November 8, 2010

The Pink House

Posted in Home tagged , , , , , , , at 7:17 pm by Liliana

The Pink House

The Pink House

My family and I have been living in the same house for eighteen years. It is a good house and suits us well. The square footage of the house is not extravagant, but it has many rooms so each family member has a quiet, private niche. The house is full of colors that we love, colors that make us comfortable and happy.

Our dinning room is terra cota red, the living room is sea foam gray, the kitchen light green. My bedroom is dusty blue, the guest room sunrise yellow. We have adapted the space to suit our needs and made this house thoroughly our own.

I remember the first time Jeff and I saw the house.

When the real estate agent stopped in front of the building, Jeff didn’t want to come out of the car. Not because it was dilapidated or haunted looking. No, the house was in excellent shape, well cared for. But it was completely pink. Pepto-Bismol pink. In cold, dark, overcast Midwestern atmosphere, as close to Canada as one can get, the house stood out. And not in an agreeable way.

It did not fit the climate, the town or the neighborhood. And to put it simply, the house was ugly.

Its outside appearance was only the beginning.

Of course I made Jeff go inside. I was curious.

The inside was also a sea of pink. Every room was either painted deep pink or had heavy, pink vinyl wallpaper. The ceilings were pink. The kitchen counter was pink. The appliances and the ceramic tiles were avocado green. As were the heavy carpets that covered every inch of floor space.

The house had many rooms, big windows, and elegantly proportioned living spaces. Under the carpets, we were told that hardwood floors were hiding. I knew there was potential. And I also knew that we could get it for a good price. Who else was foolish enough to buy a house this bizarre?

Jeff was nervous. It was hard for him to see beyond the ostentatious colors. And he was worried that with three young kids (one of whom was a baby) we just didn’t have the time to take on so much work. He asked me if I could live with these colors. I said I could.

I thought I could.

But once we actually moved in, I couldn’t take it. I didn’t feel comfortable in these rooms. And I was terribly embarrassed every time we had visitors.

So one day that November, eighteen years ago, two weeks after we moved in, my mother, sister and I, set to work. We attacked the living room first, then one room after another. We pealed wallpaper, pulled down faux-marbled mirror panels, painted walls and cabinets, stripped the carpets. We painted everything white, not because it is my favorite color, but because I needed a clean slate. It took months to get rid of the pink walls, and years to get rid of all evidence of what the house once was.

That first summer, we had the exterior painted a light gray. Our neighbors came over and thanked us gratefully.


April 1, 2010

Spring Decorating

Posted in Cleaning, Home, Women tagged , , , at 6:54 am by Liliana

Decorate with nature

Decorate with nature

Spring is here in earnest and I am looking around my tired, dusty house and wondering how to improve the look of different rooms. Cleaning, dusting and washing of fabrics will be coming soon, but after that I would like to give my living space a fresher look. I have always been in the habit of reusing  items that I already have, moving them from room to room, and giving them unexpected purposes. It’s amazing how much difference this can make. The green rug that got tiring in the breakfast room makes my bedroom look very springy.

Here are a few ideas you might want to try:

  • Books are my best friends – when it comes to reading as well as decorating. They make any room look warm and interesting.  A stack of nature books on a table near your plants makes for a beautiful still life.
  • Reuse an old wire wine rack by making it a place for rolled towels in the bathroom. If you choose towels with lovely patterns and colors, you have an interesting decoration.
  • Tie window curtains with scarves or ribbons – this will add color and unexpected charm to your windows.
  • By placing the window treatments as high above the window level as you can, your room will seem taller than it actually is.
  • If you like jewelry, decorate your walls with it. Use old  frames or shadow boxes to group interesting items and your jewelry will look like pieces of modern sculpture.
  • Hang a cork-board on your kitchen wall and fill it with pages from favorite magazines, postcards, children’s artwork, or with pressed flowers.
  • Keep old, mismatched glassware  and use as beautiful vases. Group unusual pieces together for an original look.
  • Add elegance to your meals by covering your table with a table runner, pretty fabric scraps, old window curtains, or a beautiful scarf.
  • I love to decorate with natural accents I collect during my walks or from my yard.  Consider filling those mismatched glasses with bunches of wild flowers or fill bowls with rocks and shells. Twigs look great in tall vases or colorful bottles.
  • Arrange your furniture away from the wall and into conversational groupings. This will make the room look warmer and more pleasant – both you and your guests will be happy to linger.

Please email me with your own suggestions. I would love to hear from you. Have a wonderful spring!

March 4, 2010

Color Your Home

Posted in Home, Women tagged , at 8:23 am by Liliana

My dining room

My dining room

When we bought our house, it was bright pink – inside and outside. It was so inappropriate for the northern climate we live in, that it ruined the balance of the entire neighborhood. The first thing we did was paint the exterior a light gray, and every interior room, white. I felt I had a clean slate now but it took me a long time to get adventurous. A few years ago I realized how much I yearned for color. I looked around the house – at rugs, linens, pillows, curtains. I discovered the predominant colors and decide to give it a go. I painted my dining room a deep terra cotta red; the living room, sea foam green; family room became light gray; the guest room is silky yellow; the master bedroom, grayish blue.

If you are in need of a new color scheme, give it a try. Look for inspiration in the things around your house. What is the worst that can happen? Here are a few tips to help you decide:

• Choose favorite colors – Surround yourself with the colors you love, whether fiery oranges, soft blues, or classic neutrals. Don’t worry about impressing others, please yourself.
• Atmosphere – What kind of feeling do you hope to set when you walk into a room? Serene, cozy, vibrant … For example, off-white and light blue tones will present a calming atmosphere. Burnt orange will invoke energy and excitement.
• Theme – Decorating themes often incorporate certain colors. For example, a beach-inspired living room might feature a classic blue and white color scheme.
• Collectibles – Be inspired by colors featured in your collection, such as aqua pottery that might complement the beach theme throughout the home.
• Art – Art adds unique personality to a room. Using it as a foundation creates a great color scheme.
• Pillows – Pick shades from a color-filled pillow and use them throughout the room.
• Rug – A rug is the foundation for any room. Draw from colors featured in a pattern rug to create a cohesive look.
• Window Treatments – Use window treatment fabric to set a color scheme in your room. Distribute the hues throughout the room with pieces of furniture and accessories.
• Accessories – Charming vases, frames, and other accessories offer inspiration in their lively hues.
• Classic Combo – If you still feel a bit skittish, stick with the classic duos. Blue and yellow, green and blue, red and brown.

Best of luck, and remember – you can always change the color until you get it just the way you like it!