Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Living with "before"

How do all these people have time to post all these pretty, stimulating blog entries everyday? And to make all these projects and tutorials and still have a "real" life? I try to post once a week, and sometimes even that gets derailed.

So, I have a new idea. After all this blog reading and"before and after"-ing, I have decided to do a "before" of my house. You all are just gonna have to wait for the "after". At least as long as I do. Because it's not done yet, not even close. I am totally living in the world of "before". Well actually, it's the world of "during".  So this public airing of my dirty laundry-literally, in some cases- is supposed to motivate me to get to the "after", sooner than later, just to save face.

(And yes, there really are giant googly eyes on my washer.)
So where did all this gumption to post ugly pictures of my house in its usual disarray come from? It came out of the blue after I read Shaunna West's post  about Thistlewood Farm's home tour (see the tour here).  Why this was the trigger for a panic attack when I look at shelter mags and design blogs all day, every day, I really have no idea. I think it may have been the perfectly staged butler's pantry. Never in my life will I have a pantry that looks like Martha Stewart just left. Isn't the purpose of a pantry to hold all that stuff that doesn't look so nice and that your kids are going to use up and then leave the empty box in the wrong place so you don't know you need to buy more when you go shopping?

Or it might have been the fact that every single room in the house was perfect. Like "cover of a magazine" perfect. All at the same time. I keep hoping that all those photos were taken on different days and weeks, when that particular room was looking it's best. But I doubt it. I get the feeling that on any given day you would walk in to that house and it would look like that, give or take some random clothing or object left by the children.

And this is by no means an attempt to bash or talk negatively about Thistlewood Farms. On the contrary, they are AMAZING over there. They are my heroes. And they have inspired me to take a harder look at the details in my own home. The things that matter, like "Is there a place for the kids to dump their backpacks that is not a walkway?" And "Where can I quickly stash all the kid's art crap that is always in huge piles on my dining room table right before my guests get here?"

In short, I realized that I do want a magazine-shoot looking house. Really badly. And I'd really love to be able to return it to that state without it taking a full, focused month to do so.

So what will it take to get my place to that "A designer and artist lives here" perfection that I am dreaming about? Polish mostly, and a good cleaning. I have a lot of good stuff to work with already, courtesy of buying and making for the barn sale and hand-me-downs from a mother with excellent taste. And I have been reorganizing in a major way all summer. Including buying storage pieces that I have needed for years to store things where they are used. This is key, I think to my second goal of being able to clean it all back up in a reasonable time frame.

There are a few things that I could actually consider "almost done."
My computer area has had a major face lift from this early 90's wall of a computer desk:
To this lighter, airier version composed of a vintage store display etagere I snagged when my friend moved recently and an old industrial art school desk that I found in the garbage pile in front of my neighbor's house (I don't think I will ever be too old or too proud to dumpster dive for vintage wood with great lines):
So much more light in my kitchen now. Just a few more tweaks, adding cute and functional storage, a new mouse pad, and sorting through all the computer stuff will get this part of the house officially crossed off The List. There's progress baby. And for free! (Well, I did have to buy a can of spray paint to do the top of the desk. But you all wouldn't begrudge me a measly $3.97 would you?)
What's that you say? More progress? OK, let's see what we've got.... progress there. That's the "make a mess" portion of "during." Let's try again.
Ah yes, the children's bookcase. We started with this. Cute, pretty functional, but not what I needed for the space.
Now I totally have to give my guy snaps for this one. He didn't even ask me what I was thinking when I told him this was going in my friend's garage sale. He just helped me load the "perfectly good" bookcase into my van. Gotta love a man that knows when to back away slowly from the crazed, design frenzied wife.
After a lot of thought about function and color, and an unpleasantly long search on Craigslist, I ended up with this beauty, a solid maple corner cabinet with glass doors on top and closed storage below:
Look at the order! It makes me giddy every single time I see it. (Oh wait. That may just be the unicorn bookends, still. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check this post). Alas, the fantastic organization before you will temporarily have to fall into disarray, as I am going to paint this sucker a creamy white, to blend into the walls more. And yes I am aware that the walls are not white. I promise there IS a plan here. So once again, mostly done.
I put away my china about 20 min after shooting this picture.
Does that count as progress?
And please tell me you all "temporarily" store your canvases and art supplies in the dining room....
OK, just for my own personal accountability, here are a few more rooms that are still on The List. Those of you will a neat streak, or a weak constitution might want to avert your eyes...
The cluttered entry way
the messy mudroom/hall/laundry room
Wow! I think this one takes the cake. Stash-all sofa table.
Lovely corner of shtuff
Oh. This one makes me sad. Beautiful, beloved hammered copper table covered with protective and wrongly shaped clear vinyl and vintage Spanish chairs in saggy, filthy slip covers. ''sigh''  I'll get there.....

recycling counter?
Family room bookcase
I had a really terrible one of the whole family room, but I couldn't get it to load, so I will spare you all and stop here.
The funny thing is, as I was prepping these pictures, I started seeing these rooms as a realtor or decorator would. Positives, along with negatives. Objectively, instead of a heart and mind full of shame about my poor house keeping skills. Now I am thinking of things in zones. I can see where to start and how to keep moving forward without getting overwhelmed and burned out. Taking pictures of your filth! Who knew that was the answer to adding "polish?"
Anyway....this is totally a "To Be Continued......" thing. Just like

We'll see if I make it three installments or not.

Monday, August 6, 2012

French Twist

This week is a crazy week. My family is literally here, there, and everywhere depending on which day you are talking about. So I think rather than doing one big post, I will break it down into a few smaller posts and continue the "Before" and "After" series. So today's gem is the Solange lamp.
When I found this lamp in a thrift shop, it was dripping with "sweet":

 Here's a close up for you. Don't you love the tiny hand painted roses and yellowed silk shade with gold plastic cording?

Neither did I. But I did love the metal base and the frosted glass body. But how to get those flowers off without scratching the glass?

The shock here was that Mr. Clean Eraser will take off paint without scratching glass. I swear that stuff is magic. I actually gave a box to a friend for Christmas one year because it works so well.

So the pretty frosted pink glass stayed. The roses and outdated shade did not. Add in a fab-U-lous grey barrel shade, some grey chalk paint, silver acrylic and silver pigmented wax, all new guts, and...

Voila! Meet Solange:

Tres chic, non?

She will be in the fall Barn Sale, if you want to see her close up. Right now she's in my basement, if you want to see her wrapped in newspaper.