Blocks, Colors, Stripes, Oh My, Oh My

July 18, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, Stairwell   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

Something hasn’t been right in the stairwell since I painted the steps.

I sat at the base of the stairs looking upwards for awhile Friday evening trying to place my angst. I was also feeling sick, and being under the weather like that sometimes make me second-guess and over-analyze my home improvement decisions. What I was seeing was nothing but overwhelming:

Gallery unhappiness.

Believe it or not, I think I was smack-dab-in-the-middle of making the situation worse. Sure, the flowers were pretty, and I had swapped and added a few frames to the wall on the right, but I was also busy-busy-busy extending the gallery up the stairwell to the wall beside the second set of stairs. That gallery was nearing completion and reveal done. I hung this new frame that displays the baby starfish from this mid-century garage sale mounted on a paint chip:

New garage sale frame displaying a starfish mounted on a paint chip.

Sick-headed, the stairwell made me feel like I was swimming in color and pattern. The original gallery colors brought in my favorite laughing and energetic oranges (you can read about my love for those paints here and here), but the stair stripes were muted shades of gold and gray, and never incorporated the more vibrant colors that were already at home in the space. It also didn’t help that the art itself wasn’t muted, so it was a boxy-bright-art/dark gold wall/muted staircase mess, which was enough to make me lay down on the couch, obsess over my color problem, and watch 7 episodes of The New Adventures Of Old Christine (of which I only have 10 more to go in the series, booyah). Patterns, squares, colors, patterns, colors, squares, ahhhh, it was becoming one of those nightmares you’re transported into when you’re on NiteQuil.

A few thoughts/solutions ran through my head during that time, like… maybe I should paint the stairs? Or the wall? Or both?

The interim solution that I decided upon during the episode where Barb gets detained as an illegal alien was to remove all of the art. No bringing up the paint rollers out of frustration, no going to Home Depot to buy the first color I saw for the stairs, no breaking all of the frames and putting them out for this morning’s trash. Dramatic much? I’m really not. Sick brain, baby. I thought up every plausible solution, but removing the frames seemed least drastic and easiest to do.

Without the art, I immediately got that gut-wrenching feeling that you get when you’re packing up your house/apartment/room to move on to a new pad. You know that feeling, I know you do. The staircase also looked barren and lonely and… wide.

Gallery gone.

What’s next? I still don’t know, but it’s going to require more paint, and if something goes back up on the stairwell wall it needs to let the stairs steal the show. I’ll find a new place for the art, and at that point I can show you some of the new framed projects I’ve been working on.

P.S. Feelin’ better, by the way. Sick brain was just Friday. The weekend was fabulous, and I hope yours was too.


Five Years Of Jade

July 16, 2011   //  Posted in: Casual Celebrations, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

We’re about to get out and have summer fun with family all day, and I hope you do too, but first, just a quick little note on this fine, fine, Saturday. I woke up reminiscing about something special: My move to Rochester, which happened 5-years ago today.

Here I am with my sister (affectionally referred to as) Anniepants outside of my first apartment. She’s done cool things in the last 5 years too, like graduating high school, college, and going on to become a real-stinkin’-life cowgirl. You can read her blog too if you want.

Anniepants + I, first day in Rochester 2006.

My 5-year-iverssary also means that I started my first career-driven job 5 years ago tomorrow. Wowzers.

And totaled my Dad’s car 5 years ago from Tuesday. That’s a story for another day on another blog.

Anyways, I moved out of my parents home near Buffalo, NY and into my first post-college apartment on July 16th, 2006. It was 90-degrees, and the house beside the Memorial Art Gallery was un-air-conditioned, and nothing but gross and shady… as you’d expect all slumlord-owned last-minute-sublets to be. You see, I moved here quick-as-a-whip for my first real job that needed me to start pronto (the same gig that I left two months ago), so when it came to housing, I had to take what I could find. Luckily, I transitioned easily and I’m still friends with the girl who graciously took me in.

I also still have some of the random goodies I acquired in the short 1.5 months that I lived there. A dresser (that I rehabbed + really need to rehab once more), a floor lamp (that still stands in my living room), and a sweet little Jade plant that was in much need of a home.

I even found a photo of the Jade, circa February 2007, at which time I had been caring for the plant for nearly 6 months.

Baby Jade, circa February 2007.

Aside from ambitiously-achieved advances and changes in living situations, this little plant is the best literal measure of my Rochester life. So, I made it a growth chart in documentation of its advancement.

Jade's growth chart.

When I installed the open shelving in the kitchen last December, the plant in its white IKEA pot was short enough to fit underneath the shelves, which is how I so easily recall its recent growth spurt, if you call 2″ over 7 months a spurt. The new branch was a surprise growth from last spring. So cute, I just want to pinch it’s rubbery little leaves.

I do wonder how tall it’ll grow and whether or not it will widen out at any point. I’d like to see it grow to be 3 feet wide by 3 feet tall, and I’m putting no limits on it’s abilities (just like the friends and coworkers who took me under their wing 5 years ago), so maybe I’ll really get to observe it in that state… by the time I’m 70.

Happy Saturday.

An Orla Kiely Obsessivist’s Upcycled Napkins

July 15, 2011   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  7 responses

I never quite know what I’m going to find in Grandma’s Attic, which I like to position as a cutesy salvage shop and not what it really is, as in literally… my Grandma’s attic. I venture-slash-sneak up there from time to time when she hosts holiday events, and spend some time rummaging through lost and forgotten about items, treasures, vintage tools, and random textiles (to capture for my own pad, which she’s generally fine with); it was on my last visit that I swiped this pair of never-been-used yellow linen napkins.

Brand new bright yellow napkins.

She has the cutest taste, and I can’t imagine why the set of 2 was never used for a sweet little backyard picnic or at the kitchen table for dinner with Grandpa, but they clearly were forgotten about beneath a pile of junk, complete with original price tags. I’d date them back to at least the early 1980’s because (according to Wikipedia) Sattler’s Department Stores in Buffalo closed down in 1982. Meaning that these napkins are older than me. And here they were, never unfolded buried in a pile of stuff.

Grandma wouldn't pass up a sale. You go, Grandma.

And judging on the markdown, she got a good deal. Sale shoppin’. I’m pretty sure this is where I get my thrifting habits. Go, Grandma, go.

If it had been a set of 4 or 8 I probably would have saved all of them for use on my own deck, and maybe that’s why she never put them to use, but with just two on hand, I decided to make something neat from them.

The only issue was the yellow. I really like my dark yellows and golds, you know, but the screaming bright yellow was too much. No big deal, I had a 50% off coupon for JoAnn’s (since I had already bought up as many succulents as I could stomach for this wreath project) and I stopped in to peruse the fabric dye section.  I was actually surprised to see more varieties than just the gool ol’ RIT dye, and a wider selection of colors at that. I guess I haven’t bought fabric dye in a long time, although I have toyed with the idea of re-dying some old jeans to make them dark again. Only wanting to tint the fabric subtly to subdue the almost-flourescent brightness of the original napkins, I brought home the gold ochre shade by iDye.

Gold Ochre dye by iDyeHappy to report that the dye was the easiest, least messy dye I’ve ever, ever, ever used. Because I have a top-load washer, I filled it with just enough water for allow the pre-washed napkins to float in, and then dissolved the self-contained packet in the water before adding the fabric to the machine. I followed iDye’s recommendations to allow a second wash cycle before letting the rinse cycle activate, and then washed regularly before drying the finished napkins in the sunshine on the deck.

The change in color looks subtle to you, I’m sure of that – but in reality the toned down color ended up being much more aligned with my gold-infested color palette.

Subdued yellow, post-dye job.The evolving plan was to use the 16″ square napkin as a canvas, painting something striking or meaningful to hang in my stairwell. It did take a few weeks to come up with something that I liked the concept of and could DIY with the paints I had in-house.

The decided pattern would be the simple but lovely, classic Orla Kiely print. If you know me, you know I drool over her products, and own one of her clutches, computer bags, and totes. Obsessed, I’ll tell you, and I’ll also point out that many, many products were on sale on her site recently.

Measured into three columns, I started with a light gray stem and proceeded with hand painting the leaves slowly over the course of a few days. My strategy was to paint a small leaf, and expand it slowly in every direction until it’s proportions were right on.

Beginning the Orla Kiely pattern on the yellow napkin canvas.I liked it more and more as it grew, although I’m sure Orla would call me out on some creative liberty discrepancies, like putting two colors too close together on the vine. Whoopsy and whatevs.

Half way done with the DIY Orla Kiely print.

No harm. It still turned out awesomely if I do say so myself. It’s going to be part of an updated wall gallery that hopefully will be done over the weekend. See that piece of blue tape? Blue tape = work in progress.

Painted napkin. Love for the Orla Kiely.

I have grand plans to build a square custom frame for it at some point, but to give it a test run in in the gallery, I just applied using some too-cute pink thumb tacks that I had on hand. And maybe it’ll stay like that.

Cute pink tacks as an interim hanging mechanism.

P.S. Any of you wild O.K. lovers out there? Is there a self-help group that I should link up with?