I thought the hardest part of this job was going to be the conception. In composition, that’s the pre-writing phase, where a writer thinks about what he wants to say, determining his Purpose and Audience and how to deliver the message. I tell my students they can THINK about an assignment while they’re doing other things and work to write it in your head, before you touch the first key of your computer to begin arranging it. In design, this is where I think about how to bring the owner’s wishes to light, before and after I meet with the architect to discuss the project. I am amazed at how a little 750 square foot house built in 1942—a basic Sears Build in One Day model—with two tiny bedrooms and one bathroom, a small kitchen and small living room, can turn into something ARCHITECTURAL, but it has. It’s where—after a few meetings with the guy who’ll create the drawings that spell it all out—I can plan other things like color palettes and furniture arrangements to further the vision. Getting his input has helped my vision, and the collaboration with him and the builder has made this a joy.
My client and I both knew the minute we saw the newly designed house on paper that we were all in agreement. It required removal of the ceilings--a desire of the client--adding some widows to bring in more light--a given by the architect, who wanted to make it look like it had always been an open concept with 14’ ceilings-- and I wanted all the storage in one spot, so the Wall-O-Cabinets, as they have come to be known, with five large “transom” windows, illuminated to highlight the volume, come to life! My client also wanted a fireplace. When I saw the one with a corner opening, I knew it would lead the eye through the space to the staircase, which we moved from its original side entrance, straight down in a narrow, confining space that sat smack in the middle of the basement.
I have spent as much time in the house as I can, to get a real feel for it. I’ve read it’s best to live with a space before deciding how to decorate it, but that doesn’t work, when I am the designer. I’m supposed to know how to do that. What I do know is that I have never met someone who says—a year after moving into a newly built home—It’s perfect; I haven’t changed a thing! So, I’ve spent hours sitting in the space and had countless back-and-forths on Pinterest, where I send her a picture of a piece of furniture or glassware or bathroom sinks, with a comment that she can respond to. It has proven invaluable for both of us, and I feel totally confident there won’t be any disappointment, when she finally comes to her new home.
I have felt a delightful pressure in choosing EVERYTHING for this project. Delight in that I know it all works together. Every single item in the house was designed with every other item in mind. For example, I’m using brass finishes in the kitchen, which transitions to the living room without walls. Our feature chandelier has a silver finish (it only came in silver), so I will slowly transition to a mixed metal (gold and silver) as I get to the space beyond the kitchen island. I actually like mixing my metals, as long as there are equal parts both. Otherwise it looks like an accident. The pressure comes from still pinching myself that someone would entrust me to make ALL the decisions on implementing my own unique way of doing things. “That’s why I hired you!” she tells me every time I tell her I think my taste might not be 100% what she wants.
The kitchen cabinets come Monday. The furniture that hasn’t been turning my house into a warehouse will come next week (the 12th), and the painter will start the 9th. Things will stay in boxes or plastic while he works, and I’ll start the collage wall in her bedroom once he has painted the ceiling and primed my canvas (the entire wall leading to the transoms above her bed). So, while I haven’t written for a while—you can imagine what I’ve been up to—I wanted to give you a view of some of the material picks.
I hate to open boxes—lest anything get damaged in the move from my house to hers—but I have to make sure nothing is already broken because once material leaves the factory, I have ten days to file a damage claim for 100% replacement. One day I was working in the yard when UPS pulled up with a package. As the driver handed it to me, I could hear broken glass rattling around, so I was able to refuse it on the spot. So far, so good. But we have miles to go before we sleep!
Using pieces of slate on my own large work table as placemats (to make it a dining table when I have dinner parties) ties things together, so I’m using pieces of the tile from 8345, too. I have purchased tablewear here and there for an eclectic and playful table setting (she loves bunnies) and have more pieces in differing shades of sea glass on the way. I’m looking for fabric I can use to make some great napkins, but I might be able to talk her into using sack cloth dish towels (my guests love them) instead!
The bathroom uses three tile patterns, and the floor tile (seen as the place mat above) continues into the bathroom as well, so I’m using splotches of gray here and there, to make it all flow. One of the client’s directives was I don’t want a lot of storage space. I don’t want to be tempted to fill it, so just give me what one person will need. I will use this felt basket for towel storage, and chose a mirrored medicine cabinet for the small stuff. I had to order one more piece of the penny tile, so we could wrap the base of the shower. Even though I listened to TileBar (a fabulous supplier of amazing tile) when they suggested extra, to account for the unexpected by deciding to wrap it around the outside, too, I needed one more piece. It’s already on the way, and I ordered it yesterday. Good vendors are critical to my success, and I’m putting together a list of the best. I’m working to be able to design a room for anyone—anywhere—that will include a list of vendors they can order from to do the actual work themselves.
I’m trying to remain calm and carry on, but truth be told, I’m not sleeping a whole lot. Timing is everything and a lot will happen in the next three weeks. If all goes well, I’ll have even more than usual to be thankful for on Turkey Day.