Friday, May 27, 2011

Victorian Screen

I impulsively purchased this screen today.  The muted colors really appealed to me. It's an old Victorian leather screen that someone applied wallpaper to.  It's not in the best condition, which is why my husband thinks I've lost it.  I did a sniff test to make sure it didn't smell, and so far I think I'm ok.  The antique dealer said she had it in her living room for years. Yes, I know, with every antique comes a tall tale.

It seems like a really whimsical piece to act as a backdrop in a room.  I just haven't decided what room.  Yes, I know there is water damage, but I thought if you put a chair in front of it, you wouldn't notice.  I liked the pastoral scene with the sheep.  OK, I'm a sucker for sheep anything.

I'm thinking a corner of a guest room with seating in front of it.

Here's a closeup:

If you click on the picture and look at the closeup, you can see the wallpaper detail.  Any guesses as to the age of this wallpaper?

There is wallpaper border trimming the front, but the sides of the screen have old french metallic ribbon on it.  The back of the screen is the same scene, only 2 of the wallpaper panels are peeling off.  I haven't examined the leather underneath to figure out what is on the leather.

I hope I don't have to Craigslist this one.  Does anyone else see the charm or did I just get a project?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let there be Light!

I love using antiques in furnishing the house, but when it comes to lamps, there aren't alot of options.  Electric lamps really didn't come into common use until the 20's, so antique electric lamps aren't something I would look for.   I do have a few 40's lamps:

The lamp below is a brown transferware.  I snapped it up because it was transferware, although not terribly old.
The glass column below is from the 40's or 50's.   I like the clean lines.   It is a favorite lamp because it throws out a decent amount of light.  

 I love staffordshire.  The figures are whimsical and fun to display.  However I don't like a ton of clutter, so I try to repurpose my collection into lamps when I need something.  The easiest thing in the world to do is to make a lamp by getting a wooden plaque for a base at a craft store.  I usually spray paint it black.  If you don't sand it well, you wind up with a piece of wood your dust rag gets caught on.

If you want to do it yourself, look for a lamp part called an adjustable figurine arm or figurine pipe, on Ebay or a lamp store.  Drill a hole in the bottom of the board, and then assemble the electrical fitting on top of the pipe--and you have a lamp!  I do not glue my object to the base--that would ruin the item.  However, I do use a project called Quakehold so the figurine doesn't get bumped off the base by others.  It's like a gum.  In fact, I periodically replace it, as I found it petrified in my mom's house.

One of my home-made lamps

 The lamp below has a decorative base.  I suppose you can find these vintage  bases on Ebay.  I found mine at an estate sale many years ago.  I like the ones with adjustable necks, so you can play with the proper height of the shade.  I swapped dogs on this lamp,  the original dogs were 3" higher.

Most of the lamps in my house are objects turned into lamps.  Below is a camel lamp.  When I purchased it, it had a tiny riser, which I changed to a 3" riser so you could actually see the camel.  It's a dark linen shade.
Estate sale find
It was  easy to turn this candelabra into a lamp because the center post was hollow.    I used some candles in it.

I have purchased a few other lamps in the past few years.  I don't think I will ever tire of this glass lamp.

In getting ready to furnish the casita for my parents, I have a need for some lamps.   I did some impulse buying over the past few weeks.  Tuesday Morning had a cute pair of lamps that I got for the bedroom.  They are low slung, and perfect for the nightstands that have windows behind them.  They have a nice rustic linen shade which I have been wanting to try out.   It looks more like a burlap shade.  The price was right, $49.

Sometimes Tuesday Morning has cute things.  I also found these chicken wire baskets for $5-$10.   They'll be great organizing the pantry.

I keep trying to buy things on One Kings Lane.  It seems like every time I try to purchase something, it gets sold before I can make the purchase.  Today  OKL had Visual Comfort lighting on sale.  I was hoping to spot a lamp for the main room in the casita.   I sort of hate OKL because you really only have a minute or 2 to make up your mind.  OK, 10 minutes if you put it in your cart.   I spotted this wonderful alabaster lamp.  I just love the neoclassic shape.  Does it seem a little squatty to you?  I am not sure about the shade.  Given the quality of alabaster, I am thinking about the texture and color of the shade.   Sometimes I like using parchment shades.  I am not sure of the exact color of this shade, we will all wait and see.  I know I don't like start white shades.

I was considering a wood baluster lamp below from Pottery Barn, but they are sold out.  It happens alot with Pottery Barn--if you like it, buy it. Don't wait.   They were around $169, a good buy
.Architectural Salvage Turned-Wood Table Lamp Base

OKL actually had a similar lamp in alabaster below, but I fell for the urn shape instead.   I would have gotten a pair if I'd gone with these.  Price was $289/ea

The other lamp I was looking at was at  The price below is $299 at this time.


OKL had another lamp I really liked (below), but I already have a couple of barley twist lamps.

Please read how Delores at Vignette Design did a lamp rewiring project (see below--Thanks Delores)  Click on the photo or link to read her story.
Below is a statue I am contemplating turning into a lamp after seeing her cute project!   

So today I bought the lamp below because I really liked the shape.   I'm not sure if I should have stayed true to my original design and stuck with the wood lamps.  It will wind up in the living room of the casita.  I wanted a natural material, wood or stone.  I am thinking I will go with darker wood tables, and that the alabaster is a safe color choice for me.

I'll let you know when it arrives.

I didn't address lamp shades today.  That is a separate topic I'd love to cover soon!

It's another rainy day in Portland (OR).   At least we didn't have any tornados.  My daughter seems to be spending every day in the basement of her building in St. Louis.   Even California got in on the action.  My parents had a couple of tornado's less than a mile from their farm in Glenn County, CA.     My husband said he was calling the news station to report that his father-in-law's farm looked like it was hit by a tornado... (except it's looked like that for the past 15 years).  Please keep the people in the Midwest and South in your prayers.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Casita Kitchen Cabinets!

One thing on my bucket list was to provide a nice place for my immigrant parents to live in their old age.  The stories they can tell you about growing up in WW2 is heart wrenching.  They made sacrifices they made for us growing up and this is a way for me to do something kind for my parents.  It is really for my dad, as my mom has dementia, and is quickly slipping away from us.  I've tried to select things in the casita that will make it a comfortable place for them to live.

The "kitchen" in my parent's casita is only 91" long, excluding pantry and refrigerator.  I chose to build in the pantry rather than cabinets because I thought it would provide more storage than a cabinet pantry.

Here is the design I worked up:

I spent hours designing this.  It seems simple enough, but it was quite a trick getting a symmetrical view which was important to me.   One kitchen designer offered to "help" me, and completely re-designed the 750+ SF space into about 4 rooms and it was all chopped up.   I had a couple of cad programs, and drew it myself.  I wanted some counter space, some drawers for silverware and a trash pull out.  I didn't feel I could give up what little counter space I had by building in a wall microwave.  The microwave will be a space-saver model that attaches under the cabinet.  I couldn't do a shelf, my parents are very short, and they would wind up dumping a bowl of soup on themselves.

 I contacted 3 cabinet companies because I liked their product pictured below.   The Woodmode cabinet caught my eye, and I located a dealer in the bay area.  I sent him a drawing, and I went to sign a contract--only he hadn't done a contract.  He didn't get back to me for a month, didn't seem too interested in my small project.  I really didn't like being put on the back burner, so I crossed him off my list.
Wood-Mode Ad
I then tried to find a Quality Custom Cabinetry dealer as I'd seen their cabinets in some of the shelter magazines.  It was the same trip to the bay area as the Wood-Mode dealer.  The showroom told me "I couldn't afford them" when I walked in and inquired about them.  I told them I would like an estimate anyway.    But they never called me.   Don't you think it is odd (and rude) in today's tough economy that I'm not even allowed to make a decision on what to splurge on?   I guess snotty people don't deserve to my business anyway.
Quality Custom Cabinetry
It seemed to me that the trend of full overlay doors is a new one (at least since I last remodeled). You will always know when the kitchen was remodeled with a full overlay door. A flush cabinet door is pretty timeless.   

I then started searching through the gamut of non-custom cabinets.  I sort of like a Schuler painted door at Lowes, but I am still waiting for a written quote of the paint job I requested: fully antiqued and distressed door.

So I went back to Vancouver, and found a great rep from a company in Washington.

We liked this door, but were worried green was "too avocado" and we might tire of it quickly.  It is more avocado than photos of cabinets we liked on the internet.  I did really like the way this company did the splits in the door for distressing.

I almost signed on the dotted line, but it was for full overlay doors, but my husband said if it's really not what I want, I should hold out for inset doors.  I felt bad because the rep really was great and a pleasure to deal with, would have loved to give him the business.  The next day Veranda had a new Woodmode ad:

Wood-Mode ad in April 2011 Veranda
I thought it was interesting that they decided to advertise a stained cabinet, but the key things I noticed was a slightly wider stile than 2 1/4", and the inset door.

I decided to try to find a custom cabinet-maker one last time.   I came up with 3 shops where they made real cabinets, not just fronts for a factory made cabinet. One person didn't want to bother with a small project, even though I was willing to go with a design he had on the internet.  The second shop showed me the one door style that he made, and that he only made part-overlay doors.  He had never even heard of full overlay doors.   I just saw staples, and wasn't happy with the quality at all. I stopped by a hole in the wall place that had a nicer website than showroom presence.  The work shown looked really nice.  Things were buzzing in the back room with a number of craftsmen working on various stages of cabinets.

They were actually working on the cabinets that we ultimately decided to go with.  Up until now, I was looking for a farmhouse look, painted cabinets, heavily antiqued and distressed.  However the casita only has one room.  It has dark beams in it, and my husband was concerned that putting in a painted cabinet would dictate decorating down the road.  It was a bit of an impulse, I picked this after about 10 minutes in the shop.  Was I sick of shopping for cabinets?  YES.    Did I make a decision before my head was going to explode?  YES.   Usually my vision comes together easily, this one was a struggle just because I couldn't seem to make anyone believe I was serious.
Sample Door
I will be going to work with the shop on Friday to determine the exact "level" of staining.  The piece is stained multiple shades of the yellow/orange light color, then a very dark, almost black stain is applied, and the wiped off.  I was thinking we'd leave a bit more dark that I'm seeing here for more of an old world look.  The goal is to look like years of wear and age.   Distressing can look contrived, but I am happy with the distressing done here.

I hope I'm not sorry that I didn't pick a painted cabinet.  I still love the looks of these kitchens.  If I've "borrowed" these photos from your website, please let me know and I'll give a link.  I just don't recall where I got them.

Grey painted cabinet
Below is a photo of the wall.  The tile is a Philadelphia Travertine, creamy with grey streaks in it.  We laid it in the Versailles pattern as it seemed like it would make the room seem bigger and have more of a "stone floor" feel to it.  The beams were stained to match the cabinets, and the beam company loved the staining shades I asked them to do so much so they're adding it to their offerings.

The lantern chandelier is a Pierre Deux--purchase on One Kings Lane.  My daughter sent me a text when she spotted it, and I quickly purchased it.  That was an easy decision because we'd seen it in the Carmel store over the xmas holidays, and I was thinking about purchasing it.  It's temporarily raised so we don't spear our heads on one of the corners.

The Next Decision:  Select  Counters!

I will admit I'm tired of granite.  I didn't want granite when we put it in the house in 2004.  I wanted Vermont Bluestone with subway backsplash.  However what we put in is pretty, and I got used to it.

If I was doing the painted white cabinet, I would choose a grey concrete counter.

The main reason is I thought concrete is I'd like to put in this egg and dart border.  

However, now that I've chosen a dark wood cabinet, I'm thinking the concrete blue grey color wouldn't look as good as a lighter color.

If I were to do a light color, what if I chose to do a counter out of travertine?

This is a pretty dark piece of travertine.  I can also get a very creamy with grey streaks from another location.  I know travertine stains, etc.  Who cares?  Would you notice in this piece?   What kind of edge would you do?  I was so intent on concrete, I didn't think this one through.  Perhaps I  will still do it, only a creamy color perhaps?  They can do any color I want.

I do like the look of the backsplash above, a curve over the sink with tile behind it.  I can get 2x4 matching tile to the floor, however, I should have a contrast with the cabinet don't you think?  I could run it all the way up the wall like the photo above.  I was having wood behind the shelves, but I could change that to be open against the wall.  I've also seen where they run it above the cabinets.  I have 42" tall cabs with a nice crown on top.  It woud match but there is a leathered piece of granite that looks like wood that I'd love to use.

Dark wood grain looking granite that would layer over the travertine brick tiles as a backsplash.
I'm back in Vancouver trying to recover from my tile-laying injuries.  We contracted the entire job out, but I knew I was too picky about the tile to risk this to an unknown contractor.  As it is, I'm extremely unhappy with the finish carpenter.  He didn't fill any of his nail holes, and put 36 nails in ONE piece of moulding on the side of a door.  Every single stud has at least 5 nail holes.  Terrible.  I'd go after him but I'm not into the negative energy that would take.

Let me know your opinions on the counter, I'm noodling this one to death.  I'd think about white marble, but I don't think it would look very good with the travertine floor, shouldn't it be a creamy color to contrast with the cabinets?

Have a great day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Dishes for Casita

We are building a casita for my parents to live in.  (They may or may not move in--another story)  As the project is coming together, I am beginning to pick out things that are a bit more fun.

There is a kitchenette, so I need dishes.  As much as I love antique china, it needs to be microwaveable dishes.
Some antique teacups I ADORE!

I have a lovely set by Villeroy and Boch, Audun Ferme, which I use in both houses.  I just didn't feel like getting more of the same.  Also, the quality of their mfg has gone down hill--the transferware is fuzzy compared to the older stuff.

More plates I love to use, but these are bone china.

 I fell in love with the plates below and "knew" they were the ones I was getting before I looked at the description.  How cheery, right?

Amazingly, they are out of melamine.  However melamine can't go in the microwave. ( Williams-Sonoma carries these)  They are by La Cadeaux and are still on my list.

This is another design.

I was really sorry I couldn't find anything like this that would microwave.   I need simplicity here. My parents are in their 80's and  they won't be following any instructions about microwaving on a paper plate..

So I kept hunting.   I had to do my shopping on the internet, no time to hunt for anything in person.   The next dishes I spotted were from Pierre Deux.:

This pattern is called Louis XV.  I really like the scalloped edge.  It is microwaveable.  PLUS! It comes in different colors.  I thought a blue salad plate would be fun.

I went to place the order, but some dishes are back ordered until July.  I hate that--having been through the backorder scenario with Restoration Hardware. 

So I then went to Williams Sonoma to purchase an induction hot plate.   I spotted these lovely dishes.  The photo is much lighter than the actual china.   

Avignon 16-Piece Dinnerware Set, Honey
I also picked up some towels to match their new kitchenette.
Marseille Towels, Set of 2, Dijon
Everything is packed up waiting for our trip to the project, so you'll have to wait for the "reveal" photos.  I just thought I'd share what is going on.  Today I must get some stone-sealer enhancer, take back the induction plate, and purchase an ADA toilet.  That should explain the lack of blogging.

The induction plate for the casita looks like a winner:
Caso Blue Two Induction Burner
It's from Williams-Sonoma, and a Caso Blue Two.  This is the second one we've tried.  We put a pot on it--and clicked on each temperature setting.  210 works, 250 it goes off, and then 290 it goes on.  Both units have the same problem.  I am not happy because I REALLY wanted this unit.  It was on sale for $199, regularly $350.  However it is the only unit that has a knob in this price range.  All Clad and Viking units are over $400.  The knob was important as an 83 year old isn't going to like the electronic pad.

So unfortunately I will likely get this one below.  It's a great price on Amazon, but no dial. 

Max Burton 6000 1800-Watt Portable Induction Cooktop
Max Burton, 1800 watt, no dial $68.49 delivered.  As long as I was having problems, I may as well save some money too.   Water boils at 212, and the major complaint with these units is that the "tuning" isn't as fine as needed so it's easy to burn stuff.  I just couldn't risk going from 210 to 290. (max on these units is 450).

I'll let you know how it goes.  The reviews about these units are amazing...people love the speed and the ability to have an extra burner.

There is one caveat.  I have to check with my mother's doctor.  She has a pacemaker.  If it is a unipolar left-sided pacemaker I will be using it myself.  Otherwise induction would be great for her.   She has dementia and the idea that it cools quickly is a good thing.  (We are trying to ease her out of all cooking).

I'm off!   I hope to run outside with the camera and record the wonderful late spring in the yard here in the cloudy northwest!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I know I haven't posted much lately and I will soon write a post sharing a building project with you.    Springtime has been kind to our roses.  Is it because the weather in California was emulating the "Rose City" Portland, Oregon? (rain, rain, rain)

We've grown roses over the past 30 years.  I've gotten tired of the hybrid teas, in favor of floribundas and David Austin roses.  The last project involved planting over 100 roses last spring, and this spring was a delight:
"Golden Celebration" blooms in waves.  It has a light scent.  For a wonderful heavier scent I prefer "Jude the Obscure".
"Jude The Obscure" is a typical Austin rose, cupped flower.  I love it, it has a wonderful scent, many petals.

"Molineux" blooms all summer long.

David Austin "Golden Celebration" roses along driveway

David Austin "Golden Celebration"
In case you hadn't noticed, I like planting similar colors together.  The front of the house has yellow roses.  I didn't count on the Calif. sun fading the blooms so quickly--that doesn't happen in Washington.  The west side of the house has a pink rose garden, the back is all white, and I'm planning on adding red roses to the gate area in the front.  I like the combination of the yellow roses, blooming lavender, and spots of red roses.

Beautiful tree rose at Stanford Mall in Palo Alto.  My guess is "Just Joey", which blooms like crazy.  The mall flowers were wonderful.  What a beautiful garden to enjoy in a mall!

I wish my flower beds looked this good!  Photographed a visiting shopper from med. school, YAY!

Great poppies!
I'll go charge the battery to my camera and photograph some wonderful spring shots in Vancouver today.  Spring is a month late, so I'm enjoying April blooms now.

A sneak peek at our project is below.

The "Before" shot of the casita we are building for my parents.  Coming soon:  progress photos!
Have a Happy Saturday!