Category Archives: Design Spaz

I’m Not Wearing Pants at the Moment

True, I’m not wearing pants. It’s my way of letting the world know that our window blinds were installed yesterday! Finally, I can lounge around the house in my skivvies without putting on a peep show for my neighbors. The sidewalk in front of our house sees a fair amount of traffic- parents with strollers, dog walkers, bikers, and joggers–including the boys’ cross country team from a nearby high school.

We installed vertical blinds in the upstairs bedrooms and a different types of cellular shades on the main floor. We chose the top-down/bottom-up style to allow the greatest amount of natural light into the rooms while still providing enough privacy to prance around naked inside the house.

Pics and video soon!

To clarify, we do not actually prance around or even sit at our desks naked and if we did, I would not put it on YouTube. I will post pics or videos of our blinds, though.

You’re welcome.

Since some of you are bound to ask, we bought the blinds from a Big Box store and paid them to do the measuring and the install. In all, we covered 16 windows, so the flat fee the store charged for measuring and installing turned out to be a pretty good deal. And now we don’t have to devote any of our weekend time to covering the windows, which is good because we’re on something like week 7 of bathroom demo. *DIY sigh*

Bathroom Demo and 2012 Bath Trends at KBIS, the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show

I’m excited to be heading to the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, #KBIS, this week. With two bathrooms in demo mode, I’m going to be like a kid in a candy store. A very fancy candy store. I like to spot trends and I’m always on the lookout for new and different products to share with you. For my own needs, I’m looking for practical, family-, eco- and budget-friendly items.



I’ll spend one full day at KBIS and maybe head back for a second day if I want to see more.

Among the items I’m excited to see:

The Kohler Stereostik sounds cool (as with many items on this list, detailed information may not appear on the website until after KBIS).

Hello kid friendly! I’m eager to check out Moen’s Spot Resist fingerprint resistant materials.

I’m totally geeked out over this Light Integrated Trim (LIT) from Belwith-Keeler.

You need a big kitchen to accommodate this, but how handy would this Galley Sink be?

I can’t figure out why we didn’t get these U-sockets installed all over the house. Except for the expense. Still, why didn’t we put them in a few keys spots?

They’ll be lots of eye candy at KBIS, like these beautiful artisan sinks.

I’ll be back with pics, video and/or links soon!

It’s a Vintage Cluttercast Fashion Show Giveaway!

frilly bit of vitnage yellow curtainA few years ago Darryle Pollack, one of my wise older woman friends, started this thing called Cluttercasting, through which she would attempt to give new life to old items by passing them on to people who want them. Like Freecycle on a micro scale. I’m going to share a few of my, uh, fashions with you. If your interest is piqued, let me know in the comments and I’ll contact you to talk shipping arrangements offline. Tools, by the way, are not included. Which means shipping of these lightweight pieces will be free to the lucky “clutter catcher.”

Notice the flirty frilly edges!

yellow curtain skirt

pink skirt

pink skirt with purple top

And now for something really different!

 brown floral print skirt and brown top

Did something seem a bit off? No, I’m not pregnant, but I’ll start working on that diet soon, thanks. I’m pulling a Scarlett O’Hara. That is, all those skirts are vintage curtains from my house.

The frilly yellow numbers hail from our kitchen. They were made by the Croscill Curtain Company. The company changed its name slightly in the mid 1970s, so it’s possible these date back to the 1950s to go with the Buttercup Yellow St. Charles cabinets. “Virginia,” our hopeful cabinet buyer gets first dibs on these. Admittedly, they are a bit faded from their southern exposure after all these years, but they might provide a lovely scrap or embellishment for your handiwork.

Against all advice, I was determined to keep the delicate pink cotton sheers in my office, but after removing the curtain rods and mechanisms in order to patch and paint the walls, I’m less interested in drilling the holes necessary to hang them back up. I’m going to keep a bit of this unique fabric for…something or other, but I’ll still have enough to share with you.

close up of pink curtains

Fabric detail


Those floral curtains? They match the paint you guys chose for me, so I’m hanging on to them. Most likely, I’ll use the fabric for accent pillows or something and circle back around with another Cluttercast to give away the rest. Those orange flowers are reminiscent of my parents’ late 1970s bedroom wallpaper. Do they bring back any memories for you?

dining room curtain close-up

You can wear it!

You can quilt it!

You can use it to wipe up spills! (But honestly that would be a shame.)

Let me know if you have a US mailing address and would like a piece of our house’s history. That way, when 1954 calls wanting its window fashions back, I’ll just press #6 and pass the request on to you.

Leave a comment letting me know why you’d like some of this vintage fabric and what you’d do with it. Pink? Yellow? Both? Go ahead and make your plea.

Disclosure: The curtains came with the house. Does that make them “free” or wildly expensive? I was not harmed during this photo shoot, but the child who took my pictures is likely scarred for life.

Bloggers Gone Wild at #PaintMeBen, A MomImpact Event

Last week my blog friends and I were treated to a presentation on How to Choose the Perfect Color at my local Benjamin Moore retailer. Color wizard Mary Hoffman, a third generation Benjamin Moore employee, talked to us in a way that made zillions of paint colors seem a little less overwhelming and a lot more fun.

After an inspiring presentation, we headed over to Casa de Renovation to look at the color themes suggested by Evelyn Martinez, our designer provided by the brand. So what happened when the energetic crowd headed over to my house?

Bloggers. Gone. Wild.

 Bloggers behaving badly Hope and Tracey defaced the wall.

One woman demolition crewJen then smashed it, finding her her true calling.

No wait, that all came later. When we got to the house, Mary and Beth, also from Benjamin Moore, drew a winner for the Grand Prize of the Evening- a personal in-home color consultation from Benjamin Moore. Lucky Melanie from Tales from the Crib won.

I awarded a few lesser prizes- an old key to the house, vintage wallpaper scraps (removed from my wall earlier that day) and a chance to hammer a hole in the wall that will soon (pretty please) be demolished.

Oh dear, it appears the other Jen forgot to take home her strip of vintage wallpaper. I’ll have to remember to bring it to her the next time we’re together.

Alli won my hip-again lime green sheer living room curtains- an item I didn’t even know I was giving away. But really, I’ll give almost any old thing away to a good home.

Everybody who showed up is a winner because they received coupons for Benjamin Moore sample pints.

I hope they go bold.

Maybe they will. After all, Kathy, (below) a blog friend dating back to when dinosaurs ruled the digital space in 2006, has been pondering a color change. And Lisa learned a few tips to help with her troubled yellow bathroom walls.

Special thanks to my guests: Paula, Beth, and Maureen.

Kathy looking tough

The party isn’t over yet. Take a look at the colors we’re pondering and let me know your favorites.

Your vote will also put you in the running for coupons codes for Benjamin Moore sample pints! Voting ends 9/16/11 at 11 CST.

Click to see our options for the master bedroom.

And also vote on the living room/dining room and kitchen. (My largest paint challenge.)

And when you’re done, you’re done, take a look at Evelyn’s suggestions for my teen son and my tween boy.

So, what do you think? Help me decide!

It will be months before the house is finished. If you’d like to follow along on our journey, “Like” Reluctant Renovator on Facebook, subscribe to this blog or Progress Notes, our monthly newsletter that serves up links to our most popular posts as well as a chance to enter product giveaways. Click to subscribe.

Paint for the Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen, AKA Where We Really Need Your Help

looking into living room

Facing north looking into the living room.

Imagine yourself at my front door. When you walk into the house, you’re standing in a tiny, 3 x 5 entryway that leads straight up the stairs. If you turn right, you’re in the living room, which leads to the dining room, which is adjacent to the kitchen. The living room has a 5 x 10 bank of north facing windows and two glass block windows that let in the western afternoon light. Moving in to the dining room, there is another set of western windows, as well as southern windows, but the latter backs up to an enclosed porch and thus do not bring in a lot of light.

Because you’ve asked in my other posts: the green carpet is covering a fabulous oak floor that will be shined up to a shade or two darker than a natural finish. The sheers will go and we don’t have any furniture to speak of. However, we do own a monster of a circa 1928 upright player piano that has a rich, dark walnut exterior. The piano weighs about 500 pounds and wherever it lands in our house, it will stay forever. We’ve already moved it twice at considerable cost, so we’re not sure whether to just put it in the basement or call it a day or what. It might go near the stairs or between the glass blocks.

The dining room table that’s currently in place, as seen below, is a salvage piece. It can stay or go.

The kitchen, which you can see here, is a odd blend of high-end vintage metal cabinets (for sale), basic wooden ones, 1950s mosaic wall tile, 1970s wallpaper and a linoleum floor. We’re going to shine up the oak floor under the linoleum and gut everything else. We’ll be tearing down the wall between the kitchen and dining room and installing a peninsula that will separate the two rooms. The floor, cabinets and counter tops will be neutral and there won’t be a lot of wall space, so don’t be surprised when you see the bold colors suggested by Evelyn, our Benjamin Moore design consultant.

Living room on Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer

Living room as seen on's Personal Color Viewer.


dining room

Looking into the dining room.

The header and wall leading toward the dining room will be brown.

So that’s the lay of the land.

Evelyn suggested two potential palettes for the living room, we’d like you to pick your favorite color from both:

Benjamin Moore color selections for living room1A: Huntington Beige   1B: Kentucky Haze   1C: Raindance     Accent color 1: Fresh Brew

The brown accent will go on the header that divides the living room and dining room as well as the small bit of wall that remains in the living room.


This second set of options might be a bit dark for my tastes given the available light.Benjamin Moore Living Room Set 22A: Saybrook Sage      2B: Van Courtland Blue    2C: Richmond Gold    Accent Color 2: Hidden Valley

For our otherwise bland kitchen, she recommends one of these bold colors below (as if the brown wall wasn’t enough for a clueless Design Spaz like me!).

Benjamin Moore Colors for kitchenA: Audubon Russet   B: Chili Pepper    C: Yellow Marigold        Kitchen Accent: Brown Tar

So, what do you think? Help me decide!

Voting ends 9/16/11 at midnight CST. Three randomly chosen voters will receive gift codes for Buy2Get2Free Benjamin Moore paint samples so they make their kitchen, or any room in the house, a bit more exciting.

When you vote, keep in mind that the kitchen color will be visible from the dining room.

When you’re done, take a look at Evelyn’s suggestions for my teen son and my tween boy.

And please vote on the color for our master bedroom.

It will be months before the entire job is finished. If you’d like to follow along on our journey, “Like” Reluctant Renovator on Facebook, subscribe to this blog or Progress Notes, our monthly newsletter that serves up links to our most popular posts as well as a chance to enter product giveaways. Click to subscribe.

Disclosure: Benjamin Moore is providing paint and design services for us in exchange for me sharing our journey to painted walls. Without their help, our walls would be white, cream and beige.

From Purple Passion to a True Blue Tween Room

Purple shag rugLike the Green Room, this room’s nickname is derived from its prominent colors. The room features a purple shag rug (hello, 1972!) and lavender walls of a shade so tricky, it’s nearly impossible to capture with a camera given the light that comes in from the north facing windows. Like the green room, it has beautiful oak floors, which have been protected by the carpet for several decades. As with the master bedroom, this room will be undergoing a radical transformation in the coming months, but I know you like “before” pictures, so here goes.

If you’re a fan of quirky spaces, you’ll be sad to learn that the eave is going as we are going to bump out the dormer and square off the room. The current space could work well for a child under 12, but anyone over five feet tall, a height my tween boy is rapidly approaching, is going to feel claustrophobic in this second story bedroom. Ducking down to enter the room’s only existing closet would get old pretty fast.

Kim in a small doorway

I might look like a giant in the door frame of the closet, but I'm only 5 feet tall.

In a matter of days weeks months, this dainty purple room will be transformed into a space fit for a tween boy. My 11-year-old son has an appropriately juvenile sense of style. He still collects Pokemon cards, loves Legos and comic books and seems to acquire lots of things- a stuffed animal here, a special rock there, etc.

He’s ready to leave behind his Pokemon comforter (it will be saved to help make epic blanket forts) and found a new blanket that’s just a little bit more mature. Evelyn Martinez, our Benjamin Moore design consultant, used it to select colors.

Benjamin Moore blues and Calypso orange

Left to right:

Santa Monica Blue

Blue Suede Shoes


Offset by Calypso Orange

(Note: it could be my monitor, but this set of colors looks very different on my screen than they do in real life…which is why it’s important to get physical samples.)

I’m thankful that Evelyn kindly put aside his request for a unique color on each of the room’s four walls, but I think we’ll use the orange for an accent well. Cool? Distracting? What do you think?

I like the way Poolside picks up details in the comforter and I think the bright colors generally match my younger boy’s bold personality without being too juvenile. I think these colors will definitely get him through the middle school years and possibly beyond.

As with the teen, I can’t subject him to the whims of the Internets, but you can help guide his choices.

What do you think would look best?

Tomorrow I’ll be posting photos of our living room/dining room/kitchen, so please stop back to share your 2 cents on that.

Take a look at Evelyn’s suggestions for my teen son’s room.

And please vote on the color for our master bedroom.

It will be months before the entire job is finished. If you’d like to follow along on our journey,  “Like” Reluctant Renovator on Facebook, subscribe to this blog or Progress Notes, our monthly newsletter, which serves up links to our most popular posts as well as a chance to enter product giveaways. Click to subscribe.

Disclosure: Benjamin Moore is providing paint and design services for us in exchange for me sharing our journey to painted walls. Without their help, our walls would be white, cream and beige.