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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chipper-ed Up Room

Once upon a time, last August, I was about to move into a new house. After renting for a year, I was SO excited to have more room, put as many holes in the walls as I wanted, and paint the walls colors. Decorating has never been my forte, so I hired someone to help me, a talented lady named Holly Mathis. We put our heads together and formulated a plan. Then, on closing day, the deal didn't close. A week later, my dad died unexpectedly. Reeling, and in no shape to continue the house hunting, we signed another lease, two doors down.
It meant another year of living in a drab rental, and at that point, I couldn't really bring myself to care much about wall colors and curtains and decorating accessories anyway. I told Holly I'd get back in touch with her in a year or so when we were able to buy a house. But she encouraged me to live in the present, and to make our place, no matter how temporary, a home.
She put together this amazing mood board for me. I was bowled over, both by her talent, and her insight. I've always enjoyed creative endeavors, but for some reason I'd put home decor into this 'other' category, associating it with the shallow and superficial. But as I looked at that mood board, with the bright, cheery colors, the butterflies (symbols of rebirth), and the caption, "Living is Never Temporary"- I smiled, and teared up. She got it, she got me, she got where my life was, and she knew how to use her talent to cheer and uplift me. A great example of the domestic arts Wendell Berry speaks of that he promises will "enrich our lives and make us glad". (Yes I'm working in that quote again, it never gets old)

But enough with the words, how about some pictures? Here's a before, showing how my front room looks straight into the tiny, ugly kitchen:
Ta Da! Kitchen, what kitchen? Now it's just a cheery curtain, in a fabric called "Chipper". And the top of the piano is no longer just a place to throw miscellanea that doesn't have a home:
Looking out the front windows. This is about as far as I could get in decorating on my own, the red pillows match the red curtains, but for the life of me I wouldn't be able to put another color with that, much less another print:
Check that out, three separate prints! I never would have been able to put those together, but I love how it looks. I retro-fitted a slipcover from Pottery Barn, and made the curtains and pillows myself. Actually, the curtains still have straight pins in them, but you can't see that in the picture can you? I'm still working on that space above the couch, but it's overall a huge improvement:

Ignore the cellophane wrapping on the furniture, I won't tell you how long after the move that was still hanging around. This was the perfect corner for my sewing machine, but as cute as that little turquoise machine is, it's such a lonely pop of color in that sea of white:
This is my favorite part of the room now. The chalkboard contact paper on the closet doors breaks up the white, and captivates every kid that comes over. It's mighty handy for me when I'm sewing by the seat of my pants, making things up as I go along- I love being able to grab a piece of chalk and sketch out ideas, calculate yardage, etc. And thanks to that beautiful Aviary fabric, my machine is no longer the lone splash of color. Those are supposed to be bulletin boards, but I don't know if I'll be able to cover that fabric up:
There are still a few things I want to add or tweak (I want to paint my sewing machine table and chair, any suggestions on what color?), but it's amazing what a few yards of fabric, a slipcover, and some contact paper has done for this room. You hardly notice the walls are all white, and I haven't done anything I can't reverse when we move out. I love to be in it, my children love to be in it, and most importantly, it just feels like me.