July 21, 2014

The Master Bedroom

Welcome to our Master Bedroom. No one is allowed in here except adults—and Fanny, our cat, of course. It is my haven from the chaos of the three children downstairs. It's where I keep my best-loved breakable things. It's where I curl up under my fluffy down comforter with a cup of tea and a good book (if I ever get the chance). More often, whenever Kevin gives me an hour to myself before dinner, it's where I retreat with a cold beer, my knitting, and the latest episode of whatever BBC program I'm currently watching on the tablet. Occasionally, I even get to sleep here.

I love so many things about this room. First, the furniture: no Ikea here! I'm very proud of myself for only having "real furniture" in this room—the only room in the house that wasn't at least half outfitted at the Swedish superstore. The upholstered bed is from Crate and Barrel (our first an only "grow-up" furniture purchase). The bedding is from Dwell. The dresser was a refurbished antique I scored for $100 off Craigslist Boston. The vanity set and marble-top nightstands were from my grandmother's house in Arkansas. (And inside one nightstand is scribbled the address and phone number for "Dominique, Paris XVIe." Wish I knew the story behind that!) The goldenrod-coloured throw was knit by my mother.

I also keep in this room what Colin and Archer refer to as my "treasures," all of those precious little things I don't want children touching: my jewelry boxes, my grandmother's mother-of-pearl opera glasses, a glass vitrine full of miniature bottles and knickknacks I've collected on my travels. But, just like my mother (who also keeps a vitrine full of breakables in her bedroom), I'll let the boys come in and handle everything if they are very, very calm and very, very good.

But my most valuable possession is the antique sailor's desk that sits in one corner. I'm not exactly sure how old it is, but my mother, who owned it before me, guesses it has to be early 19th century. It's carved from a marbled black walnut, with lots of beautiful decorative scrollwork and lions and rosettes. I use it as a writing desk for writing "important things": letters, my journal, whatever needs to be written by hand on elegant stationary with a fine pen. Behind its hidden door I keep decades' worth of journals, my monogrammed stationary printed on a letterpress by a dear friend, and the cream-and-gold Waterman pen given to me by another friend and mentor when I graduated from college. Oh, how I love this desk—and the idea of this desk, since these days most of the writing in this room I do in my head ... just before I drift off to sleep.

June 25, 2014

Virginia's Room

Oh, Virginia's room! Other than the boys' room, it's my favourite room in the house. No doubt I love my kids'  rooms so much because I spent so much time thinking about what I wanted their experience of their bedrooms to be, and then selected everything that's in them accordingly. This is not true of the other rooms in my home, which are "decorated" with whatever hand-me-downs I brought to Canada from my mother's attic in Arkansas and then filled out with whatever functional pieces of furniture I could afford from Ikea.

But to finally have a girl, and get to indulge in a feminine colour palette! Just before Virginia was born, my aunt sent me the antique hand-stitched quilt that is on the twin bed. My grandmother had bought it in rural Arkansas in the 1970s from an old woman who said she had sewn it as part of her "hope chest" when she was a girl. My guess is the quilt is now 80 years old or more.  The stitching is very fine, and quite sturdy, despite the quilt's age. And the colour-scheme is so unusual: bright orange and chambray blues and lilacs. In person, the colours are quite beautiful and the quilt inspired me to "go bold" in Virginia's room instead of sticking to the soft girlie pinks and purples that I'm so fond of. And I am so glad I did. I had so much fun outfitting this room.

I had my mom sew the purple dust ruffle to match, and she also painted the purple dresser, which is the very simple Tarva, from Ikea. I spiced it up with a set of bright orange floral drawer pulls from Anthropologie. I sewed the crib quilt from a stash of Heather Ross fabric I bought five years ago, when I was still just dreaming about having a girl. (I promise to post more about that quilt later, since it was a project very dear to my heart.) I also had my mom sew a couple of crib sheets in some coordinating (but out-of-print) fabric by Heather Ross that I scavenged on Spoonflower.

What else? This room is chock full of lovely little things I have collected over the years. The gilt wood "princess" crown above the mirror was an antique my grandmother bought in the '60s. Wish I knew about it's origins. I'm sure there is an interesting story there. My grandmother was always buying outrageous antiques on her travels. The harvest-gold "music chair" that I use as a desk chair in this room is another of her finds—as is the small white screen-door dresser, which I use as a diaper changing table (also with updated drawer pulls from Anthropologie).

The crewel-work sampler above the dresser was embroidered by my great-grandmother in the '70s.  The print above the changing table is from the Story People series by Brian Andreas, which I bought for my mother in the 1990s. The pair of Beatrix Potter prints above the crib are from a limited edition printing my aunt purchased at Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's home in the UK. The butterfly mobile was Archer's when he was a baby and is from Michael Olaf. And some of the toys I made myself, including the clothespin ballerina, the felt unicorn, and the grey felt bunny, which is from a kit by the ├╝ber-talented Alicia Paulson of Posey Gets Cozy. Whew!

Finally, you can see that Virginia's bedroom also doubles as my office and "craft space." This is a terrible arrangement, but, alas, there are just not enough rooms in this house for everyone to have a "room of one's own." Nor are their enough rooms in our new house for mama to have a dedicated work space. This is becoming a huge problem not that Virginia is fully mobile and is into all of my drawers. And, oh, that craft desk holds some interesting treasures...

June 23, 2014

The Boys' Room

Colin and Archer's bedroom is being featured today on Apartment Therapy—one of my all-time favourite blogs! Head on over to check out the post, or scroll down for even more pictures and inspiration.

Seeing these photos of their "peaceful, playful" bedroom again today really warms my heart. At the moment their room is packed up in boxes and the rest of my house is in utter chaos as we prepare for our big move to Mississippi next week. As someone for whom a home is a haven, having a house in disarray puts me in a terrible funk. But looking at these pictures is a balm to my soul. So, for the rest of the week, I'll be posting photos of every room in our house—as it was before it went into boxes.

But first, I want to add one very important detail I forgot to mention about this room on the AT profile. This room has served many, many functions since we moved into this house six years ago. It has been a storage room and a study, a birth room and a playroom, an art studio and a birth room again, before becoming their shared bedroom last summer. I think it rather special that Archer sleeps in the room he was born in—and where his little sister was born almost exactly one year ago. So I will be especially sorry to leave it next week—this tiny little room so full of beautiful memories!

June 6, 2014

Ghost. Town.

Last Saturday we took the kids out to Ashcroft, CO, a little ghost town about 10 miles outside of Aspen. Since Colin is a bit obsessed with ghosts at the moment, it was the perfect little excursion.

Ashcroft was founded in 1880 as a silver mining town and went bust in 1893 when the mine closed following the decline in the value of silver. At its heyday it was home to more than 2,000 people—more than three-quarters of them men. I read that it had more than 25 salons! One of them is still hanging on today, but we could only peek in the window.

This being the off-season in the Aspen area, we had to give ourselves the tour of what remains: about 15 buildings in total. Still, the boys were in heaven. They raced ahead at every turn, and more than once I had to dash after them before they climbed up some rotten stairs or went fishing in a trash pile for a piece of broken glass or rusted metal to add to the collection visitors have placed in windowsills to keep the ghosts at bay. It's a good thing I got our Tetanus boosters just before we left!