Friday, January 29, 2016

~~ Fireplace Do-Over ~~

My living room has had many looks. I'm sure you can relate.
Gradually, through trial and error, I started to find my style.

But before I figured it out, there was the Mary Tyler Moore look with matching
white love seats, mauve pillows, a glass coffee table, and black lacquer shelving units.
At least I didn't have the big initial "P" on the wall.
(I do wish I'd kept that chaise lounge though. It would have been perfect in my office.)

And then I had the southwestern style with a wicker sofa and leather mission-style chairs--
cool looking but so uncomfortable--and a  shaggy flokati rug.

And I can't forget the time I went for drama with dark red walls. 
Yep, every wall.
Red. Dark glossy red.
What was I thinking?
This was before I knew dark colors make a small space seem even smaller
and glossy paint highlights every problem.

Finally, I painted the walls a muted khaki with white trim. 
I removed the lined bronze drapes, lightening the room with new lace curtains, 
(I've since replaced them with ivory loose-weave linen drapes.)
I removed the fake stained-glass windows on each side of the fireplace and
switched out a wobbly ceiling fan for the vintage chandelier from the foyer.

Better, but I still had that boxy red fireplace.

So, I decided to take the plunge and remove the fireplace that, 
like so many good intentions in the 70s, was just wrong. 
It jutted into the small room about two feet and
diagonal planks of rough wood covered the whole thing floor to ceiling. 
Quite a visual impact but not one I wanted.
(Here's an old photo showing the diagonal boards).

Researching my options, I decided to have a gas insert installed. 
Wood-burning fireplaces are romantic . . . and dirty, time-consuming, and inconvenient. 
I loved the idea of enjoying an instant fire with the flick of a switch.

My contractor demo-ed the fireplace wall down to the cinder block lining. 
You can see the scars on the floor and ceiling where the old fireplace used to be. 
It was about this time I started having second and third thoughts.

 I asked him to build a platform to rest the insert on so it would be more visible. 
Then, the gas guys came and installed the insert.

You can see how much natural light comes in
after we removed the faux stained-glass windows. 

Then my contractor finished the carpentry.
I asked him to match the design of the corner legs to the original staircase newel posts.
Perfect match. He does beautiful work. 

I picked out a tile that complimented my furnishings and resembled tile I'd seen in old houses.

When the construction was finished, I painted the wood white to match the white trim in the room 
and the white dog on the couch. Then refinished the floor.
Most visitors think the fireplace is original to the house with a new gas insert.

I gained a little over an actual foot of floor space since the new design hugs the wall
but the room feels even more spacious.

I've made some changes since the previous picture was taken:
a different rug, a light slipcover on the couch, flat-screen TV, farmhouse coffee table
and a more relaxed yet elegant French Country style.

The gas insert was definitely the right choice. 
It's perfect for a chilly morning with a cup of coffee or a romantic evening watching a movie.

And it's fun decorating the new mantle.

So now, the room is finished. . . at least for now!

Only 50 days til Spring!!

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Friday, January 22, 2016

~~ The French Attic in Winter ~~

The second-floor space in my home isn't really an attic 
but it's always felt like one to me. 

I like to imagine it's one of those tiny Parisian attics like this one where the maid lived. 
I'm sure she'd never be able to afford it now!!

Today this room is my office where I write my blog, 
but if I had a hot plate, a mini-fridge and a daybed, I could live in this small space.

Filled with natural light from tall east-facing windows, 
the room continues to evolve as the scene outside changes. 
Today, as the temperature dips and a snowstorm blows down my street, 
the trees shiver and bare their bony limbs. 

Back inside, one of the recent changes we made in this room was cutting back the lower shelf 
above my refurbished desk by about three inches. 
I was always banging my head on the shelf every time I stood up. Merde!
(That's French for "Who put this stupid shelf here? Oh yeah, that would be me.") Ha!

The other changes are more temporary and easily changed when warm weather returns. 
I brought my vintage birdcage inside from the front porch for the winter.
I love the wiry lines of the cage backlit by the window.
I draped a lacy piano shawl over the stand for a soft look. 

Potted begonias and ferns that I wanted to winter-over inside 
have found a spot next to the sheer-draped windows, bringing a touch of spring to this room.

I've also moved this stained-glass window several times 
and think I've finally found a perfect home for it in front of the windows. 
It brings a bit of color to a mostly white room. 

A linen floral slipcover has been removed to show off the warm red leather 
of the deep club chair and ottoman. 

Here's the summer look . . . 

. . . and here's the winter version. 

I've tossed a white sheepskin over the back of the chair 
and added a chunky throw for a cozy feel. 

The white wicker planter has a new look filled with my favorite books 
and swathed with vintage linens. 
(Yes, it's the same stained-glass window. It moves around a lot.)

Some pretty white silk flowers in a copper flower bucket 

and an evocative Paris poster with my red heels add a sultry French mood to the room. 

This room may not be an attic in France but 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Love at First Sight

This is a love story. But don't worry. It has a happy ending.

Ron and I drove up to Loveland on Saturday to go to the Vintage Whites Market. 
Why didn't anyone tell me about this big market before?
I hear it's been around for five years in three states 
and no one ever told me. I actually found out about it by reading someone's blog. 
Marked it on my calendar and prayed it wouldn't snow.

Loveland, by the way, is America's Sweetheart City where thousands of people 
send their valentines to be re-stamped "With Love from Loveland." So romantic.
And if you're wondering about all the photos of this wonderful old table, well,
I'll tell you my love story in just a moment. 

Yesterday, it snowed about five inches in Denver. 
This morning dawned crisp and very cold but no snow so we headed north. 
And it was absolutely beautiful. 
There's a good bit of open land north of Denver (I hope it doesn't all get developed) 
and yesterday's fluffy snowfall blanketed fields, hugged pine trees, 
and settled on rustic wooden fences. 
How perfectly perfect for a White Market.

The market was actually much bigger and much more crowded than we expected, 
making it a little difficult to see everything or to take pictures.
We wandered around, oohing and ahhing but not buying. 
I think we've become spoiled by estate sales and thrift stores where bargains abound.

So, entering the second building, yes, a whole other building, 
we're strolling and excusing ourselves through the crowd when I saw it. 
And, oh, it was love at first sight. My heart thumped. My breath quickened.
I think my pupils got bigger like they say happens when you are attracted to someone.
I smiled and moved closer.

It was the primitive kitchen table I'd been lusting after. 
The kind of table you'd find in a charming little vacation cottage on the lake. 
But, if  you've been following my blog, you know I have a very tiny kitchen. 
Where was I going to put this gotta-have-it table? 
No idea. So like Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, I told myself I'd worry about that tomorrow.

I took a closer look. 
It looked as if it had had, shall we say, several relationships. 
Red chippy paint on the fold-out side panels, green and cream crackles on the legs, 
and mostly bare weathered wood on top.

And then the price tag tied to the leg:  $90. A bit more than I wanted to pay. So we moved on. 
My heart broke a little bit. I sniffled. I felt like we'd broken up before we ever had a chance.

But as we wrapped up building number two, I found myself drifting back to see 
if the table was still there. Yep, and it looked even better than the first time. 
Absence had indeed made the heart grow fonder.

 I sat down in a chair to check the height. Perfect. 
I could see myself having a morning cup of coffee at this table. 
Gave it a few twists to check construction. Strong and stable. 
I could even bring my laptop here to work in the afternoon.
And that chippy paint. 
A perfect match.

Love. At second sight.

Finding the booth owner, I asked if that was her best price. 
But before she gave me the standard 10% off, I asked if she'd take $75 and she said yes!
Then, of course, I wondered if I should have offered $65. But, it was definitely worth the price, especially when I saw similar tables on Ebay when I got home for around $450!!
The best part -- now I had a table that would accommodate all my vintage tablecloths. 

Now, where to put it? I've said it before:  if you truly want something, you WILL find room for it. Even if that means getting rid of something else. 
So, my friends, I have a lovely vintage 1920s green wicker sofa for sale if anyone is interested. 
It's destined for Craigslist this spring 
and will make room for my primitive kitchen table in the sunroom.

Just in time to put my little table next to the windows and watch for crocus blooms 
struggling to push their way through the frozen ground and layers of dead leaves. 

They know. In their little bulb hearts. 
 If you truly want something, you will find a way.

Friday, January 8, 2016

~~ Changes in the French Country Kitchen ~~

My tiny French Country kitchen is still tiny. 
But I've made a few changes -- some big, some small -- 
that make it more cozy and, well, a little more French. 

I've always loved the look of a small lamp in the kitchen. 
The warm glow, the intimate feeling. 
Probably what it was like back in the day before electricity
when a few candles provided flickering light. 

I had to move a few things on my kitchen island to make room
for this vintage lamp but I like the space better this way anyway. 
It's really pretty at night too. 

I found this chair at Goodwill and knew it would be perfect in the kitchen
even though I also knew I didn't have room for it. 
(I'll be sharing a separate post about chairs so stay tuned.)
This is probably the closest I'll ever get to having a kitchen table.

Check out this adorable tea-towel with roosters that Ron got me for Christmas.
 I may have mentioned it to him a few hundred times when we were out shopping. 

I don't want to go overboard on the rooster theme but seriously. . .
how cute is this plate!

I love red in the kitchen . . . gives it a warm country feel. 
I added this little painting of a Holstein calf that I bought in Ohio at least forty years ago. 
It was painted by a young Amish girl whose job it was to care for the newborn calves. Aww.

Okay, so on to the biggie. A new faucet. 
Here's the old one that decided to leak over the holidays.
Standard design. Plastic sprayer. Nice handles that leak. Uninspiring.
I'd been wanting a new faucet anyway.
So long Old Leaky. 

I went online and started looking around. 
It didn't take long to find exactly what I wanted at 
A few days later it arrived on my front porch.
And here it is!

I love the shape. So French. 
That curvy faucet. Ooh la la.
The sprayer is brass and hefty. 
The white handles give it a vintage look.
And . . .  it doesn't leak.

Ron saved me a bundle by installing it for me and said,
"If you say enough bad words while you're installing it, it won't leak!"
I'm pretty confident it will be dry for quite a while. 

A few accessories also got a tweak here and there.

Can't go wrong with old ironstone on the shelf above the sink!