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RE: Boston area garden centers: Weston v Mahoney's v Russell's. (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: mayalena on 05.12.2013 at 09:05 am in New England Gardening Forum

I, too, avoid Mahoney's. They seem only to buy-in plants, they don't seem very knowledgeable about their offerings, and they feel expensive to me. I love Russells and have bot numerous shrubs there. I have only shopped a couple of times at Weston's, as they don't offer anything more compelling than Russells, I believe, and they are a longer drive.

I would ask each of these nurseries about whether they install plants and, if so, whether they provide a guarantee.

I would also call Sylvan Nursery in Westport, MA. It is further away, but they propagate many of their own plants and provide tons of plant materials to landscapers. I believe their pricing is more reasonable.

Re: perennials Like Prairie, I used to purchase many from Bluestone, but they've become as expensive as shopping locally. I'd like to keep Russells in business, so I now buy most of my perennials from them or from Brigham Greenhouses, a very small, little known spot on 117 in Concord with fairly-priced basics and super nice people.

Lastly, for special trees and shrubs, I would try Broken Arrow in CT. That is certainly further afield, but they have unusual cultivars that you might enjoy. I know Mindy (Arboretum -- a plant collector) used to make an annual trip there to find special things.

Good luck! Have fun! Buy small!

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clipped on: 05.22.2013 at 12:31 am    last updated on: 05.22.2013 at 12:31 am

RE: Boston area garden centers: Weston v Mahoney's v Russell's. (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: prairiemoon2 on 05.12.2013 at 06:53 am in New England Gardening Forum

Hi Jill, we have done a lot of landscaping over the past 10 years and have used all of the nurseries you mention at one time or another. We also have a small property so I understand that you want to do it right and we've balked at the cost of trees and shrubs at Weston Nurseries. We have not had to buy a lot of trees but those we have bought, we opted to purchase the smaller offerings. We bought a small tree at Mahoney's only because at the time they were the only nursery around that had the particular tree we wanted in less than a $300. + size. The other tree we purchased was a Japanese Maple that I bought 20 years ago as a $25. container plant from Lexington Gardens that is no longer there. That tree is now full grown.

Shrubs on the other hand, we've bought a lot of. Again, I preferred to purchase small versions and not just for cost cutting reasons. I was persuaded that the younger plants that have not been in a pot a long time, might establish and grow quicker than a large almost full grown specimen. The other reason I like buying small is that I've enjoyed watching the shrubs and trees change and grow.

We've bought at Weston in their small sizes. We often waited for year end sales in the fall when prices are often reduced by 50%. That is true of most nurseries. We've also bought at Russell's who I feel offers very good quality too. NE Nurseries in Bedford is another good nursery that we've made purchases, although their prices are creeping up there and they don't always have smaller sizes. I always look there if I need something though. I did purchase a great arborvitae there that worked out very well.

Bluestone Perennials, which is a mail order company, has provided us with a lot of our shrubs. They offer very small sizes and the prices were very reasonable, but recently they've made changes and prices are higher. They sometimes have a 50% off sale in May/June?, and I bought a lot that way. But they are really small. Quart size mostly. I bought a lot of boxwood that way and they grow fairly fast.

NEWFS is another great place to buy trees and shrubs. I've bought very healthy specimens of native shrubs there. And their prices are very reasonable. And I wish I had bought more from them, because the native shrubs have done better in my yard than anything else. Clethra, Oakleaf Hydrangeas, Ninebark, Aronia, all shrubs I am enjoying. They have a Framingham location, but the selection is small. They have a second location with a much larger selection, but I haven't been there yet, as it is a distance to drive.

Mahoney's on the other hand, is the last place I would go. I've not had good luck with that nursery. I've seen a lot of disorganization at the Winchester location, a manager who was disinterested in resolving an issue with a return, cleanliness has been a problem, disease on plants from the greenhouse. So over the years, I've stopped going there, with few exceptions. When I have gone there, I sometimes stop at the one in Sudbury on the way to Russell's and they seem to be better. We bought one of our trees there, which did end up quickly with a problem.

Wilson Farms is fine, and prices are reasonable, but I find their selection limited. If they have what you need, they're fine.

McCue's in Woburn has a small selection of shrubs but I don't believe they have trees. Their prices are average. Well run, clean small nursery.

And that reminds me, there may be a section in the FAQ where Claire added a thread we started a few years ago, where everyone on the forum described their experiences with local nurseries in general.

Good luck and hope that helps!

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clipped on: 05.22.2013 at 12:29 am    last updated on: 05.22.2013 at 12:29 am

RE: How to Paint (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: liriodendron on 04.03.2013 at 01:34 am in Home Decorating & Design Forum

When I was a college student I made my tuition by doing interior painting and completed the Painters Union apprentice program.

Make up your mind to use high-quality tools: canvas drop cloths, good ladders, premium-quality brushes, correct texture roller covers, high-end roller apparatus, roller spinner, several stand lights. These will last you a lifetime.

I'm still using the dropcloths I bought in 1967. After the job is done, wash them in a large commercial machine and they'll be ready for the next time. Plastic drop cloths are a slip hazard. Canvas is thick enough that even paint spilled directly on it won't get through right away. Old sheets, while useful for droplet protection won't keep paint from seeping through. Some of my best trim brushes are two or three decades old - over time they've acquired a spectacularly control-able feel. Pity is that there's less chance to use oil-paint these days.

I have a couple of sets of comfortable "painting jeans and tops" (and sneakers) that I wear so little flecks or smears don't worry me. I wear a bandana on my hair, or one of those large-sized plastic food-service shower-cap type covers when doing the ceiling when using particulary "spitty" paint..

Expect to use up a couple of rolls of paper towels. Always keep a couple of clean ones in your back pocket for quickly handling any little boo-boos. Fix 'em as you go.

A couple of rolls held in reserve are your first line to deal with a total disaster of a tipped-over can. (I once tipped a whole full gallon of dark green oil paint over on an unsealed brick hearth and hard wood floor. I got it all off because I had the towels at hand (and mineral spirits, the solvent for oil paint) and tooth brushes and dental picks ...... worst day I ever had painting!)

Take your time to learn to cut-in. If you can put on eyeliner you can successfully cut in. Don't do it in bad light or when you are very tired or if your arm is exhausted from the work. Taping is time consuming and doesn't make as good an edge as a free-hand cut-in. A properly cut-in line is eye sweet, not dead straight. Believe me, you can learn to do it, unless you have a strong tremor or have vision in only one eye.

When cutting in don;t be dipping out of a container larger than a quart. Never paint directly from a gallon - sooner or later you'll tip it over. There are quart-sized can holders that make one-handed carry easier. I use them whenever I am cutting in or doing trim because I can hold it in one hand and the brush in another.

Plan on doing several coats (as necesssary): sealer, primer, first and second and sometimes even third coat for certain colors and brands.

Wash the walls and surfaces before painting.

Prepare surfaces as necessary, including filling, priming and sanding any dings. Good prep (which is 75% of what makes paint look good) takes more time than painting, IMO.

Don't buy cheap paint. It wastes the considerable amount of time you're putting into painting. And if you're doing your own labor use the money saved to buy the best paint you can find.

Don't expect chips, even "actual paint" sample cards to actually match the color. Buy a quart or a sample can and paint out several large foam boards and try them on the walls for a few days.

Never choose a color from a photo - even if the name of the paint is noted in the text.

Don't expect cross-brand color-matching to be perfect. It's not. At best you'll get something you like, but it won't be the same, especially if you're trying to match a high-end paint such as FPE, F&B, Kaufman, etc.

When you buy more than one gallonof the same color, buy a large bucket and "box" the paint by dumping all the gallons into one container and mixing them together and the pour them back into the gallons. That way the second (and third, fourth, etc.) gallon will be an exact match to the first. Pros would never paint without boxing.

Start with a small room that isn't too important. Do the trim; Paint the ceiling, then the walls. Somepeople like to do the trim afterwards, but I think it's easiest to do the reverse, at first. Try it both ways to decide which is best for you.

Take your time and never paint when you are under extreme time pressure (like your in-laws are arriving tomorrow).

It takes experience (with each brand and type of paint) to get the feel for how much to load on the brush or roller. If your brush or roller handle are getting sloppy with too much paint, you're not doing it right.

Start and stop walls at a corner or trim edge.

Make a plan about how you're going to go forward on a ceiling - make sure the area is clear so you can just move the ladder and not have to reposition furniture before resuming painting.

Keep a "wet edge" by moving right along.

In general don't go back and try to fix errors in a previous section. Let it dry and fix it afterwards.

carefully clean the grooves on the paint can before sealing it up again.

Store less-than-full-can amounts of leftovers in canning jars tucked inside the gallons. (Air space inside partially-filled gallons degrades paint over the long run.)

I need to have a good radio to listen to. I like to paint alone; certainly trying to concentrate on a conversation would make it much harder for me. I just need to get in the groove.

There are probably books about this at Home depot, or info online.

But the best way is to just start.

HTH

L.

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clipped on: 04.04.2013 at 03:00 pm    last updated on: 04.04.2013 at 03:21 pm

Gel stain instructions (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: celticmoon on 06.21.2008 at 01:59 pm in Kitchens Forum

Csquared, I got an email I think was from you, but it said I couldn't answer because your email is private. Ditto when I tried to email through your name here.

With apologies for the length of this, I'm just gonna paste the whole bit here for you.

You are welcome to this writeup I did a while back. A couple people tried
it and reported all went well. You just need time, maybe $50 in supplies, and
patience. No skill.

Here's more than you need to know:

My cabinets are frameless, good condition and good layout. But the finish
had gone orange and ugly, with the oak graining too busy for me. Cabinets
are 18 years old, very poorly finished oak veneered slab doors. Plain with
no crevices. They didn't even take the doors off to finish them!!! No stain
or finish on the hinge side edges.
Cheezey, huh?

I looked into changing out cabinets, but that was way too much money, since
my layout was OK. Painting didn't seem right because the doors were plain
slabs. I considered new doors but that still meant a lot of money. For a few
years I tried to figure a way to add molding toward a mission look, but the
rounded door edges made that impossible. Then trolling in a kitchen
emporium showroom this last year I noticed dark wood slab doors, kind like
mine, but darker. That was the answer.

First I tried Minwax Polyshades. Dicey product. Hard to brush on neatly,
then gummy, then seemed to leave a sticky tacky residue. I did a thread on
the Woodworking Furum "Evil Polyshades to the Rescue" which elicited a lot
of conflicting "expert" opinions and arguments that one must strip to bare
wood.
(Thread may still be around as that Forum moves slow.) I properly stripped
acres of woodwork in an old Victorian when I was young and stupid. Never
again! Jennifer-in-clyde (in the same boat) and I stumbled around on
that
woodworking thread to get to this method.

SHOPPING LIST:
-electric screwdriver or screw drill bits
-mineral spirits to clean the years of gunk off the cabinet
-miracle cloths (optional)
-fine sandpaper
-box-o-disposable gloves from walgreens or the like
-old socks or rags for wiping on coats
-disposable small plastic bowls or plates, and plastic spoons or forks for
stirring/dipping (optional)
-General Finishes water base Expresso stain (pretty thick, but not quite a
gel) This one may not even be a needed step if the Java gets it dark
enough.
-General Finishes Java gel stain (poly based)
-General Finishes clear top coat (poly based)
-old sheets or plastic sheeting or newspaper

Rockler woodworking stores are a good place to find the General Finish
products. Or some larger hardware stores. Quart of each was more than
enough for my 60 doors and drawer fronts and goes for $12-14 at Rockler.
There are smaller sizes if your project is small.

SETUP AND PLANNING:
You will need a place to work and leave wet doors to dry overnight - I set
up 2 spaces, garagefor sanding/cleaning and basement for staining/sealing.
Use newpaper or plastic to protect the surface and floor. Figure out how you
will prop doors to dry.
Plan blocks of 20-30-minutes for sanding/cleaning bundles of, say, 6
doors at a time. Then just 10 minute sessions to wipe on coats. The coats
will need to dry for about 24 hours, so figure that each section of the
kitchen will be doorless for 4 or 5 days. Divide the job up into manageable
chunks.

PREPARATION:
Take off doors and drawer fronts. Use screw drill bits on an electric drill
if you don't have an electric srewdriver. Remove all the hardware. *Mark
alike things so you know what goes back where.*
Clean the doors thoroughly. Not with TSP but with something pretty strong
and scrub well. There's years of grease there.
Sand LIGHTLY, just a scuffing really. Just enough to break the finish and
give it some tooth, no more than a minute a door. A miracle cloth is good
for getting most of the dust off. Then wipe well with mineral spirits to
clean and get the last of the gunk off.
.

STAINING:
In order, we're gonna put on:
-General Finishes Expresso water based stain (1-2 coats) - optional
-General Finishes Java gel stain (couple coats)
-General Finishes Clear urethene gel topcoat in satin (couple coats)

But first put on work clothes, tie up your hair (Tom, you may skip this
step, LOL) and pop your phone into a baggie nearby (you know it will ring).
Glove up.
*First do a trial on the back of a door and check if Java coats alone
suffice.
If the Java alone is to your liking, just skip the Expresso and return it.*
Open and stir up the Expresso stain, then spoon some into a plastic bowl.
Close the tin so it doesn't get contaminated. Slide a sock over your hand,
grab a gob of Expresso and smear it on. Wipe off the excess. Let it dry well
- overnight is good. It will lighten as it dries, but then darken again with
any other
coat or sealer. A second coat can end up with a deeper tone at the end -
though it might seem like the second coat is just dissolving the first.
YMMV.

Repeat with Java gel. This is thicker and poly based (*not water cleanup!*=
messier). Color is a rich dark reddish brown. Wait for the second coat to
judge if the color is deep enough for you. I wanted a very deep dark color,
like melted dark chocolate. So I went pretty heavy on these layers. *I did
not sand between coats*.

Repeat with clear gel top coat. This will give you the strength you need in
a kitchen.

Do the same process with the cabinet sides, face and toekick area. Might
need to divide that up also, and stagger the work: doors/cabinets/doors/
etc.

NOTE: The cloth or socks used for the gels are very flammable! Collect and
store them in a bucket of water as you go and then dispose of them all
properly.

FINISHING AND REASSEMBLY:
I suggest you put the doors back up after one clear coat, then you can check
everything over and darken an area with more Java if needed, followed by a
clear coat. When it all looks right, go over it all again with another clear
gel coat. Or two. Install your hardware.
The feel of the finish should be wonderful, really smooth and satiny. Color
deep and rich - way nicer than that faded, beat 80's oak color.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Definitely experiment first with the back of a door or drawer front to be
sure it is the look you want. Yes, this takes a couple days to coat, dry,
recoat, dry, etc but you may discover that the Java alone does the trick and
this will save you A LOT of work. Front end patience is worth it.

This is a pretty easy project to do. Hard to screw it up. The worst is the
prep - relative to that, smearing on the coats is cake. I had over 60
pieces (big kitchen) AND island sides and book shelves, etc and I admit I
lost steam partway through. Had to push myself through the last of it. But
it was worth it. Folks think I got all new cabinets - it looks that good.
Now the finish will not be as durable as factory finish - go at it with a
Brillo pad and you WILL abrade it. But it has held up pretty well. And
after a year of pretty heavy use, I've just had a few nicks, easily
repaired.

I added smashing hardware, raised my passthrough, resurfaced the Corian
(also simple but messy and tedious) and replaced the DW and sink. It looks
gorgeous to me and I really enjoy the space - how it sits all quiet, clean
and serene, then gets all crazy with the food and folks du jour. I couldn't
be happier, especially that I didn't have to work another year just to pay
for the update!!

Link to cabinets in progress:
http://photobucket.com/albums/b45/celticm00n/kitchen cosmetic update project/kitchen during/

Link to almost finished cabinet pix:
http://s16.photobucket.com/albums/b45/celticm00n/kitchen cosmetic update project/finished bit by bit/?start=20

Good luck with your project!! Feel free to ask me any questions as you go.
And let me know if you try it and how it turns out.

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clipped on: 01.13.2013 at 08:47 pm    last updated on: 01.13.2013 at 08:47 pm

RE: Do you love Banquette Seating? (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: shelayne on 04.19.2011 at 08:10 pm in Smaller Homes Forum

Hi Newbie~ First of all, I love Lidi! I have seen so many beautiful Lidi kitchens--like Brickmanhouse's kitchen. To LIVE for!

About my doors-- I ordered my doors from Advantage Door Company. I looked at many door companies, including Scherr's--who come highly recommended from GW and Ikeafans, but would have made this project cost prohibitive for us. Advantage was quite a bit less $$ than Scherr's.

Scherr's does have all the IKEA measurements on file and will do all the drilling for you, so that is definitely a plus! All you have to do is tell them which cabinets, and they do the rest, which would make the whole custom door thing a piece of cake!

In our case, I worked with Darryl and Advantage and gave him the specs to do the hinge cup boring for the IKEA hinges (made by Blum). I not only told him over the phone, but I also emailed a copy of template. Still freaking out, I actually mailed the corner of a door with the hinge pattern to him. Hahaha. I really didn't need to do that, but I was so nervous. LOL. We did all the other drilling ourselves, using both a shallow and a deep drawer as a template--all shallow drawers are the same, and all deep drawers are the same. Before I sent everything, I went to IKEA and personally measured the doors and drawers myself. I brought a friend and we double or triple-checked each measurement I needed. I was pretty confident about the measurements. I also received tips from a couple Ikeafans/GWers who did custom doors with IKEA cabs.

Even though you say you are not handy, I bet you could do the assembly, it is really quite easy. Once you do one, the rest get easier and easier. If you wanted to give it a try, you could do what I did; I bought a 3-drawer stack, in the cheapest door (which is now Harlig), to see how difficult the assembly process was. I figured that a drawer stack would be the most challenging. It was actually easy and kinda fun! I knew that I could do it. The actual drawers are the easiest part, as they just click together! I did all the assembly, and DH and I did the install--mostly DH. I was the one who stood there and said, "Woo!" ;^)

Feel free to ask me any questions!

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clipped on: 01.01.2013 at 04:05 pm    last updated on: 01.01.2013 at 04:05 pm

RE: Window Seat Cushions --) How to do it right (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: bestyears on 11.08.2012 at 06:05 pm in Home Decorating & Design Forum

Etsy is a great source, and you can check the reviews first. From their search box, just type in window seat cushions.

Couple of things to consider: Will the covers be removable? It is a bit more difficult to make them that way, so they will be a bit more expensive. But well worth it in my opinion because of laundering options. But of course you'll also want to check in that case, on whether or not they will pre-shrink the fabric for you.

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clipped on: 11.09.2012 at 01:15 pm    last updated on: 11.09.2012 at 01:15 pm

RE: Repainting / Restoring Old windows Questions with Pictures (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: sombreuil_mongrel on 05.22.2012 at 05:47 pm in Old House Forum

Hi,
First, get everything stripped and primed with oil primer.
You could certainly foam around the perimeter, carefully trim the excess with a razor knife then skim over it with caulk. You could also use "backer rod" and caulk. For this application I have used "Big Stretch" caulk with success. Don't use cheap painter's caulk here just because it's a big job.
Don't use any caulk at all at the casing/brickmold + wood sill seam. This is a water trap waiting to happen which will rot the casing and the sill. "Paint only" on horizontal seams, (except between dis-similar materials; caulking horizontal seams at masonry/wood is OK).
Foam will stop some of the draftiness too.
Casey

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clipped on: 05.22.2012 at 10:59 pm    last updated on: 05.22.2012 at 10:59 pm

RE: How to remove paint spatters from wood without removing finis (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: sombreuil_mongrel on 04.18.2012 at 05:47 pm in Old House Forum

Any dots of paint should come off by lifting with a single-edge razor blade. Tiny atomized spatters or smears will come off with some 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper or a rubber sanding block, lubricated with paint thinner or water+detergent. If the old varnish is nice and thick you don't have to worry about sanding through the finish to bare wood. Pick off the big flecks, then abrade the mist/smears.
Casey

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clipped on: 04.22.2012 at 08:15 pm    last updated on: 04.22.2012 at 08:15 pm

RE: Before and afters of my Magnaverde painted wing chairs. (Follow-Up #19)

posted by: dlm2000 on 04.21.2012 at 09:45 am in Home Decorating Forum

Looks great, Becky - love the nail head trim that MR suggested

Here are the instructions from Magnaverde followed by a picture of his sofa:

"Forget all that nonsense about teensy bottles of expensive paint medium from the crafts store. You don't need anything more than regular latex semi-gloss paint--and a lot of guts. I found a beautiful Baker Chippendale camelback sofa, with cool curved arms and a fat down cushion, but it was covereed in a hideous glazed chintz in the ugliest colors I ever saw. I found some great yellow wool damask to reupholster with, but it would have cost me $3OOO for the job, so I painted my sofa instead.
Everyone freaked out when I told then the plan, but it worked. I was planning on painting my room dark green, so I decided to go with the red leather look. First, I painted the whole thing with bubblegum pink semigloss latex paint, using the widest foam brush I could find, and brushing it on in long strokes front-to-back and up + down. Think of that as the primer coat. I let it dry 2 days, and sanded it super lightly with fine-grade sandpaper to get rid of the burrs--there were a lot. When I couldn't feel any more sharp things, another coat of paint, spread thin. Dried and sanded again. Then spread--with my hands--a thin coat of raspberry red semi-gloss paint I had deadened a little with brown to make it a little less vivid. Because it was a deep color, there wasn't much white filler in the paint, and it was almost like a glaze or stain, instead of paint, which is just what I wanted anyway. I just smoothed it on, like suntan oil, and worked it into the pink paint. I let it build a little thicker at the back, on the inside of the arms and at the back edge of the loose cushion, so that the paler, thinner red took on an air of wear at the high points. I let it dry 2 days, then CAREFULLY sanded the few new sharp things, and touched up those spots with my fingers. I let it dry 2 days, then waxed the whole thing with regular paste wax. After it was dry, I polished with a soft cloth, then dusted with talcum, and vacuumed it all off. It was a little stiff the first few days, but now it not only looks like red leather, it feels like it.
This worked great on glazed chintz, and probably would work on any smooth fabric, except that some may have more burrs and therefore require more sanding, but I wouldn't try it on anything with a heavy texture. And no, the paint doesn't come off. And it's not stiff, either. Think about it--it's latex paint, and essentially, that's what's in those little bottles of fabric medium."

Photobucket

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clipped on: 04.21.2012 at 06:14 pm    last updated on: 04.21.2012 at 06:14 pm

RE: White paint color to match stock Ikea White cabinet doors? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: northcarolina on 04.04.2012 at 09:45 pm in Kitchens Forum

Adel and Lidingo are different colors; Adel is more of an off-white. There are threads on Ikeafans about matching paint to the various white doors, and someone has even posted the exact formula they used to match Adel.

BM Simply White is said to be a good match for Applad (which I think is the same shade of white as Lidingo). I can't remember if there was a stock color that worked with Adel or if the custom mix was the best bet.

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clipped on: 04.05.2012 at 01:46 pm    last updated on: 04.05.2012 at 01:46 pm

RE: Banquette Bench: CKGM and Shelayne -- pics please! (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: shelayne on 03.30.2012 at 10:10 am in Kitchens Forum

Thank you, a2gemini!

Here is a link to my source for the custom foam cushions I ordered online. I had them wrapped in dacron, and I believe I didn't get the top of the line, but the next level down. So far, so good.

Here is a link that might be useful: cushion inserts

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clipped on: 04.02.2012 at 09:29 am    last updated on: 04.02.2012 at 09:29 am

RE: adding larger mouldings to Ikea cabinets (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: writersblock on 03.07.2012 at 08:54 am in Kitchens Forum

For stat, applad, or lidi, most people recommend Benjamin Moore's Simply White in semigloss as the best match, although one or two prefer BM Decorator White.

People have also made some pretty impressive moldings by stacking the ikea crown. A search over at ikeafans will show some examples.


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clipped on: 03.07.2012 at 09:55 am    last updated on: 03.07.2012 at 09:55 am

From brass to bling!

posted by: pesky1 on 02.09.2012 at 01:12 am in Home Decorating Forum

I wanted to add a new light fixture to my craft room/office and I stumbled upon one at our Habitat ReStore. What sold me on it was the seeded glass shades, but the ugly yellow brass was hurting my eyes. My husband thought I was nuts for buying it, but I saw it's potential.

Unfortunately, in my excitement, I forgot to take a before photo, but you can imagine the '90's bright yellow brass tone.

A coat of aged copper, a coat of chrome and a smattering of flat black spray paint and a collection of crystals from my bling jar and it's now just what I wanted.

Apparently the electrician who came to install it (before the addition of the crystals) was admiring it and the crystals I had planned for it. I guess he was admiring my whole (messy) craft room. Made me smile! Going to send him this pic of the finished product.

From November 7, 2011

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clipped on: 02.10.2012 at 08:12 am    last updated on: 02.10.2012 at 08:13 am

RE: From brass to bling! (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: pesky1 on 02.09.2012 at 10:08 pm in Home Decorating Forum

Well thank you everyone! I am a spray paint fan, so everything I did was with that. First primer, any color, but I used gray. Once dried it was coated with a bronze/copper metallic paint. After that dried, I didn't like it, so I hit it with some chrome spray paint. I stood back pretty far so it just gave a light enough coat to cover the copper, but let a lot show thru yet. While that was still wet, I stood back even further and lightly, very, very lightly went over with flat black. It's kind of fly speckled with the black.

It really has a tarnished silver finish, not the shiny chrome or bronze. I once did a plastic mirror like this too.

As for the crystals, I just used the metal hooks that come on them and looped it over the arms. I then added 7 of the round crystals per arm, for a total of 35 for the swag, connected the same way. I just ran a bit of wire thru the loop of the lower drops and viola. I considered adding more, but once I stepped back, I was pleased with the amount. Not too much. I think the seeded glass shades really set it off well. And to think, I paid only $15 for the fixture! Paid the electrician $90 to hook it up tho...but at least I have peace of mind that it's properly wired up after my failure to get it hooked up right!

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clipped on: 02.10.2012 at 08:03 am    last updated on: 02.10.2012 at 08:03 am

RE: banquette table size question (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: breezygirl on 12.14.2011 at 12:13 pm in Kitchens Forum

As Newbie mentioned, you want the table to overhang the bench below by at least a few inches. Restaurant booths and tables are usually built for a 6" overhang, although some strangely place their benches to get more or less floor coverage so YMMV at your local restaurant. I've also heard some less-commercial type designers suggest a 3" overhang.

Our last banquette had about a 6" overhang. I like this better. Our new one will have the same. Think about what would be comfortable for you. How far under the table do you scoot yourself when you sit at a regular chair and table? That's a good guideline to go by as you can't scoot your "chair" under the table when you're sitting on a bench.

The overhang for the rest of the table is what you'd aim for with any dining table. The width of the table should follow standard table width guidelines.

Newbie!!! Glad to see you back. I've been wondering how things were coming along for you! How do yu like your prep sink? Sorry to go off topic, Painted Lady.

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clipped on: 12.15.2011 at 01:00 pm    last updated on: 12.15.2011 at 01:00 pm

RE: Fake plants II (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: saypoint on 11.06.2011 at 02:49 pm in Home Decorating Forum

to copy an image, many of them can be saved on your hard drive by right-clicking on the image and clicking on "save picture as". then select the folder you want to save it to. If this doesn't work, the previous method described will work. I save photos from houzz by clicking on the image and copying the code, then pasting it into a dummy post here on the forum that I start just for the purpose. After you paste it into the text box here, click on "preview message", and then you can right click and "save as" from there.

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clipped on: 11.06.2011 at 05:23 pm    last updated on: 11.06.2011 at 05:23 pm

RE: Nice quality velvet upholstery source? Velvet knowledge? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: circuspeanut on 10.17.2011 at 11:45 am in Home Decorating Forum

Yum! I do a lot of reupholstering myself, for myself and others, and am a BIG fan of velvet. I'd do my whole house in velvet if it didn't make the place look like a Victorian brothel...

The best finds are mostly all online, unfortunately, so you have to rely on information about fabric content to tell you what kind of "hand" the fabric will have (= its thickness, weight, stretch and pliability), and tools like the Online Auction Color Chart to tell you what the color really looks like.

When you're searching:
If you want it to be super soft, look for pure cotton -- for better wear and tear, find cotton blends.

If you want it to be durable and have that great rich sheen without being too Elvis, look for mohair velvet.

For durability and a rich color depth, but without the sheen of mohair, get wool or a wool blend.

For toughness but monotone color and very little pile, get a "microfiber" fabric -- I don't really consider these true velvets, but the polyester can be soft and some folks love how easy they are to clean.

For lots of shine but less durability, and a slinkier more pliable fabric, get silk or a silk blend.

Avoid all rayon upholstery velvet - it wears terribly and can look cheap. Rayon is often marketed as "chenille" - avoid this fabric for furniture you're actually going to use. Crushed velvet for costumery (and what you found at Joanne's) is most often rayon.

Nylon is what makes upholstery fabric strong and wear-proof, but you don't want too much of it or the fabric becomes very stiff and scratchy -- think nubby fabrics from the mid-century era. My guy made me reupholster a gorgeous orange-nylon-upholstered sofa from 1962, because it was so rough and scratchy to bare skin that we avoided sitting on it. It's now happy in mohair velvet. :-)

Kravet, DuraLee, Knoll, Maharam, JB Martin, etc -- all the major brands -- have big velvet selections. Robert Allen quality is varying but often quite nice, and easier to find for the average consumer.

My recommendation: I've purchased dozens of different high end velvets over the past few years, virtually all from two places: certain sellers on eBay and the web site fabricguru.com. The eBay guys are great, they are in Michigan or North Carolina and purchase remnants and overstock from the big furniture factories.

designerfabrics*rr (great deals, I comb through his new listings every week): all this week's listings

silverstone fabrics (more expensive, but always lots of mohair): Silverstone Fabrics listings

FabricGuru.com -- super shipping, prompt service and very friendly. Great fabrics and excellent deals.

Hope that helps -- give me a holler if I can offer any more input. Happy hunting!

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clipped on: 10.18.2011 at 02:52 pm    last updated on: 10.18.2011 at 02:52 pm

RE: What to do with mistaken purchases? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: dianalo on 09.12.2011 at 11:04 am in Kitchens Forum

If you do a search on ebay for something like your item, you will see what the "competition" is asking. Then go to "completed sales" and see what people have gotten recently for similar.
The most important thing is writing a detailed description with all sizes and any relevant info. I am a power seller and frequent ebay consumer. There is no set guideline as different items sell completely differently. I have seen things sell for more than retail and some sell for pennies on the dollar. It's all about supply and demand (and esp, time of year, for some things).

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clipped on: 09.16.2011 at 07:15 pm    last updated on: 09.16.2011 at 07:15 pm

RE: OT Do all pics have to first be uploaded to Photobucket? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: suzannesl on 09.11.2011 at 02:51 pm in Kitchens Forum

No. For images that come off of the net, generally this is the procedure:

Click on the photo and a list comes up which includes "copy image location." When you click on that, it is copied to your computer and then you paste it into your photo script:

<img src="http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/arcadianlighting_2173_88948465" </img>

which gives you:

HOWEVER, the particular photo you linked to was rendered in Adobe Flash, and you can't copy a Flash location. What I did is go back to your page where I found your lantern. The large feature picture was also a Flash picture (argg!), but I found a picture down below that was a simple jpg. Ta da! I clicked on it, copied the location, pasted it into the photo script, and there it is.

Here is a link that might be useful: Your lantern page

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clipped on: 09.11.2011 at 03:32 pm    last updated on: 09.11.2011 at 03:33 pm

RE: Need help finding post about pantry specs (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: rhome410 on 05.02.2011 at 03:53 pm in Kitchens Forum

How about the pantry thread on the gallery side of the forum?

Here is a link that might be useful: pantry info in the gallery section of the kitchen forum


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clipped on: 05.02.2011 at 04:20 pm    last updated on: 05.02.2011 at 04:20 pm

RE: Need help finding post about pantry specs (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: mskitchen on 05.02.2011 at 08:19 am in Kitchens Forum


http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg101417068231.html
Walk-in pantry -- can I see yours?
http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0518351723171.html

Would A Walk-In Pantry Be a Major Selling Point To You?
http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0512413918847.html

Wood or wire shelves for walk-in pantry
http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0712125512141.html

What size should a step-in corner pantry be?
http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0812114524457.html
Hope this helps, I never copy and pasted before............


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clipped on: 05.02.2011 at 04:19 pm    last updated on: 05.02.2011 at 04:19 pm

RE: Favorite cooking show? (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: cj47 on 04.22.2011 at 04:06 pm in Kitchens Forum

Lidia Bastianich, Lidia's Family Table...I've learned SO much about technique from that woman.

Daisy Cooks! Daisy Martinez, I've also learned a lot about ingredients and technique from her.

Americas Test Kitchen, Cooks Country, I have an online subscription to CI and use it for reviews and tips on cooking various things that I may not be familiar with

New favorite, Aarti Party--I love Indian food and am just starting to get into how to do it 'right'.

Saturday morning is my sit around and watch cooking shows while folding the laundry time.

Cj


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clipped on: 04.23.2011 at 10:39 am    last updated on: 04.23.2011 at 10:39 am

RE: Share pics of YOUR artwork (Follow-Up #23)

posted by: sashasmommy on 03.19.2011 at 11:28 am in Home Decorating Forum

I wish I could do watercolor, but for now I settle with photography of our travels, and playing with them in PhotoShop. Here's a an HDR photo from our recent trip to Spain.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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clipped on: 03.19.2011 at 10:34 pm    last updated on: 03.19.2011 at 10:35 pm

RE: Seen your kitchen...what's the rest of the house look like? (Follow-Up #91)

posted by: swhite10 on 03.14.2011 at 08:47 pm in Kitchens Forum

We moved in at the end of January and while the necessities are unpacked, I've lost all motivation to unpack everything else, let alone decorate. Here are a few pics. No bedroom pics because they're messy all the time!!
Kitchen:
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
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Breakfast nook with the table my daddy just made us with my blue ball jar that I found buried behind our house next to a tree:
Photobucket
Photobucket
Mudroom:
Photobucket
Photobucket
Master shower:
Photobucket
Foyer:
Photobucket
Great room:
Photobucket
Photobucket
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Outside:
Photobucket
Photobucket
Our neighbor:
Photobucket


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clipped on: 03.17.2011 at 06:54 pm    last updated on: 03.17.2011 at 06:54 pm

RE: Restore a finish? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: valinsv on 03.14.2011 at 09:50 pm in Home Decorating Forum

I've used it on several pieces (vintage mahogany such as your chair) and have always had fairly good results. The product does have it's limitations as it's used mostly to restore the existing finish and not to refinish so areas (such as deep scratches, water damage or crackling) where the finish has completely worn away will not be completely fixed. There is a fine line between rubbing in the finish so that it soaks in and rubbling so hard that you rub away the old finish so you do need to use care in areas where the original finish has worn away.

I've heard and tried various methods of cleaning from the Murphy Oil Soap, Dawn dish soap and mineral spirits. My last two projects, I was lazy and did not clean at all since I've heard that RAF has agents that clean as well.

I also use the 0000 steel wool to apply the RAF before wiping off with the lint free rag. I often tear up an old bedsheet or T-shirt for my rags. I will start that way and then often will repeat 2-3 times as needed, sometimes allowing it to sit 5-10 mins. before wiping away. I also use the Feed 'n Wax product as it protects the restored finish from water stains, etc.

Often my results while much improved over the original, are imperfect, at the same time much better than the alternative of refinishing which can damage the value of a piece and you loose the patina of age. One of the things that appeals to me about antique/vintage furniture are some the "character" marks which go with an old piece with an original finish.

If you are still dissatisfied, you may also want to try one of the colored wax crayons that you can find in the varnish section of your hardware store--which are used to fill in nicks and gouges.

Here are the end tables I recently restored.

Before:

Photobucket

Photobucket

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After (including the Feed 'n Wax):

Photobucket

Photobucket

My dining room chairs I did a few years ago and they did not come out so well as the nightstands. There were some areas on the upper backs of the chairs which were probably handled a lot over the years, probably had greasy buildup and were cleaned so hard the finish had partially worn away. Or perhaps it was some UV damage? Whatever the reasons, these areas also didn't restore so well and are lighter as a result. It was with these areas I realized that if I rubbed too hard, I only worsened the problem as I would rub whatever was left of the existing finish away. I like to think of it as "character".

Photobucket

Here are the leg sections.

Before (you can see areas where finish has worn away--this I also had to be careful with not to buff too hard with the steel wool or I'd rub the finish right off):

Photobucket

After:

Photobucket

Photobucket


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clipped on: 03.14.2011 at 11:23 pm    last updated on: 03.14.2011 at 11:25 pm

RE: Restore a finish? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: sheesharee on 03.14.2011 at 09:13 pm in Home Decorating Forum

There have been a few threads in the past about this. I really wish, with everything in me, I would've known about this a few years ago before I started to strip an old vanity. Anyhow, are some good reads..

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/decor/msg1017251912454.html

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wood/msg101528128953.html

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/decor/msg1017341019172.html


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clipped on: 03.14.2011 at 11:20 pm    last updated on: 03.14.2011 at 11:21 pm

RE: Restore a finish? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: moonshadow on 03.14.2011 at 08:58 pm in Home Decorating Forum

I've used it lots. Here's my routine, it's not particularly spectacular, but always works for me:

Clean wood well with a grease cutting detergent like Dawn. Damp rag, not soaked. Have clear rinse water, wipe off with damp clean rag. Dry. Don't use Murphy's or other vegetable/citrus oil cleaners.

Work in a well ventilated area from here on out. Or if inside due to cold, put a fan in the window as exhaust to push fumes outside.

Follow that with Formby's Build Up Remover as direct on bottle.

Apply RAF (Mahogany is a perfect choice for your chair. It's my favorite. Walnut would look nice, too. I have every color except a couple new ones I see they've added. It leaves just a slight tint, not dramatic. Cherry is very red, tho.) Apply using #00000 Super Fine steel wool. Go in direction of wood grain, light wiping. No heavy rubbing or swirling. Never, ever go against the grain. (No matter what you're doing with wood.) Always go in direction of (with) the grain. Wipe off excess RAF. I apply another coat with a lint-free rag, sometimes let it set a bit longer. Wipe off again, clean lint free rag.

Follow up with a good paste wax. (I like Howard's Feed n Wax). Stain applicator pads are ideal for applying and then buffing the dry wax.

I always forget to take before/after, but this project I didn't. Ebay vintage cherry hutch I bought. Had cooking grease and smoke film on it.

From seller's listing:

After (I mixed & used about 1 part Cherry to 3 parts Mahogany)


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clipped on: 03.14.2011 at 11:17 pm    last updated on: 03.14.2011 at 11:17 pm

RE: Alternatives to Tung Oil for Butcherblock Countertops? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: sara_the_brit_z6_ct on 03.09.2011 at 11:27 am in Kitchens Forum

Following a recommendation at Ikeafans, I used Rockler Woodworking's Salad Bowl Finish - it results in a sheen, not a high gloss like Waterlox, which was more to my taste. Apply with a rag, lightly, lightly sand between coats. I did 6, but they were really simple to do.

Two years later, I haven't reapplied any, and nothing stains: red wine blobs left overnight, oil, water. It's great, and as you can tell from the name - entirely food safe.


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clipped on: 03.09.2011 at 03:40 pm    last updated on: 03.09.2011 at 03:41 pm

Word Document (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: allison0704 on 03.08.2011 at 07:35 pm in Home Decorating Forum

This Word Document is 27 pages long - yes, 27 pages of only his posts (I've been a GW member for too long! lol)

Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting, though I've never expressed it in those words before: decorate your rooms backwards. That is, determine the effect or mood you want, and worry about issues like color later.
Doing it this way is infinitely more flexible than using an easily-described color scheme. It's also a lot more satisfying in the long run. Sure, a bed-in-a-bag makes decorating a bedroom easy, but only in the same way that Garanimals made getting dressed easy. That is, it removes all chance--chance not only of screwing up big time, but also cnance of discovering a novel color combination, or expressing anything at all about yourself.
Unfortunately, even when people don't resort to pre-packaged linens, they often fall into the trap of me-too-ism. No sooner does somebody post a photo of a pretty room than six people say "I love your chandelier. Where did you get it?" or "What is the brand & name of the paint in your hallway?" Somewhere I read that the human eye can distinguish 23 million different colors. So why are half the rooms I see painted Raspberry Truffle or Believable Buff or Restrained Gold?
Actually, I know why: timidity. In the old days, most walls in America were white, and you could rebel without much danger, because it didn't take much courage to pick an off-white. These days, though, what with a zillion TV decorators always yakking about the 'WOW! Factor' and colors that POP, the deceptivly innocuous makings of decorating disaster are available at fine stores everywhere, so the risk factor has multiplied. And despite the old line about it only being paint, most people are still deathly afraid of making a mistake, so they take the easy way out and copy the neighbors' house instead. Misery loves company, I guess.
And since there's nothing easier to copy than a paint color, it's no wonder so many people start at the wrong end of the process. Even so, it makes me crazy when people start out a post saying "We've just painted our living room Screaming Mimi yellow, which makes our new taupe berber carpet look pink, but we don't want to repaint. What color couch and loveseat should we buy to minimze this problem? Also need suggestions for curtains, pillows, artwork, etc."
It's hard enough for people to find a new place--even with a map--if they're traveling on unfamilar roads in the dark. But to start out on a trip not only without a map, but also without any real idea where it is they want to go in the first place is a sure-fire way for folks to end up lost & out of gas.
That's why I tell people who are looking for decorating ideas to stay away from any how-to books, or any magazines published in the last ten years. Trendy color schemes & furniture styles are always changing, but the principles of good design remain, and looking at the photos in older publications throws the critical difference between trendy design & timeless design into high relief in a way that's not possible when looking at today's cookie-cutter rooms, which have what Edith Wharton called the 'fatal will-of-the-wisp of newness about them."
And speaking of Edith, here's a good quote from "The Decoration of Houses" of 1904:
"Individuality in house furnishing has seldom been more harped upon than at the present time. That cheap originality which finds expression in putting things to uses for which they were not originally intended is often confounded with individuality; whereas the latter consists not in an attempt to be different from other people at the cost of comfort, but in the desire to be comfortable in one's own way even though it is the way of a monotonously large majority. It seems easier to to arrange a room like someone else's than to analyze and express [ones] own needs. [Emphasis mine] Men, in these mattters, are less exacting than women, because their demands, besides being simpler, are uncomplicated by the feminine tendency to want things because other people have them, rather than to have things because they are wanted."
Oh, and the formal vs. informal thing? Unless I were doing a very formal room--a period-correct parlor in an 188Os rowhouse, say, or a hard-edged essay in strict Miesian Modernism--I wouldn't hesitate to mix things up. My own house may be full of antiques, but it's not formal, and besides, it was the Victorians who invented the eclectic look, with simple wicker rockers next to high-style ebonized tables, and cozy embroidered pillows piled on 18th Century satinwood settees, all set atop a crazy-quilt assemblage of mismatched orienatal rugs, with an occasional tigerskin thrown in for good measure. Antiques don't require a formal room--unless you want one.
Regards,
Magnaverde.

I'd like to back up a little. I never use what people refer to as an "inspiration piece", but that's just me. If other people find such a thing useful, then they should use it. But as much as I like rules, I think that 6O-3O-1O rule is bogus. While some decorators may use that proportion instinctively, without much thought, it's the kind of thing that confuses amateurs more than it helps them. Decorating isn't rocket science, and to reduce it to a bunch of mathematical formulae is a good way to get a boring, predictable result. You say you don't want your house to look like a model home, so why do this?
Here's another thing. If you like the reds & pinks in that picture, fine. But if that's actually something you're going to use in the room itself, I'd think really hard before I scattered a bunch of throw pillows & vases in those colors around your room.
Ten yoars ago or so, I went to a party at the home of a Chicago collector who lived in a beautiful vintage apartment building on Lake Shore Drive. Just about everything in the place was museum quality, and I'm sure that's where a lot of our hostess' things will be some day. Her home was also full of art, and hanging above the mantel in her lovely living room was a painting that's been published in a lot of coffee table books on French Impressionism and turned into countless posters. Except I'm not talking about a poster or reproduction: this was it, the real thing, a jaw-dri=opping symphony in pinks & salmons & golds & lavendars & greens. It was like there was aconcealed light behind it.
She loved the painting--who wouldn't?--so when it came time to decorate, she did what a lot of decorators recommend, and pulled the room's various colors from the painting. The walls were done in a subtle strie finish in pale pink, the curtains were aquamarine silk. The various sofas & chairs & antique settees were upshiolstered in coral & peach & saffron yellow, and there was an antique secretary in celadon & jade green. Cushions were rose & Wedgwood blue silk, or rosy-tinted petit point and the carpet was an antique in pinks & golds & browns. The accessories--gilt clocks & sconces, Sevres porcelain vases, busts in varicolored marbles--were also in colors that complemeneted the painting. Now, that may sound like a lot of different colors in one room--and it was--but the room was gorgeous, and how could it not be, since its entire color shceme came directly from the priceless masterpiece over the mantel? So much for the 6O-3O-1O rule.
But here's the thing. The wonderful painting, her most prized posession, might as well have been invisible. With its glowing colors imitated & scattered willy-nilly around a gigantic room, the painting was reduced to bit-player status when it should have been the absolute star of the room. All the pillows & doodads that picked up and mimicked the painting's beautiful colors were as distracting as the doofuses who hum along at the opera. I always want to turn around in my seat and yell "Stop it!"
And that's also what I feel like doing when I see art trivialized by copy-cat color schemes. You & I may not own a real Monet--I know I don't--but the principle works the same way, even if our focal point only comes from IKEA or our local Goodwill. Let it breathe.
BTW, the next time I was at the art collector's house, everything had been recolored. The walls were mushroom, the curtains cream, and upholstery was done in taupe & brown with only the faintest hints of pink. Meanwhile, the painting over the mantel--now that it didn't have to compete with everything else in the room--had regained its rightful importance.
Magnaverde Rule No. 63:
Not every rule is a good rule.


****************

I love dropping in here during the day, and since I don't watch TV anymore, checking out the threads on decorating boards satisfies my inner voyeur in the same way that watching Desperate Housewives does for other people, but like Ima says, some days you just gotta pay the bills. So that's what I was doing today: explaining to people--in a nice way, of course--exactly why their ideas were not as good as my ideas. Fortunately, they were intelligent people, and in the end, they saw the light. When I hear the magic words "Why didn't we think of that? You make it all seem so simple!" I know it's time to grab my coat & collect my fee. I've never seen a Decorating Den room I liked, but I love their slogan: "Making the world more beautiful, one room at a time."
Anyway, you're right. Figuring out the right color balance in a room, and the relationship between foreground & background isn't always easy. There's a big difference between stealing the show & singing backup. Sometimes, you want other voices, other times, you don't.
If I owned a world class painting, I wouldn't want it to have to fight for air. At the same time, I wouldn't expect everything else in the room to roll over & play dead. Somewhere in between those two extremes is just the right balance, and it's your job to find it.
But here's the thing: few of us own masterpieces, and the only thing worse than triviaizing a great painting with a copycat decor is turning too bright a spotlight on a piece of undistinguished art that can't take the scrutiny. That's the fastest way to reveal mediocre "art" for what it really is. Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not being an elitist. I have no problem with mediocre art. In fact, my place is full of it. I just know where it belongs in the aesthetic food chain, and I don't give it a prominence it doesn't deserve.
There's a story about the great decorator Elsie de Wolfe. A wealthy & self-important woman was showing Elsie around her brand new mansion. She opened a door and said with a sweeping flourish, "And THIS is my Louis XVI ballroom!" Elsie gave it a once-over & replied "What makes you think so?" There's nothing worse than receiving a present where the wrapping paper is better than the gift.
Same with rooms & their decor. Better to err on the side of discretion than to hype something that doesn't live up to its PR. That's why few of my rooms--whether they're in a sleek 195Os highrise or a big Victorian house, or a 192Os apartment building--ever have anything that qualifies as a "focal point." Nothing I own deserves that kind of special attention.
This doesn't mean I don't have anything worth looking at, just that all of my stuff is pretty much all of a piece. So rather than directing everybody's gaze toward one particular thing, my rooms generally let your eyes skim the room and bounce all over the place. After all, the one thing you may like not be the thing that anybody else likes. Why should everybody who comes through my door be forced to look at one thing? "Oh, look,, everybody, Mag has an entertainment center!" OK, actually, I don't, but you get the idea. Not everything has to be a big deal.
Think about it What is the focal point of the beach? Or a snow covered field? Or a starry sky? Or a city sidewalk? There's no carefully planned focal point in any of those things, and yet they're enjoyable anyway. So why do our rooms need one? If we have a great antique piece, or a gigantic modern painting, that's fine. But if we don't, well, don't sweat it.
What does that mean in your own case? Your lamp--handsome as it probably is--may not be up to playing the lead role in your room. But that's OK, it can still be part of the ensemble. So feel free to use its warm, glowing colors here & there--in somewhat duller tones--and everything will be fine. If you aren't sure how much color you want, or where you want the accents, grab anything at hand and try it out. A bright colored scarf wrapped around a pillow? Your kid's sweatshirt tucked over a chair seat? Great. When you hit the right color combination, and the right amount, you'll know it. If worse comes to worse, take a picture of your room and mess around with the regular paint program that came standard with your computer. Not only is it free, it's a lot easier: this way you don't have to root through the dirty clothes hamper to find something the right color red. Basically, just relax & try things out. Decorating isn't nearly as hard as people try to make it.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
Like I said, Stargirl, if a client specifically asks for, say, a pink room, I'll start on color work early, so we can narrow down the big pile of different manufacturers' pinks to a manageable number, but other than that, color comes pretty late in the game.
Part of that comes, I think, from the way I learned to decorate. I only got my design degree in 1994, but I stated decorating 3O years before that, back when I was still in junior high school, and most of my early knowledge of the nuances of period styles came from studying the photos in the 3O-year old back issues of decorating magazines stacked up in my grandmother's attic. Needless to say, most of those photos were black-&-white. Add to that the left-brain approach to things that comes from working with engineers for a decade and you see why right-brain tasks like picking out colors come pretty far down on my to-do list.
Favorite color? I don't really have one, although I like the sequence of clean greens that runs from Nile to celadon to Hamilton Beach blender to jade to Paris green. Not, however, that I remember ever using any of them.
One time I took one of those online tests that supposedly discern your personality based on your favorite colors. I don't remember what colors I picked (although I do recall that Hamilton Beach blender green was not on the list) but the analysis "revealed" that--are you ready?--I have a strong interest in appearances, have well-definite opinions about things, have a tendency toward bossiness, and often think that my own way is the best.
Well, duh. Why do you think I chose this profession?
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

Davena, I think it all despends on how one defines the word "help." If it means "suggest a philosophical approach to decorating" or "provide a historical background & aesthetic context for different styles", than yes, I do give a lot of help, sometmes more than peoplr really want. If you mean "provide paint names & nunmbers" for people, or "name stores that sell high-end furniture at deep discounts" then, no, I'm sorry to say I'm no help at all.
I try to keep my answers on message boards as generic as possible for the simple reason that the more narrowly focused on a specific problem an answer is, the fewer people it applies to. It reminds me of the opposite approaches to storing food my two grandmothers had.
One grandmother had a pantry wall full of cabinets stacked with of evey Tupperware container ever made, from the icy, translucent pastels & crisp shapes of the early days to the 197Os TV-shaped pieces in opaque golds & greens & browns, to the postmodern teals & mauves to the new brights with their funky multicolored closers. That grandmother's pantry was like a museum of 2Oth Century product design. My other grandmother had a drawer with a roll of Reynolds Wrap.
Based solely on eye appeal, the Tupperware won hands down (except for the 7Os stuff, I mean) and their iconic deviled egge server is a classic proof that functional doesn't have to mean ugly. Next to this sleek beauty at a big family picnic, a bunch of eggs served in wrinkled aluminum foil looked straight outta Hardscrabble Farm.
But when it was time to go home, that beautiful egg server became useless. It was no good for packing up leftover sandwiches, or the remains of the chocolate cake. And you couldn't use it to wrap up the oozing stems of the milkweed plants growing in the roadside gullies that we picked for a fall bouquet, and it wansn't any good for protecting the fragile seed-heads of the cattails in the marshy ditches when we piled them in the trunk with the lawnchairs & balls & bats. Aluminum foil, on the other hand, could do all of those things, and more besides. It could be alid a lid for lightning bugs in a jar, it could make a robot costume for Halloween, It could be a TV antenns, or gift wrap, or a sun block at the window of our un-air-conditioned car. Aluminum foil could do all those things, with a lot less expense and a lot less wasted storage space than a wall of overspecialized Tupperware.
Anyway, it's like that with online advice, too. The more specialized such advice, the less useful it is to the most people. For one thing, it's impossible to suggest an appropriate color for a room unless I've stood in that room and seen how the light falls, and what the green of the grass & leaves does to the room, what color is in the next room, because a single paint can look like a completely different color in two different rooms of the same house. Besides, even if I had magic vision and were able to prescribe exactly the particluar color that would look great in a particular room, it wouldn't help anybody else, because their rooms would all have different sizes & exposures. One size doesn't fit all. That;s the problems with TV decorating shows. Because of the intimacy of the medium, it seems like the those people are talking specifically to you,/i>. But they're not.
That's why I keep my message board advice vague: doing it this way helps people think about their own rooms and come up with answer for themselves. In any situation--especially when it comes to color--one answer will be better than another, but that doesn't mean that that answer will apply to anybody else. But that's OK. Decorating isn't nearly as hard as people tend to make it. What makes it so difficult for so many people is focusing too much on the 'answer' itself, rather than on the learning process that leads you to it.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
............................
This is why I love this forum: articulate people who can express widely differing opinions in a civilized manner. Not like the board I used to post on, which finally got shut down because of rudeness & hypersensitivity.
"Pet peeves"? I agree that it's always nice when a friend compliments something I've done--actually, we're only talking theory here, not reality, since not a single one of my pals, and only one of their wives has ever praised my decor--so I can't imagine getting all bent out of shape if somebody asked me what color I had used on my walls. As bnicebkind points out, sharing is a big part of friendship, whether it be sharing a paint color, or a recipe--something else no one has ever asked me for, althought I make a mean piece of toast--or a radial arm saw. If no one ever shared anything, we'd all still be living in caves, and how would I pay the bills then? No, sharing is good.
But Suszann is right, too. What's not good is buying six gallons of the "perfect" paint color--based on a picture you saw online. Here's a good example: the photo of that room with the blue divan & the accordion at the top of this thread. Yes, it's cheesy--I got the photo on ebay as an example of What Not to Do--but it looked totally differernt when I saw it on somebody else's computer. The original had that weird red tint that comes with old photos that haven't been stored properly, so I tweaked it to get rid of the red and made the walls a nice crisp white, then I posted it. Except that when I saw the room on a different computer, the walls had turned a pale peach.
What if that really were my room? What if someone asked me for the color name, based on what they saw on their own screen? The actual color would have nothing to do with the color they saw, and once they got it up on the walls, they would end up hating their room. That's what's wrong with playing copycat with stuff that's online. It's why I don't provide color names.
Speaking of white walls, a lot of TV decorators love to make fun of them, but they serve a purpose, one that bnicebkind probably appreciates more than the rest of us. They might not be all that exciting, but no one ever ended up with a basement full of tester quarts of white paint. You can call white walls boring & unadventurous, but they're as close to foolproof as you can get, and one day, when exhasusted amateur decorators everywhere are sick to death of the frustration & expense of countless failed attempts at the "perfect green" or the "perfect peach"--which, by the way, don't exist--we'll go back to white walls with a sense of utter relief. Personally, I can't wait. Not that I don't like colored walls. In the right places, I do. But I see way more failures than I see successes. Which, of course, is why there are professional decorators. Their services aren't free, but then money is only is only one factor in anything's true cost. There's also time, which, for most of us, is already in short supply. Why waste it?
And as for the morality issue--the relative importance, that is, of the wrong paint color vs. a destroyed home--I came up with a solution that works for me a long time ago, the day I found a wonderful scroll-end Empire sofa from about 184O, with lustrous crotch-grain mahogany & a worn velvet the soft yellow of creme brulee on the very same day that the Illinois River flooded a small town downstream from where I lived.
If I had simply gone ahead and bought the sofa I had spent several years looking for, while there were suddenly-homeless people reduced to living in tents, I would feel bad, and the sofa would remind me of my own selfishness every time I sat on it. On the other hand, if I gave over every penny in my bank account to the flooded-out people, there would still be hundreds of homeless people and I would have ended up sittong on the floor for years. Neither choice semed good, so I compromised.
I decided I could buy the sofa--or anything, for that matter: clothes, books, casettes (this was the early 8Os), whatever--but I had to give an equal amount to charity. It worked out fine then, and it still works now. I can buy any foolish thing I feel like, without feeling the slightest bit of guilt--as long as I balance it out with an equal amount for other people. It's so simple. So, in theory, every rejected paint color I choose does somebody somewhere some good. At least, it would if I ever chose a wrong color. But I'm lucky that way: I have perfect pitch in color. Either that, or I'm just easily satisfied. Or maybe they're the same thing. If not, they're close enough.
Which brings me to my last point: the quest for prefection. Forget it. You won't find it, not in this world, anyway. And even if you could, who would want it? Not me. The great decorator Nancy Lancaster (see above) said it best: "Understatement is extremely important and crossing too many t's and dotting too many i's make a room look overdone and tiresome."
Besides, color on the wall of any room is only one part of a larger whole, and what's important is the big picture. Sometimes, the best discoveries happen by chance. Somebody drops a glob of rubber on a hot stove and voila' we have Vulcanized rubber, the basis for modern tires. Somebody else wants to make dinner for the emperor after a hard day in battle, but there's nothing but leftovers. Presto! chicken Marengo. Let's face it: life's a crapshoot. When you look at the news, you realize we could all of us go at any time. Why get too hung up on decorating.. Obsessing over anything is bad, but everybody needs a bit of diversion. My Tupperware grandmother used to remind me and my brothers (not that it did any good): a place for everything, and everything in its place. That goes for life, too.
My first boss in the decorating world was an incredibly talented & incredibly sharp-tongued woman of 6O, with hair as orange as Clairol could make it. Phyllis claimed to have invented the color orange, which wasn't true, but she was, I'm sure, the first to slap it on the walls in 195Os Peoria. She also had a ton of tinkling gold charm bracelets on each arm that let you know she was approaching, and a toxic cloud of mingled Chanel No. 5 & tobacco smoke that lingered behind when she moved on.
Phyllis refused to be ruffled by anything. Shipping delays, flawed fabrics, a broken pipe in the warehouse, impatient clients, all were met with Phyllis' deadpan "Oh, well..." Her calm demeanor sometimes veered into zombie territory, but she soothed local attorneys famed for their hair-trigger tempers, reassured third wives who quaked in awe at tales of their predecessors' exquisite taste, and dissuaded hot-shot young brokers ready to plunk down megabucks for glitzy Vegas-style atrocities that would have gone out of style in six months. She was the clucking mother hen to all the nouveau-riche chicks in town who dreaded making some fatal faux-pas that would brand them forever as country-club trailer-trash, and she refused to sell the same chintz twice, so that none of her old money clients--and she had a ton of them--ever had to worry about seeing their sofa at their social inferiors' houses. She was everyone's best friend. One time when I was freaking out over a chair that had come back from the upholsterer with the stripes upside down, she bet me lunch that the clients wouldn't even notice. They didn't. We ended up at the most expenxive restaurant in town and it cost me $6O--this was 15 years ago--at a time I was still trying to pay for school on two part-time jobs. When I started whining, she just said "That's OK. This will teach you not to panic over nonsense. It's not rocket science."
Unfortunately, Phyllis died a few weeks before I finally got my design degree, but I think of her all the time. How could I not, with her personal motto hanging above my desk? She worked it herself, in orange & black petit point one year when she was laid up at home from one of her not infrequent auto accidents (she drove like a maniac). The frame is 188Os Anglo-Japonesque and the Victorian script is so elaborate you can just barely make out the words among all the orange curlicures: ""Oh, well."
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

Here's Magnaverde Rule No. 40:
Decorate for the life you really have, not the life you wish you had.
In my dreams, I have a rambling country place with rooms variously grand or cozy, and all of them filled with threadbare oriental & antique furniture & paintings. There would be at least one major room facing in each direction, so that winter breakfasts would be sunny, and summer breakfasts cool, with a pine scented breeze coming through French windows that open onto a broad wooden veranda furnished with ancient wicker furniture & shaded by faded canvas awnings. The book room would have a red leather Chesterfield sofa--or better yet, a Knole sofa in faded damask--and thick corduroy curtains, and all my watercolors of vintage rooms would be matted & framed in period style and hung over the empty gaps in the shelves, of which there would be a lot, to allow for lots more books. It would be great. Damp mornings would smell of old leather & wet dogs & last night's cherry-wood fire.
The reality, however, is that I have a tiny apartment with only one dining room, my oriental rugs are rolled up in a closet because I don't have enough floor space to hold them all, and I don't have a book room at all. I keep my rolled-up blueprints inside the hollow wooden pedestal in the corner, which, in turn, holds a Roman marble urn, which gets pressed into duty as summer storage for winter scarves & gloves. Matted presentation drawings are sealed in garbage bags and stashed behind every large piece of furniture. Inside my medicine cabinet is a list--in case my computer should ever go down--of where everything is kept. And I don't just mean things like my will or my grandmother's diamond ring. I mean stuff like my summer ties (rolled up inside the urn on the Empire table) or my colored pencils (tin Saltines box in the kitchen) or matches & lighters (chartreuse Harlequin teapot). Around here, everything has to do double duty.
In a place this small, there's no room for a big coffee table. Or end tables. But then, I eat my pizza at Giordano's, not sprawled in front of a big-screen TV, and since most of my furniture and my rugs are a century old and already scarred or faded, it doesn't bother me if my friends put their feet up on the upholstery, which means that a coffee table--or a gargantuan ottoman posing as one--isn't really needed anyway. And as far as end tables go, none of my friends smoke, so there's no need for ashtrays, and since the only reading that gets done at my place is done by me, I only need one lamp for reading, and therefore, without ashtrays or reading lamps or--heaven forbid--meaningless accessories to support, an end table would have nothing to do anyway. So at one end of my sofa I have a big Empire center table, and at the other end, there's nothing. OK, there's a doorway. Sitting across from my sofa, however, there is a Wiliam IV table from about 1830 that is currently holding my great-grandmother's sterling silver silver cake basket, which is filled with the shiny bronwn seed pods off the black locust tree in front of my building. Most of them get raked up and hauled off by the landscapers as trash, but I think they're beautiful, and that's all that matters.
At any rate, I never follow an empty convention, even if everybody else is doing so. Especially if everyone elseis doing so. So if there's no room for a coffee table, don't worry about it. Maybe a nest of tables would work for you, anyway. Or a small pedestal table. Or a piano stool. In my book, uniqueness isn't particularly interesting and I never do anything just to be different. Then again, I never hesitate to do something unusual if it happens to be the best solution to the problem.
Regards,
M.

Chicago Interiors is worth every penny. David Lowe not only used some of the best-known shots of Chicago's great lobbies & churches & theater but he also has great connections, and he managed to track down photos in private hands that I've never seen anywhere else--long-vanished drawing rooms, swoony nightspots and gorgeous marble banking rooms that looked like Roman temples (although no temple ever was ever turned into an inferno by a dirigible crashing through the ceiling the way it happened down on LaSalle street in 1919). Unlike Lost Chicago, David Lowe's previous book, however, this one isn't all heartbreak. Some of these spaces still exist and many of them are open to the public.
By the way, if you ever get a chance to hear him talk anywhere, go do it. The guy is not only incredibly knowledgeable, he's very funny. He's like a mixture of William F. Buckley's knowledge of everything & Jack Benny's deadpan delivery & killer timing, and I would say that even if her weren't a pal of mine, although David would never use a middle-class term like "pal." At any rate, get the book.
If you had the opportunity to go to school in the Auditorium Building, you were very fortunate. If you get back to town, try to take a real tour of the theatre. A few years ago, they replaced the 30-year old gold paint on Louis Sullivan's ornate plasterwork with 23K gold leaf, and restored the original 23K gold stenciling, which had been lost under 2O layers of paint, and the result is absolutely spectacular, the most glitteringly beautiful room I've ever been in. When they dim the lights right before the curtain, the place feels like it's lit with a million candles.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

I'm with Auntjen + Kristen. My place is full of family stuff. I eat off my grandmother's 195Os Fiestaware. The temperature dropped last night and I got out the Hudson's Bay blanket that my other grandmother bought for their Northwoods fishing cabin back in 1932. When I tie my tie in the morning, I use the mirror that her grandfather brought back from the Centennial Exposition in 1876. But it's not all family stuff. That is, it's not all my family's stuff.
I have LuLu & Ted's knick-knack shelf--I don't know who they were, but their names & their wedding date are wood-burned into the back--and the flat rocks that hold down my watercolors when I'm painting are inscribed with penciled notes about their origin: Niagara Falls, Egypt, Des Moines. I bought them at the same sale where I got the chalk drawing of a boy that now hangs on my living room wall, and if I'd come across that red-haired girl's picture, I probably would have brought her home, too. Money is only one measure of value.
One of my favorite things is the china face of a doll I found during an archaeology class back while I was in college. To learn about methodology & documentation, we spent 3 weeks walking the rows of newly-plowed corn fields in Central Illinois, looking for evidences of an overnight encampment of the Native American tribes who had lived in the area when LaSalle & Joliet came down the Illinois River in birchbark canoes, three hundred years before.
One morning I was walking a rise in a field a hundred yards from the river, looking for the telltale sparkle of rain-washed chert flakes or broken bird points, and instead, I came across bits of broken brick, square nails, a handle from a Blue Willow teacup and the face of a Jenny Lind doll. If I had found an intact spear point on that rise, the way my field partner did, it would have had to go to the state museum down in Springfield, but the museum wasn't really wasn't interested in an 185Os farmhouse, so I got to keep my treasures. And that's absolutely what I consider them. A single patch of land can tell a lot of different stories.
Anyway, it's those stories of the lives behind otherwise unremarkable debris that always get to me. And it doesn't matter whether the stuff comes from the site of a 3OO-year old campfire, or a demolished farmhouse, or an estate sale down the block, it calls out to me just the same. After all, the State of Illinois will preserve the spear points, but if I don't save LuLu & Ted's shelf, who else is going to do it? And what happened to Grannie? And to the red-hared girl? What about them, and why are their things at the mall? I can only do so much, but I do what I can. I'm reminded of the final page of The Bridge of San Luis Rey which won Thornton Wilder the Pulitzer Prize:
"Madre Maria stood with her back against a post; the sick lay in rows, gazing at the ceiling and trying to hold their breath. She talked that night of all those out in the dark (she was thinking of Esteban alone, she was thinking of Pepita alone) who had no one to turn to, for whom the world perhaps was more difficult, without meaning. And those who lay in their beds there felt that they were within a wall that the Abbess had built for them; within, all was light and warmth, and without was the darkness they would not exchange even for a relief from pain and from dying.
But even while she was talking, other thoughts were passing in the back of her mind. "Even now", she thought, "almost no one remembers Esteban and Pepita but myself. Camila alone remembers her Uncle Pio and her son, this woman, her mother. But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love wil have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning."

OK, last story. One day I was down on south Michgan Avenue, standing on the corner in front of Roosevelt University--housed in Adler & Sullivan's great Auditorium Building--waiting for the light to change. I was looking up at the facade when an Asian man walked out the front door of the school and approached me. "Excuse me, please. I am looking for the Japanese restaurant?"
I suggested he walk south a few blocks south to Oysy, my favorite sushi place, beautiful & sleek & fairly cheap for its Michigan Avenuea location, but he explained he was looking for a Japanese restaurant in the Auditorium building. All I could suggest was a trip to the school cafeteria to see what the international menu was that day. He was polite and gracious but I could see he was disapointed.
On a hunch, I asked him "You're not talking about the Japanese Tearoom, are you?" He was. I had to explain to him that the Japanese Tearoom had been located in the Auditorium Annex--now the Congress Hotel, across the street--rather than in the actual Auditorium Building, but that either way, it no longer existed. I wasn't even sure when it had disappeared. I figured it had probably been during WWII, when the Japanese Pavilion, a souvenir of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, was also destroyed, burned by arsonists.
But I had an odd feeling, so I asked him a few more questions. It turned out the man was great-grandson of the Japanese artist who had been brought to this country in 1912 by Holabird & Roche--the hotel's architects--to supervise the decoration of the room. My guy had come to Chicago to see the room and photograph it. It was important, he explained, because most of his relative's work had been destroyed in the Tokyo earthquake & fire of 1923. The architect's drawings & photgraphs had been rescued, but only for a few years. When ill health prevented him from working anymore, he had packed up his studio & retired to what he was hoping would be a peaceful old age in Hiroshima. Of course, everything was lost in the war. Of the man's life's work, all that survived was a single cracked photo of him as an elderly man, and a story about a room in Chicago. This poor guy had made a pilgramage halfway around the world to see something that had vanished half a century before.
That was the sad news. The good news was that of all the moments the man could have come out that door, he came when he did, and out of the dozen people waiting on that corner to cross the street, he chose to ask me--the one person who knew exactly what he was talking about.
And not only did I know what he was talking about, but in my office, half a block away, I had postcards of the room. Color postcards, from 1912. But I had better than that. I invited him back to my office, where I also had a copy of David Garrard Lowe's wonderful & heartbreaking book Chicago Interiors, in which the frontispiece--get this--is a full-page photograph of the Japanese Tearoom, with a dignified Asian man in a morning jacket, sitting stiffly in a chair.
I pulled the book from my shelf and showed him the picture. He clutched his chest and said something in Japanese. "It is Great Grandfather." I could tell he was going to cry, so I left the room to go do something. When he left a little while later--with the book & the cards, of course--he shook hands, then bowed and said in a quiet voice "It is a deep honor."
A few years later I received a small book bound in blue silk, with, I'm asuming--it's in Japanese--the story of the man's family. There are photos of prosperous-looking young people & dignified elders, all, apparently, descendents of the artist. The postcards & photos I gave my man are beautifully reproduced and there's even a photo of him & me standing in front of the Auditorium where we first met. On that page he's written "The gods led me to you."
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
Auntjen answered your question right out of the gate. It all boils down to the issue of TV or no TV. I can't tell you how many people have asked me "I'm sick to death of seeing people gluing paper bags to their walls! Aren't you?" when the truth is that, because I don't watch TV, I've never seen anybody do that. It reminds me of the old joke where the man says to his doctor--as he hits himself over the head--"Doc, it hurts when I do this." The Doctor just says "Well, then then stop doing that. And turn off the TV."
Anyway, I've never chosen anything because it was in style, and never avoided anything because it was out of style. On the other hand, I don't do things just to be different, or to break the rules. Uniqueness is not a quality I value very highly. Like a famous architect said, "You can't invent a new architecture every Monday morning." And even if you could, by Sunday night, some no-talent hack would have already ripped you off. So what's the point?
Back when I was in school, one of our professors asked us what musician we would compare ourselves to. In between the Jerry Garcias (he wasn't dead yet) and the Elton Johns and the Madonnas, there was an occasional Loretta Lynn or Lucianno Pavarotti, but most of my classmates seemed to think of themselves as potential revolutionaries who would turn the design world upside down with their innovative work, and so they picked Elvis or John Cage. Or Beethoven. When it got to me, I said J.S. Bach. Bach wasn't an innovator, so he didn't create any new musical forms or tonal systems, and he worked within the already well-established style that had been popular years before he was born, but working within that pre-existing style, he wrote more--and better--music than anybody else, and managed to say more things. Every possible mood, every emotion, can be found in Bach's music, and he towers above the other great musicians. Yet unlike the sometimes difficult music of later masters, Bach's music is totally accessible. Beautiful and complex as his music is, everyone can understand Bach.
At any rate, when it comes to decorating, I just do what I want, and if people like whatever that is, then they call me up. If they don't, they don't. It's really that simple.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

Elizabeth, I had to go back to that other thread to reread my own post to see what I said, and more importantly, why I said it. I say a lot of stuff. And Henry David Thoreau said "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Fortunately, that doesn't apply to me.
At any rate my words weren't a blanket statement meant to cover all circumstances. They were merely a suggestion for warming up a cold-feeling room where there was lot of white in the softgoods. In a situation like that. light's the easiest thing to adjust, and sometimes it's all you need.
Back when I was working in the engineering department at the phone company, management got drafted to work the switchboards every time the regulat operators' contract expired and they all went out on strike. We had to sit in a gigantic room for 14- and 18-hour days at these big consoles--think early Star Trek, not Petticoat Junction and in between putting some girl's pay phone calls through for free because she didn't have the right change and connecting other people to the wrong party because I forgot the area code for Omaha, I sat and studied the decor of the operators' room. It had busy floral wallpaper of impressionist-style daisies & daffodils against a ground of green slashes that I guess were supposed to be grass. The ceiling was a mix of daylight-color flourescent tubes & incandescant can lights, and I couldn't figure out why they had both. I also couldn't understand why there was a dial-style thermometer at the front of the room, since the air temperature had to stay at a fixed temperature to keep the equipment running correctly.
But the mystery was solved a few days later, when the phone company used the down-time to repaint the walls & lay new carpet. I happened to be sitting near the thermostat when the painter took his screwdriver and removed the thermostat's housing. When he did, the whole thing came off in his hands. It had no wiring. It was a dummy.
I asked the chief operator about it and she explained that when the operators complained about being cold, the on-duty supervisor would go to the front of the room and "adjust" the temperature, and then, when she got back to her desk, she would crank up the dimmers on the incandescant can lights. In a few minutes, the lights would cycle up to their maximum wattage, and then, after the operators started removing their sweaters, the supervisor would hit another button and the incandescants would slowly dim again, leaving the cooler fluorescents at full power. The temperature never varied. On one hand, the little charade seemed really stupid. On the other hand, it seemed like genius. Either way, it was a lesson I never forget.
But here's the thing: anybody can go out and buy a lamp, but it takes practice to learn how to use them. Most people pick a base & a shade and call it a day. There's a lot more to it than that, and surprisingly, the best way to learn is not to study light fixture catalogs & lumens & foot-candles, but to study paintings of interiors. At least, that's the way I learned. Here are some artists to check out: Zurbaran, Velasquez, Vermeer, Fantin LaTour, John Singer Sargent, Walter Gay, Frank Benson, James Tissot, Edward Hopper, Pierre Brissaud & David Payne. In almost every case, the spell their paintings cast is due not to their subject matter or their models, but their perfect control of light.
Here's a shot of my very first apartment after college, circa 1978. I owned almost nothing--I dragged the chair & the little 193Os table out of the alley--and there was not a single piece of art in the place, but it didn't matter, because when the sunlight raked across my walls every afternoon, my apartment turned into a real-life Vermeer. Who could ask for more?
Regards,

You're absolutely right. Her first duty as a "free" in-store "designer" is to move product. If, in the process, she also managed to help you out with some of your other problems--construction details & the like--that's great, but the store doesn't pay her a cent for any of that stuff. As she sees it, she's spent 5 months with you & your husband, helping out on things that don't add to her paycheck, during which time you haven't bought a thing, and now that it's crunch time, you're putting on the brakes. No wonder she's annoyed.
That doesn't mean you're wrong to be equally annoyed. You've also spent 5 months on this and have nothing to show for your efforts. Your only real mistake was a common one--thinking that "free" actually meant free. It never does. One way or the other, you have to pay, and since you haven't actually bought anything, you're paying in frustration instead.
Here's what I'd do if I were in your shoes, which, of course, I've never been. I'd send your "designer"--not the store--a nice gift certificate for $1OO or $2OO at a nice salon or spa or boutique as a thank you for the helpful advice she gave you on your building questions, and I'd hire myself a real designer, one who will work for you, rather than work you over, while actually working undercover for the other side.
If you like the store & its lines, you can now go in there without having to hide every time you see her across the way, and if not, you can go someplace else without feeling like you left her high & dry. What you should not do is let the time factor push you into ordering bland upholstery where its only recommendation is that it's not hideous, just because you're in a hurry.
But not to worry. This doesn't mean you have to live on lawn furniture until you come up with a plan. That's why they have furniture rental companies. Sure, the stuff they have is cheesy, but it will be gone in a few months, and in the meantime, that stuff will give you the time you need to work with your new designer to get the look you want. Because even though furniture isn't as well made as it used to be, your new stuff will still be around a long time, and you don't want to do something you'll regret for the next ten years.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
Magnaverde Rule No. 3: Decorate in haste, repent at leaisure.

Suszann, first of all, allow me to recuse myself from consideration as a candidate, not because I couldn't work with bnicebkind--I'm pretty sure I could--but because I don't want to get booted off the board: they let me talk all I want but only as long as it doesns't look like I'm advertising.
In the general sense, though, yours is a great idea. There are a lot of people who are perfectly capable of shopping for a sofa or a table or a rug, but they don't have the training or experience to be able pull everything together to make an attractive home.
Not, as they say, that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, I have pretty much the same problem in the kitchen. I'm actually not a bad cook, but I never learned how to get all the dishes to the table at the same time, so compared to the hopeless task of trying to pull together a meal for 8 people, decorating a house is a snap. But, then, I'm the kind of person who likes to face problems head on, rather than cringing & hiding from them, so the first thing I do is candidly acknowledge my inability to handle that kind of stressful situation. After all, the first step toward overcoming a problem is admitting you have that problem. The second step is calling the caterers, and then, well, I'm not really sure what the other ten steps are. Thank goodness for speed-dial!
Anyway, that's my motto: just let a pro do it. That's why we have money, so we can pay other people to do the stuff that we can't. Then all we have to do is stand back & smile & take all the credit. "Why, yes, I did arrange the parsley on that platter. Thanks for asking!"
So my advice to bnicebkind is the same as it was in in my original post: pay off the first woman, then let your fingers do the walking and get yourself a real designer. These days, a lot of them will work on an hourly basis.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
A lot of things excite me, but non-white ceilings are not among them. In fact, these days, what with fancy-pants TV decorators egging on the inexperiendced, I'm a lot mre likely to see garishly colored ceilings that repel me, rather than beautifully colored ceilings that attract me.
Not, as they say, that there's anything wrong with colored ceilings. It's just that after a half century of nothing but white ceilings, people have lost the skill of using color up there, and the heavy-handed results of amateur attempts at the Wow Factor remind me of a ten year old girl's first experiment with eyeshadow & blush. Yikes! "Pretty Baby", anyone?
Actually, it's even worse than that, because it's a lot harder to tone down a ceiling color than it is to wash off the hooker makeup & start over, and too many people, having invested so much energy & expense in painting the ceiling in the first place--only to find it's the wrong color--are too exhausted to redo it, and so, garish or not, it stays.
That's the real risk wth painted ceilings: they're hard to predict and they're hard to hide. A too-bright wall color can be minimized with a lot of furniture & a lot of stuff hanging on the walls, but the ceiling is already the largest unbroken surface in the room, and when it's wrong, it's Wrong and there's nothing you can do to hide the fact. Unfortunately, even if you choose a color that's tasteful--and leaving out the whole 8-foot issue, for the moment--there's another problem with doing it the way you describe.
Part of the charm, the appeal, of a ceiling that's painted in a color that complemements the decor of a room is the surprise factor. The most delightful ceilings I can think of are the masterpieces created by Robert Adam in 18th Century England, tasty confections of delicately-scaled plaster ornament overlaid onto a geometrically-designed ceiling, the whole thing finished off in yummy combinations of candy pastels: sea green, lavendar & maize in a yellow room; Wedgwood blue, salmon & olive in a sky blue room; pink & ivory in a buff room.
But here's the thing. Only one or two rooms in a house got a treatment like that. The rest were more subtle--all white, or maybe white with grisaille panels highlighted with gold. Beautiful as they were, Adam didn't intrude colored ceilings into every room, because that would have killed the critical surprise factor. Adam was a master of rhythm & flow & contrast, and I've often wondered how much of that skill came from listening to the music of the period, with its intricate structure & passages of varying tempo: Allegro, andante, allegro, largo, presto.
These days, contrast is the most underused concept in popular decorating. That's what's wrong with all that nonsense about Rooms that Pop. Not every room needs to call attention to itself. Not every eoom has to scream at the top of its lungs like a spoiled child. "Look at Me!, look at Me!" I'll tell ya, that gets old really fast.
Too many people forget the surprise factor of quiet. When my friends' little boy used to start making a ruckus, his mom would start whispering, and the kid would calm right down, transfixed. The same concept works in decorating, too.
Robert Adam is again the guy to look to. The most spectacular space I know is the Anteroom he designed for Syon House over two centuries ago, all turquoise & gold--and I don't mean SW Restrained Gold, either, I mean the real stuff, 24K, laid with a generous hand over anything that didn't move: sculpted plaster plaques & life-size copies of classic Roman statues perched atop bright blue marble columns that were carved in ancient Rome, buried for hundreds of years at the bottom of a muddy river, then hauled out and shipped to London for this very room. You wanna talk about a Room That Pops? This is it. Think Donald Trump, except with good taste.
It's a knockout, no question. But one of the keys to the room's brilliant success is that the next room in the sequence of spaces that guests would see, is a long, narrow gallery done entirely in chaste black & white. That cool, colorless room--full of more antique statuary--serves the same function as the sorbet course in a rich meal: it refeshes & cools the pallette after a heavy course. Too much of anything diminishes its pleasure.
Which brings us back to you and your 8-foot ceilings. Eight feet isn't much to work with, but if you're going for the contrast of one cozy, intimate room at a certain point along the path of your inter-connected rooms, a colored ceiling might be just the thing. You might even use color in two rooms. But doing it all the way throughout your spaces will only diminsh the impact you're trying to achieve, and the overall feeling may turn oppressive & predictable.
But if you're careful to keep your ceiling color's intensity under control, and don't get carried way with a good thing, you'll probably do just fine with color on your ceilings.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE
I don't usually butt into fix-my-room threads, but I had to check in here with a dissenting opinion.
Your ceiling is fine. These days, colored ceilings are kind of a decorating placebo, prescribed by TV decorators as a kind of miracle cure for just about everything, but your room needs the crispness of contrast, not more of the same thing. So leave your ceiling alone. Besides, the white ceiling will reinforce the white trim & fireplace. If you can get wood blinds in the general range of your wall color, do that, wide ones with black tapes. But forget woven woods, or black metal blinds. Sure, black blinds would be striking, but you want monochrome, and they will call way too much attention to the windows. Black tapes will add crispness without overwhelming your room. You want the visual equivalent of a sprig of parsley, not an oak tree.
Also, forget a bunch of black-&-white photos, unless you took them yourself. There are enough Pottery Barn clones around already. If I see one more picture of the kid with a loaf of French bread, I'll scream. Don't make me do it.
Also, forget black iron lamps. The ones you have are fine--well, maybe not fine, but they;re not terrible--but those shades need to go: they look like Grandma's house. Get yourself some shiny white paper ones. Opaque. Also forget throw pillows to pick up the colors of the rug. Not needed. And forget the plants. A handsome room doesn't need to be 'softened". The dog can stay.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

To tell the truth, I hate shopping, and I'll do just about anything I can to avoid it. In fact, that's why Magnaverde Rule No. 1 is Don't confuse decorating with shopping. And since it's been years since I was last in an Ethan Allen store, I'm sorry to say I can't offer any opinion on the settee. However, I can say this: a few cabriole legs aren't going to lock you into a certain syle forever, and neither will a fabric that has a lot of green and--oh, no!--no red.
If I'm doing someones else's place, and they have a particular color they want to use, I use it. But at home, off the clock, I don't bother with a color scheme at all. Because I like antiques, there's not a single piece of upholstery in my house that didn't once belong to someody else, and each one of them is still wearing whatever fabric it was wearing the day I brought it home. Except for a pair of barley-twist farthingale chairs upholstered in egg-yolk yellow 196Os linen velvet, no two pieces have the same fabric: my camelback sofa is raspberry red, my Empire walnut daybed's cushions are red-&-gold imberline damask, a barrel chair is moss green mohair velvet, the Marlborough-leg mahogany chair is oyster leather, a 194Os club chair is a gray-&-copper satin stripe with dark green fringe, and there are stools in charcoal-&-plum striped corduroy and faded green needlepoint, and there are a bunch of cushions in a hodge-poge of different antique fabrics. The rug has about 2O colors in a gigantic Empire pattern and the curtains are a 193Os floral cretonne in red, pink, bottle green & periwinkle blue on a parchment color ground. With red & purple fringe.
The room these are in is now Canned Spinach green, but it used to be oyster gray, and in my old place, most of the same furniture was used in rooms that were at one time or another sea green or bottle green or corn meal yellow. In the yellow room, I used a floral sofa with a sky blue ground, and champagne silk curtains, but everything else was the same. It sounds like chaos, but everything got along and it looked great, so great, in fact, that for five years a photo of the room was used as the main image on the welcome page for AOL's Home & Garden boards.
In other words, relax. Not every fabric in a room has to have all the colors of a pre-set color scheme. In fact, not every fabric has to have any of those colors. And that applies not only to colors, but to furniture styles as well. If you think of the different decorative ingredients in a room--the cabriole legs on a settee, the pagoda shades on the lamps, the gimp-&-nailhead trim on a stool--as spices, you'll see the role that they really have to play: that of accenting other things, not providing the main flavor. One settee won't turn your whole room French. Or think of them as the back-up singers who provide the harmony or the counterpoint in a song. If everyone sang exactly the same notes, it would sound pretty dull. Same here. You don't want the chorus to take over, but it defintely improves the song.
Besides, if the settee's colors match the room's colors exactly, that's the thing that will limit you. Doing it this way--with an unrelated fabric--that settee and its colors could provide a springboard for the room's next decor, or it could go down the hall to another room and fit right in there, or it might act as an accent in a room of a totally different character altogether, whereas a fabric that's too closely a match for the current room's decor will merely look like it's the wrong room if you try to use it somewhere else.
Anyway, once you move beyond the narrow boundaries of color schemes & decorative themes that can be described in three words or less, you'll see that the possibilities are almost endless. Have fun.
Regards,
Magnaverde.
Michelle, I'm not sure I consider Western Electric the final word on the difference between aqua & turquoise--after all, I love a good Manhattan as much as anybody, but If I ever got a drink with a cherry that matched the color they call "Cherry Red" I'd send it straight back to the bar--but either way, it's still a great link. It went straight to My Favorites.
Before I went back to school for an interior design degree, I spent a decade as an engineer at Illinois Bell, back in the good old days when phones came in all those colors, dozens of colors, our one-stop-shopping phone service was the envy of the world, and if you dropped your phone on your ceramic tile floor, you worried about the floor, not the phone. Thank you, Judge Greene, for putting an end to all those terrible things. After he got done slicing & dicing, I knew it was time to bail.
These days, when I'm working on a project, I always tell people that cell phones may be conveneint, but that every home needs at least one real phone and that you can't get any better than a beautifully restored WE 5OO set, especially if it comes in, say, turquoise or lemon yellow. Thanks for sharing.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

My apartment is the only one--out of 6O in my building--that still has its original 1926 porcelain-over-cast-iron sink on legs. It's one of the reasons I took this place. That and my black Jaspe linoleum counters. Also original
The day I came to check the place out, the manager was Mr. Personality as he showed me the big closets & the big bathroom & the smooth-as silk operation of the original wooden windows, but he quickly turned cringing & apologetic when I walked into the kitchen. I didn't understand why, till I caught sight of the sink. I had never actually seen a sink on legs before, except, of course, in Dorothea Lange photos of the tenements in the Depression. At any rate, when he saw my expression, he immediately piped in "I'm going to replace the sink, no problem."
I put an end to that talk right there. No way he was touching this baby. If he had ripped it out and turned this perfect Jazz-age time capsule into the kind of generic dime-a-dozen kitchen I saw in the all the other apartments, with their can lights & ceiling fans & laminate floors, I would have gone to my next appointment at another building down the block without a moment's hesitation. As it was, I signed a lease on the spot.
Sure, my sink doesn't have the gleam of brand-new porcelain, and it takes a few more minutes to clean than a stainless steel number, but for one thing it's not like I actually cook, and for another, the cleaning woman charges the same either way. And if a sink on legs doesn't bother her, why should it bother me? No, my sink on legs is in it for the duration. I only wish I could change one thing. I wish it were Nile green.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE
it's not just you. They are traditional.
Too many people select things as though they existed in a stylistic or decorating vacuuum, and don't give enough thought to the context in which they'll be seen, then end up with a stylistic hodgepodge. There's "eclectic" and then there's just plain ol' mismatched.
You can't get much more traditional than 6-panel doors, and while their classic style is perfect for a traditionally-styled house, they look as out-of-place in a 7Os ranch as flat slab doors would look in an otherwise Colonial-style house.
It sounds like the problem with the OP's doors--chosen to complement the style of her house when it was built--is not that they're plain but that they're cheap. It's possible to find handsomely-grained, well-finished (and sound-deadening) solid-core flush doors that would be a better match to the age and style of her house.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

These days I live in a 192Os Tudorbethan apartment full of mahogany furniture & antique fabrics, but in 1978 I moved into my very first post-college place, a 194O Streamlined Moderne apartment, where the floors were terrazzo, the stair rails were Monel metal and the windows were either glass block or steel casemements. In fact. those steel casements--at 12 feet, they were the widest windows in Peoria--were the reason I rented the apartment in the first place.
Unfortunately, I signed the lease during a particulary mild week in late October, and within a month, I was shivering & miserable because the rusted windows wouldn't close all the way and the half-inch gaps between the corroded frames & the corroded windows turned my apartment into a howling, screaming wind tunnel. Thank heaven for steam heat. Somehow, I survived the winter, but when it warmed up in the spring I knew I had to do something.
Unfortunately, my landlord didn't think my measly $175 per month rent justified his spending the time & money to restore my beautiful but rusty windows. That was the bad news, The good news was he was even too cheap to replace them with lumberyard double-hungs, the way another slumlord had destroyed the beauty of the streamline apartments across town. When he suggested stapling plastic over my windows, I knew the guy was insane. My walls were solid concrete.
So, since I loved my place, and I loved my windows, I rehabbed them mmyself. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing and all my useless pals said I was crazy for putting my time & money on somebody else's building, but I was determined to bring the place back to the glamour it had had when it was new, and besides, what did my friends know? They had plaid couches, for pete's sake.
Anyway, it was mostly just a matter of getting rid of a few decades worth of accumulated paint layers and/or surface rust, and also the windblown grit that had built up and hardened in the windows' frames and made it impossible to close them all the way. So, using a heavy duty scraper, a grinder attachment for my Buck Rogers-style drill, some wire brushes, a few cans of WD-40 & glazing compound black Rustoleum, I managed to get all but one of my casements working smoothly again, and when I finally got that one closed, I screwed it shut. When I was done, my windows looked good as new.
Yes, it was a huge pain, and because I was a stupid kid, I probably lost a bunch of IQ points from breathing lead-paint dust without a mask, but--what was I saying?--the end result was worth it. Installing new wood casements would have been simpler, but they would have also been a lot more expensive than muddling through with my old windows, and more inmportantly, the thick sections of the wooden frames would have destroyed the sleek horizontal lines of the originals.
As it turned out, the windows ended up looking so good that when I moved out, my landlord more than doubled the rent for the next tenant, a small ad agency, and they liked the place & the windows so much they not only stayed for 2O years, they kept my gray-&-black decor intact and ordered new furniture to match.
So sure, you can replace your windows with wood, or you can spend a little more and have them restored to like-new condition, but if you do it right, you can probably restore most of them yourself. You may have to replace a few on the rear of your place, so that they can serve as replacement parts, but even if it's a job that turns out to be beyond your skills, at least give it a thought.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

What's sad is that a lot of what was considered run-of-the-mill quality 5O years ago is now only found in high-end pieces, and today's mass-market pieces are mostly junk made of MDF & plastic. Few people will ever face a choice between replacing or reupholstering them, because there won't be anything left of them but a pile of sawdust & staples. Not, of course, that mid-market stuff doesbn't have quality issues if its own.
Now that I want to look at them, I can't find them, but last winter, I saved two alternate versions of a sofa ad for Mitchell Gold, one from an expensive magazine aimed at design professionals and another ad meant for a regular middle class audience. What they featured in the two different magazines was telling.
Of course, the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't approach for ads for identical products aimed at different demographics isn't anything new, but historically, Mitchell Gold's examples have always been among the best examples. I remember a pair of ads from the early 199Os. The Better Homes & Gardens ad would show, say, a vast, brick-walled loft with a leather sofa, and behind it, a hunky, shirtless dude in faded Levis, getting ready to drop trou. In the version of the ad that appeared in Interior Design, with its presumedly more--let's say sophisticated audience, the pants are history.
This go-around, the MG message is different, but just as revealing. Again it's something that appears in the lower-end magazine but which has vanished in the ad aimed at a more knowledgeable audience.
Specifically, the copy in the dumbed-down ad--surrounding a shot a MG camelback sofa doing its own version of a strip-tease to show off its own bulges & curves--makes it sound as though MG's replacement of "old-fashionsed" 8-way hand-tied coil springs with serpentine metal springs is a wonderful improvement in comfort & quality, rather than an easy way to speed up the pace & lower the cost.
The version aimed at the pros shows the same photo, but--can you guess?--they skip the specious, self-serving malarkey about the implied superiority of serpentine springs over coils. This audience knows better.
In other words, they're depending on their potential customers' ignorance about construction to pull a fast one one. And let's be honest here: MG is hardly the only furniture company where standards have gone downhill, but as far as I know, they're the only ones who've had the nerve to brag about it.
MAGNAVERDE.
Here's a post I made to BHG a few years back that covers the same topic...
I've always thought it odd that the room that's considered more formal & tasteful, and more concerned with outward appearances than with day-to-day family life is ironically called the "living room" when, in most houses today, that's the last thing that happens in there. By banning normal activity from the living room and moving it to the great room back by the kitchen, we have unwittingly recreated the parlor, the very room the living room was intended to replace.
A hundred years ago, most houses had two parallel rooms: The parlor (or front parlor--or drawing room, if one had aspirations to elegance) which was the public area, used for visitors, and the back parlor or morning room, which was the day-to-day space meant for the family itself.
Then a few practical-minded decorators pointed out how strange it was that the informal morning room where people spent most of their time was in fact nothing but a catchall space, filled with the out-of-style--but comfortable-- Victorian furniture that had been evicted from the unused desert of a parlor when the homeowners repalced it with new slimmed-down Edwardian-style pieces in golden oak. These modern decorators suggested replacing the traditional--and wasteful--twin rooms with a single new room that was beter suited to the reality of modern life, but most people didn't go for such radical new ideas. They seeemed vaguely Socialist. What would the neighbors think?
But after World War I created a shortage of household help--and back then, even middle class families often had a hired girl or two--the movement away from the parlor became a stampede. The new rooms were called "living rooms" because, for the first time, that's what people actually did in them. Less stiff than the old formally-decorated parlor, but more stylish than the old morning room, the new living rooms combined the two functions and became the real center of American family life.
Meanwhile, Mother was slaving away in her gleaming new porcelainized kitchen, where the labor saved by the new labor-saving devices was mostly that of the servants, who had gone off to join the outside labor force during the war and never come back. Instead, their old jobs merely fell to Mother. And if, in the evening, she got a chance to sit in her pretty new living room, it was often to spend her time darning socks, or hemming tea towels while the kids played Parcheesi or dominos on the floor, and Father sat in his big easy chair, reading the funny papers and listening to the squeals & static coming out of the radio, the entertainment center of the day. It was all very cozy & domestic.
Unfortunately, it was also messy, and as time went on it got more so. Without the hired girl to clean up after everybody, the games didn't get put away, and what with Father's half-read paper draped over the Victrola, and Mother's latest embroidered table scarf spilling out of the sewing table, and the kid's Tinkertoys scattered across the living room's oriental carpet, the place looked like hell. People started dreaming of a less public area, one that wasn't expected to be two things at once, a place where they could relax, without having to worry about the neighbors dropping by unannounced, and where they wouldn't have to scramble to hide every trace of daily life away every time the doorbell rang.
So after World War II, new houses started to include basement rumpus rooms--later to become family rooms, etc, etc--to contain all the inevitable messy spillage of everyday life, and the living room gradually ceased to be a room for living at all. Instead, it was recast as the modern version of the old parlor, its perfectly coordinated decor frozen in time, and in the 195O's, often preserved in pristine beauty under a layer of clear plastic. Matching lamps sat on matching end tables, matched landscapes hung on the dusty pink walls, matched throw pillows sat perfectly aligned in the corners of the angular sofa, and the geometric precision of pinch-pleated draperies matched the lacquered stiffness of Mother's new hairdo. No wonder the hippies cinsidered their parents uptight.
Nowadays, living rooms are often get left out of new homes' plans completely, the way parlors were left out a hundred years ago. Taking its place is the great room, with its cathedral ceiling and gigantic windows, and huge firplace & loft. It seems so modern, doing away with those uncomfortable, underused, outmoded rooms.
But history has a strange way of repeating itself. People always want to have it both ways. No sooner do they eliminate the museumlike living room, than they go and cover the floor of the great room with off-white berber. And once you have a room where the first thing you say to people when they walk in the door is "Take off your shoes" you've already taken the first step towards recreating the parlor.
And now that the the living room is an endangered species, and every activity, public & private is thrown together, so that your guets can sit on the only sofa in the place and see the big-screen TV, the front door & dinner's dirty dishes stacked next to the sink, it's just a matter of time before people start thinking about how nice it would be to have another room that's a little cozier & more private than the great room.
After all, when most people think of privacy & coziness, they don't think of 20-foot ceilings & gigantic windows that nobody can afford to curtain, or a huge spaces that permit casual visitors at the front door an unbroken view straight into what should be the family's most private areas.
What will the new cozy private areas, hidden away from the great room's quasi-public space be called? I don't know. I just know they'll be here soon. And the cycle will begin again.
Regards,
Magnaverde
If you mean am I satisfied with the physical space, the answer is, unfortunately, no. I'd like to have a fireplace, and more closets. If, however, you're asking if I'm satisfied with my decor, well, how could I not be? I created it.
Like LizH and Mitchdesi, my taste haven't changed much over time. Rather, mine have never changed at all, and if I were magically transported back to my very first post-college place, I wouldn't have to change a thing. Here's that apartment, circa 198O, back in the days when I was still a rookie engineer at the phone company. No embassassment
The high-tech craze, the country mini-print thing, the black-&-taupe urns-&-tassels fever, the Lodge look, and more recent mass-market flirtaitions with Prairie style, Tuscany, Morocco and who-knows-what-else pretty much passed my place by. I have never spent a cent on accessories that referenced grapes, wine labels, Paris, rainbows, suns, stars, moons, geese, cows, zebras, pigs, or roosters, or--now that the marketing boys on Madison Avenue have exhausted most of the animal kingdom--angels, fairies or fat chefs. But that's OK. If I ever have a sudden hankering for, say, a leopard-spot pillow, I can always go to Goodwill. They have a ton of them.
So the short answer is yes, I'm completely satisied with my place. Because it's not in style, I don't have to worry about it going out of style next year. In fact, most of what I own was already out of style before I was even born. And that's fine with me.
Here's an interesting quote from Edith Wharton's 1904 The Decoration of Houses
.....................
"Individuality in house furnishing has seldom been more harped upon than at the present time. That cheap originality which finds expression in putting things to uses for which they were not originally intended is often confounded with individuality; whereas the latter consists not in an attempt to be different from other people at the cost of comfort, but in the desire to be comfortable in one's own way even though it is the way of a monotonously large majority.
It seems easier to to arrange a room like someone else's than to analyze and express [ones] own needs. Men, in these mattters, are less exacting than women, because their demands, besides being simpler, are uncomplicated by the feminine tendency to want things because other people have them, rather than to have things because they are wanted."
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Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
Speaking of mobile homes...
Some people's idea of a vacation house is a cabin in the Northwoods, or a ski lodge in the mountains, or a rustic beach house. My fantasy is a mobile home. But not one of today's models, whose interiors often look not much different than site-built homes. I want a real trailer: a perfectly-restored beauty from the early 196Os--say, a two-tone streamlined baby in canary-yellow & white--outfitted with vintage Skylark laminate & aqua appliances, and furnished with period pieces.
And, since I hate traveling & need something close, I figured out the perfect unspoiled location: on top of my building, where I could lay out the astroturf & the aluminum awning & hang the Christmas lights all year long, and as long as I was well back from the parapet of the building, my snooty neighbors wouldn't even know I was up there, except for the aroma of grilling steaks wafting on the breeze and the tinny voices of Ricky Nelson & Patsy Cline coming from my transistor radio. Now, that's my idea of the perfect getaway home: a world apart, but only an elevator ride away.
Ok, a funny story. Five or six years ago, the Goodman Theatre here in Chicago commissioned a new work by playwright Eric Bogosian. The result was Griller, a slice-&-dice hatchet job on upwardly-mobile suburbanites & their hunger for the trappings of what they consider the good life: immaculate lawns, magazine-spread homes and vehicles that cost more than the neighbors' vehicles.
The centerpiece of the show was the Vulcan XII--I'm making that up because I can't remember the "real" name--the gas-grill equivalent of a stainless-steel troop transport, which monster sat gleaming on the terrace of the pastel-toned McMansion that served as a backdrop for the action.
Of course, this being the theatre, it wasn't real, wasn't a commercially-available model, but a hilariously over-the-top piece of wacky set design that could move around the stage on its hummer-size wheels with a lot more ease than a real piece of machinery.
And since it wasn't real, the set designer had fun with it, and took its design as far as he possibly could, equipping it with twin gas- & wood-fired grilles, a full fold-out kitchen complete with refrigerator, freezer & running water, a stereo, an intercom, and a whole lot more. The huge thing was just as much a character as any of the actors with lines, and seeing the male character's responses to it was priceless. There wasn't much difference between the looks on their faces as they circled this hulking machine and the slack-jawed expressions they might have had, say, out at the gentlemen's club by the highway, except that here, they were free to run their hot hands over the merchandise. The play was OK, but the grill was hilarious.
But here's the funniest part. Every morning, the theater's receptionist got calls from guys who had seen the play the night before, spent a sleepless night thinking about that grill, and now wanted to know where they could buy one. Talk about missing the message of the show.
If the set designer had had a friend in the welding business, he could have gotten rich...
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
Sometimes, the worth--or, in this case, "worth"--of something depends on its context. A woman I used to work with came from an incredibly wealthy family and she used to wear her mother's multi-carat emerald-&-pearl engagement ring on a fairly regular basis. On her mother, it probably looked stunning. On my coworker, who always wore the latest fashions form JC Penney, it looked like something from the Avon catalog. On the other hand, Coco Chanel made obviously-fake costume jewelry the height of fashion.
Same with art. How often do you see a photo layout of a beautiful home full of museum-quality antiques and silk curtains, and there, hanging on the wall above a giltwood Louis XV console table, is a garish carnival banner advertising Vera, the Two-headed Woman? These days, vintage folk art, tramp art, primitive sculpture--all that stuff--goes for mega bucks at the big auction houses, and it doesn't even have to be old to be valuable. Think of Jeff Koons' porcelain sculpture portrait of Michael Jackson & Bubbles. As a table-top knick-knack, the thing would be hilariously cheesy, something you might see at an arts-&-crap fair. Blow it up to life size, and its slick glazes & pastel prettiness take on a whole nother quality. Now it's Art.
Ok, so your dolphins aren't quite Jeff Koons quality. That's no reason not to show it off to its best advantage. Maybe you don't want to feature it in your entrance hall, but it might be just the thing for the guest bath, and I'm talking about the nice one, not the dungeon. So, instead of trivializing your amazing artifact with a kitschy & predictable theme decor, paint your walls a darkish blue-gray, keep your towels even darker and keep this this thing the center of attention by making everything else recede into the background the way they do in real art galleries. Treating it as if it were a rare piece of 2Oth century folk art--as indeed it is. Or, anyway, as it will be in about 5O years. You'll just be ahead of the curve.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
Magnaverde Rule No. 26:
Sometimes the easiest thing to change is our attitude


Les97 is so right. There is a time for diplomacy & a time for honesty.
When I was ten years old, we moved from a town where my friends were the children of doctors & lawyers & businessmen & the town's librarian, to a sleepy little town where my new schoomlates' parents were janitors & gas station attendants & coal stokers--that is, if they weren't on disability: it was a railroad town--or in jail. One day, my best pal's dad returned from what I had just assumed was the dead. Turned out he'd been serving five-to-ten for auto theft.
Although my new friends called me Richie Rich, we were hardly that--I think my dad made all of $8000 a year to support six of us--and since my folks didn't believe in giving kids an allowance, I had to talk my way into a paper route so I could afford to go down to the Clintonia theater on Saturday or gorge myself on Dr. Pepper & day-old donuts at Foley's General Store on the way home from school.
For my first Christmas in our new town, my present for my mom was the one thing she lacked that all my new friends' moms seemed to have: a set of tufted pastel covers for the toilet seat & tank, and a little matching u-shaped rug. Our bathroom had yellow fixtures & yellow & black tile, so, naturally--being already attuned to such niceties as color coordination--I chose a set that featured coral swans & yellow lilies on a background of wavy green lines that were supposed to represent water. My mother would be so surprised.
After she opened my amateurish wrappings & the fancy box from the Cannon-Ball store down on the square, she paused, then gave a little laugh to herself, then pulled me close and gave me a big hug & a kiss. And, after I asked with breathless anticipation if we could put it on our toilet right then, she gave gave me another little hug, and in her sweetest voice taught me a valuable lesson I've never forgotten. "No, sweetie", she said, "we can't. It's..." My young brain struggled to comprehend. It was too nice to use? It was the wrong size?
"..no, sweetie, it's just that it's...well,...it's tacky."
And Lo, mine eyes were opened and I began to see that it was tacky. Thus, in its own small way, was launched my future career, saving others from repeating my own decorating faux pas. And from that day on, I never chose anything else that was tacky. Unless, of course, it was on purpose.
Speaking of which, Les97, the centerpiece of one of my former kitchen's decors--the third, the chartreuse one with the paint-by-number art--is up on ebay even as I type: a sparkly, light-up 3-D photo of a fluffy white poodle, with the most lurid turquoise background you ever saw. After all, every home--even mine--needs a touch of tackiness.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

It sounds great, Stargirl.
I've been in a lot of beautiful houses, but the most welcoming one was
the small-town home of a friend's grandmother, a former 185Os farmhouse
that had been absorbed into the ouskirts of a growing farm community
and given a major makeover in the 189Os, when it acquired its stained
glass windows. It had another remodeling just before WWII that added the
streamlined bathrooms in trendy shades of orchid, Nile green & rose
beige and another in the mid-6Os when the kitchen got new harvest gold
appliances and a wall of paneling made from the weathered board-&-batten
siding of the old summer kitchen that had been slowly detaching itself
from the rest of the house. The newest addition was the brown touch-tone
phone, installed in the 197Os.

In the late 198Os, I went down for a weekend at Grandma's with my
friend & his wife and instantly fell in love with the place. It was a
perectly preserved time capsule of middle-class, Midwestern taste across a
century. I was assigned the "boys' bedroom" and even though the boys now
had grandkids of their own, their old room was unchanged from the day
the oldest boy went off to college. Grandma hadn't been upstairs in
years, but the cleaning woman came to dust once a week and change the
linens when other grandkids came for a visit, but when the kids left, the
forgotten Ninja Turtles t-shirts & Madonna or George Michael cassettes
were mailed back to their owners in California and the room was restored
to order.

Anyway, I got the Boys' Room. The red & tan plaid wallpaper and
candlewick bedspreads it had had back in the the 193Os were still there, and
in the closet were the boys' Beacon bathrobes. Their 50-pound typewriter
still sat on the desk, and the bookcase had copies of the Hardy Boys &
old Popular Mechanics and under the vintage Hudson Bay blankets in the
bottom drawer of the dresser were well-worn copies of Esquire & Playboy
magazines.

The bathroom--originally Aunt Gertrude's--was a vision in pink &
orchid, circa 1955, down to the original shower curtain patterned with French
poodles carrying parasols & Bon Marche' hatboxes past the Eiffel tower,
and my pal told me the stack of yellowed Archie & Veronica comicbooks
in a basket next to the toilet were the same comicbooks that had been
there when he was ten. On Gertrude's chrome & enamel dressing table were
her bottles of Evening in Paris perfume and My Sin dusting powder, and
in case there was ever a power outage, we all knew that in the drawer
were books of matches from the fancy restaurants where Gertrude had
dined when she was in New York thirty years before.

And the whole place was like that. Breakfast was served on antique blue
willow plates, and the fresh juice came in mismatched jelly glasses
with Howdy Doody or Huckleberry Hound. Lunch came on wheat-patterned
Melmac from the 196Os and diner was served in the dining room on Grandma's
gold-rimmed wedding china from the 192Os. The sofas were faded chintz
with down cushions, and the rugs were worn broadloom in the murky colors
of the 194Os.

Nothing matched anything else, but each thing was either comfortable or
useful, and many of them were beautiful. There were plenty chairs for
reading in out-of the way places, books everywhere, and photos & family
letters spilling from every drawer & trunk.

My friends loved the place because it was Grandma's house but I fell in
love with it because it felt so good, and I'm just glad I had the
chance to see it while it was intact, because not long afterward Grandma
died, and her stuff was dispersed to family all across the country. One of
her daughters came home to the small town to setttle the estate, and
realizing the potential for a big house in a small town, decided to stay
and combine business & pleasure by turning Grandma's house into a B&B.
So she painted the outside mauve & gray, added a cute stenciled sign in
the yard ("Miss Daisy's Country Inn"), hung a country-style dried
wreath on the door, fixed up the creaky stairs, put in new baths & a new
kitchen, stripped the ancient wallpaper & sponged & ragged & stenciled all
the public rooms within an inch of their lives and furnished the old
bedrooms around a bunch of popular themes--the Lighthouse Room,
Harley-Davidson Room, the Hayloft Room, the Country Cottage Room--and served
High Tea every afternoon in Miss Daisy's Parlor at 4:OO every afternoon.

You can guess what happened. The place sank like a stone. It went from
a romantic, evocative slice of the past that stirred the imagination of
every passerby, to a predicatble hodgepodge of hokey cliches, none of
which had anything to do with Grandma's house or her little town, and
the trappings of which could be picked up for a few dollars at any TJ
Maxx. Anyway, after sinking all her money into the place, the poor woman
ended up selling her mother's place at a loss becaue the magic was gone.
It was just another tired old house trying to be something it wasn't.

Anyway, that was the best demonstration I ever had--this was while I
was still working in the engineering department at the phone
company--that good decorating goes far deeper than just the way things look, and
that picking paint colors & choosing accessories are, in the larger
scheme of things, about as unimportant activities as they come. Thanks,
stargirl, for sharing your friend's place.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

Sometimes, the worth--or, in this case, "worth"--of something depends
on its context. A woman I used to work with came from an incredibly
wealthy family and she used to wear her mother's multi-carat
emerald-&-pearl engagement ring on a fairly regular basis. On her mother, it probably
looked stunning. On my coworker, who always wore the latest fashions
form JC Penney, it looked like something from the Avon catalog. On the
other hand, Coco Chanel made obviously-fake costume jewelry the height of
fashion.
Same with art. How often do you see a photo layout of a beautiful home
full of museum-quality antiques and silk curtains, and there, hanging
on the wall above a giltwood Louis XV console table, is a garish
carnival banner advertising Vera, the Two-headed Woman? These days, vintage
folk art, tramp art, primitive sculpture--all that stuff--goes for mega
bucks at the big auction houses, and it doesn't even have to be old to
be valuable. Think of Jeff Koons' porcelain sculpture portrait of
Michael Jackson & Bubbles. As a table-top knick-knack, the thing would be
hilariously cheesy, something you might see at an arts-&-crap fair. Blow
it up to life size, and its slick glazes & pastel prettiness take on a
whole nother quality. Now it's Art.

Ok, so your dolphins aren't quite Jeff Koons quality. That's no reason
not to show it off to its best advantage. Maybe you don't want to
feature it in your entrance hall, but it might be just the thing for the
guest bath, and I'm talking about the nice one, not the dungeon. So,
instead of trivializing your amazing artifact with a kitschy & predictable
theme decor, paint your walls a darkish blue-gray, keep your towels even
darker and keep this this thing the center of attention by making
everything else recede into the background the way they do in real art
galleries. Treating it as if it were a rare piece of 2Oth century folk
art--as indeed it is. Or, anyway, as it will be in about 5O years. You'll
just be ahead of the curve.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
Magnaverde Rule No. 26:
Sometimes the easiest thing to change is our attitude.

If I were you, I wouldn't spend too much time searching for a
mysterious 17th century bed, based on something you heard in a pub. You hear a
lot of things in pubs.
I once met a guy in a pub who told me his grandfather was Jean
LaFitte--as in the pirate. Guy even showed me the ring that Grampa LaFitte gave
him when he was on his deathbed. Said it had never once left his finger since Grampa died.
Which would have made my pub friend somewhere around 17O years old.
Anyway, if you really want a bed with a past, one that you won't see in
every decorator showhouse in town, you might take a trip--no, not that
kind of trip--to a gallery that specializes in Asian antiquities. They
just might have a antique opium bed in carved and blackened teak that
would make your head spin. So to speak.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

NOTES:

<none>
clipped on: 03.09.2011 at 03:34 pm    last updated on: 03.09.2011 at 03:35 pm

Here's an entire thread: (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: allison0704 on 03.08.2011 at 07:31 pm in Home Decorating Forum

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MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by stargirl (My Page) on Thu, Nov 17, 05 at 16:59
I always read with interest your advice to other posters
because I know I'll learn something. So what you're basically
saying is that when one begins to contemplate decorating a
room, he or she should decide on the mood -- not the color
scheme. I agree completely but my question is, "How do you
keep everything from looking like a gigantic jumble of
unrelated stuff?" Do you do this by using ALL formal things
(or antiques) when you wish to create a "fancy" room and
informal things when you want a casual room -- or can both
live happily together? What is the secret, Mag? Respectfully,
Jan


Follow-Up Postings:
RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: magnaverde (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 1:10
Hi Stargirl.
Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting, though I've never
expressed it in those words before: decorate your rooms
backwards. That is, determine the effect or mood you want, and
worry about issues like color later.
Doing it this way is infinitely more flexible than using an
easily-described color scheme. It's also a lot more satisfying
in the long run. Sure, a bed-in-a-bag makes decorating a
bedroom easy, but only in the same way that Garanimals made
getting dressed easy. That is, it removes all chance--chance
not only of screwing up big time, but also cnance of
discovering a novel color combination, or expressing anything
at all about yourself.
Unfortunately, even when people don't resort to pre-packaged
linens, they often fall into the trap of me-too-ism. No sooner
does somebody post a photo of a pretty room than six people
say "I love your chandelier. Where did you get it?" or "What
is the brand & name of the paint in your hallway?" Somewhere I
read that the human eye can distinguish 23 million different
colors. So why are half the rooms I see painted Raspberry
Truffle or Believable Buff or Restrained Gold?
Actually, I know why: timidity. In the old days, most walls in
America were white, and you could rebel without much danger,
because it didn't take much courage to pick an off-white.
These days, though, what with a zillion TV decorators always
yakking about the 'WOW! Factor' and colors that POP, the
deceptivly innocuous makings of decorating disaster are
available at fine stores everywhere, so the risk factor has
multiplied. And despite the old line about it only being
paint, most people are still deathly afraid of making a
mistake, so they take the easy way out and copy the neighbors'
house instead. Misery loves company, I guess.
And since there's nothing easier to copy than a paint color,
it's no wonder so many people start at the wrong end of the
process. Even so, it makes me crazy when people start out a
post saying "We've just painted our living room Screaming Mimi
yellow, which makes our new taupe berber carpet look pink, but
we don't want to repaint. What color couch and loveseat should
we buy to minimze this problem? Also need suggestions for
curtains, pillows, artwork, etc."
It's hard enough for people to find a new place--even with a
map--if they're traveling on unfamilar roads in the dark. But
to start out on a trip not only without a map, but also
without any real idea where it is they want to go in the first
place is a sure-fire way for folks to end up lost & out of
gas.
That's why I tell people who are looking for decorating ideas
to stay away from any how-to books, or any magazines published
in the last ten years. Trendy color schemes & furniture styles
are always changing, but the principles of good design remain,
and looking at the photos in older publications throws the
critical difference between trendy design & timeless design
into high relief in a way that's not possible when looking at
today's cookie-cutter rooms, which have what Edith Wharton
called the 'fatal will-of-the-wisp of newness about them."
And speaking of Edith, here's a good quote from "The
Decoration of Houses" of 1904:
"Individuality in house furnishing has seldom been more harped
upon than at the present time. That cheap originality which
finds expression in putting things to uses for which they were
not originally intended is often confounded with
individuality; whereas the latter consists not in an attempt
to be different from other people at the cost of comfort, but
in the desire to be comfortable in one's own way even though
it is the way of a monotonously large majority. It seems
easier to to arrange a room like someone else's than to
analyze and express [ones] own needs. [Emphasis mine] Men, in
these mattters, are less exacting than women, because their
demands, besides being simpler, are uncomplicated by the
feminine tendency to want things because other people have
them, rather than to have things because they are wanted."
Oh, and the formal vs. informal thing? Unless I were doing a
very formal room--a period-correct parlor in an 188Os
rowhouse, say, or a hard-edged essay in strict Miesian
Modernism--I wouldn't hesitate to mix things up. My own house
may be full of antiques, but it's not formal, and besides, it
was the Victorians who invented the eclectic look, with simple
wicker rockers next to high-style ebonized tables, and cozy
embroidered pillows piled on 18th Century satinwood settees,
all set atop a crazy-quilt assemblage of mismatched orienatal
rugs, with an occasional tigerskin thrown in for good measure.
Antiques don't require a formal room--unless you want one.
Regards,
Magnaverde.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: MrStan (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 8:35
What a wonderful post, Magnaverde....

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: demifloyd (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 8:45
Thanks for sharing your insightful advice and observations,
Magnaverde, and to Stargirl for asking.

That is exactly how I am approaching decorating this
house--with a "feel" instead of a preordained color scheme or
theme. Because of this, I no longer walk around with ten
swatches of color trying to match a stripe in a fabric to the
pillow shams like I did when I was younger. This approach has
allowed great flexibility; if you change an aspect of a room,
it doesn't affect your other selections. I always buy and
display what I love and do not fret too much about matching.
I already like the way I feel when I walk through the house,
and that, in my opinion, is the objective.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: stargirl (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 10:18
Thank you for words of wisdom, Mag. Whenever I read your
philosophy about decorating, I always want to chunk out every
"matchy" thing in my house and start anew. Recently a friend
told me that my reproduction Tiffany table lamp is too formal
to use in the room where I'm using a rattan trunk as a coffee
table. Guess your theory proves her wrong! As always, I'm
grateful for your invaluable advice. What would we do without
you? -- Jan

Regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: stargirl (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 11:33
I forgot one last thing. So, after you've determined the mood,
does color even enter your mind at that point, Mag, or do you
just put things together that appeal to you, regardless of
color? People are always asking, "What is your favorite
color?" Even as a professional, you must have one.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: magnaverde (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 15:23
Like I said, Stargirl, if a client specifically asks for, say,
a pink room, I'll start on color work early, so we can narrow
down the big pile of different manufacturers' pinks to a
manageable number, but other than that, color comes pretty
late in the game.
Part of that comes, I think, from the way I learned to
decorate. I only got my design degree in 1994, but I stated
decorating 3O years before that, back when I was still in
junior high school, and most of my early knowledge of the
nuances of period styles came from studying the photos in the
3O-year old back issues of decorating magazines stacked up in
my grandmother's attic. Needless to say, most of those photos
were black-&-white. Add to that the left-brain approach to
things that comes from working with engineers for a decade and
you see why right-brain tasks like picking out colors come
pretty far down on my to-do list.
Favorite color? I don't really have one, although I like the
sequence of clean greens that runs from Nile to celadon to
Hamilton Beach blender to jade to Paris green. Not, however,
that I remember ever using any of them.
One time I took one of those online tests that supposedly
discern your personality based on your favorite colors. I
don't remember what colors I picked (although I do recall that
Hamilton Beach blender green was not on the list) but the
analysis "revealed" that--are you ready?--I have a strong
interest in appearances, have well-definite opinions about
things, have a tendency toward bossiness, and often think that
my own way is the best.
Well, duh. Why do you think I chose this profession?
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: stargirl (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 15:39
Perhaps we took that same online test. LOL I'm not described
as "bossy," however. It's more like "control freak!" Thanks
for clarifying everything. Why do I always think decorating is
so complicated? You make it seem so simple.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: Skypathway (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 16:07
This is very interesting and thoughtful - Magnaverde - you
always seem to have your own approach which has such clarity.
I'm a library junky and I've read or flipped through tons of
old decorating books and found that most helpful. And
entertaining- because I quickly perused one book last year
where the decorator/author was complaining about everyone
painting their rooms milk chocolate, coffee au lait and
mushroom - she made the point that these were all beiges and
why not use color instead of beige. This was a really old book
- must have been writen in the 50's or 60's - and we're back
to painting our walls beige and calling it everything but
beige. While I enjoy new decorating books, the old ones are
more fun and full of good ideas.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: stargirl (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 16:29
While we're on this subject, I hope Magnaverde will give us
some examples of "mood" when it comes to decorating. Chris
Madden says there are three moods or styles in decorating --
adventurous, romantic and serene. Just wondered what your
thoughts are on this, Mag, and if your home fits into one of
these categories.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: zobeet (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 16:46
I just wanted to comment on 'everything that's old is new
again'. I told my mother that colored ceilings are trendy now,
and she said when she was a girl in the 40s and 50s everybody
had colored ceilings -usually pink, in her experience.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: stargirl (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 17:18
I remember my grandmother having a room painted in pink. Gosh,
I can still see those Pepto Bismol walls! Perhaps pink was the
popular color then -- or maybe there was a sale on pink paint.
(smiles)

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: magnaverde (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 17:23
All rooms fit into one of those three categories, do they?
Actually, I'm not even sure who Chris Madden is, but I'd love
to hear which category he would put this room in.
And no, it's not my work.
....................................
My place, by the way, doesn't have any particular style.
Here's the dining room, which is just the opposite of my dark,
cluttered living room.
And, yes, I remember pink ceilings. At one point my parents'
bedroom had charcoal gray wallpaper with silver & taupe pussy
willows, flat enamel trim in dove gray, cocoa-brown cotton
carpet, a 194Os Moderne bedroom set in pickled-oak, a
smoked-gray mirror dressing table, a taupe quilted velvet
bedspread and a shell-pink ceiling. Pretty high-style glamour
for a small town out in the middle of nowhere.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: pammyfay (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 17:27
Yup, Magnaverde is certainly right about not letting the color
"drive the decorating truck."
I was on-track for the main living areas, but I flunked when I
went upstairs. I matched the MBR paint to a set of sheets
whose color I loved. Now I can't use the sheets because I'm
getting a different-sized bed (and the sheets are
discontinued). And the paint color was always just too similar
to the hallway/main living room area's color--I usually have
to tell visitors looking at my decorating style that they are
different colors.
So the room has never had the right mood to it. It has color,
it has furniture, but it lacks that extra "glue"--no one who
would walk in there would get any sense of the mood. It's
still a "before" picture. The contemporary style I have for
the living room never made it upstairs, because I was
decorating solely around what I had instead of thinking about
what the space needed.
(But I think it's going to take a while to stop walking around
with swatches!)

Regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: stargirl (My Page) on Fri, Nov 18, 05 at 17:36
Thank you for sharing the wonderful pictures. When I look at
the bottom one, I think "clean and classic." It's definitely
in a category all to itself -- so I think Ms. Madden was
wrong. Say, is that the cover of "Expensive Homes" magazine I
see through the doorway! LOL Actually, Chris Casson Madden is
a lady and has written several books on home decor. She has
her own line of furnishings at one of the major department
stores, and once had a decorating program on television, I
believe. Although I don't adhere to everything I read,
especially in books written by designers, I do like to read
them. I've got books from Rachel Ashwell to Alexandra Stoddard
and I read them purely for enjoyment. Did you have all those
great pieces of furniture before you moved to this apartment
-- or did you acquire them gradually. I love them.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: magnaverde (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 0:24
Stargirl, thanks for your kind words. I've only been in my
current place for a few years, but most of the stuff that's
crammed in here goes way back.
I started buying antique furniture in high school, when I paid
$35 for a massive Empire sleigh bed I spotted in the window at
the Salvation Army. I got my dining room's bird's-eye maple
chairs a few years later, at the bankruptcy sale of the Hotel
Wolford in Danville, Illinois. They're actually folding
chairs, and they came from the hotel ballroom, where my
parents met on New Years Eve, 1948. Here's a shot of one of
them in my first apartment after college, circa 1978.
Obviously, my taste hasn't changed in 3O years. In fact, if I
had a picture of my room when I was in fifth grade, you'd see
my tastes have never changed at all. The pieces, of course,
were different back then, but the look was exactly the same.
My folks must have wondered what the hell was wrong with me.
At any rate, my no-style approach to decorating is a lot
easier on the budget than the trend-of-the-moment look that a
lot of designers go for. M.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: joyjoy45 (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 1:13
Magnaverde,
Wonderful to read your posts--always.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: Sharla (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 1:33
I appreciated your insight, magnaverde. I am no decorator but
love decorating. I've decorated our home to be "us" and
haven't worried too much about color until the mood was
determined. Many people have commented how comfortable our
home is- which is what I was trying to achieve. I admit to
using some trendy colors, but it's because it's what I love,
not just because it was the "in" thing at the time. I've
always felt myself an inferior decorator because of my
approach, but after reading your post, I feel much better.
Thanks!

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: bnicebkind (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 8:45
Magnaverde,
Perhaps you can help me too. I have painted the walls in my
bedroom Tiffany blue...you know, the color of a tiffany's
box...aka...aqua. what colors and how would you decorate the
bed? What about the side chairs? would you try and match this
aqua in the fabrics?

Looking for opinion..
Posted by: dastowers (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 11:56
Magnaverde- I am sort of following your approach. I know that
I want a warm cozy yellow/mustard that will not shock you when
you walk into my Nantucket Style home- picture sage
exterior/sandstone trim- blends in very close. Far away the
house looks very monocromatic. So when you walk in the
foyer/sunroom you will see the yellow color immediately. and
the color will be used on the whole floor as it is REALLY
open-12 foot wide doorways. The color I am looking for will
wrap you in it's arms when you walk thru the door and say "I
love you, please stay and relax!" Any thoughts? The floors
will be a warm oak- 5" wide planking. The rooms are full of
windows so natural light will strean thru the entire place.
I really like how you are willing to help others and have
enjoyed reading all your posts.
Davena

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: magnaverde (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 16:05
Hi friends.
Davena, I think it all despends on how one defines the word
"help." If it means "suggest a philosophical approach to
decorating" or "provide a historical background & aesthetic
context for different styles", than yes, I do give a lot of
help, sometmes more than peoplr really want. If you mean
"provide paint names & nunmbers" for people, or "name stores
that sell high-end furniture at deep discounts" then, no, I'm
sorry to say I'm no help at all.
I try to keep my answers on message boards as generic as
possible for the simple reason that the more narrowly focused
on a specific problem an answer is, the fewer people it
applies to. It reminds me of the opposite approaches to
storing food my two grandmothers had.
One grandmother had a pantry wall full of cabinets stacked
with of evey Tupperware container ever made, from the icy,
translucent pastels & crisp shapes of the early days to the
197Os TV-shaped pieces in opaque golds & greens & browns, to
the postmodern teals & mauves to the new brights with their
funky multicolored closers. That grandmother's pantry was like
a museum of 2Oth Century product design. My other grandmother
had a drawer with a roll of Reynolds Wrap.
Based solely on eye appeal, the Tupperware won hands down
(except for the 7Os stuff, I mean) and their iconic deviled
egge server is a classic proof that functional doesn't have to
mean ugly. Next to this sleek beauty at a big family picnic, a
bunch of eggs served in wrinkled aluminum foil looked straight
outta Hardscrabble Farm.
But when it was time to go home, that beautiful egg server
became useless. It was no good for packing up leftover
sandwiches, or the remains of the chocolate cake. And you
couldn't use it to wrap up the oozing stems of the milkweed
plants growing in the roadside gullies that we picked for a
fall bouquet, and it wansn't any good for protecting the
fragile seed-heads of the cattails in the marshy ditches when
we piled them in the trunk with the lawnchairs & balls & bats.
Aluminum foil, on the other hand, could do all of those
things, and more besides. It could be alid a lid for lightning
bugs in a jar, it could make a robot costume for Halloween, It
could be a TV antenns, or gift wrap, or a sun block at the
window of our un-air-conditioned car. Aluminum foil could do
all those things, with a lot less expense and a lot less
wasted storage space than a wall of overspecialized
Tupperware.
Anyway, it's like that with online advice, too. The more
specialized such advice, the less useful it is to the most
people. For one thing, it's impossible to suggest an
appropriate color for a room unless I've stood in that room
and seen how the light falls, and what the green of the grass
& leaves does to the room, what color is in the next room,
because a single paint can look like a completely different
color in two different rooms of the same house. Besides, even
if I had magic vision and were able to prescribe exactly the
particluar color that would look great in a particular room,
it wouldn't help anybody else, because their rooms would all
have different sizes & exposures. One size doesn't fit all.
That;s the problems with TV decorating shows. Because of the
intimacy of the medium, it seems like the those people are
talking specifically to you,/i>. But they're not.
That's why I keep my message board advice vague: doing it this
way helps people think about their own rooms and come up with
answer for themselves. In any situation--especially when it
comes to color--one answer will be better than another, but
that doesn't mean that that answer will apply to anybody else.
But that's OK. Decorating isn't nearly as hard as people tend
to make it. What makes it so difficult for so many people is
focusing too much on the 'answer' itself, rather than on the
learning process that leads you to it.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
............................
Davena, I see no reason an all-yellow house can't be
attractive. Just vary your shades as you move through the
sapce. Here's some rooms to do some reasearch on: Nancy
Lancasters' rooms at Ditchley & Haseley Court; John Soane's
Patent Yellow Drawing Room in London; the Yellow Oval Room at
the White House. All very formal but absolutely stunning rooms
in which the color scheme is very restricted.
Bnicebkind: If a room has a lot of handsome--but
mismatched--furniture the way mine does, I try to keep the
wall color close in tone (if you don't know, look it up) to
that of the woods & fabrics. That way the emphasis in not on
outline or shape, but on surfaces: this color vs. that color,
carved vs. inlaid. A close tone like this can also provide a
feeling of calm for a room that might otherwise have too much
going on.
If the furniture has great lines or is all matching, I like to
use the wall color to silhouete the shapes & focus the eye,
which means I keep the palette resticted to one--or maybe
two--colors and use a paint value that contrasts with the
wood. That's one reason you see a lot of pale blues right now:
there are alot of dark finishes in the marketplace--Barbara
Barry, Thomas O'Brien, Thomas Pheasant--and the combination is
a good one. When woods go lighter again in time--and they
will, to oak, maple, whitewashed woods & painted
finsishes--such pales colors will look insiped and it wuill be
time to darkent the walls again, but in the meantime, Tifany
blue still looks great. Here's your homework assignment:
Madame Castaing's apartment in Paris; Elsie deWolfe's villa at
Versailles. What we call Tiffany blue was hot in the 18th
centruy, and I can think of a bunch of sprightly German Bococo
rooms where the color scheme was based on turquoise or jade
green, wuth white-&-gold woodwork, accented with shell pink or
coral. roomsRooms to look turn blinde birchwhy the cuin th.s a
defining backgroun is look it upcololike mine, I prefer to use
If a room has decent--bgo; ThesdAVENA,
magnaverde.
.................................
Davena, here are
givesns., the suggestion I completelky . The same color
canrmand soecific color for a room Telling
when Aluminum, Aout of the growing in the roadside ditches
that we took home for a fall bouquet or to protect the fragile
cattails that . alonsthe it's hard tobring home the leftover
aluminum needen't mean ugly. of form-follows-function design
that also happens to be beautiful. . , But on TheWhich was
more attractive? Wen I mentioned a museum, I wasn't kidding.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York blessed Tupperware with a
gGood Design award half a century ago, and certian pieces--the
deviled egg serversome pieces of its line awarded RisaidNoWhen
it was time for a picnic
When I said tuNow

reTupperware Museum , and in every Carter
administraionpossible tupperware all the lastest, most
ingenious new containers from Tupperware, the other one used
aluminum foil. had My two grandmothers had opposite I had tt's
like the difference between storing storing your hard-biled
eggsing your har. and non
them.
IndainI ever give is for benjamin More paints, and no, i don't
work for them.
.
where I can find a canget the best

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: magnaverde (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 17:02
Oops. I hit the submit button too soon. Here's the cleaned-up
version, for those of you still with me...
Hi friends.
Davena, I think it all depends on how one defines the word
"help." If it means "suggest a philosophical approach to
decorating" or "provide a historical background & aesthetic
context for different styles", than yes, I do give a lot of
help, sometmes more than people really want. If you mean
"provide paint names & nunmbers" for people, or "name stores
that sell high-end furniture at deep discounts" then, no, I'm
sorry to say I'm not really much help at all.
I try to keep my answers on message boards as generic as
possible for the simple reason that the more narrowly focused
on a specific problem an answer is, the fewer people it
applies to. It reminds me of the opposite approaches to
storing food my two grandmothers had.
One grandmother had a pantry wall full of cabinets stacked
with of evey Tupperware container ever made, from the icy,
translucent pastels & crisp shapes of the early days to the
197Os TV-shaped pieces in opaque golds & greens & browns, to
the postmodern teals & mauves to the new brights with their
funky multicolored closers. That grandmother's pantry was like
a museum of 2Oth Century product design. My other grandmother
had a drawer with a roll of Reynolds Wrap.
Based solely on eye appeal, the Tupperware won hands down
(except for the 7Os stuff, I mean) and their iconic deviled
egge server is a classic proof that functional doesn't have to
mean ugly. Next to this sleek beauty at a big family picnic, a
bunch of eggs served in wrinkled aluminum foil looked straight
outta Hardscrabble Farm.
But when it was time to go home, that beautiful egg server
became useless. It was no good for packing up leftover
sandwiches, or the remains of the chocolate cake. And you
couldn't use it to wrap up the oozing stems of the milkweed
plants growing in the roadside gullies that we picked for a
fall bouquet, and it wasn't any good for protecting the
fragile seed-heads of the cattails in the marshy ditches when
we piled them into the trunk with the lawn chairs & balls &
bats.
Aluminum foil, on the other hand, could do all of those
things, and more besides. It could be alid a lid for lightning
bugs in a jar, it could make a robot costume for Halloween, It
could be a TV antenns, or gift wrap, or a sun block at the
window of our un-air-conditioned car. Aluminum foil could do
all those things with a lot less expense and a lot less wasted
storage space than a wall full of overspecialized Tupperware.
Anyway, it's like that with online advice, too. The more
specialized such advice is , the less useful it is to the most
people. For one thing, it's impossible to suggest an
appropriate color for a room unless I've stood in that room
and seen how the light falls, and what the green of the grass
& leaves does to the room, what color is in the next room,
because a single paint can look like a completely different
color in two different rooms of the same house. Besides, even
if I had magic vision and were able to prescribe exactly the
particular shade that would look great in a particular room,
it wouldn't help anybody else, because their rooms would all
have different sizes & exposures. One size doesn't fit all.
That's the problems with TV decorating shows. Because of the
intimacy of the medium, it seems like the those people are
talking specifically to you. But they're not.
That's why I keep my message board advice vague: doing it this
way helps people think about their own rooms and come up with
answer for themselves. In any situation (and especially when
it comes to color) one answer will be better than another, but
that doesn't mean that that answer--however good it is for
that person--will apply to anybody else. But that's OK.
Decorating isn't nearly as hard as people tend to make it. In
fact, what makes it so difficult for so many people is
focusing too much on the 'answer' itself, rather than on the
learning process that leads you to it.
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
............................
Davena, I see no reason an all-yellow house can't be
attractive. Just vary your shades as you move through the
space. Here are some rooms to do some research on: Nancy
Lancaster's rooms at Ditchley & Haseley Court; John Soane's
Patent Yellow Drawing Room in London; the Yellow Oval Room at
the White House. All very formal but absolutely stunning rooms
in which the color scheme is very restricted.
Bnicebkind: If a room has a lot of handsome--but
mismatched--furniture the way mine does, I try to keep the
wall color close in tone (if you don't know, look it up) to
that of the woods & fabrics. That way the emphasis in not on
outline or shape, but on surfaces: this color vs. that color,
carved vs. inlaid. A close tone like this can also provide a
feeling of calm for a room that might otherwise have too much
going on.
If the furniture has great lines or is all matching, I like to
use the wall color to silhouete the shapes & focus the eye,
which means I keep the palette resticted to one--or maybe
two--colors and use a paint value that contrasts with the
wood. That's one reason you see a lot of pale blues right now:
there are a lot of dark finishes in the marketplace right
now--Barbara Barry, Thomas O'Brien, Thomas Pheasant--and the
combination is a good one. When woods go lighter again in
time--and they will, to oak, maple, whitewashed woods &
painted finsishes--such pale colors will look insipid and it
will be time to darken the walls again, but in the meantime,
Tifany blue still looks great. Here's your homework
assignment: Madame Castaing's apartment in Paris; Elsie de
Wolfe's villa at Versailles. What we call Tiffany blue was hot
in the 18th centruy, and I can think of a bunch of sprightly
German Bococo rooms where the color scheme was based on
turquoise or jade green, with white-&-gold woodwork, accented
with shell pink or coral. Go to the library and get yourself a
book on the period and you'll see what I mean. Good luck.
M.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: boopadaboo (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 17:25
Now that explains a lot. I feel really dopey that I never made
the connection. Magnaverde you could be a decorating shrink!
:) No wonder I am so drawn to being matchy matchy - My mother
always dressed me in garanamils. (I have been meaning to type
that since I first read that comment earlier in this thread
and I didnt' get to it till now so it is a bit back to the
start of the topic - sorry) I just had to comment that I
couldnt believe I never put the two together before!

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: miramira (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 19:39
Well, I just think it's so exciting to be challenged to do
historical decorating research and I'll be interested to see
what the habitues of this forum think of Ditchley and the
Castaing apartment. And if anyone does rooms based on those
themes or schemes I would just love to see the pix! Bet Ellen
Kennen could be really helpful in matching up the paint.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: bnicebkind (My Page) on Sat, Nov 19, 05 at 21:37
Magnaverde, We do not have the furniture yet, and will only
buy an armoire' and a bed for this master bedroom. I should
have mentioned that the woodwork is all white against the
tiffany blue. we are going for a sea-side feel, but in a
sophisicated way...by that I mean NOT the "cute" sea-side
where some people decorate with lighthouse lamps, etc. More
along the lines of Coastal Living magazine...the antiques
adding what I imagine the interesting houses in the Bahamas
and Burmuda might have had. Fresh Casual linens, cool colors
as a retreat from the hot sun, the antiques and wood floors
anchor the rooms, lending history and debth, and interest.
Casual, with elements of formal touches, but no silks...linens
and cottons.
****The question that I was really asking was that if you had
colored walls...say the Tiffany blue, do I try and match this
color in the duvet, or choose and off- white, then add a
Tiffany blue skirt and shams to the bed, and add a blanket
across the bottom to give it more interest? When building the
bed covers, to I contrast the wall color, or try and match it
on the duvets, and chairs?
In terms of research...I have researched so many details
building this house, and I am worn out. DH is getting very
testy that I do not finalize choices. I ponder, and ponder. It
is time to just put a room together.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: magnaverde (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 3:41
"Decorating isn't nearly as hard as people tend to make it. In
fact, what makes it difficult for many people is focusing too
much on the 'answer', rather than on the learning process that
will lead them to it. That's why I keep my message board
advice vague: it helps people think about their own rooms and
come up with answers for themselves."
But here's a hint, for those who are too tired to do their
homework...

Thank you!
Posted by: dastowers (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 9:29
I have googled all of your suggestions- the White House was
really a nice color- still too yellow. But I think I have
fould my color- EK mustard seed. I looked at 4000 colors last
night on color charts website but couldn't find the shade.
Then I remembered a post in the gallery about EK. THAT was the
color!
Thanks for all your advice and keep it coming!
Davena

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: suszann (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 10:02
No sooner does somebody post a photo of a pretty room than six
people say "I love your chandelier. Where did you get it?" or
"What is the brand & name of the paint in your hallway?"
----------------------------------------------------------
Magnaverde, so glad you noted this, its one of my pet peeves.
The posters are looking for something proven and "safe"
instead of making their own choices. One size does not fit
all. Suzanne

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: Elisabeth_pinelake (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at
12:07
For me, color (overall, such as peach, not minute, such as BM
whatever) is part of mood, but that's because, at my age, I
know what colors spark what moods, I have strong preferences,
I live alone, and I don't give a rat's *ass what other people
think. High contrast makes me edgy (with one exception:
yellowy-cream with black) and I dislike primary colors and
most brights. Things can be fairly intense, just not bright or
very dark. Oh, and I am really, really uncomfortable with
white, especially, and off-whites (possibly because almost
everything I have would be too high-contrast against them). So
by my nature, I have less to choose from.
The other element is that I have traveled a lot and bought a
lot of textiles (especially scarves, saris, African dress
lengths and shawls) and a few carvings. My mother does collage
and painting, as her mother did, and I buy a few things
(really, wall color would hardly matter if I had everything
up!). So my style is intensely personal (I don't think I've
ever seen a PB catalog) and incorporates disparate ethnic
elements, but in a restsricted color range.
I tend toward muted midtones. In my large entertaining areas,
I have peach with dusty rose furniture from different periods.
It had to be warm and welcoming - I like to have large crowds
over. The 8x 10 entry way is sponged Tuscan (butterscotch over
cream) to disguise the fact that the walls are oriented strand
board), with stamped dragonflies and fabric falling leaves on
the walls, and Amish bentwood furniture. There's an African
carved bird and some Moroccan copper lanterns for decoration.
This is part of the entertaining area when it's warm enough (a
lot of the time, in Atlanta).
The two bedrooms and the den off the entertaining area are
where I actually do most of my living. For my bedroom I wanted
warm and cozy exotic. It has an undercoat of peach paint,
which is irrelevant because it's densely sponged over with
opalescent paint mixed with copper, with copper trim. All the
furniture in this room is new: copper bamboobed from Sears,
twin rattan armoires from Big Lots, and bedside tables of what
looks like Indonesian wood and rattan (found one at
Marshall's, the match at the TJ Maxx in the same shopping
center). The bedcover mixes dark pure reds with some purples
and golds, as does the window covering, and the floor is cork.
Just to show color isn't the same as mood entirely, the copper
finish on the walls had to be sponged over and over to attain
an even finish. I tried color washing first but didn't like
the brush strokes in the cross-hatch method that's
recommended. Then I realized I didn't have to do it their way,
and started doing great fountainlike strokes, which morphed
into tighter curls. This looked great close up, but when I got
finished and stood in the middle of the room, I realized I
would never be able to sleep in there - too much energy
bursting off the walls at me! So the next day my unhappy
friend Al was told to wipe it all off (fortunately you can do
that with these glazes) and I sponged it. Now I love the color
and the finish.
The second bedroom has just been done in EK greens, with green
vinyl on the floor (who says you can't use vinyl a bedroom? I
try to show off the cork in my room, and everyone oohs over
this). It's blue and green with a leather look. This room is
so calming, despite all the books and the jigsaw puzzle on the
Chinese black & blue coffee table, that some people don't want
to leave it.
Actually I think I am lucky that my rooms always just evolved
until I got to my late 30's, which was when I first set out to
make radical changes to my first home. It was an apartment
with an L-shaped living/dining area. I hated that dining area
and barely used the 2nd bedroom, so I switched them. That gave
me a huge living/entertaining area, with bookcases and a desk
where the dining table used to be, and a separate dining room,
which I craved (and people loved to eat there).
To this day, I have never started with a blank canvas - I've
never wanted to get rid of everything and start fresh, and
I've never had to to love my home. Actually, most of my
friends love my home too. I tend not to invite the more
narrow-mindedly middle-class of my colleagues (and there's no
reason to - I don't entertain for work, I just invite them if
I really like them and think they will enjoy the
artists/musicians community I live in).

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: bnicebkind (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 12:08
Suszann, "that is one of my pet peeves. The posters are
looking for something safe instead of making their own
choices".
Can you please imagine that so many of us have several hundred
dollars invested in quarts of paint barely used, in trying to
come up with the right color? That the irritation and
frustration that the actual paints may bare little resemblence
to the paper card sample from the store, that is no bigger
than 2"X 2"? That the lighting at the store (why do they have
floresent lighting in paint stores anyway) causes the paint to
look very different than it might in an actual home, where the
other elements, including lighting, makes the paint look a
completely different shade than you were looking for? My DH
and I spent an entire Saturday trying to get the blue right
for just one room. Two other weekends spent trying to get the
exterior color right, (including paying 2 different interior
designers their hourly rate for their advice on which shade
was the right one for our home...they both chose the same
shade... and we still only got it about 95% right. We bought
so many quarts of paints trying to get the color right. The
same for the living room and Dining room. Colors that I
thought would be perfect...like Restoration hardware Silver
sage, look like a muddy gray in our home. Again, 2-3 more
days, and many, many, quarts of paint, and we still only have
it 90% right...but 90% right is what it will be. Enought is
enough already. And so on, and so on, for every room in the
house. When finally, I saw a paint on a friends wall, and
asked her for the color, and sure enough, it was the perfect
shade for my childs room.
So instead of allowing this to be your pet peeve, please
consider what a lovely gift it is to be generous and gracious
with a friend. I am thankful that my friend was kind and
generous in spirit to "happily" share the paint shade for my
childs room...we must have over $400 in useless quarts sitting
in the garage, which we will donate. "Proven and safe" is
beginning to make alot more sense, both from a fianacial point
of view, and the stress and time that experimenting is putting
my family through. And I am a fairly creative, and
design/style conscious individual. Can you imagine how
difficult this must be for those who have no sense of style,
or design or color? What a difficult process this must be?
People have different gifts. One friend may share her gift of
humor with you, to make life brighter. Another may offer her
gift of loyality...where you know you can share your heart and
thoughts and they will be safe. Another may be the friend
whose home is always open to you or your children. Another may
offer great advice. You get the picture. Your gift may be a
keen sense of style, color, or spatial, where you can just
walk into a room and see its possibilities in a way your
friends cannot. So instead of being irritated with a friend
who asks... perhaps you could look at it as a way of sharing
something that comes easily to you, as a gift to your friend.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: CallMeKaren (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 12:33
That is a very lovely, thought-provoking post, bnicebkind.
Thanks.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: miramira (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 13:24
Anyone who needs sympathy because they're exhausted from
choosing paint colors and can't seem to find the right
decorator might think about how that comes across to those on
the forum who are rebuilding their homes in the wake of
Katrina and Rita. Now, that's really exhausting. Bet those
folks would think it's great if they just had paint color to
deal with.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: suszann (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 14:02
Your post implies that I am the perfect decorator who never
errs. Far from the truth, I have posted my chagrin at all the
costly mistakes I made, with paint colors and furniture
choices, and today I would opt for professional help, it being
much less costly in the long run. Surely u/would agree that
seeing a wall color on a posted pic is a far cry from how it
would look in someone elses home. I understand that there are
young people for whom this a new venture, and they find it
daunting, I've been there, and still am. My post was not meant
to denigrate, but rather to be inventive and learn to make
good choices.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: dastowers (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 14:04
Miramira- that isn't really fair and snippy. Just because
someone states on a DECORATING FORUM none the less- they are
having a difficult time deciding on a color and are just
exhuasted with making decisions doesn't mean they haven't
taken in consideration others hardships. Was she supposed to
say "In light of the Iraq war, I realize this isn't important.
And with Katrina and Rita I don't feel I should ask this silly
question."? No. Decorating and making a home is what this
forum is about.
Davena

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: anna_chosak (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 14:08
I don't think that's what Suszann was saying. I think she
meant the people who, when someone posts a photo of a room
that's beautifully put together, immediately want to know what
the chandelier is because they've been looking for one, and
they ask without giving a thought as to whether it would work
in their rooms. That's totally different from someone saying,
"Hey, that's EXACTLY what I've been looking for in a
chandelier and haven't been able to find it! Would you mind
sharing where you got it?"
Picking a paint color from a small picture someone posts on
the internet is even worse because there's SO much variation
in photography and monitor settings and color saturation and
myriad other variables. Again--totally different from walking
into someone's house and saying, "Wow! I LOVE that color--what
is it and who makes it?" Of course there's no guarantee that
it's going to work as well in your setting as it does in hers.

of course
Posted by: anna_chosak (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 14:10
Suszann came back and clarified while I was typing away. ;-)

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: demifloyd (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 15:00
Well, this thread has given me some other perspectives. I will
say that although I am very happy to share a paint color, or
where I got a pillow, piece of furniture, etc., I am not
exactly thrilled when someone comes over, asks for paint
chips, samples of flooring, etc., and proceeds to copy exactly
what I've done, down to the fabric, rather than use one or two
elements and then create a look all their own. I do understand
how frustrating it is and how some people just don't know what
to do--certainly, time and experience tend to make decorating
easier for most of us, unless one is blessed early on with
"the gift."
It is always a good idea to compliment the person whose taste
you admire, and then take notes on what you think makes their
room work (or not) and apply it to your own
decorating dilemma. Personally, I seldom enjoy touring a new
home where the rooms are overdecorated in an effort to "be
finished," with every curtain, rug, picture and knick knack
permanently in place--I'd rather see the room evolve. I'm just
now beginning to decide where to place accessories, what
window treatments I want, etc. There is no way I could have
made all of those decisions before living in the house for
awhile. To me, what makes a room truly memorable is not that
it is a result of a "makeover," a replica from a catalog or a
formula used by someone else, but that it reflects the
homeowner. That cannot be copied.

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: bnicebkind (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 18:45
Thank you CallMeKaren and Dastowers.
Miramira, I am appalled that I sounded so shallow...however,
perhaps you are new to the forum, as I am not worn down simply
from choosing paint colors, and difficulty finding a designer.
I am worn down because for various reasons, our project has
been going on since 2002. We actually signed the contract for
the property in 2001. That is a long time for a family to live
in limbo. To be making decisions day in and day out for
several years. Add a few kids, a small temporary house with no
where for them to play, and no one for them to play
with...and, well, you get the picture. Add construction
problems and hassles, workers who don't show up for weeks at a
time, cabinets months behind schedule with poor craftmanship,
and huge costs to correct, and many decisions that have been
much, much, bigger than paint. If you have been on the forum
for awhile, you will have read about problems such as the
architect making costly mistakes, and abandoning our project
in its early stages, because he was busy with his own project
development. Yes I am tired, and so ready to move and get on
with life. To not have so many, many decisions facing us every
day. However, I am so thankful to have a home.
Living in the state of Florida, every hurricane you hear
about, is a threat to my family, as well as many, many, many
people, and because of the recent number of catagory 5
hurricanes... and the vast destruction they are doing, it is
not something any of us can ignore, or would. Can you imagine
what it feels like several times a year, for such a massive
storm to be headed your way, and not knowing if it will hit
where you are living at 3:00 a.m., or miss this time? And we,
along with most of you I am sure, have extended help to those
devastated by these hurricanes, and try to understand how
difficult it would be to deal with such destruction, and pick
up the pieces and start over.
But as Dastowers said, this is a decorating forum, and is that
place where we can turn for advice, and we can also offer
advice and experience, and encouragement to others who need
it. It is a place where many people, (including generous
professionals) visit, and guide each other through many of the
questions or problems we will encounter when building or
renovating or decorating a home. Sometimes people need a
second opinion, or sometimes they will be the one offering one
to someone else, who is just beginning their project. It is a
place we can use as an escape, and it is a place where we will
learn and where we will share/teach someone else. It is a
place where you can talk about so many things that others in
your everyday life are not experienced with. Or have no
interest in. You will find friends on the forum that are
passionate about many different things having to do with
putting together a home for yourself, and your family. How
many friends in real life like to talk about all of this, or
have this kind of experience or knowledge?

RE: MAGNAVERDE, regarding your advice to Shelly2
Posted by: magnaverde (My Page) on Sun, Nov 20, 05 at 20:45
This is why I love this forum: articulate people who can
express widely differing opinions in a civilized manner. Not
like the board I used to post on, which finally got shut down
because of rudeness & hypersensitivity.
"Pet peeves"? I agree that it's always nice when a friend
compliments something I've done--actually, we're only talking
theory here, not reality, since not a single one of my pals,
and only one of their wives has ever praised my decor--so I
can't imagine getting all bent out of shape if somebody asked
me what color I had used on my walls. As bnicebkind points
out, sharing is a big part of friendship, whether it be
sharing a paint color, or a recipe--something else no one has
ever asked me for, althought I make a mean piece of toast--or
a radial arm saw. If no one ever shared anything, we'd all
still be living in caves, and how would I pay the bills then?
No, sharing is good.
But Suszann is right, too. What's not good is buying six
gallons of the "perfect" paint color--based on a picture you
saw online. Here's a good example: the photo of that room with
the blue divan & the accordion at the top of this thread. Yes,
it's cheesy--I got the photo on ebay as an example of What Not
to Do--but it looked totally differernt when I saw it on
somebody else's computer. The original had that weird red tint
that comes with old photos that haven't been stored properly,
so I tweaked it to get rid of the red and made the walls a
nice crisp white, then I posted it. Except that when I saw the
room on a different computer, the walls had turned a pale
peach.
What if that really were my room? What if someone asked me for
the color name, based on what they saw on their own screen?
The actual color would have nothing to do with the color they
saw, and once they got it up on the walls, they would end up
hating their room. That's what's wrong with playing copycat
with stuff that's online. It's why I don't provide color
names.
Speaking of white walls, a lot of TV decorators love to make
fun of them, but they serve a purpose, one that bnicebkind
probably appreciates more than the rest of us. They might not
be all that exciting, but no one ever ended up with a basement
full of tester quarts of white paint. You can call white walls
boring & unadventurous, but they're as close to foolproof as
you can get, and one day, when exhasusted amateur decorators
everywhere are sick to death of the frustration & expense of
countless failed attempts at the "perfect green" or the
"perfect peach"--which, by the way, don't exist--we'll go back
to white walls with a sense of utter relief. Personally, I
can't wait. Not that I don't like colored walls. In the right
places, I do. But I see way more failures than I see
successes. Which, of course, is why there are professional
decorators. Their services aren't free, but then money is only
is only one factor in anything's true cost. There's also time,
which, for most of us, is already in short supply. Why waste
it?
And as for the morality issue--the relative importance, that
is, of the wrong paint color vs. a destroyed home--I came up
with a solution that works for me a long time ago, the day I
found a wonderful scroll-end Empire sofa from about 184O, with
lustrous crotch-grain mahogany & a worn velvet the soft yellow
of creme brulee on the very same day that the Illinois River
flooded a small town downstream from where I lived.
If I had simply gone ahead and bought the sofa I had spent
several years looking for, while there were suddenly-homeless
people reduced to living in tents, I would feel bad, and the
sofa would remind me of my own selfishness every time I sat on
it. On the other hand, if I gave over every penny in my bank
account to the flooded-out people, there would still be
hundreds of homeless people and I would have ended up sittong
on the floor for years. Neither choice semed good, so I
compromised.
I decided I could buy the sofa--or anything, for that matter:
clothes, books, casettes (this was the early 8Os),
whatever--but I had to give an equal amount to charity. It
worked out fine then, and it still works now. I can buy any
foolish thing I feel like, without feeling the slightest bit
of guilt--as long as I balance it out with an equal amount for
other people. It's so simple. So, in theory, every rejected
paint color I choose does somebody somewhere some good. At
least, it would if I ever chose a wrong color. But I'm lucky
that way: I have perfect pitch in color. Either that, or I'm
just easily satisfied. Or maybe they're the same thing. If
not, they're close enough.
Which brings me to my last point: the quest for prefection.
Forget it. You won't find it, not in this world, anyway. And
even if you could, who would want it? Not me. The great
decorator Nancy Lancaster (see above) said it best:
"Understatement is extremely important and crossing too many
t's and dotting too many i's make a room look overdone and
tiresome."
Besides, color on the wall of any room is only one part of a
larger whole, and what's important is the big picture.
Sometimes, the best discoveries happen by chance. Somebody
drops a glob of rubber on a hot stove and voila' we have
Vulcanized rubber, the basis for modern tires. Somebody else
wants to make dinner for the emperor after a hard day in
battle, but there's nothing but leftovers. Presto! chicken
Marengo. Let's face it: life's a crapshoot. When you look at
the news, you realize we could all of us go at any time. Why
get too hung up on decorating.. Obsessing over anything is
bad, but everybody needs a bit of diversion. My Tupperware
grandmother used to remind me and my brothers (not that it did
any good): a place for everything, and everything in its
place. That goes for life, too.
My first boss in the decorating world was an incredibly
talented & incredibly sharp-tongued woman of 6O, with hair as
orange as Clairol could make it. Phyllis claimed to have
invented the color orange, which wasn't true, but she was, I'm
sure, the first to slap it on the walls in 195Os Peoria. She
also had a ton of tinkling gold charm bracelets on each arm
that let you know she was approaching, and a toxic cloud of
mingled Chanel No. 5 & tobacco smoke that lingered behind when
she moved on.
Phyllis refused to be ruffled by anything. Shipping delays,
flawed fabrics, a broken pipe in the warehouse, impatient
clients, all were met with Phyllis' deadpan "Oh, well..." Her
calm demeanor sometimes veered into zombie territory, but she
soothed local attorneys famed for their hair-trigger tempers,
reassured third wives who quaked in awe at tales of their
predecessors' exquisite taste, and dissuaded hot-shot young
brokers ready to plunk down megabucks for glitzy Vegas-style
atrocities that would have gone out of style in six months.
She was the clucking mother hen to all the nouveau-riche
chicks in town who dreaded making some fatal faux-pas that
would brand them forever as country-club trailer-trash, and
she refused to sell the same chintz twice, so that none of her
old money clients--and she had a ton of them--ever had to
worry about seeing their sofa at their social inferiors'
houses. She was everyone's best friend. One time when I was
freaking out over a chair that had come back from the
upholsterer with the stripes upside down, she bet me lunch
that the clients wouldn't even notice. They didn't. We ended
up at the most expenxive restaurant in town and it cost me
$6O--this was 15 years ago--at a time I was still trying to
pay for school on two part-time jobs. When I started whining,
she just said "That's OK. This will teach you not to panic
over nonsense. It's not rocket science."
Unfortunately, Phyllis died a few weeks before I finally got
my design degree, but I think of her all the time. How could I
not, with her personal motto hanging above my desk? She worked
it herself, in orange & black petit point one year when she
was laid up at home from one of her not infrequent auto
accidents (she drove like a maniac). The frame is 188Os
Anglo-Japonesque and the Victorian script is so elaborate you
can just barely make out the words among all the orange
curlicures: ""Oh, well."
Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.
[p.s. to Elizabeth Pinelake: Phyllis would have loved your
confident style. Your place sounds awesome.]




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RE: Banquette Seating - love it or hate it? (Follow-Up #39)

posted by: jm_seattle on 03.06.2011 at 01:46 am in Kitchens Forum

Yes, we did a banquette and absolutely love it. Impressive, breezygirl, that you noticed the seating angle! Our cabinet designer had us come down to his shop and try out different angles (as well as distances from bench to table, etc.), and so we ended up with a banquette that fits us very well.

As much as I love the banquette, I agree with many of the criticisms on this thread. Even with custom dimensions, the wood isn't comfy for long periods of time and you have to get up to let people out. We're also pretty thin people, and I don't think it would be nearly as comfortable for some of my larger friends.

That being said, this family of four now eats almost all of our meals there, and are enjoying every one of them. The coziness is worth a lot. Call me crazy, but I really think it brings us all together in a way that we didn't quite get at our table with chairs (which was larger in every dimension, and so we were sitting further apart). And the wood makes for easy cleanup (I've got a 4-yr old and a 6-yr old!).

Ours is definitely comfy enough for a half hour of eating (on the rare occasions that my kids actually sit for half an hour!). If my spouse or I wants to hang out longer, we might turn and sit with our backs to the window wall and spread out our legs along the bench.

One of the big benefits of the banquette that I haven't heard folks mention is that it's often in the kitchen, and that alone is worth a lot. Probably not as big of a deal for folks with newer homes and open floorplans, but it makes a difference in an older house with a walled kitchen.

When you eat in the kitchen, you can cook/clean/serve 2nds/fill glasses/make lunches/etc while chatting with your family. And the other choice for in-kitchen eating is typically the bar. Not any better for comfiness IMHO. We have seating at the bar, too, and it's great for hanging out chatting with the cook, but much less suitable for a meal. The main reason being that when you sit at the bar, your companions are on your side instead of across from you. This makes it harder to talk to anyone but your immediate neighbor, and harder to have conversations as a whole family.

Here's the relevant pic from the other thread:
Breakfast nook

And here's what our custom dimensions turned out to be:
Photobucket


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RE: Banquette Seating - love it or hate it? (Follow-Up #28)

posted by: breezygirl on 03.05.2011 at 02:22 pm in Kitchens Forum

Here's a drawing of standard booth dimensions made by one of the restaurant designers at DH's office. I've read similar measurements myself in Sarah Susanka's books and elsewhere. (Google booth dimensions or the like.) Bench should be 24" deep to account for the slanted back. Standard table width is 30", but you can go less. The table usually overhangs the bench by at least 3", but 4-5" is also common. Top of the seat should be 17-18" off the floor. 24" width is standard "per butt" spacing. Beware of corners where two diners cannot share the same leg space.

Booth dimensions

I'll also link to JH Carr, a major booth fabricator in my state. (They're the ones who made our old booth and will make our new one.) They have a gallery of many different styles they make. Click on a booth you like and then click on the spec sheet to see dimensions. This was also very helpful to me in planning my new kitchen's booth. Mine will be custom made by them because I need the back height to be very specific in order to fit in perfectly with the island around it.

I love the pics of the ones Lavender posted above, but they don't look extremely comfortable to me. I've never sat on one to judge it though!

Here is a link that might be useful: JH Carr, booth fabricator

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RE: Powder room off kitchen: Yay or Nay? (Follow-Up #35)

posted by: johnliu on 02.14.2011 at 09:21 am in Kitchens Forum

Here are some resources on sound-reducing construction. The one immediately below, and the one that is hyper-linked, look pretty good. The other one (''Suppressproducts'') might just be an advertisement for their products, I am not sure.

Basically sound is vibration that is transmitted from the source to your ear by rigid materials (sound travels well through hard materials like wood) and air. To reduce sound, you want to reduce the transmission of vibration. Air gap is better than a rigid connection. A heavy, soft material (e.g. rubber) is better than an air gap.

Techniques are:

- Double layers of drywall with dampening material like the referenced ''green glue'' between them (not simply screwing one sheet of drywall to the other)

- Staggered studs w/ separate floor plates (essentially making two walls, no physical connection from one side to the other)

- Sheet of sound dampening material between the staggered studs (reducing sound transmission through the airspace)

- Sealing openings in the walls (electrical boxes, holes for plumbing, gaskets around and under door frame)

- Special doors, or (less good) a conventional solid door, or (maybe an in-between alternative) a conventional door w/ a sound dampening layer on one side.

- Dampening material between subfloor and joists, and between ceiling drywall and joists

- Sound-proofing paint (I've not heard of this stuff before, I am skeptical it does much)

Since the bathroom is a small space, you can use these techniques without too much additional expense, and just the loss of about 6'' if using staggered studs and double drywall layers.

http://www.soundproofingcompany.com/index.php?/library/articles/elements_of_room_construction

http://www.supressproducts.com/soundproofing-articles/Soundproof-Sheetrock.html

Here is a link that might be useful: Link


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RE: Clear coat for partially painted interior brick wall (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: lazygardens on 07.22.2010 at 04:19 pm in Paint Forum

You need a clear, matte finish acrylic or polyurethane varnish - something sold for furniture or floors would work well.

they are less likely to yellow in light than oil-based ones.

Another option would be clear shellac, but the alcohol fumes can be briefly obnoxious.

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RE: Clear coat for partially painted interior brick wall (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: funcolors on 07.22.2010 at 09:11 pm in Paint Forum

Masonry sealer suitable for interior and exterior. Look at the options from Trojan Color sealer. I believe you can get light tint to full tint and there are options for sheen too -- call to get their latest offerings 'cuz I'm not sure.

Here is a link that might be useful: Masonry Sealer

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RE: Did you buy your drapes & blinds online? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: annz on 12.16.2010 at 10:30 pm in Home Decorating Forum

Yourblinds.com is very reliable.
I purchased their 2 1/2" shutter blinds (faux wood). They're now having a sale on several of their blinds.

Also look at HD or Lowes and ask about their sales. There's more than what's on display available.

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RE: Did you buy your drapes & blinds online? (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: bonnieann925 on 12.18.2010 at 07:17 am in Home Decorating Forum

Another vote for www.blindchalet.com. I ordered the white faux wood 2.5 inch blinds for 6 windows in our family room. The quality is excellent, the price was right and they were custom cut to perfection!

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RE: Counter Stools (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: jterrilynn on 11.18.2010 at 10:11 am in Kitchens Forum

I ordered my stools online because the choices around me were over priced and boring.

For my nook I bought Holsag “Bulldog” custom stools which are very well made, sturdy and actually have a finish that is into the wood as opposed to a finish that sits on top that you can scrape off with a finger nail. They are on sale for $118, come in 7 different heights and I think 28 different finishes with a choice of 2 different metal cover foot guards. They also offer a seat cushion with more options there. I would highly recommend these if you want a hardy backless practical stool that will fit with all kitchen styles as they are a very good value and quality.

My peninsula stools I bought from Carolina Rustica online. They have a very nice selection of stools. I picked a Johnston Casuals stool (which I love); they come in 17 or so finish options, 2 height options and over 60 fabric/leather/vinyl seat cover options. They also swivel! These stools were priced at more than I wanted to spend but are well made and make a statement so I do not regret the purchase

Both of these picks will take at least four weeks to get.

The stool search was a big torment for me, if you do a search here in the kitchen forum there are a few posts with a list of online stool shop ideas if you do not find anything local. There are also quite a few modern stores as well.

Good luck!

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RE: Question for Magnaverde -- the challenge of the ugly or trite (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: magnaverde on 11.22.2010 at 04:29 pm in Home Decorating Forum

Awm03 asks...

Do you ever get the urge to use something cliche'd or common or ugly like, say, the smoked mirror tiles, asking yourself, "Can I make this look fresh or attractive?" Do you ever challenge yourself in that way? Just curious.

I think this is an attitude many of us get from having moved into previously owned homes with no $$$ for renovation -- what to do with the blue tile in the bathroom, the oak cabinets, even the smoked mirrors. I saw a room with mini-print wallpaper (late 70s fad, remember?) in a magazine several years ago. It looked surprisingly refreshing.
...........................................................

Excellent question, Awm03, so before I answer, let's break it down into bite-size pieces.

Do I ever use something cliche'd? All the time. It just depends on which era's cliches were talking about. The combination of colors in that satin-striped club chair & the rug in my old gray apartment on another thread--terra cotta & hunter green--was a trendy cliche in the 1940s, as was the rug border's lily motif. In fact, the first time my folks came to visit, my mom took one look at that stuff & said, "When I went off to college, your grandmother turned my bedroom into a second guest room and those were the colors she used. I didn't like them then & I don't like them any better, now!" To her, they were 'dated' colors. To me, they were just colors. Were they my favorite colors? They were not, but the rug was only $20 & the chair was only $7, so I figured for that price, I could live with the cliche.

All the bathrooms in that buiding were sleek 194Os beauties--brown & yellow tile or black & green or blue & gray, all of them but mine, that is, where, because it was the original owner's apartment, the bathroom was done not in then-current styles, but in the owners's own preferred colors, which happened to be ones popular in the late 1920s: turquoise & yellow, with pink-&-green feature tiles, and a black-&-gold terrazzo floor. Everything else in the place was sedate: grays wall, gray trim, gray blinds, and in the kitchen, gray enameled-steel cabinets, gray counters, gray trerrazzo floor & a stainless steel backsplash. Very elegant. Then that crazy bath. Its multicolor scheme wasn't anything I would have ever chosen for myself, but, like it or not. it's what I had, so rather than try to tone it down (a hopeless cause) or worse, screw it all up by painting the beautiful hand-glazed tiles a calmer color, I embraced the craziness. Like they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So the cream-colored upper walls got painted Screaming Mimi Yellow, the cream trim got painted shiny black, and I hung a Screaming Mimi shower curtain & a 1920s poster with a cherry-red background. The room soon becasme everybody's favorite room in the place, and eventually, because of the unearthly yellow glow that used to emanate from the hall whenever the bathroom door was open, the door from the living room to the hall acquired a metal sign with the international symbol for Radioactivity. It made for a nice contrast with all the mahogany & damask.
Magnaverde--2420 Bath, 1977

And in a later apartment--1983, this time--when I was faced with a dump of a bathroom that had walls covered with cheap (& mismatched) fake-wood paneling to hide busted & missing plaster & charred studs--somewhere along the way, there had been a space-heater fire--and a floor of stained, scarred linoleum, I painted the floor with gray deck paint, white-washed the walls & hung a bunch of weatherbeaten architectural fragments that I hauled out of the trash. The only thing in the room that wasn't either sun-bleached-looking or scabby with peeling paint was the stack of brilliant white towels, which looked even brighter against all that gray. Magnaverde--1713 bath
My friends all hated the Hardscrabble Farm look, but these days, well, let's just say a popular catalog should be paying me royalties. But, once again, it was all just turning lemons into lemonade, of going with the flow, rather than playing follow-the-leader with already-popular styles.

But what about today's cliche's?

Well, that depends. I wouldn't use those scrolly iron doodads or Wallwords or 90% of what I see in popular catalogs, not because they're cliches (which, admittedly, they are, but that doesn't matter to me) but simply because I don't like them in the first place. But there are other current cliches that I'd have no trouble using, because these things go in cycles, and eventually, the very same trend-driven people who fell in love with Foo dogs & Chinese Chippendale chairs & ikat prints because they saw them all over the place a few years ago, will forget all about them, at which point I can clean up. Sure, a lot of those things are cheaply made, but others are very nice, and the best thing about the trendy cord is they either can't tell the two categories apart, or they simply don't care, meaning that beautiful examples of blanc de Chine & antique suzanis will go for nothing at the yard salse of 2012.

last year, I heard designers whining because Restoration Hardware introduced a line of outdoor aluminum furnitre modeled after an ancient Greek klismos chair. They worried that the easy availability to the masses would diminish the appeal the chair's classic lines has traditioanlly had to a designers. Well, maybe that appeal will be diminished to shallow-thinking people like themselves, who only want things as long as the riff-raff can't get their grubby mittsa all over them. Once that happens, the allure is spoiled for that crowd. Please. That's flat out ignorant, as well as being insultingly classist. I can't stand people like that, and I look at the availblity of those chairs at reasonable prices as an incredible buying opportunity, because when these babies fall back out of current fashionability--and they will--it will be decades before they come back. Now's the time to stock up.

Do I ever use "common" things?
Well, I'd call linen panels from IKEA pretty common (my current LR); as well as $7 closet-door mirrors from Walgreen's (my old DR); $18 file cabinets from K-Mart (ditto); take-out food containers & plastic shower rings from the Dollar Store (my old DR chandelier). Other "common" items that I've used in the past: saucer sleds & hula hoops to make a gigantic Art Deco chandelier; the dead branches I found in the yard after every storm; a translucent plastic water softener tank I found in the alley, illuminated from within by a plug-in Brightstick from the Piggly Wiggly; & a sparkly, clear vinyl kids' ball out of the toy aisle, presented on a bronze tripod as though it were a rare piece of art glass. Kids always recognized it for exactly what it was, so they went grabbing at it, and every time, their folks would gasp in horror, for fear the kid would break my precious artifact. One woman--a very proper Church Lady type even said a bad word when her kid lunged for it. I pretended not to hear,a lthough I guess when she reads this, she'll know I did.
242O urn
Anyway, context is everything. If you've got enough money, you can buy anything you could possibly desire, so it's what you can make out of nothing that counts. Or, at least, that's the fun part.

do I ever use "ugly" things?
Of course not. Life's too short to be looking at ugly stuff. Then again, ugliness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, so it's quite possible that other people might consider ugly what I happen to like. In fact, I can gurantee it. Like they say, there's no accounting for taste. Take the rotten tree stump on my Chippendale-stye mahogany table, for instance. I know that some people consider it ugly and yet it was featured front-&-center in a full-page photo in that article in O at Home. Of course, even after that, presented in a beautiful photo by Roland Bello, some people still didn't get it. Oh, well. Their loss, not mine.
Magnaverde's Plaster Table: Photo by Roland Bello for O at Home magazine

My old living room's rug, with its soft-ball sized holes--cut out for floor outlets--and its raveled edges where I cut it in two with an electric carving knife to make it fit the room is also in some people's 'ugly' category. As is the framed full-page newspaper image of Bart Simpson with the headline "Life follows Bart." If my real name wasn't Bart, I might disagree, but it is, so I don't. Like I said: context is everything. "Ugly" isn't always ugly.

So, short recap of a long answer: yeah, I do all those things: cliche, common, ugly. Whatever it takes to make a good-looking room. And thanks for asking.

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clipped on: 11.26.2010 at 10:33 am    last updated on: 11.26.2010 at 10:33 am

Question for Magnaverde -- the challenge of the ugly or trite

posted by: awm03 on 11.22.2010 at 12:23 pm in Home Decorating Forum

What prompts my question (I'll get to it! It's waaay down at the bottom) was your post in makeithome's thread. It's insightful, funny, and so informative, I hope you don't mind me reposting it:

"The reason I could move back, and that I can look at these pics of 1977 & not cringe is that, unlike my friends' houses, I didn't own anything that was "in style" that year. I had no money (I was an art major) so all my stuff came from Goodwill, while my friends who were business or chemistry or math majors, all made decent incomes right off the bat. Also, they all got married right about that time, and they filled up their new houses with brand new sofas & loveseats in rust polyester velour or plaid Herculon, gigantic TV consoles (this was before "entertainment centers") and if they (or their wives) were really adventurous, they might have had smoked mirror tiles or cork squares glued to the walls. Smoked, gold-veined mirrors--on the diagonal--were very popular that year, I will say that.

Let's also say they don't have any of that stuff anymore. Some of them realized how ugly it all was early on, and replaced it all with patchwork upholstery in mauve & country blue--OK, this stuff was all their wives' idea--& big prints of young girls in big straw hats with ribbons, strolling along at the seashore & little arrangemets of country blue silk flowers on all the spindly little oak tables & weird assemblages of heart-shaped wire gizmos with cornhusk dolls attached with gingham bows, and some dangling candles &--get this--wheat: I don't know what the wheat thing was all about. Anyway, the "country" look was very popular that year.

Other couples hung onto their gigantic Herculon living rooms, because as ugly as the stuff was, it was also indestructible. Correction: is indestructible, and it will be clawing its way out of landfills--as colorful & stain-free as ever!--long after we're gone. My friends felt guilty throwing away something that still looked brand new, but eventually, they broke down & bought new stuff,this time, new "Southwestern" style pieces in allegedly "desert tones" of peach & teal, or, a few years later, they went in for overstuffed sofas in large-scale striped damask prints in burgundy, hunter green & navy, with gigantic brass lamps, or, later, they bought "Tuscan" dinettes wih heavy frames carved in China, & curlicue wineracks draped in plastic grapes & ivy, with reproduction wine posters or scenes of ancient castles at sunset, or--do you see where I'm going with this?

If any of them still have any of that that stuff--and if they keep up with the decorating magazines & 'designer' catalogs--they're sick of it, and ready to throw it all over. And for what? Probably some gigantic beigey-tanny-grayish ditressed leather sofa, a table that looks like it was made out of weathered packing skids, a gigantic clock that looks like rusty iron (but that ten-to-one is actually plastic) and a big, old-looking scroll deal with the names of a bunch of subway stops in a city they've never visited. The washed-out, cheerless look is very popular this year. I give it till the next election.

Here's the thing: history has a way of repeating itself, and not only in recycled decorating styles--and here, I'm thinking Mid-century Modern or Jonathan Adler's colorful Palm-Beach-Divorcee style--but also in feelings of embarrassment over the things we used to like, and the hard-earned money we spent on stuff that, these days, you couldn't give us for free because we wouldn't take it. Now, all that constant stylistic churn may be good for the economy--or, at least, for China's economy--but is it good for us? You tell me. No wonder people don't know what they like anymore. New looks are coming at us as fast as the candy on the conveyor belt on that old episode of I Love Lucy, and the only way to keep up with all the new trends is to keep swallowing whatever comes at us.

OR--we could move away from the machine.

And how do we do that? How does one break free of the apprently never-ending cycle--of infatuation with a hot new look, then of boredom with the same look? By doing it the way I did: by NOT looking to mass marketers--TV shows & magazines (at least current magazines) & blogs & trendy catalogs for style guidance. All they care about is convincing you that What You Like is what they just happen to have a whole warehouse full of. A whole warehouse that they need to empty ASAP, in order to make room for the next shipment of something else.

If you want to know what you really like--not what you're being primed to like by what we used to call Madison Avenue--get hold of a bunch of old decorating magazines & books. Here's why: once the temporary sheen of newness wears off things, you can better assess their stylistic value. If you look, say, at a 1989 House Beautiful or a 1963 Life Magazine or a 1935 House & Garden--it doesn't matter which magazine or period you choose, because the principle is the same--you'll see two kinds of rooms & two kinds of furniture, both in the ads & in the editorial pages: stuff you'd like to have today & stuff that's hideous."

But here's the amazing part: back then, to the people who bought those magazines new, it all looked good. Or, at least, they thought it did, because it was NEW. Today, now that none of it's new, we can better tell the good from the bad. And once you've looked at a dozen of those magazines or books, or six dozen of them, you'll have a pretty good idea of what sort of thing it is you really like. How do I know? because that's how I learned. Yes, I have an interior design degree, but they didn't teach any of this stuff in school. This is all stuff I learned before I ever quit my first career and went back to school. So, in the 1976s, when my friends & their wives were looking at 1976 magazines for "inspiration", I was looking at magazines from the 192Os & 1930s, and the stuff I liked had nothing to do with either what was temporarily in fashion in 1976, or what had been in fashion when the magazine was new. I was drawn to stuff because of its innate style, not because it had at one point been trendy. Believe me, there was plenty of once trendy stuff that, like i said, I wouldn't take if you gave me. Anyway, looking at old magazines allowed me to see stuff free from the then-current design propaganda that was trying to get me to buy that Herculon stuff. So when that stuff showed up at Goodwill or yard sales, I already knew I liked it.

I bought what I liked, while my pals (and their wives) bought what they thought they were supposed to like. Big difference. A few years later, my pals hated what they had been cajoled into buying, while I've still got all my stuff, which, incidentally, only cost a fraction of what ended up paying to J.C Penny or Spiegel on the installment plan.

Magnaverde Rule No. 14: If something isn't in style, it can't go out of style. "


And FINALLY my question:

Do you ever get the urge to use something cliche'd or common or ugly like, say, the smoked mirror tiles, asking yourself, "Can I make this look fresh or attractive?" Do you ever challenge yourself in that way?

Just curious. I think this is an attitude many of us get from having moved into previously owned homes with no $$$ for renovation -- what to do with the blue tile in the bathroom, the oak cabinets, even the smoked mirrors. I saw a room with mini-print wallpaper (late 70s fad, remember?) in a magazine several years ago. It looked surprisingly refreshing.

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clipped on: 11.26.2010 at 10:32 am    last updated on: 11.26.2010 at 10:32 am

RE: DIY Banquette with Coffin Drawer - Pics (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: bethv on 08.08.2009 at 08:16 am in Kitchens Forum

I guess the plan dimensions aren't readable, so here they are:
* Back of booth height: 30"
.... To top of 2x4 that is seat bottom: 16"
.... From the seat to top of back: 14"
* Booth length: 62"
.... 4 sections of 16"
.... The seat back is angled at 15 degrees
.... The angle means that the bottom of the seat back-base of triangle: 9-5/8" outside dimension
* The drawer opening - inside dimension: 18 & outside dimension is 23"
* The seat bottom is 18.5" deep (this is the finished dimension including beadboard)
.... The plan says that the unfinished dimension from the back of the booth to the front of the seat is 27"
.... This gives you a heel kick of about 3" - unfinished

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clipped on: 10.28.2010 at 05:36 pm    last updated on: 10.28.2010 at 05:37 pm

DIY Banquette with Coffin Drawer - Pics

posted by: bethv on 08.19.2008 at 10:32 pm in Kitchens Forum

Our banquette was one of the key parts of making our kitchen plan work. But, we had a devil of a time trying to reverse engineer a plan from all of the pictures we saw. So I thought I would post ours with pictures & info as a small contribution to offset all the wonderful help and advice we got from the amazing GWers.

Hats off to my fantabulous DH for his perseverance with the arced wall and making the drawer work!!

Of course, many will recognize the inspiration from kitchenkelly and her fantastic morgue drawers : ) Our drawer is very tall so I think of it as the coffin drawer. Okay, so we keep the dog food & treats in it - but everyone needs a little levity in with their storage solutions.
NOTE: The bench isn't trimmed out yet, I'm posting now 'cause marilyn234 was asking for help with bench plans.
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The table is a soapstone top support by 2 oak planks and a 4x4 table leg. The planks are 12" and 8" wide. It's 30 wide by 60 long. The table is rounded at the right end and the left end is flat and sits into a wall/frame on the peninsula end. The face of the peninsula is covered in bead board that was scored in the back to make it curve. The effect is a left curve to the table top. The leg against the peninsula is a half leg. The idea was to have the peninsula hug the table and not look like two squares butted up against each other. The soapstone on the peninsula was cut to arc in to mirror the curve on the outside end of the table. The top of the arc is 4" deep by 30 wide.
We got BM satin impervo matched to cabinets and painted everything to match.
Here's a picture of the bench frame. The heal kick is tall - the seat hangs out to create the heal kick. The drawer isn't centered because we would run into the wall if we did - or we'd only have a shallow drawer. The back of the bench is 30" tall. We wanted it short because the chairs face a fireplace. It is good height - very comfy. the bench is 54" long and 17.5 deep (finished seating depth). A detailed plan with measurements is below.
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The bench is very comfy with the angled back and the foam padding. The bench seat is plywood with 3" foam & batting and the back is plywood with 2" foam & batting. The foam was angle cut where the seat and back meet. I used a bread knife because I could NOT find the electric knife - word of advice - FIND THE ELECTRIC KNIFE!!!! I used sharpie to draw the angle and lines on the foam. You may notice that I screwed that up the first time and had to glue it back together and re-cut it (with the freakin' bread knife!). The foam also hangs over each exposed edge by at least 1". I would have it over hang the sides more so we could use a wider trim. The foam stops 1-2" from the seat inside edge so the back can rest there. You need to affix the foam to the plywood with a spray adhesive - I used 3M adhesive. We covered the foam in upholstery fabric using a stapler. It's a bit tricky to get the pattern to line up so make sure you have plenty of overhang to adjust up/down & left/right. We laid it all out - both seat and back - taped everything down - stapled the back - then lined up the seat again - re-taped and stapled it.
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The drawer is a big box of pine planks that are screwed together. The screws run perpendicular to the force so it's very sturdy. We used orange shellac and lacquer to finish the wood. You can see in the photo above the 1x4s that run horizontally inside the frame bottom to hold the drawer glides. The drawer box is 48" long x 10.5 tall x 16.75 wide (outside measurement). We got a drawer face from our cabinet company. It's wonderful!!!!! (Can't wait unit the drawer pulls arrive!)
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We keep the dog food, meds and treats in here. I got bins from the container store that each hold about 20 lbs of dog food. Maybe I should call it a trough drawer!
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In this picture you can kind of see the wall/frame that is attached to the peninsula to support the table.
a href="http://s254.photobucket.com/albums/hh108/bvanney/?action=view&current=bench1.jpg" target="_blank">Photobucket

IT still needs trim along the sides and bottom of the seat (beaded screen trim) and base board on the bottom of the bench and peninsula.

Here's the plan:
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Sources:
Fabric: fabricguru.com
Drawer glides: schockmetal.com 037 series 47.24 full extension 255lb capacity - $105 a pair - great deal
Legs: Osbournewood.com

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clipped on: 10.28.2010 at 05:36 pm    last updated on: 10.28.2010 at 05:36 pm

RE: If you love your knives, please share (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: johnliu on 09.21.2010 at 07:15 pm in Kitchens Forum

Here is the best bang for the buck as far as kitchen knife sets go.

Get a set of Victorinox Forschner Fibrox knives, such as the set below. Or choose a set that has the specific knives you want.

Victorinox is a Swiss company, one of the ''Swiss Army'' licensees. Forschner is a German company. ''Victorinox Forschner'' knives are made in Germany or Switzerland. Not China, Spain, Brazil, or Taiwan.

The ''Fibrox'' signifies the line with stamped steel blades and non-slip plastic handles. These are what you will frequently see in restaurants, butchers, and other professional food service use. The next most common knife there will have white handles, they are made by Dexter in the US. Forschner also make a line with forged blades and wood handles, that are much more expensive, not any great value.

I like the Fibrox knives because they are high quality, inexpensive, with slim light blades, and very good handles. I like them better than my more expensive knives. Cooks Illustrated usually rates them their favorite or best buy choice, in knife tests. An 8'' Fibrox chefs is about $30. You won't find a fancy-name knife (Henckels, Wusthof, etc) for under $100 that is as good (they'll usually be the low-end line made in China or the slightly better line made in Spain) and will seldom find one for $100-150 that is appreciably better.

When picking the set, avoid ones with multiple redundant little knives. The 3'' paring, 4'' utility, 5'' slicer, etc. In addition to pointless duplication, kitchen knife ''sets'' for consumers have knives that are too small - a 6'' chefs for instance. Big knives let you cut meat in smooth strokes without lots of mincing sawing. A good set for most would be 8'' or (better) 10'' chefs, 10'' slicer, 4'' paring/utility, 8'' serrated bread, and a 6'' boning knife if you do a lot of meat. A honing steel. And that's it - the other thing that most knife sets have is too many knives. This set might cost $170 in Forschner Fibrox, substantially less if you don't need the block. That's not even two fancy-name knives (excluding their China-made lines).

The best knife will eventually become useless as it dulls. No knife stays really sharp for very long under heavy daily use. Some people will say their XYZ knife stayed sharp for a year of daily use, but they don't know what ''sharp'' is. A dull $500 knife is worse than a sharp $20 knife. So the sharpening is quite vital. If you don't sharpen your knives with whetstones, then get a Chefs Choice 1520 electric sharpener or similar. About $170. That model will do either 15 degree or 20 degree angle. An Asian or quasi-Asian knife (like a Shun) will have a 15 degree edge, a Western knife (Wusthof, Forschner, etc) will have 20 degrees normally. I sharpen all my knives to 15 degrees. Sharpening services cost like $1 per foot, and they may do a crappy job.

The honing steel, by the way, is not a sharpener. It only straightens an edge that is still sharp. It has to be used gently, and not on a dull knife. I've looked at this under a microscope. If you take a dull edge and apply the steel vigorously, you are not sharpening the edge. You are only tearing the edge into microscopic jagged pieces, that will saw sort of effectively through meat for a short time until they are torn off and the edge is ineffective again.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example Set

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clipped on: 09.21.2010 at 08:41 pm    last updated on: 09.21.2010 at 08:52 pm

Need ideas on built in cabinet in nook

posted by: bostonpam on 05.04.2010 at 12:01 pm in Kitchens Forum

Well, there is light at the end of the tunnel and now I'm starting to think about the minor things (floors will be refinished in a 12 days). Between the kitchen and the table there is a doorway. You step into this area and to the right is a half bath with a 5 panel fir door and to the left is the walk in pantry (without door). Right in you face there's a little alcove that is 80" high to bottom of window trim, 37 1/4" wide and 13 3/4" deep (to end of the wall) and 9.5" deep to bathroom door trim.

I would like to put in a shallow cabinet here. Basically my husband would build some shelves and we then build the front of the cabinet around it. I thought glass doors on top and solid doors on bottom. I could get an estimate for buying the extra doors from our cabinet manufacturer. We have an extra panel from the back of the island and some extra trim so we could use that wood to "finish it". This would be in cherry like the kitchen.

Probably a cheaper solution would be to buy online from Scherrs oak or fir doors and finish them myself. I could also go less expensive wood and paint it. Our built in bench will probably be painted a similar color as our range. What are your ideas? I'm open for suggestions.

With many of our elements (lights, trim, wood, tile, etc.) I'm going for a 1910's look. The original house was built in 1825 but the kitchen addition was later and the last major renovation was 1910's. The pantry will be natural wood in either oak or fir. This was very popular for the era in our area. I'm going for the look of our present 1910's pantry (but not painted - it was natural at one time). I won't have drawers - just doors in the pantry. (100"L x 47.5" W). I will have cabinets on 2 sides and very high shelf on the 3rd side. Money is getting tight on this point. Trim around doors will be painted white and the kitchen will be yellow.

Here's an early rendition of my kitchen. The cabinets and the shape are about right but almost everything moved - the large sink and 2 DW swapped with the range, prep sink moved, bookshelves moved, etc. Because of a support beam we broke up the pantry and put in the alcove. That new wall is in the shaded area with dashed lines (shaded area is the bump our for the kitchen) Photobucket

View of nook from kitchen Photobucket

another view - nook on right Photobucket

View of pantry from half bath Photobucket

present pantry Photobucket

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clipped on: 07.10.2010 at 04:39 pm    last updated on: 07.10.2010 at 04:41 pm

RE: Vent on Mid-State Kitchens and MA line price comparisons (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: boxerpups on 06.19.2010 at 08:31 pm in Kitchens Forum

You must be so frustrated. I know the last thing you want
to hear is the name of another company, But I have to suggest
this because you would never be giong through this
nightmare with the right company.

Chris Russell.
he is a cabinet maker in Ma and does amazing work.
you might find he can anything you want and is very flexible.

Check out the garden web links.

Cabinets - Dover Woods or Modern? Local cabinet maker in Mass?

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg060757191392.html

Here is a link that might be useful: Boston area custom cabinet makers: any suggestions?


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clipped on: 06.20.2010 at 12:37 pm    last updated on: 06.20.2010 at 12:37 pm

RE: Ikea cabinets (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: bmorepanic on 06.11.2010 at 11:05 am in Kitchens Forum

So, roughly, this lecture is my personal opinion.

The built-in cabinets aren't crap, but they aren't great either. I'm talking about just the cabinets and not the doors or drawer fronts. You can get a nice kitchen with adequate storage using the built-in cabinets. The cabinet frames are pretty weak and made out of terrible particle board. If you build and install them correctly, you'll be ok without making mods.

In my mind, that makes the built-in Ikea cabinets good value for the money. The structure of the drawers help a lot in improving the stability by being partly metal. The glides might survive being thrown out of an airplane.

The drawers are a version of blum tandem box drawers but they aren't the stainless steel sided, square edged, full depth, undermounts that a cabinet company would do - they are powder coated, three inches less deep and have the slant sided drawers with side mounted glides. Overall, you lose about 2-3 inches of drawer width and 3" of length over all - similar to a lot of framed cabinets. You still get the frameless style height increase - except for the middle drawer issue in a 3 drawer cabinet. The middle drawer has a big face that over hangs the glides by an extra inch and change in height; short changing either the middle drawer or the bottom drawer depending on how you think about it.

Things I would (or did) customize. I added bracing in front of the fiberboard back. The braces are screwed through the cabinet sidewall, and the screws set flush in the sidewall. That changed the cabinet structure from something that felt fairly flimsy to something that was very stiff. We used the new braces to attach the cabinets to the wall and were able to use as many screws as pleased us. The base cabinets sit on a constructed toe kick with a solid top that was leveled before cabinet installation.

We'll probably brace the micro cabinet in the pantry, but we haven't built it yet. I'm kinda jonesing for the replacement cabinet bottom that provides lighting and I suspect you can't do that with the micro cabinet.

I wish they had plywood drawer bottoms instead of the particle board. I might replace those eventually in my 36" wide, deep drawers. Long term, I don't believe the drawer bottom will be able to take the weight of cast iron. Since we ordered the fronts from Scherrs, we shortened the middle drawer front - we could have, but did not, reposition the middle drawer, we just shortened the front. This let the bottom drawer be about 1-3/8" taller and it fit the biggest thing I own stacked together - a very large stockpot with a basket steamer that sits on top and its lid.

I would be vastly surprised if they fell apart.

Do get quotes for the exact look you want from a couple of third parties. I have read of many ikea finish failures over time on their drawers or doors. Sometimes, the 25 year warranty doesn't work out quite the way you'd think - if they stop making the style or they change the manufacturer, a replacement may not be available and that let's them off the warranty hook.

Honestly, if we had a bigger budget, we would not have bought ikea cabinets. We shot our budget (the budget that we made by figuring out however many dollars we could spare as our remodel was a surprise) in raw construction and economized on the cabinets. As the children say, it is what it is and we're pretty over it.

A construction picture of my ikea cabinets with different door and drawer fronts - fronts not adjusted, no hardware yet and no toe kick. We just got them. Yes, it has the little ikea sink and the little ikea faucet, too.


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clipped on: 06.11.2010 at 11:47 am    last updated on: 06.11.2010 at 11:47 am

RE: drawer dividers, organizers, shelf liner? (Follow-Up #25)

posted by: bob_cville on 04.13.2009 at 12:00 pm in Kitchens Forum

helou,

Yes you are correct. I needed to first rip the boards from their original 4 inch width, down to about 3 inches to fit in the drawers. (or about 1 3/4 inched for the front section of the silverware drawer. Also once I had the boards the correct width, I needed to carefully cut the boards to length.

Then to get the boards to the correct length a powered miter saw is the best option, but again depending on what tools you have available, maybe a hand-held circular saw and a speed square, or a miter box and a hand-held pull-saw.


If you have a table saw, ripping the boards is trivially easy. If not there are probably a number of other ways to make the boards the correct width. (The easiest might be to find a friend with a table saw, and ply that friend with a bottle of wine, to cut them to width.) But you should also be able to do it with a straight-edge and a hand-held circular saw, or maybe even a straight-edge and a utility knife.


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clipped on: 05.18.2010 at 11:28 pm    last updated on: 05.18.2010 at 11:28 pm

RE: How Do You Organize Your Kitchen? (Follow-Up #33)

posted by: lowspark on 02.04.2010 at 09:12 am in Cooking Forum

beanthere, your sister is right! I have a similar saying: You expand to fill the available space. LOL

I have the Lee Valley clips too! I LOVE them. I did all my drawers myself as well. I didn't use plywood, though. I went to Lowes and bought precut strips. They came in 2' and 4' lengths and I just cut them down with a jig saw. Then sanded them and stained them.

Like L2C46, I created a frame insert for the drawer first so that I would not be damaging the drawers by hammering the clips in. Also, I can lift out the whole thing to clean the drawer.

Here are the pix:
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clipped on: 05.18.2010 at 07:41 pm    last updated on: 05.18.2010 at 07:41 pm