Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the month “March, 2016”

A Return to Subject – My Office!

FINALLY, we are getting back to the original point of this – my adventures in art!

Here’s the Before and After if you just want the summary without my long-winded exposition…

If you are still reading, the exposition:

One of the HUGE frustrations with the house has been my business offices and warehousing rooms.  When we first bought the house, I decided my main office MUST have a color change and a mural (hand-painted by me of course – because I have SO much free time and energy….NOT!), and my sewing studio was so hideously painted I really had no choice but to redo it.  My space for my Beautiful Textiles business had a mocked-up cutting table which was less than ideal and was slowly killing me.

After a YEAR of being mostly sick and not working on anything, the mural in the office is finally officially half done!  Hope to have the other half done this week… Husband helped me put up trim last weekend.  Originally, I’d planned on painting faux wainscotting panels on the wall, but now we are undecided so I think I will just leave the bottom half of the wall plain for now, and live with it a little and see what I want to do.

So, here is my project story:

I started with this:


Removed the floating shelves (which were incorrectly installed and so took a chunk of wall with them, which required patching…) and also took down the valance (not sure if it will go back up ever – probably not).  This room was WAY too beige for me (I’m a color girl!), and I envisioned a room in deep eggplant – something more like this:

dark purple wall

I wanted a deep aubergine color that SANG – nothing too dark, and I liked the contrast of the white to brighten it.  Then I saw this and decided to do wainscotting and bottom panels:


Only, the bottom wainscotting panels should look (I decided) like those hand-drawn frames…  (This was an especially insane idea because I’m too OCD for this unevenness…)



and decided to do that on the bottom outlined in the purple instead of real white panels.  Oh, and of course, they should have a complicated Chinese knot in the corners to tie in with the top part of the walls….Which I had suddenly decided should have a beautiful Chinoiserie stenciled design – kinda like this:


First, this is a little too busy for me, second, the stencils I was seeing cost hundredof dollars.  One hundred wasn’t really my budget, but several?  Forget it!!  So I figured I’d hand-paint it, how hard could THAT be?!   Because I’m insane  picky an artist, I auditioned the whole look and paint colors first by buying some white posterboard at the dollar store, and some 3oz tester cans of the colors I wanted, and painted a very rough idea of what I wanted on the posterboard:

office mockup

Isn’t it fabulous?!  I can’t paint birds, or butterflies, or anything live, so this was going to be SO. MUCH. FUN. (Not at all crazy-making… no, no,… why would you even think that…)

I was planning out my sparser version, when I stumbled on this FABULOUS hand-painted De Gournay silk wallpaper….

de gournay plum blossom

That was it.  I was SO in love!  It was sparse, but not cold, elegant and beautiful, and…. so unbelievably expensive it wasn’t even in the realm of my reality.  So I found the best photo of the design I could (which wasn’t much back then – a blurry, rough design sketch.  Looking things up to write this, I find there are now MUCH better pictures now available!  Oh well…), and used that as my reference to do my painting (Bonus – very few birds or other creatures!).  I decided on a fairly monochromatic color scheme to enhance the elegant simplicity I was going for, and went with metallic silver branches, with white blossoms (the same white as the bottom part of the wall), and purple centers (the same as the top part).


Our walls repeatedly rejected paint, so we finally hired someone to do the base coat.  I think they were VERY sorry for the low price they’d quoted for such a “simple job”.  It took him about 6 coats of paint, 2 different brands, before we ended up with our base coat!  I drew a line around the wall where the chair rail trim would go, and told him not to worry about getting it neat there, just paint the top part purple and the bottom white.


Then we dithered about white chair rail or dark wood that almost exactly matched the existing trim….

And finally, almost a year later, we have this (note, it’s not quite done!!)


Oh, and of course, you need a terrible photo of my adorable husband putting up my trim:


I’ve been asked to include close-ups of my flowers and some details:

So, there you have it… I’m not going to put De Gournay out of business, but I like it (well mostly… Like most artists, I hate a lot of my work and critique it endlessly. I should probably go to therapy about this, but then I wouldn’t have any hobbies…But remember, this is about GOOD ENOUGH…), and I can’t wait for it to be finished and then to start unpacking and furnishing the room….




Letting Go…

As I sit here, surrounded by the chaos and detritus of my half-unpacked house, I am once again struggling to come to terms with the weight and hidden costs of ownership.  We may own our belongings, but our belongings also own us.

Like most of us, I have a closet full of clothes I don’t wear very often, and piles of magazines to read I may never get to, and so many other things that were bought or given to me that served a purpose in my life at one point.

Raised by thrifty parents, one of whom had grown up during the depression, I have to fight constantly to keep my balance between wisely thrifty and unhealthy frugality.  Unpacking the house, taps into one of those deep wells of emotion, as I struggle between my desire for a sparse house (made immeasurably worse by the fact that I’m an artist AND have 2 home-based businesses!!!) and my subconscious ingrained fear of poverty and not having enough and being wasteful.  Yes, I may have clothes in my closet I don’t want or like or wear, but at some point I will wear out the clothes I do like and then will have other clothes to wear and since they are not worn out it is WASTEFUL to get rid of them, SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!!!

Some of this can be ameliorated by my repeated reminders to myself that donating them to a charity can help somebody NOW and I can always buy new clothes when mine wear out (being fortunate in that way); but it’s SO much harder to do this with art supplies or shop inventory or office supplies, or any of the things that might not fill someone else’s basic need.  It’s even worse because charities don’t WANT all your crap, they only want the really good stuff and throw out the rest!  So there is a bunch of stuff that YOU have to throw out.

Yes, I have read a number of books on decluttering, but somehow feel they don’t speak to me or address my issues.  And so I wrestle alone with my desire to sell everything, not just throw out or give away (that’s my fear of being wasteful, and also poor again, talking!).  I consider selling on craigslist (which takes time, and effort, and generally THEY don’t want it either), or donating (which takes a little time and effort, and helps people – though you get no money), or finding a place to put it all (but I DON’T want it, there is no place for it) – and through all this runs the guilt, the fear of being wasteful, the fear of letting down the person who gave it to you (who you barely knew and has been dead for 7 years anyways), the fear that maybe someday I’ll need it again! (though I haven’t needed it in 20 years…), and the horrible realization that all this STUFF, this CRAP, that I can barely admit to myself that I don’t want and don’t care about, imposes an emotional toll on me.  It taxes me, psychologically, to look at it; it weighs on me in an almost tangible burden of needing to use it/find it a home/ JUSTIFY IT somehow.  And it clutters the house to an impossible extent, making it SO hard to clean up and get organized.  It is a well-known fact that a messy, cluttered, house makes us more anxious, depressed, stressed, and harder to relax in, to fall asleep in,  – and of course, to entertain in!  (how can we invite people over when the house looks like a bomb went off?!)

And so, my plan right now is to put all of this crap in the furnace room in the basement and get the house into semi-presentable shape NOW so I can breathe.  Then spend the rest of the year (I want to say 6 months, but let’s be realistic – this will be HARD) sorting through papers, giving things away, TRASHING things (the hardest thing in the world for me), and hopefully ring in the new year in a much emptier, much cleaner, much less cluttered, house!!!  WHO’S WITH ME?!

The Sound of Silence…

I know I haven’t posted in a couple months.  I spent half of January visiting the wonderful textile markets of LA, and friends in Seattle, came back in Feb. with the flu and spent the rest of the month in bed, exhausted.

I’m feeling creatively stifled and desperate to make something and break out of this ‘being sick’ cloud.  To that end, I’ve been frantically combing through Pinterest trying to find some little thing to jumpstart me and get me going, and I have to say, I’M SO FRUSTRATED with what I find!!  I have complained about this before, but I honestly don’t understand how some of these people become so popular!

So many of the projects I see look really exciting but are subject to the following failings:

  • The Impossible Score:  The entire project hinges on this one incredibly fabulous piece they ‘happened’ to score for $5 at the local flea market/thrift store/craigslist, but that none of us will ever find – let alone for $5!
  • The Non-Tutorial:  They include ‘tutorials’ which actually somehow take up an entire page with pictures and text and yet have no actual instructions or information on how to copy the look.
  • The Partial Tutorial: “We painted this filing cabinet with Benjamin Moore paint in Petal Pink.”  Sounds helpful, doesn’t it?  But no information on how they prepped the cabinet to take the paint (painting a metal filing cabinet is NOT like painting your wall!), or on how they removed the embedded hardware to repaint that.
  • The Budget Makeover:  This often uses the Impossible Score and the Non-Tutorial as part of it, but the other part is that one person’s budget is another’s luxury.  One ‘designer’ talked about how she sold the entire contents of her apartment in just 6 days on Craigslist (I can’t even get people to reliably pick up high-demand items in less than 6 days! And to sell them that fast, they were probably priced fairly cheaply.), then redid her entire apartment with a really small budget – starting with the small $300 used rug, custom flooring in other rooms, custom furniture (no mention of how much those were).  Bonus point for me?  The before and after photos of the apartment were identical!  Same color schemes, same furniture styles, it just looked like a minor rearrangement of decorations and small furniture.

(Bonus rant: Who are these people who keep posting about “how to stage a bookshelf” by painting the inside back wall and arranging, like, 5 books on each shelf, interspersed with objets d’art and stunning ‘casual’ photos?!?!??!  (Like most of us, I don’t have any stunning ‘casual’ photos.  Does anyone really want to see my blurry awkward family photos?!)  My bookshelves are entirely solidly filled with books, there is no room for objets d’art, you can’t see the back of the case, and I still need more bookshelves despite that being the primary furniture in our house!)

But remember, YOU, TOO, CAN HAVE THIS SAME LOOK!!!  Do you find these problems too?  What drives you crazy about these blogs and Pinterest boards?

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