I know that you will think I’ve come unhinged, but we really are expecting snow. Three to five inches and my sanity is, seriously, hanging by a thread. I told Bill last week, “When people ask how I am, I am going to say, ‘I am not fine.’ Because I’m not.” So I have retreated a bit to small, dark spaces and started thinking about the bathroom that we recently finished in the basement. I kept the original turquoise sink and toilet because, well, they’re turquoise and what could be more fabulous? Now I get to paint the walls.
This page from a recent Serena & Lily catalogue caught my eye. I thought this might be a clever way to use the four-hundred-and-fifty-two sample jars of paint that I have languishing in my basement.
Then, somewhere trolling the internet, I ran across an image of Cecil Beaton’s powder room and, truly, I cannot imagine anything more charming than guests tracing their hands on the wall.
I had asked the boys (it is the basement, so mostly their domaine and their crowd) what they thought about my painting frames around squares of chalkboard paint and then their friends could draw their own pictures on the walls. “They wouldn’t do anything crude would they? Naughty?” I asked. All three, in three different exchanges said, “Yeah, mom, of course they would.” And I thought with annoyance not for the first time, “Girls wouldn’t.”
So I’ve settled on something in-between. I think I am going to paint replicas of some of my favorite paintings, something of an Abstract Expressionists hall of fame, and leave a few blank with the tempting chalkboard centers. Naughtiness be damned.
I’m following up on a few reader’s questions here so there is no need to hunt back through comments. The color of that small hall is Benjamin Moore’s Tyler Taupe. The painted chest in that piece was at Mission Road Antique Mall, but the dealer is Barbara Farmer who also has a shop, Parrin & Co., at 45th and State Line.
I did “Gracie” my dining room walls; you can see the results here.
And, how long did the powder room take? Hmmm… Painting the top part was easy – two hours, say. I spent long stretches over two days measuring the Greek key. Two to three hours? Likely. Then, the painting went pretty fast. Probably another two hours. (Notice how two hours measuring was long and two hours painting was fast? Life is like that.)
As far as effort in relation to results, I would say both the powder room and the dining room (and even painting the small hall twice) made more sense than the ridiculous amount of time I spent laying out these paint palettes for the rooms of my (still nameless) house. But it’s rainy and my eldest has been sick since Friday and I have loads of tiresome things to do, so it was a welcome diversion.
Image, top, my master bedroom paint colors, which all happen to be Benjamin Moore.
I love magazines. Magazines have played match-maker between me and product for years and if you think it’s nothing more than an unhealthy pusher-addict relationship, well it’s not. (Though I did have a conversation with a friend recently as we both described the familiar rush of getting something good and we were flushed and animated describing the feeling as our breakfast companion looked on in dismay.)
Addictions aside, the February issue of House Beautiful
sent me to the keyboard clicking last week to check out Sara Story’s line of wallpaper. It didn’t take long to email an image to Bill for our eldest’s bathroom (a nudge to a small, but stalled project.) Hatch
, above, strikes just the right note and allows me to use Hadley’s Trixie for the basement bathroom alleviating my concern about wanting it for both.
Having checked a boy’s need off the list (though, honestly, he has no care of wallpaper) I clicked a little more. There is a nook in my kitchen by the backdoor. A nook that holds the pantry with its dry goods and leashes. A nook that holds the chalkboard with its invitations and schedules. A nook where there is usually a large puddle on the floor where someone has upset Rosie’s bowl and left the water to dry in the sun that comes in through the window. I often think that for a space I have to visit so regularly it could offer a little more joy. That in the midst of all of its usefulness, it could provide a lift.
What could be more charming when scrounging for cereal or clipping the lead or turning the lock than finding Story’s Kimono or Dragon? Right now I can think of nothing more delightful than these combinations of red and yellow and green.
All images used without permission, but with good intent, from Sara Story Design. The papers are available through Holland & Sherry.