Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Throw a Little Color into Your Life...and Decor!

* I was asked by Chika Sunoto Photography, who took our last family photos, to write a blog post about all our color choices and how it came together with my photo gallery wall project.  This is what I came up with...

I love color. Color does not scare me. That is something you should know from the very beginning. There is not one wall in our home still painted white except the laundry room (and that drives me nuts). So, if you are a person who starts to sweat when you think about adding color to your home, this blog might take you over the top, but I challenge you to think outside your "safe box" and dare to throw some color into your lives.

The "trick", I think, with adding color to a home is simply making sure it is the right color for your area as well as coordinating it with your furniture and fixings so it does not seem out of place. Color that is well thought out and planned before the brush even hits the surface is color you will not regret living with in your day-to-day world.

Our original dining room--dark, dark, dark.
Our original kitchen--also dark!
When we moved into this home several years back, the kitchen and dining room area was painted in dark red and cream colors. Although it looked fine and even matched what I had in our old kitchen as well as the painting my brother-in-law had painted for us, a few years into living in it, I knew the space was needing to be lightened up. The room was feeling dark and closed in when I wanted it to feel refreshing and open for all who came to eat around our table. After looking at various colors of kitchens online and bringing home several color swatches, I settled on switching out the dark red for a bright lime green color. It seemed the switch in color was exactly what I was wanting, but it left me wanting a bit more change than that one color.

From red to bright green!  Now we are getting somewhere.
Nothing says re"fresh"ing like a bight green kitchen!
To make a long story short after the green went on the walls, I bought a black antique buffet table, which made me want a more antique looking dining room table and chairs. I found that on Craigslist and refinished them myself in a robin's egg blue and black to match the buffet. I recovered the chairs in three different patterned materials that tied the lime green of the walls and the blue from the wood together perfectly.

Nasty table from Craigslist
Refinished table to match my black antiqued buffet table.
Nasty Craiglist chairs--oh.my.word.
Refinished chairs with seat covers to tie in the greens and blues.
I also repainted the hardware in our kitchen from gold to brushed nickel, replaced the overhead light in the dining room, and painted the cream wall gray to offset the new hardware color. Although I was almost done, there was one more change I was desperate to complete. Above the black buffet on my newly painted gray wall was a painting that no longer matched a single color in my dining room/kitchen area. It just had to go, but what should I replace it with? I always wanted to have a wall full of the people I care most about...my family...so this was the perfect opportunity to do so. The only problem was I didn't have professional photos that all went together to make it look complete and planned. This is where Chika from Chika Sunoto Photography certainly came to my rescue.
New color (before the back wall went from cream to gray), new table, new buffet table...
painting that no longer matches...boo.
Just one more thing needs help--that last wall needed painted gray
and the painting needs changed out.
Step number one when heading in for some professional family photos is finding the clothes to wear for them. Dressing a family of six in coordinating outfits is a bit more challenging then when it was just my hubby and me, but by knowing where these photos were going to be displayed in our home, I was able to have a color scheme to go with. Many families choose all white shirts, all black shirts, or very dull, dark colors in order to match each other. While some of those photos do end up looking good, others seem washed out, too dark, or lacking originality. I would encourage you to look around the room where you are going to hang your photos to see what colors you may want to match your clothes to. Textures and patterns interspersed with solid colors on clothing also help to liven up the look of the photo. For our family photos, I knew the best way to coordinate with the rest of my dining room would be to include the lime green and robin's egg blue colors in our clothing. Those bright and bold colors would definitely make our family photos fun and unique to our space. *A few tips from my experience: 1) To make sure the colors would match the paint well, I even took some of the leftover material from my chair covers to the store with me until I found the best matches for all of us. 2) Shop thrift stores or second-hand stores for outfits--especially children's clothes. It can get pretty pricey to buy all new outfits for six members of the family if you don't have the colored clothing you want on hand already.

Blues, greens, and browns...all add "pops" of color for our wall.
Don't be afraid of several different patterns in your clothing scheme--just separate them out a bit with some solids.
My absolute favorite photo EVER of my handsome hubby and myself.
Love this crew!
Once Chika worked her magic with our family photo session, I was sure there would be at least one of each child and hopefully one of our family together that would be "good enough" to make the space over the buffet table work. However, with the first glimpses of our photos from Chika, I knew I was going to have a problem. Each and every photo was so beautiful I did not have a clue how to dwindle it down to just a few photos. I now wanted to showcase all these wonderful captured moments, but how on earth would I be able to do it? I started to figure it out by looking up examples of photo gallery walls to give me ideas of how to make this work best with the space I had. I counted up the number of photos I really wanted to hang (seventeen...yikes!) and began to shop for frames.  I headed to Hobby Lobby and quickly realized having seventeen photos to purchase frames for was going to be impossible on our budget. What to do, what to do? Instead of spending the money or changing my plans back to a few basic photos, I headed to several of my second-hand stores to peruse the frame sections. After a few stops, I had all seventeen frames for under $20. They were all old, dirty, various colors and materials, and held "interesting" pieces of art. At first glace it was a hodge-podge of frames that was nothing but ugly, but since I had already taken my dining room table and chairs from ugly to beautiful, I knew what could be done in the end with these frames with a little bit of time and paint.

This was the loot of ugly frames I brought home from the second-hand stores with the exception of the two black patterned frames...they were on clearance at Hobby Lobby for cheap!
To transform the frames into pieces that would work with our color scheme as well as the antique look in our dining room, I pulled out the green, blue, black, and brushed nickel paints as well as my antiquing glaze. After a few hours of priming and painting work, they were completely updated from drab to fab and ready for photos. I arranged them on the floor of our bedroom over and over and over again until I found the look I enjoyed the most. To transfer the collage from my bedroom floor to the wall, I simply used the technique of cutting out newspaper to the size of each frame, taping the newspaper up on the wall in the exact positions I wanted them, measuring out where the nails would go on each piece of newspaper, and then hammering in the nails. At that point, the newspaper could come down and the actual frames could go up in their place. It was a great way to hang everything without having to hold big heavy frames while trying to get exact measurements.

With that, the work was done. Seeing all the frames up on the wall with Chika's amazing photos inside them for the first time was breath-taking. The colors were popping out from everywhere and everything tied so beautifully together with the rest of our room. It was perfect! When I sit down to eat I find myself starring at all the preciousness of my family photos and am so glad I was able to put so many of them up there. When we have guests over I absolutely love sharing this bright, fun, and meaningful space with them.

My finished wall of fabulous photos--thank you, Chika!

The complete look of our color-coordinated dining room.  I LOVE it!!!

I hope by seeing these photos and hearing how it all came together for me, you will be inspired to add some color into your room, your furniture, your outfits, and even your lives. Budgets do not have to be high for transformation to happen. A little bit of planning, some elbow grease, and a vision for what you want can make a space feel perfect for you without breaking the bank. I want to thank Chika for working so well with the needs of my family. She captured each of my children so well and I have to say I have never had a more perfect photo of my husband and myself alone before either. I treasure each of these gifts greatly and am so blessed to have them on my wall for all to see and enjoy.

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