Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Three Things I've Learnt This Month

Six days 'til possession, and I have moving on my mind.

1. A great decluttering strategy. Anything you'd rather pile in the backyard and burn, than pack and move a few measly blocks? Donate it to charity, or throw it out. Be utterly ruthless. (Unfortunately this strategy cannot be applied to your young childrens' mountain of stuff without tears.) We're renting a dumpster from a local company who will take care of making sure anything that can be recycled does get recycled, and I've made a ridiculous number of trips to drop off bags of donations.

2. Green moving strategy: we're going to rent sturdy plastic moving boxes for a couple of weeks. FrogBox is the local option for this, they have franchises in many other North American cities, and their rates are very reasonable (as in, actually cheaper than buying cardboard we'd have to recycle after the move). We also have purchased a number of clear plastic bins that I'm labelling and using for longer-term storage.

3. Moving house would be much, much easier if I were a minimalist - but I'm not sure it would be any less stressful. When the experts say it's as big of an emotional upheaval as a divorce or a job loss, they really aren't kidding.

There's also some great advice in this post on moving from GOOD. We did, in the end, decide to hire movers instead of going the full DIY route, although we plan to use and reuse our rented boxes to move most of the little things before the movers arrive.

BTW, there will not be a monthly news summary for April - there will be an extra-big one in May instead. Meanwhile, as always, you can watch my Twitter feed for interesting tidbits from the vanguard of the slow movement.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dream Decorating: Kitchen - Dining - Family Room

It's about two weeks before we take possession of our new home, and I'm procrastinating about the much-dreaded packing-and-purging by planning the decor. (Is it normal to want to set fire to all your stuff instead of packing it at this stage? Please say yes.) Let me tease you with some product shots of what I'm planning to use in the kitchen, dining room, and living room, which are open to each other.

Here are a couple of before shots I took during the home inspection.

via Benjamin Moore Colors on Flikr
Eternity in eggshell on the wall in a blog post by Urban Domesticity
The first thing that will happen is that the builder beige will be painted out. We will also play with adding moldings to the existing trim to make the house feel vintage-Craftsman instead of faux-Craftsman. Much as we'd love to paint while the house is still empty, the seller is still in another country and not responding to our request for permission to take painters in so they can give us quotes. Sigh.

So, we'll have to paint after the move, and meanwhile I've been pre-testing samples of grey paint, using the similar light in my current home. I think pulling out the grey and playing down the yellow-beige in the stone fireplace surround, granite counters, and ceramic tile backsplash with a grey wall is the way to go. However, greys are tricky - they look perfect as a colour chip, and then you get it onto your wall and the undertones emerge, or the character switches from cool to warm because it's a bit too brown. After looking at the range of greys from multiple manufacturers, I've decided to try Benjamin Moore's Natura 0-VOC paint in Eternity for the walls, and Steam (an off-white) for the ceiling and trim - I'll know for sure once I get to test it in the space. Eternity is a true grey with the smallest hint of blue. A paler true grey for spaces that don't get as much natural light might be Horizon.

(I had really wanted to use uber-eco Mythic Paint, but our local dealer here in the wilderness of Canada doesn't have the ability to accurately create smaller testers with equipment calibrated for full-size cans, so that will have to wait for another room where we won't need to test the colours. Dear Mythic: please make your tester pots available through your Canadian vendors. One cannot specify colour using only a tiny chip on a fan deck. Ever. Seriously, get on it.)

19th Century French Farmhouse Table  furniture
Our dining table is pine with a walnut stain in a shape very much inspired by French farmhouse tables like this one, the genuine c1860 article from Uniquities Architectural Antiques in Calgary (via Houzz). It came with Parsons chairs and a matching bench upholstered in sensible espresso faux-leather. When the kids are a little older, I'll have them reupholstered in something fabulous.

Here's an old photo (of my daughter's third birthday party) from our current home's dining room. The vintage English walnut china cabinet will also make the move to the new house, and I'm hoping we'll be able to bring our pendant lamp with us as well, since it would suit the neo-Craftsman architecture much better than the current one does.

We have a hard-wearing, kid-friendly roll-arm brown leather sofa from Lane (the Wakefield) that my kids are doing their best to patinate for me. Fabulous cushions and a great throw will help to make it less of a yawn.

Since the kids will have another space that acts as their playroom, I want a tempered-glass coffee table, and originally I was thinking of a waterfall table or this 'Osaka' coffee table from Urban Barn - it's very similar to one available from US retailer West Elm. I've since scored a round one with a chromed base off Kijiji for a song, which will do nicely as a placeholder, and will be perfect for staging our old house. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of it yet. Inside my head, I'm rounding this out with Brent Comber's alder drum table and one of Jasper Morrison's cork stools, but I have a feeling our budget won't stretch that far, so I'm on the hunt for some sweet vintage end tables to add to the mix. There's an Aalto-esque tripod stool and a Mission-style octagonal table at the antique mall that might make the cut.

With all that stone, wood, and leather, the space will need an injection of femininity and softness. I've ordered FLOR's Reoriented recycled-nylon carpet tiles in Lavender; there are also touches of cream, grey, beige, sky blue, and indigo blue in the pattern, as you can see in the detail shot. With the glass coffee table you'll be able to really see the rug so it needed to be fantastic, and this pattern is a great riff on the overdyed-oriental trend. I already have faux-silk curtains similar to these, in aubergine, which I'll hang over the existing wooden blinds.

mid-1920s Poole Pottery Traditional majolicaware, via Rob's Poole Pottery Collection
1940s Poole Pottery's Traditional majolicaware, via Poole Pottery Replacements
I have a small collection of Poole Pottery that I'll be displaying in the room (It reminds me of my paternal grandmother, who used to have a huge collection of it.). Notice that the lavender is picked up in Poole's glaze palette. I might also pull out this vintage hooked mat from storage to hang as part of the art wall. (The long wall that's continuous with the stairwells is begging to be used as a gallery.)

Let's see, what's missing? Stools for the breakfast bar - I just scored a perfect match to the old farm stool I already had, so I'll be using those, at least until I can work some Emeco Navy bar chairs into the budget. A big leafy plant or two. Books, naturally. Our antique mirror and the mantle clock handed down from my husband's family for over the fireplace. A great floor lamp or two, and improvements to the ceiling fixtures (all of which I dislike). And a way to deal with the television my darling husband is insisting we put in there... any suggestions?