Thursday, 31 May 2012

Choosing fabric for the kitchen pantry's curtain

Our kitchen pantry is a good-sized recessed nook with lots of wood shelving, reclaimed from the red brick building's ceiling joists.  I always had in mind that the nook would be fronted by a long curtain, in the tradition of the portiere.  (I used the same idea for the coat closets in our front entryway: I like the softness, warmth and texture of fabric especially in small spaces like these, as a change from cumbersome doors.)

For many months, I've had in mind that what would be most beautiful for the pantry curtain is a fabric that either is - or is reminiscent of - a Flemish verdure tapestry.  I came across an antique verdure tapestry at auction last winter but it was in really rough shape and still sold for a lot of money.  The ones I've seen since either aren't the right size, aren't as nice or are really expensive.  So I've been looking for a contemporary fabric that has a similar look.  My current favorite is Scalamandre's (cut?) velvet pattern "Marly".  It comes in three colorways.  My favorite is the first below, but the third is nice too:

I'm sure it's hundreds of dollars a yard, but I asked my curtain maker to look into the pricing just so I can get a sense of what I'm dealing with.  I really would like to see that part of the kitchen finished - it's a bit annoying to look in the direction of the pantry and face clutter.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Watercolor wallpaper

Last week, I was looking through my files of interior images and came across this:

and promptly got excited about it all over again.  I love the translucent delicacy of watercolor and am intrigued by the idea of using it as a wall covering.  That said, I think the contrast between the crisp classicism of the moldings in the image above and the unrestrained shapes and lines of the mural might be what really gives the vignette its punch.  In any case, I've thought about the picture quite a bit since, and yesterday I set about tracking down a source for similar watercolor wallpaper with the thought of perhaps using it in the red brick building. 

I quickly came across the original producer of the wallpaper in the photo above: Black Crow Studios.  Here are some other images from their website:

I think the best candidate for this wallpaper is the front entry of our unit.  The trick with the walls there is that the back wall of the entryway also forms the back wall of a staircase and is therefore visible from the second floor as well - mostly the dining room but also a bit from the kitchen.  Whereas the front entry needs a lot of dramatic color and pattern (in the absence of natural light), the dining room and kitchen is all done in very pale and soothing colors.  Finding something that will make that transition well between the two spaces is the challenge.  Since all of Black Crow Studios' work is custom, I wonder how watercolor wallpaper would look in dark blue (the silk wall covering of the common entryway, which I am planning to reprise on an upholstered bench in the entryway of our unit), pale pink (the lining of the portiere curtains of our coat closets), charcoal grey (the upholstery on the dining room chairs) and cream (all the second floor curtains).  I'm tempted to go out and buy some watercolor paints and paper, then attempt a mock-up to get a sense of the effect.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Friday's roof garden plant additions

I received a few more plants on Friday and added them to the roof garden, in the hope of filling things in a little.  I put in a couple of gooseneck loosestrife:

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) "Sixteen Candles":

Siberian iris "Snow Queen":

More campanulas, this time Campanula glomerata alba:

and the groundcover Mazus reptans alba, currently looking very wilted in the red brick building's garden:

I also ordered three cold-hardy camellias, but they haven't shipped yet.  Curious to see whether they'll be okay up there.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Random merchandise oogling: Pottery Barn Ceramic Rope Vase

I've been eyeing this braided ceramic rope basket (on the right) from Pottery Barn:

I'm not sure where I'd put it, but it's unusual, pretty and a useful large size (17" diameter, 14.5" tall).  Planters that check all those boxes are hard to find.  It's on sale now ($159) but here's hoping it's not clearance so that I have more time to figure out what to do with it.

Friday, 25 May 2012

New furniture: Antique linen press

Yesterday the linen press was delivered that we bought from our favorite antique store in Savannah.  It's English c.1790, made of mahogany, with original finish and brasses intact.  Please pardon the camera flash - the sky is overcast here today.

A close-up of one of the drawer pulls:

A couple of shots to try to capture the patina and convey the richness of the wood.  Normally I don't like mahogany, but the tones are quite mellow here:

We loved the linen press when we first saw it but that we ultimately decided we didn't have room for it at the RBB and we chose the walnut dresser (for our bedroom) and the French Provincial armoire (for the living room) instead.  Every so often after they arrived, my husband would turn to me and ask whether I thought it was a mistake not to have bought the linen press as well.  Then the store's owner called out of the blue and made us an even better offer on the linen press.  We couldn't refuse. 

We are taking the little French Canadian pine armoire that I've had since I was a child to the beach house and using the linen press in its place in my stepdaughter's bedroom.  My original idea was to hide the TV in the top part of the linen press - something we couldn't do with my old armoire (it's door couldn't swing open widely enough without hitting the foot of the bed to make TV viewing possible.)  But we like the linen press on the long wall beside the bed (instead of opposite it), so now we're thinking about moving the TV downstairs and putting it inside the French armoire instead. 

Having such a serious piece of furniture in my stepdaughter's room makes me want to finish decorating the rest of the room.  I've been looking at beds online for a couple of weeks and I'd love to fix the curtains and curtain rods too.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Balcony planters: Planted!

Last week I planted the two urns on the red brick building's balcony and I've been meaning to post photos:

I put in white scented geranium, white verbena, basil, moonflower, morning glory 'Pearly Gates' that I grew from seed and two types of sweet peas: 'Jilly' and 'Memorial Flight', also seed-started.  I spent some time coaxing the vines around the iron railing and a few of them seem to have gotten the idea.  I really want the moonflower and morning glory to leaf out across the railing and trade off blooming times, with the moonflower's evening blossoms picked out by the street and balcony lights and the morning glory smiling down on neighbors heading to work.  The balcony faces southwest and the sun gets reflected off the red brick building's facade, so these guys are going to bake.  Here's hoping most of them hold up okay and that they aren't reduced to a bunch of gangly basil by August!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The 3 prettiest things right now in the roof garden (plus more planting)

The bearded irises 'Immortality' came and went in less than 10 days (they're supposed to rebloom - we'll see), but in their stead, the Siberian irises 'Not Quite White' have blossomed:

They're one of the prettiest things in the garden right now.  I'm also very excited to see the roof garden's very first rosebud open.  It's on 'Climbing Iceberg' and there are two more buds waiting to unfurl (click the photo to enlarge):

Another plant that I bought with no buds at all but that has flowered over the past week is anemone canadensis:

So delicate-looking and pretty!  I read somewhere that it's actually very robust, though.

I dug up my rogue lavender hedge - you remember, the one that was supposed to be 'Coconut Ice' and that I was worried would have pink-tinged flowers instead of pure white ones.  Well, apparently somebody mislabeled all seven plants because they all flowered purple, just like any ordinary lavender.  Needless to say, they had to go!  When I returned them to the local nursery where I had bought them, I took a look at their latest offerings and picked up some more plants.  I planted them all today.  First off, I put in three 'Casa Blanca' oriental lillies:

I debated whether they are predictable or whether they are classic and decided that I love the smell of lilies so much that I will think of them as classic.

Then I added a rose mallow (malva moscata alba) that was extremely annoyed to be sitting in the sun in it's pot for a day or two:

In went a 'Silver Mound' artemesia.  We had tons of them in the garden when I was growing up so it feels like a bit of a cliche.  On the other hand, it's really, really soft and goes with my silver foliage scheme:

I planted five utterly adorable mini yarrow (achillea jaborneggii):

Cartoonishly pretty.  And I added three helianthemum 'Silver Queen', which is apparently a new plant and for which I can't find an image online.  It's a short groundcover with greyish green foliage and papery white flowers.  When it flowers for me I'll try to remember to post a pic.

On Friday, my replacement lavender hedge arrived from New Mexico, so I planted those 9 little guys too.  This time I went for Lavandula x intermedia 'White Grosso', which allegedly grows into a 3ft x 3ft plant:

If it performs as advertised, I'm going to have to relocate some of them and as it is, when I open the casement windows it's planted beneath, the windows will brush the tops of the plants.  Hopefully they'll be okay with the rough and tumble and perhaps even release more of their wonderful fragrance.  I really do prefer the tall lavenders (more substantial!), so I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

My May Brimfield Wish List

It's the first Brimfield week of 2012.  Excitement!  A priori exhaustion!  Today was the first day, but I plan to go tomorrow instead, since there are a couple of fields that I like which don't open until then.  The forecast is absolutely miserable - drizzly today, thundershowers tomorrow, rain Thursday, but I figure I just need to steel myself and go for it.

I spent some time today putting together my wish list for the show.  So far, I have:

-  Baskets to serve as cachepots for herb plants in the kitchen
-  More sterling silver flatware (especially serving spoons) in assorted patterns
-  A small opulent mirror for the powder room
-  A short, narrow shelf for the powder room
-  Many similar gold-framed mirrors to hang gallery-style in the exercise room
-  A covered container for mail (maybe)
-  A covered container for my bedside table to hold my contact lens case and solution
-  A pair of cut crystal lamp bases to go with the jaunty Anthro shades I bought months ago
-  A screen for the exercise room (to hide the weight bench and weights when overnight guests come)
-  A small upholstered bench for the entryway
-  A glittery brass and glass chandelier for the master bathroom
-  A couple of blue and white soup bowls
-  A large mirror for over the fireplace mantel
-  A high-top/console table for the garden (marble top, iron base?)
-  A side table that can be used in the garden or possibly on the balcony
-  A small antique rug for the front entryway
-  An antique runner for the kitchen
-  A full-size bed for my stepdaughter's bedroom
-  A chest of drawers that can be used as a nightstand in the master bedroom

Obviously I am not going to find all these things in a few hours tomorrow, but it's helpful to give some thought to what's missing before being barraged/distracted by the options at Brimfield.  Also, it gives me a chance to jot down the relevant measurements of the spaces so that I'm not trying to figure out on the spot if a potential purchase will fit.  Let the games begin!

Monday, 7 May 2012

What I planted today in the roof garden

We were pretty active in the roof garden over the weekend and I'm just sitting down after four hours today of planting and watering in the garden.

On Friday, the last two climbing roses were delivered by the USPS and I planted them immediately.  One is Alberic Barbier:

The other is City of York:

Both were recommended for rooftop growing and trailing down the RBB's facade by the owner of a specialist rose nursery.

I also got my order with a few extra 4-6ft tall shrubs on Friday.  One is a shrub rose (Rosa Nasturana) that I couldn't resist after reading its description on the Niche Gardens website:  "As the late JC Raulston led the Niche bunch on a 1996 summer tour of the NCSU arboretum, he identified this as the "best Rose in the arboretum". An antique Rose found in a garden in Persia in the mid-1800's, Rosa 'Nastarana' blooms from spring to frost if deadheaded, and is disease-free. Can be pruned to a shrub, or you can drape this Persian princess over a wall or trellis for a sultry effect. Beautiful clusters of small, pale pink buds open to single, white, lightly fragrant roses. This beauty couldn't come with a higher recommendation — enjoy."  How romantic does that catalogue description make it sound?  Here she is:

On Sunday, my husband and I dug and laid the stepping "stone" bricks for the pathway in the garden on the left side of the patio.  I'm really happy with the way it looks.  Over the weekend, I also planted my white bush clover and white seashore mallow (the other two eventually-tall plants that came on Friday.)

Today during my four hour session, I planted the two Louisiana irises ('Starlight Starbright') that arrived on Friday:

Some rock soapwort 'Snow Tip':

Two dormant trillium grandiflorum, which as an Ontarian, hold a special place in my heart.  (See you next year, guys!):

A pair of double balloon flowers 'Hakone White':

Some Siberian iris 'Not Quite White':

My beloved cerastium alpinum, aka Alpine Mouse Ears:

A muhlenbergia capilliaris alba, which is a white-flowering grass:

A single pricey white stripe cobra lily:

A dwarf hemlock named Betty Rose:

Three clumps of caladium.  I'm not sure which variety, possibly 'White Christmas':

Some 'Royal Wedding' Oriental poppies:

Cymbalaria muralis alba compacta:

Lamium 'White Nancy':

Campanula persicifolia 'Lo Bello':

Anemone 'Whirlwind':

Campanula carpatica 'Purity':

Five Helleborus 'Joker' that I bought as house plants in late winter and want to see if I can transition to the garden:

An anemone cylindrica:

Some Epimedium 'Bandit':

A Sedum ternatum 'Larinem Park':

And a few annual Euphorbia graminea 'Diamond Frost' that I couldn't resist this morning at the market:

Whew! The left side of the garden is starting to shape up.