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Life’s too short for boring, grungy radiators. That’s why I’m sharing all the intel you need for a DIY radiator makeover! Keep scrolling for my simple how-to guide plus a round up of my favorite painted radiators to get your inspo on!
So You Want To Paint Your Radiator: A How-To Guide
1) First order of business is cleaning the radiator, because painting on a dirty surface doesn’t work so well (duh). So give that baby a serious wipe down!
2) Next, lightly sand your radiator to remove loose paint flakes and roughen up the surface, ensuring nice even paint coverage. For this you can use steel wool, sandpaper, a metal bristled brush…UNLESS you think there could be lead paint on it- then definitely do not sand it! Lead dust is no joke. (The U.S. didn’t ban lead paint until 1978, so if your home is older than that, don’t chance it!)
3. Before you start painting, there are a couple key steps to prep the area.
Open the windows for plenty of ventilation (this is not optional; your lungs and central nervous system will thank you!). Paints and cleaners are full of chemicals and proper ventilation is a serious matter. My father-in-law used a strong boat cleaner without proper ventilation and he lost most of his sense of smell as a result!
Use plastic trash bags or newspaper and painter’s tape to completely cover the surrounding floor and wall. Cover more than you think you’ll need to because the fine mist of spray paint can really travel and you don’t want to get stuck repainting walls at the end of this!
Make sure your radiator is OFF for the duration of painting and drying! This is a great summertime project, although I’ve done it in winter too.
4. OK, time to pick your spray paint- you definitely want your paint in spray can form. I speak from experience: Using a paintbrush will end up looking shitty. Here are a few bullets to assist you in choosing the right paint:
Contrary to what you may hear or read, you do not need to use special high temperature paint because traditional residential radiators don’t actually get hotter than a couple hundred degrees.
If you have cast iron radiators, putting latex based paint directly on them can cause rust, so start with Rustoleum Red Oxide primer in the spray can if your cast iron radiator is naked. I didn’t use any rustoleum primer on my cast iron radiators, but I left the previous paint on and just sanded it a bit (after testing for lead to be safe) before spraying on a paint-and-primer-in-one and I’ve never had any rust issues.
Opt for a spray paint that includes primer unless you’re using the Rustoleum spray-on primer first.
Check the label on the can to ensure it’s safe for use indoors.
There’s a heated debate about oil versus latex based paint for radiators. Technically latex isn’t as durable, but I’ve never had any issues with it when used on top of an older coat of paint. Maybe that’s because I’ve used latex spray paint that includes primer. So really the choice is up to you, and depends on the state of your radiator.
The spray paint can take a couple of days to finish outgassing once the heat comes on, which basically means it will give off an especially strong new paint smell, but this is not harmful according to the can label and a few handymen I’ve spoken too. If you have a baby and you’re worried about this, please get a second opinion rather than take my word for it.
5. Paint and enjoy! You’ve successfully transformed a boring functional fixture into a fun room accent! Need some inspo for your project? Our Bohoditional Style Pinterest board has lots of painted radiators for you to drool over. Scroll down for a sampling of my favorites:
We’ve all heard the saying “It’s the thought that counts.” And while, sure, this is true, there are few things in life that bring us more joy than finding the perfect gift for someone special. We would love to get paid just to come up with gift ideas for people. With the holidays just days away, there’s no time to lose! So we’ve come to the rescue with a list of gifts perfect for all the design and home decor-lovers on your list.
Custom artwork - an illustration of their house or a fun portrait of them, their pet, or the whole family! Boston-based Dwelling Beauty Co. creates custom digital watercolors of your home, available in hard copy and digital download. Artist Joan Lemay creates custom pet and human portraits with a quirky wallpaper backdrop that she personalizes to represent the subject’s personality based on her consult with the portrait commissioner.
2. A fresh flower delivery subscription, so they’ll always have fresh florals for styling the perfect coffee table, shelf, or centerpiece!
3. Bath towels from Dusen Dusen - an artsy take on a practical item that they wouldn’t splurge on on themselves, but will surely enjoy.
4. Homesick candles from all of their favorite places. These do a remarkable job of capturing the essence of a place and the descriptions are one of our favorite parts! Here’s how the Los Angeles candle is described on the Homesick site: From bright mornings to star kissed nights, enjoy the best fragrance of the City of Angels, from the clean sea breeze to desert sand kicked up from a hike in the hills. Citrus notes of orange zest and lemon slices combine with a floral bouquet of jasmine and rose to perfume any occasion.
6. You can’t go wrong with one the chic and affordable works of art by Josh Young made using pages from antique books.
7. A museum membership to a local art museum, like the MFA if they’re in Boston, for inspo gathering expeditions!
It’s almost December- time to start thinking about holiday gift shopping! Racking your brain trying to find the perfect gift for a Super-Selective-Sally or an Already-Has-Everything-Emma? Maybe you’ve got new homeowners on your list, or a recent grad (or parents with young kids) suffering from a bad case of frat-house syndrome?
Don’t stress; we’ve got the perfect gift! Instead of adding to the clutter and risking giving your loved ones another item they may not want, give them the gift of customized design services to maximize the impact of what they already have!
A gift card from Trim Design Co. can be applied toward any of our consult, space-planning, or full eDesign packages. Keep reading to learn why Trim is unlike other design firms and how your loved one can use this gift to transform their home into a deeply personal and curated oasis.
It all started when Jen and I began working together at a full-service interior design firm, where we bonded immediately over our shared background as teachers and our mutual love for one-of-a-kind kilim loafers from Artemis Design Co. (shout out to our girl Milicent, Artemis founder and fellow Boston-based boss babe!). While working together, Jen and I realized that there was a huge gap between the available design models of eDesign and full-service.
On one end, there are the big eDesign companies, offering consumers an online room design and shopping list for a very low price. Some investigating to figure out how they managed to charge so little for their design services revealed that the typical eDesign business model relies on affiliate links for the majority of revenue. Basically, you might pay only a few hundred dollars for the design, but every item on your shopping list of furnishings is purchased through an affiliate link that earns the eDesign company a large commission. So they’re actually making several times the amount you paid for the design. The problem? The companies that offer the largest affiliate link commissions to eDesigners are big chain stores, so you’re getting a design that only uses furniture from a few big-box furniture stores and looks exactly like a catalogue a.k.a. no personality!
On the other end of the spectrum are full-service designers. And while these designers can technically source furnishings from anywhere, the majority prefer to rely on trade-only brands available through their local design center. The reason for this is that trade-only brands sell to designers at a discount, so the designers can re-sell to their clients at retail price and keep the difference. While this is standard and totally fair because the markup pays for the designer’s time spent sourcing and ordering, it means that once again you are getting a room design in which the furnishings are all brand new, quite expensive, and look a lot like all the other designer-decorated homes because everyone is using the same vendors.
We looked at these two options and cried: What about vintage? What about handcrafted pieces by local artisans? What about emerging brands and craftspeople from around the world offering those special one-of-a-kind pieces? Are they off limits just because they won’t earn us a commission when our client purchases them?
We decided to take a risk and bet that you’d be willing to pay a little more up front for the design (to cover our time since we wouldn’t be earning commissions) if it meant we prioritized vintage and artisan-crafted pieces when sourcing for our designs.
So we put our heads together and hatched the idea for Trim Design Co. a boutique eDesign firm on a mission to disrupt eDesign by reimagining the designer-client relationship & fusing the best aspects of the full-service design experience with the convenience of online collaboration. Trim is the only eDesign firm incorporating vintage and artisanal items into every design, creating homes steeped in individuality.
Here’s how we do it:
RADICAL COLLABORATION: At Trim, we partner with our clients, soliciting their feedback throughout the design process, so they never feel steamrolled. When clients work with us, they get all the quality of full-service design without any of the ego.
TRANSPARENCY: Our flat fee pricing means clients enter the design process worry free. As we work together with our clients to fine-tune their design, they don’t need to worry that asking for a revision will mean more charges.
A PERFECT MARRIAGE: Unlike the mass-market "churn-it-out” rooms typically associated with eDesign, our model fuses the convenience of eDesign with the best aspects of traditional full-service interior design: close designer-client collaboration, impeccable attention to detail, and customization.
EMPATHY & CUSTOMIZATION: For us, it’s all about making a home one-of-a-kind, creating rooms that evoke specific emotions, that are extensions of our clients' personalities and lifestyles. We take on fewer projects so we can delve deep, listening to each client’s goals and struggles. We translate their story into an environment that's not only functional, but also serves as a personal haven from the everyday rush.
A FRESH PERSPECTIVE: Our super power? Infusing eclectic, California modern style into homes filled with traditional architectural details, striking the perfect bohoditional balance. We blend the best of today’s furnishings with pieces curated from different eras and points on the globe. Our designs eschew the trends, instead setting the bar for great taste.
THE X/Y FACTOR: Our secret ingredient is our multi-generational perspective- A millennial and Gen Xer creating beautiful spaces, neither too trendy nor too traditional, but always “so you.”
What is eDesign exactly?
Our online process uses email and software platforms to provide exceptional design service streamlined for your busy lifestyle. You'll share information about your project, measurements and photos of your space, and images that inspire you. Then we'll get to work on your custom design, sourcing pieces to showcase your unique personality and creating a space that’s curated, not decorated. Our flat-fee pricing menu means you know exactly what you'll be paying up front - no hidden fees or fine print, ever. We also offer facetime consults via phone and space-planning services.
What’s included in an eDesign package?
A design board, containing images of proposed furnishings and decor
A 2D rendering of your design, visually depicting what your space will look like with the furniture and decor in place
A floor plan showing a bird's eye view of the room layout
A shopping list with links to the products as well as purchasing information and detailed set-up instructions
Exceptional service and communication (you'll always hear from us within one business day!)
MENU OF SERVICES:
Full eDesign Packages
Single Room Design $1,500.00
Open Concept Room Design $1,950.00
Kitchen (finish and cabinetry selection) $950.00
Phone/Facetime Consult 1 hour @ $125.00
In-House Consultation 2 hours @ $250.00 (within 20 miles of 01945 or 02135 only please)
Last month we contributed to this Apartment Therapy article about household items worth splurging on, and since we had some strong feelings on the topic, we decided to devote this week’s blog post to the topic!
When considering the best use of your money for household items, take your cues from the capsule wardrobe trend. I myself am a follower of the capsule wardrobe approach, having converted after years of buying a gabillion fast-fashion tops and then only wearing my friends’ clothes and like, one pair of jeans. And the principles behind the capsule wardrobe are perfect for achieving your ideal home! Organized, functional, beautiful, and lasting- you can achieve all this in your interior if you just apply the rules of the capsule wardrobe to the furniture and decor in your home. You wallet and your sanity will thank you!
According to Susie Faux, who coined the term in the 70s, a capsule wardrobe is a “collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces” ("Capsule Wardrobe"). Investing in a few well-made, high quality pieces for your home that will stand the test of time (read: not too trendy) will provide you a solid foundation which can be seasonally refreshed with more affordable and trendy accent items. We recommend investing in the following pieces:
A hand knotted wool rug can dramatically raise the sophistication of a room.
For a beautiful, woven specimen that won’t blow your entire bank account, vintage is your best bet. The signs of light wear will lend an old world patina to your space that a machine loomed rug can never come close to imitating.
If you can’t spring for a vintage stunner in the size required for your space, one option is to layer a smaller rug over a larger natural fiber rug such as jute or sisal. Significantly less expensive than traditional woven or hand-knotted rugs, natural fiber rugs like jute, seagrass, and sisal are durable and as an added bonus, their texture means they’re pretty great at disguising stains!
2. One set of versatile dishes that work for everyday and more formal entertaining like these from Anthropologie.
Look for styles that will work year round and can be paired with a variety of table linens and decor (read: avoid busy patterns or bold colors)
3. High quality wall paint
Choose an eggshell finish for easy cleaning and durability.
I’m partial to Benjamin Moore - they offer consistently great quality and all of my tried and true paint colors are from their collection.
4. A sofa
Sofas are expensive- even the “budget” options. So I tell my clients to either splurge for the sofa of their dreams or go with a true budget option until they’re ready to invest in a high quality model. The in-between options are still fairly expensive and not nearly the quality of the higher end models, so they’re just not worth messing with. If you’re ready to shell out for an investment piece, leather is my number one recommendation, because it only improves with age and wear. It’s also less prone to attracting pet hair and absorbing smells than fabric upholstery.
The Sven sofa from Article is a great leather option at a very reasonable price. If fabric is more your style, I love the custom Carpenter Sofa from Shoppe Amber Interiors, which is a lux take on the laidback slipcovered style, making it a kid and pet friendly option.
5. Kitchen appliances like a refrigerator and a gas range.
Nothing ruins the look of new kitchen cabinets and countertops faster than dated appliances. And if you plan to do a significant amount of cooking in your kitchen, you definitely want a gas range.
What would you add to this list? Comment to tell us what we left out!
The clients: A family of four including young twins
The space: A large rectangular living room with vaulted ceilings, currently unfurnished except for two console tables and a TV
The goal: A cozy space that’s balanced and functional for traffic, with a conversational furniture arrangement near the TV where the family can cuddle up and watch a movie, drink coffee, or play board games.
The challenge: The living room, which is also connected to the open kitchen, is large and long, with high, vaulted ceilings, so it’s currently anything but cozy. It’s also the highest traffic area in the home, with three different pathways that need to remain navigable, so creating an intimate and conversational furniture layout near the TV without impeding flow will take some careful planning in terms of furniture configuration and dimensions.
This image shows the three pathways that must be accommodated:
Between the foyer and the kitchen
Between the foyer and the back hallway (which is the entrance the family uses most day-to-day because they come in from the garage)
Between the back hallway and the kitchen
Looks tricky, right? Don’t worry, we came up with not one, not two, but five different layout options for this space as well as some other great suggestions for realizing the potential of this great space! What looks at first glance like a design headache is actually a diamond in the rough! Let’s dig in, starting with what we’re referring too as ‘architectural solutions.’
A Cure For Big-Empty-Box Syndrome
One of the reasons these homeowners may not have found the perfect furniture layout for their room (despite many attempts!), is not so much with how the furniture is positioned, but rather the lack of architectural details in the vaulted room. The vaulted ceilings create two large, blank triangular canvases on either side of the room. Without any definition on those two walls (fireplace, built-ins, windows, or wainscoting) or on the ceiling itself, the room is always going to feel “not quite right.”
Here are three different options to address this dilemma:
1) Weathered Faux Beams
Just as the kitchen benefits from the dimension, texture, and character of the shiplap, so would the living room benefit from similar architectural features. So, depending on how long they plan to live in the home, they may want to consider a long-term plan that includes adding architectural details to the vaulted ceiling. This might be in the form of weathered faux beams that run across the room, accentuating the height of the ceiling while helping to “square off” the triangular walls. Or, these type of beams could be placed directly on the ceiling and the existing center beam could be encased in the same material.
2) Built-ins or Large Book Shelves
The scale of what’s placed against the wall at the far end of the room (master bedroom end) needs to be large to fill up more of the wall space and add interest. We suggest built-ins (again, realizing this would be a long-term plan idea), or large modular bookshelves that could also house the TV. Ones with fully adjustable shelving like the ones shown in the mood board would work well for displaying not only books, but also artwork, pottery, plants and provide a good place for tucking away toys, crafts and crayons in baskets or bins.
3) Gallery Wall
Another option, if they’d like to keep both console tables and not do large bookshelves, would be to add art to the existing walls. In the above image, we’ve shown an example where they keep the TV where it is, but they add a gallery wall to the space. To have things feel to-scale on that wall, we’ve added artwork in varying sizes and orientations. This also emphasizes the height of the ceiling and adds dimension, texture, and character to the space, similar to how architectural details would. The key is to make sure the art continues up towards the ceiling. If they keep it at “regular art level” (eye level), it’s only going to emphasize all that blank space above and make the furniture that’s there appear too small.
Now that we’ve shared some bigger design solutions for the space, let’s get into the possibilities for furniture layouts.
Layout #1: A Zone Approach
This layout creates two separate zones and moves the TV to the opposite wall. In the TV zone, we have used a small settee rather than a full size sofa to allow for traffic flow from the kitchen and front door back to the master. In front of the settee are two ottomans that can serve as additional seating or be pushed together to create a coffee table. We are showing the TV mounted inside built-ins because we recommend opting for built-ins or large bookshelves to anchor the space if the TV is moved to this wall. To create the two separate zones, we have used two rugs: 8x10 for children’s chair zone and 7x10 for the TV zone. 7x10 is not a standard size, but it should be fairly easy to find if sourcing vintage rugs. There is a bench in front of the windows, and children’s chairs grouped in front of their shorter console which they use to store bins of toys.
Layout #2: Go Shallow With a Sofa
This floor plan shows the TV on the same wall as the first (still located in a built-in or book shelf), but with only one large zone of furniture. In this floor plan, the sofa is not nearly as deep as the one the home owners had previously tried (40” deep). We recommend selecting one that's around 32" deep which is what we have shown in this floor plan. In the corner across from the hallway to the master, we have shown two small ottomans or poufs that can be tucked away or pulled out for additional seating as necessary. Here’s a quick mood board to give an idea of how this could look, with swatches showing fabric options for the chairs and sofa in the bottom vignette:
Layout #3: Shallow Sofa but the TV Stays Put
In this plan, the TV and their consoles remain in their current locations, with a large-scale gallery wall hung above the TV. Like in the second floor plan, the sofa shown here is only 32" deep and we have shown two small ottomans or poufs in the corner past the bar stools.
Layout #4: Circle Up
For this layout the TV and consoles remain in their original position and we recommend a large-scale gallery wall hung above the TV. We are showing 4 identical chairs with custom upholstery. We think they would look great in a relaxed beachy linen ticking stripe over a bold vintage rug, with a round or square coffee table and two woven rush ottomans for addition seating as needed (these are placed along the wall by the window in the floor plan image). We also recommend a runner rug behind the grouping to delineate the space. Here’s a quick mood board to give a general idea of the design:
Layout #5: Chairs in Pairs
This layout is similar to the previous floor plan, except the chairs aren’t angled and we’ve shown a rectangular ottoman. Again, we’re recommending a runner rug behind the grouping to delineate the space. Here’s a quick moodboard to give you a general idea of how this could look:
So we’re dying to know- which layout would you choose for this space? Comment to tell us your favorite and why! And if you’re having your own layout dilemma, check out our space planning package!
1) Gather your artwork
Make sure you have enough pieces to feel like a collection and to really anchor the wall space you’re going to be using. You want the whole grouping to cover most of the wall so that it doesn’t look like it’s floating awkwardly. Don’t be afraid to go floor to ceiling on a wall with no furniture!
As far as what type of artwork to use- that’s totally up to you! There are no real rules, but you do want to keep in mind how well the pieces work together. I had some pieces already, but not enough to make a gallery as big as I needed for the long hallway wall, so I painted a couple place holders myself that I’ll later swap out when I find some great art, and I also added three photography prints from Jenny’s Print Shop, which is a great way to get affordable art when you need to fill a frame fast and don’t have a large budget. (Full details on all the artwork in my gallery wall at the end of this post).
I want to quickly mention Unsplash, which, like Jenny’s Print Shop is a site where you can download digital art and print it out on your own in whatever size you want. But Unsplash is FREE! All the artists have willingly uploaded the art so it’s totally legal, but if you share pictures of your printed out artworks do the right thing and credit the artists. For printing, you can send the digital file to a company like Framebridge and get your image back in a frame, or you can go super low budget and do it yourself at one of the self-serve kiosks at Target or Costco like I did. I’ve heard good things about Costco’s photo printing, but Target’s is not the best in terms of photo quality. It was OK, and it was only a couple bucks per print, so I guess it’s true that you get what you pay for.
2) Choose your frames
Again, no strict rules here about what types of frames to include. The most important thing to consider is how the grouping will look as a whole. If any of your artworks have mattes, it’s pretty important that these are all neutral and as close to one another in shade as possible. If you want a look that’s cohesive, but not uniform, I recommend a variety of frame styles all in one finish or a single frame style in a variety of finishes. Since I already had some simple Ikea frames in black and white, and Target makes some affordable modern frames that I like in a natural wood finish, I decided to use modern minimalist frames in a mix of black, white, and natural.
3) Plan your layout
When planning a layout for a gallery wall the goal is for the overall design to look balanced. Following some basic guidelines can save you time and help ensure success.
Try to keep the middle line of the collection at eye level (that’s 57-60” from the floor). In my case this wasn’t possible since I was hanging my pieces above wainscoting, but on an architecturally naked wall, this rule applies (even when there’s furniture involved.)
Start with the largest piece, which will anchor the entire grouping. Place it slightly off center in the space you’re working with, because if you put it right in the middle it will look like all the other smaller pieces are orbiting it.
As you add the remaining pieces to the design, building off the anchor piece, keep the following in mind:
Spacing between frames should be as uniform as possible and should be no less than 1.5 to 2 inches and no more than 4 inches. You don’t want it to look crowded, but you also don’t want your art so spread out so much that it doesn’t look like a cohesive collection.
The other trick to achieving a balanced look is to evenly distribute the following:
Black, white, and natural frames
Color images and black & white images
Vertical, horizontal, and square shaped pieces
I like to use photoshop to plan gallery walls because it makes it so easy to move things around and to see a large collection all at once. I take a picture of each piece and upload it to a black photoshop template (cutting out any background images from the pictures so I’m left with just the framed images on a white background. Then I adjust the sizes of the images so they appear realistically proportioned to one another. I don’t go crazy getting this perfect, I just sort of eye it. As I move stuff around, I take screenshots of all the arrangements I like so I can compare my favorites before making a final decision. Here are a few I came up with:
And here’s the plan I settled on:
You can even use this to test out different frame options or decide what size artwork to purchase if you aren’t working with pieces you already own or want to add more. Just use the rectangle tool instead of the images:
If you don’t want to get all high tech, you can totally just move the furniture out of the way and lay everything down on the floor. Then you can just manually move pieces around until you have something you’re happy with. Remember that as you’re arranging, you’re thinking about the guidelines I mentioned above in order to get a balanced result. Even though I do the fancy photoshop layout first, I still lay everything out on the floor as a final check before I start hanging. This is because I’m too lazy to do the whole paper cut-outs with the same dimensions as the artworks taped (painter’s tape, please!) on the wall as a final check. But either option (floor or paper cut outs) gets the job done.
Once you’ve got a balanced layout that you like, start hanging! Just make sure you mind those gaps between frames as you go! And because I feel obligated to say it: Measure twice, hammer once.
Here’s a panorama of how mine turned out: This long narrow hallway with no windows is an absolute nightmare to photograph (charms of a historic, city apartment lol) so this image is terrible, but you get the idea.
And here’s my attempt to recreate it from five separate photographs along with all the artwork sourcing info:
Commissioned portrait of Mona by Joan Lemay
Doodle face by me
No. 44: Mossy Stones print by Kim Knoll
David Bowie Poster
It's Probably for the Best that People are on the Internet instead of Outside Wrecking Things signed print by Butch Anthony
Photograph of David Bowie
Doodle face by me