Balancing Old with New

Always love a dramatic before and after…. This room was part of the One Room Challenge. Thank you @oneroomchallenge and @betterhomesandgardens for hosting this event. There were a few hundred participants and featured designers that transformed their spaces within a six week time frame. My goal in this challenge was to complete the room using as many reclaimed, antique, artisan, agrarian, salvaged, and existing materials as was possible. This can be a little tricky….but here are some tips that work for me.

Traditional? Farmhouse? Modern? Coastal? ……Before designing the room, decide what style you want the space to be and stick with items that match that description. I wanted to design a traditional style room that leaned towards vintage California coastal. These watercolors were my inspiration. I love pretty much every design style so this takes restraint for me!

Stay strong and stick with the plan. …..The next step is to decide on the must have functional furniture you will want in the room and the optimal layout. If you own existing items that you plan to use, start with those. For the remaining pieces, measure and document the smallest and largest sizes acceptable for each piece and take that with you when you shop. This is really important. How many of you have a plan in place but fall in love with a great wrong sized piece that never really works in a space? So, stay strong and stick with the plan. I am very proud to say, I practiced this and although I fell in love with so many pieces while shopping, I stuck to my list and only purchased the items that would work for the space.

Do not over furnish the space. ……Because we are often mixing a plethora of different finishes and textures with reclaimed furniture, it is important to only use what fills the needs for the room. Additional pieces will quickly start to clutter the space.

Simplify wall and window treatments. …..along the same lines as above, I find that if we end up with great pieces that are a little bit of a mash up, it is best to keep the walls and window treatments simple and crisp…. This will give you that perfect balance of rustic and refined. As you can see, I kept the walls and windows a crisp white and added a bit of sophistication with the trim to balance the rustic and mismatched elements.

Have fun with accessories. …..I love to find the perfect finishing touches for a space… the icing on a cake. Keeping the colors somewhat neutral will once again help enhance the found elements in the room rather than compete with them.

Save space for an agrarian element. ……plants are the bomb! They help improve the air quality in a home, they are beautiful, and they fill spaces without the clutter of unnecessary additional furniture. One of my favorite trees for indoors is the olive. I am so happy to have one in my room now. If you do not exactly have the optimal light, fake it. I have a recessed light above this tree and have replaced the regular bulb with a plant light. Another agrarian element that is pretty much always great for a space is flower arrangements. I made these primarily with plants from our yard to include; eucalyptus and olive branches, succulent flowers, and even artichoke leaves. I purchased the roses since my new rose garden was not producing yet and my blooming roses were brighter than I wanted… Back to the succulent flowers. These are actually pretty ugly when on the plant but they work so well in the arrangements. So, make sure to take a look at the plants you have and imagine how you can beautifully display them.. Of course, vintage and antique containers make the most beautiful vessels for arrangements.

I hope that you found some of these tips helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know what methods you use to incorporate existing, artisan, and agrarian elements into your spaces ….and I am always interested in where you like to source your materials. Mine were found at the following:

Consignment Classics –

My Sister’s Attic –

Two Sister’s Consignment –

C’est La Vie Antiques –

The ReUse People –

One Room Challenge – Reveal

I have been finishing the photo shoot today and was not stressed since the One Room Challenge ended at 11:00 tonight. Normally I do not cut things so close but we had a long way to go on this project and I had two weekends out of town that were work and family related. Sometimes life happens and we need to make it all work…. Anyway, I knew the day would be spent capturing our space and things were going smoothly until……. All of a sudden as I finished up shooting, it occurred to me that the challenge may be on eastern time…… Well, it was. I linked up just in the nick of time and I am so grateful for that. This design was completed using salvaged, antique, heirloom, artisan, and agrarian materials. The only items that were purchased new were the bedding, curtain rods, the pillow on the larger chair, and the planter for the olive tree. I am very pleased with our new master bedroom. It is light, bright, love filled, and functional. Here are some more pictures………

If you saw my blog post on week one it tells you a bit about the space. It is our master bedroom. Back in November, we had to gut it due to some water damage. In the process, we closed in and relocated an exterior door, and added two windows…….which had not even been delivered until after the challenge started. The flooring is original but everything else in the room has been redone to include: wall and ceiling texture, molding, paint, lighting, furniture and accessories. I will post more information this week regarding where the items came from, why I chose them for this space, and how you can get a similar look. For now, I am going to enjoy our beautiful new room from the back of my eyelids…. Happy Mothers Day to my fellow mom’s out there!!!

One Room Challenge Week 5

Guess Where I Am??

This has been a busy week for sure! As mentioned in the last ORC post, progress was on track. I was moving furniture in for finishing touches and editing…… Let’s just say, that has not yet happened. We did make progress by completing the trim detail but fell short of the goal. Our architectural salvage appraisal business took front seat…. As a result, I am drawing inspiration remotely. Does anybody recognize where I am? Here is a hint…… I had an inspection in Dallas where I am appraising materials from a large estate renovation. Rather than sending their unwanted (beautiful) materials to a landfill, they are donating to Habitat for Humanity Restore. The owners will receive a tax deduction, the landfill will have some relief, and Habitat will raise money for their mission…..oh, and think of the happy Restore shoppers! A win, win for all involved. My daughter and I are overdue for some quality time together so we made it a girls trip….and what’s just outside of Dallas??

You Got It… Magnolia Silos

I will be honest. I was not so sure about what I was going to find here. I started watching Fixer Upper early on and thoroughly enjoyed the show. I thought what they were doing with the silos was brilliant…..but I was apprehensive about the visit. Had it turned into a little Disneyland? Was it going to be too crowded to enjoy? etc, etc. Well, I am happy to say that Rebecca and I absolutely enjoyed ourselves. It was a bit crowded but the outside space is large, the food trucks were super cute (excellent avocado toast), and people were smiling all around us. That last bit was the best surprise. Despite the loads of visitors, the positive fun vibe you see in the show seems to fill the air, the people, and the décor at Magnolia….and that is something I want to bring back to my ORC project….to breathe life into the room. My inspiration for this last leg is to make the room beautiful inside and out. Fill it with positivity and depth of soul.

So that’s my story for week five…… Time to buckle down for the last few days. I am excited to see all of the other ORC spaces and browse their stories. You can find that at

One Room Challenge Week 4

The devil is in the details…..

This week was a mixed bag for me. While we accomplished a ton, the room is still sitting unfurnished. I am eager to start seeing the fruits our labor…. But I know that a perfectly put together room is not only finished with the appropriate size, scale, flow, and finishes, it has detail that has been well thought out. As noted in my earlier posts, this room is going to be white and bright. In my opinion, the key to pulling off a light neutral filled room is in the details. Nothing is hidden in this type of space. There are no loud patterns to draw your eye to so everything in the room must command just the right amount of attention. Also, in true A’ Trouve style, we are using as many reclaimed, antique, heirloom, agrarian, and artisan crafted pieces as is appropriate for the space. This is where the rustic and refined balance has to be spot on. Since this space is our master bedroom, and because my husband likes things to look a bit more refined, I need to make sure that the end product is more elegant than shabby.

How will these farmhouse style curtain rods become less shabby?

I like these curtain rods. The walls are a very crisp white and I like the texture that these bring to the space…. so to balance the distressing, I am hanging textured linen curtains on simple drop rings.

Wall treatment

These medallions will be painted and installed in two areas with paneling to elevate the white walls.


The soft colored fabrics and white walls will be met with some contrast through the use of metal finishes. We will be using this darker metal in addition to some gold accents to add interest.

Elevated grates

Often overlooked heating and cooling hardware does make a difference. We had the commercial looking slatted grates in the room which are being replaced with this more decorative vintage looking piece. If you are lucky enough to come across vintage grates that fit your ducting, by all means snap those up! They are beautiful and made to last!

Thanks for checking in this week. I am really looking forward the completion of this space and to sharing it with you. For more inspiration and a look at the progress of the other participants, go to

One Room Challenge Week 3

Time to get dirty….paint day!

Hello and hope you have had a great week so far! April 15th has come and gone just in time to focus on the details of this room. While I am still missing a bedside table for my husband, the core pieces are pretty much worked out. I can never say for sure until they are placed in the room…. …then I begin to panic… looked different in my head and in my drawings. Yikes!! Just kidding. I think designing a space should be fun. Every time I begin to stress, I remind myself of how grateful I am to be doing something I love. I also try to buy pieces that speak to me and can easily transition to another area of the house if need be.

The other BIG thing that happened is the installation of the doors and windows. Rewind back to week #1 of the ORC….

Week #1 of the ORC – Here she is in all of her glory!!

We have come a long way in just two weeks. In fact, the room was skim coated this week as well which means….wait for it….. YES! Time to paint. I wish that I could show you an extremely awesome bold choice for a paint color but I have chosen to flood the room with a crisp white paint. I just want the space to be relaxing and uncomplicated, filled with texture and interesting pieces, and white fits the bill for the perfect canvass. We renovated our last house from an early seventies mustard wanna-be Spanish style, to a cape cod style. Colored walls and white baseboards were perfect for that house. This house leans more towards early California meets European countryside… or that is the plan anyway. It was built in 1980 in the hacienda style but each owner has put their different stamp on it. We are now editing the house to fit us. For this style, I like to minimize trim, at least the typical case and base. Since we do not have the budget or the time to remove all of the molding and retexture the walls, I simply paint the walls and molding the same color (with the appropriate finishes). This has worked well in rooms we have put our touch on. Another tip for neutral walls is to paint the ceiling in a soft hue of one of your accent colors. This allows you to achieve a bit of drama in a room with minimal color.

Back to the ORC…. Here is where we are today with the doors and windows installed and the walls skim coated…

She’s coming along!

As you can see, we still have a long way to go… but we are on track and things will really fly together once the room is painted. As far as the color pallet goes, scroll back up to the basket of brushes. The muted blue-green, greys, and naturals will be complimented with a kiss of color. I have mine picked out but would love to hear what color you would use as an accent? Check out my previous ORC blogs for the inspiration pieces and let me know. Always fun to see how people communicate their design style.

In the mean time, planning to move furniture in and begin fine tuning the space this week. This is important because, as I mentioned above, I always have a design plan BUT, I also always tweak it once moved in to a space….so I will need some time to account for any changes that are needed. As always, thanks for checking out the progress. Next week will be full of surprises for us both. Stay tuned….

For more inspiration, go to and take a look at the other featured and guest designers that are working hard and making things happen.

One Room Challenge Week 2

The One Room Challenge has come at a very busy time for me. As I mentioned in my bio, I am an architectural salvage appraiser, mainly for tax purposes, which means, I am a busy girl these days….and why I am posting at one o’clock am. But! I am all over this challenge. There are over three hundred rooms being renovated by guest and featured designers. I am certain you will find a ton of inspiration in their blogs. You can take a look at these fabulous designs by going to But let’s take a look at how our master bedroom renovation has progressed this week….. I did some shopping to source furniture and have to say, I am pleased with the progress. Shopping for antique, vintage, reclaimed, and salvaged pieces is a bit different than new. Here is a sampling of what I found, followed by some tips for you:

Vintage French bookshelf found at Two Sister’s consignment store
Chandelier (crystal removed for cleaning) salvaged from a deconstructed 1920’s house
Vintage side table (marble top not shown) from Orphaned Objects consignment store
Two Restoration Hardware side chairs from Consignment Classics

The most important tip I can share (other than to remember design should always be fun and never overwhelming) is to measure your space and determine the size and scale for each piece before venturing out. I know I mentioned this in my last post… but it really is the basis for a successful space. Anything significantly large or small will not work no matter how awesome it is.

Another important tip is to decide how much work you are willing and able to put in to your finds. Some people like to put their mark on every piece, while others prefer to find treasures that are ready to use in their space. Due to the timeline of this challenge and my current busy schedule, I chose to limit my efforts and find furniture that was in good condition with the right fabric and finishes for my space……. EXCEPT these…..

So this large mirror and 80’s footstool with the crazy town fabric are not exactly ready for the space….but, they fit the scale that I am looking for AND I am willing to make the changes necessary. You will not even recognize them in the reveal!

Final tip for the day…. Your space should reflect you. While I like to mix up consignment store finds with more refined antiques, designing with reclaimed, salvaged, and antique items should be a reflection of your style. If you are drawn to expensive antiques and you have the budget for it, go for the antiques! If you are a bargain hunter and enjoy creating great designs with super deals, have at it! There is no one formula for this. It is all about mixing the old with the new, creating beautiful spaces, and helping the environment along the way. Stay tuned for next week as we introduce fabrics and paint to pull all of these items together. Also, I would love to hear from you. Where are your favorite places to source furniture and accessories for your designs??

One Room Challenge Time…

Inspiration Piece: A Vintage Painting of The California Coast

OK. Here we go!! This is going to be a great six weeks. Getting my toes wet in the One Room Challenge AND getting my bedroom back. Wooohooo! The goal for me in this challenge is to create a beautiful, relaxing space using as many reclaimed, salvaged, heirloom, antique, artisan, and vintage pieces as is possible. I will share my approach to building a room mixing old with new in order to find that perfect balance of rustic and refined. The colors and textures will be neutral and natural with enough color to create interest, and the furniture will be a mix of finishes for a curated look.

Colors and Textures

Did I mention that my room was in BAD shape??? We had a leak and it was gutted. Be prepared as this is not pretty!!

Not to worry! Windows and door came in today….We’ve got this. The first step I always take is to figure out the desired furniture layout. Figure out what pieces you need then measure the optimal height, width, and depth that those pieces should be. Write it down and keep it with you when you shop. This is important because you don’t want to fall in love with that perfect vintage piece that doesn’t fit…. This is the step I will be taking this week. Soooo, check back next week when I reveal the layout and pieces that will be used to anchor the room. To take a look at other guest participants in the One Room Challenge go to In the mean time….have a wonderful week!!

Spring Fever….

Are you experiencing spring fever? Can’t wait to get your exterior spaces ready to enjoy? I have it bad! So, we have had a ton of rain lately which is a blessing…. but it was nice to have our first bright and sunny weekend. Time to get outside and tackle long neglected outdoor projects. Super excited to get our rose garden planted but my favorite project was sprucing up the gazebo. With a little hard work and some select pieces, the gazebo went from wreck to respite.


Pretty bare bones……. but a great blank canvas to create something special.

An inviting place to kick up the heels after a long days work.

Here are some of the ways I incorporated artisan, reclaimed, repurposed, heirloom, and agrarian items to this design:

Furniture: a mix of husband made and reclaimed. A great tip for covered outdoor spaces is to visit your local consignment store, estate sale, etc. and collect pieces in the right size and scale. Then paint them to create a cohesive grouping.

Planters flanking the entry: I took old wine barrels, drilled holes in the bottom, and planted rose trees to create interest at the entry. Reclaimed wine barrels are easy to find at your local nursery and are also great in lieu of raised beds in your garden.

Accessories: All of the accessories were either reclaimed or heirloom pieces. You don’t necessarily need to go far to find great treasures. I make it a habit to hit the local consignment stores a few times a week…. pieces fly in and out of them like crazy so if you take five minutes to walk through, you are bound to score something you can’t live without.

Agrarian: This time of year our garden is sparse….but the lemon trees are bursting at the seems and we are living on lemonade.

I hope you had a great weekend and find some inspiration in today’s blog. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or topic suggestions. It’s all about creating spaces that are full of character, mixing new with old, and helping the environment along the way….