Family Room Makeover: It's An "After"

We're done with our DIY family room makeover! Well, I guess you can never say "done" because there's always something, right? We would loooove to install hardwoods one day. And we'll always arrange art around our house. And I did just order a Threshold side table on Target's "Clearance on Clearance" online sale. Target, you vixen! Anyway, we all know decorating a home is an ongoing process. This summer's project, however, has come to a close. You can get caught up on the beginning and our open shelf building and even our desk construction. Other readers will remember this is where we started in June: too much kid clutter, a green wall color I was beginning to loathe and bookshelves that were falling apart:

A family room

And here we are now. This is our "After."

A modern family room

We arranged the chairs and couch to create (we hope) a welcoming space that says, "Sit down and relax." Before, the couch faced all of the toy mess and I always felt like sitting down was something to do in a hurry, on my way to pick up a toy. I rarely ever sat on my couch (that I love!). I would despair of the kid junk, too. We don't have a toy room or spare room for kiddie flotsam. I just couldn't figure out how to fix it. And then I did.

Two orange chairs with a yellow coffee table

We ended up donating most of the baby's toy bin. Rattles and teethers were all tossed, since she's past that stage. Toys she never played with (even if I thought they were so cute or so German or so eco-friendly....all donated because if a child doesn't play with a toy, then why keep it?) After all of that purging, we were left with a basket worth of awesome baby toys. Then, we sold the bins on Craigslist. The second toy bin was curated down in the same manner, although our 4 and 7-year-olds had veto power over most of the save-toss decisions. We placed that bin in the basement and if they want a toy that they can't live without, they can go down there and get it. This has happened exactly once.

Pillows from HomeGoods

The yellow table was a surprise. I originally wanted an ottoman in front of the couch and even started a jam jar fund (when I want something that's outside the household budget, I start a glass jar with a picture of the thing I desire. I sell stuff on CL until I have enough funds.) Anyway, as the jar fund began to grow, the ottoman started looking pretty indulgent. For the cost of a well-built fabric ottoman, I could do a lot more with my decor budget. So, I shifted gears and went the coffee table route. But I wanted rounded edges, no cold stone or rough wood. I found an inexpensive Queen Anne-style coffee table for $40 on CL and then purchased about $21 in paint. I used Valspar's Oatland Daisy after I sanded the table and did some very minor repairs.

A living room makeover with Petrie sofa

The open gray shelving combined with the mid-mod dresser is definitely my favorite part of the entire room. You know how you want something to go in your head sometimes? And it hardly ever turns out that way? Well, color me happy, because this time, what I envisioned actually worked out. I hope I'm on a roll.

Modern shelves with wooden shelf brackets

I won't lie, the baby knocked over this vase of zinnias after she woke up from her nap. We do not keep anything delicate at her height. (I held back the other two girls by drawing an imaginary line behind the couch while I took pictures.) I'm just keeping it real, folks. This room does not look like this now. It won't ever look this way again. That's why there's a stack of library books in the next picture. The only thing we can keep down low are books and usually, they are strewn around the room. We don't do knick-knacks. Or balls of pretty HomeGoods twine. Or jars of sea urchin skeletons. Are you kidding me?

A vase of zinnias on a coffee table painted with Valspar Oatland Daisy

The art on this wall is work by (clockwise from top); Robert Matre, Matre Gallery, Atlanta; Near and Deer from Fat and Appy; and Katie Fenske Bridges. You can see her amazing Etsy jewelry shop here. The chair is vintage.

Jonathan Fenske art and other artists

I posted this picture the other day (it's from last week). I love my desk and I'm thrilled it cost a fraction of a store-bought desk. Hurray!

A picture of a family room makeover with Jonathan Fenske art

A DIY wooden desk

I thought the coffee table might be too hard at first for our rough-and-tumble girls. All of the girls have rolled off the couch and hit it at least once. But they are learning to avoid it. And I placed a few extra pillows under the coffee table for fort building. It's funny...now that they don't have all of their broken and abandoned toys living in the family room, they use my stuff to play: baskets, pillows, blankets, cushions.

A Petrie couch with a yellow coffee table

Whew, that was some summer! You can't see it, but the girls are panting around the corner, dying to be released to trash the room once more. But that's living with kids and I'll take it every day of the week. The best part of the new room? I "enter" by walking past the couch and snuggle into the cushions. Within minutes, at least one child has piled on top of me. Babies climb up, 4-year-olds nap and 7-year-olds talk theology and pranks on that couch with their mama. It's heaven. So, I would say my main goal of making the room fit our family better has been achieved. And I don't have to paint anything anymore...at least for a while. Happiness!

Sources:

Wall paint: Benjamin Moore "Moonshine" color-matched to Olympic's No-VOC in satin; Couch: "Petrie," Crate and Barrel; Mid-mod dresser: Mod Mid Century; Orange chairs, ottomans: Storehouse; Wooden desk: custom; Open shelves: "Straight 10" shelf brackets by Tyler Morris Woodworking, Fort Collins, CO; Paint on desk and open shelves: Benjamin Moore "Storm Cloud Gray" color-matched to Olympic's No-VOC in semi-gloss; Rocking chair: vintage; Coffee table: Craigslist, painted with Valspar "Oatland Daisy" spray paint in flat (legs and sides) and same color but with liquid paint in satin (top); desk chair: a store in Atlanta, I've forgotten the name, sorry!; Media cart, curtains, trash can and silver shelf: IKEA; Pillows: HomeGoods; White pouf: Crate and Barrel; Art: most is FatandAppy.com or Jonathan Fenske; also, Robert Matre, Katie Fenske Bridges; Bruce Clark; Emma Klingbeil. We're Jennifer and Jonathan. And we're parenting three girls and making art. Thank you for visiting our blog! Please stop by again. 

Art Movers: Home Edition

Jonathan thinks the best way to enjoy your art is to move it around. From time to time, Jonathan will play art swap and move a painting or print from one room to another, from family room to kids' rooms or from a bedroom wall to the living room.

Most of the time, I love this where-will-it-turn-up-next game. But every so often, I think, "Nooo! You can't move that. I'm too in love with it where it is."

But every time, I end up appreciating the new location. And then I think, "We should have done this before!"

This week, Jonathan moved "Painting" by Bruce Clark. I was totally reluctant. I love "Painting" (I blogged about it here) and thought it reigned over our living room in eye-popping 1980's glory. Here's what it looked like at nighttime:

A Bruce Clark painting

But Jonathan had a new plan, and so I consented. He moved "A Need to Nurture" into the space. At first, I wasn't sure.

A Need to Nurture Modern Art Print by Jonathan Fenske of Fat and Appy

But now after a few days, I really love it. I'm even eyeing other pieces, thinking of the places they could go---someday.

What about you? Do you move art around? Share your tips! We'd love to hear from you. 

Art on a Budget: 6 Ways to Find Art That's Affordable

Jonathan and I love art, and we share our home with paintings and other special one-of-a-kind pieces that mean a lot to us. I know from talking with friends who come over that they often want original art---but don't know where to start. It's too expensive, right? Well, of course, it can be. But it doesn't always have to. With a little work, Googling and luck, you can have beautiful art, all for not much money. We're living proof!

Okay, if you're still with me, read on for a few tips on buying art on a budget. (Or finding art on a budget...but we're getting ahead of ourselves!)

Art on a Budget Tip #1: Find An Artist You Love and Then Figure Out How to Buy from Them

I'll let you in on a secret: artists like to sell their work. And they usually do it with a smile on their face. So, get out and meet artists. You'll be collecting on the cheap, so head to undergraduate art openings at a college or university near you. Stopping in at the local yogurt shop? Chances are, there's an artist on the walls that month. Even Barnes and Noble displays art on the hall leading to the bathroom. Look for artist "studio tours" in nice weather. Go on gallery crawls where there are pop-up exhibitions happening on nearby streets.

Use Twitter to find artists by following hashtags such as #illustrator and #artist. Strike up Twitter friendships with artists and visit their websites. Often, artists will set up online stores where they offer paintings, prints and even pillows of their work. Want something different but completely cool? DENY Designs based in Denver sells home decor goods printed with amazing art, including stretched canvas.

Become friends with your new favorite artist. Get on their email list. Comment on their blog. Be supportive and introduce them to other potential collectors. They'll be grateful and when you commission them to paint the perfect 24"x24" piece for your foyer, they'll gratefully move you to the top of the list.

Once you find something that's in your budget, ask yourself just one question: Do I like this piece? If you do, buy it. This is where you decide to part with cold cash: if you like it, it's yours.

When I was in high school, I was really into Georgia folk artists. I adored R.A. Miller and found out a cool gallery in my hometown of Greenville, S.C. carried a few of his pieces. I walked in the door (probably decked out in a vintage dress and humming an R.E.M. song) and trotted out a few minutes later with this tin cut (below) for $40. (The painting on the left was purchased in Nicaragua off the street for less than $20. It has a cardboard frame...isn't it the coolest?)

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Pro Tip: When buying art from a cafe or bookstore, it's a universal truth that the frames will be atrocious. Look past it---it's okay. Head over to Dick Blick and re-frame your sweet new piece of art.

Art on a Budget Tip #2: Trade Something

From time to time, Jonathan (who is an artist and children's book author/illustrator, if you are a new reader to this blog) will trade with another artist he admires. It's how we got this piece by David Nielson when we lived in Atlanta a few years before we moved out West.

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If you aren't an artist with another painting to trade, maybe you are a graphic designer and can trade a website design. Or maybe you're an attorney who can give some contract advice to an artist. Stay-at-home mom? What about babysitting for an artist who needs help watching kids so she can work? Trading works best if you have a relationship already established with the artist. So, I say ask--you never know what you might be able to arrange. Back in Atlanta, we once traded a painting for a Danish Modern dining room table and chairs. (If you want to see that painting, "Chivalry Is Dead," click here. It's peeking over the shoulder of our friend Brian.)

Art on a Budget Tip #3: Troll Etsy

There are some amazing artists on Etsy.  It's like an art fair on your laptop. You'll have to sift and sort but when you do, slap a heart on shops you love and come back again and again. We purchased this print from 12fifteen and then framed it with a Target matte/frame combo. I love prints and think they are a great way to collect someone you love...even if more than one person has the same one you do. Total cost: $47.50.

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Art on a Budget Tip #4: Ask an Artist to Paint Your Walls

This one takes a little more coordination, but you probably won't be turned down. As long as you are not asking the artist to paint a Disney character (blech), most early-career artists will happily come over and draw something special on your wall and then paint it. Jonathan got his start doing murals all over the Upstate of South Carolina. Send a friendly email...what do you have to lose?

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Art on a Budget Tip #5: Don't Forget Sculpture

An often less-expensive path to an art-filled home is to remember sculpture, vases, birdhouses, lamps...anything that you love and expresses who you are.

This TimeStone clock makes me happy every time I walk downstairs for a badly-needed cup of coffee in the morning. The bright yellow bird slides back and forth. We found this at a thrift store for less than $5.

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These blocks were a gift for the new baby. They are fresh, modern and so pretty. From tiny giraffe on Etsy.

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Art on a Budget Tip #6: Make Friends with Your Local Thrift Store

Every thrift store in America has a huge bin of mouldering frames, 1970's owl art and assorted motivational posters housed in gold-tone frames. You, dear reader, are going deeper. Remember to disregard the frames and the cleanliness of the art. Pounce on anything that is clearly original and well done. Jonathan rescued this awesome 1982 painting from a thrift store down the street. It's by Denver artist Bruce Clark and I can't imagine what happened so that it ended up where it did, but we couldn't be more thrilled to be the new owners.

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I should definitely add that many quality galleries offer paintings in the low hundreds. Some even may have very small works for less than $200 if the artist is just starting out. Or they may sell high-quality prints that cost around $100. But if those prices are too steep for your budget, then I hope some of my ideas may help. Good luck and happy hunting!
Do you have a fun art collecting story? Share it in the comments!  And don't forget to subscribe to more Fenske art news by scrolling to the bottom of the blog and entering your email. Keep up with Jen and Jonathan on Twitter, too: @jenmanskefenske