Wednesday, 23 November 2011

In-progress photos of the master bedroom closet built-in

The cabinet-maker sent me some photos of the built-in he's working on for our master bedroom's walk-in closet.

He's coming on Monday morning to finish off the kitchen built-ins and install the two bookcases.  Yay!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Our first fire

We had our first fire in the fireplace last night.  We'd been waiting for some black firebox paint I ordered over the internet.  Our poor painter was nearly asphixiated by the fumes, but he returned the next day with a respirator mask and did a great job.  We're still discussing the idea of staining the mantel (it was the above yellowish color when we got it from the architectural salvage place).  And of course, we need to find a couple of cozy armchairs to angle in front of the fireplace, perhaps with that round pedestal West Elm table between 'em.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

In progress photos of our bookcases

We're having some more built-ins made by the cabinetmakers who did our kitchen and master bathroom cabinets.  They are making two full height bookcases, one for the upstairs hallway (outside the master bedroom) and one for a wall in the exercise room.  Both are 9 feet wide so they should hold a ton of books.  They're being made out of the same ceiling joists that we salvaged from the building and used in the kitchen and bathroom.  The cabinetmaker was kind enough to send me a couple of in-progress pictures:

They're also making a built-in armoire for the walk-in closet in the master bedroom.  It will be nice to be able to put some more of our folded clothes away and get rid of a few more boxes in the bedroom.  Even when the closet is finished, though, we'll still be living out of boxes for a while, until I find a freestanding armoire for the bedroom proper, and/or chests to use as bedside tables.  Apparently we have a lot of clothes!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Cleaning out the dining room and living room

We spent a few hours cleaning out the unwanted furniture, boxes and contractors' equipment from our dining room and living room, sending a truck load to our beach house.  The rooms looks a lot more like a home already, even though we're missing some furniture, don't have curtains or chandeliers, haven't hung any art and still have some building materials and equipment lying about.  Oh, and everything needs reupholstering too.  Still, I thought I'd share our second floor's current state.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

An autumn view from the master bathroom window

I wish I was a better photographer so I could capture the beauty of the view from the master bathroom window and the bathtub yesterday morning.  The sky was a much darker blue than in these photos and the yellow of the leaves and brown of the tree limbs were gorgeous against it.

Friday, 11 November 2011

One furniture purchase that didn't work out, and planning another

After more than two months of waiting, our bed arrived from Restoration Hardware on Wednesday.  What a disappointment!  I ordered the Chesterfield Upholstered Sleigh Bed Without Footboard in a velvet color called "Natural" (they also sell a "White") and what arrived was as white as a piece of paper!  And so, so giant in the room besides.  The 56" high headboard, which is a pretty standard headboard height, looms and blocks a window in an awkward way.  The sleigh part of the bed makes the whole thing stick out from the wall in a way that is less than ideal in our not-so-wide room.  Long story short: I'm sending it back and having something custom made by our cabinetmakers.  I'd like something that's more like 44" high, still tufted and with turned wood legs, but with a panel headboard that curves like this bed's headboard:

I have a piece of charcoal gray cashmere-wool blend fabric that might look really great.  The upholsterer says we'd need 6 yards and I need to check that I have that my piece is that long before I get too carried away with plans for it.

Speaking of purchases from big furniture retailers, I went to our local West Elm earlier this week to see their new turned wood bistro table in person.  It's actually very nice in real life and appeals to me even though it's a modern piece.  I think that's because it's sculptural and has natural textural and variations that make it feel unique.

I've wanted a small round table for a while, mostly for quick cozy meals with my fiance (the big expanded dining room table usually has work spread out on it).  The West Elm table is 32" diameter, which is perfect.  I could see it either in the headhouse or snuggled into a seating arrangement in our living room.  (We've been playing around with various sofa-and-chair configurations and think we've found the one we like best.  It involves buying two more arm chairs and putting this table between them in front of the fireplace.)   I'm going to wait for some kind of sale on the table, even though the price isn't bad to begin with.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Glass finials

One of the final details that we still have to decide on for the red brick building is what the caps and finials on our newel posts should look like.  The architect had produced a drawing and our cabinetmaker had subbed out turning the egg-shaped wood finials to his turner, but the work wasn't completed and last week it became manifest that it hadn't even been started and that there was a problem in translating the scale of the drawing from a 3.5" square newel post to a 5.5" square newel.  (The headhouse staircase is the former size, the other two staircases are the latter size.)  Basically, if we took the drawing the architect had done - which was for a 3.5" box - and tried to make a proportional finial for the 5.5" box, the finial would be crazy tall (8.25").  So now we're trying to re-design the wheel - er - finials. 

I went finial-hunting online to see what the options might be and came across some pretty crystal staircase finials, which apparently are/were a French interiors thing (Louis XV, I think). 

Naturally they are phenomenally expensive ($350 each at the absolute bottom, up to $650 for the fancier ones) and therefore not in our vastly depleted budget right now.  I'm not sure how they would look with our staircase and in our space.  Too fancy, or dazzling? I dunno.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Invasion of the pond plants

My pond plant order was sitting in a box on the kitchen counter this afternoon when I got home.  There was no shipment-sent email or tracking info, so I actually thought the order hadn't even been processed yet.  Anyway, there were lots of exciting "Live Plants" stickers on the box and warnings not to expose to heat or to leave at the door.  I was relieved to see that it was just one box: the last time I attempted something like this (in the spring, with moss), I ended up with four enormous boxes of plant material.  (Hey, how should I know how to order plants by weight?)  Still, there was a ton of plant material in the box and it was tricky finding vase accommodation for so much.  I'm guessing I'll kill a number of them before I figure out what they like, so please excuse some of the vases, which are temporary.  Disclaimers aside, here are some family photos:

The minimum order quantity on the water lettuce was 6 plants and they sent me two extra (either because they're incredibly nice, because they wanted to make sure at least 6 survived, and/or because these guys grow like crazy and they can't get rid of them fast enough!).  I had only wanted one, or maybe 2 lettuces.  Their roots are absolutely massive.  I had no idea of the scale!  Aren't they cool, though?

Sort of like baby bok choy heads but intensely seaweedy underneath.  Wouldn't it be neat if it was edible?  Hello, indoor water lettuce farm.  Well, I guess my kitchen counter looks like that already....

My second favorite plant is the salvinia, which looks like this:

That's the entire quantity (it fit in a small yogurt container) - a "normal" size.  The leaves look a bit like mini lily pads.  I'd like to see the salvinia in a shallower, wider container.

Finally there's the azolla, which I find kind of underwhelming:

There's oodles of it, too: the amount in these two vases probably represents about 1/15th of what was in the bag.  Know anyone who wants a science experiment?  I'm going to try scattering the lettuces and the azolla around the RBB in various light conditions and see what happens.  Fingers crossed everything doesn't just kick it.

Monday, 7 November 2011

"Landing strip" options for front entryway

Plants aren't the only things I've been thinking about for the front entryway.  I'm also keen to figure out its furniture.  I'm pretty sure I want a symmetrical arrangement that includes a large painting.  The challenge is that we don't have a lot of depth off of the back wall, because the staircase runs up to the left and any piece of furniture that sticks out more than a foot or so is going to start encroaching on the staircase, depending on the piece's width.  (The back wall is roughly 6 feet wide up to the staircase's handrail.)  There needs to be a landing strip of some kind that we can put keys, a handbag, the mail on while hanging up coats and taking off shoes.  I'd also like enough space to create tabletop displays that change from time to time, and which would include the plants.  In an ideal world there would also be some kind of seating to perch on while putting on/taking off shoes.  (Sitting on the steps works in a pinch but isn't so hospitable!)

Here are some images I've saved that have the right feel and seem like they could be adapted to our small space:

I love the ornately carved table below and the stacks of books on the floor.  (Hooray for the floor under the table/shelf being used for display instead of being left empty!):

This next one kills me, but obviously I can't have bookshelves *behind* a piece of furniture, since I barely have room for the piece of furniture:

Not an entryway per se, but I like the stacks of books and the floating shelf:

The foyers in the next batch are too minimalist, but I can't figure out if it's just their styling or if it's the idea of something wall-mounted that doesn't give the old-world feel I'm after.  I *think* the problem with them is that there aren't any antique pieces in them, rather than that they're mostly wall-hung shelves.  They certainly make great use of tiny spaces.

Back in the world of decisions, one option I have would be to reuse one or more of the old 3 foot long Pottery Barn crown molding floating shelves that I have kicking around.  Here are a couple of photos of them from the PB website:

Underneath, I'd put some kind of stool or bench that could be easily pulled out.  Maybe if the bench or stool was antique it would lend the vignette enough of the sense of age I'm looking for.

Another idea would be to buy this Victorian English glass-fronted bookcase that I came across last week.  It's the right size (13" deep):

Since it's missing a shelf anyway, I could have replacement glass shelves cut and try to get some kind of light wired inside the cabinet (but obviously said light would need to be completely hidden).  Then the plants would have a little help surviving.  The bookcase isn't a bargain price-wise and the mahogany finish is a little darker than what I'd usually choose (plus there are a couple of chips in the veneer), so I'm not sure.   Also, if I got it, I worry that there wouldn't be enough room to comfortably add a chair.  (The front entryway is still a dumping ground for paint and the contractor's tools right now so it's difficult to get a clear sense of what would be left over in terms of standing room.)