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Do me a favor, and look up at your ceiling—thanks. Now let me politely ask “WHY THE HELL DID YOU JUST LEAVE YOUR DRYWALL CEILING BLANK BUT PAINT YOUR DRYWALLED WALLS A COLOR?” No, I’m not yelling, I just don’t really understand. White drywall ceilings are fantastic when (a) they’re part of an all-white-aesthetic (b) the ceilings are coffered or (c) they’re clad with beadboard or tongue-and-groove wood painted out white or (d) you’re broke and can’t afford another gallon of $26 paint.

Easy DIY Ceiling Medallion by Layla Palmer of The Lettered Cottage

Sure, this is totally subjective; however, as someone who gets paid to improve people’s homes, I can attest firsthand that it’s an easy way to give a room new identity, play up its assets or tone down its shortcomings. Here’s a few ceiling design ideas for different levels of DIY. Hey, you spend hours picking paint colors, taping off trim, then rolling eggshell enamel on your walls; it’s only fair you pay some attention to their upstairs neighbor. Right?

Painted Ceiling Tiles

Armstrong Residential Ceilings offers a huge assortment of ceiling tiles for spaces with unfortunate but necessary drop-ceilings. In basements, or as I like to call them, “terrace levels,” drop-ceilings allow instant access to leaky pipes or damaged wiring. Sure, the grids can be torn out, then drywall can go up; however, that’s a major headache and if you can’t do it yourself, it’s also major cost. Simply swap out unsightly foam tiles for “Raised Panel” tiles which can be left in their matte white finish to help bounce light around or they can be customized with paint. In this basement’s bedroom, my team updated the ceiling in about four hours; the only tool needed was a utility knife to cut the end pieces to size. Once installed, we sprayed the ceiling and the walls the same shade of dove grey. This is a great project for people with beginner DIY skills.

Easy, Medium & Hard Ceiling Projects

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Unless you’ve spent the past decade on the U.S. space station orbiting Mars, you’ve probably heard of something called Craigslist. Much like outer space or, perhaps, the fictional Land of Oz, it’s a wondrous, dubious place we’re still trying to figure out. Whether you’re hocking hand-me-downs or picking up mid-century sofas for less than a tank of gas, the site can be overwhelming.

Capella Kincheloe

For the ins and outs of conquering Craigslist, I turned to Atlanta-based interior designer, blogger and Craigslist enthusiast, A Curated Lifestyle’s own Capella Kincheloe. From when to search and what to search for, here’s what she had to say.
Best Days to Shop Craigslist and More

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After 6 months designing the perfect Danish modern-ish, L-shaped sectional for my mid-century ranch, I’d decided on the right fabric—a black-brown velvet from Kravet. Oh, my friends, you can betcha it was sure to be the most tantalizing textile in all of my 1,560 square feet. My upholsterer’s team walked it through the back door, I took a dive onto the 11-foot long masterpiece and basked in its brilliance—until I brought a shed-happy white rescue Terrier home days later.

My point, and I do have one, is that velvet is a very complex fabric to deal with. Take it from me, I’ve had to work like crazy to keep my beloved sofa from entering the gates of furniture heaven. From durability and stitching to colors and placement, there’s so much to take into consideration. And, believe it or not, much like that ridiculous “no white after Labor Day rule,” there’s some times of the year to put the velvet away. Let’s discuss—after I cover my own velvet sofa with bedsheets, of course.

Brian Patrick Flynn Velvet SofaVelvet Sofa as Seen on Wallpaper Collective

First up, what is velvet and why does it feel so darn luxurious? Well, it’s usually made from silk, which means a very high cost per yard, or cotton, which is closer to a medium price point. Those two evoke the true, sensuous feeling we often associate with such a romantic textile. Synthetic velvets (silk mixed with viscose, polyester or nylon) are often the most affordable and the most durable. The latter is the best route to go if you’re a dog-allowed-on-furniture type like I am. Its range in color pretty much spans the entire rainbow; Knoll has some of the punchiest hues. Azure (blue-grey) and Lipstick (fire engine red) are unlike anything else out there.

Not a Velvet Elvis in Site

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Two years ago, I bought my first house just a few months after re-designing my downtown loft. Kinda stupid, huh? Especially considering all the effort and money that goes into fully executing a design properly. Whatever…at least I avoided the shoemaker’s-kids-have-no shoes cliche, not to mention what it did to my confidence for pulling off high-end looks without high-end price tags.

Of all my design projects, my loft is probably at the top of the list; it was so personal, so outside-the-box and done on an extremely tight budget. It also landed a spread in the very last issue of O at Home. My objective was to mix up my favorite design styles: space age, pop and 1970’s masculine. One magazine editor labeled it “Loft in Space” which I kinda love.

Brian Patrick Flynn Red Buffet

To make a bold entrance, I had a $30 Craigslist credenza professionally sprayed with urethane paint in a color called “Red Gumball” by Pittsburgh Paints. The wall was hit with the ugly stick (as in awful faux painting) so I updated it with luan painted with flat “Bitter Chocolate” paint from Behr, then hid the seams with 1X3 MDF painted the same color but in a high-gloss finish.

Mi Casa Es Tu Casa

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Growing up, I recall many borderline-offensive kitchens and/or dining rooms covered in cheap, nausea-inducing wallpaper. Perhaps that’s why my generation, kids who went to high school in the mid-1990’s, consider decorating with wallcovering so despicable. Well, it’s time to SNAP OUT OF IT [Cher slaps Nicolas]! There’s only so much one can do with eggshell enamel until the need for texture, sheen and pattern come into play.

For interior designers, wallcovering hasn’t really ever gone out of style. Sure, to the general public, it may have disappeared for 15 years; however, any high-end designer home created in the past decade is certain to have a few rooms sporting a variety of options from grasscloth to toile. If you’re borderline-interested in the possibility of wallpaper for your own home, here’s a few options sure to get your design mojo flowing. Now, as far as wallpaper BORDERS are concerned, let’s just go ahead and completely erase those from history. The world will be a better place.

Graham & Brown
Hands down, the best source for wallpaper online. The UK-based company offers collections from huge designers such as Kelly Hoppen, Amy Butler and Barbara Hulanicki. Sure, their products are amazing; however, their prices will leave your jaw on the floor too.

“Fountain” by Amy Butler

Wallpaper is Cool Again

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Sometimes I impulsively buy this-is-so-amazing-I-can’t-pass-it-up furniture and accessories (a) even though there is no place in my house for them, (b) because I do not want other people to have them and/or (c) I think to myself, “This will be great for my client…once I meet and actually GET that client.”

Before heading to America’s Mart in downtown Atlanta for the January 2011 Gift & Home Furnishings Market (see part 1 of my post about the market), I had a pep talk with myself all about the art of not buying anything, instead simply going to look and photograph amazing finds for the Interwebs.

$475 later, I gave in; however, I actually have clients who needed things and therefore my trip was a major success. The money was, of course, spent but it wasn’t mine so it doesn’t count, so stop judging me, okay?

Take a stroll through a few awe-inspiring temporary exhibits packed with items sure to spark new trends within the design community, from poodle lamps to tables pairing polished glamor with woodsy rustic. Yes, I said poodle lamps. No, I didn’t purchase any….yet.

Chip Wade Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market

Natural textures were abundant in almost every design scheme. Upon entry, I was pleasantly surprised to see Curb Appeal: The Block’s Chip Wade had created an uber-gorgeous living room vignette. The transitional room sported tons of coastal modern flair with some Swedish influence. Oh, and the color scheme? While I’m a big fan, I also can’t help wanting to call Chip up myself and shout “Hey man, that’s the color scheme of my house! I did it first….so there.”

Poodle Lamps, Black Swan and More

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When I was in sixth grade, I wanted more than anything to experience pizza day at Danny Hernandez’s lunch table. Danny, leader of the popular kids, sat with other A-listers chatting about super-secretive, exclusively-cool stuff. D-listers like me could only dream of what they were noshing over. Who was the most awesome last week? Where is that uber-popular Maria gonna have her 13th birthday party? Twenty years later, I now know what it’s like to be in on a members-only happening.

What the hell does this have to do with decorating, you ask?

Well, just this week, I spent a full day at the Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market held at America’s Mart. Also referred to simply as “Market”, the multi-building complex is only open to industry professionals ranging from interior designers and decorators to retailers and wholesalers. For approximately one week, they swarm in, eager to lay their eyes on the latest and greatest assortment of furniture, accessories, fabrics, wallcoverings and rugs. It’s also a chance to get a first-hand look at what trends are about to hit showrooms worldwide. Inside, you’ll find a mix of temporary exhibits and permanent showrooms. This year’s Big Momma of trends? Handmade craftsmanship and Old World finishes. From rustic stools to hand-stitched bedding, hammered bathtubs to artisan lighting, here’s my scoop on where the latest wave of interior design is likely headed. They had me at hand-stitched.

First up, guests register and grab badges which are essential to getting in since, after all, this is a members-only event. The badges aren’t fashion suicide like those awful peel-and-stick tags at mixers; I even wore mine—and wore it proud.

Get the VIP Treatment

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Before becoming a professional decorator, I’d bury my head in great design catalogs weekly; afterward, notsomuch. A few months into my career, I realized my job was to ensure that clients’ homes were NOT filled with things everyone had easy access to. Magically, my studio became catalog-free.

Sometimes there’s a stigma attached to catalog decorating—one that oftentimes is rather true. For some odd reason, many people tend to buy EVERYTHING they see in a single image. Instead of ending up with a beautifully coordinated room, they end up with Page 7. The key to designing with catalogs is simple—just don’t buy everything from the same one. You know how your Mom told you to share your toys with friends? Well, share your money and your square footage with different mail-order retailers, darnit!

Nowadays, I’m a huge fan of designing with catalogs. In fact, some are so well prop-styled and art-directed, that I enjoy flipping through them just as much as my favorite shelter magazines. Here’s the rundown on eight great catalogs every designer or design lover truly should be subscribing to. They’re free, they show up in your mailbox and you don’t have to leave to house to purchase stuff. What’s not to like?
Check Out My Go-To Shopping Guides

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Sometimes when I see an A-List celebrity on the cover of a magazine, I think to myself, “I wonder who does their draperies?” Unhealthy? Yes. Justified? Kinda—since I assume glamorous stars who pocket $20M per movie must be living in designer homes. And if they’re not—shame on them. Not to mention, whether it’s decorating or grocery shopping, stars doing stuff in their personal time is, for some odd reason, FASCINATING!

This leads me to another curiosity: What blogs are designers and design bloggers reading and why? This new-found need-to-know started when I noticed that the Editor in Chief of Traditional Home (which I considered to be The Bible) recently became a fan of Decor Demon on Facebook. Some of the most influential people in the design and shelter magazine world are reading our words and loving our images—that’s HUGE!

For real, use this blog post as a forum to tell us all about where you spend the most time on the blogosphere and why.
See What I’m Reading

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When it comes to gifts, I’m a firm believer in going big or going home. This can often super-suck each holiday season when trying to one-up the previous year’s mega-present. A self-proclaimed procrastinator when it comes to shopping, last year was an exception as I was able to order my that’s-so-clever-I-must-have-it showstopper online weeks, even months before the big day. So just what did I get for both that top drawer individual and myself? Custom Muppets from the Muppet Whatnot Workshop. Whatchutawkinbowtwillis?

Yep, I said Muppet. This brilliant concept is housed on FAO Schwarz. With a few clicks, you can create your very own Jim Henson style doppelganger through an assortment of characteristic categories; they even arrive in vinyl drawstring bags, which eliminate the need for gift-wrapping.

Make Your Own Muppet

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