Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All's Well

All's well in this neck of the woods..

...just a few downed trees, localized power outages, missing shingles,
some wind-whipped flowers and a mess of wet leaves glued to sidewalks and streets. 

Thank you for your well-wishes.

Thoughts, prayers and money should
go to the poor people in the NYC and NJ areas.  

Monday, October 29, 2012


Fall often comes a few weeks later in the city than it does to even the closest suburbs.  The foliage and flowers are all quite beautiful right now.  

Even though this so-called Frankenstorm seems to be taking a big turn around us, we're supposed to be whipped with high winds and rain that is already taking down the leaves and flowers.  

Enjoy the colors of fall.

Each fall, a rug takes its place back in the foyer to welcome wet feet through fall and winter.

I hope everyone in the path of this huge storm stays safe.   

If Jane doesn't lose power, she's having a party today.  I thought I would bring the 
birthday flowers that Shelley surprised me with on Saturday.  They were a 
sweet reminder of spring for a fall birthday.

I'm not sure the party can happen by candlelight so it may be postponed a little bit.
If you have no power, it's okay if you show up late.
Just stay safe.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Bedroom Projects

I have a few projects ahead me before I can pull the master bedroom together.
I'm going to be pairing the antique Swedish chest with a modern bed.

You've seen the bed before but you never would have recognized it.
In the guest room, I disguised its modern lines with a bright mustard toile bedskirt,
and the headboard was almost entirely hidden by the pillows.

I bought this Ligne Roset bed many years ago when I lived in a modern loft in downtown Boston.  The upholstery is actually a slipcover but it's quite faded so I'd like to switch it out.  I contacted Ligne Roset to order a new slipcover but they're unfortunately no longer selling the bed and they won't make me a slipcover.  Nice customer service.  

I've purchased new drapes for the bedroom and this color just won't cut it.  So I'm going to try to make my own.  I've mentioned before, I grew up with a mom and aunt that made all of our clothes and since I've always been interested in how things work, I learned how to use a sewing machine.  It's been a long time but hopefully it's like riding a bike.  I can always get an upholsterer to make one but I'm up for the challenge.  I think the headboard will be the toughest.

The platform has basically one long strip of material with velcro
on the top and bottom to hold it in place.

And the corners are mitered.

I'd love it to be a handsome, suit-like material maybe like a tweed or windowpane plaid but I might practice with some drop cloth material that could be a summer slipcover if it works out.

I've taken off the bathroom door so I can strip it with The Silent Paint Remover 
I got it as a gift last Christmas.  I have yet to crack it open.

I should have done this during the summer but hopefully we'll still
have some decent fall weather so I can do it outside.

The hinges have gone into a bath of Arm & Hammer washing soda
to strip them and I'll just reuse the old hardware.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Room with Two Views

Design:  Steven Gambrel
Photo:  Eric Piasecki

I love a good vignette and this room in a home designed by Steven Gambrel is a really good one.  I know Camille from The Vintique Object also loves a good vignette.  I first analyze the objects in a vignette to see if they fit a theme, tell a story or share the same "language."  Camille looks first at things like shape, balance, texture and how they're actually photographed.  Both are important, we just start in different places.

I thought I would deconstruct the elements of this vignette one by one to share my thought process for analyzing or even choosing items for a vignette.  And I've invited Camille to do a post with her own take on the same room.  A room with two views.  For some people this might be intuitive, but if you have a vignette or particular element that doesn't work, the sum of our two posts might offer a way of better analyzing your own work.

The reflection in the mirror shows a staircase, so I would bet this room is the foyer and this vignette sets the tone for the entire house.  My first reaction is this vignette feels like an underwater landscape.  It would be perfect for a home on the water.

Cape Light painting by Anne Packard
It has the moodiness of a gray and misty day by the ocean.

I believe there's even a seascape painting on the table.

The color palette that evokes things we associate with the beach and the sea.

Each of the elements seem to have an aged, weathered quality.  The table looks like an antique.  The mirror might be new but it has an aged surface.  The lamp--not sure if it's ceramic or metal--also has a patina.  The large bowl seems slightly off kilter and has a finish that looks dull.

Looking at the individual elements, let's start with the mirror that's like a porthole.

The large bowl of whatever--it almost doesn't matter what it is--feels like a sea anemone or seaweed swaying in the current.

In the cloche there appears to be weathered rope that has strong nautical associations.

In the lamp I see a Viking's helmet.  But I also see wind-filled
sails reaching up to a mast out of view.

And how perfect is the wicker steamer truck that lists to one side like a ship in the swells of a stormy sea?  We know this piece has a history.  A new wicker chest just would have the same feel, the same language.

I'm not sure what's in the black case or tray sitting on the table but I think an antique telescope would be the perfect choice.

Careful thought went in to each of these elements and I think they're all perfect.  But I don't think it's necessary to construct a vignette using elements that fit the same theme or share a similar language.  Some of the connections may be purely personal but that's when things like shape, color, balance and texture become even more important.

To get Camille's view on these things, head over and read her post.

To see more of this amazing house, go here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

If This House Could Talk

Cambridgeport History Day was this past weekend and part of that event is a week long walking tour called "If This House Could Talk."  The event encourages residents to research the history of their homes and write a sign sharing something about their house for others to read.  This is a fun way to get everyone involved and raise awareness of the rich history of our neighborhood.
In the past, I've focused my signs around how and where I got information that helped me restore the exterior of my house to its original condition.  This year, I decided to write about one the house's longest residents Jennie T. Ray.
For those of you that have been around from the beginning of my blog, I wrote a post on how I used old maps and to learn about the people that lived in my house before me.  You can find that post here.  And since the 1940 census was recently released, there's a lot of new information available.
I do have an update to that story though.  In my old post, I wasn't sure if Jennie's daughter Frances survived.  In the 1880 census, Jennie had one daughter Frances and in the next census, Jennie indicated that she had had two children but one had died. 
When I searched for Jennie recently on, I found her attached to someone's family tree.  I contacted that person and found Jennie's great great great granddaughter Sheena.  Frances married, had eight children of her own, and lived just a few blocks away.
Despite Jennie's many hardships, it was some nice closure.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Perfect Gray Floor

Just a quick note to let you know I haven't forgotten about you.
I've just been really, really busy.
  I did get a few coats of paint on the bedroom floor and I'm really happy with
how it turned out. I used Allflor paint tinted to Benjamin Moore's Gray Owl.
I had wanted to use oil paint to get a really
high-gloss finish but I didn't want to deal with the smell, the mess
or the few days' drying time so I went with latex.
I have to admit, I love the duller finish.
It's like the patina is built in.
You may also notice a new chest. I've always wanted a
Gustavian piece and when I saw one at Darby Road,
I knew it was coming home with me.
I have to thank Google for this piece.
I've been saving up my Adsense checks to use for splurges
and this is my first one.  Since I've added this Gustavian piece you
might anticipate which direction the room is going in but I hope you're wrong.
I hope to shake it up a little bit by mixing in some modern and some industrial pieces.