Friday Favs: Swoon-Worthy Stairs

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I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I am a HUGE sucker for staircases.  You have no idea how thrilled I was to find a house with a pretty impressive set of stairs.

 

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Via Jenna Sais Quois

A more traditional vibe than what I usually post, but this one is probably the most similar to the stairs in our house.  I think the two-toned look is fab and I’m seriously considering duplicating it.

 

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Via The Design Nerd (Tumblr)

Exposed brick may be another love of mine.  The sleek modern stairs paired with the more industrial brick is also a contrast I’m particularly fond of.

 

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Via My Ideal Home

While this is clearly not for households who have need of a handrail, I love how bright and airy this is (bonus points for a cozy reading corner)!  Also, can we take a moment to collectively swoon over those beefy wood treads?

 

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Via Real Simple

Maybe your stairs aren’t already making an architectural statement, but this ombre paint treatment would make even the simplest of stairs pop.

 

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Via Lonny

If you fear no pattern you could also opt to wallpaper your risers… or stencil, or tile.  I saw a similar treatment with white textured wallpaper that was pretty divine as well. Plus if you use a removal wallpaper you can easily swap it out as your tastes change.

 

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Via The Glamorous Housewife

Maybe you have some outdoor stairs that you want to stand out.  How amazing are these aged aqua steps??? I wish I had a place for them in my life right now.

 

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Via Bob Villa

If you have a small yard and want to maximize your greenery I think using glass steps over plantings is kind of ingenious.

 

A Series of Small Projects

Some of these were more recent than other, but none really deserved their own post.  Every house has it’s small projects that make a difference though.

Pantry Light

Our butler pantry had a pretty hideous light fixture–really just a basic socket and pull chain (like you’d find in an unfinished basement) with an ugly little clip-on shade.  So sad.  The problem here though was that we were super limited in our choices.  There was no switch so we had to have a pull chain, and the trim around the weird built-in shells left us only about 6″ of space to work with.

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We ended up finding a super-cheap Jelly Jar light at Menards along with a pull-chain kit.  For about $10 total we figured it would be worth a try even if we royally effed it up.

 

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Still not amazing, but probably the best we can do with the limitations unless we haul in an electrician (which, honestly, I really would like to do).

The hardest part of converting a standard light to a pull-chain is drilling the hole for the pull-chain mechanism itself to go through.  I would suggest trying to make a pilot hole of sorts by pounding a nail through the area first, then you can probably drill through.  Matt tried using our Dremel and admitted it was not one of the smartest things he has ever done.

Micro-bath Mini Makeover

Our half-bath wasn’t in awful shape, but it still needed a little lovin’.  I don’t have a proper before picture, so here we’ve already swapped out the existing faucet for this adorable ceramic-handled one switched out the mirror for something with a little more style.

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We also replaced yet another sad little light fixture.

 

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I’m actually still on the hunt for a better fixture here, but at $25 I don’t feel too bad about swapping this one out again down the line.  The micro-bath is going to get a more significant makeover in the near-ish future so I’ll probably be deciding on a more permanent replacement then.

Front  Railing

Our house is in desperate need of some curb appeal, no question there, but a lot of that will be slowly worked in over the years.  A more pressing matter however, is that our front steps lacked a railing.  This can be a sore spot for insurance companies, but it was also a practical issue for us. Our parents are getting older, winters are icey, and I have a nasty habit of random injuries* so having a railing on our front steps seemed like a really good idea.

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We picked up a fairly inexpensive railing at Menards since we’re planning on completely replacing the front steps completely in the next couple years.  It took a few hours to align and assemble and then another day to paint (Rustoleum Hammered Old Bronze).  It actually looks better than I expected!

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Please ignore our ghetto drainage solution–we get huge amounts of water pooling there when it rains and until recently it’s been too cold to start properly  re-grading that area.

Outlets

We’ve been steadily switching out all the switches and outlets in the house for the “decorator” style ones.  We needed to switch out all the beige for white anyway (at least by my personal definition of “need”) so I opted for the fancy ones.  Regardless of which style you go with though, replacing grody old switches/outlets can really make a big difference.

 

*Spraining your foot when you live on the 3rd floor with no elevator is not pleasant.

Friday Favs: Book Nooks

Ok… so it’s really more Saturday Favs today but we had family in town last night so I was little distracted. It won’t happen again.*

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It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a bibliophile… in fact I may even be a bit of a book hoarder. You’d think e-books would have made it easier, but I while I use my Kindle app occasionally (mostly when I travel) I still love books.  The feel, the smell, the joy of being in a book store… it’s all wonderful!  This is followed by a pressing need to store my hoard of books.

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Via Little Green Notebook

Floor to ceiling bookshelves and a library ladder?  Be still my heart!

 

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Via Domino

It’s pretty well accepted that technology in the bedroom can be disruptive to your sleep, but surrounding yourself with books?  That seems pretty dreamy to me.

 

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Via Habitually Chic

If a slightly moodier library feel is more your vibe (and you’re not blessed with super tall ceilings) you can frame out your wall ‘o books in a deep color.

 

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Via Desire to Inspire

Or you could opt for a brighter color for a funkier vibe.  I’m kind of in love with that daybed too.

 

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Image Credit: Unknown**

I’ve always been a sucker for attic spaces, but I think this wall of books is especially spectacular.

 

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Via Real Simple

Got a goofy little alcove?  You could turn it into your own personal mini-library.

 

*Actually, I’m pretty sure it will.

**I found this image on Pinterest, but it only seems to link back to Tumblr pages and other round up style posts so I have no idea what the original source is.  If you do, please let me know and I’ll update accordingly.

 

 

Spring Cleaning: Computer + Internet

Yay, the dining room’s done!!! So now what?  Nothing quite as dramatic unfortunately, but still important house things.  I want to get the entry way and upstairs hallway painted (walls + trim), tackle some landscaping now that the weather’s getting nice,* give the micro-bath a mini makeover, and, of course, tackle some Spring Cleaning.

Dun dun DUUUN

I don’t know what it is about the change to spring that prompts the crazy cleaning sprees in everyone, I mean, wouldn’t winter make more sense because everyone’s holed up inside with nothing better to do anyway?** Maybe it’s because you’re finally able to open up windows and air everything out, and the outside seems all clean and fresh so people suddenly get the urge to keep up.  Either way, I don’t think I’m the only one who goes on a spring cleaning rampage.

I kicked off my rampage with my computer.

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I have a nasty habit of saving random crap all over my desktop.  So periodically I delete the old stuff and move the important into properly organized folders.  My two big computer clutterers are photos and design projects. Photos I break down by year and then any specific events/trips.  I have specific folder for blog related images too.  For design projects I have WIP folder with current projects arranged by title and sub folders for each for Design, Web, and Finals.  Once the project is complete I have a Completed Projects folder arranged by year and then project.  This is also a good time to back up any files on an external hard drive and remove any non-essential files from your main computer.

Email

I love gmail, but the virtually unlimited storage means I get lazy about deleting, and seeing a full inbox kind of drives me a little crazy.  First I look for mailing lists I’ve ended up on and unsubscribe from any that I don’t care about.  I also use the search feature to hunt down specific senders so I can delete whole pages at a time.  I also created a spam account awhile that I use for anything that needs an email but I know will never send me anything useful.***

Facebook

Spring cleaning Facebook?  Boo-yah!  I don’t mean deleting everyone you haven’t physically talked to in the last year (although if that’s your thing, knock yourself out).  I recently discovered the Acquaintances option and I have found Facebook zen.  Have someone who posts what they ate for breakfast every single day?  Have someone who shares every single page/article/video they find?  Have someone who just”likes” a lot of things that that are not at all relevant to you, or gets tagged in a ton of stuff from people you don’t know? I’m fine with this stuff in moderation but it was getting overwhelming!  BAM!  Acquaintances to the rescue!.  Facebook will weed out only the “important” stuff to show in your main feed, but you can always navigate to your acquaintances list if you feel like you’re missing out. It’s not 100% perfect, but it definitely tones the feed clutter waaaaay down.

If you’re logged in you can go right to https://www.facebook.com/friends/organize This will populate a list of suggestions for who to add to your acquaintances list and you can select in bulk.  It’s not perfect though and won’t show everyone on your friends list.

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If you want to add someone who doesn’t show up here, look at the menu to the left of your normal feed.  Acquaintances should be right under the Friends heading.

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If you click on it you’ll now see your Acquaintance feed and to right hand side you’ll see a search box with Add Friends to This List.  Voila!  Facebook Zen.

Other Stuff

If you’re feeling really ambitious you can also tackle your Pinterest boards.  I periodically weed through my Likes and decide if they’re worth assigning to a board, if they actually only link to spam, or if they’re still only in that limbo that is Likes.

Pinterest has basically taken the place of my Bookmarks, but if you’re not a crazy pinner that may be the area for you to clean up.  Do the links even still work?  Are they organized so you can find things?

For phones and tablets you can see if you have apps you never use that are worth removing.  Just be careful if you don’t actually know what something is, and google to see if it’s an essential process.

There’s also the physical cleaning of your computer–vacuuming out keyboards, cleaning screens, dusting out towers.  Depending on your monitor you’ll want to search for the best cleaning method so you don’t end up damaging it. Apple recommends dampening a lint free cloth with only water and wiping off the screen.  Don’t spray liquids directly on your screen though.

Nothing too crazy right?  A few key areas still make a big difference for me in how less cluttered my electronic life feels.

 

*Ok, so it’s been raining all week, but it’s “nice” in that I no longer need my winter coat

**Can you tell I’m so not a winter sports person?  I prefer to hibernate under the couch.

***if you’re wedding planning, seriously do this and get a Google Voice number to give to sales people… I had to lie and tell a David’s Bridal sales person that we had eloped early just so she would stop calling me!  (buying a different dress elsewhere wasn’t enough of clue apparently) Google Voice will automatically transfer calls to other lines, but you can block numbers with a single click.  Also super useful when car shopping.

Friday Favs: PINK Rugs

I am ridiculously in love with the pink rug in our dining room!  It’s so fun and vibrant and adds a whole new level of dimension to the room.  I had originally planned on getting a neutral rug for the space (yaaaaawn) and then I stumbled across this article on Apartment Therapy talking about how pink is the perfect rug color for almost every room.  A slight exaggeration perhaps, but they had some fabulous examples and I was SOLD.

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If you’re ready to hop on the pink train here are some more rugs to consider–and all are under $300!

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1// Overstock $161 for an 8×10

Over-dyed seems to be big right now.  I think it looks awesome in the right space, but Matt thinks they look like someone took an eraser to them.  To each their own.

2// Anthropologie $248 for a 3×5

Ok, so this one’s not totally pink, but it’s got a solid pink pop and is still pretty spectacular

3// All Modern $150 for a 5×8

I love how this one is slightly reminiscent of a Moroccan pattern.  The bold pattern but more muted color is great if crazy hot pink isn’t for you.

4// Overstock $166 for a 5×7

So this was the rug I originally wanted for the dining room.  I love the balance of color so it doesn’t seem completely overwhelming.  Unfortunately it wasn’t available in the right size when I was actually ready to buy it, but my alternate worked out beautifully too!

 

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Bright not your thing?  No problem.  Pastels aren’t just for baby girls!

1// Overstock $270 for an 8×10

This rug would look uber chic in the right room.  Anyone else kinda dig the black-white-blush-gold palette? It’s hard to tell from the image, but the rug is super plush so it would provide a soft but textural base.

2// Wayfair $275 for an 8×10

A busier pattern, still in a soft color is a great way to add texture too.

3// Rugs USA $200 for a 3×5

This one’s a little bolder, but I think the earthier coral color is divine and it’s not overwhelming.

4// Overstock $250 for a 3×5

And of course, pastel with fringe!  Because fringe.

 

Dining Room Sources

Wheeee the Dining Room is done!!!!  Thanks to everyone for their wonderful comments!  It gives me lots of warm fuzzies.

Now that I showed off the pretty, here’s the down-low on everything we used and a rough budget.

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Paint

Walls: Behr Poppy Seed (eggshell) $30

Trim: Benjamin Moore Simply White (Advance, satin) Existing

Trim

1×6 Select Pine (8ft) $10 x6

Shoe Molding (8ft) $3 x6

Base Cap (8ft) $8 x6

Chair Rail (8ft) $13.50 x6

Cove Molding (8ft) $7 x6

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Furniture

Table: Overstock.com Existing

Bench: Pier 1 Mason Bench Existing

Eames Chairs: Amazon Existing

Buffets: IKEA BRUSALI $79 x2

Accents

Ceiling Tiles: Amazon $284

Rug: Rugs USA $200*

Light: Amazon $120

Floating Shelves:  Home Depot $13 x4

Curtains: IKEA VIVAN Existing

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Artwork

Fruit/Foliage Prints: IKEA $10

Weird Fruit: Ursula Vernon Existing

Queen Victoria: Gift

(white) Frames: IKEA RIBBA $10 x2

Total: $1,095…

…plus assorted miscellaneous things like stain and hardware and things that we didn’t fully track (like small accessories, if you’re wondering where we got something, just ask).  In realty it’s the final damage was probably closer to $1200, which I think is pretty damn good considering we replaced all the baseboards and ceiling, and also got a giant rug.

 

 

*Pssst you can also find it at Overstock and Wayfair… I just found the best deal through Rugs USA

Dining Room Reveal

I wasn’t prolonging the suspense on purpose, I swear!  I was all on track to have this finished up last Sunday, but I work up feeling crappy (sore throat, muscle aches, no energy At All) so I managed to get 2 things (out of 7) hung in the dining room and then just sort of passed out.  Ugh. By Tuesday I hauled myself off to the doctor and got a positive Strep Throat test (wheee) and wasn’t back to 100% until the end of the week…it was rough.

But FINALLY I have the full reveal for you!

First let’s step back and look at what the dining room looked like when we bought the house.

a020-7There are worse rooms out there for sure, but this one was seriously lacking in style.  The light fixture was kind of dated, the ceiling was pretty awful (and saggy in spots–thankfully this was only from the tiles pulling free of their staples, and not actually structural), and the bookcases served no useful purpose whatsoever in here.

DR_before2In fact, the bookcases just sort of turned into catch-alls once we moved in.

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So we ripped out the bookcases, repaired the wall behind one and the floors under both, replaced the baseboards, painted everything, ripped out the old ceiling, added a tin ceiling, extended the crown molding, and added a new light fixtures.

Oof, that made me tired just typing all of it… but the end result is so completely worth it!

DR_after1I LOVE how dramatic this turned out!  We don’t have separate formal and casual dining spaces so this is it.  I didn’t want to take it too formal since we’re not terribly formal people, but I still wanted the room to make a statement and I think I succeeded.

DR_after3Pssst… don’t tell anyone, but those table runners totally aren’t hemmed yet.  I only recently scored some blue-gray linen at Hancock Fabrics for like 70% off so they’re only cut down to size at the moment.

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The ceiling and rug make me kind of stupid-happy.  Matt was deeply suspicious of my desire for a hot pink rug, but after he saw it in person he admitted it really pulled the room together.

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We also found a spot for my Weird Fruit prints by Ursula Vernon.

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And my Queen Victoria made of garbage postcard that a friend sent me.

DR_after8This sideboard is pretty much our dishwashing station since we have very limited counter space in the kitchen.  It’s ok, but I hope to upgrade it at some point.  I hope to upgrade the IKEA buffets on the other side of the room too, but sometimes you just have to accept some temporary solutions while you’re on the hunt for perfection. Plus, nothing ever is really done when you’re a creative–there will always be something you decide to tweak at some point.  It’s done enough though (actually looking a like a finished room!) and we can finally have people over again!

 

 

 

Friday Favs: IKEA Hacks

One of my favorite things about living in St Paul is that we’re about 20 minutes away from IKEA.  The good news for anyone who doesn’t live close to an IKEA is that they’ve started offering a lot more of their furniture for purchase online.

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IKEA has some great basic pieces, but sometimes they need a little extra oomf so your house doesn’t end up looking like an IKEA catalog.

 

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Via Young House Love

Young House Love turned an Expedit (now Kallax) into a stylish changing station for their baby, but this same look would make a great credenza or TV stand too.

 

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Via In My Own Style

Card Catalog style drawers + secretary desk?  I can hardly think of a better upgrade for a TARVA dresser.

 

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Via House of Hawkes

If paint is more your skill level it can still make a huge difference and transform a simple shelf into something a little more glam.  A VITTSJO unit was used here, but you could also ramp up a $15 HYLLIS too!

 

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Via Cleverly Simple

The RAST dresser is one of the most hacked IKEA pieces I’ve seen (I’ve hacked it myself too!).  I love how it’s been turned into a fabulous little nightstand here.

 

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Via Money Saving Sisters

Another simple paint upgrade, this time with a SNILLE chair.

 

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Via The Makerista

I think these built in BILLY bookcases are one of the most divine things ever!  And the addition of a  library ladder?  To DIE for!

 

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Via Oliver & Rust

Need some extra storage for the kitchen?  This island looks fancy, but is really a pretty simple hack, needing just some paint and a new top.  This one used a BEKVAM kitchen cart, but if you want a little extra storage you could use a FORHOJA too.

 

Weekend Assemblage

We’re getting down to the wire now… not that we’re on any actual schedule, but I’m eager to get another room knocked off my list.

Our new light fixture arrived on Thursday and was breeze to put up since there was actually a properly installed electrical box AND modern wiring already in place.  Madness!  The only issue was the electrical box protruding out of the ceiling about 2-3 inches.  We just ran with it and added a collar to make it look a little more intentional.*

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I also tackled some IKEA assembly.  I picked up 2 BRUSALI cabinets to use as buffets flanking the window.  They were inexpensive, a good size, and provided useful storage for some of our extra kitchen gear.  Only problem?  They’re not actually white. WTF Ikea? You call them white, couldn’t you call them “distressed white” or some such thing so people don’t get a nasty shock?  Ugh.  I wish IKEA would keep it’s finishes more consistent, this is just as bad the Stockholm series that’s a funky dirty beige color.  Oh well, that’s what paint is for, right?

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It’s also what IKEA beer is for….**

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These are one of the more obnoxious IKEA I’ve ever put together, and to put that in perspective, I think the MALM dressers are pretty easy.  We managed to slightly damage both in the process, nothing (too) visible, but it wasn’t hard to do.  That and the fact that they’re fairly wibbly-wobbly does not make them one of my favorite IKEA pieces ever. Scale-wise they fit the room pretty well though and they were pretty darn cheap so ultimately I’m feeling pretty good.

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After I got them in place the distressed-ness of the finish wasn’t terribly obvious so I’m holding off on painting them for now.  I am on the hunt for some fancier hardware for them though… although I can’t find anything with the same hole spacing (and I’m sort of in love with these) so I may have to paint them just so I can the patch the holes…

What’s left now you may ask?  The final prettifying*** is yet to come.  I need to pick up some final accessories, our rug should arrive sometime this week and then it’s just styling and staging.  And the room’s not really done until it’s properly accessorized.  If all goes smoothly we should be done within the next  week!

 

 

 *Not gonna lie, the fact that the seam on the shade is on the most visible side ever drives me a little bonkers.

**Ok, so 1) It’s not really IKEA beer, they just styled the labeling as an IKEA spoof and 2) I’m not a beer drinker so wine was my comfort of choice.  It was too fun not to pass up!

***Whoa, spellcheck says this actually a word!  I thought I was making it up!

Friday Favs: Statement Ceilings

Were you inspired by our faux tin ceiling?  I hope you were!  Ceilings are an all too often neglected part of the room.  People spend their time picking out paint and wall coverings, choosing the perfect flooring and furniture…. and paint their ceilings the off-white color of the ceiling paint right out of the can…. why?  You should think of your ceilings as a 5th wall, just as deserving of attention as all your other walls.

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If you’re feeling like showing your ceilings a little love, here’s a roundup of inspiration.

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Via Dave Fox Design Build

The easiest option is to just consider the color of the ceiling. If your walls are more neutral a pop of color can be a fun accent.

 

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Via SF Girl by Bay

You can also bring the ceiling color down into the room bit.

 

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Via The Blog Deco

Or onto an entire wall

 

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Via Little Green Notebook

Maybe you’re not feeling the paint, but wallpaper doesn’t have to be be just for the vertical walls.  Julia Rothman’s Daydream is a pretty perfect pattern for a ceiling.

 

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Via Contemporist

If you’re not up for covering the entire ceiling you always just add a focal point.  This one has the added bonus of being an amazingly dramatic headboard too.

 

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Via Atlanta Homes

Not my normal aesthetic, but ceiling was too spectacular not to share!