Custom Shelving: A Reluctant DIY (Part Deux)

When we last visited my saga with the custom shelving, I was sitting pretty having just completed my shoe closet.

Oh Sweet Joy!

After finishing the closet successfully, it was time to tackle the much larger project of the living room shelves.

Fireplace Nook (Pre-Purchase Staging)

First, we had the entire room painted with a contrasting color for the fireplace and nook.

You can see the lovely large television we planned to use in the space 🙂

The plan for the living room was essentially the same as the shoe closet except these shelves would need much more support.  Therefore, I added cleats on the side wall as well as the back wall.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of how I constructed the shelves but it was a pain in the ass.  Given the span of the shelves, there is no way I could have used a solid piece of wood (with the necessary routed space for the cleats) without sagging from the heaviness of the books.  So instead I used two pieces of plywood connected with an oak 1×4 to create the illusion of a solid piece of wood.  I built the shelves in our loft office space.  It required several trips to the hardware store, nailing (by hand), setting the nails, patching, painting and more painting, etc. and took almost 2 months.  It was a lot of tedious work but (possibly due to a false sense of competency and drinking) I kept the faith and believed it would work.  I also did a dry run of the first shelf before continuing on.

Hubby = manual labor 🙂

After months of work, here is the final product:

At some point, we added a massive television and styling to the shelves but for a while we just marveled at the completed project.  These shelves have now been in the house with no issues of sagging or lack of support for almost 7 years.  Not to tout my own horn but I was very very proud of this work.  I won’t ever do this again but I’m still very proud :).

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Crushing On: Nanawall Doors

Sorry to have been away this week.  (Not sure if anyone gives a damn but I care :))  I got pretty sick over the weekend and just didn’t feel like doing much of anything design-related for the last few days.  But now I’m feeling better and ready to get back into the swing of things.

Sometimes I think being a designer is a negative thing when looking for a new house. It’s great that I can see potential in places that look like crap but I also never think that anything is fine as it is now.  (Technically, I shouldn’t blame this inability to be content on our recent house hunting trip as my hubby used to tell me all the time that our last home was not a fixer-upper so I needed to stop coming up with projects.  He was right but I needed things to do…)

Here’s a great example: One of the houses we saw included sliding glass doors that opened to the pool.

These sliding doors needed to be updated but there was really nothing wrong with them. Instead I decided that we needed to make it feel more open and apply a wall of windows/doors.

Enter my current crush of NanaWall doors.  These doors are simply amazing.

These doors are also ridiculously expensive.  It’s probably not a big deal when the home’s value is million(s) of dollars.  However, we are not looking for houses anywhere near that range so it’s clearly not happening.  After a little research, I realized that the doors might costs as much as the house (just kidding).  So I’ll continue to just dream (about the doors and the views) 🙂

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Almost Good As New

While my hubby spent the weekend in Vegas, I enjoyed the time at home playing with Nala and finishing/beginning a few home projects.

Hi Nala!

Several years ago, I bought an inexpensive ottoman in brown “leather” for use as a coffee table in our living room.  It served its purpose well but recently it started to show its wear and tear.

Brown Leather Ottoman (ignore the hubby’s sexy legs)

After we aggravated the tear…

Instead of buying a new ottoman (and because I couldn’t find one that I really liked), I bought a few yards of faux ostrich fabric and planned to recover the ottoman.  There are so many tutorials on the interwebs that I won’t waste time showing exactly what I did.  (Some good ones can be found here and here).  It was a fairly simple process of removing the original fabric and stapling/folding/cajoling the new fabric into place.  The problem that I have with most of the tutorials is that they only require you to fold the corners and try to make it look neat.  I think the corners look more professional when they are actually sewn together as opposed to folding them over.  This opinion might have to do with the fact that I’m horrible at folding the corners over.  Case in point:

Piss poor folding of the ottoman corners. It looked even worse on some of the other corners.

So after living with (and hating) the folded corners for a few weeks, I decided to take the damn ottoman apart again and sew the corners properly.  It was a fairly easy process (even for a beginner sewer like me) and took approximately 30 minutes to complete.

I think the finished corners look so much better…

I’m happy I did it because now I feel much better about it being in the house.

Try to ignore the mess around the ottoman…

Full disclosure: It took me almost 1 hour to get the stupid top of the ottoman off the base and then another 30 minutes to try to put it back on after I finished sewing.  Sometimes I think the D in DIY is for Dummy because only a dummy really tries this stuff.  And to make matters worse, I then started another upholstery project the next day.  I still haven’t figured out what’s wrong with me.  If you have any insight, let me know 🙂

Rose Bowl Flea Market

Yesterday, I spent the morning at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, “one of the most famous markets in the world” (as stated on their website).  It’s a very large space with some interesting characters (clowns walking on stilts) and vendors selling everything from furniture, accessories, art, decor, and antiques.


The idea of going to a flea market is always exciting but then I get there and reality sets in.  There are (at least) two reasons that I’m not well suited to enjoy flea markets.  First, I’m a bit of a germaphobe.  For example, you couldn’t pay me to touch one thing in this pile:


I don’t care if it $1 or free…No way in hell I’m putting my hands in this pile.

And second, I don’t like to haggle.  If I want it, tell me how much it is and I’ll decide if I want to pay for it.  I’m a dream to a flea market vendor (is there a specific name for that?).  When we travel to countries where it’s expected that you haggle, I absolutely hate it.  I usually get over and do my best…meaning I just give in and pay the second quoted price to make it seem like I haggled.


Who came up with this nonsense in the first place?

Anyway, I enjoyed myself and would gladly go back in the future.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the market for anything right now so didn’t pull the trigger on anything but hibiscus tea.

Vendors ranged from the extra weird:


$1 Clothes/Vendor selling photos of naked fat women/Metal “sculptures”$1 Clothes/Vendor selling photos of naked fat women/Metal “sculptures”

To the pretty and colorful:


Ceramic Tiles (maybe hand-painted)/Jewelry/Plants

And great pieces of furniture and interior decor:


These chairs were delicious…wood was in great condition and would look great with a new fabric on the seat. Price: $350 for the set. (Obviously I didn’t try to haggle down :))

Bar Cart

Everyone’s favorite obsession…bar cart that needs some work but I think it was only $15.


Sofa was in great condition and just needed to be reupholstered in a different fabric. I think it was $500 but maybe it was more.

Chandeliers, pillows, and rugs were everywhere. I would definitely come here first before looking for a chandelier anywhere else.

Lastly, I have a tendency to go to “events” such as flea markets, sporting events, concerts, etc. simply to eat.  I LOVE street food in all its variation.  So instead of spending time shopping yesterday, I made my way to the overpriced breakfast burrito carts, the super-overpriced frozen lemonade stand, and a few other vendors.  This can’t be good for my goal to look like this woman…


Sort of hate you…

If you follow me on Instagram (@joystreetdesign) or Facebook or Twitter, you would have seen these pics in real time.  I’m also spending way too much time on Pinterest, so come see me there too.

What’s In A Name?

One question I often get is why is the name of my business is Joy Street Design.  My husband and I bought our first home in San Francisco about six years ago.  It is located on a 1-block “street” named Joy Street in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Joy Street was one of those great San Francisco weirdo things that only someone who truly loves San Francisco thinks is great.  Specifically, Joy Street isn’t an actual street but instead a set of 100+ stairs along a steep hill that leads you to 12 different houses.  Interestingly, these stairs didn’t exist until about 10 years ago when the builder of our house installed them as a condition to build on the empty lot (evidently people used to drive up the hill to their house like they were hillbillies in the country).

Joy Street

Infamous Stairs (as my grandmother probably refers to them)

Anyway, our house on Joy Street was/is awesome. Without getting into too much of our “first-world” problems, my husband actually bought the house without me ever stepping foot inside.  Needless to say I took a huge leap of faith and trusted the process to him. (I’m currently getting credit for that while we look for a house in LA but that’s for another post.)  Luckily, he did a fantastic job.  When I stepped into the house, it was love at first sight. My husband loved the stairs and the sight lines from the loft. I loved the layout (bedrooms on one floor, entertaining/communal space on another) as well as the ceiling heights in the living room.  This love is what sparked my interest in interior design and encouraged me to go to my first interior design class.  Over the years as I learned more about design, read more blogs, magazines, etc, I constantly experimented with our house.  So as we were deciding on what to name this business, we thought it was fitting to include the name of the house that was the inspiration for the new adventure.

This post is much longer than I expected to simply discuss a name so let’s end with some pictures of the house as it was staged when we bought it.  While I loved everything, I obviously made several changes to different parts of the house to make it our house, some big and some small. In later posts, I’ll do my best to show most of those changes as I’m not sure how many pictures I took was during that time (pre-blog reading and writing).

Living Room




Master Bedroom

Internal Stairs (Sight line from loft looking down)

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To Boldly Go Where Everyone Has Already Gone….

I’m finally jumping on the blogging bandwagon (albeit so late it might have already jumped the shark). In the last few months, there has been a tremendous amount of change in my life and I figured what better way to document it than a blog. Furthermore, I left all my friends in San Francisco and need to think that someone is listening to me talk.  🙂

I anticipate that this blog will focus on interior design and learning to love & live in Southern California. I recently left my career as a corporate attorney to begin an interior design firm, Joy Street Design, and moved to Los Angeles (after being in San Francisco for almost 10 years).

When agreeing to the move, I imagined my life would be filled with looking at pretty fabrics and furniture, sun/beach, and drinking (the last part being a common theme around these parts). Essentially, I thought I would look like this:

And live in a house like this:


While doing this:

Mel B sipping champagne by the pool.

Life was going to be good. I wasn’t going to be an attorney, I’d have a perpetual tan, and I’d sip champagne by the pool in our new house.

IF ONLY!! I now know that I didn’t really think this fantasy through (which my hubby probably isn’t surprised by). I definitely don’t have a body like that and don’t have the funds to live in a house like that or a life that allows me to drink champagne by the pool daily (or weekly, monthly, etc.).

So far, my life has looked more like this:



More Traffic.

With a little bit of the fun stuff:

Nala frolicking on the beach.

Memorial Day BBQ.

So all is not lost…haha!

I’m slowly beginning to like Los Angeles, getting out of the house and exploring more, searching for that house with a pool, and getting back to normal.

This blog will follow me through the trials and tribulations as I navigate this new world. The posts will focus mainly on interior design but will also probably include the random musings of the day. I hope it’ll be informative and helpful but also very entertaining. As I’ve been said to lack a verbal filter, I would guess the entertaining part may be easier than the other promises.

Join me…I’ll do my best to make it fun.

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