I took a much needed 'girls day out' a few weeks ago with some friends.
I've had such a busy season that I jumped at the chance when Linda suggested we take the train south to Solana Beach for some fun.  That's Southern California coast to those of you who dwell in other parts!

It had been ages since I'd been on the train.  Not since my son was a pre-schooler and we decided it would be fun to take Amtrak down to San Diego and go to the zoo.  Which, by the way, was fun.

Back then it was the old silver and red single level train.  It is no longer red and has graduated to a double decker.   Now you can sit on the upper story and have ocean views all the way.

The train was very pleasant!  The hour long ride 'flew' by.

I didn't realize the town of Solana Beach was so small.  In fact I'm pretty sure I had it confused with Carlsbad... but we did find a little shopping area on Cedros Street and found an adorable store there called Ta Dah!.

They were kind enough to let me take some photos to share with you - be sure to visit them whenever you are in the area.  They have lots of lovely treasures - like the corbel wall lamps below - so cool, right?

So many cute things! And fun, creative displays.  Kristy has found something, too!

I loved the eclectic mix of old and new
 I brought home a starfish topped bottle for my collection and the most amazing smelling candle....

After shopping, we had lunch at Claire's on Cedros.  Honestly, the food was so good - another must if you are in the area!

So, I'm apologizing again for being too busy to get to reader questions in a timely fashion.  I'm really, really behind. I've been busy!  Not complaining, mind you.

So today is catch up day and I'm devoting this entire post (another thing I haven't been keeping up on) to answering questions from my valued readers!!

First - a question from Lynn:

Hello to you! I have been reading some of your posts and thought I would ask your suggestion for a paint color. I am wanting to update our small bathroom and am undecided on which approach I am needing. While I am wanting an updated color choice, I am also looking to create a spacious appearance. The major holdback for me is the fixed element in the room, being ceramic wall tile. Since it would be cost prohibitive to remove it, I have opted for the alternative for the time being. The border outline trim of the tile is probably a muted warm brown (think of cinnamon w/o the orange cast).

The field tile is a light creamy "butter" color, with specks of the brown color throughout. It is not a full fledged yellow, but more of a soft buttery cream color. I will be painting the wall surface above the tile,
as well as the vanity in the room. There is only one very small window for the room, and it lends very 
minimal light to the room, faces northwest direction.  Would I need a darker color, or should I be 
focusing on a basic light color choice? Will the vanity need to be painted the same color as the new 
color going on the wall or a color of its own ? I've been tempted to try something in the brown-grey 
category as you describe in your post about How to Pick the Perfect Wall Color. The only things that 
will be painted are the vanity and walls..possibly the two doors...and for now the floor will remain. I plan
on using a rug to camouflage it for now. The light bar will be replaced, and the window valance has 
already been removed. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated...many thanks! Lynn

Ah...the outdated bathroom dilemma.  Lucky you!  Lol!
Two possibilities come to mind.  A gray, or greige, as you mentioned - however, with the warm tone of 
the tile, you may need to go more gray.  A cooler contrast will probably look better.  In fact the second possiblity was a gray with a blue-ish undertone - I think that will play nicely against the cinnamon.
Have a look at these color combinations and see if you like that look.
 Sherwin Williams PEACOCK PLUME may be a little dark...so try something softer, like RAINWASHED or SEA SALT.
 Try Behr PRELUDE for this look.
Benjamin Moore SMOKE or PALE SMOKE

These are a couple of suggestions - but again - you will have to be the best judge as you see the 
samples of the colors in the actual room.   Good Luck!

Hi. I was online looking for help with paint colors last night and ran into some of your work. We had a room addition put on our house and I don't know where to begin. .. we have honey oak hard wood in our existing kitchen so we will continue it through out our new room with a large area rug.  Our furniture is dark brown leather sectional with oak trim around the windows. We will be ready to paint in two weeks,  there is also a small living room on the other side of the kitchen!  Excuse the mess. Thanks so much, frances 

Hi Frances..... Will you be applying a backsplash in the kitchen, or are you painting this area? I'm looking at colors that are neutral to combine the two rooms and that will not darken this space further.  Here are two colors that go very well with grays (counter top), and the pine and oak woods you have in the home.

Sherwin Williams:  ACCESSIBLE BEIGE 

Elite Staging and Redesign

Sherwin Williams:  WORLDLY GRAY


Worldly Gray is one of my favorite, calm soothing colors - easy on the eye and has a warm beige undertone.  Accessible Beige is a cool beige color that goes with everything.  Both are neutral wall colors, so you can bring in any color in cushions, fabrics, and accessories that you desire and it will look great.  In addition, I would paint the oak trim white.  It needs to be a background, not a feature and oak has a way of jumping into the forefront.

Good luck!
(I did hear back from Frances that she was going to use a subway tile backsplash in her kitchen... sounds great!)SaveSave



Another installment of
BIG RENOVATION, little budget

If you missed Part 1, check it out here.   
I'm renovating a beach house using as much salvage and green material as possible.
Working on a very tight budget, and this house needs a lot of work
both inside and out -
luckily, my client, Shawna, has a good eye,
(she's an amazing photographer who works with natural light)
a great design sense,
and the ability to think outside the box - 
you can always tell a true artist that way, right?
someone who doesn't just follow trends like a lemming, 
but who can set their own?

I'm sure that she would have preferred to have a house that was already improved,
the budget to install new floors, a custom kitchen, and be able to purchase new furnishings...
but fate and a divorce has dictated that this house and a lot of elbow grease is her future - 
which she has accepted with dignity and a sense of adventure...

This little house is unique
and we definitely want to preserve that

Like these round porthole windows on either side of the fireplace.

I'll admit my first thought was to remove them and use that spot for built-ins - 
but she felt they were part of the old original beach house charm - 
just kind of quirky and fun.
and she's right,
we should preserve some of the details that make this house unique -
so they will stay....

We didn't feel as sentimental about the patched up and smoke stained brick fireplace
or the bare wood paneling that is original to the house - 
so the whole wall got a coat of paint.

There are two entrances to this living area - this one is off the large front deck or patio.

French doors let in lots of yummy natural light
and ocean breezes.
The actual front door at  the front of the house is flanked by two smallish windows.

We will be replacing these for larger versions, which will let in yet more natural light 
as funds permit.  
We are looking for two used or salvage, matching windows.

I have to admire Shawna's determination to get all the improvements done 
before she begins the interior decoration. 
I'm chomping at the bit, but she is able to take it all a little at a time.  
Still, she has managed to make it cozy and comfortable in the interim - don't you think?
(She was way ahead of the game on the taxidermy that's so on trend right now.
This was a find years ago she worked on with her Dad - finding the antlers and head separately and putting them together.  He keeps gentle watch over the living room.)
But this post is all about the flooring.
Being a vintage home that started as a little beach cottage and grew over the years as owners added to it - the flooring was a patchwork of several different materials.  
There was very old original 2" hardwood in the living room,
newer 4" oak flooring in the kitchen (with weird buttons),
and some worn and slightly gross carpet in the bedrooms.

The carpet was the first to go - Shawna had to get that out of there even if she had to live on plywood sub flooring for a while!

Then the question became what type of flooring could we put in throughout the house that was affordable - durable - and would still have a beach cottage vibe.  
Shawna really wanted wood, but hardwood flooring was WAY out of the budget..

I have lived in a lot of different countries - including the UK and the South Pacific - and I've been in many an old house, and many a beach house.  I started thinking about the floors I had seen in these places; simple pine plank floors that just took on more character with each scrape and ding and I suggested we look into a wide pine plank floor...
just simple stained pine we could install ourselves 
(I say ourselves, but I'm really meaning HERSELF - :)

She needed to see what I was talking about - 
and no one is actually doing that these days.... 
except for this wonderful shop called Tuvalu in Laguna Beach.  
They have installed pine plank flooring over their entire shop.
We took a little trip to Laguna to check it out - and it was perfect!
The more traffic and distressing it receives, the better it looks.   

Pine is a soft wood - so we can pretty much guarantee the 'distressing' part - 
and this is a beach cottage, people.... 

it's the perfect floor, 
its the perfect look, 
its the perfect budget.

And so she did it.
It took a lot of courage, but Shawna is not one to shrink in the face of a challenge!
and with a little ingenuity, she mixed the perfect stain color

and stained all of those pine planks....
and with a little help from her family

the 'out of the box' floor became a reality.

I install many floors in homes that are more beautiful -
with materials more elegant and costly
from hand-scraped hardwood to breathtaking marble -
but I think in all honesty, 
this floor is my favorite.
This floor was created with love, faith and courage - 
and a lot of elbow grease.

Just needs a top sealer, and they're done!

So proud of you, Shawna.
Ignore anyone out there who has so little talent or ability or human kindness
that they can't see the beauty of what we are creating here:
A home - created with love, determination, strength of character and the need to
make a place where family can gather - on a practically non-existent budget.
Each step we take, each part we create
is a little miracle.
I'm blessed to be included in this endeavor.

Here's a recap of the progress we have made in the living room:


Popcorn (acoustic) ceiling removed, plastered and repainted

Wall between living/dining/kitchen areas removed to create an open living area

Installed a salvaged dutch door for the front door

Walls/paneling and brick fireplace - painted Sherwin Williams, Accessible Beige.
(a cool grayed down light beige)

Pine plank flooring installed

Living room furniture: Shawna purchased:
 2 slip-covered love seats,

a chaise, 

and 1 ottoman -  all second hand from Craigslist or Close5.
(this girl finds the most incredible stuff!)

Still to do:
Replace small windows with larger windows
Faux beam and/or beadboard ceiling treatment
Add baseboard and crown trim
Repaint all doors and trim
Create built-in shelving on both sides of fireplace under porthole windows
Chunky fireplace mantle
Ceiling fan
Light fixtures
Furniture arrangement
Accessories and decorating

Please follow this blog and support Shawna and the beach house project.
Bless you!

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