house

An Unexpected Renovation.. Ahhh!

If you've noticed that we haven't posted too much about our home and our projects around the house lately, you might be wondering why! Well, today, we are finally letting you all in on the craziness of what has been going on around here for the past month or so! Here's the story! It was a rainy Saturday morning, and I was just getting dressed and ready for a baby shower for a friend of mine, when "whoooossshhhh", an unmistakeable sound of rushing water gave us very little warning of the cascade of water that would come pouring into our bedroom moments later. Ahhhhh! Luckily we were still home and began grabbing towels, buckets, etc. to defend our home from whatever was happening!

Check out the picture below to see exactly what was happening!

SIDENOTE: We often have really lovely interior images on our blog, but the images you're about to see are not so lovely! But hey, it documents the experience, right?

The water leak.

More of the water leak.

Well, I could give you the play by play of the next several days and weeks, but I'll spare you all the details and try to make a long story short. Apparently, a drain on our neighbors roof (we live in semi-attached city row homes) had clogged, and standing water was backing up on their roof. Upon their attempt to unclog the drain, the concealed drain pipe must have broke, because all of the standing water, as it flushed down the now unclogged drain, didn't make its way down the down spout as it should, but instead came pouring into our house! The water entered on the ceiling of the second floor and, because of the volume of water, made its way all the way down to our first floor and even into our basement! Ahhhhh! We are thankful, however, that we were able to move most of our personal belongings out of harms way (only a few things were damaged/ruined), but the walls and ceiling didn't fair so well!

The resulting damage!

More resulting damage!

Ceiling damage on the fist floor.

So, with extensive amounts of water damage, we called our insurance company and a restoration company, both of who acted very quickly to remedy the situation. Roofers came to repair the damaged drain pipe, and restoration workers came to tear out our damaged walls and ceilings and take the necessary measures to dry out and sanitize surfaces from potential mold, etc.

The demolition.

More demolition!

Fans drying out the space.

Gutted room with anti-microbial spray.

Obviously, we were very upset at the situation and maybe a bit angry that it had affected us, but the damage was already done! Unfortunately, all we could do is fix the problem and chalk it up to "sometimes in life, things happen beyond your control". But, it didn't help that we were just starting to feel like we had made some progress on the design of our living room. We had just, a week earlier, installed a wall to wall custom built-in unit (that luckily didn't get any water damage) that we hadn't even gotten to share with you yet - more to come on that in the future. Anyway, we were ready to pull together the next layer of the space, when this little set back happened!

So, forgive us if we've been a bit busy with an unexpected renovation!

Drywall in the room.

Well, thanks to everyone who has helped us during this crazy time. We appreciate it!

The painters are here today, so we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Hopefully, our home will be back to normal soon. Did I mention that we are basically living in one room of our house during this process. I'm ready for this to be over, hehe!

Wish us luck as this process wraps up. Have any of you ever experienced a similar situation?

DIY Striped Wall

So, a few posts ago we showed you a sneak peak at our third floor stair hall wall and the striped painted wall treatment we created to give it a little style. Well, as promised, today's post will show you exactly how we did it with easy to follow step-by-step instructions. However, before we get started, let me say that this project and technique can be modified to fit almost any project and the possibilities are endless - different colors, different finishes, different patterns, etc. So get inspired, be creative and go for it!

If you have a space that needs a little texture or interest, this is a pretty simple, though a tad time heavy (a few days), project that will do the trick.

As with any project, first you need supplies. So, here is a list of what you'll need (what we used)!

Supplies:

  • paint (we used three different variations of the same color - grey, with two different finishes - satin and semi-gloss)
  • paint brushes (one for each color, of course)
  • drop cloth (to protect whatever is below)
  • painters tape (and if your project is anything like ours - possibly a lot of it)
  • a tape measure or ruler
  • pencil
  • laser level (make's the project so easy!)
  • post-its (this is what we used to plan out the color pattern, you'll see below)
  • ladder or step stool (depending on the height of the space - in our case, there was even a point where I was on Logan's shoulders on the stairs to reach a place our ladder just couldn't - I apologize for not having photos of this, it was quite funny, but even so I really don't recommend it, haha!)

Once you have all the supplies, follow the simple steps below to create a happy horizontal wall pattern!

Painted Striped Wall How-to

  1. Determine and Design the Pattern. This can be any pattern you'd like - striped, zig-zag, etc. Here is how we designed the horizontal striped pattern that we decided on. We wanted varied width stripes (some 1", 3", 4", 6", 9", etc.) that we could paint varied colors. So, after a few sketches of how it would look, we started at the top corner of the wall and used our ruler and pencil to start marking the increments down the wall. We like to keep things casual, so we determined the stripe sizes as we went, going with whatever we thought looked best and balanced, making sure not to mark a bunch of narrow or wide stripes in a row.

Blank stair wall

Photo showing the pencil markings.

  1. Tape out the Pattern. This is where you'll use the laser level and painter's tape and probably the ladder. This step did take two people - so for those solo do-it-yourselfers out there, you'll have to find a DIY buddy! One of us held the laser level flush against the wall lined up with the markings, while the other applied the tape in line with the laser! Start at the top of the wall and work your way the entire way down. This is probably the most time consuming part of the process, but once it is done the rest is pretty simple.

Photo showing the pattern taped out on the wall.

  1. Determine the Color Pattern. Once you have the pattern taped out, you have to decide what colors you want to use. In our case, we decided to alternate the three colors randomly but thoughtfully. We did this by assigning a paint color to a post-it color and placing a coordinating post-it tab on each stripe as we planned out the color pattern. This way, we could step back, and see how the color pattern looked based on the colors of the post-its. Sorta silly, but worked well for us!

Showing our post-it pattern method.

  1. Start Painting. Once you've decided on the color pattern, it's go time! You'll obviously need all the painting supplies for this step. It went pretty quickly for us because Logan and I each took a different paint color and worked together. We are such a great team! Anyway, during this step you will most likely have to let the first couple painted stripes dry and come back to the project to continue. Some of the tape lines will be covering portions of the stripes you want to paint. So, you can either use the tape to your advantage and let the taped line be a stripe, or in our case, we let the first paint color dry, then removed the tape, and then taped that painted line in order to paint a new color adjacent to it.

Photo of the painted stripes

Logan painting the stripes.

  1. Pull the tape and voila! Once you've painted your pattern to your liking, let it dry, then go ahead and pull the tape to reveal your masterpiece. At this point, your wall painting project is complete.

The finished wall.

Another angle of the finished stripes.

We went a step further to add a bit of interest (and to add a sense of entry into our studio) by hanging varied size framed art up the stair hall. The artwork is framed photos of urban signage letters that spell out StudioVB, since this stair hall is the entry to our interior design studio!

Hanging the framed art.

Close up of framed art.

Valerie getting ready to hang the last frame.

The finished stair wall!

So, there it is! What do you think? Let us know your thoughts on this project. Do you have any painted pattern projects you'd like to share?

Spring Has Sprung!

With spring in the air, Valerie and I decided it was time to spruce up the front of our house with our annual re-planting of our window box and planter and re-mulching around the tree. This year, we decided to plant some perennials instead of all annuals so that we can enjoy watching the new growth (or regrowth) of the plants and flowers next spring.

Side note – while the names can be misleading, if you want plants and flowers that return year after year, make sure you pick up perennials. Annuals, on the other hand, only bloom and last for one season/year. One of our very good friends just made the mistake of thinking that annual meant year after year and purchased a whole carload of annuals for the flowerbeds she and her husband are creating. Once realizing the misunderstanding, she ended up back at the store returning the annuals and picking up the perennials she meant to get. Oops!

Our planting process started with a trip to Lowe’s to pick out this year’s flowers and to grab a few bags of mulch. We made sure to purchase enough flowers to fill our planters as well as show variety in size, height, type and color. Once we had what we needed, we used our CR-V, equipped with the handy-dandy shelf, to haul our finds home.

Flowers in trunk of car.

I actually did most of the planting while Valerie was off at another job, so I failed at taking some in-process photos. So, check out some pictures of our finished products!

Flowers and plants laid out before planting.

Upclose shot of colorful planter.

Flowers in wooden flower box.

Close up of flower box showing the planter in the background.

Close up of purple flowers in flower box.

Planter and flower box at the entrance of our house.

Any of you green thumbs out there have any pictures of your plant or flower creations that you’d like to share? E-mail them to info@studiovbdesign.com and maybe you’ll see them in a future post! Happy Spring!

DIY Window Cornice

Our last post showed the beginnings of a window cornice DIY project, but we hadn’t showed you the how-to or the result. So, that’s what we are blogging about today. If you’ve got a window that needs a little love, a quick and easy project, that will add some dynamic interest to your space, is just what the design doctor ordered. Okay, that was cheesy, I know!

Anyway, to get started on the project, first you need supplies, right? So, here is a list of what you need (what we used), most of which you probably have lying around the house somewhere.

Supplies:

  • a lovely fabric (we only used a yard and a half, bonus!)
  • batting (same length)
  • a few pieces of wood (you can even use scrap wood, we did!)
  • a tape measure
  • pencil
  • saw (we used a jig saw)
  • drill
  • screws
  • scissors
  • spray adhesive
  • staple gun and staples (light duty works fine)
  • and L-brackets

Once you have all the supplies, follow the simple steps below to cornice creation!

Upholstered Window Cornice How-to

  1. Determine the dimensions. This is a personal design choice and is totally up to you. But, here are a few tips! The cornice should be slightly wider than the window casing, as it will need to fit around it. It can be as tall as you’d like it to be, but just remember to conceal the unsightly window treatment mechanisms (after all, that’s the true purpose of a window cornice). And I would make the depth of the cornice at least 4 inches; again, it will need to allow room for the window casing and any window treatment mechanisms such as the brackets, blinds, rod, etc.

Diagram showing the size of the cornice.

  1. Construct the cornice frame. This is where you'll use the wood, tape measure, pencil, saw, drill and screws. Measure out the dimensions you’ve determined onto the wood and use an accurate saw to cut into four pieces – the face of the cornice (the biggest piece), two side pieces, and a top piece.

The constructed frame for the cornice.

Image showing that the constructed cornice fits into place.

  1. Cut and wrap the batting. Once you have the cornice constructed, lay out the batting and cut the appropriate amount to cover all three visible sides of the cornice.

Image showing cut batting.

Then, wrap it pretty snug the whole way around. The batting really only needs spray adhesive to attach it to the wood, but you can always use the staple gun just to be sure.

Image showing cornice frame wrapped in batting.

Image showing batting step finished.

  1. Upholster the cornice. Now that the frame and batting are ready, you can start the upholstery part. Yay! Measure twice and cut once the appropriate amount of fabric to cover all three visible sides of the cornice, just like you did with the batting. Quick tip – if your fabric has a pattern (like ours did), make sure you line up the fabric on the cornice to ensure that the finished product will show the portion of pattern you really want. And if it’s striped, you really need to pay attention to aligning it so that the stripes are straight!

Image showing the fabric being cut for the cornice.

Now, it's time for the best, and hardest, part. Start in the center of the cornice. Wrap the fabric and staple one staple on each side, pulling the fabric pretty tight. Work your way outward from there, alternating sides to ensure the face of the cornice is evenly smooth. Do this for the entire cornice. As you come to the sides of the cornice, you may want to cut some of the excess fabric as needed.

Image showing the upholstering of the cornice.

Detail shot of the rolled under edges and the staples.

Here's how it should look when you complete this step!

The finished cornice.

The face of the finished cornice.

  1. Attach L-brackets to the wall. While you are marveling at the beauty of the cornice you’ve just created, prepare the wall for it to be hung. About ¼ of the way in from the outsides of the window casing, screw in two L-brackets that your cornice will rest on.

Logan screwing in the L-brackets.

Image showing the L-bracket placement.

  1. Attach the top frame piece. The top board of the cornice does not need to be upholstered since it will not be visible when hung. Slide the top piece in about ¾ inch down from the top. Make sure you know which is top and bottom, you don’t want to end up hanging the cornice upside-down. Once the top piece is in place, attach it to the upholstered cornice with very small screws (that won’t reach through to the pretty face of the cornice) with small L-brackets (we actually used the same size ones we attached to the wall to hang the cornice).

Logan screwing in the L-brackets on the top piece of the cornice.

Image showing the attached top piece of the cornice.

The finished cornice, before it is hung on the wall.

  1. Hang the cornice, and voila! Slide the cornice into place above the window and reach up under the cornice (it will probably be a tight squeeze) to screw in small screws through the L-brackets that are on the wall, into the top piece of the cornice. That's it!

The finished product hung on the wall.

Image showing the cornice in the space.

So, what do you think? Let us know your thoughts on this project. Does it seem easy enough? Did it improve the look and style of the window?

Well, what really matters is that we love it. And we do! It added that extra layer that was missing. Now, we only have to add a few (or more.. haha) layers - we're thinking backsplash, lighting, etc. We'll be bringing you more DIY projects soon!

Fabric Find

So, I mentioned in a recent post that I had picked up a great fabric that I just happened to find (while not looking for it.. bonus!). But I hadn’t told you much more than that. So, this post will fill you in! First, here are few pics of the lovely fabric!

Image of fabric.

Close-up of fabric.

Even closer close-up of fabric.

While I would probably say my style is more modern than traditional, I would rather say I’m eclectic! To me, it doesn’t necessarily matter the style of something, but more so if you like it and/or if it works within your space. And, that’s where this fabric comes in. It’s sort of a modern take on a traditional pattern – so it’s very crisp and clean but has a bit of whimsy. Also, the color palette is quite current/modern and, while it has many colors, it reads very subtle, and that’s just what I love about it.

Anyway, as soon as I saw the fabric hanging from the store rack, I envisioned it in our kitchen. Every color in this fabric feels like it belongs in our muted blue-green and light ivory kitchen. And although I wasn’t sure how I was going to bring this fabric into the space at that moment, I knew I’d find a purpose. Fabrics can be used in endless ways to layer a room!

Here are a few pics of the fabric in the space. See how seamlessly it works with the kitchen color scheme and how it starts to pull the space together. Love it!

Fabric shown laying on the counter.

Fabric shown next to wall color and counter top.

Close-up photo of the fabric and wall color.

Fabric shown next to vintage tins.

Anyway, after tossing around a few ideas for this fabric in this space (ie. upholstered cork board, upholstered window cornice, café-style window treatments, table runner, etc.), we decided that while we already have the white wooden blinds for privacy on the window above our kitchen sink, it definitely needed another layer!

Here’s a few shots of the window with just the blinds!

Window over the sink with white wooden blinds.

Close-up of white wooden blinds.

Needs some interest right? So, we decided to go with the cornice idea! It’s an easy DIY project, yet it will add a ton of sophistication and style!

Check back soon for our handy how-to and the final result!

Staging Tips!

So, last post I talked about home staging and the incredible benefits homeowners get from taking just a few simple home staging steps. Well, I also mentioned that I might list some tips to get you DIYers started. So, that’s what I’ve got in store for you this post. Check it out below! A sold sign in front of a home

Key Tips to Staging your Home for Sale:

De-clutter – With a staged home, it’s likely to sell fast - so you might as well start packing early! Remove all items that are cluttering your spaces (even donate some to charity). Homebuyers want to see the house, not your things. In this case, as with many things, less is more.

De-personalize – Homebuyers want to envision themselves in your home, so let them do so by taking down personal photographs, personal religious icons, personal style décor, etc. You want any buyer that walks through your door to feel at home!

Make Repairs – You know that broken door hinge you’ve been meaning to fix – do it! And also fix any other tiny dents, dings and broken things around the house. These will be big distractions for homebuyers.

Update – Most homebuyers are looking to buy a new home that is move-in ready. But, they are not looking to buy your old carpet and lighting fixtures with it. So, go ahead and do the little bit of work to update any fixtures and finishes that are out-of-date. These outdated aspects of the home scream “lots of work to be done”. And don’t worry, you’ll definitely see a good return on this!

Clean – Wash, scrub and dust all parts of the home until it sparkles. Think about it, this might be the last time you have to. A super clean house makes a great impression, and tells buyers that the home was well kept!

Stage – Lastly, stage the home to be tasteful, beautiful, and appealing to almost anyone. Buyers want to see functionality and how they can use the space, so give them hints of that through-out. Here is where you’ll definitely need professional help. Stagers know what the trends are, what buyers are currently looking for, and what has been proven to show best. So, let us help. Contact us today!

To Stage or Not to Stage?

Thinking back (over some of these past few posts) on our house hunting journey, I am recalling some of the really horrible houses we viewed during our hunt. I should clarify, they weren’t horrible homes; they were just poorly shown. No prospective buyer would have made an offer on them simply because of how the homes presented. This fact inspired me to write a post on one of the many aspects of interior design - home staging. Home staging, for anyone who might be unfamiliar with the term, is the art of preparing, designing and staging a home for sale to show the home in its best light and to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. This is done quite simply in just a few key steps and has been proven to sell the home faster and for more money! It’s a win-win situation for everyone. So, why wouldn’t you do it? It’s a mystery to me why there are still lots of home sellers that don’t get this simple concept.

Check out a couple before and after shots to see for yourself. Which photo attracts you more?

Before and after shots of a home office that has been staged.

Before and after shots of a bedroom that has been staged.

Before and after shots of a laundry room that has been staged.

Before and after shots of a dining room that have been staged.

But, I’ll give these home sellers the benefit of the doubt and assume that it’s not because they don’t get the concept or see the value in it, but maybe that they are just unaware. So, I decided to post a quick list of the major benefits of home staging, and maybe if you are lucky we’ll even give some tips for the do-it-yourselfers in an upcoming post.

But I must say, while I totally appreciate D-I-Y techniques, you really can’t beat the services and expertise of a trained professional home stager that can help you through the process during what is often a very busy and stressful time. That’s where I come in! So, if you are looking to sell your home in the near future definitely contact us here at StudioVB.

But, in the meantime, here is just a taste of some inspiring benefits of home staging.

Faster Sale – Home staging has been proven to reduce the time a home stays on the market – averaging 1 month or less, as compared to un-staged homes at 161 days on the market, ouch!

Higher Sales Price - Staged homes sell for an average of 7% more money than un-staged homes, which means an extra $14,000 on the purchase price of a $200,000 home. That’s worth it, if you ask me, and a great return for a fraction of staging costs!

Wide Range of Buyers – A home stager will help you eliminate the potential of turning away certain buyers based specific tastes, lifestyle preferences, etc. Resulting in a home that appeals to a wide range of buyers.

Visualized Potential – 10% of buyers cannot visualize the potential of a home. A staged home will show the potential and without this, the potential of the home is only left to a buyer’s imagination, which is often very limited. Plus, showing the home to its fullest potential also makes for beautiful listing photographs attracting interested buyers right from the start!

Objective Perspective – As the homeowner, it’s hard to step back and look at your home objectively. A home stager is trained to do just that and provide you with insight into the point of view of the buyer.

So, even with just those benefits, you can see why it’s a must-do when planning to sell your home!

Our Blank Canvas

First, and totally off topic from this post, I have to say… Yay, Logan finally had some time to publish his first blog post! I’m looking forward to being able to post more often with two authors and give our readers (the few that may be out there) more updates, inspirations and ideas. Of course, it will be nice to hear all of this from two, often different, perspectives as well. So, yay for that! Anyway, back to the topic of this post. In a couple posts back, we introduced you to our home as it looked when we purchased it – nothing but the bare bones. But, I think it might be nice to show you how it looked right before we moved in (with the renovation complete), with freshly painted walls, newly refinished 100 year old floors, and all the standard conveniences of a modern home. Since we had made an offer on the house early in the renovation process, we were able to choose some of the finishes, but unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to customize that much. That would be up to us! We look at it like this - we just lucked out on not having to do any of the fun, but often difficult, renovations like wallpaper removal, floor refinishing, relocating plumbing, ripping up old tile, etc. ourselves – maybe we’ll tackle that in our next home, haha.

Anyway, I dug (virtually) through photos to find some to share, and while we documented the renovation progress with hundreds of photos, it seems we failed to take good photos of the finished empty rooms, before we moved all our stuff in... bummer. Anyway, feel free to check out these pics from move-in day, but please forgive the cardboard boxes and random dropped placement of furnishings.

Empty living room.

Empty dining room area

Empty kitchen.

Empty bedroom

Empty hall.

Empty bathroom.

Bedroom with boxes and furniture.

Empty office.

So, our newly purchased house was pretty much a blank canvas for us to design and create into our own home. How exciting! I do remember being really excited, ha! Yet now, a little over a year later, I’d say we are still in the sketching stages of completing our work of art. But give us some time, after moving from a tiny studio apartment in New York City, we had very little furnishings to fill our home, and many of which we’d like to replace with “grown-up” pieces. We’ll get there slowly but surely. And if you know me, you’d know that I can make quick, innovative design decisions for anyone but myself – so imagine the analysis paralysis! If you’re not quite sure what I mean by that, I feel certain I’ll explore that in later posts! Stay tuned.

For now, we’ll hope to finish at least a few bits of our work of art (our home) and show you the progress as we go.

Our Happy Home

So, I’ve mentioned before that on our blog we hope to share with you our design ideas, projects, etc. Well, we will definitely be sharing what we can of our client projects, but we’re also happy to share the design journey of our own home. So, we thought we’d give you some background, or point of reference, on our happy little home before we would delve into any details in the future. So, here goes. Logan and I bought our first house here in midtown Harrisburg about a year and a half ago (wow, seems like just yesterday - time flies!). Like many house hunting stories, we saw the home listed for sale and called the seller to schedule a time to view it. We were told it was in mid-renovation, but we could definitely come check it out. Being the DIYers that we are, and knowing that we could see the potential in anything, we decided to go see the home. Here is what we walked into that day - an over 100 year old city home that had just begun a much needed renovation (forgive the picture quality, it was dusty and dark in some areas).

View of living room and front door during renovation

View of Valerie in kitchen with tape measure during renovation

View of 100 year old painted stairway during renovation

View of hallway during renovation

View of Logan pretending to wash his hands in our bathroom sink

View of office/studio during renovation

View of Logan and Valerie pretending to lay in their master bedroom during renovation

So, as you can see, we had to use our imaginations quite well to envision this as our home. But, we did, and the ideas were already swarming. I remember standing in what is now our master bedroom whispering to Logan, “I think this is the one!” After months of house hunting, and coming oh-so-close to deciding on another home, we were extremely excited about finding this place. It was in the perfect location, the perfect price and being a blank slate only made the deal more perfect. So we made an offer while there were only studs for walls, it was accepted and we bought the house! We were so excited to finally own our home and have the opportunity to make it ours.

So, over the following 2 months or so, we would travel back and forth from NYC to visit the house, make design decisions and see its renovation progress - so much fun! Eventually, we moved into the house, and began the seemingly never ending journey of designing the spaces, choosing color schemes, finding the right pieces, and working on projects to make this house our home. Well, I’m sad to say that we have unfortunately only made baby steps (in my opinion), okay maybe toddler steps, with so many other things going on and little time and budget allotted for our own home. But, I suppose since I claimed I hadn’t made a New Years resolution, focusing on finishing the design of our home would be a good one. We'll be sure to post any progress!