Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm Getting There

The backplates on my bathroom door weren't as exciting as the knobs.  Even though they're not fancy and they're a little corroded, I kind of like their distressed look.  I still haven't been able to take the door outside to strip it but that should happen within the next few weeks.

I have at least one coat of paint on every surface of the bedroom.  The dark taupe wall just wasn't working for me.  It just sucked the life out of the room.

So that wall is now a mid-value gray called Herbal Escape.  It's one of those complex colors that looks a little different at different times of the day.  The floor is a darker slightly browner gray.  I just need to get a second coat on everything and clean up my edges.  Getting sharp edges in an old house is such a pain.  Can I get a witness?

And here's a sneak peak of a piece of artwork I just had framed to go above the bed.  I might lose a  bunch of people with this one but I love it.  I think it'll go above the headboard.

Hopefully by next weekend I can start putting everything back together.

I'm also working on a guest post for another blog -- more details on that soon -- and I need a few photos so why don't you tag along on a walk over to Harvard Square with me.  

This Greek Revival adjacent to Harvard University was new to me.  An enormous wisteria lines the entablature of the porch.  I'll have to come back in a few weeks to see this in its full glory.  The gothic doors on this double house are quite unusual.

I always love to poke around old New England cemeteries.  You never know what famous person you'll run in to.  This cemetery dating back to 1635 is right in Harvard Square.

Memento Mori = Remember your mortality.

The detailed carvings are always amazing...

Here lyes ye body of Dorothy Burre, wife to Samuel Burre, aged 30 years,
died ye 20 of February 1702.

Again Memento Mori and Fugit Hora meaning "the hour flies."

Comparing this headstone to the previous one makes me wonder if the image at the top of two carved columns flanking the stone... a likeness of the deceased.  This was a two-year-old child.

On the corner of the cemetery is a 1734 mile marker stating Boston is 8 miles away.  At the time, the trip to Boston would take the better part of a day by horse.  A bridge built from East Cambridge to Boston in 1793 reduced the trip to just over 3 miles, or just four subway stops from Harvard Square.

The ceiling of the portico of Memorial Church at Harvard.

Detail of ceiling.

The Holden Chapel at Harvard, built 1744, has the most amazing carving on the pediment.

Massachusetts Hall on the right is the oldest existing building
at Harvard having been built in 1720.

I think I have all the photos I need but can't wait to get back and see these wisteria.


  1. that was a fun trip-thank you for taking us!

    It still amazes me the differences in architecture and age between different areas of the country. I'm convinced upper eastern is my favorite...lucky you.

    I like the new colors in the room. How did you transition the painted floor to the hallway? I'm thinking of painting a bedroom but don't know where to stop...and since you always have the best taste.... :)

    Hope spring has arrived there!

  2. Sarah,
    There's a threshold between the bedroom and the hallway. I would have stopped the painted floor at the threshold but it was already painted so it got painted again, stopping at the hallway floor.

    At the door from the back bedroom to the middle bedroom, the floorboards go in different directions so I carefully followed that line.

    I photograph them up close when I'm done.

  3. I actually like a little tell tale wear on things in my home. The corroded piece looks wonderful. I haven't been to Harvard Square in years. Maybe this May I'll get my husband to take a day off and we can spend the day exploring.

  4. Tease!
    That Wisteria House was the home of one of my customers who lives now at Youville House. She's in her eighties. Whoever moved there recently has done some fine landscaping. The Wisteria is extraordinary,

  5. I'll be your witness! Ain't so such thing as a square corner or even line in a Victorian house. You just have to create your own.

    Your bedroom is looking great. Can't wait to see the final result. Or, the wisteria!

    have a good week!

  6. the room is coming along nicely. thanks for the tour of the cemetary. i pretty much love wandering through them, they are so fascinating.

  7. Dying to see that new artwork over the bed! You know what I find really cool? The history lessons you give with your images. The thought provoking words, the suggestion of the what if's of the past. Love it. Beautiful post. And for the bedroom, I'm loving that floor. I adored the blue of the last round, but this is a nice change to something more sophisticated. I'm looking forward to the progress more than the end result! Oh, and don't you wonder at the stories behind the hands that have touched those door knobs and plates...

  8. I'll be your witness...getting clean edges in an old home is tough! We still have a lot of old horsehair plaster upstairs and there isn't a straight edge anywhere. Love the old cemetaries and the artwork. Now I'm really curious what your post is going to be about....let us know where to follow it.

    Enjoy your Evening!

  9. Great tour! Especially since it does not look as though this will be a year for heading East. Don't you love that great ceiling with its fleur de lis design in the middle of the Greek keys.
    The cemetery angels certainly look serious as death.

    I really love the grey you have chosen and look forward to seeing photographs at different times of the day. I spent almost a day with the painter at our house getting a color that would look good in all light conditions. Norm was amazed at his patience, but like all true craftsmen, he wanted it right too. You surely have been busy!

  10. the room is coming along - sometimes these changes in direction just happen. herbal escape? i would not have even picked that color on account of the name, but it looks lovely. now that art has me at hello!

    thanks for the cemetery tour. i am a major cemetery lover. it is always the quietest, most serene place in every hustling bustling city. i walk in them wherever i can find them. i am also a little depressive and weird.

    xo terri

  11. I love the patina on the plates. I vote keep as is. Such charm. So I'm intrigued with the artwork...are you using all neutral colors on this room?

  12. I love to come along on your strolls through Cambridge. Seeing the beautiful design on the church ceiling made me remember the post you did a while back in stenciled floors. I'm imagining that design as a stenciled "rug"--although maybe not in gold!

  13. I like patina of the door plate and the black and white abstract? art. Could only see a corner of it, so that's a guess.

    Looking forward to seeing the finished room.

    The etymology of fugitive must be fugit? I'll have to go and look that up.


  14. LOVE that artwork( I ♥ modern art)-cannot wait to see the whole room, it's already got such a cool, different vibe :)

    We are at a standstill due to weather here-cold and rain are thwarting the last of our outdoor updates and the start of cement counters in the kitchen :(

  15. That artwork looks exciting. I can't wait to see the big picture.
    Yes, in an old house, no matter how careful you are, the paint job looks like a little kid did it up close. The wall and trim in the old house I once had was so bumpy in places that it was enough to just get it painted at all.

  16. The room is coming along nicely! I think I'm going to like the artwork -- I tend to love black on white modern art, if that's what it is. The doorknob is beautiful. You can always have the metal piece plated if it bothers you.

  17. I'm a cemetery nut as well. loved your shots of those stones. donna

  18. I see that you've been cleaning out your paint brush on canvas again.... :D
    LOVE the grey, actually I'm thinking of grey for my own room, so I will be holding my breath in excitement to see your finished room.
    I love old cemeteries. The photos are very cool. One of the cemeteries in my town has amazing statues.
    I just planted some Wisteria last Fall, I have my fingers crossed that it will get enough sun and not too much dog pee and actually survive.
    :) - Cindi

  19. You are inspiring me to work on my door knobs - many of which are the brown Bennington ones - but others have been changed out to horrid shiny new brass ones! Another project for this summer!

  20. Can't wait to see the finished bedroom because I know I'm going to be jealous. I love how you framed the art--I have a frame like that and it NEVER occurred to me to combine it with a modern (contemporary?) piece of art. Great idea. I may have to borrow it.

  21. S...great post!!!!!!! I love what I can see of the artwork. especially the frame choice. Thanks for the town tour, and the beautiful gravestone images. The wisteria has already bloomed and faded down here.....fugit hora k

  22. I love the colours you chose for the walls and the floor. You have the best taste.

    I also enjoyed your photo trip to the graveyard and beyond. You live in such history filled area.

  23. The room is really coming along and I appreciate the effort it takes to get a perfect paint job. Love your doorknob and the colors you've chosen. What a beautiful and interesting neighborhood you live in.

  24. So interesting Steve. The headstones are fascinating. I love your doorknob and am sure will love the work of art as well!

    I hope you will Come and enter my amazing Cross Bottle Guy Giveaway!

    Art by Karena

  25. I like the new wall and floor colors--they are cool and calm and go well with everything. I'm picturing a bright geometirc quilt. Fun idea of elaborate frame with modern painting. I love abstract art, so you won't lose me!

  26. Likey. Mucho likey! LOVE the tortoise shell door handle. What a beauty!

    Nice little ole town of yours!

  27. Even with the little bit of the art work shown, I can tell I'll love it! Enjoyed the pics from Cambridge too.

  28. "Getting sharp edges in an old house is such a pain." AMEN! Hanging something on these old walls always means a compromise... do I make the edges parallel with the ceiling, or the floor, or...?

    Love the *peek* at the newly framed artwork. Will await the big reveal.

    Fun to watch a great house getting greater and greater!

  29. Steve...Your taste is beautiful...your pictures brought back good thoughts..having been born and raised in 4 years of high school were spent " walking through Harvard Yard "...I would gladly walk with you anytime..I am just up the Ave!.....


  30. Ellen,
    I've lived in Cambridge for 25 years and, believe it or not, this was the first time I've set foot in the yard. It's so beautiful. I'd love to get to the point where I know every street. So many great places to explore.

  31. loved the tour steve., a fascinating peek at early new england architecture.
    thought i was one of the few morbid souls taking photo's in old cemeteries. i find them to be a personal touch to the past

  32. i always love soaking in the history of Boston, whether through your photos or in person!

    and I witness with you about the pain of getting a sharp line in old homes - yipes! are there any tricks that can make that happen?

    my wisteria is waning now, though there are still some fragrant blossoms. glad you have it to look forward to!

  33. So many great things in this post! Love the colors in your newly painted room. And I too love exploring around old cemeteries. There's an old one here built on a hill that I often take the kids to and they play as we walk through. I guess that's a little dark! Also, I think I'm going to love your framed art piece. Love the graphic modern nature of it juxtaposed with the formal/traditional looking frame. Can't wait to see it!

  34. Hi, Steve,

    By my count, you've done three postings in one — a double bonus for us all!

    Yes, I can attest to the pain of cutting straight edges in an old house. What I've done in my hallway is paint a level line about one quarter inch down from the ceiling. Then I brought the ceiling color down to that line. Now the hallway's lines are just as sharp as they can be!

  35. Very much enjoyed the tour. Thanks! The colors in the bedroom look lovely and subtle. I like the idea of that neutral shade that looks different at different times of day.

  36. That wisteria is my favorite. It is STUNNING in bloom.

  37. Your door knob looks stunning and, I agree with you, I love the distressed look of the backplates. I just painted my kitchen, family room and breakfast room in a Farrow and Ball gray called Elephant's Breath. I love a gray with some brown undertones. Yours is lovely. What company makes it?
    I say "Amen" to no sharp corners in an old house. I know you will be happy in the end that you paid such attention to detail. Cannot wait to see the painting; I think I am I am going to love it.
    I enjoyed the walk in the neighborhood.

  38. looking good! you have me very curious about the artwork...I like the bit of black I see already.

  39. Sorry about the lack of detail on the paint colors. It's all Benjamin Moore paint. The gray wall is Herbal Escape, 1487. The floors are AllFloor floor paint that was tinted to match Benjamin Moore Wildwood Crest, No. 1538. The white walls are Benjamin Moore White River at 50% and the trim is White River.

  40. I've had to come back and reread this post it is so full of information and beautiful shots.

    Oh and mystery. The painting?


    xo jane

  41. I totally second your statement about getting sharp edges. But isn't that what we love about old houses, a bit of imperfection.

    I love modern art so I'm really curious to see the entire piece. I just kept seeing insect legs in the corner so please don't make us wait too long.

    The walk through the neighborhood was amazing. How lucky to live so close to all the history. Please, please put up the pictures of the wisteria when they bloom.

    A very nice post!

  42. Really looking great! Love the final color choices and can't wait to see the artwork vs. just the corner.
    I thought I was the only cemetery freak! Very enjoyable walk and post. I want that porch with the wisteria!

  43. I want to see more of that painting! I know it's going to be great...loving everything so far. I thought I liked the taupe walls with the headboard, but the gray is quite nice and the art will look wonderful.

    Enjoyed your tour of Harvard. We went when my daughter was in middle school and she loved all of the Latin...she was in her third year of Latin and was taking photos of everything....for extra credit I think.

  44. You are not going to lose me with that glimpse of art...

  45. Love the backplate and the knob is gorgeous. And I can't wait to see the new art. I doubt you'll lose anyone over it.

    That Wisteria is pretty amazing. Around here it behaves so badly - grows so fast and so enormous it becomes a full time job to control it, so most of us really don't like it that much. It is pretty for a few weeks, though (ours has bloomed and is waning now).

  46. Steve,

    Look at you! I am quite envious of of those white floors (I am a Swede after all) and I am already loving your contemporary art piece! Nice going!

    Busy with kids and Spring break etc. You will see me here more often - soon!

    ox, Mon

  47. Steve,

    You kill me.
    Unlike you, I hate cemeteries.

    But the house is looking great.

  48. omg. just re-read your post and saw the corner of the artwork. dying. to. see. more. is it all b&w? (my fave?) looking forward to it.

    ok, do you mind trying to come my way again? just deleted some content that I hope was the offending matter. if not...what's a gal to do? thanks, dude. donna

  49. Lovely post. I too find grave yards fascinating. I spent a day recently in Higate Cemetary in London. What a place! Really nice blog.

  50. That ceiling is really gorgeous. Has me mulling a few ideas (on a different, smaller scale) for the next room at the B&B I am decorating...

  51. Hi Steve, I've just been blog-hopping and came across your blog. So glad I did! I've just read the whole story of your renovation of the exterior of the cottage - fantastic. I now want to read your blog from top to toe!

    I live in a cottage too - an 1840s brick & flint cottage in Suffolk, UK which in times gone by housed the estate workers of the 'big house' across the way.

    I had not heard of Greek Revival homes before, interesting that they are referred to as cottages. They make my humble abode seem altogether very cottagey.

    Off now to have a good long read and drool over a cuppa.


  52. Occasionally I've popped over here from Janet's blog to admire the progress on your beautiful home. Love what you are achieving Steve and thanks for sharing photos of your town. All quite fascinating to me (living in Australia).
    Off to follow you now..

  53. Sorry if someone mentioned this already, but I have to tell you there's an even better Wisteria super close to the one you shot. It's down on Professor's row--Irving St just off Kirkland. It's stunning and PERFECTLY pruned. :)

  54. Thanks for letting me know. I'll check it out when I go back. I'll have to work on a Wisteria Walking Tour.

  55. I know I'm going to be all about the mix of the contemporary art, headboard and your urban cottage style. Oh...and I'm glad you went all gray in the bedroom. No one wants anything that sucks in a bedroom...I think.

  56. I restore period buildings in England and hope to do so in Ca so your blog is a great find.

  57. Loved the tour of lesser known sites in the vicinity of Harvard Square. Headstone iconography is so fascinating - great pictures. Found you via your guest post on NE Home Magazine blog; consider me a new follower!

  58. Really interesting tour.

    A tip you might want to try: I live in an old house too and when I want to get a really clean edge with paint I use some type of trim...either rope or gimp on the edges. I match one of the paint colors and attach it with a glue gun. It adds a very clean, finished touch. I first saw it used in a very old home.

  59. From paint colors to headstones. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't " work" a post:)