The Disappearing Reds!!!

Decorators always talk about the transformative nature of paint and what a cheap fix it is. If you all thought the powder room re-do was a dramatic one, check out these pictures!!!

Here is the dining room. The dark red coupled with the bright white trim (and the awful air conditioner intake thing-y) was jarring. And I must admit that I have never seen anyone use the same color above and below a chair rail. The red was from the first owner and I don’t know how the previous owners could stand it.

Dreary Diningroom

My plan was to paint above the chair rail with a pale gray and then wallpaper underneath. Ha! All of the wallpapers that I like are terrifically expensive. {sigh} New plan is to see if they go on sale or do some stenciling myself. Peter is voting for stenciling and that would be fun and unique.

More red dining room

So for the moment we also have the same color above and below the chair rail, which is SW On The Rocks. Is this not amazing??? So cool and calm and crisp. I can’t wait to buy a new light fixture and decide whether to re-upholster the chairs or find new ones. For now, I am just SO happy looking at it.

On The Rocks grey!

Moving to the livingroom. There are no lights of any kind in here (just wall outlets) and it was dark, dark, dark. At night this red turned almost black, and not a cozy black but a black hole sort of black!

Red livingroom

I wanted the Indian rug to move in here, so I sampled colors to work with it. I had to paint some primer white first so that I could actually see the samples!

Livingroom paint samples

I chose the middle one, SW Biltmore Buff, and love the color. I couldn’t adjust the color properly – it’s more of a creamy yellow in the light we get (the windows face west) and the rug looks smashing in there. Now the room is so bright and warm without being too hot.

Biltmore Buff livingroom

The cats are always intrigued when the furniture is moved. The same piece takes on a whole new aspect when it’s not in the usual spot.

Gizmo exploringNow there’s only one more red room to re-do!

Studio Update – the design wall!

I’ve always used a “design wall”. When I first started to quilt, I pieced on the dining room table and  taped work in progress to the livingroom wall, but the best scenario is a full-fledged screwed-in-the-wall-push-pin friendly one. It’s important to be able to see your work as it’s progressing, particularly if that work is going to hang on a wall. (If I’m making a bed quilt, I do often lay it on a bed to see how it’s looking.) So here it is –  the design wall is finally done! If you have moved a lot, you know this; anything you want to do in your new house always takes longer than you wish it would! I got a few of the studio walls painted in December hoping to get the board up, but we just completed the project this weekend. {sigh} The difficulty was, as it often is, that we couldn’t find homosote. In case you don’t think you know what homosote is, you do, it’s what a schoolroom bulletin board is made of. It used to be very inexpensive and easy to find, but not anymore. We had to special order it! I have used other material for a design wall, but homosote is the best. It’s thick and you can put long push pins into it. In Japan, we hung double-sided foam core from the ceiling. It worked, but barely. It was so thin that I had to use pins to hold up my designs and it curled in the high humidity. But it’s a good choice if you can’t screw into the wall. Peter is the best installer ever, so patient and accurate, and he has installed a few of these over the years.

Peter leveling

After you decide what to use for the design wall base, the next decision is what to cover it with. You could paint it, but then all the holes show and it can start to crack and fall off. When I was a Second Grade teacher I always covered bulletin boards with burlap and stapled the fabric on the back. However, many fabrics are too narrow and burlap usually is. For the design wall in Highland Park, I used the gridded flannel fabric from eQuilter. It’s a nice quality and a good width, but quite difficult to get the grids even – and if you’re going to have lines on it you want them to be even!  The homosote is  4′ x 8′ and we only cut a bit off this piece so the light switch could be used. I went to Joann’s to see if perhaps they had designer burlap, which is wider, and I made a great find!  The fabric covering the homosote is felt , it came in a nice white, and best of all, it’s 72″ wide. I discovered it in the store by the burlap which was not even 42″. (I hate seams on a design wall…) This baby is screwed in tight!

New design wall!

For some reason, having the design wall installed always makes me feel like I’m really home! 

Ready to work!

With the design wall hung, I was able to dig out the zinnia and sunflower from their moving package and carefully pin them up to inspire me. I cannot wait to quilt these two!!!

Foraging for Christmas

One of my favorite things to do in December is wander around and find fun things to use for decorating. Many years ago, we lived on Summer Street in a small Massachusetts town and the foraging was great! Across the street from the house was a big field with grape vines. Each Summer I made grape jelly and then made wreaths from the vines in the late Fall. At the corner of the street were blackberries, so I made jam with that. We had woods behind the house and I trimmed pine boughs and branches for wreaths and arrangements in the house.

That was the last good house for foraging, until now! Our yard has lots of good wreath making materials. We have two enormous holly trees, which are not quite red yet, and I am not sure they are useable as the leaves have been chewed on by bugs. I am not sure what these bushes are called, but they have good red berries that I can use instead of the chewed holly.

Good red berries

Here is what a pre-lit wreath from a big box store can look like when you add live plant material. It was fun to wander around the yard, clipping bits from all our tress and bushes. I have no idea whether these things will stay fresh throughout the month, but it will be easy enough to replace them if they turn brown. The big leaves you see are the staple of Southern decorating, Magnolia leaves! Several years ago, when we lived in Illinois, I bought a bunch of Magnolia leaves at a garden center to use for a wreath. I left them in the garage until I was ready to make the wreath, and found that they had dried into un-usable shapes. They were expensive and I was annoyed. I won’t be having that problem this year!

Improving a fake wreath

On our trip to Beaufort, my eagle-eyed husband noticed these great pine cones lying in a parking lot. We snagged a trash bag from the hotel and collected a bunch. It turns out that they are from Ponderosa Pine Trees ! They look wonderful in the fake wreaths out front. And, we had so many that I decided to make a huge pine cone wreath to hang over the mantle using a (purchased) grape vine wreath for the base. Ponderosa pine cones do not have a little tail to attach wire to, so I was relieved to have unpacked my glue gun.

Ponderosa Pine Cones

I was wandering down by the dock the other day and discovered the prickly guys in the bowl. I looked them up and they are seed pods from the Sweetgum tree. They are very cute for display and small projects – and – I have discovered that they are also very enjoyable cat toys! ;-D

Sweet gum seed pods

Here is the pine cone wreath in its place of honor. It’s about 38″ in diameter. We have spent several days listening to pine cones falling off, but I think, after using many, many sticks of hot glue,  the cones are going to stay put now!

Mantle pine cone wreath

The house is looking very festive…..

Making Progress

A few weeks ago,we had a box pick up and now we can use the garage ! Here are two gigantic piles of collapsed boxes.

Collapsed boxes

And here are a bunch of dish packs stuffed with paper. Another odd thing happened with the awful move; I didn’t stand at the door marking off box numbers as the men brought them in. We’ve always done that; how else can you tell if something is missing? The driver sort of shrugged when I asked about it and said “I brought all your boxes from Chicago”. Well, I’m sorry to say, I don’t think he did! There are no unopened boxes and we are missing some of Peter’s clothes and a collection of antique tins that I love. I don’t know what to do. If you’ve ever seen the warehouses where they store people’s stuff, you know how huge they are. A box could be lost in one of those places… forever…….

Boxes of paper

Now that the majority of boxes are unpacked, I’m making it feel like home here and finding places for everything to stay put. We have spent a lot of time moving furniture from here to there. The Queen of Cupboards does not seem to have enough wall space for all of them….. {sigh} … and no basement to store them.

And now the redecorating can begin. We haven’t lived in an older home for a long, long time; our last two places were new with a color like Navajo White paint on the walls. This house was built in 1999 and has had two owners, although the previous owners said they didn’t redecorate. {Really???} I feel like we’re living in someone else’s house. Here’s the powder room. I HATE the wallpaper. {Apologies to those of you who like it… different strokes and all that.}

Dreadful wallpaper

I hate the chandelier and I hate the little beaded shades that make the room so dark. And I have never liked brass faucets as they look like gold. This house is located in South Carolina on a lake and although I’m not saying there has to be fish or mermaid wallpaper on the walls {though that could be fun}, I find the Italian Architecture wallpaper to be an odd choice. I think this will be the first room to play with!

Gold faucets

We did add one little touch of us this weekend. The idea came to me one day when I was admiring the view. I found a great place online to order vinyl words for the wall and we put this up over the very wonderful window in the great room. You may need to click on the picture to see the words – I took several pictures yesterday but it’s difficult to photograph a window.

Welcome to the lake

We were sitting on the dock the other evening, admiring this sky and waiting for the full moon to rise and…

Amazing clouds

…it occurred to me that I have been thinking and dreaming about moving for many years. It’s so wonderful to be able to really feel like we’re home. ;-D