August 30, 2010

It's Coming Along

I apologize for my absence on this site the past few days. A severe cold took me out of commission (and work) for 3 days, and then our laptop completely crashed for 2 days. So, blog life, and house-work-life for that matter has been a little sloooow this past week.

However, I have a small update to share on the ever-so-slow process we're making on our hallway area. The downstairs portion of the hall is almost complete, in terms of painting. And the results are 1,000% better than what we started with. So, I'm already extremely happy with the results even though there are many other "touches" still needed.

The paint color is "shale". And as for those who need a refresher, we also used this color on the porch.

Here is a "before" picture of the hallway. Although it's hard to tell in the picture, there is hideous wallpaper covering the walls that cost me (and some family and friends) 3 years of life from the stress of removing it all. If you'd like to read about that tale, you can click here. And here. And here. And then there's the 30 year old brown shag carpeting on the floor and stairs. Yuck. And the ugly pickled-stained woodwork....

After stripping the wallpaper and ripping up the carpet, we got this (not much better)...

And now with the woodwork painted white and the walls primed white and then painted shale, we're looking like this...

Not a bad improvement, eh? Here's a shot from the stairway looking at the hall to the 1/2 bath at the end and the dining room cafe' door on the left and downstairs bedroom is on the right (can't really see that door in the pic)...

Several key ingredients are missing:
1. New carpet on the hall and stairs.
2. New light fixture.
3. New hardware on the built-ins and new light switches/outlets.

And there's some paint-patching to do on the walls/ceiling/trim.

So, while there's still much to accomplish, we've come a long way. The space is much easier on the eyes now. And I still love this color. One of my favorites we've used so far.

What do you think? Diggin' it? Or ditchin' it? Pin It

August 25, 2010

Privacy Please

Living in a house with 29 windows brings challenges in terms of finding and affording window treatments for every window in every room. For those of you who have been in the house, you know there is nary a room/hall/closet/space in the house that doesn't have access to a window. So, we had to prioritize when it came to which rooms needed window coverings first. We quickly took care of the bedrooms and bathrooms (gotta have privacy there) by covering them with mostly cheap/temporary shades for now, and the rest of the rooms we left with bare windows.

Well, after living in the house for almost 2 months now, we decided that we just couldn't live with the bare, wide open windows in the living room any longer. We had to get something to cover these 3 windows so that we have something to block the light (the sun sets on this side of the house bringing in a lot of sunlight and warmth in the afternoon/evening hours) and some privacy during the nighttime hours since this is where we spend most evenings.

Knowing that we didn't have a lot of money to spend, we wanted something on the inexpensive side, but not so cheap and ugly that we'd have to throw it away eventually when we got something "better". So, whatever we got had to fit into our overall design scheme for the room.

With that in mind, we set out to the basic home improvement stores - Lowe's, Home Depot, and Menard's. We set our sights on bamboo blinds. I like the natural wood look of bamboo blinds. They work like roman shades (which I also like) and are very functional. And they can be dressed up later on with curtain panels on either side.

The home improvement stores all had similar options at similar (reasonable) prices. The problem? Size! We decided we wanted to mount the blinds inside the window frame. It looks the most seamless and hides the top valance of the blinds which is usually unfinished at the ends. But our 3 windows were 33 inches and the blinds came in 31 inches, 34 inches, 35 inches etc. And while some of the stores will cut blinds/shades to length, the bamboo blinds were almost always the exception item they wouldn't cut.

So, we headed home after a 4 hour search with empty hands and pockets full. That's when I decided to head to JCPenney, which actually has a fairly well-known custom decorating (and window covering) department, and see what they had in stock. Much to might delight, they were running great sales on window treatments (I'm talking 40-60% off) and they had a variety of bamboo blinds in stock.

Problem? Size! Again! They had bamboo blinds that measured 31 inches, and 34 inches, and 35 inches, but not 33 inches. Enter helpful saleswoman. She asked me if the actual window pane stretched the full 33 inches or if there was some wood trim around the window pane that took up some of that space. Hmmmm... good question. I called Joey who measured the window and relayed the fact that the actual window pane was 30 inches and the wood trim around the pane made up the other 3. So, we could actually buy the bamboo blinds at 31 inches and it would look normal since only wood window trim would show on the sides and the blinds would still cover up the full window panes.

Problem Solved! And with these blinds being on sale at 50% off, that meant I could get all 3 blinds for $75 (it was almost twice that much at Lowe's/Home Depot/Maynard's). Score!

So, here is a snapshot of the bare windows. The windows by themselves are pretty, but we just need some covering at night...

Here is a "night shot" with the bamboo blinds hung and pulled all the way down. The wood of the bamboo coordinates with all the wood trim nicely.

And here are the blinds pulled up most of the way during the day/evening.

You can see in this close up shot that the blinds aren't complete "privacy" blinds in the sense that you can kind of see through them. For example, when it's still daylight out, I can see the images outside (which I like), but the light is still greatly filtered. Standing outside at night looking into the lighted room, you can kind of see the images inside, but not near as noticeable as having no coverings at all. So, for us, this works great for the living area, but I wouldn't recommend for a bedroom or bathroom where you may want total privacy.

Eventually, I will get some beautiful curtains to hang on either side of the 3 windows. This will dress up the room a little as well as add some texture/pattern/interest to the room. But for now, this will do! Pin It

August 23, 2010

Paint Job Gone Wrong: Part 3

Believe it or not, I think I've found the paint color that I want to use to cover up the paint disaster in our upstairs hallway. Thank you to everyone who commented and gave input in the last article about this. I think the paint color called Latte was the clear "winner". So, after some more thinking and comparing and shopping around, I've actually decided on a paint color called "Manchester Tan" which is very similar to Latte, but just a shade darker (for a little more contrast).

Manchester Tan is one of Pottery Barn's select paint colors for Fall 2010 (Did I mention that I love Pottery Barn? Well, I do!). Pottery Barn's magazines use all paint colors by Benjamin Moore Paints - a very popular brand for interior decorating - and as I was flipping through the fall catalog online, I noticed that quite a few of the pages name the paint color used on that page. And then I discovered that a different part of the website will show you all of their selected fall paint colors and you can see what they look like in a room (although I must warn you that several of the colors looked quite different online compared to what the actual paint swatch looked like in person). So, this is how I came across this color called Manchester Tan and thought it might work well in the hallway.

Lucky for me, we have a little hardware store down the road that just happens to sell Benjamin Moore paint, and so I stopped by to have a looksy at the different colors and grab a few swatches to take home for comparisons.

However, it just so happens that the store didn't have an individual swatch of Manchester Tan in particular (even though they had all the other colors) - to which I was very disappointed - but to compensate, the nice helper lady gave me an entire little fan deck of all of Pottery Barn's Fall 2010 paint colors! And I thanked her profusely as I can now carry this around in my purse forever and ever - along with the other paint swatches from the other colors I've used in the house - and use it when I'm in other stores picking out fabric and accessories and all kinds of things that need to coordinate. That's the beauty of a paint swatch! (I'm psychotic. I know.)

After I got home, I went upstairs and compared Manchester Tan to the trim and the bad paint that I had used previously, and I liked it very much. It is definitely less peachy/pinky than the original color (although it may be hard to tell in the picture below). In fact, it's exactly the right shade of tan. Perect.

Here is another shot of the hallway looking down at the stairwell. You can view the Shale blue color that I'm using in my downstairs hall and see that it actually creeps into the upstairs as well. I haven't finished this wall yet but the blue will actually cover 1 whole wall of the upstairs (since the wall flows from the downstairs) and the other 3 walls, including the window wall seen below, will have the Manchester Tan on them.

This shows the Manchester Tan right next to the Shale blue. Beautiful.

So there you have it! The final decision is made. Now it's time to put this plan into action and pray the results turn out better than the last time!

Hopefully, the next post on this topic will show you those results! Hopefully...

Pssst... you can order Pottery Barn's Paint fan deck online for $2.00 or pick up a complimentary fan deck for FREE at your local Pottery Barn Store!

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August 20, 2010

Smart Art

It's not very often that I find artwork that I completely fall in love with the moment I lay eyes on it. In fact, generally speaking, I'm very indecisive about art and have no clue where to begin when it comes to purchasing art for my home. And this can be any type of artwork - from prints and photographs to paintings or signs or .... you get the idea. And on top of that, you have to think about things like size - how big (or small)? what color? what frame? which room do I place it in?


So many options.

And on top of all that, there's the big question: What is the PRICE???
Artwork can be super expensive or super cheap or anywhere in between. And personally, I'm not one to fork out a ton of cash for art. So, I'm always looking for inexpensive ways to buy or create artwork that doesn't look "cheap".

So, that leads me to my current story. I was poking about Hobby Lobby (one of my favorite places in the world) the other day, when I happened to see that one of their sale items for the week was artwork and frames. Thinking to myself, "I am going to need to fill all these newly painted walls with something", I wandered over to the art area and started thumbing through prints that they sell (most of which I would never hang in my house. ever.). Well, within a few minutes, I came across a print that stopped me dead in my tracks. I loved it. I wanted to marry it. I wanted to take it home to be mine forever. And given my general indecisiveness about art that I mentioned above, I realized quickly that this piece was a must buy.

One problem: it needs a frame. Frameless art is like homeless art.

So next, I wandered over to the frame section and started hunting - unsure if I could buy ready-made frame, or if it needed custom framing, I meandered through the aisles looking. Certain of my unsureness (is that a word?), the Hobby Lobby Helper asked me what I was looking for and I replied "the most inexpensive frame that I can use for this print". He got out his handy dandy tape measure (not "measuring tape" as my husband reminds me) and told me the print + mat was 18 inches by 24 inches (decent size) and I could pick from a whole wall of ready-to-buy (cheap) frames. Hooray.

Then I had to decide - black frame? brown frame? white frame? something else?

So, I pulled out multiple options, laid them down, and laid the picture on them to see what I liked best. It came down to the black frame or a rustic grayish/brown wood frame. The decision was difficult. The black frame was more streamlined, modern, and could be used in almost any room. But the rustic grayish/brown frame spoke to me - "buy me. buy me." It matched the beauty and color of the print so well. And so I went with my gut, and bought it.

Now to reveal the purchases.

First, the print. I love water. I love boats. I love sepia tones. The picture has all 3.

Second, the frame. You can see it is a mix of browns, grays, blacks. Rustic. Like old barn wood.

Third, the print in the frame. See how well the tones of the wood match the tones of the print? Priceless. I think it's beautiful.

The Price? Keep in mind the following was 50% of the original price.

Print: $9.50
Frame: $22.50
Tax: $1.76
Total: $33.74

That's right. 30 bucks. I was grinning from ear to ear.

I can't wait to hang this in my home. I'm still deciding where to hang it though. Probably either the downstairs hall or the dining room or the downstairs office/3rd bedroom. I'll make the final decision once we finish painting the walls in these rooms.

So what do you think? Was it a steal of a deal? or a bust?

Any art you've bought recently that you love? Do share! Pin It

August 19, 2010

A Perfect Match

I came home from work the other day to find another surprise project completed by my wonderful husband! The 2 new windows that he installed in our kitchen back in June, finally had been all trimmed out! The best part is, he created the new trim to exactly match the 80 year old trim that is in the rest of the house (genius, huh?). So, once all the trim is painted white, no one will know the difference between old and new!

So, I wanted to share with you his craftsmanship. And you can see how much trim really does help "finish" a space. It makes a huge difference in the look of this partially-completed kitchen.

To start out, here are a couple pictures of the original windows in the kitchen - just after we gutted the room. The first picture shows the original window above where the sink will go...

This second picture shows a double window on the west-side wall of the kitchen. There was one floor to ceiling cabinet on the right side of the window, but nothing below or above it.
Here are 2 pictures of the new windows (minus the new trim). First, the window above the sink...
Second, the windows on the side wall. We actually bought much smaller windows here to replace the original ones because we wanted to put cabinets underneath the windows and we wanted the windows centered in the wall (which they weren't before) to fit some special cabinets to the right and left of the window. Even though the window is considerably smaller, you really don't notice the difference in the overall space. And the kitchen look so much bigger with the extra cabinets we were able to add below it. But as you can see, the window feels very un-finished with no trim.

And so, here are the windows all trimmed out (with the addition of the pendant lights we hung)!

The side-wall windows look especially nice! This tiny addition of trim made all the difference in this space. I can now picture it completed. And I think the painting of trim and walls in the kitchen needs to begin pronto!

And the windows have great window-sills. I'm thinking about planting some herbs in little pots to sit in this sill on the double-window. But I could also plant flowers, or set candles or other decorating items on them. Window boxes are eventually going to hang on the outside of the windows.

This is an up-close and personal shot of the trim. All the trim in the house looks exactly like this - same lines and everything.
To show you an example of how similar the old and new trim are, below is a picture of the original trim in another part of the kitchen...

And here is the same old trim in the hallway, but it's already been painted white. The kitchen trim will go white too!

And here is a shot of the double-windows again, but standing further back so you can see the cabinets below and the pendant lights. We are ordering the new countertops soon. We'd like to have them installed by the end of September at the latest.

So, what do you think? Pretty nifty job, no?

I can't wait to see what it all looks like with my best friend, Mr. Paint Job! He's sure to make it extra pretty!

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August 17, 2010

Paint Job Gone Wrong: Part 2

Well, I still haven't decided on a paint color for this upstairs hallway. I continue to dislike the color I've started putting on the walls. So, I'm definitely painting it a different color. To help the decision making process, I picked out a few paint colors that I thought might work, and taped the paint swatches to the wall to get a feel for what they look like at different times of day.

I started by taping up the paint swatches of the colors used in surrounding rooms - master bedroom, guest room, bathroom, and downstairs hallway (which will partially connect to the upstairs hallway). Then I taped 4 "white" paint colors that I am considering around the 4 room colors. This way I can also see how the hallway colors might look against all the contrasting colors that will surround it.

The top color is called Cloth. It is a "yellow" white. I like this color because it looks really nice next to all 4 room colors, it will add brightness to the hallway, and it is similar to the color I'm using in the kitchen and therefore, will bring some continuity to the house.

The left side color is called Latte. It is a "tan" white. But not a peachy-tan like the color already on the walls. More of a brown-tan. It also complements the other colors well, and it has more of a contemporary feeling than Cloth.

The third color on the right side is called China White. It is pretty much a "white" white - but still not as bright white as the trim. I've pretty much already ruled this out as being too, well, white.

The final color at the bottom is called bone white. It is also a "tan" white, but I've also ruled this color out as being to similar to the color already on the walls.

So, I guess it comes down to 2 colors - Cloth vs. Latte.

Sorry if it's hard to tell the difference between all the "white" colors... computers aren't the greatest for transposing color. But stay tuned for the final decision. The color will be more obvious when it covers the whole wall. Pin It

August 14, 2010

Paint Job Gone Wrong

So far into this home remodeling project, I've loved every paint color that we've chosen for the different rooms of the house. Until today. We are currently working on painting the upstairs and downstairs hallways and stairwell. The downstairs hall is going to be a different color than the upstairs hall. We're working on the upstairs hall first, and I decided that I wanted a nice light, neutral color. I wanted to keep it a light color so that the hallway area felt bright and airy. I wanted it to be a fairly neutral color because the guest room and bathroom will have a lot of color, and you'll see those colors from the hallway.

So, I picked a color called "Divine White" for the upstairs hallway thinking that it would be an extremely light/white version of the khaki color in our Master Bedroom. Well, the color did not turn out as I was expecting.

Here is a picture of the upstairs hallway with a coat of white primer on it...

And here is the hallway with a partial coat of "divine white" paint...

As you can see, it is sort of a "fleshy" tan color that is nowhere close to "white". I don't know exactly why, but I hate it! It's too peach-y. Or pink-y. Or something. It's just not right.

So what do we do now???

I guess we go back to the store and buy new paint and start over. Ugh.

Wish us well on the second try! Pin It

August 11, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

I apologize to my readers for the long 5-day break from blogging. My world was interrupted by wonderful family time, which included 2 days off of work (and 5 days off of house-related work), and I found little to no time on the PC for blog-posting.

But now it's back to the grind, and after being away from the house for a few days, I can honestly say our new house felt like "home" when we walked back through the doors last night. I also think that being away from the house for a few days gave me a fresh perspective on the projects we've accomplished so far - I'm very happy with the choices we've made - AND it made me see how much still needs to be done.

That's when I sat down on the couch and burst into tears.

Just kidding.

Actually, it made me more excited to pick up a paintbrush again and keep on truckin'... I even considered doing some painting shortly after we got home (9pm), but Joey discouraged me from starting something so late. So, I pouted for 2 minutes and then got over it and then unpacked and got ready for bed. I figured I could start more painting today.

But back to my "new perspective" as I entered the house - the project I thought a lot about over the long weekend was the dining room. Out of all the rooms in the house (and all the paint colors to choose from), I've been most indecisive about this particular room color. In the past, I've always planned my dining room around a traditional china-blue color as this suits my french-country-blue-and-yellow kitchen theme I've used and coordinates so well with the 3 sets of china I own (yes, 3).

But this house stopped me dead in my tracks from using blue in the dining room. Why? Because the dining room and living room are adjacent and open to one another. And if you recall from this post, the living room is a sage green. This presents a slight problem. While I don't feel the 2 rooms have to completely match or even "go together" in terms of style/decor, I do feel like the 2 paint colors need to at least compliment each other. Otherwise the entire space will feel chopped up and unplanned.

So, I had determined that I would go with a fairly neutral color in the dining room - light brown/beige/taupe - it would look fine next to the green living room, but still allow for blue accent colors with all of my dining room decor.

But have you looked at the bazillion options for "beige" in the paint department? Apparently finding the perfect beige is like finding a needle in a haystack. There's light beige. There's dark beige. There's brown-beige. There's gray-beige. Ugh.

Given that all the paint colors in the house so far are from Lowe's Waverly HOME Classics or Eddie Bauer HOME collections, I started looking in these lines of paint first - thinking that would help me. I finally settled on a wall color called "Colonial Beige" by Waverly HOME Classics and was determined not to change my mind. I also decided that I would paint the ceiling a VERY light blue to coordinate with the blue decor - after all the ceiling is the 5th wall - and the ceiling can't be seen from the living room anyway. Here's an example of what this paint combo would look like in a dining room...

Pretty, no? But now that I've sat on this decision for a couple of months, I'm starting to second-guess myself. I feel like this particular beige is too dark for the space. I'm afraid it will make the dining room feel closed in rather than open and inviting. And then to make matters worse, I came across this picture in an article I was reading...

...which was really all about the curtains in the pic, but the first thing I noticed was the paint color in the background. It is a lighter color than what I picked out and slightly grayer beige than I chose. But it looks so nice with those blue and white curtains next to them. And I think the lighter color will make the dining space feel airier and still look nice next to the living room. So, I've just convinced myself that I'm switching the paint color.

Now comes the problem - FINDING that color in a real paint swatch.

Here is a wall color I found on Lowe's site. It's called "Woodlawn Snow". Do you think it's a similar color to the picture above? Or is it too gray?

Here is a side-by-side comparison for good measure...

What do you think? Do you like the first beige color best? Or the second beige color better?

Feedback is gift. I embrace it. Don't be afraid to speak your mind!

Good thing the Dining Room is one of the LAST rooms we're painting. By the time we get to it, I sure hope I've found the forever-perfect paint color that I want!

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August 6, 2010

What's Your (decorating) Style?

Anyone ever wonder what your "true" decorating style is? Or what style you would like your current decor to resemble? For me, I like so many different deco-styles, it's hard to boil down what "Katie-style" is!

Well, I came across this quick little quiz that helps pin-point your true style, and as it turns out, it was quite accurate for me. It just happens to be on Ethan Allen's website, (Anyone else swoon over E.A.'s furniture? Anyone? Anyone?) and it is great for us visual learners.

There are just 2 Rules:
1. Go with your instincts.
2. Choose fast.

And think about this:
What do you like?
How does it make you feel?
Think about the vibe. Shape. Mood. Inspiration. The overall look.

Click here to check it out and see what you think!

As for my quiz results, the true Katie-style is....

Energetic. Fashion-driven. Practical. Materials borrowed from industry, architecture, and nature. Clean shapes. Punches of color. Spontaneous and fresh. Kids and pets? Bring them on.

The site then goes on to further break down the different varieties of LOFT style, and includes some pictures to help visualize what it's describing. LOFT-style-decorating includes the following options (the majority of which I love)...

1. Marzipan: A bright confection with a fashion edge. Defined by graphic shapes and a playful yet well-edited use of apple green, watermelon pink, and liberal helpings of black. Modern. Feminine. Refreshing.

2. Dusk: Enter serenity. A brilliant mix of modern and soft creates balanced tranquility – a look of elegance energized by nurturing textures, crisp linens, bold patterns, and cool art. In sum, sophisticated simplicity.

3. Serape: Where every seat in the house is the best one. Life is collected. Inspired by nature. Never cluttered – rather perfectly placed.

4. Earth: Warm honey-toned woods set the tone for a life worth living organically. Where nature and nurture coexist in unexpected ways. Modern. Reflective. Earth easy.

5. Hayloft: Modern country. Down-to-earth. But smart and stylish. Practical yet chic. Black and white. Balanced by earth tones. For a rustic space or a city apartment. Fabulous without pretense.

6. West Side: A hip urban style that’s livable, relaxed, and remarkably affordable.

7. Meadow: The modern cottage: a beachside garden vibe that goes with casual living.

So, this break-down definition was actually full of good things that I (would) like to incorporate into my decor. I like that it keeps it eclectic - you can do a lot of different things throughout the home, but still give the same "vibe" everywhere.

What do you think of the quiz? Good description of your style? Or not so helpful? Do tell! Pin It

August 5, 2010

Porch Project: Part 4

Well, after a couple weeks of hard work, the porch renovation is completed! FINALLY! And while this took a little more elbow grease than we originally anticipated, the payoff was well worth all the effort. We now have a space that can enjoy 3/4 of the year (and maybe in the winter if we get a space heater), and this enclosed porch adds additional "living space" to our home...letting us enjoy the outdoors without the bugs.

So, without further adieu, let me introduce you to our new back porch (minus the "decor").

But first, let's go waaaay back to the beginning to see the before pictures. Note the following: original brick, unfinished beadboard on the ceiling and walls, green paint, old fashioned light fixtures, stained berber carpet, bamboo blinds that were falling apart, and junk everywhere...

Joey's thinking, "hmmm... this space has a ton of potential!"

And here is the dramatic transformation! We started by ripping out the carpeting and painting the brick gray. We also painted the shelf that is attached to the brick the same gray - I wanted the shelf to blend in with the brick rather then stand out. The built-in bench was painted gray also. The interior door (leading into the Kitchen) and interior window (where you can see into the 1st floor bedroom/office) were painted white.

The ceiling then got painted a bright white as well. The walls were painted a blue-gray. White 2X4 boards were added as crown molding around the ceiling and baseboards. 2 new light fixtures were added. And lastly, the tile floor was installed. This picture below shows the area that will be used for sitting (hence, the free couch from my Aunt and Uncle) and eating (we're moving a dinette set in here as well).

The opposite side of the porch is the entrance area and is going to be used as a mudroom. This will be the main entrance into the house, and so I want it to be an area for hanging coats, storing gloves/scarves/hats and other outdoor items (inside the bench), dumping shoes etc...
The 2 light fixtures we bought for the room were very inexpensive. The ceiling fan/light for over the sitting and eating area cost $60 but came with a $15 rebate - making it only $45! And the flush-mount light to illuminate the entrance from the porch to the kitchen was $25. Both were bought at Mendards, and while they don't match perfectly, they coordinate well. Both have a brushed nickle finish on the metal parts and are roughly the same shape.

The tile on the floor was also bought from Menards. It was actually very inexpensive as well. The color is a fabulous shade of blue and gray combined. In some lighting it looks more blue and in other lighting it looks more gray. It grounds the space so well. Joey installed it in a staggered pattern, which not only adds interest, but also mimics the pattern of the brick.

Here is close-up of the 2X4 boards that Joey bought for only $3 per 8 feet of board. He painted it white and it adds a great finishing touch to the room around both the ceiling and the floor.

The primary color scheme for the room: Lowe's Eddie Bauer Collection - Vintage Gray for the brick, Shale for the walls, and white for ceiling/trim. This picture shows the color swatches against the tile.

Pretty sweet transformation, no?

Now that the work is over, we can usher in the fun part! DECORATING! We'll be setting up the furniture this weekend, and then I can add hooks and baskets and all kinds of accessories. But more on that later!

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