Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Splish - Splash, a giveaway and poetic Architectural Decay

Welcome to our upstairs bathroom. The door's open, please come in. The artwork on the door was designed and painted by me, along with all the moody faux painting. I was going for a relaxing and whimsical yet dramatic mood. Our bathroom of grayness, white and black.

But first let me tell you about my giveaway and how to enter to win.

Enter this giveaway, a hot off the press (published on April 1, 2014) House Beautiful's 500 Bathroom Ideas - Elegant and Dreamy Spaces. Hardcover, 304 pages, size - 7x9.8 by 1.2 inches thick. The book is gorgeous, full of inspiration sure to inspire ideas in your bathroom. Love the book and I purchased an additional one as a giveaway. The giveaway will run for two weeks and I will announce the book winner in my next post. 

You will be entered just by leaving a comment. Double your chances and enter another comment stating I'm a new follower OR I am a follower. I will use a computer generated random selection. I promise whoever wins will enjoy this lovely new book.

You can put the light's on, but today I photographed with only the light of our skylight, streaming in gorgeous springtime late morning light.

We have had one major gut job and a remodel and update on this bathroom. The gut was in the 80's. I think many bath jobs become a major job by sheer chance of what lies hidden for years.

John and I are real do-it-yourself people ... But this was a real headache/backbreaking experience. We noticed on our living room ceiling below a sagging and a glimpse of a beam's trace. Then the water started dripping. 

The culprit turned out to be a small stone ... when the plumber soldered a lead pipe for the sink he propped the pipe up with a stone back in 1934. It had through the years worn through the pipe and made a pin hole that leaked into the floor, slowly weakened the beams and finally soaked the floor enough to show up. SURPRISE... the wet set tile flooring underneath had about 10 inches of cinder (what a mess). John needed to re-support all the beams.

A second remodel was in 2012. Yup another drip, drip, drip down into our living room, seriously isn't a torture technique done with water??? This time a copper pipe in the shower floor developed a pin hole. It caused my gallery light over my living room Buddha to short out, spark and then the water dripped down. We wound up cutting away the corner of the ceiling and patching and repainting all the down stairs ceilings, to color match since it is an open concept living space.

We replaced the sink in 2012 with this pretty pedestal with it's own towel bar. It is a couple inches taller than our old pedestal which is what we were hoping for. 

Love these tiny watering cans on the door frame, a Mother's Day gift from my son years ago.

During the initial gut job we were able to close up a hall closet which we put our air conditioning duct work in and reworked it into recessed cabinets inside the bathroom. The niche we made just for architectural interest. 

We also put a recessed cabinet in over the toilet for towels. The cabinets came from IKEA back in the 80's. We chose them because we liked the wired glass doors. Lemon oil monthly keeps them refreshed.

Splish…Splash….I was takin’ a bath!  We loved our original Art Deco inspired bath (deep and long) and we tried to keep the Deco look in our remodel. This is the original extremely heavy cast iron tub. It was the only thing we kept in the gut, besides the shower door frame. John put fiberglass insulation underneath and on the sides of the tub to retain heat during a soak in the tub and we had it refinished a creamy white.

So glad we decided to keep the old cast iron tub, we love the blend of old with new. Living in Philadelphia with echoes of history you tend to develop a true reverence for old. New buildings built next door to historic sites. Built with respect for the cities history and founding fathers intentions. 

2012 we introduced all brushed nickel faucets into our bathroom. L-O-V-E brushed nickel. 

2012 also was when I finally was able to have my long desired honed Italian Carrara subway tile and mosaic in the shower. The shower door is the original chrome frame from the 30's which we replaced the glass twice. Once years ago with frosted and 2012 with clear. I find a Mr. clean magic easer keeps it sparkling clean and removes all soap scum.

Inside look at our shower stall, we installed a mosaic border trim. It also was used for the shower floor. The rain shower faucet is one of my favorite 2012 changes. The faucet control keeps the water a set degree, also a wonderful addition.

Shower floor and wide marble step. We matched the green marble from the 80's.

Sure ... I'll show you my shampoo!!! Actually showing you the corner nickel soap and shampoo holder. 

On the ceiling we installed red oak flooring and I applied a Marine varnish finish to it. 

On our glass shelf over the tub holds my latest purchase. A painting done by mon amie Kerrie Sanderson from her etsy store, Sea Washed. Kerrie has a blog named Sea Cottage. A visit there leaves you feeling peaceful and feeling sea breezes. The painting is titled Prairie Rain and I had looked for awhile for an ethereal looking painting and as soon as I saw this one I knew it was perfect for our bathroom. I adore Kerrie's talent.

Another photo of shelf and Rain painting.

I have two of these antique wall planters, they hang opposite each other on the bathtub enclosure walls. I'm going to replace the plants with spider plants that offshoot babies. They will be safe from >^..^< Max and Simon munching on them. 

On top the tank top. The basket is a vintage rice basket from the early 1900's in China. I purchased it from Material Culture in Philadelphia, one of if not my favorite Philadelphia store. It is a perfect size to hold two rolls of toilet tissue. The gray planter is from Target a few years ago. It was a solid dark resin, I altered it with a white glaze to highlight it.

The box on our aluminum table was painted by me. It holds Q-tips. I love black olives branches and they are a reoccurring theme throughout our house.

Another look at the table. It is handcrafted in India from recycled aluminum cans. It is a very sturdy table that we purchased from Wisteria.

Our sconces and medicine cabinet are from Restoration Hardware.

I will leave you with my poetry entitled Architectural Decay. Good luck in the Giveaway and I'll see you in two weeks with a new post and announce who won.

Architectural Decay

I find undeniable beauty and I appreciate the innate imperfection of architectural decay.
Admiring centuries old windows adorned with elegant fabrics that time will gorgeously fray.

I simply ask this question, why tear down buildings of grandeur built in the past?
Do you really believe modern construction will gracefully age or will truly last?

The answer can be found in the energy of dwellings, decades that passed slowly not fast.
Echoes of European history, some even have survived wars relentless enemies bomb blast.

Walk along the streets and experience the rhythm that will endure in your memories, it's no mystery...
There is a soulfulness that lingers and fuses with the pulse in a centuries old towns history.                                                                                            

All I am really suggesting is to first study the integrity of structure in a proud old world city,
to not build in passion and harmony blending the old with the new, to me, seems a real pity.

Building Modern style in thoughtful expression showing historical respect you will inspire.

A blending of new construction with centuries old is thoughtful building and design to admire.

© Vera

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter wishes, a giveaway announcement ... strolling under a canopy of pink and a poem.

Wishing you a wonderful Easter celebration or if observed Passover, to be happily enjoyed with family and friends. For our springtime decoration this year I used a whole lot of eggs in our home. My grandparents (Dad's side) had a commercial chicken farm in Kingswood, NJ outside of Frenchtown, many, many decades ago. But that will be another story at another time, just saying I am recalling strong family memories this year.

I have lots to share with you in this post, but first I want to announce a giveaway that will start on Saturday April 26th and run for two weeks.

The giveaway is a hot off the press (published April 1, 2014) House beautiful's 500 Bathroom Ideas - Elegant and Dreamy Spaces. Hardcover, 304 pages, size - 7x9.8 by 1.2 inches thick. The book is gorgeous, full of inspiration to add beauty to your bathroom. Love the book so much brat me purchased a copy for myself. The giveaway will run for two weeks, more about it on Saturday April 26th when I post a photo essay of our upstairs bathroom.

On April 12th and 13th John and I enjoyed being incognito in the DC area under a canopy of pink. We spent a fun weekend with our friends, dining out and strolling the cherry blossom trees. Peak, gorgeous and an unexpected 80+ degrees as the blossoms rained down on us. Friends, Les, Kathy (Les's niece) Judy and Brian once again were a delight to casually wander around with soaking in the ephemeral lovely 2014 pink blossoms.

The trees were introduced as a gift from Japan to America in 1912, so being 102 years old you tend to linger in appreciation of the majestic beauty. When something happens and a tree needs replacement a young cherry blossom tree is planted. The cycle of life. Life expectancy could be a possible 250 years but in the Northeast we suffered through a horrid winter of relentless snow and below zero temperatures, weeks running into months, totaling 4 months this year. Spring was/is greatly received and rejoiced.

Some trees sprout blossoms in their trunks, while the bark shows moss from too much wetness this past winter. A harsh winter left some trees damaged. I would be remiss to not mention this.

Sadly this tree split and needed to have a limb cut off, but surviving is in it's legacy and lasting beauty.

Judy who I regard as a gardening wizard was our tour guide Sunday through the Kenwood section of Bethesda. I wish I had stopped and taken a better picture of a Crape Myrtle pruned. C'est la Vie... Look to the right of the lovely blossom tree. Judy made us laugh over and over again with her announcement of "CRAPE MURDER" whenever we strolled by a tree that had been severely pruned with the top chopped becoming horticulturist's chant "CRAPE MURDER". Judy is a nurse but trust me she has an amazing infinity to mother natures bestowed beauty. The crape myrtles are chopped to limit the growing height, but some are done less severely and those will blossom and bear flowers in that growing season. 

Crape Myrtle are beautiful flowering trees. They bloom all Summer long, beloved for their peeling bark, different colors and stunning natural form. My favorite is the "Zuni" which produces Lavender colored flowers, although I also adore the very bright pink.

I never would of considered myself addicted to my iPhone 5 ... Well I've never admitted to it till now. I have many cell phone covers ranging from white to red from translucent to opaque but all rabbit's with bunny ears. Pretty much my thing - in the pink meant my iPhone was clad in light translucent pink. Yeah I get teased but I also see lots of smiles from people and honestly I do it for me, my entertainment and my delight.

I spotted this tree, now look hard, doesn't it resemble a chocolate Easter bunny? Look closer... see the ears, the cut off limb as the tail??? OK, so Judy takes my iPhone and puts it in the hole, seriously wedged it into the hole. Thinking about what if it fell down into the truck, no arm would reach, would I need to commit the unthinkable, chopping down one of my beloved blossom trees? Trees I flock to annually and dream of in the cold winter months? My obsession of my lifetime. Heart palpitations and damn near a panic attack. All it was is a prop, staged by mon amie Judy to take a photo with her camera of my rabbit clad phone in the tree. Cute idea really. Admittedly I held my breath until it was safely back in my sweaty trembling hand my mind raced...

All I could think about was my 4,197 photos (I know I shouldn't have that many stored) pics for this post, my contacts, my apps, my last text message from my son just days before he passed. Yup, I am addicted to technology and I was about to have a panic attack! All those times I laughed at people with their smart phones in hand, checking, clicking, texting, sending ... OMG I am one of them!!! Realization in mind, senses alert suddenly in that moment of time I was awakened to my silly dependence on my iPhone!  While there were birds chirping, a squirrel running up a tree nearby and a brown bunny across the street. Yes, I am indeed an observer. Curiously wondering what might be their social media in a lighthearted moment this poem flooded my head. Hope you enjoy my poetry and feel free to laugh at me over my near panic attack.

Bunny kisses and I'll be back to post in a week, bathroom photo essay, giveaway and I'll leave you with my poetry and no if will not be potty related, promise.

Follow my "tweets"

Often known as a wise adviser, he is the self proclaimed King, a radiant young 5 year old shinny Black crow.
His far seeing eyes and oracular cries foretell impending fate to fellow creatures stopping by to say hello.

He considers himself the local town watch, perched high on a branch of a Dutch Elm tree.
Beneath is a young brown bunny thinking just how wonderful it would be, to fly far and free.

Dispelling all myths the crow points out merits of all creatures, while he's in charge of their social media.
Through his "tweets" he provides constant wisdom, much like knowledge he learned from an encyclopedia.

While the young cute brown bunny is happy just to hop around with pretty fresh flowers at his feet,
or nibble in a vegetable garden, planted by a farmer who grows baby carrots that are tasty and sweet.

King Crow looking down wants the bunny to hide from a predator Red Fox looking to eat.
"Mr. Fox is right down the lane, seen from above" as the Crow sends out his warning "tweet".

A Ginger Tom cat is out wandering and scouting for female companion, as he is always on the prowl,
just then King Crow spots a neighbors dog about to chase the Tom with a mean aggressive growl.

Well, the Tom's natural instinct is to fight - but with this dog it would probably end in a bloody mess,
So King Crow cries out his prophetic "tweet" and his birds eye's view warning is once again a success.

After a long afternoon spent sending "tweets" of wisdom, our Crow is now hungry for his favorite treat,
as he swoops down into a wild strawberry patch, a deserved reward for "tweets" cleverly announced, as he is always discreet!

Social media thankfully isn't just for us humans, nope not at all, as many might assume,
It is everywhere, amongst small creatures too, so they don't encounter doom and gloom!

© Vera

As the pink blossoms rained down on us, sigh.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Origami or Architecture?

I design with an architectural aesthetic, who knows, maybe in a past life I was an architect!  Both John and I in renovating our circa 1934 row home have tried to preserve the best of it's architectural design and introduce our own creative touches to add interest and folly. We think our cut outs resemble Origami, made with Sheetrock instead of paper.

We created a cut out in our bedroom ceiling in the window soffit just for fun. The Lion is old, it's made of cement and extremely heavy. We purchased him 30 years ago.

Another view of the cut out created in drywall and yes messy work but easy to create.

In our sitting room we changed the angle for a different feel adding interesting architectural detail over the built in bookcases.

Another look at them. In our sitting area upstairs we put up bead board on the ceiling on a diagonal and I pickled/white washed it. Since we opened up the area I wanted to define the space and the bead board does.

We weren't done yet and made another drywall origami detail in the window soffit. What can I say ... I like self expression and sometimes even a glimpse into a culture encourages me to explore, observe and study. I remember watching the Academy best picture award winning 2008 British drama "Slum Dog Millionaire". I was overwhelmed and deeply moved with the story line. For me it was emotionally difficult to comprehend the improvised portrayal of an 8 year old boy living in the slums of Mumbai. Up until the movie I hadn't a clue of the scope of India's poor.

I reflected on it awhile back and wanted to understand how a country rich with splendid beauty, intricately made textiles and breathtaking architecture and unique cuisine could be so diametrically opposed in living conditions. The rich-poor divide. Slums next to multi-million dollar homes and billion dollar hotels. Truth be known more than half of Mumbai's population lives in slums.

“Child mortality [since 2000] is down by 2.65 million a year. That's a rate of 7,256 children's lives saved each day. … It drives me nuts that most people don't seem to know this news.”

I have never been to India but through my armchair studies I have discovered a deep rooted respect for the Indian people.  Their jewelry, crafts and textiles evolved through the centuries. Respected artisans like Michael Aram, American born and a designer I admire and collect,has taken his craft based design and set up homes and workshops in New Delhi. Creating handmade pieces from tableware to furniture, all crafted in India Rich metalworking traditions. He has accomplished much in helping out the Indian metal crafts and introducing his modern designs to us all. He is an artisan I truly admire.

My first Michael Aram purchase, from many years ago. I love setting this out with cheese when we entertain. It has a cool tactile feel in the hand from the different metals and always causes pause with people as they stop, look and think.

Not to mention the exquisite textiles of skilled Indian craftspeople. Dyed silks, intricate beading, sequins embellished and embroidered. Intricately crafted textiles which generates huge employment for both skilled and unskilled labor in India's textile trade.

I purchased this vest 20+ years ago! Beaded and dyed and still in perfect condition.

A close up of the beadwork

I am fascinated by India's architecture from centuries ago to modern. The photo above is the Nāga Snake Tower. It is 54 stories high and is known as "Guardians of the City".

This is India's largest temple in southern India. A Hindu temple built in 1987. The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple dedicated to Ranganatha a reclining form of a Hindu deity.

I express myself not only in writing but through my art and my interior design work which always  has architectural flair. I leave you today with my poetic short story of young love who were destined to be together. Totally imagined and probably would not of been written if it were not for my boundless curiosity of understanding darma, karma and my continued spiritual journey.

Photo sources: 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9 taken by me, Vera
Photo's 5,10,11,12 Google images

Dawn and Yamir

In New York City, after a night of labor, a girl is born at daybreak's first ray, not a moment too soon.
On the same day nearly 7,800 miles away, a boy in India is born, beneath the bright light of a full moon.

Thus begins the story of Dawn and Yamir, born in diversity of cultures, half the world away.
Dawn an only child will live a privileged lifestyle, but by no means is this meant to sound cliche.

Yamir, the youngest of three is an optimistic, fun loving child who plays Cricket in Old Bombay.
As a Hindu he is taught everyone's divine and you create your own destiny, life dharma he will obey.

Dawn met Yamir at age 13, during a business stay at the Ambassador hotel in India's capital city. 
Dad an international banking VP is bringing green growth strategies to areas impoverished and gritty.

It was 1992, 3 years before Bombay would be renamed Mumbai, the worlds most populous town.
A 5 week stay with her parents in India and instantly Dawn spotted Yamir, tall, lean and brown.

Yamir often goes to work with Dad a general manager with the Ambassador hotel employ.
That summer in the world's largest democracy, Dawn fell in love with it's culture, cuisine and a boy.

Serendipity brought Dawn and Yamir together, but that summer foretold their future dreams.
Yamir taught Dawn the game of Cricket where she developed a true appreciation it seems.

While touring the Taj Mahal, Dawn felt a calling to architecture, visiting historic spots everyday.
Her heart embraced the essence of India believing it is where her soul belongs - 7,800 miles away!

Dad accomplished his goal in establishing global financial flow, his work in Bombay was ending.
Dawn never influenced by people's beliefs or ambitions felt Yamir and her union was ascending.

It was then during their tearful and heartfelt parting embrace that Karma sealed their fate,
Although it would be 9 long years for Dawn's return she and Yamir would patiently wait.

Despite all obstacles and diversity these teenagers were destined to experience young love.
Flying back to NYC she committed to memory the horizons sightline from thousand's of feet above.

Over many years of communication there weren't any love letters tied in a satin ribbon bow.
Instead daily emails turned into Skype calls, where they could see each other's face aglow.

Skype allowed them to talk about dreams of a reunion, that they would one day soon share.
Recalling India's sunshine kissing her long golden soft curls living in NYC just didn't compare.

Eventually Yamir became a Batsman and his team won in Cricket's World Cup game.
But it was during London's hosting the World Cup's final, he earned player respect and fame.

Dawn driven by passion attended NYIT school of Architecture and design and earned her degree.
Returning to India and working in sustainable housing design was what and all she could foresee.

After graduating she accepted a junior position with a Mumbai firm designing affordable housing.
The firm is known for home vibrancy and sustainability and to become a protégée was very arousing.

Destiny was bringing her back to India and Yamir for a long awaited loving embrace,
After 9 years, 34 days and 2 minutes Dawn finally will dwell in her beloved chosen land of grace.

Karma is the law of cause and effect and where we create our destiny in thoughts and deeds.
Forever, as in always united, is measured perpetually and everlasting love always succeeds.

© Vera