March 10, 2011

Processing... Progression

Seems to me that most everything is in a perpetual state of "Processing. Please wait." First thing that pops into mind when thinking of that familiar phrase is computers. Those cutesie little icons that are round and have the little "rotating" petals (or whatever they are) are supposed to help us be more patient while we wait for a computer to DO.SOMETHING.ALREADY! (I'm really good at waiting, you see...). 

Sometimes I think it would be nice if I could have some of that tv magic we've all grown accustomed to, in which we see multi-faceted situations, projects, processes, and people all tidied up and packaged with a neat little bow in the span of about a half-hour or hour. Serial killer murder cases are dramatically and perfectly solved all the way from plotting the crimes to sentencing the perp, in little increments of time between singing household cleaning products, scantily-clad extraordinarily skinny (and strategically, surgically "enhanced") women, and couples holding hands while sitting in separate bathtubs in exotic locals. On HGTV and other channels, we can watch how folks completely transform very seriously poor living conditions into perfectly appointed spaces in a half-hour. Some of them claim the work is done in a DAY, some a weekend, but all are edited and completed for our viewing within the alloted time frame that makes for  what has become standard entertainment. THIS.IS.NOT.REALITY. If they really DO complete all these painting, sewing, staining, and construction projects in such short periods of time (one or a couple of days), I speak from experience that anything that is placed on a table that was painted a few hours ago is going to STICK to that surface and cause damage to the finish when moved; sewing takes time if you do it well, and watching someone sew a straight seam down one side of a pillow cover or window treatment is indicative of about 1/16th of the work involved, and so on.

As for how it REALLY works, it can take a full hour to vacuum if needed, scrape all the gunk off a piece of old furniture, use Goo-Gone or whatever chemical aid, and just wipe it down to prep it for repair, sanding, and priming before even beginning to paint or stain it! Not to mention curing time, which is extensive for anything with a horizontal surface. We're talking WEEKS of curing to do it right.

On a larger scale of progression, I've been working with one of my clients now for over 6 months. We have sold nearly all the furnishings on the main level of their home and replaced them with new pieces that more appropriately suit their home and lifestyle. It is still in process, and it will be for a very long time. We began with the family room, powder room, kitchen, and breakfast room, and have since increased the scope to the dining room, study, three guest bedrooms and baths, and the master en suite. It is a large project.

We started with this:

Now it looks like this:

I papered the backs of the built-in bookshelves in a paper-mosaic style. There are some metallics and many different textures and patterns in the papers. A lot of this will be covered once books, photos, and accessories are in place, and that will temper the "busy-ness" of it a bit, as we plan to use very simple and clean-lined pieces. 

Closeup of one of the shelves of the built-in. Obviously, the shelves have not yet been properly accessorized.

I painted the side table lamps in a hammered copper paint. They were the brightest lime green glass lamps I've ever seen, but they were the right scale and shape, so paint them I did! I intend to embellish the shades, of course.

On the other side of the large leather sofa is an antique sideboard I re-did for the space:

This is a great piece of furniture! The style of it is different from anything else in the space, and it suits it perfectly for storage and serving. The sideboard's large drawers, flatware tray, and medallions on the doors are papered and antiqued, and it is distressed. I painted the hardware antique copper and hand-rubbed the finish. Facing the kitchen island, it is the perfect height, width, and length for serving desserts, finger foods, etc. while entertaining. It is a focal point of this area of the house. Accessories for this piece are still in-the-works as well.

Here's a sneak preview of where we are in the dining room PROGRESSION. Before my clients owned the house:

The way it looked before I got hold of it:

Previous homeowners had put faux painting techniques in nearly every room. The dining room had some light gold feathery effect. The color of the walls and ceiling in this room did absolutely nothing to highlight the architectural details of the space. If you try really hard you can ALMOST see the teeny little brass chandelier hanging way up there next to the ceiling, about 5 feet above the table!

The first thing we did was change the chandelier to an appropriately scaled fixture for the space and to hang it 30" above the table. We found a brass one the homeowner liked and I painted it in an oil-rubbed bronze finish and we covered the chain with a cord cover. Given the homeowners' penchant for saturated, warm colors, we went in this direction:

then I added the hand painting to one wall:
This is a simple technique of tracing around a template on the wall with a pencil, and then following the lines with a paintbrush in the exact same color as the wall, but a higher sheen. It takes some time, but worth it. The effect is stunning and the homeowner gasped and became very emotional when she saw it. 

Now we temper the dark walls a bit more with the right lighter-color elements such as the window treatments:

Latte color fabric panels in a light-to-medium-tone beige, with an allover embroidered floral and vine are a nice transition from the deep Turkish Coffee walls to the almost white blinds (homeowner wishes to keep the blinds as is). The vine mimics the shape of the hand painting on the focal wall and I had the seamstress add a border of horizontal stripe fabric to the inside of the panels, to temper the very feminine pattern of the main fabric and give the look of two layers of panels, although there is only one (not including the lining, of course), for budget purposes. Crystal bead trim runs the length of the panels between the two fabrics as well as dangling below the stripe fabric-covered buttons that accentuate the goblet pleats just a little bit. The two 21" curtain rods are in a golden bronze finish. Hopefully I can get some better pictures soon. :-)

There is still much work to be done here, but we now have the most of the basics in except the sideboard I'm painting for the room. The plan is to paint the ceiling a soft gray-blue between the beams, add a ceiling medallion at the canopy of the light fixture (canopies are always too small!), recover the shades and add crystal bead trim to them, replace the chairs at the ends of the table with upholstered chairs, and recover the seat cushions on the existing chairs in this fabric, which is a bit difficult to see well in this picture:

Again, a similar shape as what I painted on the wall, and repetition of our colors of cream, browns, gray-blue, and a little bit of gold.

We have a very large mirror with a mirrored frame awaiting placement on the focal wall, and some accessories will soon follow once the sideboard is in place. The mirror will obviously reflect light and will brighten up the room more. We will also then create a tablescape that will almost complete the room, with the exception of perhaps a live ficus or other tree and/or some plants and maybe an upholstered bench on one wall. In the meantime, we're IN PROCESS on the other rooms as well, slowly but surely working our way through. 

I recall seeing children's tshirts that read, "Be patient. God's not finished with me yet," and I've heard the cute song on the Christian radio station with the same message. Maybe someday it'll sink in! Methinks there are applications of that plea that extend far beyond little ones who put their jelly-laden fingers in places we'd rather they didn't. As for me, I prefer the term "PROGRESSING," rather than "processing," or the much over-used "evolving." I am thankful that I'm in a perpetual state of progression in every way, personally and professionally- that means I'm still learning and (hopefully!) getting better in my wisdom, patience, and ability to love and serve others.