Tag Archives: DIY

The Living Room: Moss Wall

Seattle, between January and May, is the worst version of itself. Damp and gray, its inhabitants pale and impatient. We’re rewarded, of course, with an incredibly lush Spring. Everything blooms, we toss our galoshes to the back of the closet, we forgive our fair city and forget the months of drizzle and muck. The end is teasingly near- but the fickle shifts between rays and rain have us all fidgeting, weary of our own walls.

It was on a particularly dreary day that inspiration struck- a project to channel my restless energy, to bring the outdoors in, and to invigorate one of the boring walls I’d been staring at for months. Well, a very small section of a wall.

Brass & Lucite Sconce

A disproportionate number of the few posts I’ve written here have focused on the South wall of our Living Room. The plaster fireplace is a statement- and it hasn’t always said what I wanted it to. I struggled with styling the shallow, arched alcove until I installed my lucite sconce. Dramatic, but still not quite there. Should I paint? Wallpaper? I didn’t realize what was missing until I took down my holiday garland– the fireplace didn’t just need color, it needed texture too.

Enter inspiration.

Gilles Jauffret moss wall web

Source

This is the kind of image you pin with absolutely no illusions: it is inspiration only. Who puts a messy moss wall in their house? Me, apparently. The fireplace alcove gave me the opportunity to realize this look in a small, practical way.

Moss Wall Treatment, WarLock Manor Living Room

As to execution, this project was as easy as it gets. I measured and cut out a piece of stiff cardboard, then scribed it for an exact fit. I also marked the location of back plate and mounting screws of the lucite sconce to avoid placing any of the moss underneath the fixture. And then I got busy with my glue gun! I used preserved moss in a variety of textures and colors, and arranged it in clumps- just like the living moss that grows so prolifically here in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to all the aforementioned rain!

Moss Wall Project: Step 1Moss Wall Project: Step 2
Project Progress via Instagram

Installation was even easier- the moss panel is simply held in place by the sconce. No additional damage to our crumbly plaster, and totally removable.

Moss Wall Treatment + Lucite Sconce, WarLock Manor Living RoomYou might also notice a few other tweaks. We painted the interior of the arch chalky white to match the arched doorways throughout the house. I rewired the sconce with a far more attractive cloth-covered cord, and draped it in a way that looks purposeful (the best option, as we’re not able to hardwire a fixture in this location). I also finally got around to installing drapes on the windows surrounding the fireplace. Small changes, but this elevation now has depth and continuity with the rest of the Living Room.

Moss Wall Treatment + Lucite Sconce, WarLock Manor Living Room

I love it. It’s an unexpected counterpoint to the many metallic elements in the room, and a bold swatch of color. Best of all, the moss plays a magical trick on us cooped-up Seattleites: it reads as a third window. It merges the house with our pride-and-joy garden in an surreal and organic way- no rain gear necessary.

 

Flipping Switches

Sometimes it’s the littlest things- like having to wiggle a switch just right to get the damn light on when you’re trying to haul laundry up a dark and slippery staircase- that make you curse your house. “Period details” are charming, 20s-era light switches encrusted with 80-some years of paint and dust are not.

Original Switch

Luckily, swapping out switches is cheap, quick, and painless (provided you have the good sense to turn off the circuit breaker first).

But what if you don’t know which breaker to flip? Because maybe the only legible notation on your panel refers to a water feature that you don’t have? Well then! What a convenient time to take on the task of labeling your panel (and the tertiary chore of resetting every electric clock in the house!). Most efficient way to do this? No idea. Adam and I chose to put on a trial-and-error light show and it was super fun. We’re really looking forward to playing the same game with the outlets. Electrical diagraming is tedious, and our wiring isn’t logical, but I know that getting organized now is scoring me major points with my future self.

Labeled Switch Plates

For extra credit, I’ve put the breaker number on the back of each switch plate. The switch plates, by the way, are old but new to the house. I tossed out a mish-mash of plastic and shiny brass greek key covers and replaced them with patinated and period-appropriate pretties that look like they’ve been there all along. I love, love, love them. When I get around to switching out the screws, I’ll have a few square inches of perfection in every room.

Vintage Switch Plates, Modern Switches

There we go. A perfect combination of vintage aesthetic and modern convenience. And no more cussing.

This is about the only instantly gratifying task on our electrical punch list. While a former owner modernized the kitchen and bathroom wiring (and we thank them for it), the rest of the house is powered with the original knob and tube. I’ve inspected it carefully, and I don’t have major safety concerns (the clusters of 3-prong adaptors and tangles of extension cords hiding behind my couch pose a far bigger risk), but an upgrade would be a complement to our house and its value.

I’m confident enough in my own competence that I’ve pondered taking this on myself, but oh, blah… I’m not sure that I want to devote precious weekend time to stapling romex to our basement ceiling and fishing wires up through plaster walls. Saving money will always be a priority for us house-rich cash-poor new homeowners, but a competitive bid from a licensed electrician might win me over in the end. My time is valuable too, and I prefer to spend it on projects that I can show off to admiring guests and blog readers. Herringbone tile floor, upholstered wingback chairs, and a faux-finished ceiling? Prepare to be impressed by my handiwork. House innards? Not so much. It’s difficult to talk people into a tour of your unfinished basement. But we’ll see. After all, you just read a 500 word blog post on light switches…

 

A Bit of Holiday Cheer

I talked myself out of a Christmas tree, so I’m adding sprigs of greenery everywhere to make up for it. Tiny cypress topiaries, faux fir bedecking our four-post bed, and I may even torture the fiddle leaf fig with a few ornaments. In the Living Room, the simple cuttings that brightened my Thanksgiving tablescape are now livening up our mantle as a holiday garland.

Homemade Holiday Garland

I strung the stems together with wire, then wound them up with store-bought bead strands (one of the silliest purchases I’ve made in recent memory- half of the glitter is now embedded in my carpet). The garland is hung with removable adhesive hooks, disguised by bows of black satin ribbon. The whole project was easy-as-can-be, minus some feline and canine interference (“What’s that? I can bite it? What’s that? I can have it?”).

Coincidentally, it’s a lazy way to disguise the cord for the new lucite sconce!

Homemade Holiday GarlandI’m liking how the garland works here- adding a frame to the fireplace, referencing the shape of the lucite fixture. Symmetry… creativity… my whole brain is happy.

Best of all, the house is finally feeling more festive! Just in time, as we have friends gathering at WarLock Manor tonight to snip paper snowflakes and sip spiked cider- and that’s just the kind of holiday cheer I like best.

Paper Snowflake Tutorial

‘Twould be the season for holiday decorating, if we WarLocks weren’t grinching out this year! Visions of the pup treeing an angry cat in a mercury-glass laden noble fir have me a little more fearful than cheerful. I’m not sure if I’m more over-protective of my animals, or of my collection of ornaments… either way, “NO, Pearl, NO!” every time she nibbles at a bauble or bough doesn’t really scream Christmas spirit. So, we’ll be decking the halls in moderation. Or up high, where she can’t reach.

Luckily, my favorite holiday craft is non-toxic, non-breakable, and absolutely non-tempting to a naughty puppy. With paper snowflakes in every window, the house will feel festive for all the wintry months to come.

Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 1

Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 2 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 3 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 4 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 5 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 6 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 7 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 8

This tutorial is one of my favorites from Shock the Bourgeois. In searching for it I got a sentimental look back at our holiday celebrations of years past- how Adam cooked Thanksgiving for one, how we tablescaped for two, how we trimmed our tree and our tiny apartment. Hopefully there is enough pie and prettiness in the archive to satisfy your appetites this week, as Adam and I scramble to ready a Thanksgiving feast for 10!

The Living Room: Wingback Chairs

There’s nothing more satisfying that a good Craigslist transaction. The kind where you get a snappy response, make a same-day appointment, fork over a few twenties, and neatly fit your finds in the back of your Honda Pilot (tetris brain!). When you snag exactly the thing you wanted, for less than a quarter of what you thought you’d have to pay, you deserve to kick back in one of them and gloat about your thrifting prowess. Like so:

Wingback Chairs at WarLock Manor

That’s right, I finally found the straight-legged wingbacks I was dreaming of! For only $50.00 each! Just look at how they complement our fireplace! I’ve been showing off the chairs on Instagram, but an astute friend called me on the fact that I’ve only posted black and white photos. It’s true. Why? Because… orange.

The New (Orange) Wingbacks

An avid flea-marketer, I deal with rust all the time. But this color makes me cringe more than the prospect of a tetanus shot. Burnt orange, rust, russet… whatever you call it, no. But I have plans for you, my pretties: inky black, brassy nailhead trim, faux-ostrich backs. Thanks to the major cash I saved, I can make this happen. Someday. For now, the ugly fabric is in good condition; my upholstery skills are not!

 

PS: I’m posting all the behind-the-scenes details (and amusing outtakes) from our posts at the WarLock Manor Facebook Page. If you’ve hit like, you can take a look at the Craigslist ad that put these chairs in my Living Room

 

The Living Room: Wishlist

My policy, when it comes to decorating (and life in general, for that matter) is to dream big, then resize to fit. A concept can become reality via money or ingenuity- and I have to believe that the latter is infinitely more valuable. I don’t shy away from shopping high-end resources for inspiration. Limiting your view to what is easily attainable is settling; aspiring for more (and making it happen through creative means) is satisfying!

To prove the point, let’s rip another page out of the Living Room section of my design binder. Design starts with inspiration, translates into a palette of colors and textures, and then takes shape with furnishings. This page focuses on the South wall, which features the original plaster fireplace. It has the potential to impress.

The Living Room features all-original mahogany trim and hardwood floors, a sculptural fireplace, and arched passages to the Vestibule and Dining Room. This is what we were looking at when we fell madly in love with the house.WarLock Manor Living Room, South Elevation

Images, Clockwise from Top: Lindsey Adelmann Chandelier, Paint Color by Benjamin Moore, Crystal Orb Table, Rug (Owned), Wingback Chair

The table is wishful thinking, but doesn’t it belong at WarLock Manor? The unusual shape, the crystal ball… I’m utterly bewitched, but the price tag would spell disaster for the rest of the room. I can’t imagine that our guests would be so captivated by a table that they could overlook the lack of a chair! Since I can’t conjure up the real thing, I’ve been pondering ways to recreate the look with more humble materials (a thrifted table base + acrylic orbs from an old lamp?).

Now close your eyes and envision a pair of shapely wingback chairs flanking my curvy fireplace… perfect, right? Everyone and their brother is selling granny’s old wingbacks on Craigslist- with Queen Anne legs, in the wrong proportions, in singles, in ratty condition, or 200 miles away. Thrifting requires eternal optimism. Someday, the chairs will appear.

Sometimes though, good design is absolutely attainable- and the chandelier is a shining example. The Lindsey Adelmann studio has actually published the instructions (and kit!) for assembling this fixture, and the plans are easy to customize. You can see this chandelier DIYed all over the interwebs, and soon I hope to add mine to the search results!

 

Those of you who follow along on Instagram and Twitter know that I’ve knocked one of these items off of my wish list… one that will be absolutely ideal with a bit of DIY. Pictures tomorrow!