Soft Stuff, Part 2 – Plus, some Josef Frank & Franz Josef stuff…

This story is supposed to be about upholstered cubes. That may not interest some of you. So, I have thrown in a tangent about two Austrians with Josef in their names. These two are not the Josefs I am referring to, but the photo is a hint of what is to come…

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First up, though – the cubes. I’ve already shown the new look. What you haven’t heard is the low down on why the cubes needed a redo and how they arrived at their new, colorful look.

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We have four cubes total. We utilize them for extra seating as needed so, I didn’t want to get rid of them. Two were solid red. Two were tan. All four were kind of boring.

Two of the cubes ended up near the front door because Tad thought they would work well for people needing to sit while putting on (or taking off) shoes. He was right. It was a good idea.

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The big blocks of color, while bold and a nice jolt of energy, didn’t feel quite right with the stuff we had going on. The solid block of non related red (or boring tan) seemed out of place. It seemed that the cubes needed to be softened up a bit.

Initially, I thought about just getting them all reupholstered in spring green – because I like green – and green goes with everything, in my opinion.

Then, I realized that an all green cube could be as boring as the all tan version.

View from my desk

That is when the idea of doing a pattern on the top came to fruition.

We all know by now that a bunch of pattern isn’t my thing. However, I do have a thing for a black background with bright colored simple graphics. This was a trend some years back – like 10ish years ago, maybe. Given it was in vogue a decade ago, it isn’t all that easy to find right now. I didn’t let that stop me. I did a pretty extensive search looking for that perfect fabric.

Eventually, I stumbled upon a fabric design from the 1920s-1940s that I became obsessed with…fullsizeoutput_132cI wanted this fabric for the top of our cubes. It was perfect! The black background – check. The simple, yet interesting, graphic pattern – check. The bright colors – check. It has little butterflies in it – bonus check! Finally, it has a whimsical, Dr. Suess-ey feel – double check!

Here is a different design, but still with a black background that I considered. Very garden like which is totally my thing…fullsizeoutput_132bThese are Josef Frank fabrics. He was an Austrian born architect/designer from Sweden.

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Not to be confused with Franz Josef, the Austrian emperor, who has a glacier named after him, in New Zealand…

fullsizeoutput_1333We were there…

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Initially, we were all very nervous.

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That is me, Kellee, there at the back of the pack.

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A young Alex.

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That is ice (and Tad)! Totally cool.

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Words cannot begin to describe the beauty.

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Does he look Austrian?

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Guiding our way…

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Amazing.

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Anyway, back to the fabric thing.

Sadly, the Josef Frank fabric is very, very pricey – and the patterns are relatively large scale so would not translate well to a small 18″ X 18″ cube top. Though, check out some of these other patterns and colors. Oh my gosh…fullsizeoutput_132e fullsizeoutput_1330 fullsizeoutput_132dLovely.

And, now, finally back to the actual topic of this story. I was persistent in my search for black backgrounds and the right kind of simple, bright, graphic pattern – that was reasonably priced. I held out for the right thing. Eventually, my perseverance paid off. I loved this pattern for our cubes as soon as I saw it. It met all my requirements including all the right colors. It isn’t quite on the same level of perfect as the Josef Frank fabric designs, but pretty darn close.

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An added bonus of this fabric is that the colors are woven in, creating a really cool texture…

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Conveniently, I found some solids that coordinated perfectly with the top inspiration fabric that are also woven with a softer and almost worn or washed color.

In red,

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and blue

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and green

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and, finally, a natural linen.

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You might be wondering why I didn’t just pick a single color in the solid options and do all the cubes in that color. Well, that was my initial intent. Then, I thought “Why not four different colored cubes?” But, I didn’t love the idea of all blue cube. I have talked about it before. A lot of blue isn’t my thing. So, that is when the multi colored thing came about.

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I like it! The upholstery people had to call me twice to make sure that is what I wanted. Yep. It is exactly what I wanted.

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I will not give up on having a Josef Frank pattern in my life. I am just postponing the dream for now.

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In the meantime, I will sign off with some Franz Josef pattern in the form of glacial ice,

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glacial remains,

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and a glacial cairn.

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Soft Stuff – Part 1…

Teddy Bears – Clouds – Curtains?

No. We don’t own any curtains – or clouds – or teddy bears.

I am talking about our area rug and a few upholstered cubes.

I referenced both of these during the last story in regards to color and pattern.

First up is the area rug,  since it arrived before the cubes got a new look – and were sort of the reason the cubes got their new look.

Our living room area rug is made up of FLOR carpet squares. It is a bit nontraditional, but lovely nonetheless (in our opinion).

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Why carpet squares you might be thinking?

The simple answer is that it fit all of our personal requirements for an area rug in size, color options, pattern (or lack thereof), and material. Also, we have other area rugs made with FLOR carpet squares – the mudroom & my desk area – and we really like them.

Here is an explanation of our requirements and why these carpet squares are perfect for our living space.

We measured out our living room and furniture placement many times. We discussed and debated the various size options. We eventually decided that we wanted only the 2 front legs of the sofa on the rug.

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We wanted to create a walkway from the front door to the rest of the house without walking/tripping over the area rug in the living room.

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The size we eventually agreed upon was 7′-8″ wide X 13′ long, give or take 1-3 inches. We also thought it would be cool to have a rug that could fit around the fireplace hearth and floor outlets. These requirements threw us into the custom size and shape arena. The standard 10’X14′ or 12’X14′ didn’t work given our fairly specific size requirement – plus, the fireplace hearth and floor outlet cutout thing…

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As you can see, FLOR squares allowed us to cut to a custom size, and cut out around the hearth and floor outlets.

As for color, I wanted something bold with green (because I love green – as I have mentioned before), yellow (to make the yellow entry work), maybe orange (because the sunroom, which you can see from the living room, is orange), and definitely grey (the new walls are all grey and the kitchen floor tile and countertops are grey, which you can also see from the living room) – in an effort to tie all the various colors within our open living space together. Tad wasn’t completely convinced of my vision, but he also didn’t have any suggestions. I believe his comment was something along the lines of “I’ll know it when I see it.” I thought some sort of pattern could be fun. Tad was pretty much against any pattern suggestion I had – no flowers (too grandma), no abstract designs (too uppity), no Turkish style designs (too busy and vintage). Tad likes stripes. I don’t. Good news, though! The FLOR squares come in a bazillion different colors and patterns that can be mixed and matched to create whatever design you desire.

Tad got a few subtle stripes!

Tad's subtle stripes...

I got some green – and yellow – and grey!

Kellee's green...

When it came time to decide on material, I deferred to Tad because he spends a lot of time lounging and sleeping on the floor. He lays on the floor every day. He likes the floor. Anyway, he voted against wool, which I had initially suggested for it’s durability and ease in keeping clean. I believe the tiles we ended up with are some sort of synthetic material made from recycled stuff – and are recyclable. I normally prefer natural fibers, but this material has met all of our requirements – non itchy, easy to keep clean, perfect for yoga, and comfy enough for Tad to lounge and sleep on.

Another benefit to this carpet square thing is the mix and match potential. I like that we can change out a few squares to get a completely different look if we want a color or design redo without having to buy an entirely new rug. For example, we had some left over squares that Tad suggested we use in our front entry. I liked it, but it felt a little too matched for me. We ended up mixing in a few left over mudroom cow print squares for a slightly different identity. I like it. In fact, I think I might like it better than the grey striped patterned pieces in the living room rug – that Tad chose :)

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A few final miscellaneous Q & As:

What is with the obsession, fitting the area rug around the hearth and floor outlets? It has to do with a few things. First, the hearth sticks up from the floor about 1/2 an inch. The carpet squares happen to be about the same height as the hearth, making it all feel flat and seamless. We like that.

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Second is that fitting the area rug around the hearth was conducive to our furniture layout. Our two main furniture pieces (sofa and chair) are arranged around the fireplace hearth. The rug wrap around the hearth allows for the two front sofa feet and all four chair feet to be located on the rug. Otherwise, the sofa and chair would have been wobbly with just one foot on or off the rug.

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Finally, we just thought it was cool to cut out around the floor outlets. We did it just because we could do it! Here is that photo again…

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Did the rug tie together the open living space as you had hoped? Yes. I believe it helped by bringing in the yellow from the entry, the green and grey from the kitchen, and a last minute decision to add charcoal to soften the black granite fireplace.

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What about orange? Why didn’t you incorporate orange into the area rug? I eventually decided that we didn’t need orange in the rug because we have a ton of natural cherry wood and it’s natural orange tones in the living room already. Yep. I believe that was the right choice.

How did you decide on the design? We played with a few different designs on paper and in person when the tiles arrived. We initially thought some sort of repeating pattern would be best.

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In the end, we liked a random design. We just moved the squares around until we liked how it felt. We did intentionally avoid putting the charcoal next to the black fireplace hearth, and we obviously didn’t want 2 of the same exact tiles directly next to each other. However, we didn’t mind it 2 of the same exact tiles were diagonal to each other.

Random Pattern...

Are these carpet squares compatible with radiant floor heat? Yes, these particular squares won’t stain or damage our hardwood floors. I did call the company to double check because these tiles do have some sort of vinyl/rubbery backing – and we have radiant floor heat – and I wanted make sure our new hardwood flooring wouldn’t get damaged. So far, so good. Though, I did alter one thing during installation as a result of previous experience. The sticky circles that are provided to hold the squares together do not hold up to radiant floor heat. In fact, the sticky goo seems to ooze out onto the floor below when it gets warm. That sticky goo is very, very difficult to get off hardwood flooring. I have found that basic blue painter’s tape is the way to go. It keeps the tiles firmly together and doesn’t get all over the floor below – even with radiant floor heat.

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Why does Tad lay on the floor all the time? I don’t have an answer to that question. Tad doesn’t even have an answer to that question. Some questions just can’t be answered. As mentioned above, he just likes the floor.

You are so nice to let Tad choose some stuff – and you work hard to incorporate his design ideas whenever possible – how do you do it? I guess, I just feel like he lives here too, so he should get some say – when it works with my ideas.  And – thanks for pointing out that I am nice!

Welp. We don’t have time for upholstered cubes today. We will cover those next time as “Soft Stuff – Part 2…”

A Bit of Color & Pattern – and some wallpaper paste…

This little addition has added some much needed pattern to our lives and is, surprisingly, the glue (or wallpaper paste as the case may be) that has tied all the random color in our little abode together. It also provides, shall we say, a bit of a warning of what is to come (it is located at the front door). Prepare yourself…

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I like quite a bit of color. I am not a “paint the whole place a carefully chosen white” and “layer in the neutrals” or add “pops of color in the accessories only” kind of decorator. I believe that I may be the only person on the planet that doesn’t swoon over a stark white kitchen with wood accents. Though, I do love natural wood, some white bathrooms, and white linens. Anyway. I like an entire room with bold colored walls. I love a colorfully tiled kitchen or bathroom. I love stained glass in bright, beautiful colors. I like certain colors more than others. I love, love green. Little bits of red are a must at our house. It brings in a hit of necessary energy to get me moving. I have a love hate relationship with yellow. I am drawn to the more sunny and vibrant yellows, but the buttery yellows kind of bore me. Blue tends to lull me into non productivity. I could lay daydreaming on the grass all day, staring up at the wide open bright blue sky. I do like blue accents as a break from all the other bright and energetic colors I lean towards. Purple is my favorite color, but is similar to blue for me – a little lazy. So, I can only take it in small doses in the form of an accent. I recently read somewhere that every room needs pink in it. No way. In my opinion, pink is hard to live with. Though as I look at my art piece, I notice the dribble of pink,

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which pulls in a pink flower center in the stained glass window,

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and some pink ants in the anteaters belly,

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and some rusty pink in the vintage car prints I have hanging in the dining room. Hmm…

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The color I think should be in every room is black! I like bits of black here and there. Why? I don’t know. I just think it looks and feels good. And, it is easy to intentionally pull off rather than that pink thing.  I don’t think I can intentionally put pink in every room. I just can’t do it.

I like less pattern. I believe I use pattern more as an accent to add a little bit of visual interest rather than to make a huge statement. I am not a statement maker in any part of my life. I am generally pretty basic, nothing too fancy, but hopefully not too boring either. Thus, my home decor pattern choices are also pretty basic. I tend to lean towards larger, simple, graphic patterns rather than small, pretty, highly detailed patterns. I love sharp, contrasting patterns rather than the soft blend-ey kind of pattern. I like blocks of different colors that create pattern. I also love artwork that creates pattern.

With all that in mind, here is how our bedroom, living room, guest room, and bathroom paint colors came together. Spoiler alert – it was all very non textbook like, very non scientific, very non theoretical…

Me: “I have to get some paint by the end of tomorrow. So, any general recommendations in regards to colors?”

Tad quickly responds: “Platinum Grey for the bedroom. Otherwise, I am good with whatever you pick”. Good thing I had already, secretly, decided to let him chose the bedroom color – as long as it wasn’t blue. Tad had previously tried to talk me into blue. Specifically, some sort of a navy blue. I had shot that blue thing down long before. As previously discussed, I like blue accents not blue rooms.

Me: “Okey dokey.” An hour later, I returned from the paint store with a few samples. I painted paper sized samples for better reference. I chose my favorites. I presented the options to Tad.

Tad – pointing to each option: “Too dark. Too green. Ugly. Not platinum-ey enough.”

Me: “Not Platinum-ey enough? What does that mean?”

Tad: “I don’t know. It just isn’t like Platinum.”

Me: “What are you talking about? Does it need to be more silvery? More grey? Sparkly? Warmer? Cooler?”

Tad: “I don’t know what you mean by those questions. It just isn’t Platinum-ey?”

The next morning I was at the paint store bright and early for new samples.

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Tad’s niece, Makenzi, came over and helped me paint the new samples. We all liked the same one. Yay! The bedroom color was finalized.

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Next was the living/dining room…

Me: “We need something that looks good with new bedroom color, the kitchen (which is green with purple, grey, and acid yellow tile), and the orange sunroom/mudroom. Plus, it needs to look good with the maple floor and cherry trim. I think green.” I love green, and green works with everything, in my opinion.

Tad: “I vote against green.”

Me: “Really? I thought you said I could pick whatever I wanted?”

Tad: “Did I?”

Me: “Yes, I believe you did. Well, if it isn’t green, then I guess we will have to go with a grey of some sort?”

Tad: “Sounds good.”

I gathered up all the grey bottles that had been previously rejected for the bedroom. Again, Tad’s niece, Makenzi, helped me paint the samples. There was one sample we both shunned right away. It had a weird pink/brown undertone (and we already know my feelings about pink).

Makenzi: “All these colors are kind of boring.”

Me: “I know. I kind of feel the same way, but we need something that works with grey, green, purple, acid yellow, orange, maple, and cherry.”

I chose one that felt “warm”.  I mulled over my choice for the rest of the day and into the night. Eventually, I realized that my color choice was the one that Makenzi and I initially thought had pink and brown undertones. I checked every wall, in every possible lighting situation. It felt good in all situations. It felt warm. Probably, because it had some pink undertones in it. I like warm. I had a hard time accepting it was the pink/brown undertone-y one. Eventually, I gave in and went with it. Edgecomb Gray is lovely. You can’t tell it has pink undertones up on the wall. Weird. Plus, that description is so me. I am a total sucker for paint color descriptions…

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The guest room was easy. Makenzi and I quickly chose one of the greens that were rejected from the living room.  As mentioned previously, I like green. I wanted green somewhere. The guest room got green.

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I already talked about the bathroom paint color in a previous story. I was looking for something completely neutral given all the different tile colors and finishes going on in there. It wasn’t what I expected once up on the walls. However, it has actually worked out ok. I don’t completely love the color, but I do like the description below. So, it will stay in the bathroom for now…

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The entry hall was an unexpected diversion.

Tad: “What color is the entryway going to be?”

Me: “The same color as the living room?”

Tad: “That is surprising.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Tad (and Makenzi): “That doesn’t really seem like you?”

Me: ” I agree, but I am all out of color ideas for the moment.”

Tad: “I think we should paint it a welcoming color.”

Me: “Ok then!”

I grabbed my color sample case. We start to review options.

Tad: “I vote for Santa Suit Red.” He had dropped the color swatches all over the floor and Santa Suit Red landed on top. Tad thought that was a sign from above?

I like red as an accent for energy (as already mentioned) rather than an in your face full on red room. And, honestly, I love Christmas, but Santa Suit Red is too much Christmas all day, every day, year round. We did not go with Santa Suit Red in the entry. We all eventually agreed on this yellow…

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Alrighty. The paint is on the wall. It is lovely, in my humble opinion. The living room is a nice, neutral back drop and transition to all the other areas it is open to – yellow entry, gray/multicolored bathroom, green/purple/acid yellow/grey kitchen, orange sunroom/mudroom, platinum bedroom, green guest room.

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Ok. To get this conversation back on track, let’s circle back around to the miracle piece of artwork that has tied all this color together and added that much needed pattern to our space.

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Now. I would have loved, loved, loved to cover our entire living room wall in this paper. It is hand painted, unique, original, and looks amazing en masse. It would have been sooo cool with just the stained glass window and cherry trim on our living room wall. Fun, graphic, simple. However, sadly, I could not afford to do the entire wall. Why-Oh-Why was I not born into wealth, or somehow figured out how to make my own millions so I could have an entire wall of this???

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I have to just be thankful that this artist, Nama Rococo, does sell individual panels for the less financially fortunate, such as myself. I am thankful. Very thankful.

So. I taped the panel to the wall for several weeks while trying to decide how it would be best framed. I actually considered leaving it just taped to the wall in the name of “art”. It looked and felt kind of artsy with just the tape. Something an edgy gallery might do…

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Tape...

Eventually, I decided “edgy” wasn’t my thing :) However, I did opt for something other than traditional framing given it is wallpaper. I liked the idea of it sort of being out there like wallpaper rather than behind glass. So, I ordered a hardwood panel (Claybord) made specifically for art, glued the wallpaper to the panel with wallpaper paste, did a little repair on one corner where I had ripped the paper (this was my first time working with wallpaper), added some hanging hardware, and now I call it art.

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I did move the black and white photos that were previously in that spot to the other side of the window. It feels more balanced that way. I think.

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Though, I am now searching for something sculptural to hang above the colorful panel – to complete the balanced look/feel.

Unbalanced...

It is always something with me.

Anyway.

Tad’s critique/response to the artwork was a slow up and down head nod followed by “Hmm.” Makenzi’s comment was “Did you paint that yourself?”  Her face was wrinkled up when she said that. I told her that she should probably get used to it because it is going to her in my will.

Oh, and you may have noticed those little colorful cubes sitting below. Yep, those cubes came about as a result of that artwork. More in the future on those.

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