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On August 20, calu and happy happy day, we got the keys to our house. After an evening of champagne in the stairwell, the games began. That is to say, weeks and weeks of constant decorating.

Some of the biggest changes were in the living room. Pretty bland huh...not when we finished with it.

Here we applied a yellow base with a regular roller and a shade darker yellow in the same spectrum yellow with a sponge roller. This creates the effect of a stucco wall and a very warm color for those winter days.

The design that goes around the top of the room is a hand painted stencil of a grape vine. Stencils are a cheap, easy way to liven up a room and if you don't like the effect, just paint over it.

Many art supply stores sell variety of stencils for about five to ten dollars. While you're shopping, pick up some stencil brushes and stencil paint. Stencil brushes are stiffer and shorter than normal brushes, which helps because you stencil by tapping the brush straight down against the stencil. Stencil paint is thicker than normal paint, which helps hold the pattern. It's also worth it to get some stencil adhesive to hold the stencil to the wall while you're working.

We also built the book shelves that you see here. The larger set were pine that we stained with red oak, varnished and then constructed. By staining and varnishing first, we didn't have to worry about missing spots. Since, this is earthquake country, we also fastened the shelves to the studs in the walls using our handy dandy stud finder. Attaching an eight by seven shelf covered books to just plaster is asking for trouble.

The dining room and kitchen were painted what we like to call terracotta, which didn't quite come out like the faux finish that we imagined, but that was the first room. The design around the top is a stencil done with a sponge roller, which, the package was correct, is quite the innovation in stenciling. The roller works like a regular roller and rolls the paint right over the plastic stencil. It took thirty minutes to stencil the entire room.

The tables are pine, which we stained, applied the vine design and then varnished.


Mmmm....the stairs. The place in between. We used the same paint as in the kitchen. Here, because of the lack of light, the color was much darker. Therefore, we decided to lighten it with a white pattern of vines, which we made by cutting out vine/leaf shapes from an expandable sponge and then gluing them to a roller. Dip in white paint and apply gradations of pattern to the wall. Repeat.

This photo doesn't actually capture the vivid saturated blue of Karen's room. Doors of mosques, the bluest eye, the deepest smog free sky, the sun drenched sea.


Because the spare room was so small, we decided to open up the dimensions by making it a sky room. This was done by painting the room blue and the applying white and gray paint with a set dollar sponges.


And finally, my room. The arches were first drawn on the walls using a tack, a pen and a string. Between the arches, we first put down a layer of light green and then mixed shades of paint using a marble pattern double roller. The gold of the arches is the overlay yellow from downstairs. The design on each column was done using another stencil pattern applied with a sponge roller.

After all that, you'd think that we'd swear off Trading Spaces, but I hey, we still have the bathrooms.

Maybe next summer.

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