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By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

Recently while brainstorming some blog inspirations I came across this idea for a piece: “10 color choices that will make your powder room feel larger” and I laughed OUT LOUD!  I have to shake my head every time someone thinks that a powder room can be made to feel larger with a coat of paint.

Most powder rooms are no more than coat-closets with a commode, sink and mirror.  You can usually spread your arms wide and touch opposite walls.  You will never be able to make the space feel more grandiose than it is, but you can embrace the small size and use it’s scale to decorate appropriately.

Paint: Instead of trying to use a light color to make the space seemingly expand, I suggest you choose a darker hue that will make the space feel warmer and cozy.  When painting the room, paint the whole space including the ceiling.  A color like a velvety aborigine or an earthy mahogany would be beautiful.

Mirror: A frameless mirror with a beveled edge makes a lovely addition to the room.  It provides a large flat reflective area that will bounce light around the space and will keep it from being ‘dark’.  I love oval mirrors in spaces that have lots of 90 degree angles and rectangular ones with more abundant rounded shapes.  The mirror should be used to balance not only the light in the space, but also the visual appeal.

Sink/commode: A pedestal sink or a small cabinet sink is better than a bank of cabinets that expand the whole end of the room.  The smaller the footprint of the sink the more floor space that will be exposed and the larger the room will feel.  The commode and the sink both should be white porcelain as to add another ‘light’ aspect to the room.

Fixtures:  Again think ‘light’.  Whether you choose a light bar or a couple of sconces, this is yet another opportunity for you to assure the space has great lighting.  I like the look of either brushed or high polished silver or nickel fixtures.  The additional reflective surfaces are a wonderful way to impart a little bling without actually hanging a chandelier in the space, but a chandelier would be very pretty too.

Flooring:  Go with flooring either in hardwood, laminate, marmoleum or tile in a color that grounds the space.  There are lots of options in flooring now and they are reasonably priced while affording homeowners a wide variety of styles.  Look for a style and hue that will not highlight the floor.  You want something dark enough that the floor recedes.

Finish the space with artwork and towels that complement the room and confirms the style you want it to portray.

The long and the short of it is that your powder room is small and will never be large.  Embrace the limited size and just go with it.  When you stop trying to expand the room you will find that the space will look more intentional and ‘designed’ and less forced and struggling.

Powder rooms

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By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

The moans from the backseat are loud, eyes are rolling and heads flop lifelessly forward.  My children are protesting my need to visit some random free pile on the side of the road.  They have grown tired of my countless stops at these subtle prize heaps.  They don’t see the appeal of another man’s junk and how it can become my treasure.

They are generational products of a society that values bright, new, shiny, technological, cutting-edge, and flashy.  They have grown-up with messages that tell them they must buy the ‘next generation’ before the current one is out of the box.  They just don’t see the beauty in old things as I do.  They certainly don’t see the potential in them and they will probably never understand my drive to pay homage to the history of our society by keeping the utilitarian items it once used out of the dump.

It makes me feel mushy and sad when I see a sweet-old rocking chair, an old side table or a headboard discarded and on its way to a refuse center just because no one sees the value in it anymore.  The history that these pieces have witnessed is in danger of being lost with them.  What about all of the love the rocking chair witnessed of mommies rocking their babies or all of the coffee visits that side table had been a part of?  I just wish I could save them all.

The history is only part of it though, there is also the fact that our landfills are becoming too massive for our planet to accommodate.  Shouldn’t we want to reduce the amount of garbage we produce? Keeping furniture items out of the mix will help immensely!

Then there’s the whole idea that some items are just too dated to be fashionable.  We’ve all heard someone say it before (we might have even said it ourselves), “That piece just screams 70’s.” or “Yuck! The 80’s called they want their couch back.”  It’s my strong belief that for the most part furniture cannot be too much of any one decade that it can’t be updated and used in our modern homes.  A new upholstery job, a coat of paint, the addition of updated embellishments or hardware and you’ve got a new in-style piece.

The best part about using second hand décor is threefold.  One, you generally can find the pieces for a lot less money (often for FREE) than if you were to go out and buy a brand-new piece; two, older furniture is frequently better made and comprised of more quality materials; and three, it keeps it out of the landfills.

On a recent stop to a free pile (much to my children’s’ chagrin) I found this adorable, sturdy, albeit beat-up, plant stand.  It was with a pile of other items that looked like they might have come from an old barn.  I was drawn to it for no specific reason, but I did see some great potential in it and thought, with a little elbow grease and a new coat of paint, it might be a keeper.

So I took it home and started to work.  I used chalk paint on it (which I had not used before, but had been dying for something to paint so I could).  The paint boasted a one-step application process with no sanding needed.  I thought “Hotdog! That’s my kind of paint”.

Here’s a quick breakdown of my experience with this product.

  1. Overall, I liked it. It was easy to apply and quick drying.
  2. I would suggest you skip the expensive brush they sell for applying it. Yes, I bought one of them and no, I don’t think it made much of a difference—I think any short bristled natural brush would have done the job at a fraction of the cost as the expensive brush they suggest.
  3. One coat might cover, but not without streaking and some show-through. I used two coats and the coverage was great. If a real deadpan flat finish is the effect you are wanting, stopping here is exactly what you should do.
  4. If you want a more finished look then I would suggest you use one of the waxes they sell to finish your piece. There is a clear wax that provides no additional color just a nice sheen (I used this to finish the plant stand) or there is the antique wax which adds a dark patinaed look through which the paint shows. My only side note to the wax is that it takes a lot of ‘elbow grease’ to apply and I thought my arm might actually fall off by the time I was finished.
  5. As far as the ‘no sanding’ goes. Yes, the paint adheres great with no additional sanding, but if you have an older piece that has some dings in the old finish, globs of dried paint on it or other issues impacting it’s smoothness you may want to do a little sanding or other prep work before you start.
  6. I felt the paint was fairly expensive, but that said, even with two full coats it did not use much and I have plenty left to paint a couple more pieces.

I wanted the piece to be unexpected, so after I painted the whole thing and before I applied the clear wax I hand drew and painted a design on the back of each shelf area that is reminiscent of a 1960’s linoleum and then applied silver leaf in a large sweeping pattern over that to add some depth to the design. The result is perfect!  I love it!

I enjoy redoing furniture and helping others with their furniture design dilemmas too.  But what I really garner the most satisfaction from in doing it is just knowing that I am helping to reduce waste and cost while giving new life to old pieces.

I encourage all of you to look at old/dated furniture with a new eye.  Is there something that can be done to bring it more modern?  You can save yourself a lot of change and the planet a little more space if you can use the furniture that already exists instead of buying new.

chalk paint 1Chalk paint

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When Interior Design and Waffles Collide—Something has to give!

May 5, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Upon returning from dropping my children off at school today I was struck by the wonderful warm, undeniable smell of waffles and maple syrup that wafted through our home.  An unmistakable remnant of my children’s busy active morning and the breakfast they had consumed.  I felt an instant bolt of love surge […]

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Gardens Need Makeovers too!

April 21, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row. We all remember this rhyme from our childhood.  It was usually chanted while holding hands with our little friends and dancing around in a circle under the warm spring smile […]

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Ahhhhhh Spring! Ehhhhhhh the Patio!

April 7, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger The twittering birds are here again, the sun is up earlier and setting later, the days are warmer and the flowers are blooming: It must be spring! If you are anything like me this time of year energizes you.  I start to feel excited to do some cleaning and decorating and refreshing […]

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Wine with Everything!

March 24, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger As you have probably already heard, or at least read in a not too distant blog post of mine, Marsala is the Pantone 2015 color of the year.  This color is rich, deep and warm and was a fabulous choice by Pantone, but it got me thinking about all of the ‘wine’ […]

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7 Quick Tips for Decorating Any Room

March 10, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Good design, as with most things, is made harder by what we don’t know and instantly easier once we gain more knowledge. It makes no difference if you are a free-spirited bohemian, a more traditional-classic soul or a straight-laced contemporary up-and-coming; there are several design ‘rules’ that can help you put a […]

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5 Guest Room Essentials Every Good Hostess Needs to Know

February 24, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger We’ve all been there:  You go to visit friends or family and end up feeling like you were an afterthought on their agenda, your bed some cot in an otherwise storage-room and you conclude your visit suspecting they are breathing a sigh of relief to see you go. Of all the things […]

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Do Paws Give You Pause When Decorating?

February 10, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Cats and dogs are our four-legged extended-family members.  We want what is best for them and we love them like they were our own blood-kin.  That said, they can prove as challenging to live with as any toddler of the human-form and decorating around them just might be even more discouraging. As […]

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Are you ready to hire a designer?

February 2, 2015

As designers it is our honor and privilege to be invited into your home/office to help you interpret your unique style.  We are hired to help define a design for your home that will reflect you.  We strive to listen to your individual story and to come up with a plan that you will love. […]

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