*Lyrics from Lately I by Faith Evans from her 1998 album, Keep The Faith (I can’t believe I actually own the record this song was on, and that I’m admitting it), not to be confused with Faith Hill, who is a completely different kind of artist (I do not own any of her stuff). Do you ever wake up with a song in your head that you haven’t heard in years and years, and suddenly it’s all you can think of? Well, this song has been ruminating in my brain for weeks. A combination of serious winter blues, fruitless and tedious house hunting, and maybe some form of mid-life crisis, and this song has pretty much nailed my mood of late. Depression, party of 1… as usual (insert Eeyore emoticon here). And, speaking of a completely different kind of depression, I stumbled up on a different song with the same title – Lately I by The Maldives from part of a No Depression festival. I’m not an alt-country fan per say, but I definitely would have rather had their song in my head than Faith’s (sorry, Faith).
If you’re anything like me, or if you live anywhere in the north eastern United States (or perhaps just all of North America), you’ve had a rough winter. Like, maybe the roughest ever. The sun never seemed to peek out long enough to get a decent dose of Vitamin D, and the cold, ice, and snow (and lack of shoveled sidewalks!) trapped us in our too tiny apartment for too many weeks. Add all this to an east-facing apartment and you’ve got yourself a tiny, dark dungeon for a home, and nothing but remorse for the lost glory of the home that once was yours. It hasn’t been easy, so I’ve been trying to lay low, and busy myself with anything uplifting that I can think of. Sadly, that hasn’t been much lately, but I did think of one thing to get me eager to get out of bed in the morning: art. read on…
*Lyrics from These Foolish Things as sung by Sam Cooke. I heard this song on my Pandora station (Ella Fitzgerald, et al) the other week while cooking, and jotted it down for the blog. When I went searching for a song for this post, this one matched what I was writing about regarding color palettes. Things happen, and they remind us of other things, and these (foolish) things can get permanently emotionally attached to colors. Well, anyway, read on, play on.
For many moons I’ve believed that the most beautiful and cohesive homes have a unified paint palette. Now, this is not to say that each room must match, or be party to a theme per say (ok, in fact, no themes at all, please – stick to moods), but that the spaces that open onto one another should have harmony, and should relate to one another in some way, so that when you move through the home you feel at ease. For me it’s easiest to approach this idea by beginning the design process by choosing a palette that is connected, and brings together the emotional feeling of the entire home – the people, the architecture, the furnishings, the mood that we want to evoke, the emotions that we have about colors (and saturation levels of colors) – and sticking to it.
*Lyrics from 6am off Fitz and the Tantrums‘ new album More Than Just a Dream. I wanted to find something upbeat – I’m so tired of being in the doldrums – and was so happy to learn that they’d come out with a new album (plus, any band that can play this well live is worth listening to). I truly enjoyed their first offering, and hope to get to know this one on Spotify before purchasing. Though, based on the few songs I’ve heard so far, I expect this album will be coming to my virtual home soon.
Next only to a thorough cleaning in creating a feeling of home is painting. When we took the pied-à-deux we asked for permission to paint (again – we had permission for the upstairs flat, too). Our landlord graciously allowed us to paint since that mean he didn’t have to. Win-win. So we decided to go a bit further with our selections, pushing ourselves into a slightly more bold direction. And, while the prior tenants had done a nice job choosing paints – a neutral grey with a charcoal accent – we wanted to put our own stamp on it. Plus, we had those hand sewn curtains to contend with, as well as all our other furniture and things skewing toward an established scheme.
At first, I was scared of doing the whole living room in a dark color. The ceilings in the pied-à-deux are much lower than they were in the original Pied, and we get less direct sunlight (due to the position of the surrounding buildings, and the fact that we’re on a lower floor). Both of those things mean that it’s darker to begin with, so choosing a deeply saturated hue was a risk (and, frankly, one that I’m still coming to terms with on some days). But, hanging art, mirrors, curtains, and shelves (I’ll show you all that soon, I hope!) has really helped to make the place feel brighter when it needs to, yet stay cozy and handsome. All in all, the color scheme is working for us, even if it still pushes me on some days.
*Lyrics from My Better Self by Tennis from their album Young & Old. I’ve listened to this song at least a hundred times (probably the entire album that many times) and I’m not sick of it, nor did I – until today, reading the lyrics as I sung along – even understand what I was saying. Which is ironic, given what the lyrics for the full song are. So, do this: listen to it WHILE you’re reading the lyrics, then read the lyrics (I noticed that some of the lyrics were not written down correctly – for instance, ‘what is it made?’ is really ‘what is innate?’ – I couldn’t find the official lyrics, so, sorry about that). I feel dumb for not getting it before. “Only the value given shows, that meaning comes and goes.”
Happenings are happening all around me. My brother just got a job in Los Angeles – he found out on a Wednesday, and his gig started the next Monday – and he left NYC for 5 months. All three of my sisters are currently in temporary digs (and in various states of disarray) – though my younger one is more settled, in a way, than the others – and we just moved from our old pied-à-terre to our new one. Let’s call it the Pied-à-deux. Whew, it’s been a bit of a lot. I know that’s horrible English, but it’s true.
And, mere days after we moved our things down one flight I got a call to return to land of the Big House for a meeting with a new client. And three weeks went by before I could return to Brooklyn, and to my overworked, and overtired husband. See? A great big bit of a lot.
*Lyrics from Heavy Feet by Local Natives. I listened to their newest album, Hummingbird, on repeat for three days straight, and then I took a break so I wouldn’t ruin it for myself. You all know I love them. This song is why. Plus, read on, and you’ll see why these words resonated for this post.
You see, a few Christmases ago, my younger sister gave me a print of a Kandinsky painting she spied that reminded her of my love for blurry dots. I actually and sincerely love that side-effect of having poor distance vision, that blurring of all the edges and background that happens in movies, the way that light turns into semi-transparent glowing orbs that sparkle and move when you blink. It’s really just poor vision, but I find it beautiful (and one of the reasons I don’t want Lasik). It took us years – quite literally two actual years – to muster up the effort to go and have it professionally framed. It was an odd size, and also a really high quality print – no cheap frame would do. But, once we did have it framed, we decided it would be the major inspiration point for our color scheme and vibe at The Pied.
*Lyrics from All I Do Is Dream of You from Singin’ in the Rain. Easily my favorite musical, and my go-to for an enjoyable bit of movie watching (especially when recuperating from several minor ailments). Plus, the lyrics can easily go non-romantic when you think about painting. Which I constantly do.
A few weeks ago, I was absolutely out of my mind, bonkers, needing to paint something. Anything. I was like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain running around yelling, ‘Gotta paint!’ Seriously, it was becoming a problem. So I pulled out a small canvas I’d gotten on sale ages ago at Michael’s, and just went for it. We had limited time – had to get the house ready for a showing, and had to prepare to head back to the pied-à-terre – so I just barreled through. Crashed through my burning desire to build something, to witness that change, and to have something (besides muffins, brownies, or cookies) to show for it.
Rough draft. I think that’s what I’ll call it. read on…
*Lyrics from Cubism Dream by Local Natives. It’s no secret that I love this group, even though Jeff warns me not to look at them if I ever see them live – apparently they’re hipsters with a capital H. Little does he know, I don’t care (bring on the waxed, handle-bar mustaches!). I love that album, and love it still every time I hear it. This song feels like love and sadness and nostalgia and tenderness mixed together, which is pretty much what touching love feels like. Which is pretty much what I feel for my little niece, touching love.
Last year, driving innocently by a yard sale (that I swear I didn’t know was going to be there) I spotted a weird but cute vanity/desk in a gross shade of green. I kept driving, but thought about it for the rest of the afternoon. Later on, I convinced Jeff to drive by with me, just to see if it was still there. If it was, I told him, I’m buying it. He said, what for? I said, not for me, for [my niece]! She needs a desk! He said, okay. So I got it, for $20. Not bad, eh?
*Lyrics from Lights Out, Words Gone by Bombay Bicycle Club from their album A Different Kind of Fix. I searched for artists that were similar to Local Natives (my fave), and this was one of the recommendations. I think I like them. Gotta keep listening to make sure.
No matter how many times I say it, it’s still true: new paint makes all the difference. When we had the floors in the house redone (during the Great Renovation), we were forced to freshen every inch of trim in the entire first floor with new paint. The only spot that I avoided – for at that time I was afraid of making a mistake – was the fireplace mantle. It had some smokey residue (from before we had the chimney rebuilt), and the old paint was yellower than the brand new, fresh, just-painted trim of the rest of the first read on…
*Lyrics from Two Door Cinema Club‘s song Undercover Martyn from their album Tourist History. I like to run to this album – it’s short (good for brief workouts) and peppy. Ok, I like to have private dance parties to this album, too. Don’t judge me.
Ok, ok, I know I owe you a big post. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder?) Well, feast your eyes on this before and after:
See? What did I tell you? When we first started our ‘let’s quickly do over the basement’ journey we had a wallpapered, stained-carpeted, knotty pine accented, dreary space. Not to mention (ok, I’ll mention it again, in case you missed it the first time) that after Brad rewired the whole house he had to make all these holes in the wallpapered walls (that turned out NOT to be so easy to patch). Anywho, long story short(er), we decided to paint, paint, recarpet, and paint some more. We aren’t 100% finished – there’s still the matter of switching out the outlets (from brown to white tamper-resistant), replacing the ceiling light covers, and moving the mechanical controls for the sprinkler system to the mechanicals room (which we never even thought of before now, that’s how little time we spent down there) – but for the photos, well, you’ll get the gist. Besides, eventually, once we get things a bit more styled up, I’ll update you. (You know I will, whether or not you like it.)
*Lyrics from Rilo Kiley‘s song Breakin’ Up from their album Under the Blacklight. Jenny Lewis has a beautiful voice. Listen to her, either solo or with her former band. Reminds me of Texas, and makes me think of Erin from Design-Crisis every time.
Basement! Here it is, the long promised, long awaited update on the state of affairs in the dreaded basement. When we started our journey, the basement was a sad place to be. Wallpaper from the late 80s that had seen better days (the actual paper wasn’t the issue – it just hadn’t held up well), carpet that was stained, and just generally gross, and gobs of knotty pine woodwork just screaming ‘hey, I’m old and grungy, look at me!’ all over the place. Something had to be done.