Monday, February 9, 2015

Chinoiserie Chic Art: Kathleen Millay Portrait by Joseph Stella

The guest room is coming together at a snail's pace, but I can finally cross "hang art" off of my to-do list. I'm so happy, because I've been waiting so long to display this piece! Five years ago, I completed an internship at Cheekwood and received a large collection of beautiful and rare prints as a parting gift. For five long years, they sat in the back of my closet. Last weekend, I finally framed and hung this beautiful portrait of author Kathleen Millay. Yes, Kathleen is Edna St. Vincent Millay's sister. 

The original is in Cheekwood's permanent collection. Isn't Kathleen fierce and sexy? I love her piercing gaze!
Kathleen Millay by  Joseph Stella. Circa 1923/1924.
I apologize for the reflection in the glass; it's hard to photograph framed art!
The print is an odd size (22'' by 28''), and I couldn't afford custom framing, so I DIY'd it. I found a 22 by 28 backless frame on clearance at Michael's for $20. I had a mat custom cut for $7.50 from an Amazon seller, The shipping was $9, which stung a bit, but it was still cheaper than custom framing. Last, I bought a framing kit with a 24'' by 36'' sheet of plexiglass and backing board. I believe it was $10, but I can't find the receipt now. Derp.

The frame was originally black, and it drew attention away from the art itself. It needed to be a softer color, and some shine wouldn't hurt. So last week I applied multiple layers of Rub 'n' Buff, over three days, to make it silver. On Saturday I cut the plexi and backing board with a straightedge and razor blade and assembled everything. It's not an archival, fancy framing job. The backing board is held in place with masking tape! Yes, you can laugh at me. I'm laughing, too! But it looks great from the front, and the print is safer here than in my closet. Since it cost MUCH less than professional framing, I'm pleased with the result.

In the future, I'll avoid the plexi/backing board kits. The backing board was just a piece of cardboard! It wasn't acid free or archival. It was exactly like any old piece of a cardboard box. Next time I'll buy plexiglass, cut it to fit, and use a piece of cardboard box as a backer. Come to think of it, the cardboard box they shipped the mat in is the perfect size for this, and it (slightly) justifies the shipping price.

I'm amazed by how much better the room looks with a single piece of art on the wall. Next I'd like to hang something on the wall over the bed (but what?), replace the godawful light fixture that came with the house, and sew pillow shams and throw pillows. When the weather warms up and I can work outside, I'll paint the nightstands and dresser. It's so hard to pace myself--I want to do it all now!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Design Trends I'd Like To See Disappear...

... and no, I'm not talking about the ubiquitous chevron print! Lately, I've noticed that certain design trends aren't just overdone. Some are actually giving me headaches and ruining my nights out. And that's not good, functional design. I love the vintage industrial look, but I'm starting to see why some of these things were originally designed for factory use, not residential use.

1. Exposed light bulbs in cages
Yes, they look cool when you're shopping online. In reality, though, the unfiltered light burns my eyes and eventually gives me a headache. And the cage casts bizarre and unflattering shadows all over the room. I'd like to see more interesting light fixtures with glass globes or shades that filter the light.

Industrial Cage Light and Possini Euro Open Cage Glass Pendant Light

2. Hard surfaces with no sound absorbers
The restaurants and bars in Nashville are full of metal, concrete, brick... and nothing soft to absorb sound. I'm so tired of going out to places that are loud because sound won't stop bouncing off the hard surfaces! I have a librarian's quiet voice, and when no one can hear me, I give up and spend the evening in silence. At this point, I'd rather stay in, and that's a bummer. The problem would be so easy to fix with soft banquettes, draperies, rugs, or even wall hangings to absorb sound. Basically, I'd like to see more textiles and soft furnishings in restaurants.

At least it's undeniably beautiful. Design by Brinkworth
3. Reclaimed wood everywhere, just because
First of all, SPLINTERS. Ouch. Yes, reusing building materials is a nice idea. But I'm not convinced that using reclaimed wood is the greenest option. Because, HELLO! It's WOOD. Wood can be composted, which would save all the pesky environmental problems of shipping it. And since this look is so trendy, soon it's going to look about as cool as 1970s wood paneling. I'd rather see reclaimed wood used in smaller projects that aren't built-in and semi-permanent. Like furniture.

What design trends do you hope will go away soon?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Update: A Gallery Wall and Mirror in the Dining Room

Right now I'm chipping away at the most dull items on my 2015 to-do list. Hello, new lampshade! And goodbye, ceiling light fixture that looks like a tiny penis! Wait, what?! More about those things later, because I'm dreaming of more exciting and photogenic things, like new dining room chairs. 

Speaking of photogenic things, I *finally* got myself a proper tripod and remote for my camera so I can take better photos of the house. For months, I've been putting off blog posts because Mrs. Shaky Hands couldn't take great indoor photos. No longer!

I love this picture because you can see the subtle carved pattern on
the tabletop, and how it echoes the pattern on the front of the buffet. 
In the dining room, I decided against the Spanish Revival chairs I wanted to hunt down a few months back. Womp womp. Big, fancy, rustic Spanish pieces would have looked great with Aunt Judy's Spanish style cabinet in the corner, but they would have have clashed with everything else. For now, Aunt Judy's cabinet will be the lone Spanish piece that (hopefully) adds interest and keeps everything from being too matchy.

The cabinet is packed with board games, and we still have to stick a few
games on this floor underneath it. We have a board game addiction, I tell you.
While I was focused on chairs, Keith was focused on the walls. He actually asked me to hang some art, because the blankness was bothering him. So first, we hung a big honkin' mirror over the bar. If you're trying to hunt down a BIG mirror, this one will do the job. It's 43 inches wide! Yeah. This is the Junius Mirror by Uttermost. It has a lightly smoked finish, so it's a bit darker than the walls, but it still bounces light around the room. And the round, gold painted frame echoes the round gold frame on a piece of art just around the corner from it. I love the way it looks in here. Also, we never could have afforded it at retail price, and I want to thank the Uttermost dealer we know who kindly charged us the wholesale price. You know who you are, and I owe you a huge hug!

Much later, we hung a neat grid of gallery style frames on the other wall. I'd wanted to do this for months, but buying so many frames at once is expensive. Fast forward to two weeks ago. I was cleaning out a cabinet, and I found two Target gift cards. Where did they come from? I don't know! I felt like I hit the jackpot, and I went out and bought these frames from Target's Room Essentials line. Then I found pictures online of fancy trays by iBride, cropped the images, and printed them out. I love the way they look, but not paying for art makes  me feel shady. Is that shady?

This room is becoming exactly what I hoped it would be. The black trim and white walls look clean and modern, and the warm colored wood is so welcoming and... well... warm. But the chairs are so, so uncomfortable! Those spindly chair backs always press into the wrong place on my spine. If we sit there playing board games for a while, it actually starts to hurt. I'd like to get chairs that are shorter and less prominent. I feel like the chairs are the first thing you see when you look at the room! 

I've been ogling the Rustic Dining Chair from West Elm online, but I wondered if the chair looked cheap in person. So yesterday, I stopped by the local West Elm shop to examine it in person. It's beautiful! West Elm's photographer didn't do it justice, I tell you. And on top of that, it's comfortable. And the exact same color as our table. What's the catch? At $200 a pop, it's NOT a bargain. This table seats eight, so we'd have to plan and budget it out, and buy one or two chairs at a time. Which is absolutely not the end of the world.

What do you think of the progress we've made? 

Source List
Walls - White Dove by Benjamin Moore, color matched to Valspar paint
Trim and doors - Black Beauty by Benjamin Moore, color matched to Valspar paint
Chandelier - Helena by Cal Lighting
Rug - Nyla rug in beige by Loloi (Wait 'til Wayfair is offering it at half price!)
Mirror - Junius by Uttermost
Picture Frames - Target
Blinds - The cheap "cut while you wait" blinds at Lowe's. I can't remember the brand!
All furniture is family hand me downs or from thrift stores.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Acero by Minka Aire. I'm a Fan.

I've been putting this post off for twelve days, because Nashville has been so dark and sad that I couldn't get a good picture of the room until yesterday. #bloggerproblems But hey, guess what? The big, dark, banana leaf ceiling fan is gone! Woo-hoo!! At Christmas, Keith gave me a beautiful, sleek silver ceiling fan that I'd been eyeing for months.

He wrapped all the pieces in separate boxes, and when we opened presents under the tree it took a minute for me to realize exactly what I was opening. When it dawned on me, I was ecstatic. "Oh boy, a downrod!" *tearing more paper* "Oh honey, you got me a motor!" Maybe you had to be there, but it was really funny.

Here's an old picture to remind you how the previous ceiling fan looked. Sorry, I always tried to crop the old fan out of photos, so I don't have a lot of pictures of it! Obviously, this is a really old pic, from before we moved the furniture into the room. But you can see that the brass motor and tropical style of the old fan just didn't work for us. That fan looked big and heavy, and it called a lot of attention to itself. I couldn't wait to get rid of it, because I wanted the attention to be on the art over the fireplace, not on the fan.

I don't like the look of most ceiling fans. But in Tennessee, a good fan is practically a necessity. So I spent weeks looking for a fan I liked, and this one is my favorite. It's the Acero model by Minka Aire. Acero has a simple shape that doesn't call a lot of attention to the fan. With just 3 blades, it doesn't take up a lot of visual space. The nickel finish matches the other metal in the room, and it blends into our white ceiling better than dark wooden fans. And the light kit (usually the ugliest part of a fan!) is flat and barely visible. Best of all, I love the cage around the motor because it reminds me of pretty vintage table top fans. One last thing: The Acero fan is sold at Restoration Hardware, but don't buy it from them--they overcharge by more than $100!

So far, we love it. It's practically silent, and blades move air well. We've been using it every day because it reverses to push warm air down in the winter. It has a nice bright white light with a built-in dimmer, and the wall panel is fancy schmancy. Unfortunately, the old wall panel had two switches. One controlled the fan blades, and one was for the (nonexistent) fan lights. So if you found this post because you're looking for info about this fan, keep in mind that you may need to replace your switchplate cover.

 We need to get a 2-gang switchplate with one blank side, like this.


It feels great to cross the fan off of the to-do list. I'm one step closer to the plan I put together for this room waaaay back in August. Here was the original mood board. All that remains are the curtains and sectional! But first, we'll probably put up a picture rail behind Keith's desk. But more about that later!