Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day in the Garden

I've devoted so much time to the inside of the house I've totally ignored everything outside until this weekend.  I had the pleasure of meeting up with fellow blogger Carol Beck from Sofas and Sage and her husband Ian yesterday.  It's an interesting experience meeting another blogger.  We're complete strangers that know each other so well.  I felt like an old friend stopped by.  It was a lot of fun.    

I got the back porch set up so I can start enjoying morning coffee outside and weekend cookouts with friends.  I would love to buy some new furniture for out here but it really doesn't make sense until the porches get rebuilt.  That big white chippy chest that I had out here last year took up too much room so it went out on the street and was picked up in about 10 minutes.  I replaced that with the little console table from the upstairs hallway.  The outdoor rug was $40 on ebay.  The Boston ferns and coleus in the foreground are destined for pots flanking the front door.

I made a little table out of an old ceramic planter topped with a millstone.  The topiaries are enjoying the outdoors for the summer.

A dahlia for guys called "Happy Single Romeo."

I'm trying to propagate some rose cuttings called "Jacotte."  I've put them in ziploc bags to keep the humidity high and tacked them to the back of the porch post to keep them out of direct sunlight.

The garden is a mess.  I moved a lot plants to prepare for the exterior project last summer and haven't yet rearranged things.  My Stella D'oro lilies are over by my neighbor's fence where they're ready to bloom.  I will probably leave them there until after they've bloomed.

My Zephyrine Drouhin is just starting to bloom.  It's an old bourbon rose and is beautifully perfumed.

The ants are hard at work on the peony buds.  I had only one flower last year but I've got 16 buds this year.  I'm looking forward to having some in the house.

Dream Weaver is looking pretty good too.

I have tons of cottage pinks this year too.  Love the fragrance of these sweet little blooms.

I believe this is spiderwort.  I didn't plant it but it's everywhere in the garden; in fact, it's a scourge on the neighborhood.  It seems to be growing along every fence, out of cracks in the sidewalk, everywhere around the neighborhood. It's a nightmare really.  I can't keep hollyhocks in the garden but I can't get rid of this stuff.

I have lots to do outside to get things back to normal but it won't stop me from enjoying a few flowers in the house.

I hope everyone is enjoying a great long weekend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Glazing wallpaper

Thank you, Nita for the new header!  I'll do post later on the great options she came up with.  She's very creative. 

Back to guest bedroom.  I guess I forgot to mention that this is a really low-budget makeover.  I'm saving for a new kitchen and bathrooms so I'm trying to go easy.  I hope this doesn't put too many people over the edge.

You may remember that I felt this guest room wallpaper was feeling a little too "Fresh off the Farm."  When I first mentioned the possibility of glazing the wallpaper, there were several people concerned that the wallpaper would be more difficult to take off if I painted it.  Extra work has never stopped me from doing anything.  I love the process.  One of the reasons I think I've never more seriously pursued art is that I can't focus on one medium, one method of working.  I always want to move on and learn something new.  "Jack of all trades" my grandmother used to call me.  She was right.  And she was kind enough to leave off the "master of none" part. 

So I decided to take it as a challenge to turn the wallpaper into something different.  I'd like it to have a softer, barely-there romantic feel that serves as a backdrop for a guest room that's typically for mom but that anyone might feel comfortable in.   

After cleaning out the room, I mixed up a 50/50 paint and water solution and just went at it with a brush.  I decided to use a brush rather than a roller so there might be some texture created by the brush strokes.  This is the first coat going on.   I think I want more concealing of the pattern but I think it's better to take it a thin coat at a time.

I wouldn't recommed doing this--I'm doing it just for illustrative purposes--but here you can see the difference between the original wallpaper, the first coat and the second coat on the right.

On the first coat, I've done the brush strokes vertically.  The second coat I'll do horizontally so if the brushstrokes show when I'm done, it should create a linen-like texture.

It's fairly easy to keep a wet edge as long you've set aside enough time to do the whole room at one time.  I think the first coat took me about three hours.   

Here's the dried surface after the first coat.

And after the second coat.

Here's the wall behind the dresser.  I figured out it's not so much the color of the dresser that I dislike so much, it's the shine.  It feels plastic to me.  I'm not sure how it will end up, but I might try a little pumice or rottenstone first to see if that helps.  I've refinished furniture too, mixed my own shellac. 

I've added a bamboo blind to fill some of the space above the window.  I bought these after the subject of these windows was addressed on Sofas and Sage's Window Wednesday series.  Here's my old post about it.  I'll let you know when Carol does an update on the post.  I will probably replace the sheers with something heavier in the fall and winter but in the warmer weather, I love how these (Pottery Barn cotton voile) billow in the breeze of an open window.   

This is what the paper and window treatments looked like before.

The wall after.

The overall feeling of the room has changed dramatically.  The wallpaper has a very soft, upholstered, almost velvety appearance to it.  I wouldn't install wallpaper with the idea that it would be glazed but I think it would be a great way to tone down a bright print or lighten up a dark print if you really can't live with what you have and don't want to take it down.

I don't really have a plan for the rest of the room.  I usually take it one step at a time.  I'm feeling like the basics will be very neutral and then I'll bring in some artwork and accessories to brighten it up.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Your Room

I"m talking tomorrow off to get the dining room painted and then I have to set my sights on your room.  You may remember this was one of the rooms I talked about in my New Year, New Projects post.

You'll be happy to know that this room is the brightest room in the house.  It's also the cats favorite room as evidenced by the two craters in the comforter.  I hope you're not allergic.

But there something that's always bothered me about this room.  There's no decent place to put the bed.

To the right of the bed there's about 9 inches of wall space between the bed and closet door.  That leaves very little room for a bedside table.  Where will I leave a vase of welcoming flowers?

To the left of the bed there just enough room to get through.

This wall has a window right in the middle of it.  As you can see by the height of the bed, it would almost entirely cover the window.

You can also see that I didn't make my goal of getting all the windows painted by the end of March.  The one-window-a-week plan lasted three weeks.

This wall faces the street so I wouldn't want to have the bed blocking the windows here either.

And the other wall that has the door has just enough room for the dresser.

The dresser was Mrs. Mastrullo's and it's not in the best shape.

I was thinking of painting it a medium to dark gray.

But what to do about the layout of the furniture?

Here's a picture I borrowed from Small but Charming and I have two questions.

1)  Would you mind having a bed in front of a window like this?

2)  Is that someone's finger in lower left-hand corner of the picture?

I got this bed from Ethan Allen and it was floor sample so I got a great deal.  But I bought it before I really knew what I was doing.  I never considered that these chunky posts on the headboard and footboard would take 8 inches out of the room.  In a small room, that could make all the difference in the world.  The bed is also really high and I never considered how much visual space a high bed would take out of the room.  Purchasing this bed was a mistake for my house.

The bed I have in the master bedroom is lower, has a low headboard and no footboard.  So I think I'm going to try switching the beds to see of the other one works better and allows me to put the bed in front of the window.  That leaves me about three feet on each side of the bed for lamps, flowers, gifts and chocolates that I will leave for you.

If it works, I might even let you take the Ethan Allen bed home with you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Being a Tour Guide

My tour guide duties are finally over.  It's always fun to have old friends visit.  This particular friend is an abstract photographer and after seeing my shots from Parsons Beach a few weeks ago, he wanted to go back.

Here are a few of my photos from that gray, chilly (48 degrees) day in Maine.

I've never seen yellow lichen before.

This is a D'Anjou pear espalier in bud.  Want one.

...and another in full bloom at Snug Harbor Farm.

I love the Corey Daniels Gallery in Wells and will do a post on it sometime soon.

On the home front, I'm sort of relieved to have further renovations on hold.  It will give me the opportunity to find a few special or unique fixtures for the kitchen and bathrooms without the pressure of NEEDING to find something under the pressure of a deadline.

I do love this old sink and I would SO love to put this in my kitchen.  I see a bank of four windows side by side above it.  At eight feet long, though, I'd have to give up a lot of countertop AND the dishwasher.  But with four faucets, do I really need a dishwasher?  Each dinner guest could wash their own dishes!  It would be part of the experience of dinner at the Urban Cottage.   
Whatta ya think?