Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Painted Floors

Janet from The Gardeners Cottage tagged me with a challenge to show the 6th photo I posted on my blog. Janet has been very supportive of my blog, my home improvements and of my personal challenge to see how long I can not eat meat so, maybe I'm high on tofu, but I'm happy to oblige.

The above photo was the first in a group of photos I was gathering as I was first talking to my architects and I was wondering what kind of kitchen would be appropriate for an historical house. I think I've gotten over needing to be so literally historical but I'm still in love with the idea of painted floors in the kitchen and perhaps in other rooms around the house. I continue to collect inspiration photos of painted floors so I'd thought I share a few more from the ones I've collected.
There's something about the combination of a painted design combined with the texture of individual floor boards that I find really attractive.

I've really been in love with yellow and white since I saw the floors in the studio of La Maison LaFourtune. I think this color combination automatically says vintage.

I also like this yellow and white take on macro gingham.

This black and taupe floor is a little dizzying but it shows that painted floors can also be elegant.

This stenciled yellow and white floor is fun. I think a twelve-inch border of white would make me love this.

I also love when part of a wood floor is left natural. It could really cleverly disguise a wood floor that's damaged in a few places. I am really intrigued by the design that left natural inside the larger areas of white paint. I wish I could see it better.
(Update: I found this shot in Flickr but I found the blog and more shots of this great floor here.)

Sometimes just a simple white painted floor is all it takes to be perfect. This is a Jonathan Adler design.

This room is way too much for me but I do love the floor. It's like s strappy quilt that has random pieces ordered by a perfect grid. This idea could be executed in a million different ways.

And I've saved my favorite few photos for a big finish. This Nancy Boszhardt interior uses stain to create a "rug" on the floor. I love this idea. And the hat rack it pretty darn cool too.

These last two photos are just beautiful rooms that just happen to have painted floors. It just goes to show that sometimes simpler is better.
This perfectly serene bedroom with misty blue-green walls and glistening ivory floors makes me want to revisit my guest bedroom. I've been thinking of glazing over the black and white wallpaper (can that be done?) and could I bring myself to paint the refinished floors?
Credits: 1. Soutern Living 2. Cottage Living 3. Southern Living 4. Cottage Living 5. Joel Woodard 6+7. via Flickr 8. House Beautiful 9. Elle Decor 10. Nancy Boszhardt 11. via Brabourne Farm (hi, Leigh!) 12. Country Living

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fruitful Weekend

It's amazing what can happen in the garden in one day. From Saturday to Sunday, my aubergine irises burst into bloom...
...and my Lily of the Valley also started to open up. Boy, it's amazing how one whiff of this takes me back to a 5-year-old kid at my grandmother's house.
I spent most of the day in garden so I could "bump into" my neighbors and talk to them about my front porch plans. I didn't want to just leave notes in mailboxes, I wanted to talk to everyone in person. I also made up packages for everyone so they can see exactly what I plan to do with the house.

I gave everyone a copy of the street elevation from the blueprints. It's kind of tough to see all details so I also showed them this diagram from a book put out by the Cambridge Historical Commission on taking care of your old Cambridge house.

The book, which is actually really informative, shows in detail what kinds of doors and windows each house style should have, styles of fences, how to build stairs, how the apron around a porch should look...

...and this diagram shows all the components of the top of a Greek Revival pediment.

Here's a photo of my house from that same straight-on view seen in the diagrams. You can almost see what it's supposed to be. It's hard to get this photo because there's almost always someone parked in front.

I also gave everyone a copy of this 1876 drawing of my house so they could see that, indeed, a porch once stood at the front of the house. This was fun for everyone to see because many of their houses are also on the page and no one had seen it before.

But, I'll admit, it's kind of hard to see what it will look like from the diagrams. Everyone responded most to this photograph. This is a house (that I've posted before) in the neighborhood but it's acutally a mirror image of mine and very close in scale. So I flipped the photo with my photo editor so the door is on the same side as mine.

I let everyone walk away with a copy of these images and asked if they like my plan, to please write a letter of support when they get a letter from the City about my hearing. Everyone seemed not only supportive but excited about the plan. My application is done and I should be filing it within the next two days. Having an opponent can make things difficult so it's nice knowing that everyone around me seems so supportive.

Now I can refocus my efforts on finding a contractor.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Garden, April

I love coming home from work every day and spending a few minutes in the garden. Sometimes it seems like you can almost see the plants growing. Each day there's something new to see. This morning I was really taken with the view from the garden looking across the street. The Sargent cherry tree is literally sagging under the weight of the pink blooms and is contrasted by the bright yellow green of the new maple leaves. It's a scene that's quintessentially spring.
Just as a refresher, my garden was taken from this thin strip of yard that formerly had a handicapped ramped when I bought the house. Under the ramp was an old patio and a sidewalk extended across the front yard.
The ramp was ripped out, the patio and sidewalk were jackhammered out, the foundation was painted, the porch railings were replaced, and a new curved walk and small patio/landing was added as a place for a temporary chair or grill when friends come over for a summer barbeque.
This is that same view as of this morning. The garden seems to be getting a sleepy start and, for some reason, it seems like I lost a lot of plants over the winter. It was a fairly mild winter so I'm a little perplexed why I lost so many plants.
This is the front half of the garden looking toward the street. This has been a real challenge. Along the fence is very shady and dry so I've had a tough time finding plants that will work in this area. The area in the foreground is a sunnier spot it's been kind of a testing ground to see what things like this spot. I've got some stella d'oro day lilies, shasta daisies, montauk daisies (center) that seem to be taking over. I added some baptisia australis (false indigo) up against the house last year and it seems to be doing well. There's some globe thistle next to new the green pot which is a new witch hazel. And the silvery plant in the front right is artemesia,
In this spot last summer I some black and white hollyhocks. When I told my mother I had put hollyhocks in the garden she said "You'll be sorry. You'll have them growing everywhere. They'll be in your front yard. They'll be in your neighbor's yards. They'll be everywhere." Even though I pulled some the seeds out of both hollyhocks and sprinkled them around, they all seem to be gone.
This is the sunny side of the garden as it looked last June. I would like to have a few shrubs on the left for winter interest but the people who live down this alley have to shovel all of the snow by hand and most it, by agreement, ends up in my garden. They don't use any salt on it, so I thought the snow would offer good insulation to the perennials throughout the winter.
And this is what it looked like probably in July. The daisies in the background are pretty clear. Just to the left of the daisies is gaura. This was my second attempt at growing gaura which seems to grow well during the summer. The purple flowers just to the left of the green ceramic planter is pincushion flower (scabiosa) and that's sitting just in front a few clumps of blue sedge. The coneflowers in the front are echinacea pallida which I liked for it's droopy, sagging petals.
I'm not a fan of the black-eyed susan's--don't care for the orangey yellow color--but they are long lasting and bring late summer color to the garden, so I was excited to find this rudbeckia Prairie Sun, or green-eyed susan's as I call them. I bought several plants and added them just in front of the daisies so as they were dying out and getting cut back, these would rise up in their place.
Here's a photo of my gaura plant which nicely spills out over the fence. And down in the lower right-hand corner you can see one of the green-eyed susan's whose flowers stayed all summer long right into the fall.
Here's that same spot today. All of the gaura is dead. This is the second year in a row it's not made it through the winter. I'd supposed to be hardy in my area and know of people that grow it successfully. Pincushion flowers: all dead. They lived through the first winter but not through last winter. Green-eyed susans: There were three next to the gaura and they're all dead.
There were four more green-eyed susan's behind the blue sedge, in front of the irises. They're all dead. So I'm not sure what happened. Since I'm on a spending freeze and I may have to clear out the garden bed up against the house to do the exterior work (if it happens this summer), I think I'm just going to pick from the plants over there to fill in the empty spots.

I'll post updates on the progress of the garden a few times during the summer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring's Bounty

All of the flowering trees are just amazing right now. I don't know if it was a warmer-than-normal winter or a very wet spring, but the flowers seem to be more abundant than usual.
The scent of my neighbor's viburnum is intoxicating.
This is flowering quince in a beautiful peach color.
This Sargent cherry with double pink blossoms...
...looks wonderful where the blossoms are contrasted by the dark bark.
The lilacs are ready to burst a little early I think.
And I love these tiny bleeding hearts with their delicate feathery foliage.

I hope you enjoy your spring day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kitchen Dreaming

In the condo where I lived previously, my kitchen was circa 1920. It was low on technology but huge on charm. The cabinets were all hand made and been painted scores of times, the floors were wide pine and there was a large double apron sink. On one side the sink was so deep, I was able to keep a dish rack in it to drain dishes and you could barely see it when you walked into the room. I loved my old sink.

Even though I'm working on my "dining study," my mind keeps wandering to what I'll do with the kitchen. Even though I'd like an updated layout and new appliances, I want to avoid it looking like it came from a showroom; in fact, I really don't want it to look new. I think these old apron sink immediately bring a vintage air to any kitchen so I think I need to start my search for the perfect one.
I love the look of this kitchen with the painted floor, glass front cabinets and schoolhouse light but I'm not so sure about the visible plumbing. I don't have steam radiators but I love the little shelf that they installed over it to display a few kitchen plants.

The thing I love most about this kitchen is you could totally transform it with a coat of paint. Paint the walls ivory, the cabinets black and the floor red and you've got an entirely different look.
The skirt idea is one I find a attractive but maybe a little girly. I might do something a little more tailored.
I am totally in love with this kitchen from an old Martha article. It takes me to another place and time. I think I envisioned this kitchen as I read the "The Secret Life of Bees" and I was happy to see that they used something similar in the movie.
Here's an almost identical sink they've put in a bathroom. A little out of the ordinary maybe but certainly more practical than a vessel sink. I love you the drain board is being utilized as a counter.
This is actually a new sink I found for sale on the internet. New is always nice but it can't be too shiny or it would be an immediate giveaway. I hope to find a vintage one in great condition that I can give a new home. So my eyes are peeled!
It's a long weekend for us here in Boston. It's marathon day so the city shuts down so everyone can cheer the runners on. Hope everyone has a great one and I'll think of you on Monday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I received my final exterior renovation plans from The Architects and my certified plot plan so decided to go over to the Building Department and start my application process. I expected that I would have to formally make the application and wait for a review of the plans for them to see that my front porch is "nonconforming" (because it's too close to the street) as per current zoning laws.

But as I was filling out the application and told them I knew I would have to get a variance to complete the work, the head of the department looked at plot plan...

...saw that I would have 5 feet, six inches between the new porch and sidewalk, I was immediately rejected. It's not a bad thing; it's exactly what I expected only it happened much faster than I anticipated....which is good. So I got the application for a variance and I can move forward with making my case.

In a way, I've never been so happy to be rejected!

Dining Room

(Not my dining room)
The day I painted my living room, I moved most of the furniture into the adjacent dining room. Below is a "before" photo taken from the living room looking through the dining room. And here you're getting your first peek at my sad kitchen.
And below is the same view after stripping the wallpaper, painting everything and moving my furniture in.
Here's a "before" shot of the dining room itself. The wall with the door is the wall that separates the living room from the dining room. I would love to open this up at some point but there's a chimney that runs up through the center of the house so it's a really big job.
And below is the room after stripping the wallpaper, painting, hanging new curtains, switching out the ceiling fan with a chandelier...
...and moving in my furniture and hanging some artwork. I've never loved this room. It never felt quite right. I know part of the problem is my modern furniture and the bright green rustic sideboard, as much as I love it, didn't help matters.
But when I disassembled the table and moved the furniture from my living room into the dining room, even though it was terribly cramped, it suddenly started to feel right. It shouldn't be a dining room, it should be a multifunctional study, library, TV, dining room.
So I'm thinking something like the above room with a central table where I can have coffee in the morning while I watch the news, but with comfortable upholstered chairs where I can sit and read a book in the afternoon and enjoy dinner for a small group of friends on a Friday evening.
On the other end of my new room, I can see some cabinets for storage with some bookcases to display some of my collections. Kind of like the above room without the pink sofa.
This project is going to be a challenge. I haven't yet shown you the other side of the room where I demoed a few closets. It's a mess. Secondly, while I continue to save for my front porch project, my budget is basically zero. I'll need to get some new furniture at some point but let's see how much progress I can make with my collection of Home Depot, American Express and Pottery Barn gift cards I've received from friends and family and never remembered to take with me to the stores.