Ideas Anyone

Jamie’s Dilemma: Ideas Anyone?

We’re finishing up some stair-runner prep today (painting walls and ceilings, and let’s just say the old runner isn’t leaving without a fight), so John will be back with the full rundown for you tomorrow. In the meantime, I couldn’t wait to share Jamie’s design roadblock and hear what you guys would do. We had so much fun sharing Shannon’s dilemma last week. I knew you’d have awesome ideas, but never could have guessed that 500+ comments (some with links to photoshopped ideas and more!) would come rolling in. And we’ve heard from Shannon, who can’t wait to get started and has promised to send us photos when she’s finished! So let’s dive right into Jamie’s issue. Here’s her letter:

Hi Guys!  I have been trying to figure out a way to ask for your advice on this awful wall in my house! Note: for anyone who wants to play around in photoshop, just click this image to enlarge it – and you can share your creation in the comments by linking to it on a free photo-sharing site like Flickr.

We moved this summer and did a ton of updates (paint, flooring, etc). We now have this huge blank wall that has an awkward vent & our doorbell in weird spots, along with 2 doorways and an off-center vault in the ceiling! Fun, fun….  

I can’t really put any furniture on the wall, so I’m trying to figure out how to decorate it that is kid/pet friendly and not too spendy. You can see in the photos we have warmish gray walls, medium-toned wood floors, and lots of black & white accents. Thanks in advance!  – Jamie

Update: Due to a lot of questions about the layout, Jamie just took these additional photos.


Much like last week’s dilemma, I stared at it for a while and said things like “hmm, since Jamie said it’s so narrow that she can’t add furniture there, even sconces or shelves or a narrow bench might stick out too much, so maybe the answer is some cool art or some sort of treatment on that wall.” You know, something like a stencil or wallpaper, just to add interest and take the focus off of those “wall warts” that we all seem to have (I interned with Country Home in college and guffawed like a weirdo the first time I heard vents and outlets and doorbell boxes referred to that way by the editors).

My first order of business would be to paint them the wall color (probably not the light switches since you touch/use them all the time and the paint wouldn’t hold up, but definitely the large heating grate and the doorbell and perhaps those two smaller jacks/outlets on the floor) just to help them blend in more. Then I think hanging some large scale art would continue to divert attention away from those little wall interruptions. Thankfully there aren’t any grates or plugs that are in the middle of the wall, so I would just mass a nice collection of things in that area of the wall. Something like this might work:

That’s an oversized canvas that I found here (I thought the colors went nicely with her furniture since there was some blue and black along with some warm tones in the sky that pick up on the wood floors). Then any four thin black frames (these are from West Elm) with two of them in the larger vertical size and two in the smaller square or horizontal size could beef things up even more and tie into the black and white rug.

To save money Jamie could also just buy an over-sized canvas and paint something abstract with blue, black, white, and even some sort warm tones like the canvas in the picture above. She could also find four secondhand frames at thrift stores or yard sales and spray paint them black and add black & white family photos or keepsakes (like a blown-up stub from a special plane ride or broadway show). All four of the images/items could be enlarged/printed at a place like Fed-Ex for under $15.

The next possibility that I played around with was some sort of really cool accent wall there, like this fun constellation wallpaper. I loved the pops of blue in the stars (to tie into the chairs) and the dark tone seems to go well with the dark bookcase behind the sofa and the tones in the rug and pillows.

Update: I know this one’s a little out there, but I thought I’d do one tame rendering (the one above this one), something more dramatic (this constellation paper), and something in the middle (the image below this one). And heck, since big scribbly accent walls of chalkboard paint are all the rage these days, I don’t think this is too far from that look.

That wallpaper is pretty pricey though, so I thought if Jamie liked the look but it wasn’t in the budget, she could paint that wall a dark charcoal color (like Outerspace by Sherwin Williams) and then make some star stencils out of acetate or plastic from the craft store and paint some randomly placed blue stars (in Open Seas by Sherwin Williams) all over the wall to get the look. Oh and once again I would paint things like the wall grate and the doorbell the background color to help them blend in.

Next I tried more of a color on that wall with this subtle fern teal wallpaper. Once again, if Jamie would rather paint, she could just go for a similar solid blue tone (like Grand Canal by Sherwin Williams) and she could layer in a feathery fern-like stencil (like this) to get more texture with a slightly darker color (like Really Teal by Sherwin Williams). Then I layered in the same art from my first mock-up, which I thought was a fun addition to the mix.

Next I kept the walls the same, but went with two oversized framed prints instead of the larger canvas & black frames combo. It’s dangerous that I found this art while doing this dilemma because now I want to buy all four of these. I’m in love. These definitely would be a spurge, but I love how big they are and they feel crisp and layer in nicely with her furniture. And if Jamie would like to get the look for less, she could try finding some similar botanical prints (like these) and pick two of them to frame herself.

Lastly, just for fun, I put these succulent prints on the constellation wallpaper, just to see how it looked.

Oh and a few last thoughts I had were:

So those are a few places my brain went. Can’t wait to see what Jamie thinks and to hear all of the other ideas you guys have for this bare wall of hers! And of course we’re crossing our fingers for after photos to share.

Psst – Got a particularly tricky spot or a dilemma in a certain area of your house? Please submit at least three photos of the space along with a quick sketch of the floor plan and a short description about what bugs you or has you stumped to



Shannon’s Dilemma: Ideas Anyone?

After weeks of waiting for three dry days in a row to grout, Mother Nature is finally on our side and John’s finishing up the tile in the sunroom as I type this (while singing “grout, grout, let it all out”). He’ll give you the full tiling rundown tomorrow, and in the meantime, I’m more excited than Jessie Spano about this post (and she’s SO EXCITED).

As we mentioned on Facebook this weekend, thanks to your suggestions during our Blogiversary, we thought it would be fun to share some ideas for folks out there who are stuck with decorating dilemmas. We also knew you guys would have a ton of suggestions to add to the mix, so we hope these posts will turn into great group brainstorming sessions for any homeowners out there who are stumped. So let’s dive right in. Here’s Shannon’s issue:

Hey Sherry and John! We just moved into our house in July, and I am LOST. This photo is taken from our living room, which is very open. The area on the left is our front room, the brightly colored door goes to our garage, then there’s the funky bookshelf area (ARGH), our boring but wide stairway, and our downstairs half-bath.

I LOVE color, NEED color, but need to keep it all cohesive down here (everything opens up to the same space). The thought of one color everywhere makes me want to cry! As you can see, I broke down one day and just painted the door to our garage to get some color, even if it’s temporary. I’m willing to buy paint cans tomorrow and show you afters! I just have no idea what colors to paint. Also, that horrible spot where the bookshelf and TV are currently living is too small for a couch, and nothing seems to make sense in that space. Our TV can go anywhere in the room (so it can move out of that nook). As long as I can keep Eugene, my coral-painted horse head, I’m happy!

We have three kids, so storage and function are always great things, but I also love some pretty, decorative things, too. My husband and father-in-law are my fabulous carpenters (they always seem to figure things out together that I throw at them), so again, I’m all about showing you the afters! Oh and don’t mind the blanket on the carpet–it’s rest time and my three littles are watching the Lorax. Love you guys! (In a non-creepy, even though we’ve never met kinda way!) – Shannon


Guys, I stared at that picture for a while without having a clue, and then I realized that the nook between the stairs and the front door would be awesome with a big built-in to add tons of functional storage. Shannon would gain a spot to stash things out of sight (like kid-gear) from the six drawers down below, and she’d have a place to display her decorative stuff (like Eugene) up top. The best thing about adding something built-in right at the edge of that enclave is that the entire wall would have less of that nook-next-to-a-nook-next-to-another-nook feeling since it would break things up and bring that wall forward to create a great little focal point.

As for the execution of those built-ins, Shanon could either have her husband and father-in-law build them from scratch (since she mentioned they’re awesome carpenters in her letter) or she could buy something like these Hemnes ones from Ikea, which would hopefully be pretty simple to frame out for a nice built-in look. They’d also create a great place to add color. Maybe a soft blue tone on the back of the bookcase could be fun (like Valley Mist by Behr). Then the same bold door tone – except a little muddier with more gray in it so it’s not too intense – could end up on the walls of the bathroom to bring more color on that side of the space. Shannon could ask the person at the paint counter to add 15% more gray to the formula of the door color to hopefully end up with something in the right range.

I also photoshopped the walls a soft gray tone (like Silver Drop by Behr) and quickly switched out the light fixture by the door for this guy (I can’t help it, I’m obsessed with these – and the small one would be really cute there). Then I added this rug to the living area, just because that’s another easy way to add some color and interest, while picking up on some of the cheerful items displayed in the built-ins.

And just for fun, I made an alternate version with cooler periwinkle blues mixed with some warm corals and some deep navy tones:

This time I used this rug and photoshopped an abstract painting on the wall going up those stairs to bring in even more coral and periwinkle to that wall, along with darkening the door and the bathroom to a rich navy tone (something close to Myth by Behr). I also made the ceiling a super soft blue tone (Lime Light by Behr) to layer in there with the light gray walls, and for the back of the built-ins, a sea glass green could be pretty too (Palm Breeze by Behr).

So there are two thoughts I had for Shannon’s space. Do you prefer the Option 1 (emerald and copper with hits of sky blue) or Option 2 (coral, periwinkle and navy with some sea glass green)? Or do you have a completely new idea to add to the pot? We’d love to hear what you guys would do, and I’m sure there will a ton of awesome ideas in the comments, so… fire away! And a big thanks to Shannon for sharing her problem area. We’re crossing our fingers for after photos to share with you guys!

Psst – Got a particularly tricky spot or a dilemma in a certain area of your house? Submit a photo (or two) along with a few sentences about what bugs you or has you stumped to