I received an awesome email yesterday from one of my former campers, and I just had to share. Grace, who attended the Austin camp, wrote a lovely letter and attached these truly great before and after pics of her dining room. Design Camp is basically the most fun I have ever had at a job, and getting emails like this is part of the reason why. Grace writes:

I attended your Design Camp in Austin last summer (and loved it!). I thought I'd include a few before and after pictures of my house to show you what we've been working on since Camp. I keep thinking I'll send some when we finish this or that, but it's never really done, is it? 

I had a baby at the beginning of the summer and when our photographer came out to take newborn pictures of our girl, she took some of our house as well. The problem areas I had shown at Camp were my dining room/breakfast nook and my bedroom.  In our discussion at Camp, you suggested painting the dining room black, painting and recovering the chairs, and taking down the plate racks and hanging my collection of plates together. My husband and I have tried some crazy paint colors in the past, but I don't think I'd ever have been brave enough to do black without your suggestion. We did it and we love it! Oh, and you are so right about how pictures allow you to see the room in a new way. Since we've gotten the pictures back from the photographer, it's made me see so much better what things need to be changed or moved around, etc.  So interesting how much it helps just to look at it as a picture.  

There is a hallway to the right of the dining room, and we are currently making arrangements to have wallpaper put up.  I've been dying to have wallpaper somewhere ever since Camp and can't wait for it to happen. My husband and I really enjoy doing house projects together and he always seems to get on board with an idea of mine quicker if I say something you told us in Camp.  For example, in advocating for the wallpaper:  "AB told us that you shouldn't neglect hallways...."  Camp was such a special experience for me.  I will always think of it with such fondness.  

Thank you so much, Grace, for your sweet letter. And without further ado, let's look at that dining room! Before:

Aaaaaaaaand... after!

Photos by Hannah Kate Photography

It's gorgeous, right? I think so. What a transformation you can achieve with just a few changes.

Oh, and hey: do you want to come to camp, and you live in or near Raleigh, Washington, DC, or New Orleans? You're in luck. Sign up here! A million thanks to Grace for sharing!

AuthorAB Chao
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Perhaps you long-time readers will recall this photo of my bedroom from several years ago -- it was just after I'd painted it. I loved the color then (Farrow & Ball's Down Pipe) and I love it today. It's kind of like sleeping in a treehouse, if your treehouse features a Nelson bench and a chaise longue.

In fact, some of you may remember this photo, taken in 2005. (!!!) I cannot believe this is the same room, and the same bed. Aw, it's still really cute and sweet to me. I still have that Dwell bed set!

But time -- and my taste -- marches on, so I recently changed a few things. Not much, just the bedding and the side tables and a lamp and new upholstery and a plant and a screen. Nothing big. 

I still have those ridiculous roller shades up, because I still don't know what I want on the windows. I will probably never know. What I do know is that I bought that awesome Asian screen at an estate sale for $10. There was a large tear in it (which I fixed with spray adhesive, don't judge me), and there is a piece missing at the bottom left (which is what bromeliads are for). I also re-upholstered my sad white chaise with a much more beautiful gray velvet. Yay for dark colors that hide things!

I also finally -- finally! -- made the leap and bought some Leontine Linens of my very own. I've dreamed of them for years, y'all, and it was just time. I chose the initials "ABC" instead of "AVC" because the B was way prettier. Poor Vince Chao. I chose red because red is my signature color. (Drink your juice, Shelby.)

The striped Dwell Studio shams and throw, along with the gorgeous Arteriors lamp, are courtesy of Digs Showroom. I think the stripes look super fun and nonchalant with the Leontine, like "Oh, HEY, fancy linens. I'll just be over here cozying up to you. Whatevs." And I also think that Gretchen and Ben at Digs are the cutest and sweetest people in the world, and a delight to work with. Thank y'all so much!

This lamp, it has personality. Something I look for in all of my lighting.

10DS. That stands for Ten-Dollar Screen. Not to be confused with 7DJ, a jacket that Chris Huff, PhD. bought for seven dollars at Old Navy and which unfortunately B'ed in an F.

ABC coming at you live and in stereo from Chao Camp, in red applique. Please note adorable striped shams behind.

New upholstery close-up with bonus bear.

I guess I'll take a little rest now. Old-school Flickrites will recognize this pose from 2008. Same room, same bed, same dress, same shoes. Different year.

Class participation: Do y'all change your bedding with the seasons? It's too hot here to use flannel sheets and whatnot, but I do try to change it up when spring comes.

A couple of years ago around this time, we knocked out a wall between adjacent closets and added a bathroom to our one-bathroom house. The renovation was a major project, but one that was worth all the annoyance/dollars/tears, and changed our lives. Here is a quick refresher on the before:

Real pretty.

I have been promising to show y'all the after since that time. I guess two years is long enough, so please accept these pictures I have taken for your enjoyment: 

Facing the sink.

 From just outside the bathroom door.

Stripes! Jars! Colored Pencils! Fun times.

A look inside the shower.

Various Polaroids/Japanese tape/blogger cliches.

From the shower looking out.

I don't know if you can tell from these angles, but the bathroom is kind of tiny. For instance, in the above photo I am standing inside the shower having a relationship with my tripod.

So there it is. I hope you enjoyed it. I sure did, except for the part where I had to crawl under and THROUGH the tripod legs to get to the shutter button.


Floor: Generic black penny tile/charcoal grout
Mirror: PB Teen
Sconces: Hudson Valley Lighting
Glass shelf: IKEA
Sink: IKEA
Toilet: Toto
Fixtures: Kohler
Shower curtain: IKEA, then custom sewn and monogrammed
Stool: Vintage
Hooks: The Hook Lady
Art: Lot 9 Press, Lisa Congdon, various Chaos

PS. Those of you waiting on rate sheets will have one in your hot little hands in the next day or so. Thank you for your patience!

PPS. Thank you for the nice knee notes. Not only was it neighborly, I guess you could say it was KNEE-ded. (I'll show myself out.)

AuthorAB Chao
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Today I was shopping for something completely different, and came upon this bar cart in a little shop in West Monroe. (Monroe and West Monroe are separated by the Ouachita River. One is clearly better than the other.)

Anyway, look at this bar cart. Look at its tininess and cuteness! I had to have it.

Twenty-seven dollars and forty-five minutes later, it was in my kitchen, cleaned, and ready for action.

The end.

PS. Please excuse the sadness of the pictures. I was iPhoning today.

AuthorAB Chao
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Y'all know how much I love a good before and after. This one's a doozy. img_0780 We decided a few months ago to re-make our garage -- which had previously been used as storage space for junk and boxes and the occasional darts game -- into a super fun times ping pong and darts room. This project took way longer than I expected it to, but with the help of Vince, our beloved handyman Cowboy, and an amazing carpenter who built the barn doors, here is the garage all dressed up for our New Year's Eve party last weekend: img_2963 Voila! Y'all come over for game night.
AuthorAB Chao
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