Girls Write Out
Friday, November 25, 2011
No one who walks into our home can say I'm a master decorator. I don't have an eye for color. For instance, to me, light sky blue is light sky blue. But my friend tells me it isn't that at all, it has hints of soft gray that are actually more relaxing than the blue I was considering.

Let me tell you what I have, and maybe you could help. We have a rather large house, with a basement that is as large as the upstairs. We've left it pretty much a storage area until recently, when we hired someone to care for Mom eight hours a day. She does wonderfully, but Mom always wants to know where I am, and so there we all end up in the same room together, the four of us, even, when Mel's home, because he wants to spend time with me, too. But a crowd of people in our cluttered unfinished office is not conducive to focused writing--we moved everything in there from the front room so Mom's familiar furniture could surround her and make her feel more at home. We realized we were in desperate need of another place where I could write in silence and isolation.

But for me it has to be pretty. Years ago we went to a local paint store and purchased a mural that would fit on one of the walls in our selected room. It's also our tornado shelter, meaning no windows. I need light. The room is huge, about 18 x 15, and we'll place the mural on the far wall. It's a mural of a lake scene in the woods, so we'll need to paint the rest of the walls the sort of blue that's in the mural. That much I've figured out. I'd like to take the hideous ceiling panels out and paint them blue, then sponge white for clouds, then paint the holders a sort of wooden brown or dark silver to make it look like the skylights are supported by wood or strong bars. Mel said something about curtains on either side of the mural. Since the whole room is concrete and dark paneling, we would need to paint the concrete floor and the paneling the right color of blue.

I have no idea how to go about any of this. You girls are a special group of very creative people. If you have any idea what I'm talking about and can give me some suggestions, hints, or even a dire warning not to do what I'm planning to do, please let me know? This will be my place for writing, relaxing, maybe even a place for Mel and me to share alone time without waking Mom when she's trying to rest. Any help? If you can come up with something that will really make this underground room shine, I'd be forever grateful!

Remember, I'm waiting for some answers. I'll even take pictures after it's all finished and hope it turns out to be as beautiful as I dream for it to be.

Much Love,
(aka Hannah Alexander)

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 12:19 AM  
  Comments (17)
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At 6:44 AM, Blogger jel said...

that sounds like it would be fun to work on,

dh said if ya put some tracklighting up, one that you can change the brightness too, if ya paint the ceiling blue, get ya some glow in the dark stars, that way whwn ya dim the lights, the stars will shine and ya thank ya are outside . sense to ya! :)

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Tracy Ruckman said...

I love colors of all sorts so your project sounds like fun. Be sure to look at other colors in the mural - you can use those for accent colors.

I love Jel's idea of track lighting. Floor lamps tucked into dark corners helps too.

Can't wait to see pictures!

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Oh, Jel, that's great info! Tracy, these are both great ideas!
I do need colors. And I love all kinds of colors.

At 8:03 AM, Blogger Sandie said...

I got confused. My daughter is my color expert so I'm not much good there. Behr that has a thing online where you can plug in your colors and see if you like the way they look. Colorsmart.

If I'm understanding correctly, you are painting the basement. For your office even though it has no windows? Not for your mom. And it will still be your tornado room?

At 9:28 AM, Blogger jel said...

if ya go with tracklighting,
there are some that put off heat the longer they are on, and then there are some that stay cool.

Lowes had some cool ones the last time DH & I went

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Crystal Laine said...

I always think that blues make the room feel cold but then, I love warm colors. When we first moved into this house, the walls, siding, carpet was all this tingy blue light gray. It made me go crazy because it was the exact color of a gray day in Indiana. Ha.

So, now I have Copper Haze, Setter Brown, Oat and variations of warmth and light.

I haven't seen the mural but could you go with pinks? Pink adds warmth but also soothes as long as it is just a hint and is light and airy.

Go to the magazine rack and see if you can find the spring/summer issue of Country French. It sounds like you might like the Country French designs. (Think of Monet.) In that style there are beautiful watercolors of blues and yellows, white and rimmed in gold.Does that sound right?

Then, if that's not your style, try taking a test at HGTV online. You might also look at Southern Living mag, or Cottage Living. Those are light and airy and might suit you. Also, go look at Deb Raney's office on her website. She has a very cottagey feel to her style and uses those kinds of colors. :)

What fun! (one of my favorite topics.)

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Crystal Laine said...

One more thing--try finding a mirror in a design that replicates something in your mural--a mirror will reflect light and also add a bit of architecture to the space. Notice that cool mirror Deb Raney has in her studio. :)

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Sorry, Sandie, I was writing fast, and it was, once again, late at night. Yes, this is our 18X10 tornado room we're decorating for me to work in, because it's the only room in the basement without windows. Since Mom can't get down the stairs, we can leave her upstairs with our angel of a caretaker, Bonnie, and actually get some work done. My mother is so very close to me that when I leave a room, she follows. It turns out that jel and Tracy had some great ideas I can use, and Bonnie has a great eye for color, so she and I went and picked out paint today. I needed smelling salts at the checkout counter, but the room will be worth it later. And I get to use some purple, so I'm happy.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

jel, we got the tracklighting today! It's gorgeous, with six lights and arms that will go every which way. Rachel (our part time house cleaner and neighbor who also helps with Mom) is doing a great job painting the ceiling tiles, and we got sparkles to place on the clouds we plan to paint on the blue ceiling. I hope it'll look like skylights. Great idea, jel!

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Crystal, Bonnie talked me out of using blue for the walls. We'll just use blue for the ceiling and paint cirrus clouds with sparkles in them on the blue. We'll do some kind of warm khaki on the walls, but I want purple if I can put it on the walls, too. But we're painting over dark paneling, so it's going to have to be vertical streaks if we do it. Confused yet?

At 5:02 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Oh, Crystal, I do need to check out Deb's office. Thanks!

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Sandie said...

I didn't want to discourage you from using blue on the walls, but the living room walls in my house were previously blue and I liked it for many years. However, when we repainted we used an off white, creamy color and it made the room so much brighter and it felt more spacious (though it was not of course). I was happy that we did that. I think the lighter color makes good use of the lighting in the room. I am no decorator though. That is just my experience.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Sandie, we have a pretty, creamy white on nearly all our walls, but we knocked out a wall between bedrooms and made a huge office (it was a five bedroom house) and painted it blue because that's what Mel wanted. There's a wide wallpaper decor (what's that called?) at the top of the walls with all kinds of birds and fencing and grass, and it looks beautiful. Oh, and one wall has purple streaking on it. I love that room. And my sunroom.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger SheilaG said...

You're a girl after my own heart-I love blues and purples. I'm glad you decided to paint your paneling cream instead of blue, though. You can add some color with fabrics. Go to and search by color for drapery and upholstery fabrics. Covor a cork board with fabric; get some throw pillows, etc. I've even bought ceiling tiles and covered them with fabric to use as bulletin boards- lightweight and you can use straight pins to tack things onto them. Turn them so that they are diamond shaped and put up a row of them along one wall-lots of color and good organization for your notes and pics.
By the way, received my free copy of The Wedding Kiss a couple of days ago, read it today- LOVED it- thank you so much! I didn't get much done today, but thoroughly enjoyed the book! :)

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Sheila, what great ideas! The cork boards with fabric atop them, diamond shaped, maybe in different colors. GREAT!
So glad you enjoyed The Wedding Kiss! I loved writing it. I do find I enjoy writing historicals, and I'm trying to add more romance to them, because according to Colleen and to my editors, that's what women want. I write for women for the most part now, so that's who I want to best please.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger cathy jo said...

When I painted the basement of our former house we painted it a very *soft* yellow. It was so subtle you didn't walk in and say "yellow!" if you know what I mean. Instead it looked like a sunny day. When I would mention to people that it was yellow, they would look at the walls in surprise and say, "well, I guess it is sort of yellow. Didn't notice until you said it." (BTW I found the color by telling the paint person at Home Depot I wanted a warm, sunny basement room)

At 11:50 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Thank you, Cathy Jo. I love a real sunny yellow that is just almost iridescent, but not actual yellowish. We have a lot of light colors we're painting into the room now, with blue hanging ceiling that was ugly big white things, but they're going to be blue with mare's tail clouds, and the supports will look like window casings. I hope it works out. I'm also trying to figure out a sunset with a bunch of purples and oranges and pinks. It may flop, but it's the basement. I can work with my eyes closed down there.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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