Monday, June 2, 2014


I don't know why time seems to evaporate this time of year.  The days
are longer but now the weekly chores extend to the outside spaces and
the extra daylight hours easily get filled.   

For the past few years, one of my springtime rituals has been taking
down my living room drapes and rods--I still have to do the latter--and
let the sun shine in.  I always enjoy this simpler look.  My living room
is very small, just 11-1/2 feet square, and taking down the drapes makes
the room feel larger. I'm considering making this a permanent change
by adding shutters to the lower half of the windows and a roman blind at the top.

 Bi-fold shutters would fold back to let in the light during the day and
close at night for privacy.  I would rarely close the roman blinds on the
top half but they would provide a little color, softness and/or texture.

I'm also planning a new slipcover for the sofa that will lighten up the
room for summer.  More on that later.

I recently took a work day off for a carpe diem and I headed
up to Essex, Mass with the Princess of Pillows, Carol from 6Wilson
for a day of treasure hunting and I thought I'd share a few images from
that day.  Above is an antique set of Japanese spouted nesting bowls.
I've never seen anything like that.  It's amazing they're all in perfect
condition after so many years.

A high-strung quartet.

I have a weakness for old wood and rope.

And if you've ever been to Andrew Spindler, you may
recognize the mammoth succulents he has outside.

And no day in Essex is complete without a stop at Woodman's...

...for a lobster roll and onion rings.

I've been picking away at the painting in the kitchen.  I wasn't
in love with the dark color I had chosen for the back of the kitchen
shelves.  So after a few new samples, I changed it to Ben Moore
Iron Mountain.  I guess it's also Darryl Carter's Vinton Brown.
I think it works nicely with Chelsea Gray

So I've been working on the bits that needed painting a little at a time.
I used the cabinet color around the fridge and painted out the
back of the cabinet with the Iron Mountain.  I still need test stain samples
but I needed to get some wood conditioner and more pieces of fir so my
samples are as accurate as possible.

And lots of other projects going on at the same time.

I'm still cleaning out, organizing my basement.
It's not a bad basement for an 1842 house but it's painted
Pepto Bismol pink on all the walls.  The ceiling is old post and
beam construction but that was, sadly, painted Virgin Mary blue--
you get the idea--so I got some waterproofing paint by Behr in a 
color called "Silt" for the walls and I'll mix up some brown-gray for
to highlight the beams.  It will never be a beautiful or finishable
basement but I think I can make it a really cool, funky space.

I'm also totally reworking the garden.  My new French doors give me
a different view and I think I want to screen the view of my 
neighbor's chain link fence and their view right into my kitchen.

I still need to paint all the new exterior porch work as well as my fence
which doesn't match my house.

So lots to do!  My apologies for not being around much but that's
probably the way it's going to be this summer.


  1. Sounds like you have a lot of projects! I keep seeing amazing pictures of lobster rolls. Sound so good.

  2. NEVER a need to apologize.............GREAT to hear what you are up to!!!!! Enjoy your beautiful home and your summer projects.............looking forward to the occasional update.

    All the best!!!!!


  3. Of course, I like the dark side of the force. I don't know how large your garden is, but I stand here before you extolling the virtues of viburnams. The 'Mohawk' is one of my favorites. Here in eastern Kansas, it is almost evergreen in that it is late to drop leaves and early to get leaves. It has beautiful blooms and smells like a carnation. Another lovely is the 'Winterthur' which lacks fragrance but makes it for it when the berries color in the fall.

    ps I like the lighten look without curtains (although I am a fabric slut). I think the shutters/shade sound handsome.

    1. I love viburnum, especially those heavily scented ones. That's a good suggestion.

  4. Carpe diem! Essex and Woodman's... you know how live! :-)

  5. Hey Steve - I really like the windows without curtains. You have such handsome, tall windows.....they make the room look bigger. Love the idea of lower shutters. Is that a Swedish painted round table in the corner?

    1. The table is probably 1940s American. I'm looking for something heavier, English, maybe barley-twist, especially if I go with a white slipcover.

    2. That would look so cool and graphic! I'm really into barley-twist and turned bobbins right now. Actually I've always loved them.

  6. I love the Japanese nesting bowls! How much are they? Did you buy them?

  7. I didn't buy them. They were $375 which I guess is a statement on their rarity.

  8. Hi, Steve,

    I like your idea of the bi-fold shutters for the lower half of the windos. I'm betting that if and when you accomplish that, you'll realize that you don't really need the Roman shades.

  9. Hi Steve,

    We have shutters on our living room windows in Charlestown. The houses are close together here too and the living room faces the street. I have louvered shutters (the colonial type, not the plantation type) and I like them because they obviously can let in light while providing privacy. They are from Lowes/Home Depot in some kind of engineered wood (ok, plastic), but they look great and people don't realize they're not wood. We have a lot of windows on the first floor, so this was an economical option. I like your idea of the roman blinds and shutters.

    Your kitchen looks fantastic. Love the paint color on the back of the shelves.


    1. Deborah,
      Thanks for the info on the shutters, I'll have to take a look at them. I was thinking they'd have to be custom just because of the size of the front windows but I'll see what they have. It's just the three windows so not the big job you had.

  10. Summertime and the livin is.....easily....spent painting!! franki

  11. Thanks for responding about the Asian bowls! I LOVE your blog. You have so much talent!!

  12. So much to comment on! To start, your windows are beautiful! I love the idea of allowing the molding to show. And shutters...I really don't know why they aren't used more often -- they are such a great solution. Perhaps you are just ahead of a shutter trend? Next, I'd be interested to see how you are going to rework your yard and what kinds of plants you've decided to put in. Last, I think we have the same couch. I've never blogged about ours -- which is now a year old. It's slipcovered in white and I absolutely love it. When I wash it, it looks (and smells) brand spankin' new.

  13. Good to hear from you! Your living room is really nice, and I like the bare windows for summer. Sounds like you have lots to do, but hopefully you'll find time here and there to keep us in the loop. Enjoy the summer!

  14. I used to try and summerize then winterize the house, mainly by changing curtains, was too lazy to do it this past year for winter so the gauzy white ones remained. I had half shutters in my previous house and wound up removing them after a few years, they just weren't what they were cracked up to be, at least for me. I'm listening closely to your basement ideas as we're almost in the same boat, not the paint colors necessarily but something needs to be done and it's really not finishable. Summer can get so busy, indoors, out, etc. Enjoy.

  15. I like your idea for the windows. I have nothing on most of my windows except for honeycomb blinds that can be pulled up from the bottom or down from the top.

    I have to make that Essex trip one day. I want to go see the Turners at the Peabody Essex museum too.

    Hope you are enjoying the kitchen. The basement sounds like a fun project.

  16. Nothing says summer like a lobster roll, antiquing, and a day off. Looks like you're off to a good start.

    Regarding the neighbor's chain link fence, have you thought about a couple of lattice work panels with climbing hydrangeas?

    1. I'm definitely planning lattice with climbing hydrangea at the end of my porch to block the view of my porch from another neighbor's house. I already have nice picket fence but I can see my neighbor's fence beyond it so I'm using conical Japanese holly that will grow 6-8 feet high up against the fence to block that view.

  17. You have the best eye and are the hardest working man on the planet.

    Both rooms look fantastic and I'm uber excited to see how your garden grows.

    OMG, and the basement too. Watchman never sleeps.

    xo J

  18. The summerizing you have done is very much like the summerizing of a house during the mid-19th century down south (and perhaps up north too!). Heavy drapes would have been removed, furniture would have been slip covered in white, and white guazy material may have been placed overtop of mirrors and pictures. Mosquito net type fabric would have been draped over all the bedsteads. Everything would certainly look lighter and brighter! You have a lot of fun projects going on- love reading about your adventures :)

    1. I didn't realize that, Megan. I guess I'm a modern Victorian.

  19. I love the artwork you have in your living room. Could you tell me about it?

    1. That's a painting on paper by Rhode Island artist Ron Ehrlich. He doesn't normally work on paper but did a series on paper when he was in Seattle for a show.

  20. I love your trip posts and thanks for the updates. It helps inspire me to finish all my projects. I'm painting the porch and it's a miserable job (the prep work, that is).

  21. Your living room is small - but i really love it!
    It´s so cosy.

    Greetings & Love

    1. It's roomy compared to my dining room that's 9-1/2 x 11-1/2

  22. I love the idea of the shutters and romans...maybe you can make romans out of two different fabrics...a set for summer and another for winter :) Looks like you have your hands full with all the yard and painting'll all be worth the time and effort though, when you finally are able to sit back and enjoy the view.

  23. Summer chores! I have been building muscles carrying forty lb. retaining wall blocks and setting them to try to keep our decomposed granite slopes from settling into the "angle of repose," a concept with which I was unfamiliar until reading Wallace Stegner's "Angle of Repose." Take that beautiful bar tray that sits on your kitchen counter into the yard and sit a spell if you are looking for a great summer read. Having spent some of your youth in the West, I think you will find it fascinating.
    I am a big fan of bare windows, although we don't have any neighbors that can see into our house, so I guess the shutters would help with that small problem of privacy.

  24. Please tell me you bought those Japanese bowls. I love Carol's new title, "Princess of Pillows". I can really relate to the never ending list of projects. I have one too.

  25. One word of warning: those louvered shutters are labor intensive to keep clean. Dust and cat hair always seemed to stick to mine at my last residence. The cats liked them because they figured out how to open them.

    1. No louvers. Flat or raised panels. I would die if I had to dust louvers!

  26. You have such lovely home and adore your taste in decoration... pretty cool I would say! ;)


  27. Your windows are lovely & they would look handsome with shutters (historically appropriate too). If you need a good shutter source, Back Bay Shutters is top notch!
    I've tried to make it to Woodman's several times & always gotten side tracked somehow. Thanks for the reminder to try again.
    I love Iron Mountain in the shelving. It really makes the chase, micro & TV disappear while the goodies are presented beautifully.
    I'm glad you've also seized some time for fun on these perfect, balmy spring days.

    1. Yes, I was thinking that would add some historical architecture. And I've been talking to a company up in Maine that's extremely reasonable priced for custom shutters. And it's a good excuse to get away to Maine to go pick them up!

  28. Steve I can't tell you how much I adore your living room and I agree with your thoughts on the windows. In my last cape cod, I had shutters on the lower and nothing else actually! You have Such great taste!

    The Arts by Karena

  29. I do remember you once saying that your rooms were small but your photos always make your home appear to be so large. Either way, your home is perfection.
    I like the shutter idea, I took my curtains down to wash and loved the sunlight pouring in but then freaked out when evening came and I felt on display, so back up went the curtains!
    Yep, shutters are a very good idea.
    I agree so much about summer and all the projects. I sat there nodding my head.
    Just too much to do and not enough time.
    Hopefully you will continue with updates though, they are always a great read and I love seeing the magic you create.

  30. How beautifully arranged your living room is and I love your idea for the Roman shade and shutters. That being said, the moulding and window size are so elegant in their unadorned state but I do understand the need for privacy! And I love your assessment about the longer hours of summer...

    1. I agree it would be best to have nothing but the sidewalk is just a few feet away.

  31. all good and lovely. in my (small) circle, summarizing a room is what our grandparents did. now that i look at your post am wondering why that has not passed down? love the idea for shutters and roman shade i have that and never tire of it
    i have this designer friend that found a cello in an antique shop. she promptly set it outside and let the elements remove the poly urethane and stain. it is a faded worn wood decorative element now that is hauntingly beautiful. a sacrilege to some perhaps, a to die for piece for many others

  32. I adore your home Steve; so warm, inviting and cozy. I too am outdoors as much as possible since the yard, the weeds, etc. are constantly calling me. So jealous you and Carol got to hang out! That sounds like a blast, and love all your images. Have a great spring! xo Nancy

  33. It's amazing how much brighter a room is after you take the curtains down. I took my living room curtains down for the same reason. If you find attractive, non-louvered shutters, let us know your source!

  34. Love those nesting bowls! Your home looks great. I love when you mention your day trips. The Mister and I will have to head off to Essex soon. Essex, Conn. is also very pretty. Have a great weekend, Steve!

  35. First of all totally jealous you got to spend the day with Carol:) I am not much of a curtain person....although my new DR treatments still make me dizzy but I love your room so much! I have used Iron Mountain before and it is a great matter what you do we will hang on every word like it is gospel.

  36. I can't believe it is June already. Your projects look great. I really like the look of your windows. They are so pretty naked, they hardly need anything, but your idea sounds perfect. xo, N.G.

  37. Hi Steve, sorry I missed this post. Glad you had a carpe diem day again and not so bogged down at work. Love the idea for living room shutters. Loi must have inspired you because I want them now too, but just have to change houses to get them. Can't wait to see what's happening in your garden. Xo T.

  38. Everything looks great, Steve! Can't wait for pictures of your revamped garden; Woodman's is ok but Farnham's is better.