Interim Mantel

Between using the fireplace mantel as a catchall for fragile items I didn’t want to get broken and other things that I didn’t want to put away, the area above the fireplace became kind of Bohemian Eclectic. (Is that a style?)

A loose display of items on the mantel. The little chair holds my mother's pewtered baby shoe and her necklace.

A loose display of items on the mantel. The little chair holds my mother’s pewtered baby shoe and her necklace.

As I unpack things that we put away during the renovation I am rediscovering some meaningful things that just want to be displayed.

La Bocca della Verità we picked up in Rome next to a print of Île de la Cité  featuring Notre Dame.

La Bocca della Verità we picked up in Rome next to a print of Île de la Cité featuring Notre Dame.

Remembering our trip 3 years ago to France, I searched the house for this watercolor print of Notre Dame Cathedral.  Finally found it in the Cottage attic.

Notre Dame Cathedral viewed from the left bank.

Notre Dame Cathedral viewed from the left bank.

I almost always leave these two blue Kosta Boda vases on the mantel because I love the shape and I love the color, especially the subtle shading. I think they contribute to the reason I want to use blue in my Christmas display instead of red.

Love these vases.

Love these vases.

Alike yet slightly different.

Alike yet slightly different.

The double frame is of Charlie and me on our wedding day, fall five years ago.

Nothing special, just some favorite things.

Nothing special, just some favorite things.

So the mantel is not dressed for fall, no pumpkins or gourds but items that remind me of things that happened in “Autumns Past”.

Are you nostalgic for something?

Everybody’s Writing About Gallery Walls

I noticed this week there’s a lot of chat in blogland about gallery walls.

Classic Casual Home
Design Chic
Design Indulgence
Driven by Décor
5th and State
Gwen Moss
Lovely Things
Rough Luxe 
Talk of the House
This gallery wall is tied together by subject and color scheme.

This gallery wall is tied together by subject and color scheme.

You know I want one.

I have to really study this wall from Pottery Barn -- it's so interesting.

I have to really study this wall from Pottery Barn — it’s so interesting.

I tried to get one here. No success.

The hall between the mudroom and the kitchen is still bare.

The hall between the mudroom and the kitchen is still bare.

Now I’m trying another tactic:  Lay all my pictures, frames, plates, flat objets d’art, etc. on the floor and walk by these things a million times.

I'm thinking vintage with a few surprises.

I’m thinking vintage with a few surprises.

I’m hoping a grouping or two will start to make sense to me. I want it to be balanced, unusual, interesting, unique, varied. Hope I can find all the little details that will make a gallery wall work.

How would you organize a gallery: theme? color? size? shape?

A Brush for Everything

I am trying to return our pink bathroom back to the way it was before the renovation began and we took everything loose out except our toothbrushes. (Not that this bathroom was ever great.  That’s why the renovation included 2 full baths.  Unfortunately they are both still in the rough-in stage.)

There's not much room in here.

There’s not much room in here.

I like to use a fresh washcloth each time I wash my face or bathe so I’ve always kept a basketful on the top of the toilet. (Maybe that not the ideal spot but this is a tiny bathroom.)

So tiny is this bathroom that there's barely enough room to use the facilities.

So tiny is this bathroom that there’s barely enough room to use the facilities.

When I looked at the Longaberger basket that perfectly holds two folded stacks of washcloths, it was pretty dusty.

This basket used to have 2 plastic inserts which I unfortunately ruined in the dishwasher.

This basket used to have 2 plastic inserts which I unfortunately ruined in the dishwasher.

Golden Wand - soft brass bristles

Golden Wand – soft brass bristles

I have a brush that is made of soft metal bristles.

"Removes lint -- renews nap like magic" as printed on the brush

“Removes lint — renews nap like magic” as printed on the brush

Even if its purpose is to raise the nap on suede and velvet, it was ideal for dusting this basket.

A fresh supply of washcloths.

A fresh supply of washcloths.

Back in action.

Do you have tools that seem somehow obsolete and you don’t know where they came from?

Kitchen Source List – Part Two

I was going to give the low down on the entire kitchen and the sources for all items but that turned out to be a huge post so I’ll do it in parts.

The kitchen island is handy when working on the prep side of the kitchen.

The kitchen island is handy when working on the prep side of the kitchen.

See Part One. Part Two: The Prep Counter with Stove and Refrigerator

The prep area of the kitchen is across the room from the peninsula and parallel to the driveway outside.

The prep area of the kitchen is across the room from the peninsula and parallel to the driveway outside.

The kitchen was a completely new addition added onto our old house.  The prep counter window overlooks the driveway.

This single window on the ground floor is in the center of the prep counter.

This single window on the ground floor is in the center of the prep counter.

The countertop was custom-made by LightBlocks. We hired our cabinet supplier to make a template which was then shipped to New Hampshire to be made into a two-piece, seamless countertop from a product called LightCast.

The best photo of the countertop I could get -- it's very translucent.

The best photo of the countertop I could get — it’s very translucent.

From left to right we have a side-by-side refrigerator, microwave (tucked beside the fridge), prep sink, work counter, stove and more counter.

The long counter runs the full length of the room and makes a short 90 degree turn at each end.

The long counter runs the full length of the room and makes a short 90 degree turn at each end.

After 6 months of use, I love the LightCast, I love my prep sink, and I especially love ice and water on the refrigerator door.

Lots of interest tucked into the refrigerator corner of the long counter.

Lots of interest tucked into the refrigerator corner of the long counter.

The light in the window is on a dimmer.

The Fleur pendant glows in the window.

The Fleur pendant glows in the window.

There are undercabinet lighting strips at each corner.

Undercabinet lights brighten up the dark corners.

Undercabinet lights brighten up the dark corners.

The prep side of the kitchen is very functional and keeps the action away from the peninsula side so two people can easily work simultaneously.

The bottom cabinets are dark grey stain and the top cabinets are white with a hint of grey wash in the bead.

The bottom cabinets are dark grey stain and the top cabinets are white with a hint of grey wash in the bead.

Ask any questions you like and I’ll try to answer.

Sources:
Cabinets: Shiloh Cabinetry, Homestead maple inset doors in Silas with Graphite Highlight
Knobs: Berenson weathered nickel knobs and cup pulls ordered from ATG Stores
Lighting: Fleur by Quoizel
Counter tops: LightCast by LightBlocks, Nashua, NH
Sink and faucets: Krauss sink and faucets from Faucet Direct
Refrigerator: Samsung at Pacific Sales in Best Buy stores
Tile: Royal Grey Honed Limestone, Best Tile
Paint: Benjamin Moore Waterbury Cream HC-31
Stove: Frigidaire at Pacific Sales in Best Buy stores

Do you have a special spot in your house that “really works”?

Progress – Week 2

Here is the progress of week two 2-month week-by-week plan.

This week I worked on the runner on the stairs from last week and started working on the list below the picture.

And here's the second floor.

The king size sleigh bed (with the blue covering above) goes in the master bedroom.

September 29 – October 5

  • Paint, cut, and install baseboard for back of master bedroom (buy shoe molding)
  • Cut down footboard of sleigh bed
  • Strip sleigh bed frame (buy stripper)

The list above are the things I was supposed to accomplish this week.  First I tried cutting the baseboard which was not a total failure but not really a success either.

Bedroom baseboard

Bedroom baseboard

Then I thought I could work on the sleigh bed but I was stopped in my tracks by the fact that I can’t find the hardware to hold the bed together. This bed project is on the back burner until the hardware shows up.

The sleigh bed has dedicated hardware that is stashed somewhere. I wonder where that is?

The sleigh bed has dedicated hardware that is stashed somewhere. I wonder where that is?

Instead I decluttered the mudroom

Most of this pile gets recycled.

Most of this pile gets recycled.

Mudroom back to normal

Mudroom back to normal

and cleaned the bathroom with my favorite home-mixed cleaner: blue Dawn and vinegar,

The vinegar/Dawn concoction even cleans our old tub.

The vinegar/Dawn concoction even cleans our old tub.

and made double vanilla extract with enough time to steep before the holidays,

Plain rum on the left; double vanilla extract with rum base on the right.

Plain rum on the left; double vanilla extract with rum base on the right.

and I got a haircut.

Next week’s plan is to continue to work on the bed so I’ll see if I can make progress.

Do you overestimate you personal strength? Ability? Funds?

Are You Missing Something, Mary Poppins?

Mary Poppins soars through the sky on the west wind suspended from her umbrella. I think we may have been saving it for her in our mudroom closet.

Mary Poppins and her umbrella. Illustration by Mary Shepard.

Mary Poppins and her umbrella. Illustration by Mary Shepard.

To be sure this one does not have a talking parrot head. (Take note Jimmy Buffett.)

A large, black umbrella

A large, black umbrella

What it does have is a large hole right at its peak, ultimately useless as a rainstopper and for catching a hike on the west wind.

I feel something dripping on my head -- don't look up.

I feel something dripping on my head — don’t look up.

So I threw it out and the weekly collectors put it on their truck and hauled it away. (No, I’m not recovering an umbrella except maybe if it’s a Brigg.)

What useless piece of equipment have you been saving?

Still Trying to Rid the Clutter

It’s invisible corner week at this decluttering blog! According to that blog: “These are the little piles, stacks, or collections of random things that have settled into odd spaces like the corner of a room, under a table, at the end of a counter, etc. that have become so much a part of the everyday landscape of our homes that we don’t even notice them anymore.”

Looking into the dining room from the living room -- you'd hardly call this an invisible corner.

Looking into the dining room from the living room — you’d hardly call this an invisible corner.

“Walk into a room. Take a critical look around and see if you have a bunch of stuff that your eyes and brain have been tuning out for a while. Deal with that stuff.” It seems my brain has been tuning out not just corners but entire rooms.

Every time I clear a horizontal surface, be it table or floor, someone uses it for a resting for his stuff.

Every time I clear a horizontal surface, be it table or floor, someone uses it for a resting for his stuff.

Darling son came over and took away the broken microwave which has been replaced, 2 stereo components we were disposing of for church, as well as a few odd brass pieces like the old front door knob that wouldn’t turn.

Our microwave was only 2 months old when it had its demise.

Our microwave was only 2 months old when it had its demise.

I’m still using the window seat as a paint staging area but it won’t be long before all the painting will be finished and the unused paint can go into basement storage.

I have a lot of paint projects going on.

I have a lot of paint projects going on.

But things have definitely improved in the dining room.

The clutter is removed.

The clutter is removed.

As I’ve said before the dining room is visible from all the other first floor rooms (except the mudroom, and bathrooms).

View from the conservatory.

View from the conservatory.

Next project in the dining room: finish painting the paneling.

Are you is the fall cleaning mood/mode? Holidays are coming!