Thursday, October 31, 2013

Season of Restoration Final Post

So here we are. Day 31. When I started this little challenge I didn't know if I could really post 31 days in a row. It was a lot easier than I thought. My house is such a better place than when I started. Since it's Halloween I thought I'd post some scary pics of things in September...

My favorite Bible verses are the ones where God says He is doing a new thing. I like that. Besides who just wants to keep doing the same old thing?

I love a happy ending though, don't you?

And me? Inner restoration can take a lot longer than 31 days, but the key is to focus on where you want to go, make a plan for getting there, and take baby steps.

As a matter of fact, that plan works for just about anything.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Seasonal Front Door Console

This was the arrangement for spring and summer at the front door. I just swapped all that colorful clutter for some somber autumn light and vintage maps. I love this so much I may not even change it at Christmas!

Do you have a favorite space you change up with the seasons?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Craving Character

You may have noticed how much time DIYers spend sanding, aging, and beating up perfectly good pieces of furniture. "Character" is something that we seem to realize doesn't come straight from the factory, (or it didn't use to until furniture makers caught on to the trend). The lovely aged pieces of furniture we are trying to replicate have a history. They've been loved and well used. They've been roughed up a little by life.

And they are all the more beautiful for it. Shiny and new certainly has its place, a new dishwasher for instance, or towels. We want new and fresh there. Clean. Perfect.

A few years ago when all those fancy paint techniques were the trendy thing, I learned a lesson: using that look in your entire house just makes it look tired and dirty. Too much "shabby chic" can just look shabby if you aren't careful Still, we want a few items with history and character.

And what about those dents and worn places in life? Experience is the best teacher, although a sometimes brutal one. But with all those rough edges you've probably become a more interesting person. A person who can give wise advice when needed. Someone with your own "character" developed out of painful experiences, mistakes, and probably more than a few triumphs. If you are learning from your past those damaged places can add to the beauty of your character. Your scars may be some of your tenderest and most beautiful features. Ones that allow you to grant understanding and love in a way you couldn't when you were newer and shinier.

But remember that allowing your life to be all worn painful places without learning anything makes you a bit like my house when I went overboard with aging everything. The beauty in the character is the treasure of the lessons that you've learned contrasted with restoration.

The truth is that all beauty doesn't lay in perfection. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Parable of the House

If you've been keeping up with this 31 Days of Restoration Season you'll probably have figured out by now that the restoration of my heart and the restoration of furniture and rooms of my house are connected. At the beginning I told you that as a woman very often the house is a pretty good indicator of how I'm feeling on the inside. Here's what I wrote on the first day.

Now, if you had come to visit me a year or two ago, all may have looked fine to you...orderly even. And if I'm being completely honest, I was fooled a bit myself. The wind of truth however has a way of blowing open all the windows and doors and sweeping things out into the light.

How much are we really unaware of  and how much have we just grown accustomed to overlooking? Sometimes it's hard to distinguish. And in the end it doesn't matter. Once the restoration is in full swing, all the ugliness we've just covered up with window dressing or become blind to over time is illumined.

That can be a painful process.

How did we ever live like this?

We start with the big things: Hauling out the trash. Removing the junk. Taking responsibility for having allowed it to get so bad.

With the damaging clutter removed we can move on to washing away the dirt, painting, seeing in the cold hard light of day what we actually have to work with.

After we've dealt with problems and made an honest assessment of our situation, we can start to imagine what we want the new life or house to look like. It's time to dream a bit of what could be...

The next part is taking action to make the dream a reality. You cannot progress without this step. And lots of people get stuck here. Either because the thing they envision involves a lot of hard work, or changes, or because they lack a vision they can be passionate about.

My experience has been that the energy for whatever the hard work may be always comes from the passion about the vision of what's possible.

When most of the work is done and you look around at how far you've come, you realize that, while things are so much better than they were, there is always more work to do. Drawers to clean out, supplies to keep stocked, and maintenance to do.

The house, like life, is never really finished. It is in a constant state of flux. But the last important step is to take what we've learned and share it with others who need our help.  I've made lots of mistakes and I try to honestly chronicle them for you so that when you are working on a project you will know what NOT to do. Sharing what mistakes to avoid is more valuable than just pretending that somehow it magically all worked out. It didn't. It was hard. It was a process.

And yes, life is just like that. 

But making something beautiful out of whatever you started with is possible if complete restoration is your goal.

And why would you settle for anything less?

Don't stop until you get to where you want to be. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Unsigned Treasure

I'm a docent at the largest art museum in the state. I regularly get to hang around priceless works of art and discuss them with fellow art lovers and visitors to the museum. Most of the art work I have in my own home however are prints and, while signed and numbered, it's a good deal less exciting than an original work by an artist.

So what makes something a treasure?

The artist's signature? The subject matter? Something else?

I was contemplating this notion of value recently while working on Project Empty Nest. You may remember a few posts ago when I featured my son's art work I grouped as a collection on the landing.

While decorating my studio space I used a large canvas I picked up at a yard sale a couple of years ago. It was a seascape that was part of a large mural that adorned a restaurant in Memphis that my husband use to frequent with his parents. We even went there a few times as a young married couple. The panel I have isn't part of the main scene which featured a ship's crew in action during a battle. Mine would have been an end piece showing ships in the distance.


In these photos you can see that Decor-Cat is supervising. I tried to smooth the canvas out and attach it to a piece of plywood. Difficult since it had been rolled up for a few years once it was removed from the restaurant.

So it turns out that this mural was done by a fairly famous regional artist, Burton Callicott. It isn't a signed panel, but it is a unique work to display and acts as a bit of family history. I recently framed a map of our county printed the same year our house was built.  Anything that is representative of your family's history or tells part of your story is worth displaying.

And the art work I would rush to save in a fire? Any of the signed and numbered pieces? This unsigned Callicot? Nope.

My son's work.

The things that mean the most to you are the most valuable. Nothing else comes close. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

In Pieces?

Pick them up and determine to make something beautiful out of them. The Little Chapel on the Isle of Guernsey, one man's life's work.

What's your calling in life? Your great life's work? Have you thought about it?

That's what Sundays are for.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A New Purpose: China Cabinet Rebirth

I love using things for something other than what they were intended for. I had this lovely vintage china cabinet that had been antiqued in the 1960's by a family member. I love the traditional shape and hardware. But I'm not really the kind of girl who is going to display china. I am however short on space for storage in the bedroom so I thought this piece would be perfect for storing accessories like hats, scarves, and small handbags. There is even a drawer below to house lingerie.

Since this piece was going to be moved to my newly redecorated Scandinavian inspired bedroom, this dark finish was going to have to go. It meant removing the glass panel and hardware for painting. For this piece I just used a flat spray paint in white.

Since I was going to be using it for storage and not display I wanted to cover the glass with burlap to conceal the contents.

After using spray adhesive to adhere the burlap to the glass I carefully replaced the glass using wood glue and finishing nails to hold the trim in place.

 I lightly sanded the edges do give it a bit of character...

After letting it dry overnight I filled it with accessories. So much more useful than a china cabinet. 

Look at things as what they could be instead of whatever their original purposes were. Our lives are changing and it's okay to be creative and imaginative in your design.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Industrial Lamp Shade from Sieve

 My husband went to his first ever estate sale a couple of year ago and purchased several small items. Among them was a metal sieve. The estate sale was at the home of renowned historian and the last  southern gentleman, Shelby Foote.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with this strainer but sometimes eventually something will tell you what it wants to be. Yesterday after hanging around all this time, the sieve revealed that it wanted to be a lampshade.

I turned it over.

Brilliant. There it was. Clear as day.

I had a tall skinny lamp base in a nickel finish which I had covered with a 99 cent thrift store lamp shade. My plan was to cover it with maps. But I decided to sacrifice that idea and use the wire frame to transform the sieve instead. 

Now, if you are looking for a "how to" here with hard and fast rules you must know that this project took about an hour of trial and error. After trying several different configurations...

 I ended up with something that looks like this. I gingerly set the lampshade on top.

 Success! I love the way it looks and it's perfect for the French Industrial look I'm going for in my new studio.