Saturday, June 13, 2015

before and after: hallway makeover

OK, let's do a proper before and after post here!  The upstairs hallway in my house has been an uninspired space with bare white walls ever since I moved in.  It never really bugged me per se, just sometimes I'd walk through the hall and think to myself, 'I should really do something to spruce up this area a little bit.'  And then life would get in the way and the project would fall by the wayside.  But recently I had a tiny bit of free time and decided to get on it.  

Just for some reference, here's a before picture (taken at night, almost as an afterthought just as I started stenciling - so sorry for the crap quality):

Not very exciting.  Huh.

Anyway.  I like covering the walls of small spaces with bold prints, since the effect of doing so - to which many designers will attest; this isn't my original idea or anything - makes the space feel extra snug and precious, like a little jewel box.  If I had my druthers, I would've gotten a gorgeous wallpaper for the hallway, but that's in itself so expensive, and of course you have to factor in hiring someone to hang it, too, since wallpaper is one thing I don't trust myself with (though never say never!  I'd still like to learn).  Anyway, I was trying to come up with ways to get a big graphic print on my walls without wallpaper, and the idea of stenciling came to mind.  Gone are the days of hideous old lady floral stencils (though those are most definitely still out there); we're now in an era of some really cool stencil options.  I wanted something that was at once geometric and earthy and mid-century inspired, so yeah. Not a tall order at all.  But believe it or not, I found the exact thing I was looking for at Royal Design Studio: the Ibo Pinwheel stencil.  Here's the pic from their site:

I love how the shape is reminiscent of midcentury starbursts, but is also not totally literal in referencing that aesthetic.  And for the record, Royal Design Studio has a bunch of really really awesome stencils - would totally recommend checking their stuff out.  

OK, so I'm writing all this damned text and if you're reading this, you probably just want to see pictures.  So let's get down to brass tacks.  I ordered the stencil months ago and had the thing sitting in a closet for months, and then a couple nights ago decided to pull it out and just give it a try.  You saw the boring hallway before, and here it is after I got the first couple stencils down.  Pretty thrilling!

We're getting there!  Already starting to look better.

There are a million stencil tutorials on the web, so there's no need for me to provide one here, but I'll say one thing...make friends with the foam roller for a job like this.  I tried painting the first stencil on with a stencil brush, and it came out nicely, but it took a while.  With the foam roller...?  Done in under a minute.  

But back to the makeover.  After I finished the stenciling (which ended up taking longer than anticipated because I ended up having to repaint an entire wall - long story, and no time for it here), I realized that the light fixture in the hallway was pure shite and definitely needed changing.  I don't have a picture of it intact, but it was one of those ugly builder grade flush mount light fixtures that just make you want to scream because they're so hideous.   I found a pendant light at World Market that I liked and picked it up from the store, and then...was stuck.  I've never changed a light by myself and, while I've fixed garbage disposals and stripped furniture and done a bunch of other DIY stuff, electrical has always been the thing I've been a little intimidated to tackle.  But I called around to some local handymen to see if I could find anyone to hang the light, and they were all booking two, three, four weeks out, and the obsessive amateur designer in me just HAD to have the job done immediately.  Necessity is the mother of invention, people!  Or something.  Either way, I decided now was the time to figure out electrical.  So with the help of a friend who coached me via text, and several YouTube videos, I figured it out.  And I did it!

Here, at least, is the awful light before (with cover removed):

I wanted a fixture that was hanging, but that I could still mount somewhat close to the ceiling. So I bought this cool brass pendant light from World Market, which was a good pick for an electrical first timer like me, since you actually just install the light kit and then attach the shade to it separately.  

Pendant lamp:

Light kit:

When I finally got the light kit attached to the ceiling, I was totally elated.  It doesn't look like much here, but trust me - I was squealing:

You might have noticed that the light kit is a cheap looking silver finish, while my fixture is lovely brass.  At one point in time, I might have taken the trusty metallic brass spray paint can to the canopy and cord of the light kit, but no longer - my new friend for projects like these is Rub'n Buff.  I've used it before in a few DIYs and it works like a charm.  I like it because you can apply it to something after you've assembled it (i.e. I was able to "paint" the canopy you see above gold after I installed it, which would have been impossible with spray paint), and application is really easy.  Like the name indicates, just rub it on with your finger or a cloth and buff it off!

You can see the antique gold finish on the canopy and cord a bit better here:

OK, so finally.  Here are some pictures of the finished hallway!  I'm so, so pleased with how everything turned out, and extra proud of this DIY because I finally conquered my fear of switching out light fixtures on my own.  So empowering to be able to do it myself - and now I want to change all the lights in my house.  And yes, the yellow dresser is the very same craigslist find that I stripped and painted many moons ago, and the lampshade, now that I think about it, is also an old DIY...

So the lesson of today's post is: don't be afraid to do these projects on your own!  I was surprised at how simple the electrical was - though my house is admittedly somewhat newly rehabbed; I don't know if I'd be singing this tune if I were dealing with old wiring.  My next step?  Maybe trying to switch out my bathroom faucets by myself...?!   We'll see!!!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Loving that brass! Such a great way to tie the space together. Also, electric is scary! Congrats on being daring. I've missed your blog!

    1. Thank you so much! Will try to post more - thinking of doing some food stuff on here, too.

  2. Looks awesome! Can't wait to see it in person soon!

    1. Kelly - your guest room awaits!!!!