Monthly Archives: May 2013

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Don’t be afraid… a little wallpaper never hurt anyone!

wallpaper skull


That is, unless you put up wallpaper in 1970 and expected it to not look dated in 2013. Then, be afraid. We’ve all seen bad wallpaper – hideous pea green, bright orange floral. Have you thought though, that in their time, they were spot on?

Wallpaper that stayed up for 20+ years gave us all a bad taste. As it should. If something hasn’t been touched in 20 years, you can bet it’s out of style now.

Something I try to keep in mind is that anything I do now, design-wise, will most likely need to be updated or redone down the road. Nothing is forever. Pick a design that is as “classic” as possible now, and you’ll still need updating down the road to keep it current. That’s just how it goes.

I’d like to share some of the most beautiful, stunning and absolutely amazing wallpapers that I have ever seen!

Do you see the subtle skull pattern in the french blue color? Amazing! Look at how beautiful a skull pattern looks in a real life scenario. Not creepy at all!

Now this paper just makes my heart ache a little bit. Maybe not in a traditional home, but maybe in a home recording studio? Maybe in a great modern and luxurious office? Or maybe in the hallway of a swanky restaurant downtown.

Now if skulls aren’t your thing, that’s OK. Maybe your home is modern and you want some texture on the walls, but don’t want anything fussy.

Or maybe you have a glammy living room that is missing that special something!

Now of course you could choose to wallpaper an entire room if you wanted, or you could think of the wallpaper like how you’d think of paint for an accent wall. What is the focal point in your room? Are there several? Each room should give your eyes a place to rest. There should be a focal point; a fireplace, a headboard, a range, but there shouldn’t be so much going on that it overwhelms your mind. Creating a focal point by wallpapering the wall behind your headboard, around your fireplace, or one wall in the kitchen can add interest without too much commitment.

The wallpaper in the photo above could seem busy, in a different room. The fact that they placed this in a monochromatic setting helps to keep it very calm and not at all overwhelming. Great design, in my book!

Another example of a modern print that seems timeless, done in a color that is easy on the eyes. I could see this as an accent wall in a bedroom, or even fully covering the walls of a gorgeous powder room!

My favorite site for finding all kinds of ridiculous wallpapers is Designer Wallcoverings ( obviously. All photos in this post were borrowed from their site.

So please, don’t be afraid of wallpaper! It truly is one way to make your house look like it’s in a magazine. And if you’re skilled enough, it can be a great DIY project. Just remember, if you still have the same wallpaper up in 2033, you’re just asking for ridicule. :)

Some things run in the family. Some, not so much.

Blondie, Grey House Design Studio

If someone asked me if I am creative, I would say yes. I enjoy making things, putting things together, working with my hands. The other half of me is very happy making lists, solving problems, systematically organizing or planning. I’m probably right in the middle as far as right-brain vs. left-brain.

My brother Mike, on the other hand, is a phenomonally gifted and talented artist, in many areas. Ink, pen, watercolor, oils, acrylics – doesn’t matter what medium it is, he creates some of the most interesting work I’ve seen in real life. Instead of feeling sad about my lack of ability to compete, I get to benefit from his talents by decorating our house with his artwork. I wanted to share a few of my favorite pieces with you.

The fabulous Debbie Harry:

Personalized pet portraits of our rescued farm. Look at the personalization:

A 30-second painting from a life-drawing class. I don’t think I would have even figured out how to load my brush in 30 seconds:

Here’s a beautiful drawing he did our sweet dog, Gwen. She passed away a few months before this:

I had to save my favorite for last. I knew we needed something of substantial size to hang over our bed. The colors in our bedroom are a warm blue-green, wood, grey and gold. Mike painted this and I am still amazed by it! Something about it is so magical and personal. It’s perfect over our bed, and I just know that it means so much more to us than something we could have purchased:

Art can be pretty costly, and even more than that, is the fact that a lot of it isn’t personal. Sure, you can go and pick out a piece at the store and love it (I’ve done that too!) but to know that you have a one-of-a-kind piece by someone you love is pretty incredible.

Mike has a website and does custom artwork for really affordable prices. Check out his website and contact him if you’d like to discuss a piece for your home!

A Chair Makeover


Years ago, before we were married, I somehow wound up with this cool mid-century looking upholstered side chair. It had super clean lines, tapered wooden legs, and a gold/yellow striped fabric covering. The fabric was not my favorite, but the chair was great and very sturdy.

It moved to Yuma with me after we got married, and spent time in various places and various homes of ours before coming to the grey house. At some point, one of the cats decided to use it as a scratching post, and from there on out, it was down hill. The arms were completely torn up from where our precious cats sharpened their claws. Of course if we were around to see/hear them to do this, we’d yell “NO!” or get up quickly to scare them away. It’s all those hours AWAY from the house that they just apparently did whatever they wanted to the poor chair. It looked sad.

Now I’m all for DIY’ing what you can, but not on something like this. I wanted the chair to be reupholstered, and knew the best thing to do would be to have it done professionally.

We knew of a small thrift shop on 7th Avenue called Charlie’s House.  When we had gone in before, the darling man behind the counter was busily cutting fabric, tufting and meticulously reupholstering chairs, couches, benches… whatever you could think of.  He did some of the best work that I have ever seen on furniture. We talked to Charlie, told him about the chair, and listened to several of his stories of growing up, and how he learned to reupholster furniture. Charlie is a true treasure. Someone that when you meet, you feel as though you’ve known them all your life. It doesn’t hurt that he bakes fresh snickerdoodles and pops popcorn for the patrons who come into his store. So cute it makes my eyes watery!

We knew we needed to pick out an amazing fabric, and also one that was somewhat resistant to cats clawing at it. We were going to do our best to protect it using the sticky tape made for this kind of thing, a blanket over it, or whatever, but come on. It’s a chair and if you have to have it constantly covered, then what’s the point of putting money into fixing it?

Our dear friends Dwayne and Patrick were coming into town, and I knew I wanted their help with choosing the right fabric.  They own the house next door to ours and we became fast friends with Dwayne while he lived there. Patrick’s job kept him in Las Vegas in those first few years, so we kept Dwayne company, laughing in the front yard, watching him mow our lawn on Saturdays (no joke! BEST neighbor!), and gossipping about the neighborhood. Dwayne had been diagnosed with leukemia and it was so important to me that he had a hand in choosing the fabric for the chair.

Off to the upholstery shop we went. We looked at hundreds of fabrics but Dwayne quickly confirmed that the light mint fabric was his favorite and “so classy”. I agreed.

The yards of fabric and the chair were dropped at Charlie’s House shortly thereafter, and we waited for the call. When the call came in, with the help of friends and their hatchback, we were able to pick up the chair. And it was stunning.


The fabric took on almost a silvery hue when stretched across the chair. The pattern on the fabric seems almost as if it was done back in the 50’s or 60’s – very appropriate, yet also current. Charlie also created a lumbar pillow for the chair, which is his “signature” when reupholstering. He stained the legs a deep brown color, which perfectly offsets the lightness of the chair fabric. We were SO happy with the results, and Charlie also gave us some good details on the chair. When he pulled off the yellow/gold striped fabric, there were 3 other fabrics underneath! The very bottom fabric was a terrible brown and orange floral pattern, and the other two were just as bad. And this whole time we had thought the fabric on the outside was original! Many people have probably loved this chair over the years and now because of all of the meaning it carries with it, we will love it for many years too.

If you have a sturdy and wonderful piece of furniture that needs some help, I highly recommend getting it professionally reupholstered. And if you’re in the Phoenix area, pay Charlie a visit.

It is worth every penny!

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