Leos Rule

Over the past weeks I have started writing 500 amazing posts about art and design as well as projects I am working on, but then I get waylaid by said projects and this here blog suffers the ignominy of playing second or third or last place fiddle. Also I live in fear of rejection... what if my first post in forever isn't good enough? Truth is, it never will be. Stage fright is the thief of awesomeness. Whatever. It's time to get back in the saddle because a very important event has forced itself upon us and must be addressed. Today is my birthday. Who am I kidding? This is the worst day of the year. But there is one redeeming factor to consider, for it is the only time of the year I suspend my belief in reason and succumb to the whims and half baked vagaries of mysticism. I'm talking about astrology.

fornasetti lion and sun

Logically, believing that all people born within the same arbitrary date set share similar characteristics makes zero sense. And yet... we leos do run in packs so it's easy to note that there is some common cross section. Pareidolia? Perhaps. But if you're a leo, see if you can check off these boxes with me: we are vain but generous. We are honest and loyal. We are bossy little jerks and we like to get our way because we are always right. We have good hair.

We also have the best sigils, and because we are king of the zodiac we get two! Everyone loves the sun, and everyone loves lions. Unless they are Lannisters.

fornasetti sun wallpaper

henri rousseau lion

fornasetti sun

design crisis |leos rule

design crisis | leos rule

design crisis | leos rule

sun room

design crisis | leos rule

design crisis | leos rule

I've had several of these things on the brain for a while now, things like Henri Rousseau everything. I need for my entire house to look like those paintings, and plan to move in that direction as soon as I have more than two spare seconds (and dollars) to rub together. And when I am finished executing that marvelous vision, I will put a giant honking brass lion door knocker on top and call it a day.

While you contemplate that deliciousness, I will be putting on face putty and nice clothes and maybe even high heels, and pretending that I am not old... at least not yet. Another year bites the dust.

At least I have goodish hair.

It's Such a Perfect Day

After weeks of pontificating, I decided maybe I should post something personal instead of just telling everyone what to do. Problem is, I'm so good at being the boss... of other people. When it comes to my own life, I feel messy and disorganized and indecisive. Case in point: I've been planning to present an updated home tour for months now, but realistically my house is only clean for one hour after the housekeeper leaves. And in that one hour I just want to sit down, knock back a martini, and bask in the zen of an orderly life. Ok, it may be more like two martinis and 15 minutes but you get the idea. I've realized that it's never going to be perfect around here and it is what it is... so have a look around. Just try not to delete me from your blog feed. Or fire me.

austin interior designer

Every (bleary) morning when I wake up in this room I think about how I need to take pictures. But I never make the bed, and there is still a baby bassinet in the corner where I change Luke's diapers, and the window seat always has a laundry basket full of clean clothes that need to be put away.


There is usually a pile of paintings around here. This giant 52" tall lady just came home with me. I imagine her in a smoky plum room with lots of walnut and gold and black Italian lighting. Who's with me?


I can't believe the boys haven't broken my heads yet... it's only a matter of time.


73 degrees! Springtime in Austin (all three days of it) is magical.


Zombie cat confuses Luke, who often pets and meows at her. She does a good job of covering my wacked out wallpapered outlet so we'll keep her.


The teal room is the repository of all my treasured possessions. I remember playing with this at my grandmother's house when I was Ike's age.

grandma and grandpa

My aforementioned grandparents. My mother drew these portraits decades ago and my brother and I are sharing joint custody of them. I hope he knows how much I love him for sharing.


It's also feeling rather hunt clubby in the teal room. Streaky glass adds that extra special touch that really says home.


 I caught a fair amount of flak for repainting my one room challenge dinette, but I really like the new art and wall color combo. It's still WAY peppy, but it's livable. The dining area is visible from much of the house so that's kind of important. I want to live.


Oh, Ike. Next year he starts kindergarten and while part of me has been looking forward to having a few free minutes to myself, most of me is preparing for the blubbery sobfest that is sure to take place on the first day of school. I'm going to miss my little cowpoke.


Aaaaaaand this is what the living room looks like at the end of a long day spent juggling kids and work and cooking and obviously not cleaning. It hurts me to post this, but I believe in honesty. I didn't try to dress this up (hahaha). I didn't even turn off the gross recessed lighting. This depresses me in so many ways... I hate messes for one thing. I also spend so much time making other people's spaces look good that I wonder why I can't just snap my fingers and make it happen for myself.

Sure, budget is one reason. I gots to get some new seating, and that will be quite expensive.

Indecision is another reason. Do I want a black leather sofa? Or maybe something in a slipcovered fabric? Sectional or sofa and chairs? I debate the pros and cons of these choices (and their budgetary repercussions) endlessly as I stare out across the sea of toys.

Kids are probably the biggest reason. What I have now is virtually kid proof, and it's old so I won't be (too) angry if they destroy it. Also I am busy. And tired.

And incredibly grateful. I'm so grateful to be busy and tired in a room full of busted up chex mix and noisy plastic toys, working on amazing projects with my two little helpers in tow. I couldn't ask for anything more, and I never want it to end.

So for now I will probably keep things this way, messes and all.

One Room Challenge: Week Six -- REVEAL!

Hi everyone! Welcome back for the final installment in the One Room Challenge series, wherein I and a host of talented bloggers aim to transform a space in six extremely short weeks. Feel free to catch up on previous posts HERE. Before we get started, I just want to give Linda of Calling it Home a big shoutout for organizing this challenge. Without the threat of public failure, I probably would have flaked a month ago. So who's tired of looking at an empty green box where my dining area should be? If you've been following along, you know that I started with a fleshy peach disaster of a charmless room that housed sad chairs, a hideous table, and wicked dirty grout. I planned to push myself into designing something bright, edgy and polished, yet still breakfast casual. I had big dreams to resurrect my cracked marble Saarinen table in hopes of creating greater seating flexibility, but that plan failed and I was left bereft. What's a tableless girl to do when the world is waiting for a dining area makeover?

arsenic austin interiors

Bust out the sandpaper and spray paint, that's what. I waited and waited for St. Craig to reward my fervent prayers with an oval top for my leftover tulip base, but Frankensaarinen table was not to be. I investigated many fabrication options but was stymied by cost and lead time. So my sad, flaking, peeling old table got a coat of semi gloss black paint on the apron and legs. Then, we sanded the top finish off and wiped on about five coats of dark walnut Danish oil.  It actually looks not too shabby, and I love the matte quality of the finish. Plus the fruitwood inlay really pops now.

That left me with the art conundrum to solve. This was a toughie. I really have too many choices and I like them all for various reasons. What I chose surprised even me...

arsenic austin interiors

Say what? Maybe it's because it was PITCH BLACK and pouring on shoot day, but the acid yellow of this 70s abstract painting appealed to me. Let the sunshine in!

arsenic austin interiors

I tried lots of art in multiple situations with tons of different styling options, and somehow this dark horse ended up the winner. When I paired it with the crazy Clarence House fabric I used to upholster this vintage ebay bench, something clicked into place for me and I saw things differently. It really is so important to shift your perspective and keep an open mind. Wine helps.

arsenic austin interiors

I know I kept saying I was going to use that red Robert Allen fabric -- I do love it and I even ordered a yard. But me and Clarence House have a thing going on. Don't tell Robert... I don't want him to be jealous.

arsenic austin interiors

So far the brassy bench is popular seating -- like elbow your baby brother out of the way popular. I'm pretty happy with the way it opens the dining area to the kitchen, in that it feels less fenced off.


And then there is the vintage head vase... it's 80s deco eurovibe o'clock up in here, with a Fornasetti twist. Say that 20 times fast.

arsenic austin interiors

Everything on the table is thrifted -- from the $5 flatware to the fringed napkins, cobra commando candlesticks, glassware and Bavarian china.

arsenic austin interiors


I have TONS more china, flatware and glassware, but I just put way too much work into the table to completely cover all that sexy woodgrain up.

arsenic austin interiors

In case you were wondering, the other half of the room still exists.... Of course my ugly door has been properly rejuvenated with a shiny brass doorknob. And what's that on the kitchen side of things?

arsenic austin interiors

Oh, it's just a creepy haunted mirror. No biggie -- apparently I have to showcase something haunted in every room. I have no idea what this thing is, but my hunch is turn of the 20th century central European. The hammered brass vase came from Round Top and it is far cooler than pictures give it credit for.

arsenic austin interiors

This picture is supremely awful... it was the end of a (literally) dark day and the kids were (literally) three seconds from walking through the door, but I wanted you to see the whole humble setup.

arsenic austin interiors

Even the china cabinet got a mini restyle. Notice all the gold glassware that didn't make it to the table...

arsenic austin interiors

I bought the unicorn for a client kid room, but little Susie may have to live in a land of shattered dreams. Or maybe I will let it go... I am a giver, after all.

And that's about it for my teeny tiny dinette makeover. Let's have a proper before and after, shall we?




arsenic austin interiors

arsenic austin interiors

arsenic austin designer

I think I accomplished what I set out to do. The room is functional and finished, plus there are a few surprise moments. Nothing like a little shock and awe to go with your morning cereal, right? By relying on thrift stores, craigslist, and ebay I was able to keep the budget in check. The bulk of my funds was spent on simple window treatments and a cowhide rug that can be used in different decorating schemes. Content to play supporting roles, neutral basics allow color and quirky accessories to take center stage in the dinette drama. And of course I can always switch out the cheapie flashies when my fickle side takes hold.

As Leonardo da Vinci said: art is never finished, only abandoned.  I read that in Parent's magazine or something. Hey, I'm no snob -- inspiration comes from everywhere.

It's been a blast hanging with you fine people throughout the challenge! Thank you for your support and comments -- they have been the wind beneath my wings. I read each and every word and I love them all, good or bad. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me all about what you think of the new old dinette. Maybe you can even talk me into doing the kitchen next... Maybe.

Please don't forget to visit the other participants to see how their rooms resolved. There is some amazing work taking place!

one room challenge

It's been real. Signing off and taking a nap.