The Cool House: houseblogs
Showing posts with label houseblogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label houseblogs. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Double Celebration

In February I posted a photo of fireworks with the news that The Cool House had a big birthday to celebrate. I promised a fortieth birthday party, to be held in June because the blueprints for the house date from that month. In the usual way of things here that date got pushed and shoved back until a couple of weeks ago when I realized that Halloween had passed and nothing has been done. At this time of year we are usually planning to celebrate the winter solstice with a few friends, so I thought as we're already planning special food and decorating the home why not ratchet up the festivities and toast the anniversary of Beach House's 40 years as well?

Of course an event this important requires a certain amount of preparation. Before we decorate for the holidays we clean the house thoroughly. This will be the last thorough dusting and scrubbing that some spots will see until the holiday ornaments are put away and the greenery is burnt on January 5th, so I want it to be as good as it can be. We wash the windows so they sparkle to reflect the candlelight at night and let as much natural light in as possible during the day. Once all the housework is done and the guest rooms are ready for partygoers who want to stay over we can start making the house warm and welcoming.

For the solstice, we have a yule log that, at nightfall, becomes a roaring fire and we gather lots of greenery from the conifers in the yard to make wreaths for the front door and exterior lights and a saddle for the mailbox. I place branches of holly and fir into tall vases, and lay juniper branches and more holly on the fireplace surround and credenzas. To make the greenery stand out I add citrus fruits, lemons, limes, satsumas and tangerines, or naartjies, as The Guy calls them, and votive candles. I push cloves into oranges and pile them up throughout the house, and heap more cloves and lightly crushed cinnamon sticks under candles in votives, which makes the house smell great.

And what's a holiday party without scrumptious rich cakes and puddings made with dried fruit and brandy; cookies with butter, spiced with ginger cinnamon and nutmeg, and Stollen? Not only do they taste great but the enticing smell permeates the whole house. We'll toast the winter, and the house, with champagne, dark Trappist ales from Belgium and gluhwein. If all goes well we may even sing a few wassailing songs, too.

This year the party will be more important than ever; we will celebrate not only midwinter but the serendipity that brought us to Beach House, this wonderful creation that has been a home for forty years and provides us endless delight in its uniquely modern design.

Double Celebration: Winter Solstice/40th Anniversary has been entered in the "Home for the Holidays Contest", run in conjunction with Right@Home. This post was written for as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by SC Johnson’s Right@Home.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rule #1

Rule #1 when keeping a houseblog should be BLOG EVERYTHING, every little detail, no matter how insignificant, irrelevant or just plain boring it may seem at the time. By doing that you will be able to avoid the "Well how did you fix it last time?" conversation that is an integral part of home repair and renovation. Because you could just LOOK IT UP ON YOUR BLOG.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dining Room Update, the community for those obsessed with home improvement, is running feature stories this month on four topics, one of which is the dining room. We loved the dining room when we first saw the house, it was large, lofty and had a great beamed ceiling but it was beige - beige ceiling, beige walls, beige carpet and beige vertical blinds. I could have lived with the beige while we tackled more urgent projects but when the previous owner removed her furniture she left behind those bright blue patches on the walls. A tad unsightly, no?

040704 kitchen

The off-white walls had grey grime where they met the ceiling. For a long time I worried that this was where the roof leaked but it proved to be just where dust from the heating system settled. There was a matching line around the edges of the carpet.

Dining Room July 2004 -1

Not attractive, but at least it wasn't a major structural problem. Apart from this the room was dark because the rhododendrons and pine trees outside the windows totally blocked out the light,

and the dusty, vinyl vertical blinds had to go.

Vineyard Rd Dining Room  July 2004 -3

We hung framed museum prints we had from our last house over the blue rectangles and had the electrician rewire and hang our 1970s Tre Ci Luce Cesare Lacca "Alien" pendant lamp that we had lugged from Belgium. It had spent the last four years in a box because we didn't have a space in the last place for it but it goes perfectly here.

For three months we couldn't see out of the window


But eventually we chopped back the shrubbery elevating the light levels a gazillion times.

Originally I wanted a sand color on the walls and we pinned up lines of swatches from Benjamin Moore but nothing spoke to us. We progressed to buying try-out pots of paint in golds and shades of café au lait but they all seemed to make the room dingy. I'd been avoiding the greys because I didn't want the dining room to be cold or sad but when I came across Titanium I knew we had a winner. Titanium is such a bright modern-sounding word, isn't it? When we slapped the Titanium over 1968 beach blue it just looked right.

The Guy gave that wall two coats, I touched it up, and touched up the Navajo white on the adjoining walls as far as I could reach. We couldn't paint the rest of the room without buying a long ladder, and we didn't trust ourselves to paint the ceiling without dripping on the beams. We ended up living with this odd colour combination for over a year.

Meanwhile I had a "Eureka!" moment when we took out the built-ins from the boys' bedrooms.

I cannibalized the desk parts to make a new cabinet for the dining room.

Then I went to the local stone fabricator and had tops cut to fit in Carrara marble.

This worked so well we got over-confident and ordered a second top for the cabinet in the den. Unfortunately we failed to measure this accurately so we had a 4' piece of marble hanging around doing nothing. A few weeks of searching and we found this wrought iron wine table in Crate and Barrel that fitted perfectly. It's taller than the console so it's not too matchy-matchy.

The room was coming together but we knew that we had to replace the windows before long so we held off doing more.

In 2005 we put in new windows and I spent a couple of weekends getting the stain right on the frames. The first go at getting window coverings for the room was a bust. We ordered red dupioni silk roman shades from Smith & Noble but they came in with white splodges on the crimson.

We now had curtain rods but nothing to hang on them. While we searched we had the room professionally painted using the Titanium on the walls and BM Cloud White on the ceiling and baseboard. So much better than buying a ladder or scaffolding and they did a great job. In the end the wall with the prints on got a total of five coats of Titanium (two by Steven, one by me because I wasn't happy with his brushmanship, and two by the painters) and the other walls just got two coats.

Dining Room Winter 2005

In the end I found an even better solution than the roman shades, drapery panels in red silk, darker with an almost invisible pattern that gave a depth to the drapes. Even better, these were on sale at Pottery and cost less for 6 panels than one of the wrought iron rods we had had to pay full price for at the Pottery Barn store.

Last year I found a great painting on ebay and had it framed at a local store. After some discussion we hung it in the dining room because we loved the way the colours in the painting complemented the grey, white and red of the room.

Marcellin Dufour '83

Three years after we started we consider this room "done". Well almost. Home improvement is never really finished, is it? At some point we want to change the carpet but that will have to wait until we are certain about the plans for the den and the kitchen floors.

Right now we have a dining room that we love, great colours, great light and warm enough to eat in even in winter.

Vineyard Rd  Dining Room Nov 2007 -10

Dining Room November 2007 -1

Dining Room November 2007 side

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Beach House in Fall (Autumn)

Beach House is featured on this week as part of an article on house blogs in autumn. They used the photo from my profile but somehow it looks much bigger and brighter on someone else's webpage. I'm very honoured.
I wonder though, if I'd just used the tag "fall" would I have made the cut?