It's great having a guest. It pushes you to do some things in the house that you have thought about, and should have done a long time ago, but just haven't gotten around to doing. Plus, let's not forget, it gives something to blog about.
Gale's recent visit (check out her blog for new photos!) nudged me to give Abigail's room a much-needed decluttering, facelift, and move into the new decade. The last time we redecorated her room was when she was 14 or 15, in boarding school, and was coming home for a long weekend with a bunch of friends from school. I decided the room needed to be brushed up at that point, as it was still very much reflective of middle school, with some remnants of Little Girl Abigail still there.
At that time I did what I almost always do -- decorated the room around one piece of art. In that case, it was a big framed Orangina poster, like this, but with a big white mat and nice black frame around it:
Years ago, in travels to England and France, Orangina was about the only thing Abigail liked about the experience, or so she said. She pronounced it "or-GEE-na," which is kind of a cute memory for me. In those days it was a bit hard to find that drink around here, but we have always been on the lookout for orGEEna for her, so when I was shopping one day and saw this framed poster, I knew it would be a great foundation for her room.
The room's carpet was already navy blue, and the walls were already a bright turquoisy-teal that coordinated well enough with the poster's table, so I put in some black and white accents, navy blue curtains, and several sets of wind chimes with those same colors, and called it a day. Then after high school was over, and she was coming home for the summer before college, she and I painted the walls an even better-for-the-poster apricot-orange color, moved the furniture around a bit, and it's been untouched since that time.
I'm not in the mood or position to spend a lot of money on decorating right now. Though I really wanted to do something to this room, I decided that it had to be done on a shoestring -- no changing of the carpet, no repainting, no new curtains. Just a hoeing out of built-up years of crap, a removal of little-girl and high-school-girl and college-girl detritus, some new bedding that would hopefully coordinate with the walls and carpet and curtains, and bringing in some more adult and restful elements.
Thank you, Bed Bath & Beyond, for having some (tasteful and beautiful) orange/rust stuff this year! And navy blue sheets! And I had to find an accent color that would coordinate with those things, and lo and behold, this awesome juicy lime-grass green was there for a couple of pillowcases.
So, for the cost of a new duvet cover, a fitted sheet, a bathroom rug, and two sets of pillowcases -- and I did "splurge" on a very cool lamp from Home Goods -- cost of 30 bucks -- and "shopping" in my closets and basement, a very fun friend with a creative eye and I transformed the room into a color-rich, warm, and wonderfully inviting adult haven.
Here are a couple of my favorite pretending-to-be-Martha elements -- from things found in the storage rooms. One minute it's dust-covered crap, the next minute it's a decorating element.
An old mantel mirror placed on top of the bookcase, with a vintage vase and a topiary rose thingy that was on a desk in another room, where no justice was being done to it. Here it has much more impact.
Old jewelry boxes that were received as throw-aways in auction box lots over the years, and that I'd been planning on sending to the Goodwill, look like a million bucks in the now-decluttered bookcase, next to the wastebasket. Well, OK, maybe not a million. But they look better than dust-covered crap. And they're the real thing. Right after I put these here, I was shopping in Home Goods and saw a reproduction of this very thing. Just a fake stack of three old jewelry boxes. I'm clearly a decorator, and don't even know it!
Stacked vintage suitcases have become a bedside table in front of an antique mirror and near an antique lamp that was moved from another room, where it was invisible. (P.S. Because I know at least one person who will likely be a pain in my ass about this: No, the mirror is not hanging crooked. It's just the angle from which I shot it that makes it appear so. However, it is an antique and it could use a resilvering, but then it would be "new-fake" looking, so it's staying the way it is.) :P
And I think my favorite thing of all is a matted (but not framed) artsy-fartsy photograph of Abigail taken as part of a project by one of her friends in high school who was a visual arts major*. I had this antique frame in one of my closets. I just nailed it to the wall and put the matted print on the wall inside the frame. It gives the impression that the print is framed, and allows the apricot-painted wall to show around it. It makes the entire piece appear larger and is the focal point over the bed.
I used this artists' trick I just learned online recently: Don't center the print inside the mat, but leave an extra 1/4- to 1/2 inch at the bottom, to "anchor" it to the floor. So, pretending that the apricot space around it is another mat, I raised the matted photograph just a bit so that it is not centered exactly in the frame. Pretty neat, huh?
Too bad my photos are not as crisp and clean as I'd like. Having spent two days working intensely with Gale, I'm all self-conscious about that, whereas before I couldn't have cared less. Don't worry -- I'm not bothered by it for the long haul. I'll leave the photography to the photographers and the -- whatever it is that I do here -- to me. However, I do feel all proud of myself that I've used a couple of the techniques she showed me to make them a teeny bit more crisp where need be, a teeny bit softer where need be, and I'm probably going overboard on the "vignette" dark antiquey edge. Allow me to play around a little, will ya?
---------- For Katherine, haha:
*At their high school, they had an arts major in addition to their regular prep school curriculum. Abigail's was theater.