sure where the natural breaks are.

    Anyway, I always have insomnia on Saturday nights, so I expect I shall post it in the wee hours of Sunday.

  91. adding to the zuzu love! Wow, so did you get offers yet? Your place is so cool/funky and yet easy and welcoming. Wanna decorate my house? :)

    Sticky, thanks, I may just post pics when we’re done moving in and painting. Right now the only pictures are part of the house listing so I’m wary of putting them up, lest some enterprising person connect the dots and set in motion a chain of events that leads to my eventual tenure denial. (Which I realize is really unlikely, but I’m the exact sort of person for whom cautionary horror stories are most effective.)

    So what finish does one use on orange kittens? Flat? Eggshell? Satin? Semi-gloss?

  92. Black is a good color for kittens. We just got two black brothers, one who purred so much the vet couldn’t get his heartbeat. Yep, he purred with alcohol under his nose and during his shots. The only time he didn’t purr when I was touching him is when I rinsed the shampoo he’d gotten into off of him. But he did start again when being dried with a towel. Orange ones are cute too, but in a more theoretical way; I find with kittens it’s definitely love the one you’re with.

  93. Wow, so did you get offers yet?

    Oh, those are from last year; I got offers from the first and second open houses and wound up with a mini bidding war. I got in just before everything went to shit in the real estate market. ;)

  94. Woooo, angela, thanks! Those pics are actually doubly encouraging, because I was thinking of painting the drawer fronts (which are currently white) a very light grey-sage.)

    And sorry to you and the others with legit comments in moderation. Was out this afternoon and only just got to it.

  95. @piffle: I used to dream of having a white cat with pink ears, but when I went to the shelter to pick out my first cat, I found out that people don’t want the black cats. Always one to love the underdog (ha), now both my cats are black, and I adore them. Plus, I wear a lot of black clothes. That white cat would never have worked out.

  96. @ A Sarah – “Too long” or not, I’m sure it’ll be interesting and spark interesting discussions.

    @ Piffle – “Random projects like my half cut quilt and half done braided recycled jeans rug.”

    Oh. My. Word. I’ve been needing a project and this is it. I love recycling and repurposing old things to make new things.

  97. Oo decorating. I have always rented, and all but one place had neutral walls. That one had some bright colors in a few rooms, which was fun, too. So I can go either way, but I don’t find the neutrals boring or un-cozy, personally.

    When I moved to my current place, with a new job and salary so I could fill in the holes a little bit better and replace a few items, I did a pretty good job of decorating. Mostly I was picky and shopped around on amazon, even though that meant a lot of it came from third-party sellers so I had to pay shipping (bah). Some items were yard-sale or craiglist finds accumulated over the past 5 or 6 years, some were much newer secondhand finds, and some were brand new to fill out the place, which is muuuuuch bigger than my last one. (Example: two new rugs (rugs are expensive!!), one secondhand coil rug, and one new handmade rug from my mom!) I kind of matched furniture and decorations to each other more than to the walls, and where there was colorful tile I went with that for matching as best I could. And it felt homey pretty much right away.

    Wall decorations came later, but they do make a huge difference, especially if you have neutral walls. Next up: curtains. Whenever I have a moment to breathe long enough to learn to use my own sewing machine.

  98. IMO, the quickest ways to make the place homey are:

    - screw the subtle neutrals, and buy some paint & accessories in your favorite colors. EVERYONE responds to this, whether it’s a bright orange front door, or a sunny yellow kitchen, or an accent wall in an unexpected color like purple or lime green. You can create a sort of cohesive theme by using a color in one room, then a lighter hue as trim in an adjoining room, and/or a bright hue as the ceiling in yet the next room. If your tastes run a little less eclectic, paint the doors & baseboards in pretty pastels instead of whites, except in the bathroom, where I recommend going with white or beige so you can change out the towels & shower curtains from time to time in any nutty color or print that your heart desires.

    - plants. Cheap, cheerful, good for the air. If you have a sunny spot, do a little indoor herb garden and it will smell nice and liven up dinner as well. Plant them in interesting containers like old coffee cups, chipped bowls, etc.

    - Do you knit or crochet, or know somebody who does? I make blankets and stuffed animals, and I know if sounds corny, but it’s another cheap way to get exactly the colors you like, and again, everyone responds to them.

    Photos. Don’t stop with plain old framed 5 x 7s on the mantelpiece: try big prints, mousepads and coffee cups – You can revive a scuffed up coffee table by covering it with a photo collage, and then getting a piece of glass or plexi cut to size and placing it on top.

    Happy housewarming!

  99. Hope I’m not repeating here–I’ve only skimmed the comments–but before you paint an entire room, it’s a good idea to put big (2′X3′) sample swatches on the wall and make sure you can live with the color. Colors look different at different times of day, so live with it for a few days to be sure.

    –Virginia, who personally doesn’t think she could live in a house with an orange kitchen but fully supports those who love the idea.

  100. A Sarah, I have an orange kitchen…. it is a true orange, almost halloweeny, and it’s that color because I was feeling broke when I needed to paint it. (following a flood which necessitated new walls.. long story) and I picked up the color in the ‘mistints’ for, like, seven bucks, and I just got curious about how it would look. And I was never ‘sure’, but I must like it, because it’s been that color for years now, and it’s a cozy room suitable for food, that I like spending time in!

    My home is very strong on coziness and quirk.. so much so, that, when I first come home after visiting someone whose home has a more streamlined or minimalist look, I look around at my place and think “Oh. I must be a crazy person”. But then, I find, the antitode to that is to pull out my Paris Interiors book and look at all the quirky, beautiful spaces other people have created, and I see a commonality between them and my place. And a friend once told me I had a “sexy house”. I was curious about what she meant; she said it was because of the different textures and colors and how inviting and tactile everything is. That’s a nice thing, I think.

    So, I will offer my formula for quirk and coziness. I’ve never really broken it down before, but basically I think it involves:

    Books in every room, including hallway, kitchen, bathroom..

    A dresser in every room. I have kind of a fetish for old dressers. I tend to paint them a bit creatively. A dresser makes a good canvas for someone (ie me) who wishes they could paint well but can’t quite. They are SO useful in every room. In the kitchen, the dresser holds cookbooks (one drawer), my shopping bags (one drawer), and, um, I’m not sure what’s in the third one. The cat’s food and water are on top of it, and the dog’s food and water below. The dining room dresser has, ugh, way too many papers. But they’re all nice and hidden in there. The bedroom ones have clothes… well, mine does, anyway. I don’t know what my daughter has in hers. The bathroom one is mini-sized and has cosmetics. All of them are vintage or possibly antique… what’s the cutoff for antique? fifty years? Yes, antique. Picked up on street corners by me and painted.

    And, yes, art everywhere, and I try to look at each space in terms of how I want to use it. I know that sounds elementary but it was a bit of a eureka moment for me. Oh, and, I tend to set up little collections of things to look at, like, little ‘vignettes’.

    Anyway, congratulations on your new home! And don’t be afraid of playing with color. Everything that can be painted can be REpainted. It’s okay to play with it!

  101. and, I forgot something important: Indirect light. Multiple little lights, not big overhead ones. Everywhere but the kitchen and bathroom.

    and candlesssss…

  102. So this is where you’ve been hanging out, A Sarah! I missed ya!

    What makes a house a home to me – which, btw, 12+ years after we moved in here would mean my home still doesn’t fully qualify:

    Color other than plain white or eggshell on the walls

    stuffed bookshelves in the living room

    light fixtures in every room (don’t laugh, it hasn’t always been a given for me)

    Tons of artwork and photos on the walls and dressers

    A nice rug/carpeting

    FINALLY getting rid of all the icky boxes and metal shelving!

  103. No TV in the living room, kitchen, or other public space. For serious.

    When you have a TV at the center of things, it’s usually on, killing any conversation and making it impossible to have a nice quiet dinner/snooze/reading session. Even when it’s not on, people (especially children) will be thinking about what they want to watch next, not the company at hand. Also, they’re kinda ugly. Much better to banish it to the den or at least have a nice cabinet, no?

  104. Oh, I like having a tv in a shared space. But my family likes to watch tv together, as a communal activity, so it can be pretty great for us. That clearly might not work so well for all families!

    I forgot to mention this, but I am also all about decorating with little things. I’ve got rocks on almost every surface (okay, that’s not so normal, but I swear they are pretty), and doilies (which i made in my doily phase), and books and magazines. I don’t even have all that much company, but I figure when I do have people over, they’re things to look at and conversation pieces, and it keeps the place from looking sterile, even when it’s tidy.

  105. Okay, volcanista, for some reason that makes me FAR TOO HAPPY to know that you have rocks and doilies. (I’m assuming not arranged decoratively together, or yes?)

  106. Hmm — I think it depends on the precise shade of orange. A burnt orange or terra cotta color would look nice, as might a coral or a peach tone. But a tangerine-y shade of orange might look a bit too Halloween-ish. Likewise, if the black is too flat, or very, very glossy, it might not look right. A bit of texture or depth to the black (or just the marks of normal wear and tear on black appliances) might help.

    This also depends on the kind of accessories you plan to use. If you’re thinking of using lots of wicker and natural woods, the scheme might come off as a bit “harvest theme”.

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