Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Three years and counting - part two
So, yesterday's post brings us up to about February of this year, three years after the house went into escrow. One thing I alluded to, but did not state outright, was that during this past Christmas season my mom passed away. Things are a bit of a blur surrounding that time and the four or five months that followed, but having a temperament that requires me to be busy when grieving, a lot got done around here in spite of it all. Some of it also came from a different kind of necessity. Mom passed exactly one week before Christmas, and two weeks before the first of the month when her apartment would have to be vacated. We siblings and our grown kids sorted through her belongings - laughing, crying, remembering - then divided them up and carted them off to our various dwellings. This led to a flurry of rearranging to make room for our keepsakes and added further impetus to our plans to "finish" the house. It was a bittersweet time, finding new homes for Mom's treasures, thinking how much she would like the way they look in their new spots, wishing I could show her, and then crying.
It was my mother's floor lamp that finally helped me choose the color to paint the living room. Since it is separated from the dining room only by an "arch", it was important that we choose a color which looked great with terra cotta. I didn't mention it earlier, but I LOVED that color from the moment I laid eyes on it and about cried over how great it looked in the dining room. There was a part of me that wanted to coat every surface of the house in it. So I felt a lot of pressure to choose just the right color for the front room. The lamp offered me choices between green and gold. I determined early on I did not want green. I just didn't. So I set out to Lowes, paint chip of dining room color in hand, to find a nice gold....even though I don't like the color gold. I settled for the one that looked the best with the paint chip, brought it home, then proceeded to procrastinate. There is always plenty of other stuff to do when you're trying to put off painting. (Have I mentioned yet that I HATE painting?) But here was our main reason for putting it off:
This wardrobe is huge and PACKED with movies, books, games, etc. All of this would have to be moved somewhere. In other words, painting this room would require rearranging everything.
While I was dilly-dallying about the living room, the announcement came that Tony was moving out. The room he left behind is off the kitchen, but it in my life it might as well have never existed - really. It was the hole my teen son crawled into shutting the hatch behind himself. (This is also why I don't have a before picture of it. Imagine rental-house white walls covered entirely with posters of no interest to full-blown adults.) Once it was empty I would just stand there with the door wide open staring in awe. Someone had added on to my house! There was a window that let in light in the afternoon! With that door open, the kitchen seemed washed in it. I could put stuff in there when I got up the nerve to paint the living room, then, later, it would become my office/hobby/art/guest room! I started to tidy up the random items Tony left behind. Just about when I got everything picked up enough to vacuum,the announcement came that Tony was moving back in. Adulthood proved a tad more of a challenge than he was up to just then. (I'd told him that I'd hold his spot for three months, in case things didn't work out. Good thing.) We had two weeks before he would be back. It was paint now or for a really long time hold our peace. So we agonized briefly over a nice color that would reflect well from the kitchen - settling for a soft color called "Spice". I thought it looked like Chai. Everyone else called it peach. I moved in a normal length twin bed instead of the extra-long model he'd used, covered it with Paul's childhood quilt, hand-stitched by his grandmother and stared at it, longing for another child, or a grandchild to come sleep in it. Tony really likes his new room. Napoleon does too.
Detour complete I was fresh out of excuses. The living room's time had come. It looked like a dull blob next to that bold and beautiful dining area. I took it in stages so as to move as few large objects at one time as possible, read that, the walls which were not behind the wardrobe and TV stand.
I was in for a shock. The color made me feel ill. I hated it. But for some reason, stubbornness maybe, or disbelief/denial that I could have exhibited such poor judgment, I kept on painting all the while thinking, "It'll look better when all the walls are done." It took a couple of weekends to get to there and I did not think it looked any better. But, I hate to paint and I hate to spend money on paint and wasn't about to do either again any time soon. So I told myself, "Remember the gold stripe on the ship? Remember the gold in the lamp? Remember...? It'll look great when we put the furniture back." At this point we also decided to change the furniture arrangement. The room looked so much more open without the wardrobe looming in that front corner. Strangely enough it looked much better in the interior corner, alongside the arch. So, we positioned it there and placed The Napoleon (the ship, not the cat) in its place atop it. Suddenly, the room was beautiful. The gold stripe in the ship justified a whole room of gold. In fact, Gina stopped by at this stage of the works and said, "Wow the color looks really great with the ship!"
Then we placed the rest of the furniture. It all looked crisper than it had before. Even the rotten loveseat and chair (which we were about to replace that last weekend until we heard our wallet weeping openly...) didn't look quite so bad. Then we started trying out art. The gold walls made everything we tried pop. Every single print we own looked better on that horrible gold. Suddenly I knew I'd made exactly the right choice, and did a dance of joy. The picture at left is what you see straight ahead when you walk in the front door, a lovely little print we picked up at the Getty Museum gift shop on our first anniversary. The one at right is to your right if you're standing just inside the door. The photographer is our friend James Evarro of Rev411. This was a wedding gift. Notice how great the colors look!
And here is the rest of the room. That picture above the TV will probably not stay. I have other ideas.
So that's the bulk of it. All that's left is nothing of great consequence...well, at least until the giant sack of money drops on us which would permit us to redo the floors. Until then we have a few small projects: crown molding in the dining room and Paul's office, and the bathrooms which we haven't done a thing with yet. But these are small things compared to what we've already done. We've decided to leave our bedroom as it is. There's something peaceful about it that we like. If we do paint it someday it will be only a brighter shade of white... but that's not going to be any time soon...there's that really big armoire to consider.
Did I mention we have the world's smallest bedroom? We had to put in a folding door because the regular door could only open halfway before hitting the foot of the bed. I love that black and white oil painting of Venice. I bought it from a pair of Israelis who were earning a buck selling them door to door.
The little Asian doll was my mother's. It held a special place in her heart, and so in mine. The print above it came from Paul. I framed it for him for his birthday one year. It's a map of Atlantis! Bet you didn't know it was a real place, did you? Well, I have the map as proof. When I'm sick, I lay in bed and stare at it. On the other side of the door, next to the closet, is a charcoal drawing I did decades ago and underneath an antique gate, just perfect for hanging purses and assorted stuff.
So that's the grand tour. I'm afraid you'll have to leave without visiting the bathrooms, so I'll describe them for you. If you head to the back of the house, past the kitchen there is a hallway. To the left is a small bathroom. To the right, is a small bathroom. We always joke that we should put signs on them: "Men" and "Ladies". Both are basic rental house utilitarian. Beyond the bathroom doors to the left is a dryer, facing it on the right is a washer, and straight ahead is the back door. And there you have it. Thanks so much for visiting! You are welcome any time.