Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pretty Princess to Parisian Chic

Well, it's that time again, little girl liked princesses...wanted to be a princess... and now at the ripe old age of 6, is an aspiring fashion designer who wants to live in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

 Huh? What happened? Aren't 6 year olds supposed to still like princesses??? Damn!

So, our deal was if I did not throw her one of those time consuming ridiculous birthday parties, I would re-do Sydney's room "sort of" for her birthday present. And funny enough, she was okay with that (little did I know then how much work I would put into it).  Since she outgrew the tiny room she was in, I decided to flip her room and the play room (the room that NEVER gets used) so she can have a bigger space. As it is, when she opened the closet, the door slammed into the side of her bed. I space planned the new room, which is usually the first thing I do, in order to map out the 


The next thing we had to decide is what paint color to use.  I swore that I wouldn't paint a room in a rental, but this was an exception. The existing mint green was really disgusting, it's hard to tell from pictures, but it was sort of the color that makes you feel nauseous upon entry. 

Just realizing from this picture what a mess this room is! 
 So we needed to figure out which direction to go. One restriction we had was that we had to work with the existing bedding...which was primarily a hot pink and white, cabbage rose print with hot pink gingham accents.

existing bed and bedding
Hmmm, this put a challenge on my dreams of a very sophisticated Paris Apartment theme.

But...since she is only 6, and frankly I wasn't going to indulge her (and myself) in new bedding when this bedding was only 3 years old, we were forced to keep a "shabby chic" feel to it.  While sifting through the Benjamin Moore fan deck, my daughter stopped on "French Vanilla" and said, "This is it Mom, we've got to do it, because it's French of course". Well...we didn't end up using the French Vanilla because I felt it went a little flat in the room, but it did help us decide on a creamy yellow called Angels Gate, which "is still a pretty name, Mom" (is it all in the name with little girls??).

Simultaneously, I began searching for a french printed fabric, maybe with an Eiffel Tower on it, or something "couture", fashion dress forms, anything that went with the roses and the gingham. But...there was always something. The print was not the right color, not the same "feel", either too heavy, too modern, too old-fashioned. There was always something. So, I gave up for awhile. 

My next goal was to find some artwork. I never bought anything "princess-ish" for the room, I never got around to it, so all I really had invested in was the crown-cornice above her bed. At this point, I wasn't sure if I was going to keep the cornice, but I knew if I did, I would repaint it. White, to pop off the creamy yellow.

So as I was saying...artwork. If Sydney had her way, there would be a life size Eiffel Tower on each wall. And trust me, I'm always trying to keep that girl happy, but I was having a tough time finding something that we could agree upon. I didn't want it to be in your face.  I wanted a subtle "homage" to Paris. Finally I found a shop on Etsy that had some pretty vintage looking prints, maybe from the Art Nouveau or Art Deco era. The shop, Cafe Baudelaire, has a mix of subjects from Marie Antoinette (maybe too heavy for a 6 year old??) to dress forms, rabbits, chairs, hot air balloons etc., with lots of whimsy.  I really liked that all the prints are screened on really high quality paper. All of them one way or another also have a sprinkling of roses, which I thought would be nice to pick up on the roses in her fabrics. Later, I found a few more prints from some other shops off Etsy, The Decorated House, Moments of Art, and Pages of Ages. (I should just say here that this should be renamed the "Etsy" project because I found a lot of things on their website.)

These first three are from Cafe Baudelaire, Etsy. Since Sydney is my fashionista, I wanted to incorporate the dress form.

This piece I found at Moments of Art, Etsy. I picked this one to zoom in on the underlying theme of the rose, Fleura. I also love how it's printed on aged paper. So pretty.

This print is from Pages of Ages, Etsy. I love that it's printed on french sheet music and the hint of the Eiffel, like you are looking out the window.

This was my last pick, I love the blue bird with the crown, it has a sense of humor, and notice the damask?

I then found french carved frames from Hobby Lobby in a pale yellow color, and painted them crisp white to pop off the yellow cream of the walls and to coordinate with the bed and the bedding. 

I just used a simple white mat on all the pictures to unify them as well.

The first picture I chose was the black chandelier with "Paris" which had a background of pink damask.

It's very subtle...but it made a light bulb go off in my brain. That's it! No need to find a themed fabric accent, but a damask fabric. The existing bedding has a light pink ticking stripe running through it with this lighter shade of pink. I found a damask, again on Etsy, at Modern Cloth, with a similar color pink with an off white. 

"Ozborne" by Modern Cloth

I had enlisted my Dad to make a cornice for the window (my mom volunteered him, to be fair). We are always conspiring together on all kinds of projects!!

First he cut out the shape I drew out of plywood, then my mom painted the inside of it white so it would be finished. (My poor parents always get roped into my schemes!!!)
Then came the batting which was stapled with a staple gun.

The top portion had to be carefully trimmed around scallop detail.

Then the fabric was stapled carefully around the edges.

Last step was the trim detail. A black "gimp" style trim was used. 

Right at the center we added a tassel, which was hung after it was installed onto the  wall.

 I ordered a little extra to make some accent pillows. While looking for some trim to put on the pillows I came across an adorable vintage looking trim with roses and a ticking stripe in the pink with "postage" type stamping from Paris (Etsy shop Fansydesigns). 

It was perfect for the room, but I was struggling with how to apply it to the fabric, it seemed forced, when my mom (she's a genius) suggested using it with the artwork. Yes! Perfect! Hanging the artwork with a ribbon would be so appropriate, and a great detail. After more investigating, I bought some Napoleonic French Bee Tacks to hang the ribbon from, and we applied the extra bees to the painted crown as well.  

Back to the fabric for the pillows, I was stuck again, searching for just a little hint of Paris. I almost ditched the fabric and ordered these screen printed, vintage inspired french pillows from another shop on Etsy called A Treasured Place, when the thought of screening the french designs on my own damask (another great pow-wow meeting between my mother and I!!). 

This is one of the prints I had screened on damask fabric.

This is the other print design we screened on the damask, in black ink. I tried to tie in the french bee again here.

It was perfect, and fit in the budget, and Donna, the woman who owns the shop on Etsy agreed to do it. They turned out adorable.

All I needed to find was a light fixture, paint a chair that my friend Kristen gave to me, and repaint the dollhouse. 

I originally wanted to find a black chandelier, that emulated the one shown in the artwork, but was having an extremely hard time finding a fixture that wasn't mega bucks. And, part of me thought the black might be a little harsh for a 6 year old, even though it is Syd's favorite color. After a long search and a very tight budget, I actually found one on Amazon, white iron with crystals and shades. The scale was perfect and wasn't a huge investment in a room for a rental property.

I love how this fixture looks from underneath. The cute flower detail was a bonus, and the pretty shape is perfect for a girls room.
Now to the chair. It's current color was red, it's been painted over a few times, I think.
I sanded it down first, then painted it matte black.
I loved the spindled back design, and felt painting it black would look sharp. My mom offered to hand paint some roses, it turned out great. I sprayed a lacquer finish over the top so that the paint would be more durable.

I just used a matte finish lacquer to protect the chair from wear.
I placed it near the antique secretary I bought from Sleepy Poet, a fabulous find last year. It was a steal, so I couldn't leave it there. It's worked out great, it's the perfect desk for homework and girly stuff, and the glass cabinets above fit all her "treasures".  Matching pink gingham fabric was adhered to the inside and I hung another fleur de lis tassel on the key.

I found this 3 drawer secretary with broken pediment top for $175.00 at Sleepy Poet Antique Mall.

We've started a Russian stacking doll collection.

The dollhouse repaint was my little surprise to Sydney, since she'd been watching all the progress from the beginning and would not have a big "reveal" like they do on TV. I hid it in our attic and everyday for about an hour, I pulled it out and worked on painting the outside and making window boxes with flowers. This was a good excuse to get caught up on all my Downton Abbey episodes I had missed :-)

I just used balsa wood and clued the pieces together, then painted them white to match the trim on the house.

I found these roses in the bridal section at Michaels. It's hard to find the right scale flower, and the right color, this was the best I could do!

The result was a real success, the house transformed into a little french country house down to the mailbox with a french address.

If you can't see, it says "No. 21 Rue de Sydney Paige" on the mailbox...every girl should have a french street named after her!

The final touches, a dress form of course, so she can practice being on Project Runway, 

a clock hanging from a wall bracket (one side is Charlotte time, the other is Paris time,

and a special iron shelf to sit a pretty little french rag doll named Emma.

We renamed her Audrey after her favorite actress, Ms. Hepburn. (We found her on a wonderful website called Les Petites Mains,  A very talented lady makes these special one of a kind dolls which she also sells on Etsy.) All of these finishing touches were donations from her grandparents and relatives as birthday presents. A special collaboration for a special and very lucky girl.

And there it is...voila! A transformation worth the blood sweat and tears...well maybe just a little drama, no tears. 

Until next time...Merci et au revoir!!


  1. Beautiful!!! You are so very talented, creative, resourceful...I could go on and on!

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  3. Sweet and beautiful as can be...I want her room! What a lucky girl to have such a talented and dedicated mom.

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