What I Did on My Corona Vacation

Over the past several months, I have frequently pondered the possibilities for the closet in my foyer (once used as a little office by children now grown and gone).  When a speaker at my church started talking about the marvels of having a Prayer Closet, I began to scratch that itch, one I didn’t even know was there.

Could the foyer closet work?  Maybe, but shouldn’t a Prayer Closet be quiet, rather than in the flow of traffic?  And it was a bit small – would the fetal position actually be conducive to hearing from God?  That, I knew, was what I wanted.  I wanted to pray Holy Spirit-led prayers, to be changed, and a conduit of change.  I wanted to commune with God.

I dared to dreamUninterrupted.  Private.  Whenever I wanted or needed to get alone. A place for all my stuff, my prayer and praise “paraphernalia”.  Mine.  So I could be more His.

And there it was – the room attached to the side of my utility room, functioning as linen closet, gift wrapping station, sewing/ironing spot, storage for kites, puzzles, paint, defunct pillows, lawn chairs, and Christmas decorations, revealed to me its true purpose.  I rolled up my sleeves.

Where to begin?  First came organization of the back shelves, which included large piles for both Goodwill and the trash, along with condensation of Christmas decorations.  Curtains were hung over the shelves, and the much needed deep cleaning began.  A good bit of elbow grease and five tubes of caulk later, it was painting time.  I chose a very pale yellow green for it all, but it was too much.  Toning it down was as easy as painting the ceiling, door and window trim white (with the palest ever peachy/pink tint).

Now for the fun parts.  For several days I found and added treasures to enhance my space.  It was as I hung my window treatment that I realized this room was originally supposed to be a bathroom.  Why else would it have an opaque bathroom-sized window?  I smiled as I wondered and whispered, “God, I think you stopped the bathroom construction because you thought, ‘Someday Bev will need a prayer room.’”

Finally, after about a week’s work, I sat down to engage.  The first day I got a straight-from-Heaven word.  I’d been praying about certain people, with a troubled and weary heart, and I asked God for “a word”.  I randomly opened the Bible to Jeremiah where my eyes went directly to a verse that emphatically answered my heart’s cry.

Day Two I got another powerful word, which developed during the next several hours and into the following day, and it set me free from a thirteen-year relationship struggle.

On the third day I filled my journal, writing as quickly as possible so as not to forget anything, with new and freeing revelations.  Since then I wander into my Prayer Closet early and late, as well as between times.  I enter knowing I have a need of something, and I come out with something to meet the needs of others.  Sometimes meeting the needs of those who love me most is just a matter of getting my joy back, and passing it on with a smile.

Pehaps you’re wondering whatever happened to the closet in the foyer, and what did I do with my linens, ironing board, etc?  The foyer closet is now my sewing station.  The ironing board and iron rest in my bedroom closet.  This is very handy for John and me, as we can step right out of the bathroom, do our ironing, and dress right then and there (I haven’t quite worked out that wrapping station bit, but I will, and quite likely as I’m sitting and dreaming in my lovely new Prayer Closet).  As to the linens, I have a new and improved setup.  It’s two cleared shelves in the utility room (they were in great need of clearing) and I had the most fun and felt ever so elegant and superior throwing out ratty linens, and folding the remaining items with perfect symmetry.

Symmetry.  That’s the word for what a prayer closet can do to your spiritual life.  Plus, it’s just so much fun!

Coffee Table Fun, Golden Retriever Puppies who Never Make a Mess, and Ignoring the Naysayers when Decorating!

 

And, you can’t really do this playing it safe.  White.  Gray.  Grey.

A coffee table that’s too large, too small, too nice to put your feet on.  Too new.

What would happen, I wondered, if I turned that old, very old, dresser on it’s back.  The size would be perfect.

What happened was my daughter, Hannah, laughing until she had to slide down the wall and sit in the floor.  Just you wait.  She and every other doubting Thomas in my house went to bed.

As did I.  No, I won’t use it.  I’ll just do something else.  It’s too out there, even for me.  I went to sleep.

But then.  I woke up thinking of the exposed slats in the bottom of the old dresser, exposed and right in front of the couch.  And I thought . . . I wonder . . . Would that picture of the Golden Retrievers fit?  Nah.  Too long.

But I went to get it and tried it out and you can see the results below.  You can see what people who put their feet (pillows and warm socks always provided at our house) and their coffee on my coffee table see when they look down a bit.

And now, more of my welcoming, cozy, answer to the Bleak Facade:  (first you must decide which puppy you like best)

That’s a vintage (a-maz-ing sound!) record player in the corner – Neil Diamond “Moods” is playing.

 

The pram in the dining area (next to the piano) holds CD’s and a CD player.

 

Yay, Hooray, Today is the Day

Summer Put Away

Autumn Holding Sway!

Color, Clamor, Leaves Gone Quite Wild

Light Fine and Clear

Let us all Rejoice!  Harvest is Here.

Romancing the Guest Room – Hideous Before and Lovely After

BEFORE . . .

This room was a lovely but a bit chilly in blue and white.  Put in new windows and remove the old sills, and it’s a bit of a horror.

Using what’s under my nose, i.e. paint I already had from other projects, I decided on the pale aqua and green yellow.  “This is going to look like a nursery,” my son predicted.  

Not if I use red accents.  Just you wait.

AFTER!!!

Master Woodworker Husband John and Dire Predictor Son Seth set to work on the new window trim, and as you can see (pics don’t do the perfection of their work justice) the results are lovely.

(There’s always more to do, little touches here and there.  For instance, I am going to paint the frames on the little French biker children a shiny copper, as the dark frame detracts).

I am especially pleased with my red efforts.  I had already made curtains out of the red polka dot fabric (a hand-me-down from a seamstress friend) and they had a bit of surplus length.  I took that surplus and made the little valance for the smaller window, then took a crocheted piece from the linen closet, and tied it with a red ribbon.

 

On the antique dressing table chair (above) I added a Mary Engelbreit pillow – with red, of course, and on the walls opposite are quilted wall hangings, as well as a never finished quilt top (another hand-me-down), all of which contain a bit of red.

Does it look like a nursery?  Not according to the two guests who have so far enjoyed it.  “Lovely, absolutely lovely,” is the verdict.  And again, except for one additional can of paint, I used only what I already had – right under my nose.

Don’t Hide Behind What’s “In”

One size does not fit all.  If you have a brand new home in a look-alike neighborhood, then go ahead with what’s “in”.  But if you have an old and beleaguered house, with crooked walls and battered  baseboard heater covers, with weird angles and misplaced windows, you need to form a cohesive whole.  One that goes.

Goes?  Yes, goes.  One that goes with the house, the setting, and one that suits you, even if no one else gets it at all, even if it couldn’t possibly be less “in”.

A brief history of decorating:

Our house had darkly stained (almost black) wood trim, unpainted.  The walls were a dark diarrhea color, and the crowning touch was the mauve Formica countertops to match the pink-ish stain on the cabinets.  My budget was for paint.  Not new trim or countertops or cabinets.  Paint.

After much searching I finally hit on a golden apricot for the walls and a trim color called “Blackberry” which was deep purple most of the time (I took the doors off the upper cabinets and display dishes rather than pink-ness).

But there was that time of the day when the purple trim was just garish as heck against the white areas of the kitchen, and not all that complementary with those  lovely mauve countertops.  The countertops were the sticking point – the mauve against the apricot, which also at some times of the day was just plain orangey papaya, began to be a thorn in my side.

I griped in my head every time I looked at it.  If I could just get new countertops.  I spent a couple of years on this “if” but to no avail.  Fine.  One fine day I would have new countertops.  In the meantime I would go to what always works for me.  Paint.

Don’t want to repaint the whole thing.  How about just the kitchen including the wall that is also the window wall of the dining room?  What color then?  Finally I found it.  A lovely and very pale green/yellow (depending on the light, but more green than yellow).

The mauve countertops against the green look fantastic.  The ugly old now appears lovely vintage.  I am so very pleased with this outcome of my efforts.  However, there was one thing.  The corner.

With a bit of uncertainty I had stopped in the dining room corner, where each color refused to cooperate with or give way to the other.

And so.  Something to tie it all together.  Perhaps a border that went all the way around the dining room.  I found the border.  A year later I thought (border still in drawer) of stripes on the lower part of the wall, beneath the border.  Another year later I did it, and you see the results above.

I leave it to your imagination to  envision how awful this room looked before I painted, but let me assure you that when that trim was stained walnut, and later when those walls were painted in shades of body excrement, those things were “in”.

Again, what’s “in” should be what works for you.  My house is high in the Rockies and it’s often chilly.  I want warm colors.  My house is also a 70’s monstrosity of vaulted ceilings and weird angles, and the argument could certainly be made that “granny” decor doesn’t fit.  But the final word on it all is “mine”.  This is house is mine, and so what’s “in” is irrelevant.

No design police are coming, no magazine photographer either.  What’s “in” about this house are the people who LIVE “in” this house (continual compliments from my beloveds on this new creative endeavor).

I encourage you.  Go browsing and digging around thrift shops, estate sales, antique stores, kitchen stores and consignment shops, and your own “stuff” for something that absolutely delights you.  Let your imagination go.

Just remember this:  “In” is based on someone else’s imagination, or lack thereof.  Again, this house is your house!

Happy Real Decorating!

P.S.  Somewhere in all this – about a year ago, I think, I painted the trim white, a lovely brilliant white with the very teeniest hint of rose (in certain light).

Beware the Beige Blahs

IMG_3713[1]

Do you try and try to brighten and cheer your house, but never seem to get that ah-hah! you’re hoping for?  Perhaps the problem is nothing more than that showroom floor look – the one with the fear of color, fear of originality, and celebration of nonentity.

People actually believe their houses will sell faster if the walls are beige (or worse, still sporting the dugout look – dirt in color).  And if they happen to buy a house whose walls (probably beige) need a new coat of paint, they re-paint them beige, “in case we decide to sell.”

What?  You are living here right now.  Today.  Make it yours!  Make it beautiful!

Then there are those “experts” who advise painting everything white (looks like primer, now ready for real paint) and add “splashes” of color.  Not soothing, not relaxing, not your idea.

Of course, if this is what you truly like, and you get a brilliant white and the splashes are authentic (maybe framed children’s artwork, or your own) you are on to something.  Namely, a home that is, you guessed it, authentic. 

We all like to see other people’s houses, and hope to get a glimpse of who they really are.  But when we see beige, and everything looks as though we’re in a decorating magazine (and not one of the good ones) or on a showroom floor, it’s as if they’re hiding something – themselves!

When we moved into our house the walls were the color of diaper contents when the baby has acute diarrhea, and the trim was stained dark, dark brown.  I painted the walls a golden apricot which actually glows like the sun in the evenings and mornings.  I then began the search for trim color.  After much ado, I settled on blackberry, which is a deep, dark purple.  This color combination went perfectly with this house, and with me, where I was at that time.

Now that I’m considering repainting I may put a bright cream on the trim, or perhaps a brilliant white, and leave the apricot.  Or paint the walls a light-infused pale yellow-green with the brilliant white trim.  Maybe I’ll paint my cabinets a deep moss green and the walls white and the trim whatever seems right.

Whatever I do will horrify a few people, and please most people.  Best of all, it will be MY choice, unhindered by the Made-in-CheapoLand décor offerings in the decorating aisles at the superstores, and uninfluenced by what’s “in” right now.

Your house is your house, my house is my house.  Amen (so let it be so).