Saturday, August 27, 2011

A tour of my apartment... how and why I do what I do

My apartment.  It's humble, quirky, noisy and dusty.  But I love it.  It's taken a while for this place to seem like home.  I've been here almost a year, and I  may be moving soon.  Like many Americans, I've gone through several downsizes over the past several years due to the economy.  It hasn't been all bad, I was more prepared than most when the economy took a turn.  Downsizing can be really freeing, and I don't like too much stuff - even though it always seems like I have too much!   I've never been very successful at the corporate game, and never had much money.  However, as an artist my personal space is important to me and I've been blessed with creativity.  No matter where I live - and no matter how temporary my place might be - it's still my home, and it's where I experiment with color.  I consider my home my gallery, and my objects are part of an installation piece.  I enjoy moving things around and changing the look.  I can easily change the look with things already in my closet.

I am in love with minimalism, and was very minimalistic in my youth.  In those days, I could move everything I owned in my little car.  This is pre-digital age, so no pictures exist of this time period.  I am also a lover of white, and for years I decorated in a minimal, white on white scheme.  It was the book White Hot by Tricia Guild that first influenced me to start using color.  Pink has been my favorite color my whole life.  Any scheme I use will always include pink and generous amounts of white.  I've found color addicting, and now I love it.  I've experimented with colors I never thought I would use in my home:  yellow, gray and orange are but a few examples.  I'm still not really enamored with red.  Among my current favorites are turquoise, aqua, periwinkle, and silver.  I've been very attracted to blue lately and dream of a place done in a monochromatic cool blue and silver.

I was doing Shabby Chic long before Rachel Ashwell named the style.  I did it out of necessity, I had no money.  I pulled furniture from the curb and painted it, and amazed my friends.  I was cool and didn't even know it.  Almost everything I own has come from vintage stores, thrift stores, garage sales and The Salvation Army.  I've received emails criticizing me because my place looks too perfect, which makes me laugh.  It's true that I like things simple, and I don't like clutter.  But the place gets very, very dusty, which is another reason I don't like too many things.  You have to dust things!  And in this neighborhood you have to dust everyday!  Maybe I'll work up the courage to photograph the place when it's messy. All of my furniture is second hand and not in great shape, I'm making the best of what I have, proving that style can be achieved with very little money. 

I prefer clean and modern, and dream of living in an all white, open loft.  For now I am living in a quirky attic apartment.  There are many aesthetic decisions the landlord made that are bad.  I'd love to be HGTV'd by Antonio Ballatore.  I'd love to rip out walls, gut the kitchen and bathroom and paint the whole place - including the floors - white. I'd love to build a custom shelf for my pottery.  I'd love to build an armoire which houses my home office.  But for now, my place is okay.  I've been working on letting go of perfectionism and appreciating what I have.  I like things simple and casual.  I love beautiful things, but don't want to feel too attached. Nothing is precious.  My nephews are free to touch anything they want.  It's my place, and when I come in from the noisy, chaotic world, I feel embraced.

This is how my living room currently looks.  I bought my Danish sofa at a vintage store for about $200 a couple of years ago.  It is a comfy place to take a nap.  I can't afford to have it reupholstered, I don't sew and I'm not going to learn.  I have enough on my plate.  The sofa's current fabric is itchy, so I cover it in sheets.  According to many design pundits, slip covers are a big no-no.  But I don't care, I enjoy breaking the rules.  Sheets are a great way to go, they are machine washable, you can change the color on a whim, and you don't have to worry about spills.   I know I'm guilty of having too many pillows.  But again, I don't care - I love them!  I also love sparkly things.  My sparkly silver pillow is one of my favorites.

The tulip chair and the ottoman were found on the curb, and have been painted.  I found the mid-century table end table at a flea market for $12.00!  It's a bit out-of-scale, but I like it that way.  I love how all of my furniture has legs and appears to float.  The paintings are my own, and were influenced by Piet Mondrian.  Every time I look at this picture, I think how much I would love for the walls and floors to be white. I adore white floors.

I love deconstructing objects and made the turquoise vase out of a cheap lamp.  I love the look of pillows piled on the floor, this is also Tricia Guild's influence.  These pillows provide a pop of hot pink.  I must have hot pink to be happy.
I wrapped fabric around this lamp shade.  It casts a beautiful, ethereal glow at night.  I know it's out of scale, I am having an over sized lamp shade custom built.
My place is truly a work/live space.  Here is my work area.  I don't have a TV or CD player.  I watch a lot of Netflix and listen to Pandora.  I never really felt a need to buy DVDs or CDs.  I like my work area to be sparse and devoid of too much stimulation since my place has so much color.  I'm not inspired by clutter.  To me this area does not look empty, but rather full of potential.  I usually hang a blank canvas in the area and enjoy contemplating my next experiment in paint.  The canvas will eventually tell me what it wants, and this one wants to be Rauschenberg inspired.   For my critic who thinks my place is too perfect - just look at those cords!  Cords, a necessary evil.  I'm too lazy to try to hide them, so I just ignore them and consider it an act of rebellion.
The living room is L-shaped with a strange alcove in the front of the building.  I have my paintings piled up there, which I don't really like, but it makes for easy viewing for my guests.  I adore the pink filing cabinet!  I could easily live in an all pink place.

Here's the alcove.  I've tried many things in here.  I had the bed here, the dining room table here, even the sofa.  But none of them work for me.  I can see this area when I am chilling on the sofa, and I adore having a wide open space.  Sometimes I do yoga or meditate here, I can see the beautiful sunsets of Lake Erie from here.  I wanted a pendant lamp for the space, but opted for the $5.00 rice paper lantern from World Market.  I would like to do a cluster of these, but it was such a pain to hang.  I'm not a very good DIYer.

Here's the reason I'm no longer a minimalist.  Somewhere along the line I got infected with the vase sickness.  It started with ceramic vases.  Collections can be difficult to manage, and one usually starts another.  Now I am in love with glass vases too.  And I like mixing the two in display.  I probably change vases around a couple of times a week.  It's fun!  I wish I had a vase shop.  This display is reflecting my current love of blue.

I love pink and blue together.  That's one of my new paintings, I'm hooked on color blocking at the moment.

Here's the view from my sofa at night.  I like to have pretty views wherever I am in the apartment.  Love the open space, hate the mirror tiles. 
Here's a secret. You don't have to display everything you own.  I have a stash of vases in my closet.    Collections are meant to be dynamic.  After you arrange your room, edit about 25%.  Keep a stash in your closet and rotate it.   Pulling a piece out of the closet and rediscovering it is as satisfying as retail therapy.  And speaking of retail therapy, before you buy anything new, get rid of two things.  When I want a new vase, I sell or donate two vases (sometimes more).  This way you will keep your place simple and clutter under control.

Here's my hallway.  I've been thinking of turning this into an art gallery, but I don't really like groupings of painting.  I prefer a few large works.  I have my prize possession displayed here.  My Dee Adams painting.

My bedroom is so tiny, it's almost impossible to get pictures, even from the hall.  All I have in there is my bed, a night stand and a painting.  The nightstand is a recent yard sale acquisition and only cost $7.00.  I'd like to silver leaf it, but that's beyond my skill set.
I love the black curtains.  The room is very cozy, and I like it monastic.

I'm blessed to have two large walk-in closets.  I love organization.  I like things in their place, and I hate it when things get lost.  Fortunately, this doesn't happen often because everything has a place.  I don't have a dresser, so I bought this plastic bin on wheels.  I can roll it out of the closet, it's great when I am getting ready to to out.   It houses  my costume jewelery collection, some purses and hats.  I'd like to have another one for my shoes.

Here's a picture of my strange kitchen.  The cupboards and counter are all new.  What terrible choices.  Honestly, I don't know what landlords are thinking sometimes.  I'm grateful that there's a ton of storage, but I think that's the ugliest counter I've ever seen.  The ceramic tiles are okay, but I'd much rather have large subway tiles, and I wish there were an open shelf above the sink so I could display my teapots.  For the purpose of this photo (and my email critic), I left some stuff on the counter.  Usually I put the coffee pot, and the dish washing soap, etc. in the cupboard below the sink.  I like the look of an empty counter.
I have a cute turquoise bread box, but I use it to store tea.  And for some reason, I seem to be attracted to trays lately.  I like things that are functional as well as beautiful. 
I have a little reading corner in my kitchen.  It's a very pleasant place to drink my morning coffee.  This is about a fourth of the books I used to own.  I still love books, but they  look like clutter to me, which is why I don't have them in the living room.  The exercise ball is great fun to sit on and my nephews use it as occasional seating.  Ignore the awful tile - you already know I wish it were white.
This is my basil plant, Herbert.  Another of my critics is unhappy that I don't usually have house plants.  Here's my confession.  I kill everything, no matter how good my intentions, and it makes me so sad when a plant dies.  I am trying desperately not to kill him.  The deck is one of the reasons I fell in love with this apartment.  I have not been able to use it this summer.  Unfortunately, the crazy prof at CSU was correct when he taught us about global warming 20 years ago.
In a place of strange alcoves and niches, here is yet another in my kitchen.  I use this one to store my dishes.  I have a thing for white dishes.  I took the top doors off, since they were completely non-functional.  You could only open them an inch due to the slope of the roof.  I painted the inside teal to make the dishes pop.
Hidden in the corner of this alcove is another little alcove that really isn't visible.  An alcove within an alcove!  I painted the shelves gray and I have some of my collection displayed there.  In addition to pottery, I love dishes and teapots.  What keeps my collections consistent is that I like things that have a function and are simple in shape.   My pink Mikasa tea set is another of my prize possessions, I bought it at a second hand store for $2.00 about 15 years ago.  It's one of those things I've thought of selling, but can't seem to do.  I mean look it.  Simple and pink!  Not easy to find.

Here's a couple more criticisms I'd like to address.  Not that I really care about criticism, but it's worth a mention.  I've been criticized for my lack of family photos.  Most of my photos are electronic, and I often have them as screen savers or slideshows on my PC.  I also have a large family album, and a few pictures on my fridge.  There are people in my life that I dearly love, and I can clearly see their faces in my mind.  Another critic said a man would never like to live here.  To which I say, so what?  I don't design my place so that a man will want to live here.  I design it for me.  And here's a secret.  I was married, and I really didn't like it.  I actually like living alone.  It doesn't make me weird.  I'm a sensitive sort.  I like quiet.  I like the simple life.  I do like men.  I just don't want a husband.  I love people, and I enjoy visitors, but I also like solitude.  I think I must have been a monk in a previous life.

I read a lot of blogs, and one of my favorites is Apartment Therapy.  There is a camp of people who like simple and clutter free.  And there is camp of people who like clutter and lots of stuff.  Whenever an apartment is in the second camp, you can expect comments that say things like, "Finally, a real home where real people live."  Well, there are real people who like to live clutter free.  I grew up in a messy, hoarder type home and it didn't feel good.  I like space, freedom and balance. Exercising restraint is not as easy as it looks.  And I'm a real person.  My place does get messy, but I don't enjoy it messy.  I follow a rule Karim Rashid wrote in one of his books.  He said, spend 10 minutes a day cleaning and your place will never be messy. 

I have to give major props to interior photographers.  It's not as easy as it looks, especially when working with a small place.  To see larger images of the above, simply click on the pics.  Or if you are in need of an insomnia cure, you can see the evolution of my apartment at flickr, here.


Kayleigh Holton said...

I love how girly your apartment feels! The white, pink and blue match each other perfectly. That, and the minimalist style you’ve employed to majority of the space creates this vintage feel; like something out of the 60’s, but not quite. I think you did a great job. Thanks for the tour!

Peggy said...

Hi Kayleigh, thanks for the compliment and for visiting! I hope you will visit often.


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