Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summertime Essentials

My idea of a perfect summer afternoon?  A big front porch, an ice cold drink, one really good novel (and one really trashy one), and a day off to enjoy it all...maybe next summer? 
Night time photos don't show what a perfect spot Belle's front porch is for hanging with friends on a summer evening, so I waited until this morning to photograph this post.
 There is a lot of custom paint work on the porch, including the columns I showed off a couple of weeks ago.  The original deck paint was gray, which didn't coordinate with anything but the cement steps.  Not wanting to highlight that less than charming feature,  I mixed a tan to compliment the sandstone pillars.  This was prettier, but still too plain, so I stayed up most of one night painting on a border detail.  I had thought about painting on a trompe l'oeil area rug, but I rearrange the furniture for different uses, so the rugs need to be the real kind that can be moved.  Instead, inspired by a rug in the Ballard Designs catalogue, I painted this scrollwork around the perimeter. 

  The front door was plain wood, but mis-matched paint grade, so I painted over most of it with black enamel, adding some pattern, allowing some of the wood color to peek through.  I love having pattern on the outside of the house, which although common in a lot of other countries, is pretty unusual here. Click and click again to zoom in on details.

I've lettered this for many of my clients in their foyers and mudrooms.  Unable to do anything so normal on my own house, I put it right on the front door.  My intention with the decor of the porch is to bring some of the inside vibe out, to greet people immediately upon arrival, and give a sense of what to expect upon entering.  The door paint alone would pretty well accomlish that, but you can't sit on the door, so...
This set of wicker furniture was a gift from friends who just moved to a different home and no longer have a spot for it.  It is from the very early 1900s and was given to them by friends, so they were particular about who they passed it along to.  I'm so pleased they chose me!  Over the last 100 years, it's worn several colors of paint, so I didn't feel at all bad about painting over the seafoam green with my signature color.  Although white is fresh and feminine, neutral and typical, black is my choice, for it's strength as a base note, and it's versatility. 

 The trunk is from a garage sale.  Too musty to use indors, it makes a charming table out here, and has anchored several photo shoots.  (my front porch is the front porch for Front Porch Photography, which is just across the street. frontporchphotos.com).  The flamingo croquet mallets were painted for a trade show display, but are still perfectly usable, and yes, that is a lace table cloth hanging behind.  You'll find lace tablecloths in several places in my house, none of them tabletops...shower rods, valance rods, and even on a ceiling, but never on a table.
This is a great place to sip a cup of coffee, while working on bids.  Badmitton rackets store charmingly in plain sight under the table, and the croquet balls nestle in an old silver plated bowl, while coleus and impatiens grow in a discarded sewing basket.  The end table in the background is made from a thrift store lamp that looked like a chess pawn to me, topped with a salvaged table top whose legs gave way half a century ago, on which I painted a chess board.  Not just a great game table, but yes, another nod to Alice in Wonderland.
The hanging candle lanterns are light covers from the thrift store, suspended from copper wire strung with beads, embellished with wooden finials. The pier mirror took about five minutes to transform from white enamel to a rubbed red finish. Just a quick slick of self-priming red enamel, and as soon as that was (mostly) dry, a few streaks of Rub-n-Buff wax paste in gold, violet, and patina (verdigris) Perfectly imperfect.
The porch swing is original to the house, and the finish shows it.  I'll have to get a bit of spar varnish on it before the snow flies, but for now, a scrap of fabric from the sewing room and a couple of cushions no longer used elsewhere disguise the peeling shellac, and add a bit of comfort and color.
More old lace, this time a disintegrating crocheted bedspread that a good friend wisely rescued for me from a "free" box at a yard sale, and a huge plant block some of the wind.  I would love to take credit for the enormity of this plant, but a couple dozen garden club members would be posting comments to tell you the only thing I grow that big is weeds.  I love end-of-season sales at greenhouses.  The big box stores have straggly crap this time of year, but the local guys have well tended plants.  This 3' diameter plant only ate $7.99 out of the grocery budget, and by the time cold weather forces it indoors, it will most likely be about half this size, and fit perfectly in the living room window.  Somebody remind me to water this thing!

I've been hoping to get this light fixture, found for $10  at an estate sale, rewired for the kitchen, but not knowing when that will happen, I figured I may as well use it as a chandelier out here for now.  I painted some glass votive globes with Peebeo Porcelaine paint and just set them into the empty sockets.  A tassle made with another wooden finial, some scrap yarn, and embellished with a few old keys and trinkets tinkles merrily in the breeze.

This goose rocker is one of my original designs.  I used to build them myself, but I'm spoiled now, and have my friend T.C. Fogarty handle this.  He's a retired dairy farmer, and doing things like this, and repairing the antique wicker sofa, keep him busy and out from under his wife's feet.  Perfect situation for all concerned!

There is a vintage glass light fixture suspended in the middle of this wreath, which usually hangs under my porch light at Christmas, when the adaptor socket for the twinkle lights requires I remove the regular light globe.  I left it up too late in the spring, and a pair of finches built a nest in it.  Not wanting to risk baked finch, I installed a hook in one corner, and moved their home away from certain disaster.  Surprisingly, they didn't mind the relocation a bit.

Finally, to be sure the Universe and all hobos know that this is a house where angels and strangers are welcomed, and in honor of my own departed hobos, Great Uncle Gordon and GrandPaul, I've put this mark in a traditionally discreet spot.  The first time I saw a cat chalked on our garage, I was four or five, and sure one of us kids was going to get in trouble for it.  Not until years later did I find out this is the hobo sign for "a good woman lives here" (a place to get a meal without begging or inventing a sad tale). 

My mother's uncle Gordon, a cigarette-puffing, alcohol-soaked imp of a man would occasionally pop into town on a freight train, much to the chagrin of my parents, and the delight of us kids.  He lived in a converted bus, parked down a ravine on the Oregon coast, but didn't drive, so occasionally he reverted to his hobo days and hopped freights around the country to visit friends and relatives.  I'm fairly certain it was this magical friend of elves and small children who slyly left the cat chalked just outside our back gate.  The hobos of the 1930's are all gone now, but a householder is wise to remember:  "Be mindful to entertain strangers, for thereby many have entertained angels unawares."  (anyone want to remind me who to attribute this quote to?)

Whew!  The porch is finally done.  Well, except for building new railings, which I will get to some winter day, as they can be built and painted indoors and then installed, and the aforementioned shellac on the swing, and washing the windows, and repairing the leaded glass sidelights, and repainting the peeling ceiling, and really the whole porch needs rebuilt and the one column straightened and...ahh  the joys of owning an old house!  I think I'll spend the weekend indoors, away from the incoming storms and returning humidity, working on the entryway.  Hopefully friends will drop by, and I can take a break to offer them icy cold lemonade and minted watermelon in the shade of the porch.  If you're in the neighborhood...

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