Redemption

IT’S JUST A BATHROOM, BUT IT WAS BAD

 I offer these photos of design redemption as testimony: good will persevere. My husband and I have taken eleven bad bathrooms and helped them see the light. This upstairs hall bath, shared by three bedrooms was, by far, the worst.

(No, I am not exaggerating. Click HERE)

THIS IS OUR FOURTH WHOLE-HOUSE REMODEL

Always at the top of my design plan was playing it safe: never a brave paint color, never personality, and NEVER, EVER wallpaper–so that the houses Greg and I worked so hard to bring up to date would sell quickly. But we love it here: the house’s character, the once-farmed land, the barn, the 1830’s stone foundation (OK, maybe I’m the only one who loves that), the profusion of spring and summer flowers that keep me in bouquets for five months straight–I don’t think we’re moving anymore.

BRING ON THE BOLD COLOR

AND SWEET CAFE CURTAINS WITH HAND-SEWN TRIM

BRING ON THE WALLPAPER & WHAT THE HELL, BRING THE PERSONALITY, TOO

JUDGMENT DAY

ANY BUREAU THAT ALLOWS ITSELF TO BE TURNED INTO A BADLY DESIGNED VANITY AND THEN GLUED TO A PLASTER WALL GOES TO  DESIGN HELL

screenshot_20200426-103955~29199040187207298442..jpg

DESIGN NOTEBOOK:

WALLPAPER IS BY YORK: JOHANNA GAINES COLLECTION: TEA ROSE

ALL PAINT BY BENJAMIN MOORE:

WALL: CHINA RED

FLOOR: WHITE DOVE & NATURAL CREAM

VANITY AND SCONCES: HOME DEPOT

CAFE AND SHOWER CURTAIN: SEWN BY YOURS TRULY

CURTAIN TRIM: CONSO TASSEL FRINGE TRIM IN CINNAMON

screenshot_20200426-1100376486324819936346628.png

DOG TREATS FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR BY:

OLD MOTHER HUBBARD | PEANUT FLAVOR

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

Old Hollywood in the Woods

It’s fall. It’s beautiful.

About to fall backward a luxurious Daylight Savings hour into a cloud of leaves, I wake just in time from the summer-haze:

there is a big, time-consuming, messy project I’ve neglected.

As a recovering professional seamstress, I have the problem of sewers everywhere: hoarding fabric. I could have given it all away except I bought this nine-room farmhouse that’s begging for glamour. Soon after moving in I told my hairdresser, “The look I’m going for is old-Hollywood in the woods: Sexy Farmhouse.” She laughed, but in that totally serious way of hairdressers applying highlight foils to your head.

Since then, I’ve been busy. You know, with STUFF.

Three years later, the Sexy Farmhouse living room is painted but 40 yards of decadent  pale green velvet is stacked on the leather sofa in my office, NOT whipped into the opera-pleat panels of my dreams.

NOT hung on Lucite rods like these from one of my favorite drapery commissions:

tn_156_2262

Once upon a drapery-past, I had a spacious studio to do the messy work of sewing. And it IS messy. Drapery interlining fuzz floats around the house, there are glass-headed pins all over the floor, and now that I have to sew at home, the worst: no using the dining room table for weeks.

img_9722

Once I closed the studio I closed my sewing past into a closet of down-filled pillows and drapery lining. It’s finally starting to bug me. I used to run a business and take care of the house while raising three children. Can’t I write, take care of the house, hike with the dog, college-shop with my twins, AND make the living room into the sexy farmhouse of my dreams? I used to do it all-can’t I do it all, again? Can’t we just eat standing up?

tn_Christine-11

once a seamstress, always a seamstress.

STAY TUNED. . .

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.