It’s so hot and muggy…

It's so hot and muggy today that I can only bear to weed in 10-15 minute spurts -- then I have to come in and wash the sweat off and collapse on the couch for an hour with my knitting. I motivate myself by taking photos. I'm so happy that the hydrangea I planted in the too-shady-for-roses-that-were-there-previously spot is doing so well. Look at its pink gorgeousness! And the tradescantia is also a triumph -- some people think of it as a weed, but I think it's utterly lovely, and last fall I moved it from the side, kind of under the porch, to a prime location near the front steps; it makes me so happy that it survived the transplant. Yay. :-)

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When we bought this…

When we bought this house as a foreclosure and renovated it, most of what was left in the overgrown yard got trampled and buried in the construction process. One of the few plants that survived were the scilla, and it makes me happy every spring, to see them coming back. I hope to have a spreading carpet of them someday, a haze of blue. But for now, I'm just happy to see the little buds, waiting to open. Tomorrow, perhaps!

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I love mirrors. Light…

I love mirrors. Light in dark places! These are the stairs going down to my basement -- a boring piece of plain white drywall holding the circuit board has been enlivened by paint (Benjamin Moore's "Deep Ocean") and an Indian fabric-bordered mirror (from Nadeau). Now you can see all the stuff I didn't get to clearing from the stairs down! But also, more importantly, sunlight. :-)

I am also feeling slightly smug that I mounted this with two drywall anchors and screws in exactly the right spot, perfectly level, without a single mistake. I am getting better at this stuff. In days past, there would have been all sorts of extra holes in the wall (hidden behind the mirror). :-)

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The lincrusta is up, and…

The lincrusta is up, and painted in Benjamin Moore's China White, and I rather love it. I was afraid that it would be overpowering, but in the end, I think it plays very nicely with the art glass, my open shelving, the blue-painted and oak cabinetry, and the stainless / zinc elements. Clearly, not for everyone, but perfect for us. Well, perfect for me, at least, and Kevin likes it fine. Whew!

I expect the lincrusta to pick up some grunge around the stove, since we do cook a lot, but the linoleum-based paper is both washable and repaintable, so it should stay reasonably pristine with manageable maintenance. It helps that our hood vent is very powerful! Mostly, I just love the way it extends from countertop to high ceiling (rather than cutting out at the bottom of the cabinets, like most backsplashes), and how it peeks out from behind the shelf items. Despite all the pattern, I think it works as a unifying element, in an otherwise somewhat busy kitchen.

I WISH I could say that this kitchen renovation is finally complete, but there's actually one last thing to do -- get a stainless sheath for the duct-taped vent thingie from the hood. There are probably technical terms for all that. But if you could just squint and pretend one is there, then you can finally see what our kitchen is supposed to look like. Only´┐Żthree and a half years after we started the renovation?

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This is how the basement…

This is how the basement looks when it's dark outside, with the lights on. The painters insisted on putting up a sample of the paint before they left today, so I could think about whether this is what I really want. The answer is yes. :-) The brighter turquoise to the right is a small cabinet, just in case that isn't clear.

It's going to look a little playroom-y initially, with that much color, but once there's furniture against the walls and rugs on the floor, I think it'll be good, in a layered, rich sort of way. And if not -- well, it's a basement. :-)

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I love the lincrusta…

I love the lincrusta wallpaper (pattern Elizabeth). Love it for itself, and if we had just used it as a dado wall, I would be totally happy; the paper is gorgeous. But we used it as kitchen backsplash (since it's linoleum-based, it should be quite stain/water-resistant when painted) and wallpaper, and I am now having a sudden panic attack that the relief is too strong/deep, and that instead of complementing the art glass, it detracts from it, and the end result just looks like a messy jumble.

And I don't know if, when the open shelving goes back up, that will lessen the effect and harmonize it (which I'm hoping, which was the original plan, to have the wallpaper peeking out behind the items on the open shelving as a subtle counterpoint), or if the shelves will make it even worse. I have this vision in my head, but I'm not positive the end result will match that.

It's too late now; we've spent the last of our kitchen renovation budget on it, and will have to live with it regardless. It should still be functional even if the aesthetics aren't what I hoped. I'm still going to keep stressing about it at least until it's finally painted (in Benjamin Moore's China White) and the shelves are back up and filled. This halfway stage is confusing as heck. (Will add annotations on the photos individually.)

Previous anaglypta coming down -- definitely not waterproof enough; it just peeled off the wall near the sink. What was I thinking?

Wall with the shelves taken down (mostly) and wallpaper removed.

Elizabeth being rolled out, preparatory to cutting/soaking.

Dale (excellent installer, very knowledgeable) soaks the lincrusta in water, wraps it in plastic, and lets it soak to saturate. He explains that it's still going to crack as he installs it, and that he'll just fill in the cracks as needed, and that the seams won't be visible after installation and painting.

Came home from work to see it half-up. At first glance, loved it; very striking.

Here's a close-up of the lincrusta against the art glass. Sometimes I love it; I intended the interplay of pattern, which look like different types of stars to my eyes. But maybe it's too much.

This I really like. The lighting makes the lincrusta look close to the final painted color, and I really like how it looks against the old-fashioned push button metal plate. If I have to have outlets, this is as good as I can get, I think.

View from the living room. The paper is much yellower than the end result should be, so try to imagine it closer to the ceiling color. The goal was to have the wallpaper relief pattern be subtle, and have the art glass still stand out as the main focal point in the room. I don't know.

Closer-up. Good? Bad? I just can't tell right now. I suspect I'm just going to have to wait for the finished result.

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So, as you may remember,…

So, as you may remember, I was having storage issues in my study. A severe lack of shelving (pics of the disaster), occasioned in part by the odd structure of the room. See, my study was originally, when the house was built in 1885, almost certainly just an open-air sleeping porch. (As far as we can tell from the Historic Society's fire map records.) It was closed off with a slanted roof at some point -- I'm guessing in 1911, when the wide plank pine floors were covered with thin strip oak (there were 1911 newspapers between the two layers, letting us date that shift).

When we bought the house, we got permission from the historic commission to punch up through the ceiling and convert a severely slant-roofed little closet into a workable study for me. Every writer needs a room of her own, y'know. But one bit of the slanty roof would be better remaining (for some roofing reason I can't remember), and we also wanted to echo the way the tower across the street looked, with a bit of triangle roofline against the square tower, and also, most importantly, preserve an indicator of the history of the house. So instead of pushing all the way out to make four normal walls, we kept a bit of the slanty roof on three sides. Boy, it's hard to explain all this in words. Here, you can see it more easily here, with photos from the renovation.

Okay, so all of that is prelude to explaining that what I needed were low shelves that would fit in the narrow nook behind the desk. And I thought IKEA's Expedit shelf might work, and be way cheaper ($60 / shelf, for 3 of them) than doing custom built-ins. So I tried it, and I like it. I do actually have to crawl under the desk to get to some of the storage, but since that's stuff I'm probably going to access...umm...maybe never, but certainly no more than once a year, I'm okay with that. When I get too old to bend over, hopefully the kids will be willing to crawl for me.

Now my only question is whether I want to either paint or wallpaper the wall behind the bookshelves (both the very low wall, and the slanted walls). Maybe! But it's probably not going to happen this summer.

Door to my office! Note the top left corner is cut off -- we had to do that to accommodate the slanty roof bit. I actually kind of like it; is charming. New shelves, in black, on the floor.

We framed the trim around the door on a slant too, to match the cut out triangle on the door. It feels very quirky and Victorian. :-) I don't love the apartment building a few feet away, and hung those curtains thinking I would hide it from view, but in practice, in the summer I generally want those windows open to catch breeze And more light makes me happy. Sometimes I close them for coziness in winter.

Closer view of the shelves. As you can see, if you peer, right now, they just meet at the corner, leaving a square gap, which looks a bit odd. I could push one forward, to fill that, but I'd lose a bit of storage underneath then. So I dunno.

I could also raise them on either castors or feet; they might have to come out a bit from the wall behind the desk, but that would be okay. Not sure if it would look better, though.

There are two Expedit bookshelves, end to end, running along the length of the room. I can't put tall things on top, because of the slant, but some smaller items tuck in just fine.

The little cream boxes are from IKEA, so unsurprisingly, they fit very neatly into a a shelf. Hatboxes from IKEA too.

Better raised up? Or does that just invite dust and make it look less built-in?

Love letters and fan mail in the red boxes. Contracts and other paperwork in the file boxes. Dragon a long ago gift from Lisette.

I write more in the chair than at the desk; it tucks in pretty well to the space. So here's the question -- should I add some color to the triangular wall behind it? I am seriously tempted to stamp or stencil, along these lines.

Artwork (Lisa Snelling, Katie Roberts, Terri Windling, and a John M. Ford poem ("Against Entropy") letterpress-printed by Steven Schwartz. Photos of old friends (the family photos are on the main stairwell -- this bit is just for me). I need to actually frame that Terri Windling print; hopefully this week.

Little mousie. :-) Sometimes I like to read in here at night with just this light on.

It's very hard to photograph this space! But the walls go up, as you can see. Tons of light.

I wanted a star in the ceiling. This is the view from my desk, if you look straight up. The glass globes are lit with those old-fashioned filament bulbs, which will probably be illegal sometime soon. At some point, I may paint little metallic silver stars on the field of blue. Or not. I waffle.

I just wanted you to see my little dragon.

Gargoyle from the University of Chicago. This is where my orchids retire -- so far, two of them have come back to bloom again. Kevin hand-painted that little dragon for me, years and years ago. Three -- three dragons in this room. At least. :-)

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Old house buffs might…

Old house buffs might enjoy this -- our contractor is nominating our house for a historic preservation award, and asked me to send along interior photos that show some of the renovation details -- the antique pine floors we discovered from 1911, the Eastlake hardware and trim we stripped of layers of white paint, etc. I wasn't sure if she wanted reproduction items too, like the push-button switches and light fixtures, so I sent those along. The library art glass is original (in the warm tones), the other art glass windows are new, either made by me (cool tones) or commissioned (the two clear ones).

Anyway, some fun pics.

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I scored an awesome…

I scored an awesome chair at Divine Consign yesterday (a great local consignment store where the price drops significantly every two weeks, so this was down from $250 or so originally to $94). Very exciting because it's basically exactly what I was looking for to go at the little game table in the library; small, comfy, and on wheels! The only thing that would be better would be if they had two, because I'd really like to reclaim my rolling desk chair. But I'll keep looking. The mismatched look is cool, right? I am pleased that the library is starting to really look like a library. Although that's mostly all the books. :-)

Also, local friends, that round table is going to be for sale on Mom mail and Craigslist as soon as I get around to it. Holler if you want it; discounted heavily to friends. It's a nice table, but isn't going to fit in the room once our couch for that side of the room finally arrives in a few weeks.

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