Morning Room Makeover

I’m a romantic, I can’t help it.

The sun rising in the morning, peaking through the trees, brings out the poet in me. This small room at the front of the house, I’ve named the “morning room.” Facing east, it enjoys bright sunshine for several hours. In winter, this is where I want to be with my tea, a book, and my dog. Originally, this room had a door and would probably have been referred to as a sitting room or a parlour.

img_0410

Three years ago, when we moved in

a hodge-podge of furniture and books from various rooms in our last house ended up here. When Greg or the kids asked me where they should put the small grey chair, or the giant box of photos, or the clocks I’d inherited, I directed them here. Charming as the room was (and is), when dusting and cleaning all the shelves that first week, I discovered an alarming electrical burn the size of a dinner plate where the last owner had plugged in a stereo. This had me wanting to drink something stronger than tea.

img_0401

my kids refuse to call it the “morning room”

probably because they think I’m being pretentious and inaccurate, since whenever they are home, regardless of the time of day, this is where they can be found-  playing video games. Hardly the sort of parlour games the Victorians had in mind. Despite my dislike of charging cords and large TVs, we are a 21st century family living in a part 19th century, part 20th century house. Adjustments, such as built-in cabinetry, were made for the sanity of the previous lady of the house and I take full advantage. The boys can play in here, in the afternoon and evening, heads full of computer generated graphics, as long as I don’t have to look at anything but books and the sun when it’s my turn.

img_0400

besides the sun, I needed color

All paint is by Benjamin Moore:

Carolina Gull for the trim, bookcases, and cabinetry

Grey Cashmere for the walls and Decorator’s White for the windows

it took a year and a half to paint because. . .

img_0404

I painted the whole room myself

like a crazy person. But I find painting to be therapeutic and vaguely hypnotic.

And sometimes, if you’re a mother raising sons, you need to be hynotized.

img_0394

greg and our oldest son built the daybed from paneling

and I sewed the roman shades. Purchased at the famed Brimfield Antique Show, the paneling cost less than $100. In a pinch, this room can double as a guest room. I found its original door in the barn and am considering re-installing it.

img_0396

Greg got the clocks ticking in near-perfect synchronicity

Both clocks are from my father’s side of the family. The mantel clock is a New Haven Clock Company model owned by my recently immigrated Hungarian relatives in the 1920s. The model on the bottom is older and aptly named after its shape: bullet clock. My father remembers it sitting on a table in his German grandmother’s living room.

(The gentle dual-ticking of the clocks was soothing but the double chiming was a bit over the top.)

img_0395

I love formal rooms that can adapt to a casual life.

Everything on the daybed is machine-washable cotton from the down-alternative pillow inserts to the ivory coverlet. Which means that only half of my dog’s hair shows after a morning of her curled beside me in the sun.

img_0399

Advertisements

A Nook of One’s Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” So said Virginia Woolf in 1928.

Ninety years later, this quote from A Room of One’s Own, Woolf’s extended essay from which it famously derives, is as relevant as ever-especially to me.

I write non-fiction and poetry. But does that preclude me from having a room of my own to make a writerly mess in?

pomfret master

Woolf is a hero of mine: my English Springer is named after her and I believe The Waves to be one of the greatest accomplishments in novel writing history. My devotion is unmovable. . .unlike my furniture. Which resided in a very messy bedroom writing nook of one’s own.

One being me.

img_7311

One in a house of six, five: one husband, seventeen year-old twins (our older son recently decamped to Rhode Island), and the previously mentioned Woolf namesake. Writing anywhere other than a designated spot was at best inconvenient (the dining room) and at worst impossible (on the living room sofa).

nook

The nook I settled on is at the far end of our bedroom. Yes, it has a staircase to the main entry right behind it, and yes, it’s above the laundry room (ding!) but, the staircase is the fastest way to the tea kettle and the sound of laundry running gives this “one” a sense that all is right with the world.

Here is how my nook looked before:

(see previous post HERE)

img_4933-1

It’s amazing how unaware I was of the space. Given my design background, I should have been mortified. But, the eye sees what the eye wants and I decided to turn a blind eye in favor of being left alone. It was almost too much to ask that my space look nice. I mean, I’ve still got two sons at home, one of whom has yellow flower-patterned wallpaper on his bedroom walls that I PROMISED to remove. Three years ago.

The problem was, once I noticed my nook’s shabbiness, I couldn’t un-notice it. I stopped writing in favor of moving piles of paper and furniture around. I became counter-productive. The tipping point in favor of a nook makeover was that the son with the flowered wallpaper only uses his bedroom to sleep in and with the lights off. Also, my nook remodel expense was minor: we did the whole room for less than $1,000, including the floor. Also, I’m the mother and I’m in charge.

Coinciding with the finishing of the nook of my own,  I’ve had two ideas for novels-and I wrote them down.

Thank you Virginia Woolf. . . I love you.

Picture This

Two things: first- my dog is a ham. Second, I’m so freaking happy to be done with this foyer, I almost want to paint something. Two months ago, I posted A DRAMATIC ENTRANCE all about turning my boring-as-dirt entrance into one with high drama. I imagined going dark. But that worked out the way it does when I decide to color my hair anything but blonde. I had regrets. I also had a hangover. It doesn’t pay to consider wall colors while drinking wine. Luckily, I came to my senses.

The wall color is Hawthorne Yellow, a Benjamin Moore product. I’ve been using BM for years, my favorite of their products is Regal in pearl finish.

I have about one hundred framed photos of immediate family, extended family, family I never met (yet) because they died before I was born. My mother’s mother was an only child, and out of her three grandchildren, I am the one most interested in our history.

I won’t bore you with it, because no one is as interested in a person’s family history as the person telling it. Instead, imagine your foyer, or entrance, or place where you throw your keys as an opportunity to visit yours.

This is Gigi. She isn’t a dog model, she just thinks she is.

OK, I give up. Who wants a treat?

Christmas in a Jar

I am beginning this blog post from the check-out line at Michael’s craft store. It’s a line that rivals only the infamous line at Barnes and Noble on Black Friday. My craft store line has snaked from the registers past Christmas bows and wrapping paper into the serious art isle whose shelves include empty canvases, cold-pressed papers, and watercolor paints in cabinets under lock and key. I’ve moved up and now stand next to intricately designed coloring books for adults.

Why would I put myself through this? Pinterest. It’s all Pinterest’s fault. A couple weeks ago I came across this image:

jars
Image courtesy Under the Sycamore

. . . and I was smitten. I’ve loved miniatures forever and used to have a dollhouse.

But my dollhouse is long-gone and a few years back, I gave the dollhouse furniture away to a friend with two little girls. My boys were more interested in other toys and I wanted the miniature beds and bureaus to go to someone who would enjoy them.

I don’t have the time for a dollhouse now, but a miniature Christmas world in a jar? I think I can swing that. The supplies are few and directions simple: pour the snow (Epsom salt) into the bottom of the jar, add figures, and ta da! It’s Christmas.

Down in my scary basement, I have about fifty old glass jars. I try never to go down there. It’s got a dirt floor and stone walls. Snakes have been known to make it home. I made my husband bring about ten of the jars upstairs. Then he cleaned them (OMG)!

basement

So, here I am in line, holding some cute little trees, a couple reindeer, and some metal house ornaments. Finally! Once I get home I realize the tin houses are too big for the jars. No prob. I repurpose some glass vases and now, twenty hours later- it’s instant Christmas.

village

 

tree

I have just enough Epsom salt leftover to soak my feet.