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Monday, February 13, 2017

Structure And Color - Good Things

 After the holidays ended, I created a schedule for my days which has given me a much needed structure to accomplish all my tasks, projects, chores, essential and non essential pursuits and exercise that need doing.  And Monday has become my favorite day of the week believe it or not!  A couple things; Dan and I are both planners and list makers which is a convenient trait to have in common, and winter is essential for me - I mean the kind of winter we get here in New England that requires one to be indoors a lot.  Only in winter can I carry out repairs, home improvements, deep cleaning, reading for pleasure and my current obsession and delight - painting.  Several times I have said to Dan as we are watching TV or lying in bed and reading before lights out that if it were late spring and summer, I'd still be outside.  So, my schedule right now goes something like this: wake up around 6:30 am, make the bed immediately, put make up on, get dressed, go downstairs and make the essential huge cup of my hot chocolate concoction, read some scriptures, say my morning prayer, read emails and some social media.  I have my little corner of the living room where I do this every day (next to the "plant head person").  Dan has his own similar routine in the kitchen.  We don't like to chat a lot and interrupt each other during our morning rituals.  After our individual constitutionals, each day has different morning chores, like bathrooms on Monday, floors on Tuesday etc.  I also wash one window every day except Sunday, inside and out, which is such a pleasure now that we had installed double paned tilting windows.  By winter's end, all windows will be done.  I do love home keeping, I really do.  Then I either go to the gym or walk along the ocean; sometimes Dan does this with me but he still has PT a couple times a week for his recovering knees and he'll work out on his own too.  I go to my studio and paint from 10 - 2 pm.  I have to have this time scheduled as if I am going to work so that I make it a priority and stay disciplined.  After 2, if I didn't exercise in the morning I go then or it's errands, church service stuff for my church job, the scheduled house projects (which I have calendared so they all get done and I have to "obey the calendar"), some times we go to the movies, little afternoon field trips, etc., until it's time for dinner preparation and Dan and I take turns with that.  We each take a chunk of days where one of us plans the menus, shops for all the ingredients and then cooks the dinners until our block of menus has been accomplished.  Then we switch.  After dinner Dan likes to watch TV and read but most of the time I continue with tasks until bedtime; I don't like to sit down until I'm sitting up in bed.  After we take our showers at night we like to talk and read our books and magazines in bed, we read some scriptures together too, say our prayers and the day ends.  Many times I'll think to myself as I drift off to sleep "in 8 hours I get to drink hot chocolate again!".  Now this schedule doesn't occur 100 percent of the time because things come up but most of the time it does and the structure fuels productivity and contentment.  I do stop and smell the roses or in the case of winter, stop at several windows and watch the legion of birds at our bird feeders.  What a pleasure bird watching is!  Except for the Starlings that I find to be greedy, aggressive and very messy.

 Because it is white and brown and gray outside, color is so important inside.  Fresh flowers are in several rooms, candy jars brighten the butler's pantry.  And everything that I am painting is bright and saturated.  Here are some examples of what I've been doing in the studio.

This painting below was made for my daughter Gabe.  She asked for something bright and either with flowers or boats.  I decided to paint in a flat, modernistic style and this is how it turned out.

 Isn't this collage of pink delicious???

I loved her painting so much that I wanted one similar for myself (or ourselves since Dan has to live with it too).  I used a wider canvas, actually a 20x24x2 birch wood surface.  I chose to paint anemones, pink of course, a minty turquoise wall paint, the same tablecloth (seen in a Matisse painting) an orange table and then I added objects; a ceramic dish that Gabe made for me in her 9th grade ceramics class, a hershey kiss, and then a set of house keys to our very house.  I love how it turned out too and now it is hanging so cheerily in our bedroom.
Setting in the objects

The finished painting

 How is that collage for a jolt of color?  This season's work so far plus the one below.

Saturday I finished what has been my most challenging painting to date.  I saw a little photo on a paint store ad of a child on a yellow chair.  Inspiration struck, I sketched out my interpretation and got to work and now it is hanging in the kitchen "Going for the Candy Jar".

 These two pics above were shot at different times of day - look at what a difference light makes.

When I think about color I think about what a neighbor back in Elko, Nevada said to me almost 30 years ago - she was and is an interior decorator and she told me that most people are afraid of color.  They like color but they are afraid to use it in their homes because they are paralyzed by two concerns - reselling their home and what will people think?  Here's what another designer had to say about that in this quote I found in House Beautiful.  Read below.  P.S. - those kitchen walls above might be getting a new color this winter - we'll see.
Think about it - we are so worried about the next people living in our own home that we miss truly living in it ourselves.  And as for what other people think - who the heck cares!!!  You live there, you must please yourself.

  Here's a little color from our house in the living room:

Here are some pictures from magazines featuring homes where people aren't afraid to use color nor do they care what others think.  I adore all of these pictures, I go back to them again and again.  As a matter of fact, I'm trying to convince Dan that we need to paint our den that fabulous deep coral pink! (it's probably not going to happen - I'll have to paint the Jungle room that color) 

 This is designer Kate Ridder's house in NY state.

 And below is Kristin Nicholas' house in western Massachusetts.  She lives on a sheep farm and the white exterior of her old farm houses belies the brilliant color throughout her home inside.  She's an artist, textile designer, knitter and book author and some summer I hope to attend her workshops she holds on her farm and see her amazing house.
 She painted the pictures, the furniture, the lampshades, wall finishes, painted "wallpaper" herself.  And she made the pillow covers and knitted the furniture throws and grew the flowers in the vases.  She said she could no more live in the beige home she grew up in than fly.  She's my kindred spirit.  Her husband is a great sport - he says he wouldn't dream of holding her back in any colorful pursuit - after all, he is living his own dream as a sheep farmer.   Google her, find her website and blog and hit the link to her house tour that Houzz filmed.

 Read her words of wisdom on this pic above.

My favorite artist of all, Henri Matisse, because of his brilliant use of color and unique painting style, is going to be featured at an exhibit in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts April 9 - July 9 2017 - I can't wait to go!!  Here are a couple of his paintings from the MFA website.

Don't you want to stand by those pink flowers and look out at the pink houses and ocean?  I do.

And more color from my house - Copper!
For the whole time we have lived in this house, this bar sink was dark, almost black like the dark bronzed faucet.  I knew it was copper from the hammered finish but I didn't realize how easy it would be to restore the color until I had spotted some metal polish at the hardware store and thought to try it.  Ten minutes later, look at the glorious sheen that was previously a black abyss.  And more copper below, something fun - on Etsy I found an earring hanger made from copper tubing and wire - I have had all my earrings stored in piles in three compartments of a jewelry box for all of my adult life and I was sick of it so recently this hanger came in the mail and I spent a pleasant evening hour organizing my earrings.  This hanger holds 75 or 150 pairs depending on how you hang them.  Isn't is cute?

It's only 11" x 5" so it doesn't take much space on the dresser upstairs.

Today I made colorful curtains for the kitchen.

And here's a glimpse of colored pots and my colorful dress from an alley way in Cordoba Spain for more color love on this Snow Day!

And here's our cheerful house just as the two day (Sunday-Monday) storms are about to begin!  By the way, I love snow.  I love winter.  Yesterday Dan and I took a walk on the golf course trails just before the heavy snowfall began and we probably should have used our snow shoes but we didn't and we were as comfortably warm in our coats, boots and mittens out in that winter wonderland as we would have been walking in our shorts on a summer day.

So long!  I'll post next when we return from Mexico!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Servant's Bathroom

No, we don't have servants, not even a house cleaner or a lawn service for that matter but we do have servant's quarters on the third floor according to old floor plans and blue prints that have been passed down from owner to owner of this 217 year old house.  I can't imagine having live-in help in a house of this size; it's big but not that big, perhaps back when there were eight bedrooms and it was a farm with an apparently large family to take care of it was a necessity.  There are two bedrooms under the eaves on the third floor  that I have blogged about in the past; the Ocean room and the Jungle room.  Now I'll feature the Servant's bathroom.  We could call it the blue bathroom but we already have one of those down on the basement level floor next to the Smoking Room.

One little project I did earlier this week was to repaint the floor of the Servant's bathroom.

I painted it from its dull brown to a lovely nautical blue with a white trim that blends into the base molding and walls back when we bought the house.  I kept the same color for the repaint but used a totally different type of paint this time.
The laundry room, the Servant's bathroom and two stairways are painted in this house.  I had used ALLFLOR paint for these floors and it's not supposed to chip easily but I find that heavy use on the stairs and from guests in the bathroom requires touchups a couple times per year.  When I repainted the bathroom floor earlier this week I used HollandLac by Fine Paints of Europe.  It is oil based and similar to marine paint - super durable and in this case, very shiny.  It dried like a resin.  Gorgeous!  However, this shiny floor might be a bit slippery for a bathroom and someone with wet feet could go flying so I had to find a 4 x 4 rug to protect the innocent.  Here's a tour of that cute bathroom.  I will show you what it looks like now first - we had the shower redone by a professional and then I remodeled the rest of the room myself soon after we bought the house.  You'll see what it looked like too before the remodel.
 To get up to the servant's quarters, you go through this glass paned door at the end of a long hall on the second floor off the laundry room and climb the stairs.  On your left at the landing are the two bedrooms.  To the right is the bathroom.

You can see the bell system on the wall that was used to alert the servants for household assistance.
 The Ocean Room
The Jungle Room

 You have to turn the key to open this medicine cabinet.  I bought this at an antique shop when we first moved to NH in 1998.
 I found this little original painting at an antique shop for 10 dollars about 10 years ago.  It used to hang in my bathroom in the Kingston house.  It is a favorite.  So cheery and cheer.

Those plates on the wall are very old and used to be on a passenger ship like the Titanic.  The blue paint in this room is Blue Ice by Benjamin Moore.  It has a touch of red in it so it is more of a periwinkle than a sky blue. The white is White Dove by BM.
I painted that picture a couple years ago.

Here's the new rug so you won't slip and break your legs.  It's got a non skid pad underneath so that rug isn't going to move.  The white part of the floor is not slippery.

I am surprised that I found a rug in this odd size so easily - 4x4 feet.  It's a perfect match to the blue and it's a heavy cotton weave.  I found it on  I plan to repaint the stairs at some point with the HollandLac but I won't use the shiny lacquer - instead I'll use the satin or no one will make it up the stairs alive.

And here's what the bathroom looked like when we were looking at the house to buy.

 Brown floor!
In that closet there is a long storage room under the eaves that also houses the AC and heat vent systems.  The beams in there still have the tree bark on them from over 200 years ago!

On another note, I repotted several plants this month that had outgrown their pots and I bought a couple other house plants to replace ones that had gone out of control.  In a recent blog post I put a picture of a terra cotta person's head with a plant growing out of it that my mom has in her San Diego backyard patio.  I recently found a "head" of my own and put it on the desk in the living room where I drink my hot chocolate every morning.  Here's my mom's and then mine.

Next post:  Color and Structure - hmmmm...