Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Making Bookcase Cabinet Doors ... Pt 1 of 138

Ok, that's a bit of a joke! If there really are 138 parts, I'm not gonna break them down into the 1-by-1, we'll just cover this as we go along and see how many times I can write about it before I get bored or start to cry.

So, I hopped over to my friendly big-blue-box home improvement store and bought some wood, and can I rant about that for a minute? WHERE IS THIS WOOD COMING FROM? Who is planing it? Why is it all so warped? Are they shipping the stuff in a round tube? I don't understand why you can't just walk in and pick up the wood you need! You literally have to stand there for an hour, pulling piece by piece off the shelf to inspect it for the least imperfect, BECAUSE NONE OF THEM ARE PERFECT. Seriously, I'm pretty easy going - but my headache with this project started right there in the lumber aisle.

Then of course I get my imperfect boards (but as imperfectly imperfect as they made available to me) home and had to start cutting with my trusty hand tools. 

That's right! No fancy power tools here. No fancy woodshop either. Right there, down and dirty on the living room carpet. Ha! I'm literally shaking my head, writing this. Once the wood was all cut and ready to go, I started putting it together: 

My trusty drill and clamps and jig to make this thing super sturdy. And yes, that's saw dust on my antique carpet! Oh boy! In case you didn't already know - I'm impulsive, and do whatever I want, pretty much wherever I can when I decide that I HAVE to have it. Speaking of HAVE to's: I have to tell you - if you're interested in these sorts of projects at all, you should definitely look into one of these: 

It's a Kreg pocket hole jig, and they make these perfect little recessed holes, and once you put in your screw - that thing is never coming apart. I was shocked at how sturdy it all was once I was done. Like a professional had put it together! Seriously, can't say enough good things. If you don't have one and you're gonna tackle a door project - look into it. You won't be sorry. Ok, so, got it all put together and put on the shelf. Here's where the ONE black and white photo of the semi-finished door hanging up on the shelves comes in, partly because I wanna keep this sorta kinda veiled until I'm all done and the room is completely ready to show, and also because I didn't clean up my mess - so the room is well, messy

Like a glove! I chose to leave the hinges exposed, and went with brass. The doors of course will need to be sanded, the minor little spaces will have to be filled in, and then the door has to get a coat of paint. I've got to get my router from a friend and router the doors to fit the glass panels, then hang the curtains. There's a lot left to do yet, and another 3-doors to make! The hardware is super cool: 

Pretty cool, huh? I'm pretty excited about them. Tonight's agenda is finishing the other door, sanding them both and putting on the first coat of paint! It's so exciting to see this room coming oh so close to finished! If only I had 4 more pairs of hands and infinite-less money and time. But alas ... til' next time! I'll update you soon!  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

To Door, or Not to Door ...


I've been talking about changes to the living room for a while now. They've been slow but constant, and they're NEARLY finished! I've got a few things left to do and then the room can be unveiled. One of the things left to do is decide on doors ... 

bookcase doors that is. They're really functional, we all love them, totally necessary and perfect when built in, like the ones above. Woefully, for those of us who live in apartments, this is not a typical architectural detail. I happened across a great set of bookcases on Craigslist about a year ago. They could be pushed together or used apart. They had wonderful molding detail, and were strong and sturdy. I can't remember what I paid for them, but I honestly think it was something like $25. Just silliness. The kind of Craigslist finds you dream of! 

When I began selling things from the old room to make way for a new look that felt more warm and comfortable, I sold my beloved armoire, and put the bookcases in my living room. They look great there. The profile is slim, so the room feels larger and more open; but as the rest of the room came together they just felt very cluttered and fussy. 

This wasn't the look I wanted. So I wracked my brain organizing and re-organizing the shelves. Sure, I had enough pretty things to make them look perfectly staged, heck I could have filled them with cross bottles but I NEED those shelves to be functional. With all of the design books I have and insist upon keeping, I need a place to store them where they are organized and easy to find. 

Don't get me wrong. Books can be gorgeous when you mix them in with decorative items on bookshelves. But typically it's photos like this that give you that impression. Antique, leather bound books that have a uniformity to them. They're all tonally the same, they're all bound in the same size - volumes of books so you have a very clean look. Design books, not so much. They're colorful and a variety of sizes. My friend Joni, of Cote de Texas had the same issue when she designed her library: 

Color, color, color! The whole thing threw her original color scheme out the window. And while this is absolutely lovely, this is her designated library. You can read all about it here. This isn't part of her living room. There are no other walls here, filled with art or mirrors. The room serves purely as a library, and when that's the case - I don't think you worry about it as much. 

My bookcases are white. And I thought about painting them. Painting them black: 

The color of the books seemed to be less of an issue with them jet black like this. But I only assume that with windows and doorways, the focal point of this room is the black bookshelves. There are likely no other features. I have TWO gallery walls now. TWO! And a mirror above the sofa that ACTUALLY reflects what's going on around it. A messy bookshelf filled with books, two gallery walls, and a confused mirror that could shatter out of sheer confusion at any minute ... well, I don't think it'd matter much if they were black, white, or green: 

But I mean, look at these green bookshelves. So pretty! Alright back to the point I'm trying to make. I needed bookcases. That was a definite. Not only to hold the many, many design books I had, but also to hold the television. So they couldn't go anywhere. I tried dressing them up, dressing them down. Nothing. Until I saw this room (which I've blogged about a million times) by Mark D. Sikes for the Southern Living Idea House: 

All of a sudden it was like a bolt of lightening struck, and I could make sense of the world. The tiny little world of my bookcase problems, anyway. Doors! Doors were the way to cover up the clutter, no matter how beautifully arranged it was, and keep the storage. The focus could still be on the gallery walls, but the functionality of the shelves and the additional architecture stayed in tact! God bless rooms like these, right? That really help guide us when we are struggling! 

So I had my plan. But how do you go about making doors? Oh boy! Well - that's a post in and of itself. We'll get there, I promise! But you have two choices, really. Make them yourself, or call someone in to do it. I chose to make them myself. Literally, tonight, after work. 

My doors won't have the window pane detail that the inspiration room did. I am just not that talented, and even if I were, I don't have the proper tools. But even without the panes, the fabric behind glass is just beautiful, don't you think? 

I have two sections. The upper section of the bookcases will have glass doors, 1 large door per side so that when the door is opened on the side that the television is on, there will be no visibility issues. I'll run a center wood panel down each door though to break up the expanse of glass. The bottom section of the bookcase will have solid doors. Easy-peasy! 

Something sorta like this. Again, the intent here is to help tone down that side of the room. The additional light reflection from the glass will help lighten the room up a little bit, too! I literally am so excited about finishing this space. I finally got to work on it a bit last night, and I'm really loving it. This one detail left, and possibly new curtains (OH BOY!!!) and I'll kid myself into believing it's done. For a little while anyway. 

Stay tuned! 


Friday, August 12, 2016

Gary Friedman's Restoration Hardware House

Everyone and their mother, heck their dog (since so many dogs have blogs) is probably gonna blog or has already blogged about the Napa Valley home currently for sale by Restoration Hardware's CEO, Gary Friedman. Dubbed the 'RH Residence' this 4693 square foot estate in St. Helena, California is chock full of Restoration Hardware. On the market for a cool $10.5 million, the house is a lot like walking into any RH store/design center. Gary worked with the crew from Restoration Hardware to fully furnish the house with any and every thing that RH or their purchased companies sells. When you talk about houses that are "too perfect" or "too new", you haven't seen nothing yet! 

I was lucky enough to find pictures of the house before Gary came in and Restoration Hardware-fied it. Let's take a look at the before and afters: 

The stucco goes RH gray, and water features change. There's really very little beyond color and plantings that are different here. Although it's touted as a full scale renovation, in my opinion it's really nothing more than redecorating on a grand scale.

Hotel Lobby? No! Living room. Don't get me wrong, no one would say: "I think that room is so ugly" and that's great, because it absolutely is not ugly. It's just so soulless. Did Gary ever really live here, or was this just an excellent staging job and a way to break into the real estate development market.

The kitchen had some substantial changes, and they're interesting. Serviceable? I don't know. But it's pretty. Love the brass vent hood, but again - is this a kitchen in a private home? Or the tasting/demo kitchen at RH?

More dark gray. More RH. More symmetry. More perfection. Looks like the ceiling fans stayed the same though. Massive renovation? Are you seeing it? Maybe my definition is skewed. 

Maybe here? Maybe the contracting of the wall to mask the staircase counts as renovation? I'll give them that. But complete? I'm not seeing it. And as pretty as this room is, (and let's face it, they all are) what is it? A television room? A game room? Are you holding a chess tournament? What's the deal with the two chair table pairings around the room? I'm not saying this doesn't make sense IN a store environment where you're trying to show as many of the furniture items as you possibly can. But this is a house! Or is it? 

Pretty. Decorated. No question at all about where it all came from, obviously.

Big changes in the bathroom as Gary takes the tub out and makes two individual showers side by side. I don't get this. Not at all. When RH merged with Waterworks, they came up with some amazing hardware, and I love this french brass hardware, but other than that ... I don't get why you'd lose the tub to make two separate shower stalls encased in glass. Really!? I suppose if you and your significant other both want to shower at the same time without touching one another ... but for me, it seems just another way for the house to feel less like a house, and more like a store.

Pretty. At least this makes sense to me. Two separate sinks, two separate areas for each person. Two separate soulless vignettes. I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just saying ... really!? There aren't even flowers in these shots. I guess RH hasn't bought a florist yet.

This craft room becomes a bedroom. It's a nice guest room space. I don't know anyone who wouldn't be comfortable here. As a secondary space, it seems to have less finishing to it than the rest of the rooms we've seen, and I think that's a good thing. It feels more "real" to me.

Outdoor shower and attached garden space. I like it. Can't believe there isn't another right next to it! he-he, just kidding.

One of the more interesting things that Gary did, and I suppose this does count as renovation, he took one of the garages and turned it into a wellness spa with an open air yoga/massage studio, and full scale personal gym. Complete with RH Belgian linen portieres. 

And a little before and after view, looking toward the guest house. The wisteria was pulled off of the veranda. It's now clean and gray. Just like the rest of the store, I mean house. Now, I doubt any of my readers are looking to spend $10.5 million on a house in Napa Valley, but hey - if you are, it's for sale.

I got to thinking about this whole thing as I was pulling pictures together, I remembered the first time one of Gary's private homes was photographed. It was a large home in San Francisco with a view of the bay.

And I do mean, VIEW OF THE BAY! The house was featured in Architectural Digest in 2008 and again just 4 short years later by C Magazine. These features had professional photographers and stylists, so the photos show a bit more life than the house in Napa Valley. They also show an interesting shift, a sort of "beginning" to this everything RH, everywhere, every day sort of decorating that you see above. First, let's take a look at the exterior photos from  C magazine in 2012:

The photos were taken by California photographer, Lisa Romerein and are absolutely gorgeous. But when you take a look at the interior photos from 2008, when featured in AD, the rooms in 2012 start to feel a little less Gary and a little more RH. Take a look, see if you agree:

The AD captured living room in 2008, which Gary's now long ex-wife Kendal Agins Friedman took credit for decorating with authentic antiques and artifacts to give the house rich texture.

Later, that room looked like this complete with the defunct line of destroyed furniture that RH tried to sell to all of America. That was a love it or hate it furniture collection that quite frankly, didn't even look good here. But still, it seems as though Gary began to realize that these features on his home were just another way to get advertisement for the store, and the RH brand infusion ensues. There are a few pieces that are not from RH. The rug, for example, the praying Buddhas, 

In the AD article from 2008, you'd never know that the RH CEO lived here. Certainly not the kitchen of Napa, is it? 

From C Magazine in 2012. styled by Romerein and photography assistants, I'm sure. No doubt now! 

AD in 2008. A gorgeous view, I'd love waking up here. 

C Magazine in 2012. Really? REALLY!? Granted, they didn't change much to make this feel like a RH showroom. Part of it existed well before, but the gallery wall of those "old" documents that RH used to sell many moons ago? Surprising that they show up en masse, right? NOT! I get it, really I do. If I had a store, and was lucky enough to be able to shop from it during photoshoots, I'd do the same thing. It's smart business. It isn't realistic to the person who purchases that magazine for inspiration though, and goes to show you that rarely is any of that 'real'. It's all produced, highly, and you shouldn't feel bad when your own home doesn't look so perfectly manicured. We can't all shop from a RH warehouse. 

So what do you think? Do you feel duped? Do you feel inspired? Are you heading to your local RH to buy everything in sight? It's not just Gary folks. No matter what issue of what title you pick up, the shelter mags are spoon feeding us things like this because it's good for business, makes for pretty pictures, and generates retail revenue. Am I inspired by these rooms? Sure. Some more than others, but sure. Are you?