Mid-century madness

It’s not quite finished (I still have a set of storage cubes to buy and turn into a quasi-credenza next paycheck and a couch to buy as soon as Ron and I can agree on what constitutes an appropriate price for furniture and an appropriate means of financing it), but my interior-design project is coming along very nicely.

I discovered a problem recently: Because I’m about four inches too tall to sit in it without holding my neck in an awkward angle, my beloved ball chair was contributing to chronic tension headaches.

Fortunately, my nephews think the “Space Chair,” as they call it, is the one of the coolest things in the known universe, so they were more than happy to take it off my hands. My parents came by a week ago and picked it up for them, and a few hours later, I was rewarded with a hilarious photo of Ollie lying in it more or less upside-down, giggling.

I discovered the perfect replacement on Target’s website: a Zuo knockoff of the famous Eames rocking chair.

Look at that fabulous chair. This was before I removed the futon cover and rearranged the furniture.
Look at that fabulous chair. This was before I removed the futon cover and rearranged the furniture.

I also picked up a couple of guitar hangers at Hastings’ going-out-of-business sale. My acoustic guitars are now out of the way, within reach, and pulling double-duty as visual accents on my faux-stucco walls.

We can’t replace the futon just yet, but I removed the Route 66-themed cover to reveal the black pad underneath and threw a falsa blanket over the back to give it more of a Southwestern look, as you can see in the top photo.

Walter approved of this move:

Sleepy kitty is sleepy.
Spoiled cat.

On Friday, Ron and I went wandering around the little antique stores downtown in search of mid-century pieces to go with the rocking chair and living-room tables.

By rearranging the furniture in several rooms, I managed to free up space for a bigger dining table and a couple of shelf units — a small, sturdy bookcase I found at a shop on Main Street, and a 1970s metal, faux-woodgrain shelf I found at a shop on Spanish Street. I filled the wooden shelf with books and started a bunch of herbs and cacti in pots on the metal shelf.

Metal shelves full of potted plants were popular in the ’70s, so to go with them, I went to Annie Laurie’s Antiques and bought a dining set straight out of the early 1970s:

Hello, 1972.
Hello, 1972.

It needed an appropriate centerpiece, so I recycled an old wooden salad bowl into a miniature cactus garden:

The bowl has a crack in it, but it works just fine as a planter.
The bowl has a crack in it, but it works just fine as a planter.

I still have a couple more little projects to do, but I’m really pleased with how this is all turning out.

Emily

Secret Garden

Hidden behind our six-foot privacy fence, our garden really is a well-kept secret. The only hint of its existence is the occasional tomato plant stretching above the top of the fence. The bulk of my plantings still lie beyond the metal fence at the back of the yard, but I’m slowly expanding my planting areas beyond that, and I think in a couple more seasons, I’ll have something worthy of a Frances Hodgson Burnett story.

Here’s a quick update on the back garden, which is primarily vegetables and herbs, with a few zinnias thrown in for fun:

My wisteria-laden arbor makes exactly the welcoming entrance I had in mind when I installed it behind the garden gate.
My wisteria-laden arbor makes exactly the welcoming entrance I had in mind when I installed it behind the garden gate.
I planted beans along the fence last year. They planted themselves at the end of the season and came up on their own this spring.
I planted beans along the fence last year. They planted themselves at the end of the season and came up on their own this spring.
Those zinnias the neighbor boys helped plant this spring are blooming nicely. I need to gather a bouquet and give it to their mom.
Those zinnias the neighbor boys helped plant this spring are blooming nicely. I need to gather a bouquet and give it to their mom.
Couple more zinnias.
Couple more zinnias.

garden

I’m a little frustrated with my cucumber plants; they’re blooming like mad, but they’ve yet to set fruit. The garden is feeling the absence of the apiary this year. Our last hive crashed last winter, and instead of buying more bees this spring, Ron put our names on the swarm list and hoped for the best. We didn’t get any calls, so we don’t have anybody living in the bee yard this season. Next year, I’m ordering two packages of Italians and maybe one of Russians. I miss having fuzzy little six-legged friends working alongside me in the garden, and I can think of way better ways to spend my time than standing out in the garden with a paintbrush, hand-pollinating cucumber blossoms.

I’ll have to do it within the next week or so if I want them this season, but I’m half-tempted to order some leafcutters just to bridge the gap until we can re-establish a proper apiary next spring. Leafcutters are, like orchard mason bees, a gentle, solitary species that won’t produce honey but will work their little butts off in the garden without giving me any static. In the absence of my beloved A. mellifera, I’m not against hiring a few temps in the interest of getting a decent cucumber crop.

Emily

Interior decorating

This summer has been a bit of a roller coaster, especially in terms of my health (nothing scary, but a series of minor maladies that were just enough to cramp my style and drain my energy), and I just started to feel better about a week ago.

I took the day off Tuesday to finish up a project I started in April but haven’t had time to work on much because of the aforementioned health issues.

As I mentioned last winter, the drywall work in our house left a lot to be desired. I repaired the cracks and did textured paint jobs in the bedroom and office, but I got tired of messing with joint compound and sanding screens and decided to try a technique my friend Erin told me about, in which you tear contractor paper into random shapes, crumple it, smooth it back out, and apply it to the wall using wallpaper paste, overlapping the edges of the pieces.

Left brown, the paper ends up looking like soft leather; painted, it resembles stucco. Either way, it conceals a lot of flaws and obviates the necessity of repairing someone else’s sloppy drywall work.

The leather look was really too dark to use in rooms as small as ours, but given my fondness for Southwestern architecture, stucco seemed about right. I did the dining room in late April or early May, but I didn’t get a chance to finish the living room until this week. Here are a few photos:

Here's a look at the paper technique. Each piece is torn, crumpled, uncrumpled, and applied to the wall with paste and a smoothing tool.
Here’s a look at the paper technique. Each piece is torn, crumpled, uncrumpled, and applied to the wall with paste and a smoothing tool.
The process is time-consuming, but it hides a lot of flaws.
The process is time-consuming, but it hides a lot of flaws.
The paper will start to bubble after you hang it. DON'T PANIC. It will settle down and smooth out as it dries.
The paper will start to bubble after you hang it. DON’T PANIC. It will settle down and smooth out as it dries.
Ignore the clutter. I didn't bother putting the room completely back together when I knew I'd be painting soon.
Ignore the clutter. I didn’t bother putting the room completely back together when I knew I’d be painting soon.

Here’s how it looked once it was painted:

As with the paste, the paint will make the paper bubble while it's wet. As with the paste, it will settle down. I panicked a little bit before I discovered that.
As with the paste, the paint will make the paper bubble while it’s wet. As with the paste, it will settle down. I panicked a little bit before I discovered that.
I like how that short little hall looks with all my family pictures hanging there.
I like how that short little hall looks with all my family pictures hanging there.
The paint is "La Fonda Terra Cotta," from Valspar's National Trust for Historic Preservation line. I love it.
The paint is “La Fonda Terra Cotta,” from Valspar’s National Trust for Historic Preservation line. I love it.
The color is a little yellow here because the lighting was odd, but you get the idea.
The color looks a little yellow here because the lighting was odd, but you get the idea.

I really like that terra-cotta color. It looks very Southwestern and makes the whole room feel warm and inviting.

I’m hoping to replace the futon with a loveseat as soon as I can find something suitably mid-century. That room is just too small for big furniture.

Emily