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Posts Tagged ‘decorating’

True confession: I don’t miss being a homeowner at all.

Turns out I despise yardwork. It’s like laundry: It never ends. Except it’s worse than laundry, because it has to be completed outside in the 90-degree heat, and it never looks as good as it could unless you plow thousands of dollars into chemicals, machinery and just plain starting over with new landscaping. And I can at least wear my clothes, whereas I only entered the yard to maintain it. Futility at its finest.

I also don’t miss the feeling of having never done enough, knowing that you should find a stylish chair to go in the corner opposite the couch so you can have that conversational nook you always read about. Only whenever anybody comes over you end up chatting at the kitchen table over coffee or cocktails or wine, because everyone knows that’s where the best conversations happen.

The constant pressure to be refurbishing something, with an eye toward styling it to suit the tastes of some unknown future buyer, who prefers creme-colored walls and, uh-oh, your color selection was closer to a light beige? No thanks.

The awful realization that the one thing tying me to a city I need to leave is a house I don’t want anymore? Deliciously non-existent.

I suppose I’ll get back into the real estate business one day, but there are no guarantees. I’ve tasted freedom, and it is sweet.

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Say what you will about Pier 1 Imports, but their director’s chairs will last FOREVER if properly maintained (by which I mean not having children or dogs in the house).

A little too long, really. We bought a set of four about 20 years ago, after we figured out we didn’t have enough money for the kitchen table we loved AND the chairs that went with it. We planned to replace them within a few years, only they never were really worse for the wear, and picking out furniture is HARD, you guys.

So they stayed. Only the little plastic tips started wearing out, and proved nearly impossible to replace (thanks for that bit of built-in obsolescence, Pier 1). Soon, we only had three functional chairs. After the move to Atlanta, that number dwindled to two.

IKEA to the rescue. A little over $400 (which is about what we paid for the on-sale table at a fancier Swedish furniture store two decades ago) and we had four perfectly functional, and quite stylish, dining chairs with replaceable covers. IKEA items run the gamut from flimsy to unbelievably sturdy, and these appear to be running toward the sturdy. No squeaking, no rocking, no signs of instability.

Plus, just look at them: all clean lines and comfort.

Meanwhile, two director’s chairs lurk in the storage room downstairs, awaiting a movie production company or a couple of extra guests.

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The Bodum Bistro Universal Knife Block: definitely on my list of Favorite Things right now.

The new cookware we bought a couple of years ago came with a set of really groovy, really sharp knives.

I began using them in place of the set of less exciting knives that have been getting duller by the minute in their wooden block ever since someone gave them to us nearly two decades ago.

Where do you keep loose knives, especially when you want them to keep their edge? I was reduced to keeping these in the silverware drawer and trying to keep them from butting into each other.

I really like the look of a magnetic knife rack, but I don’t trust Yang, despite his advanced age, not to go smacking shiny knives off the wall in the middle of the night.

Amazon.com to the rescue. I found the Bodum Bistro Universal Knife Block during my search for a┬ásolution. It’s STUNNING, and it takes up next to NO room on the countertop. I love the bold color (it was, at some point, also available in black, orange and lime green), and the functionality can’t be beat. It contains hundreds of narrow plastic sticks, which allow the knives (and scissors) to easily slide into place. My largest knife is too tall to drop in vertically, but it goes in quite neatly at a slight angle.

A view from the top: Although it currently houses only three knives and a pair of scissors, the Bodum knife block has plenty of room for more occupants.

At nearly $50, it was a bit of an indulgence, but what’s better than an indulgence that actually solves a problem?

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So taking pictures of framed artwork hanging on the wall? Nearly impossible. Between reflections and off-color lighting, I’m sunk.

This is a postcard from EN Japanese Brasserie in Manhattan. We went there for the sake tasting and stayed for the fresh tofu and black sesame ice cream.

Usually, restaurant postcards feature a photo of the restaurant from the street or maybe a shot of a few dishes — maybe something for the scrapbook, but nothing you want to frame and hang on the wall.

I had plans for this postcard the minute I saw it. No writing, no photos. Just a vivid 4-by-6-inch image.

Believe me when I say that its bright red lines contrast brilliantly with the deep olive walls of my downstairs bathroom. I don’t know why this camera wants the walls to be beige.

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If I insisted on keeping tons of ridiculous pillows tossed all over the couch and chairs, these would be those ridiculous pillows. Luckily Star Provisions is a four-hour drive away, so it’s too late to change my mind and go pick them up.

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I have a ramshackle collection of holiday decorating accessories — when you don’t put up a tree due to extraordinarily inquisitive cats, you make do with whatever fits on the fireplace mantel. You also don’t buy many new items, since that mantel’s not getting any bigger.

I couldn’t let this golden burst of sparkle sit on the shelf, however, when I found it at the New Leash on Life Marketplace today. Only 25 cents, too, since all Christmas items were half off.

I’m not entirely sure it’s going back in the Christmas box after the holidays are over.

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I FINALLY hemmed the IKEA curtains that I’ve owned for nearly five years. I had to, because they were puddling on the spice cabinet that I inherited earlier this summer when my grandmother died. And not puddling in an HGTV kind of way, but more in a slovenly truTV kind of way.

By hemmed, of course, I mean that I ironed on the strip of fusion tape that came with the curtains. I bought red curtains at IKEA. You think I’m going to sew?

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Several years ago, a good friend offered me an old pie safe that belonged to his sister, who had recently died. Honored by his offer, and in dire need of a little extra cabinet space in my humble kitchen, I accepted. This unique piece did kitchen duty for several years until I moved to Huntsville, where I found a home with plenty of cabinet space. The pie safe accepted its new assignment as eccentric bookshelf/knickknack area.

One thing that always bothered me about the pie safe was the drawer on the bottom. It didn’t belong there. It wasn’t made out of the same aged wood, and it was much more stylized than any other part of the cabinetry. It seemed like it was added as an afterthought, perhaps as a replacement for another drawer that had fallen apart.

I bought new drawer pulls for it at Anthropologie a few months ago, but all they did was emphasize its non-belongingness. Another plan was in order.

Yesterday, I finally fixed it. I toured the garage until I found a piece of suitably aged wood (my garage is, indeed, full of surprises) that only needed one cut to fit the drawer opening. After worming my way underneath the pie safe, I secured the board from the back with three beige deck screws (you can’t see them).

Voila! It’s as if the mismatched drawer never existed.

My love of Anthropologie’s cabinet hardware collection was satisfied, as I installed two bright, bubbly pulls on the pie safe doors.

It’s always been a fun piece, but I think I’ve managed to update it without changing its overall character.

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I found this today behind the giant bathroom mirror I’m replacing. Who wallpapers an entire half bathroom with pastel-striped wallpaper? I don’t care if it WAS the ’80s. The room has a VERY high ceiling and that is a LOT OF STRIPES.

And the renovator who hung a mirror over it instead of taking it down with the rest? Let’s never meet in a dark alley.

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Meet Franz. I bought him for $2 at an estate sale I attended just so I could get a look at the interior of some townhomes in my neighborhood. He looked lonely and in danger of being shipped off to a thrift store with the rest of the unsellables. Franz was hand-sketched in charcoal. He deserved better.

Plus, let’s just admit it, I decorate like a lunatic.

Franz hangs by my desk at home, though he’s not so much inspiration as he is entertainment. I just like him, even though I’m really not sure what sort of animal he is. I’m not even sure how I decided he was German.

I thought of Franz today as I was dropping off a few things at a thrift store, items that were cute and in good shape, but items that I just could not bring myself to love.

I decided a few years ago that open space was my decorating style, and I’ve been decluttering my way to that goal ever since. Gone are the knickknacks that someone else chose for me, the extra set of everyday dishes from my grandmother’s house, the candleholder collection that accumulated after a few people saw me burning candles at a couple of parties.

The things that stay are the things I use and/or simply love. The best part about bringing the rest to a thrift store isn’t the empty space left behind in a closet or on a shelf, but the idea that someone else WILL love these things.

Every item that I give away may become somebody’s Franz. How awesome is that?

My favorite thrift store, by the way, is A New Leash on Life Marketplace at 707 Andrew Jackson Way in Huntsville. It’s a cute little store, filled with a nicer selection than you find in larger thrift stores, and there’s sometimes a couple of adoptable animals there for a visit. A New Leash on Life is a non-profit animal rescue group that houses adoptable animals in approved foster homes.

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