Oh, To Wear A Gown

I’m suffering from a serious case of Oh-My-God-Not-Another-Bulky-Sweater-And-Snowboots. I pretty much look like this all the time:

So I’m finding the Oscar red carpet coverage especially swoon-worthy and am drawn to what are probably the most outrageous and impractical dresses like these two:

Not exaaaaactly shoveling in the snow friendly, but a girl can dream.

(Oscar photos by Getty.)

I Love Lamp: the “Crazy” Room Redo and a DIY Meltdown

While the downstairs of our house has the kitchen and two large rooms, the upstairs is a bit more of a traditional farmhouse labyrinth with low ceilings and a door to a room just about everywhere you turn. Each one of which I’ve wanted to update.

I’ve been taking it on room by room. First I did my office.

Then our bedroom.

Then the guest bedroom.

Which left two more (I know, I told you, there’s like a thousand little rooms upstairs): my closet and the room we’d taken to calling “the crazy room”. Yeah. It went from being a small “guest room” to a “closet” to a motherfucking “crazy room”. Exhibit A:

No, your eyes don’t deceive you. That’s a feather boa peaking out. And a child’s rocking horse. And sewing machine. And oh THAT’S where the bandaids went!

Sadly, the first step of having a go at this room meant emptying it. Which meant turning another room into total chaos. I chose the guest room, figuring that since “the crazy room” was so much smaller I could probably at least contain the madness to the bed.

Right.

But at least the little room was empty!

The pink drawers and tiny floral wallpaper weren’t so much our thing, so I figured I’d paint the built-in loft glossy black (my new new), strip the wallpaper, and paint the rest white. It would be a new guest room/closet combo with no “crazy” to be seen. A cozy place to snuggle up with a book. A reading room if you will.

The glossy black went on easy enough. Though oh my gosh how BAD does it look with just one coat, right? If painting things white makes them feel clean, painting ‘em black feels like you’re making a filthy mess. Until the second coat that is.

Anyway! Next up was stripping the wallpaper.

Sadly, I’d thrown out my heavy duty wallpaper stripping formula from my go at the hallway. So I tried a homemade solution of vinegar and warm water which did about as much as if I’d simply wished it off. So I bought some more, applied it and–

…it didn’t do a damn thing because much like the hallway, this wallpaper had been applied directly to drywall without any primer in between. Short of renting a power washer, I was screwed. I pulled and scraped and pinched and succeeded in two things:

1. Making it look worse than when I’d started.

2. Working myself into a bit of a fit.

At this point I took a time out to email two dear friends, Dominique and Mary, and vent, part of which I’m going to paste below because I’m of the tribe that believes some good old fashioned honesty on the Internet is a good thing: (And please excuse the excessive amount of f-bombs, I was really frustrated)

I’m just tired of working on this house right now. And so sick of it taking over my “off” time when I’m not working. Because it feels like I’m kind of working all the time then. And it’s my own fault that I can’t just relax in a messy/dirty place but it’s just the way I am. I will literally keep thinking about the room until it’s done. Then feeling guilty that I’m so annoyed by this ‘white person problem’ of sorts.

I would like to punch something. Or go somewhere that’s not this fucking house. But I’m not actually violent so I won’t punch something. And I can’t fucking go anywhere because I have to wait for our wine distributor to deliver and for our florist who’s dropping off pre-ordered Valentine’s bouquets to come and the snow is so deep I literally cannot even go for a walk around the property. Where the fuck would I go out here anyway??

Plus it seems like I haven’t felt my toes in weeks. No amount of Smart Wool socks can conquer this fucking winter.

Yeah. Re-doing this room brought on some pretty epic frustration and bouts of despair which my oh so empathetic and intelligent friends heard and helped me through. GOD BLESS ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION when you’re living out in the country.

I felt especially better when Dominique pointed out: “Not for nothing is that famous creepy short story about a woman going mad in a room centered around wallpaper ["The Yellow Wallpaper"]… Wallpaper could drive anyone mad.”

So there it was. The “crazy” room was threatening to drive me “crazy”.

Continuing my fit, I decided fuck it. I’ll just paint the whole thing white because even if put I up a wallpaper of some kind, I’ll want an even base.

And it was SO cathartic. It felt like a cleansing of the room somehow. A brightening. And while yes, you could see uneven texture where I’d had a go at the wallpaper, or where the rolls met, it wasn’t horrible. I mean, it’s not like I was trying to turn this room into a royal receiving suite or something. The room could be 90% ok and that would be 100% ok.

I considered hanging lots and lots of Steven’s art on the walls “salon” or “gallery” style, but I feared that would overwhelm such a small and severely angled space. And I didn’t want it to look busy and compete with how busy the hallway wallpaper looks.

Several coats of white paint and a few nails later, I settled on this:

If you look closely you can see that not all of those pillows have been fully sewn yet, but it’s progress! And like I told Dominique and Mary in a (much calmer) follow up email, the room makes me smile now. And really feels like it’s a part of our house. And is a strange testament to Steven’s and my bizarre path from Mali (where he made those paintings and where all the fabric is from) to the American woods. All of which makes me happy!

And you know what else makes me happy: side by side Before and After shots!

The view from the hallway:

The loft:

The other corner:

Yes, sadly there is still a bunch of crap piled up in the big guest room because I haven’t had the time/will to put it all back in the drawers and closet yet (have I mentioned I’m supposed to be running an inn??). Besides, I’m going to put a fair chunk of that stuff in my closet once I redo that room the week after next. Mwahahahahah!

That’s my evil can’t-stop-won’t-stop with the updating laugh. Well, it’s that or the yellow wallpaper really did get to me after all.

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

P.S. We actually got to give this room a run as a guest room last night when my brother came up for a visit. We just popped the little twin mattress that’s usually on the daybed near the wood stove up on the loft and bam! A guest room with a door that actually closes, where no one has to walk through to get to the bathroom. How sophisticated.

Only Lovers Left Alive

We watched “Only Lovers Left Alive” last night and it was…

…totally entrancing.

Moody, delicious music, lovely cinematography and of course Tilda Swinton can do absolutely no wrong.

I think my favorite part about the whole experience though was that it was unpredictable. Which sadly, is not a word that can be applied to most movies that make their way through Hollywood and Netflix and all that.

The most intriguing part of any vampire story to me is always the living-through-so-many-centuries aspect. What would you do with all that time? What would you learn? What would you produce? How would you keep your heart afloat after watching humans tragically repeat history so many times?

Check it out next time you’re in the mood for something just a bit unusual.

I Love Lamp: the DIY Wallpaper Saga Continues

So remember how last time I had to stop wallpapering the hallway because I ran out of Encyclopedia pages? Well I got myself another one, Sarsaparilla to Sorcery! And after tossing aside a few unpleasant entries (think: Slavery) I was sure I’d have more than enough pages to finish the remaining one and half walls.

And I was totally right!

BUT THEN I RAN OUT OF GLUE.

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

Oh, Morocco

Today my Moroccan host brother created a Facebook group for the Rabat medina and I started using a fresh bar of olive oil soap. Those two small and rather mundane things = I’ve been thinking about Morocco off and on all day…

(Photos: The Kasbah of Rabat, the tanneries of Fez, Chefchouen, in the old medina of Rabat, goats in an argan tree, and my host mom Amina making mint tea.)

Goodnight Moon’s Interior Design

I just came across this hilarious bit on the interior design of the bedroom in Goodnight Moon by The Ugly Volvo:

“So what color have we decided on for the upstairs child’s bedroom?”

Which child’s bedroom?”

“The enormous one.  The one with the expansive tomato-colored floor.”

“I was thinking for that room maybe a dark green?”

“Really?  Dark green?  You don’t think maybe dark green walls with a tomato-colored floor is a bit much?”

No, it’ll look amazing.  We can break up the monotony of the color with some dark green and yellow striped curtains.”

“That’s an amazing idea.  On non-matching red and yellow spearhead curtain rods?  Do you think a tiger skin rug would be overkill?”

For a young child’s room?  No.  Not at all.  ”  

“So what color do you think for the child’s bed?”

I was thinking like a tomato-ish red color?”

“You remember the floor’s a tomato-ish red color.”

Yeah.”

“You don’t think that’s a lot of red for a child’s bedroom?  We don’t want it to look like the Amityville Horror kill room or anything.”

You don’t trust me?  I’ve been decorating children’s bedrooms for almost twenty years.”

“No, I trust you, I trust you.  So you want to do all the furniture in red?”

Are you out of your f**king mind?  Of course not.  For the rest of the furniture I was thinking something sophisticated, like a mustard yellow.”

“For everything??  All the furniture?”

All the furniture.”

“Even the little toy house?”

Are you seriously asking me this?  No.  Of course not.  The little toy house should be red.”

That just CRACKED ME UP.  Especially because I know that when Steven is illustrating his kids books he’s NOT thinking like that. He’s all, “And I’ll make the sky yellow because my mountains are blue and who gives an eff if that’s not realistic.”

You can check out the whole thing here.

I Love Lamp: Guest Room Upgrade

Can’t stop won’t stop with the painting over here! This week: the guest room.

We’ve had to do some odd things to that room, like add a chimney for our wood stove downstairs and shorten a window so that one day we could replace the old fashioned porch that was once on the front of the house. So we’ve been living with some rather unsightly spackling and such for a bit:

And while these photos don’t really display it, the grey was showing some pretty serious wear and tear, as happens with paint over time.

I took everything but the bed out of the room and removed the doors, which turned the hallway into a bit of a nightmare.

(It’s felt like a weird game of musical chairs over here– just constantly moving the chaos from room to room as I redo each one.)

Then I got to work painting the trim a glossy white and the ceilings and walls flat white. The process was in all honestly pretty boring, but what can ya do?

Once that was done, I was faced with dragging those ancient white bookshelves back into this pristine new room and that just didn’t seem right. But where would the books go?

“On barn shelves of course!” was basically Steven’s answer. But instead of using the barn wood planks (of which we don’t have too many left), we decided to simply rip out the actual shelves in the barn we’d been using for tools since our longterm plan for that space is demo the heck out of the interior anyway.

(That’s them in the upper left corner, shot during the summer obviously. Oh, summer.)

We opted for four and went bottom to top, lining up the bottom shelf with the height of the bed and the bathroom door. Waldo, as usual, was incredibly helpful hung around the entire time trying to eat sandpaper and whatnot.

And ta-da!

Next up for this room is getting a door, but for now I like that you can see the encyclopedia wallpaper from the bed. Not mention, any guest who comes over and needs privacy is staying in the inn anyway, haha!

As usual, let’s conclude with a little side by side Before and After because they’re so satisfying! Like the static version of a montage. Facing north:

And facing south:

Also, because I might be certifiably insane, I decided to repaint Steven’s studio shelves right after this which I’d given a first attempt back in September. And I mean right after– like the paint brush did not even have time to dry.

I have yet to take some good After shots, but here’s a During for your enjoyment:

Steven posted this midway through to Instagram and the audience was divided as to whether or not to continue…

I’ll save the After for next time…!

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)