Friday, December 17, 2010

My Biggest Decorating Challenge

I have a short list for what my home has to have. I'm not like most women who want things I don't understand, like a "stainless steel sink" (UGH) or a bathroom inside the bedroom...why? (Much more on that later) I don't even care about a dishwasher! They never get the dishes clean or as fast as I can. But the two things I absolutely must have without compromise are hardwood floors and a fireplace. With those two features, I know that no matter what, I can make any home in any condition look beautiful. There is nothing worse than carpet. It disgusts me for so many reasons. However, there are a few exceptions to this.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hang on, we'll go inside in a minute!

If you never had a clue about decorating, and always wanted to, you've come to the right place. A few short years ago, I was buying matching curtains... and worse! I will reveal some of the most shameful secrets in my life. Here is one to put you at ease.. I used to shop at Kohls. There, I said it.  I will show you what my first house looked like when I didn't know how to decorate, (I have chills just thinking about it).  Later, you'll also see what my big fancy house looked like when I had money. And, because I have the same stuff, you'll see the different ways I use it in different homes. I thought it would be the most fun to start here, in the haunted hills of Bisbee, Arizona, where I rented an 1897 miner's shack for $500 a month. I was the first woman to live here... ever. Now try not to skip ahead, because you know how much you love the before and afters!

Our first look inside: The Magical Little Shack

I stood in the front door, staring at what was to be my new home for the next 6 months. Could I really move from a 2,500 sq ft 3 story home to a tiny haunted shack? Already, the plastic 70's light fixture had my head spinning with fear! I couldn't buy a new one yet, and the hideous bulb... could I change it? Then, my confidence returned as I remembered that as I was slowly becoming better at fixing ugly things I didn't like, an idea would just come to me when I wasn't thinking about it. That really works with whatever you're trying to fix, not just decorating. Once you get better at whatever it is, and have some success.. if you just stop thinking about it, the perfect idea will just come to you sort of "on it's own". Of course the horrible light fixture was in the back of my mind, but a few nights later I looked up at it and realized a skirt with an elastic waist would go around it. This comes from not being able to sew, and, not wanting to sew. I have no patience or desire to do that, and even if I did, it's just something I know I can't do. So I've found ways around it. One of my specialties has become using things that are meant for one thing for different purposes. Does this make sense?

There's even a Place For Everything

This tiny shack had 3 doors. The best was the bedroom screen door. You can keep all 3 doors open all year long. Bisbee has the best temperature year round in the U.S. It is always between 50-80' year round. If it rains, it's only for a minute then the sun comes out.

I have alot of pretty shirts that don't fit my chest. So I just make curtains or lampshades , and a skirt makes a perfect cover for a footstool too. I can't sew a stitch, I just use whatever I can find. A headband to tie the skirt around the light fixture, or safety pins or fabric tape. I didn't know how to create or make anything when I had money, I didn't even think of painting things, like everything I would buy from Ballard Designs was cream colored. Not anymore!
Yes, it's another old skirt. This was a very difficult time in my life, we had owned a successful business, then my husband got sick. We were struggling, I couldn't buy anything, so I just started hanging all my old clothes around the house,  LOL.  I had never thought to do that before. I also stretched a shirt over my horrible hunter green "pleather" chair, and used a pillowcase for the seat part.

This was my favorite window. A $6 nightgown from Ross and all my mismatched jewelry

Bella looks at me accusingly because I didn't get to the door fast enough

I put a broken witch ball on top of the lamp, and a $1 necklace.

Sequined drapes from Anthropologie. I came from a filled 3 story house, 2,600 sq. ft. to this 500-600 sq. ft house and there was a spot for everything, even my Grandfather clock and hundreds of dvds, cds and about ten thousand pairs of shoes

The historic landmark across the street was so old people would come from miles around to photograph it or paint it

Here's a good idea. See the little blue stove? Put a red rope light inside it and plug it in. I got that stove for $15, and the rope light makes it look lit. That light didn't burn out for four years. There's the $1,100.00 rug I was telling you about earlier. It looks pretty worn there. But after shampooing it looked really bright. The colors were way prettier than in these faded out pictures. It's so sunny there that it's very hard to take photos.

No Stainless steel sink here!

Well at least I didn't have to worry about the dreaded stainless steel sink here! Now I believed I was the first woman to ever live here. Yet as small as it was, there were modern storage solutions everywhere. There wasn't a single drawer for silverware, for example, but there was a large pantry. 
Of course nothing is more charming than a fragrant ashtray on the kitchen counter! There were no counters, but there was a back door with an old Victorian screen, and even a back porch! I'm showing you a little bit at a time, so please don't look ahead and spoil it! Thanks
Bisbee is a very weird and isolated town filled with misfits. For years, my husband and brother laughed at me when they said, "You can't live in Bisbee! Normal people don't live there." But I wanted to live there since the first day I saw it in March of 2002. Now it was March 2008 and my dream was about to come true.