Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Remembering What I Did A Year Ago

A year ago, we were living at our former place. I was busy packing. Several people stopped by at our former place as we were trying to sell it--so I was constantly cleaning. We were juggling two mortgages, two large heating bills, one at our former place, and the larger one at the old house.

Husband Jon had just finished blowing insulation into the old house, a complete re-wiring of the house, he installed new storms and screens (we kept the old windows with the wavy antique glass), and he installed a new energy efficient gas furnace.

A year ago, during this chaos I decided to spend two days covering the spindle couch that had been my grandparent's (Berth and Leatha Harriman). I bought an entire bolt of fabric, enough to cover the couch covers, make pillows, and make drapery panels for the library.

Sister Pam Made Valances for the Red Dining Room

Remember, when you have guests and you are doing a restoration project of this magnitude, it is important to make your guests work for their room and board. I'd like to say I'm kidding, but I'm not. I ask everyone I can to make an imprint on this house by adding their touch and talent.

When my sister Pam and her son Paul Ashley visited us June 2008, I asked my sister to make valances and drapes (she's a theater costume designer on the east coast). Pam, Mom (Lorraine), and I shopped for the perfect red/gold striped fabric. I didn't see the fabric I liked. But suddenly we found three ready made valances with the perfect fabric. After purchasing the valances (under $10 each on sale), we returned to the fabric store and found stunning tassel braid to match. I didn't get any bargain on the tassel braid--yikes $17.95 a yard. Three yards needed for each valance, and three windows. About $55 a window for tassels. Oh, but WOW. I got the look I wanted.

On the table is a shimmering green silk fabric. Pam built the most beautiful drapes and large poofy valance for the upstairs master bedroom. Six months later we are finally working on the plaster repair in the 16 x 16 master bedroom. Today, I'm ready to paint the walls a dark olive. You know, dark olive could be disaster. If so, the room will be painted "Aged Photo" a coffee w/cream color. Same color we painted the kitchen.

Original Stencil Work on Dining Room Walls

Here's a photo of the dining room during the process of removing wallpaper. We found the most beautiful stencil work. Much to our regret we found ourselves in the situation of deciding to continue with the plaster repair or save the stencil work. Either way was a bummer. I made tracings of the stencil work, and photographed it. Then we continued with the plaster repair work.

"After Photo" - baseboard in the dining room after I made tiny touch ups to the original faux bois finish.

The "before photo".

Another "before photo".

The Red Dining Room

The color I picked for the dining room is Flaming Sunset, by Valspar. Please look closely though at the woodwork in the room. The woodwork is Faux Bois which means an artisan painted the wood to look like more exotic wood. In our house the wood is made to look like quarter sawn oak, mahoghany, and walnut. All the woodwork downstairs is Faux Bois. Our builder/owner John Olson Wrolstad was in the lumber business--so why would he have pine doors faux finished to resemble other oak, mahoghany, and walnut? Again, to have an artisan paint these finishes was art in itself. We've taken great pains to touch up the tiny chips and maintain the artisan's original work.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dining Room Lamp - A Christmas Present from my Wonderful Husband

There is something magical about the red dining room. Its the color. It always photographs like a tomato red, but in real life it is a more faded red. The formula is something terrific because it only took two coats. First coat would have made most people happy enough, but the second coat made it perfect.

The dining room carpet has the same shade of red, along with gold. I saw this Tiffany style lamp and went back to the store twice to look it over. The second time I took Jon along and he bought it for me. He's a great husband.

Taking Time Out to Paint Something Besides Walls

I had fun working on this old dresser. Mom and I found it last September when she visited me. We went to a yard sale in a machine shed on a farm. The 1940s dresser was in rough shape. We fixed drawer slides and filled veneer chips, and sanded the devil out of it. Primed it, and painted two coats of special furniture paint 'lamp black'. Afterwards I got out my favorite brush and a bottle of gold acrylic craft paint and painted the flourishes. The knobs Mom and I found in a boutique. The knobs gave us the idea what the re-do should look like. I'm an oil painter (portrait artist) for 20+ years. I would like to try my hand at handpainting more furniture. I liked the results.

The finished dresser will go into the new bathroom upstairs 10.5 x 15' room. There is a 1903 Kohler (restored) clawfoot tub, and new pedestal sink. I'm putting our underwear in this dresser and other bathroom supplies. The name of the game having an old Victorian house is making storage space where there is NONE.