Sunday, September 22, 2013

Castle Tours - The Foyer

Hello, Viewers and Visitors!

We are now approaching the end of this Castle Tour, and as you pass through the vestibule I should like to point out a few highlights.

Here is a question for you: Which color will best unite raspberry red (parlor), lilac (the original color of the home office), and bright pink (kitchen), all of which congregate here in the foyer? Why, it is obvious – bright lime green, of course! 

The purple, stripey IKEA rug was obviously a fortuitous bonus.
The metal wall baskets hold gloves in the winter.

Being that we live on the top floor, I have been able to unobtrusively(?) annex the stairway outside our apartment for my own decorative purposes. It all started with the black hamper, a cast-off/gift from a friend. It now holds picnic gear, and lives on the landing. (Yes, it gets in everybody’s way, and yes, it gets on His Lordship’s nerves, but – hey, we all have to suffer for Art.) 

With its pink flower detail, it recalled the theme of my tole trays that I had been collecting over a number of years, but didn’t previously have a spot for. After that, everything went very fast, like in a blur…

The black line on the wall was painted there long before my time, probably to provide a visual balance to the black banister. I was never thrilled with it, until I found these black floral wall decals from – you guessed it – IKEA. All of a sudden, the line became an asset.

The view down from my front door
The mirror had been sitting in my basement for a couple of years. I spray painted it black; so also the small shelf underneath. Then, taking my life in my own hands, I arranged some crates and planks and a ladder into a reasonably solid configuration, and clambered, terrified and in a cold sweat, up under the eaves to hang my trays. Happily, I lived to tell the story. 

Hanging the other stuff was child’s play after that. The “curtain” is an old crochet throw, that suddenly became useful again.
And the view up, towards the door - the pink kitchen can be glimpsed...
The still-growing tole tray collection in all its glory

... and on the other walls, more roses in other shapes!

Above and below: my two foremost prize-winning trays - due, of course, to the pleasing pinkness and overall pastel color scheme...

We here at Castle Tours are delighted that you chose to join us - we hope you have enjoyed yourselves, and look forward to seeing you soon again!

Regards from Rosebud!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Castle Tours - The Bed Chamber: Later Stages

Hello, Viewers and Visitors!
Are we ready to continue the tour? Please don't lie on the bed!

The turning point for inspiration, finally, was the wall color that I saw in a friend’s house (in one of the daughters’ bedrooms), which is half-way between light pink and lavender. I started with a shade called “Pink Taffy“ by Benjamin Moore, that contrasted beautifully with the pink cabinet, but I realized almost immediately that, spread over four entire walls, it was a little too dark – it became intrusive rather than relaxing, which is what a bedroom ought to be. 

So, back to the store for new paint: “Bunny Nose Pink” which is lighter, and proved exactly right for me. However, not wanting to lose the effect of the pink cabinet against the darker paint, I left that wall alone, and repainted only the three other walls. Not what I would plan or recommend, since it isn’t even a proper accent wall, but somehow it satisfies me – I get more colors to enjoy. The walls make me delirious with joy – the color is pretty, fun and romantic, rather girly, I suppose, but not so much as to suffocate His Lordship; and it comes from the cool end of the spectrum, so it is calming and serene – even on a hot summer’s day, the south-west facing room has a balmy feeling. Every time I enter my sleeping chamber I draw a deep breath of rest and relief, and I think that is exactly what one wants from a bedroom.

Then off to IKEA (again?), whence I returned with a new curtain rod, two lime-green “Erik” file cabinets to use as bedside tables, two lime-green floor lamps for reading in bed, two plum-colored bedside rugs, and a gorgeously lime-green plastic chair – which I obviously would never have considered if it hadn’t been for the crazy color. These notes of green injected glorious contrast, and prevented the room from becoming too stodgy. I found two discounted Laura Ashley tablecloths with stripes and roses at HomeGoods, which I hung as curtains, and that completed the makeover for that year. 
The tablecloth curtains have rose bouquets on pale yellow and mint green stripes.
A first step towards improvement - the walls have been painted, bedside lamps and tables are in place;
a couple of textiles on the wall take the place of a non-existent head board.
There must always be frippery at hand. You hear me? Always!

The real break-through came when, in an 
Gäspa, Vinranka & Palmlilja playing nicely together.
("Colors may vary", as it says in the commercials...)
idle moment, I found myself wandering through IKEA again (what?!), and caught sight of the perfect bed linens. Gäspa sheet set in a shade of dark lilac with undertones of grey and brown; Vinranka embroidered sateen duvet covers and pillow cases in a similar, slightly paler and more explicitly lilac tint; and Palmlilja, another set of striped duvet/pillow covers in three delightful shades of purple: lilac, violet, and punch-in-the-eye – the somewhat reddish purple of an old bruise; additionally, some stripes in olive and chartreuse, which pick up the green accents in the room. All these linens work to perfection with the wall color, and reinforce the calm, cool, relaxing atmosphere.
The Way We Live Now...

The headboard took years to materialize. Ideally, in a larger room, I would have wanted something to supplant the gorgeous canopy that no longer fit our new bed, but the room is REALLY too small for king-size canopies and stuff, which would fill up the entire space. Plus the fact that His Lordship has an allergy not only to dust, but also to footboards or anything else that might prevent him from hanging his feet over the edge. Just a headboard was an acceptable compromise, and I ended up with this vintage-style one, which is pretty, but may possibly have turned out to be a bit of a compromise in itself – a little too much “country maiden” perhaps; I would like something that is romantic still, and yet a little more striking and dramatic.

Does His Lordship truly appreciate this little
vignette on his bedside table?
Do I want to know?
The reason for the lace curtain – beyond injecting the desired note of romance – is primarily to hide some nasty holes and cracks in the wall (after a failed attempt at putting up a coronet for some drama). Yes, I realize that there are more professional ways to go about it, with spackle and such, but I lack the skills – or at least I think I do. 

Ask His Lordship to help, you say? Well, let me put it like this: nobody in their right mind would let him loose with a hammer or a paint brush – or any other home-improvement tool for that matter. It would quickly transform into a home-deterioration tool.

(There seems to exist a home movie of my husband from the late fifties, when he was a toddler barely in his third year, sitting in his crib and happily minding his own business. Apparently, his father stuck a screwdriver in his son’s hand and started the camera. In two minutes flat, toddler-boy found all the screws and took the whole crib apart, laughing maniacally as it fell asunder about him. Demolition – he’s your man. Construction and repairs? Not so much.)

So I have a lace curtain – is that okay with you?

... And above is the current view from the vantage point of my pillow. The green thingamajig next to the window is a mystery to me: what is it? Is it just an ornament, or does it have some obscure function that I haven't been able to figure out yet? Any ideas?

It was dark green when I found it at a flea market for pennies, and I gave it a little more oomph with a partial, light spray of lime green.

The little green print from Papaya Art with a bird and a pink rose delights me every time I look at it.

Below these treasures is a little shelf thingie, probably once a tea trolley, which His Lordship found at the curb side and dragged home to have it made pink. Well done.

The tray on my side of the bed is a departure from my usual choice of black - to fit in with a growing collection of tole trays - but the pastel colors made it irresistible. The green undertone in the grey makes it a really perfect complement to these walls.

There is even the perfectly purple-toned water glass for those nightly sips - courtesy of IKEA. The vase, from the same purveyor, is really too modern in style for my taste, but the color was not to be resisted...

As you can see below, I am still searching for the perfect bed spread and the right bed skirt, but that's okay - there is often more thrill in the search for completion than in perfection achieved.

I can't help being a little proud of the Marie Antoinette costume I made for masquerading purposes.  It took months to get it ready - all the trimmings had to be sewn by hand - but every stitch was a pleasure.

The lace petticoat was made from two old bed ruffles; the fabrics came from discount stores for about $5 per yard; many of the trimmings I dug up from the depths of my boxes of odds and ends, and a few I bought; the only real splurge was the rhinestone trim around the neckline and front edge. It is stuffed with tulle for volume (it is larger in life than in the picture), and the thing weighs a ton - how did she do it?
The current configuration of the Pink Cabinet - it changes from time to time.

And finally, let me share a little trick with you that I invented in sheer desperation when I was hanging the lace curtain.

In the absence of a curtain rod or other proper hardware, I decided to just nail it in place. However, a bunch of exposed nails would look rather dismal, so I went searching in my boxes and found some pink, shimmery papier maché beads, left over from a craft project. I drove the nail through the hole in the bead, and then hammered it into the wall, and - voila! Looks cute.
Now, you there in the back - it is time to wake up! This concludes the Saga of the Bed Chamber - at least for now.

The slightly sad thing is that even though I really and truly love the way our bedroom looks right now, sometimes I still miss my girly dream…

But that’s marriage for you. Oh, well...

Regards from Rosebud!

PS: I have thought about it - the marriage is worth it!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Castle Tours - The Bed Chamber: Early Stages

Hello, Viewers and Visitors!

Gather round, everybody – there we are! If all you line up, we will now walk down the corridor towards the West Wing, and behold the Bed Chamber. Watch your step – the corridor is narrow!

This room has undergone a few changes over the years. First, when I moved in, it was the Single Girl’s Dream of Romance. The walls were bright candy pink, the curtains were all lace and roses, and the canopy bed was really a dream come true! It came from the Spiegel catalogue, was an absolute find at just under $400, and the perfect embodiment of all my longings. Never in my life, before or after, have I had a room that so fulfilled my girlish fancy.
A slightly crooked close-up of the bed canopy, decorated with fairy lights and rose garlands.

The throw I made from an old satin bedspread - I  lined it with fake fur,
which was wide enough to make a 5" edge all around it.
Dreamy luxury for a modest sum...

Frippery galore, like a real boudoir - those were the days...
After almost a year and a half of this aesthetic bliss His Lordship moved in and perforce the room had to change. In all fairness – we had gotten married the day before, so I guess he figured he had a right… The full-size bed gave way to a king-size one, which was really too big for the 11 x 12 foot room, but we reasoned that it was better to be cramped in the room than in the bed. Consequently, with the pink cabinet moving in the following year, only small strips of floor remained available for walking purposes, but we are comfortable at night, which is what really counts.

Oh, yes – the Pink Cabinet: There are many favorite things in my world, and among them is my vintage china display cabinet (yes, both the china and the cabinet are vintage). The cabinet was a gift from a very dear friend, who moved to a somewhat smaller (but nicer) house some years ago. She felt there was no place in her new, slimmer, living/dining room for this breakfront, which had originally belonged to her late Mother, so she asked me if I wanted it. What a question! 

The Pink Cabinet - just what every bedroom needs...
It came with a shiny, brown, wood finish, so my first move was to make it pink. Obviously! Now, as you know, there was never any space for a breakfront in my living/dining room either, so I put it in the bedroom. Here it houses all manner of things, from the above-mentioned china to His Lordship’s socks. (Except for those he likes to keep lying about on the floor.)

It took a good while for me to reconfigure – myself? – the room? – my new life? after we got married, and for quite some time we just made do with a set-up that was much less than ideal. His Lordship had violent sneezing attacks every morning, and I finally realized that it was due to the frills and fluff gathering dust. Something needed to be done, but I couldn’t find the right inspiration for a make-over. The pink cabinet against against a background of pink walls was just, not too much pink – never that! – but boring, somehow; contrast was needed, depth and interest, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted.

The decline has set in - neither pretty nor functional...

The sheets seemed exciting at first, but after a while they started to have an 
undesirable effect on my blood pressure. High time for improvement...
As you can see, something had to happen, but what? Join me next week for the make-over!

Regards from Rosebud!