|The dining room, before any kind of fixing-up. Note the chandelier and the stencils.|
"Paint, white paint, had done a great deal toward making another place of the dreary little house. The kitchen was spotless white enamel everywhere, and enough old marble slabs had been discovered to cover the kitchen table and the top of the kitchen dresser, and to put up shelves around the sink and under the windows...."-From Re-Creations, Chapter 12
The previous owner of our house was into stencils in a big way. Squiggles and hearts, pineapples and flowers and every other stencil image you can imagine. She put them around the living room wainscoting and the bathroom ledges, the dining room ceiling, and the entry-way. She also adored eccentric lighting and the chandelier in the dining room was, I thought, truly awful. Unfortunately, it all just became part of the scenery and we never really bothered to mess with it. However, as I stood in the dining room one beautiful spring day, I realized that I was in the mood to do some house fixing up. So, I went to the little local hardware store and got this lovely paint color from Benjamin Moore and a snowy white trim color and started painting. It will be subtle and fresh, and much better than whatever was there before.
|This is an awful picture, but it's fitting, because the chandelier is awful.|
"The dining room had gradually become a place of rest and refreshment for the eyes as well as the palate. Soft green was the prevailing color of furniture and floor, with an old grass rug scrubbed back to almost its original color....The curtains were white with a green border of stenciling. The dingy old paper had been scraped from the walls, which had been painted with many coats of white; and a gay green border had been stenciled at the ceiling."-Re-Creations, Chapter 12
In the story of Re-Creations, Cornelia is a young college girl, whose family calls her home urgently because their family is falling apart. Her mother is in the hospital, father is close to a breakdown, and the children are generally going to rack and ruin. So Cornelia steps in to the dingy little apartment in the bad part of the city that her parents purchased and moved into without telling her (without telling her?? This part was unbelievable, to me) and begins to put the house to rights. Since she was studying interior decorating at school, one of her first jobs is to redecorate the house, the proceedings of which are described in lovely detail.
|After mudding and a coat of primer.|
"Cornelia awoke with a great zeal for work upon her....The set [bedroom set] in her mother's rom was a cheap one; and that she would paint gray with decorations of little pink buds and trailing vines. The set in her own room should be ivory-white with sepia shadows....Cheap felt-paper of pale gray or pearl or cream for the bedrooms, and corn-color for the living room...And Carey's room should be painted white, walls and ceiling and all. She would set him at it as soon as he finished the fireplace, and then she would stencil little birds... around the top of the walls for a border, in the same blue as the curtains...and an unbleached muslin bedspread and pillow roll also stenciled in blue."-Re-Creations Chapter 10
Cornelia, like our previous owner, adored stencils. And, if I had 1920s stencils around the wall (and bluebirds...can you think of a more charming stencil? 1920s eggshell blue bluebirds), I probably wouldn't have been as hung-ho to prime over them as I was over some hideous 1980s stencils. Oh, and the trim color currently in the dining room? This bizarre brown with a lot of yellow and green in it. Not mustard per se, but definitely headed in that direction.
|The window and painted-shut door. I'm not looking forward to all the prying|
taping I'm going to have to do.
I'm in the mudding/priming stage right now. Yesterday was day one and I spent all afternoon mudding over the drywall piece that had been added to move a door and over the cracks that have developed in the plaster of our old farmhouse. I've added a heavy coat of primer and today I plan to add more, as well as sand and probably re-apply more mud. So far, the process is gloriously fun and I'm looking forward to having a pretty dining room.
I love this final quote from Re-Creations:
"The first evening it was all complete the family just sat down and enjoyed themselves in it, talking over each achievement of cushion of curtain or wall as a great connoisseur might have looked over his newly acquired collection and gloated over each specimen with delight."-Re-Creations, Chapter 12.
Reading Re-Creations makes me want to get to work on the dining roomwith an even greater zeal. I well know that feeling of satisfaction after the completion of a home re-creations spurt and I can't wait to have that with this dining room. When it's all painted, I'll be sure to post pictures! Oh, and, if you can get your hands on a copy, read Re-Creations. It's a lovely book.