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As first mentioned in our tweaking post, we added a $2 chair to our living room set up. It’s a little funny that we’ve grown our furniture collection with a yard sale find – only to have our own sale in August, isn’t it? In any case, we spotted her a few weeks ago, we decided the last thing we needed was another chair (for where?, we said), but we bought her anyway. A couple dollar impulse buy never hurt anyone.

She needs some work. But since bringing her home, we’ve been focusing more on our backwards learning rather than rushing through projects, so still she sits like this:

The sign reads CAUTION, because the seat is no longer attached. You can see she’s even missing a fourth screw to hold the bottom in place, and the holes themselves have been tirelessly gouged over time; they are far too large.

The black vinyl seat is spotted with old paint (we think), the backrest has been poorly stained with a shiny, honey color, and the iron frame, while sturdy, is pocked with rust, nicks, and mismatched screws.

We think this’ll be a quick fixer upper, and a few hours in an afternoon will have her looking pretty again. Stripping the old polyurethane off the back (and likely re-applying a dark walnut color) is a given, but Scott and I have gone back and forth on the frame and seat.

Originally, we thought a clean, white frame could add a breath of fresh air:

But… what if we went bold and bright instead? (Think apple red, sunny yellow or kelly green.)

Or we could pair the happy color with a sleek white seat. While running errands this weekend, we actually found a remnant swatch of white vinyl and surprisingly, we loved it. It’s easy to wipe clean, and on such a small surface, it won’t feel hot and sticky on a warm day. We didn’t buy it at the store, but after waffling on the idea for the afternoon, we’ve since ordered a yard from Fabric.com.

If we go with the white vinyl, we could always mix the old with the new and leave the original black frame as is and update the seat. (Again, keep in mind that the backrest will be stained a dark walnut with a less shiny, abrasive finish.)

Scott admitted he actually liked the rusty, old frame – we’ll call it, um, patina – and I agree. We’re leaning heavily towards the graphic colors of black + white, which leaves the option open for a fun, colorful pillow (always a good thing!).

Because the chair is hanging in our tweak-in-process living room, we’re keeping in mind our ultimate goal: toning down the dark, wooden window blinds, our once-gold curtain panels and colorful photo frames as to no longer compete with our already vibrant media wall. We’re always on board for punchy accessories (ahem, pillows!), but maybe it’s time we approach our tweaks with a minimalist approach, this chair included.

What do you think? How would you tackle this mini makeover?

  • katie - July 18, 2012 - 7:27 AM

    i actually tried to buy a set of similar chairs on craigslist a couple of years ago – i think the set i was looking at were paul mccobb chairs. i just tried to look this up again and come across this: http://paulmccobb.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-to-identify-paul-mccobb-bentword.html

    just thought you might be interested.

    and i think i would leave the frame as is unless it is really bad. i debated spraying a metal fire place grate, but once i had it installed, i discovered that i really liked the patina.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY - July 18, 2012 - 8:33 AM

    I really love the look of the last option (original black frame, white cushion). Adding a punch of color with a pillow seems like the perfect solution to me! Great find, btw…ReplyCancel

  • Marti | projectpalermo.com - July 18, 2012 - 8:34 AM

    Katie: That how-to-identify-a-McCobb post is really interesting and helpful! Thanks for linking to it.

    Kim: I also agree with the leaving the frame as-is.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 18, 2012 - 9:16 AM

    Katie, awesome link, thank you! We most definitely have a McCobb knock off, and like you, Carrie and Marti, we’re loving the patina look too.

    It’s just too much fun to Photoshop a few other options – just to be sure!ReplyCancel

  • Zandi @ Radical Possibility - July 18, 2012 - 10:07 AM

    I love the last option!!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - July 18, 2012 - 12:21 PM

    I was leaning toward the bright and bold until I saw the last option. Love the pairing of Black, white, and the wood.
    Can’t wait to see what you pick!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 18, 2012 - 12:32 PM

    Thank you for the feedback, everyone! The graphic mix of b&w with a dark wood tone will look awfully pretty…ReplyCancel

  • kaylan - July 18, 2012 - 12:38 PM

    i love that chair! i think i’d take a different direction entirely – grey frame, canvas fabric for the seat in a fun design, and a whitewashed backrest.

    i’m so with you on eliminating the dark and heavy. i’ve spent the last year redoing or replacing all of our dark pieces – it’s amazing how much bigger our tiny apartment feels when there isn’t so much competition for your eyes.ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin @ Desert Domicile - July 18, 2012 - 12:53 PM

    Such a cute chair! I really love the last option paired with a colorful pillow :)ReplyCancel

  • Haley @thedistractedblogger - July 18, 2012 - 5:41 PM

    I love the last option as well!

    I also think something natural colored, tall, and textured would look good on the wall to let the eye travel upward when looking at the wood tones. The first thing that comes to mind is a fan we used to have with a long handle. Sorry I cannot find a picture.ReplyCancel

  • Kalli - July 18, 2012 - 6:10 PM

    I like the last one – white vinyl and black frame. Since the black is already kind of scuffed up, you could also consider sanding it or really subtly dry brushing it with some gray or dark brown paint for a gentler, chalkboard kind of effect instead of solid black.

    If it were my chair, I might also be tempted to draw on some design to the plain white vinyl like this: http://pinterest.com/pin/27514247693920142/ with permanent markers.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 18, 2012 - 6:20 PM

    Kalli, you are braver than me! Although, I like the idea.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY - July 26, 2012 - 11:06 AM

    Random – But I found a look-a-like to your chair on a blog just a second ago, and had to share:

    http://www.lucitelavender.com/2012/07/pattern-play-timothy-sue-removable.html

    (scroll towards the middle) Looks like that one has just a plain wooden seat. Not sure if you’re interested in doing something like that, but thought I’d send it your way for comparison’s sake!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 26, 2012 - 12:15 PM

      Hey Carrie, I can’t seem to find it in the link you’ve sent along?ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - July 27, 2012 - 8:28 AM

    Oh oh oh! I think you should to this to your chair

    http://brigittew.tumblr.com/post/26296202147

    How lovely is that!?ReplyCancel

  • Lesley - July 31, 2012 - 7:30 AM

    Love this chair and I would swear it is the same chair my mother’s best friend had in her home during the 60′s and 70′s.ReplyCancel

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Today, I’m sharing the things I love At the Moment with Lisa Butler of Elembee Creative. I gush excitedly over hockey, lipstick and Mariah Carey (Scott has absolutely nothing to do with the latter! Or the lipstick, for that matter), and I even share a snippet of what the future holds for The Pet Shop.

Go right here for the full interview, or just click on the photo above.

Thank you, Lisa, for having me!

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Something clicked this year.

I was working my tail off on projects around the home (the studio, mostly) and adding other projects on top of unfinished items – for example, Exhibit A, the console table. At the end of my work day, I’d find myself feeling unsettled; it seemed nothing was getting completed to the fullest. I was pulling myself in ten directions, poorly multi-tasking and I self-induced my own crazies. If I wasn’t working, I was thinking about work – what I didn’t do and what I needed to do tomorrow.

I like to work, and I’m always going to want to make or do something new – case in point, the living room. I enjoy a full plate (edit: I thrive on it), and that’s okay.

But when it comes to juggling work vs. down time, Scott is always so calm, so collected. (This, among countless other things, is why I love him so.) He’s unflappable, and I wanted that, too. I wanted to relish in my down time, like him. I wanted to allow myself down time, period. When he would see my mind wander, he would ask me if I ended the work day by re-evaluating my lists (rather than stew on ideas late into the evening), and had I kept them do-able? He’d remind me to break my list up into smaller tasks, prioritize, and if the least important items didn’t get done – if those last 3 to dos don’t get the big check mark – in the grand scheme of things, what would happen?

Nothing, really.

He’s told me this many, many times in our 9 years together. And after a mid-week concert a few months ago, I allowed myself the next morning off. We went to breakfast, we enjoyed a moment of unexpected down time together, and when I inevitably felt rushed to get back to the studio, he reminded me again: What have you lost in the last 2 hours? Enjoy this time we have right now.

Finally, 30 years in the making, it clicked. It was my own little a-ha! moment. Is it because I was ready to listen? To learn? Isn’t that what they say?

I’m trying this, oh, new thing where I work to my fullest during the day, and I relax, have fun and unwind (to the fullest!) when I close my studio door. I still have big, long lists, but if something isn’t done by my imaginary deadline, so far, life has gone on. One thing at a time, then move to the next. I’m stepping back and un-learning how to multi-task. It’s learning again, but backwards.

My productivity ebbs and flows and some days are better than others – just like everyone else. And after months of giving this thing a good, hard effort, my balanced days are starting to far outweigh the frazzled ones. (Scott, do you agree?)

How do you handle your long lists and self-induced frazzles?

  • Claudia - July 13, 2012 - 7:33 AM

    Kim, this is something I’m working on too – I’m on a mission to stop multitasking – to focus on the one thing I’m doing NOW, and not to make mental lists or think about what comes next. This means that I can only do the one thing I care about at a time, not multiple half-assed efforts at once. I also have a husband who inherently does this and is trying (after 12 years) to influence me to chill out!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - July 13, 2012 - 8:43 AM

    Oh Kim. I started following your blog a few months ago because I felt connected to you and your blog (all the way down to the way it looks) inspired me. You have been my virtual and artistic mentor. Secretly, I guess. Haha. I am an artist myself and run a little home design blog, we even recently finished up my studio!

    http://www.chrislovesjulia.com/2012/06/stale-nursery-to-lively-studio-reveal.html

    This post is exactly what I needed to hear. Some nights…errr most nights, Chris comes home and we get our little girl in bed and he asks, “What’s on the list tonight.” And I ramble off at least 3 things I need to, NEED to, get done. And I feel bad. And then the thing that I love so much started turning into something I dread. And I realized I needed to take a step back. Just like you. I just need to learn how to enjoy down time. And that it is okay.

    Anyway, all that to say–thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 8:55 AM

    Claudia, our husbands are such smarties!

    Julia, I just left a comment on your studio, but I’ll say it again – it’s SO beautiful! That painted ceiling is to die for, and I’ve always loved those Flor tiles (we’re thinking of Flor for our living room rug now). Funny, I say Sophistikat was a potential option, too. Great minds think alike, right?

    Learning to enjoy the downtime can certainly be hard, and it sounds like (and from what I can see in your blog) that you totally get it. One step at a time, but we’ll get there! I’m getting closer all the time.

    OH, and somehow I ended up on your Etsy page yesterday. You’re a wonderful artist and inspiring in your own right, lady!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl - July 13, 2012 - 9:24 AM

    I teach during the day, and then in the afternoons/evenings I go home and eat lunch (very late), go to the gym, then come home and edit. Teaching doesn’t pay well, so I edit on the side. I’m working all the time. I love my book blog, but when I’m done with all the work, I write, which, even though I loved to do it, is more of the same.

    Last weekend, I crashed. I was so tired. I was so down. And I realized, I can’t keep doing this. I need a schedule. I need to stick to it. I need to be able to enjoy my life and not feel guilty when I’m NOT working. So thanks for reinforcing that I need to make my plans and get to it.ReplyCancel

  • katie - July 13, 2012 - 9:34 AM

    i could have written this post! well, not as nicely as you did, but i have been feeling the same thing lately. so thank you for putting it in to words :-)

    i think it’s so easy to get caught up in “whats next” and sometimes forget to just be in the moment. i am a huge multi-tasker, and it was always something i was proud of. but lately i’ve also realized that a lot of times, things weren’t getting fully complete, or i’m so frantically trying to do a billion things that i don’t even get satisfaction from checking things off the list.

    so i’ve been trying to only take on one or two big tasks at a time. in the spring i decided to spend 3 months focused on doing p90x and working on our kitchen remodel. and now that i’m done with those things, i’m focusing on studying for my next architecture test. once i realized it was ok to wait on a few items on the “to do” list, i instantly felt better.

    now i just need to be able to keep it up… good luck to you!ReplyCancel

  • Scott - July 13, 2012 - 9:34 AM

    Yay for downtime! For all you Husbands out there, helping Kim to realize the importance of the work-life balance has made us BOTH happier and more easy-going. I encourage you to assist your ladies, if necessary.

    As my Training Director at my 9 to 5 is so fond of saying; “Work at work! Home at home!”ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 10:13 AM

    Jenn, we’ll work on this effort together! I’ve crashed in the past, too, and while it feels good at the time, I have guilt later. Down days are so, so necessary, but they feel better if you know you’ve earned it – as opposed to just crashing, hard.

    Katie, you make a good point. I remember interviewing for jobs out of college, and my ability to multi-task was a major selling point. Like saying, “hire me! I can do everything!”

    We’re also trying to do only 1-2 projects at time. First it was the studio remodel, then it was The Pet Shop site remodel. Now we’re working on a few new products for the Shop (including drawings and pillows!), and we’d like to give this blog a tiny makeover to match it’s newer, sleeker Shop counterpart.

    BUT! Not all at once.

    Scott, I love you!ReplyCancel

  • Jane Davila - July 13, 2012 - 2:34 PM

    I think this is something that all of us in creative fields struggle with. It’s all made worse when you work at home and you’re self-employed, because the work is always there and the guilt or anxiety to get through the to-do lists never gets “left at the office” since the office is usually in the next room. I have a friend who is one of the most centered and present people I know and she gave me a great tip – and when I actually implement it the day goes so much better. She starts off each day by looking at her to-do list and deciding which of the things listed are her three MITs (Most Important Things). If you can focus on getting your 3 MITs done, then the rest is gravy. And if those are done then you can relax at the end of the day without guilt. My days get out of control and stressful when I don’t do start this way or when I start with more than 3 MITs. I’m also trying really, really hard to step away from work on the weekends, although that only happens about 40% of the time. I think we all have to remind ourselves to take a break when we need to, refill the well when we feel depleted, and be present as much as we can.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 4:24 PM

    Jane, I like the idea of 3 MITs. That’s a good rounded number, and I’ll see if I can implement the idea in the coming work week. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • ann - July 13, 2012 - 4:42 PM

    Kim – I’m happy that this is working for you. Dare I say that Scott is a lot like his father as far as chill time?ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 4:58 PM

    Ann, yes, that sounds about right!ReplyCancel

  • Heather {ModernMealsforTwo} - July 16, 2012 - 11:29 AM

    I also have to take cues from Hubster and cut my INSANE list of to dos once in a while. Judging by the comments above, we’re not alone in the need to feel like we’ve rung every bit of productivity out of every day.

    I think a lot of it comes from building a business. When you start it and are still working you really have to put in a lot of time. It’s hard to know when to throttle back and enjoy the time you have.

    Random days off and breakfast on a weekday are a good start :)ReplyCancel

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