Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tulips & Toile

Tulips were on sale yesterday.

After several days of blue bird skies and cozy sunshine, we're having some rainy days. The tulips bring some brightness to these grey days. I love the white against the robin's egg blue walls (Opal Essence by Benjamin Moore).

I haven't put fresh flowers in here (our downstairs bathroom) for awhile, although that's exactly what the table is for.

I'm still loving my toile shower curtains from Pottery Barn.

Today I also hung a piece of art I recently framed. I found the nude drawing at an antique show several weeks ago. Shortly thereafter, I found the Victorian frame for $35. I think they go quite beautifully together. I just love the combination of the formal ornate detail of the frame, paired with the lovely simplicity of the charcoal drawing. I also love the gold hue against the blue walls.

Did I mention that tulips were on sale yesterday? I bought some pink ones too. They're a french variety that look like sweet little peonies.

I was surprised when the florist told me that if I wanted the tulips to last longer, to not trim the stems when I got home. She said that when you cut them, they release an acidic substance (that gooey stuff) into the water that makes the blossoms deteriorate faster. Has anyone ever heard of that? Well, I thought I'd try it. I didn't cut any of them, just plopped them in their vases 'as is' (which felt a bit neglectful).

I'll keep you posted on how long they last.

UPDATE: Go here to read that the above information on tulips is completely false!

Monday, February 22, 2010


I'm almost too tired to type. We put in another full weekend converting the old sauna into our home gym. But due to my inability to focus on just one project at a time, I also managed a few other side tasks. One task was a five minute bed makeover...explanation to follow.

Hubby worked every second of the weekend putting in fir floors.

While he cut, I pitched in by installing some of the boards. The paint on my jacket is from painting this room last weekend.

The tongue and groove fir flooring went over the concrete floors. It was surplus from the wraparound porch. Some of the boards had been pre-primed and some had not, but for our purposes, it doesn't matter because we plan to paint the floors grey. These boards are mostly seconds, so the paint will cover a lot of the imperfections in the wood.

I took advantage of Hubby's every pause, and wandered inside where I replaced our old beige quilt with the above antique popcorn quilt.

I also managed to repair an antique frame (a piece of the rounded detail was missing).

After the spackle was dry I touched it up with gold paint, which I need to finish.

Lucy provided the supervision needed to accomplish all of our tasks (even my multi-tasks). She is still wearing the bright yellow bandanna she received when she had her hair and nails done at the beauty spa.

I like the brightness and the old-fashioned charm the popcorn quilt offers. I also think it defines the bed better than the beige quilt did against the jute rug.

And of course the detail of the crochet is just beautiful.

As you can see, I haven't yet reupholstered the Victorian chair. I ordered some velvet samples but none of them were the right color. And after the bench upholstery job I did for the closet vanity, I know I will have to take it to a professional. No doubt about it.

The lovely and talented Brooke over at
Blueprint Bliss did a post on our farmhouse last week. She has a beautiful, inspiring blog...go check it out!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our Closet

My lovely friend Joan (For the Love of a House) asked me where we hung all of our clothes and I realized that I never updated our 'after' photos for the walk-in closet. Go here to see the before pictures.

The above vanity is another piece from my Grandmother's house. It goes with the two Empire dressers in our bedroom. Growing up, I remember exploring my Grandmother's dressing room and finding hair pins and makeup inside the drawers. Now I keep my things there, and often as I slide open one of the drawers, I can feel my heart flutter.

The finish on top actually sustained a little damage (perhaps a perfume bottle or two tipped over through the years), but I used my trusty Kramer's polish and once again, it worked wonders.

In order to enjoy the view outside the window, I placed a small mirror off to the side. The original oval mirror that belongs with the vanity is quite large, so we've used it in our entry instead. It had actually broken off the piece at my Grandmother's house during one of the California earthquakes.

We created a 'his' and 'hers' closet. My side is to the right, and Hubby's is to the left. We did a lot of research on what our options would be to hang clothes, and the most economical and functional option was the plastic covered wire shelves that can be custom fit to a space (available at Home Depot). It wasn't exactly what I had in mind (I was thinking lovely built in wood rods with crown moulding...) but it was easy and affordable.

To save on costs, I used two 4x6 jute rugs instead of having a rug custom made to fit the closet. The jute rugs are the same style that I used in the bedroom.

I bought two as-big-as-they-could-be his and her dressers to store ample amounts of clothes in. I ordered these new from our local furniture store as I wanted dressers that were oversized and had big drawers that extended fully and easily.

The only thing that doesn't fit in our closet are my dresses and Hubby's suits. They're stored in the downstairs guest room closet which works fine for us since we don't have many occasions that warrant dresses and suits.

Although I announce jokingly, "this is where the magic happens..." whenever I show friends our closet (neither of us our fashionistas), Hubby actually gets lots of compliments regarding his wardrobe. In fact, there's a coworker who often remarks that Hubby is one of the best dressed people he knows. Just to put this into context, Hubby is a Water Resources Engineer who works with fish biologists and geomorphologists.

Hubby feels somewhat mortified by being identified as a good dresser. His 'wardrobe' is in response to my first few years of struggling to find clothes that fit his six foot four frame (this was a solo effort as Hubby doesn't go clothes shopping). Then one day, my Mother (yes, the mortification increases at this point) discovered the large/tall line at Eddie Bauer and my problems were solved. Hubby is in fact, such a perfect large/tall that I'm sure Mr. Eddie Bauer must have snuck in and measured Hubby himself.

The bench is the latest addition to the closet. I was going to reupholster the Eastlake chair I posted about, but it made the space feel too crowded. I found the bench for $30, and then reupholstered it with the bird toile fabric. My little upholstery project has confirmed, without a doubt, that I have a serious craft impairment. Thankfully, the edges are not visible unless the bench is turned upside down.

We have four reproduction wall sconces in our closet (you can see them in an above photo). There are two at each end of the closet, illuminating the room quite nicely. We found the sconces at Rejuvenation.

Here's a photo with the closet lights on. They make the room really bright!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hungry for Spring

We're having a warm spell these last few days, and it is making me all the more hungry for spring. Our local grocery has been keeping beautiful spring flowers in stock, and I'm rarely able to resist bringing home an armful of fresh blossoms.

This week it's lilies.

Last week it was daffodils.

The week before that, white tulips.

...and here's the last of the white tulips as they were beginning to fade.

We had a busy weekend as we finally began our 'renovation' of the old sauna. This includes (present tense -we're still working on it!) removing the old steam benches (to be recycled into shelving), and prepping (with primer and spackle) and painting the wall boards. Like all projects, it's taking forever, it's hard work and we probably won't be done until next weekend - photos to follow!

Off to paint! By writing this, I'm hoping that it motivates me to actually go out there and paint.

PS. We did take breaks to celebrate Valentine's Day with a couple of date nights, and a lovely fireside french toast breakfast on Valentine's Day morning!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love Seat

I grew up with this love seat. It was in the entry of my Grandmother's home which was nestled in the hills of Studio City, California. Like all the antique pieces of hers I own, this piece of furniture has been in the family for several genarations, originally surviving my Great Great Grandparents westward migration from Chicago to Los Angeles in the early 1900's. These pieces were handed down from my Grandmothers Grandparents to her parents, and in turn from her parents to her.

My Grandmother upholstered the love seat in the red toile fabric. I hadn't realized this until we were closing up her house and found all the fabric scraps. She loved red toile...she loved her red transfer ware.

The dip you see in the right-half of the cushion is from me. I was a teenager and I decided to plop myself down on it one day but immediately sprang back up when I heard the sound of a spring pop. I had Hubby try to retie the springs last weekend so that's why we had it on the porch.

As you can see in the picture above, it's not looking very much like winter around here! We've had only rain these past few weeks...making it feel a lot more like spring. xo

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brass Candle Sconce

I came across a brass candle sconce at an antique store several weeks ago and thought, hmmm, that's nice... It was exactly $3.50 so I thought I'd just see what I could do with it. As you can see from the photo above, it was quite brassy.

I dug into my basement cabinet where I keep all of my magic potions and found some "brass ager." That's right, it makes shiny brass look old and dingy in seconds!

I hung the sconce on the small wall next to our kitchen sink. I was thinking that I'd leave that wall bare because it seemed that all of the art work I'd hung there in the past looked crowded and heavy. But leaving the wall bare didn't look quite right either. So I thought the sconce would add a nice element of detail. It fits proportionately, and has a nice aesthetic from the side as well as from the front.

I took these photos at dusk as the fog was rolling in. The forboding weather made lighting the candle all the more alluring.

So that's my $3.50 purchase. I think it was money well spent because when I light the candle, I find myself standing in the kitchen, leaning against the counter, sipping my tea...unable to walk away from (yes, a fire hazard, but mostly...) its warm flickering glow.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Victorian Girl

One of my favorite movies when I was a teenage girl was, A Room With a View. I wanted so much to be Miss Lucy Honeychurch. I wanted to live in Miss Lucy Honeychurch's house, wear her gorgeous dresses, and I even wanted to be chaperoned on a trip to Florence, Italy by an overbearing cousin named Charlotte Bartlett.

So when I came upon this print, it tugged at old romantic notions of that Victorian girl. I just love her. I found her in an antique store, already matted, for just $10. When I came home, I measured all of my empty gold frames and happily, found the one that fit (both literally and figuratively). I purchased the antique frame about a year ago for $20.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Perspective...

Okay one last picture of the kitchen. This is the only picture I happened to take of the old kitchen showing the upper cabinets. They went all the way to the ceiling, so it wasn't easy to capture them standing in the kitchen itself.

This photo was probably taken within hours of owning the house because we started tearing things apart that same day. Notice the plaster falling off the ceiling from an old leak, the pea green industrial carpeting (which ended up preserving the old oak floors beautifully), the 60's style linoleum (which preserved the old fir floors beautifully), the plastic partition that was hung in the threshold (those were in every threshold), it takes me back. We had so much work ahead of us at this point and were pretty much naive on how hard that work was going to be!

Here's the after, taken a few days ago. What we did...replaced entire living room plaster ceiling with new drywall (this wasn't a choice), added new crown moulding to both kitchen and living room, exposed original oak floors in living room and fir floors in kitchen, decided to forgo the plastic partition, new kitchen cabinets, spackled lots and lots of cracks in the original plaster, used lots and lots of paint...and needed patience, patience and more patience.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kitchen: Part Two

This is what the other side of our kitchen looked like when we bought the place. The cutout in the counter was for the dishwasher on wheels. To the right of that was a pea green stove. To the far left, below peach cabinets, was the yellow fridge.

This is after we gutted the room. After sketching out several designs, we realized that the best layout for the kitchen was to keep the sink (with the view), the stove, and the refrigerator in pretty much the same places as they were.

And here it is now...

...which is the same angle as the before picture.

It's amazing how much light comes into the kitchen from the living room.

When we designed our cabinets, we purposefully wanted to avoid an overbuilt look. We really wanted this to look like an old farmhouse kitchen - sparse and simple. So we opted to avoid upper cabinets and to not enclose the refrigerator. We also opted to have the counter terminate at the wall.

I ordered this wonderful print of a Matisse still life, which happened to fit perfectly in one of my antique frames. I thought it would be a good piece for the kitchen.

There's no gas line in our neck of the woods. If we opted for gas, we'd have to have a big tank in the yard. This didn't appeal to us at the time, and neither did the added expense, so we stayed with electric. When we started looking for a new stove I told Hubby, whatever we get, it won't be one of those shiny black top ones...and so here you are. But I'm used to it now.

We almost placed the stove on the other wall (where the open shelves are now) but we changed our minds at the last minute because I decided that I wanted one wall in the kitchen to be completely pretty. We also didn't want the stove hood obstructing the view.

P.S. Rachel over at Raenovate just posted on our farmhouse! Her beautiful blog is one of my favorites as it's, "dedicated to bringing you a glimpse of all things reinvigorated, refreshed and revived."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Eastlake Plant Stand

I have had it on my mind that I'd like to have a nice lovely Eastlake plant stand. This has been on my mind for oh, about four years now.

I've seen my fair share of them during that time. All gorgeous, all works of art...all way out of my price range. Typically, they're priced at about $100 and up.

So you can imagine that I was thrilled to come across this sweet little Eastlake plant stand the other day. She's in pretty good shape, her top needs some polish...but all her lovely parts were there and her price tag was completely in my price range. $25.

I think it goes perfectly in the bathroom...where I like to try and keep fresh flowers, a blooming orchid or plant.

Here's a picture of the top. The right side shows what it looked like when I brought it home. The left side shows what it looks like after I used my magic potion on it. My magic potion is also termed, "Kramer's Best Antique Improver", a concoction of "Traditional all-natural ingredients. Contains no petrochemicals." Bravo.

And just in case anyone is wondering where my Eastlake chair is - the one I plan to reupholster with a beautiful bird toile's being relocated to another room, more on that later. ; )

Monday, February 1, 2010

Flowering Quince Branches

I came upon some flowering Quince branches at the grocery store this past weekend. Seeing them made my heart go pitter pat. I just love flowering branches of all kinds and I'm so looking forward to watching the pretty pink blossoms open. xo
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