Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stuff I Did While I Wasn't Here

First of all, Susan at Between Naps on the Porch has a cute style quiz up, and I find everyone's responses so charming.  (Mine are under "the misfit," of course.)  Go over and participate! 

(That counts as something I did while I wasn't here, by the way.) 

So what else did I do?  Well, as I may have mentioned, I am trying to embrace a "do it now" philosophy with the house.  In other words - the proper answer to, "Some day, I should fix the edge on that sink counter" is, yes, "Do it now."  Of course there's the caveat that I can only do a certain number of things at a time, so there's a "do it next" version of this, too.  Lately I'm running a master to-do list and a sub-to-do list for just the current weekend on my phone.  Things like "laundry" and "grocery shopping" are there every weekend, of course, but it gives me such pleasure to get to deploy a check mark next to something (that I previously was doing anyway, but without the reward of a nice check mark).

Anyway, speaking of that sink:

Obviously, that is an old picture, because that is my old stove.  The sink sat on top of a cabinet I had built with 2x4s (to take the weight of the sink), skinned with luaun, and covered with a 1/2" thick sheet of MDF and then tiled with 6"x6" tumbled Carrara marble tiles.  (I would have preferred honed to tumbled, but the tumbled were at the ReStore for a song, so there you go.  In fact, if I had it all to do again, I'd buy a remnant slab, because I now realize it would not be that hard to cut it to fit that style of sink as I thought at the time.) 

In any case, the front edge was fairly raw - you could see the front edge of the MDF and the front edge of the tiles.  Both are pretty finished edges; they're not rough, but they're both thin where they show:

(I'm afraid that's the best "before" picture I have of that spot.  Silly me.)  It just didn't have a substantial look to it. More importantly, I made the door flush with the edge of the countertop. I knew that countertops usually extend 1" out from the cabinets below, but it was easier to build this one flush and I didn't see the standard practice as useful for any reason, so I took the easy route. After using the sink for a while, I realized that having the countertop sit further out prevents water running off the counter from running straight down the cabinets. Of course this counter gets spills, because it's next to the sink - and the dripping was ruining the wood on the cabinet door.  So I needed to fix the door, but I also needed to do something about the water running off.  And I did this:

I added 12" long pieces of marble wainscoting trim to the edge of the counter.  They're attached with grout/adhesive, and before I attached them, I nailed in some painted oak trim to help support them (and stabilize them while the adhesive dried).  My original goal had been to use thinner trim tile and a piece of wooden trim all the way across, but I didn't pay enough attention to the dimensions of the tile when I ordered it, and it was too thick to fit trim underneath without blocking the door.  (I was disappointed that I couldn't see the marble in-store before I bought it; I like to pick out my own pieces of everything, and the pieces I was shipped are allegedly Carrara but don't look like Carrara to me at all - no veining!  I know I just got some peculiar pieces, but I would never have chosen them in person.)  I set the tiles a smidge higher than the edge of the existing surface, so they will trap water behind them and I can mop it up before it runs down the cabinet (not sure whether you can tell): 

Also, I need to learn to splash less when I wash dishes.  (When I worked in food service, I would be soaked from shoulders to knees after doing a big batch of dishes.)  And, as you may be able to see in the photo above, I did an extremely bad job sawing the left-hand piece to length (though I do have the correct blade for this).  It's badly chipped, and much more noticeable than I was hoping it would be:

I will have to find some way to patch that.  Oddly, that project took over a week to complete.  Then there was the clothes line:

The previous owners built it.  The end posts are set in concrete, which is pretty hardcore for a clothesline IMHO.  I like being able to dry things out there occasionally, but I don't use it often.  And I thought of a way to make it more regularly useful but still (perhaps) usable for drying my shower curtains:

There are two sixteen-foot pressure-treated 2x4s spanning the original clothes poles now, with 1x2 strips of pressure-treated lumber crossing them every foot.  I stupidly neglected to "sight" the lumber before I attached it - the left-hand sixteen-footer (further away from the camera in the photo above) has a natural downward curve in the middle.  This is not atypical for wood, but the point is that you face the curve counter to gravity so that it straightens with time.  I did the opposite.  Fortunately all it's holding is its own weight, some relatively light cross-pieces, and (eventually) a climbing hydrangea (you can see it in the lower left-hand corner of the picture above - it seems very healthy, but it is not growing at all.  Maybe next year). 

But then I decided that I wasn't quite satisfied with the arrangement.  For one thing, I wanted the weight of the trellis supported by more than just the T-bars on the original clothes line - those sixteen-footers are quite heavy.  For another, I wanted to separate the load of the hammock from the load of the trellis.  With them separate, the odds of both collapsing at once (i.e., with someone in the hammock) are nearly zero.  With them both resting on the same support, if there were a collapse, everything would come down at once (i.e., hammock falls and the trellis lands on the person in the hammock, who can't duck out of the way because he is busy falling - albeit not very far).  That would be bad.  Also, the hammock rapidly became less attractive when the mosquitoes returned for the year.  Solutions:

Eeeeeeexcellent.  The new 4x4s were about $8 each (I compaced the soil beneat them before setting them in and screwing them to the rest of the trellis, but no concrete), the mosquito net was $15 on Amazon, and the hammock stand was a steal at $25 on craigslist.  And here is the view from the other side, with my garden in the background:

It just so happens to be next to the flower garden, and have a motion-sensing nighttime spotlight trained on it (those were added prior to the hammock), and be under the shade of a giant live oak during much of the day.  I love when things work out like that.  (And yes, I know the oak tree is one reason the hydrangea isn't growing.  But the hydrangea tag wouldn't proclaim "sun-loving" quite so boldly if it knew it were going to live in the DC sauna.  It will thank me later.) 

Speaking of the garden, it's been going crazy lately:

ALL OF THAT GREW IN MY YARD.  I am so pleased.  It had wilted within hours (I think we keep the house too warm - I put ice cubes in the vase and refreshed the water every couple of days, so I was trying), but I think it looked nice for its close-up :). 

I had also been planning to capitalize on a fortuitous arrangement between our property line fence and the roofline of the sun porch and add some lovely outdoor lights.  (This is what we call making a virtue of a necessity.  If your house is further than ten feet from your property line, and therefore further than twenty feet from your neighor's house, you won't be able to pull this one off for $20 in lights and socket adaptors like I did.  You poor baby.)  I told my DH of this idea last year and he was highly skeptical.  So I shelved it for a bit.  Ultimately I decided he was obviously wrong, so I did it anyway.  I absolutely love it:

I think it makes a feature out of an overlooked/unattractive spot on the property.  And I love outdoor lights.  Here it is from the other side:

To my DH's credit, it wasn't a failure of imagination.  He's not sold on it now that he sees it in person, either.  But don't worry.  It's staying.  (The lights are powered by a socket/lightbulb adaptor I added to the floodlight - which is the bright spot in the very center of the picture - that was already on the house.  Because the floodlight has a light sensor, that means that both the floods and the decorative lights come on only at dusk.  I feel that I got a little luxury feature in there for $0.)  By the way, that's the aforementioned live oak in the background of that shot. 

What else did I do?  Oh yes.  Well, the extra support posts I added to the hammock/trellis arrangement were originally eight feet long, so I had two feet of extra from each.  I figured a pair of these sunk halfway into the ground (well, actually, I also had some concrete leftover in the garage, so I set them in that.  Then it refused to cure, so we're going to say that I set them into the dirt, which is similar to uncured concrete) would make good supports for the little archway I've been planning to put over our front walk.  Originally, I had planned to keep an eye out for a great sale on a sturdy wooden archway, or maybe an antique wrought iron one.  They can be very expensive, and I hadn't found one yet.  I was also contemplating the cost (and difficulty of construction) of making one myself from scratch.  Then my two big beautiful fig trees died over the cold winter (they're regrowing, but from the ground up - it will be several years before I get any fruit), and I knew I needed to cut them down, but I didn't have the heart - I couldn't just put them in the burn pile.  And then I had an inspiration, so I went to houzz, where inspiration properly lives:

And concluded that, yes, I could make an arch out of my fig trees.  So after I sulked for a couple of days about the concrete that wasn't curing, I got myself some green landscaping wire and made myself an archway out of fig trees:

I screwed the big pieces of tree into the pieces of 4x4 sticking out at the bottom (you can just see them in the photo above).  This might better show how I attached everything:

I just wired every piece to the previous pieces in several places (and then tightened the twisted ends of wire with pliers).  Here's a closer shot of the top:

It kind of has a flock-of-seagulls haircut.  I could trim that, of course (with a ladder - I put together a little over half of it while it was lying on the ground, then attached it to the supports and kept adding more.  I made the inside of the arch over seven feet high in the middle, so that everyone can safely walk under it.  But my reach on tiptoe is just a bit over seven feet).  But I haven't decided whether I want to keep it unruly.  Obviously, my inspiration photo is a lot neater, but then that's probably not made of fig tree.  I'm also planning to train a climbing rose on it (I planted a little one in spring, and my husband promptly killed it with the lawnmower.  It's the most expensive plant I've ever bought, and after a suitable period of mourning, I decided I was jolly well going to buy another one to plant in the fall, and put a stake by it to keep the lawnmower at bay).  So it has not yet achieved its intended appearance.  The last thing I need to do is soak it in wood sealer (I have tons left over from another project - I just need a cheap spray bottle to apply it with), in hopes that it doesn't rot.  By the way, I trimmed the hedges this spring.  I am going to do them again.  But I want you to know I'm not lazy.  I just live in a swamp. 

While I was fussing with the outside of the house, trying to stick to my "beautiful and useful" goal (thank you, William Morris), it crossed my mind that we have a fabulous antique doorbell (the kind you crank) on the front door, which can be heard throughout the house - but nobody comes to the front door.  Meanwhile, friends sometimes come to the back door and we don't realize they're there if we're not downstairs.  Sure, Bailey, the living doorbell, is usually on the case, but she needs to learn a bark for "a friend is visiting" versus "the neighbor just pulled into his driveway."  Or maybe I need to learn bark better.  So, I decided, I would keep an eye out for an antique bell I could hang.  Then about a week later I realized I am not actually that patient (as I imagine this post attests, yes?), and found a new patinated iron one on Amazon for about $20.  I think it looks awesome:

Contra one of the reviewers, there is not a directional limitation on ringing, the interior bolt is not finnicky, and the entire thing took me about ninety seconds to assemble correctly.  Also, it's true that it doesn't come with mounting screws, but anyone without a giant jar of slightly-rusty wood screws should not be buying an aged-looking bell in the first place.  I'm just saying.  Oh, and it has a lovely full ringing tone - and is so loud my DH insisted I wear ear plugs when I tested to see whether you could hear it from the living room with both exterior doors closed (yes).  Here it is from further away:

OK, stupid $20 bell.  Makes me happy.  Whatever.  What else did I do?  Well...I had most of a $25-gets-you-$50 coupon from one of those local coupon deals that just so happened to be for my favorite junk shop and was about to expire.  For months they hadn't had any antiques or anything, and I had been very disappointed.  Then I popped in a week before the coupon expired and found this for $50:

That's it hanging from my tree.  Absolutely love it.  It's actually comfortable, believe it or not.  And that unassuming-looking rope is jute-colored nylon rated to hold 700 pounds: 

Don't let the pretty fool you - we mean business around here.  I also finally got real sheers for my living room windows (instead of the white vinyl roller shades).  When I saw them for $10 for the pair at Ikea, I knew it was time.  Unfortunately, they really emphasized the high-water length on the curtains (also from Ikea). So I picked up a yard and a half of upholstery-weight velvet on clearance at the fancy fabric store to make trim that would add four inches of length. (I had originally been looking for a peacock blue, after seeing Ikea velvet curtains in that color. I didn't find that, but I did find a gray that coordinated with the curtain color.). I think the trim turned out well:

Oh, and I also shortened the sheers. I only did one window, since that's the only one you can see :).  Here's the whole window: 

We have company next weekend, so I wanted to get the visible part in order - I'm telling myself I'll have more time afterward, but realistically, I'll probably do them when we replace the sectional with a sofa that doesn't cover the other two windows.

I also bought a second sconce for our room, and a revamp of the headboard wall will soon be underway.  And, of course, I'm working on the third bedroom - made some progress on that this week, and will be able to share a full roster of changes soon, I think. 

But my biggest project for 2014 was always going to be resurfacing a 900SF section of asphalt in front of the carriage house.  The sheer size of the area has made almost every option cost-prohibitive - it is a purely cosmetic change, after all; the asphalt functions fine - but I think I have finally figured out how to do it.  The first step is going to be demolishing 300SF of the asphalt (to reduce the cost of resurfacing, and because it's bigger than it needs to be and I can easily sod a portion and merge it with the grassy area behind it), which will be miserable hard labor, but also much-needed exercise.  As for how I'll get to the final product - here's a hint:

And - last on the "stuff I did" (sort of) - I know this is bragging and maybe obnoxious (in which case, so is this whole post).  But recently I had an utterly unimpressive realization.  A few months ago, I was being somewhat disciplined about eating and getting regular exercise and my clothes were fitting better and my weight was dropping (finally!) - but it just wouldn't dip into the range I wanted.  It was extremely frustrating.  (Then I started eating worse and getting less regular exercise and that problem has become academic.  I am working on it.)  It took me literally months to realize - I can lift twice what I could a few years ago.  I don't lift at the gym (apart from a few PE class requirements, I never have).  All the muscle I have built - which is visibly obvious; I've always had little twig arms, regardless of my weight, so you can really see the difference - I have earned the old-fashioned way.  I've been gardening, working with power tools, carrying drywall and lumber (and soil and mulch and concrete), and building things. 

And because the change in my body stems from actually living my life, rather than from some appearance-driven diet or exercise plan, I didn't actually understand that it was happening.  I didn't understand that even if I got myself into my historically smallest adult dress size (which I am still hoping to do this year), I would weigh a good five pounds more than last time I wore that size.  I dabbled in anorexia in college, and the scale has a disproportionate power over my thinking.  But this point is so obvious a child would understand it; it should not have surprised me.  This has made me realize that I view my body, not as the source of strength and vitality that's supposed to carry me through life and help me accomplish all the things I will want to do, but as a blank canvas for my vanity and insecurities.  I see my arms not as things that carry lumber, but as things that wear clothes.  I do sit-ups in hopes of a flatter stomach - I don't spare a thought for the fact that they're necessary to prevent back injury.  I look enviously at teeny girls on the metro and remember when I looked like that - and forget that when I looked like that I couldn't sprint the escalator or carry drywall or use a circular saw properly. 

Probably by the time most women in America reach adulthood, they see their bodies as the, well, embodiment of failure to meet a host of standards that are frequently self-contradictory and should never be applied generally anyway.  (It's fine for some people to be very thin, but not everyone has the same body type.  Everyone needs good food and exercise - but not to be skinny.  And these days a lot of people get and stay skinny by avoiding good food and healthy exercise.  It seems too obvious to say, but we all need to hear it more - me included: that's not healthy.)  By the time most infertile women get a few years into treatment, they see their bodies as miserable, defective failures, with shortcomings that undermine their fundamental sense of their value as human beings.  And that's to say nothing of the fact that their bodies are physically harmed by infertility treatment - from pain and surgical scars to bloating, weight gain, nausea, the expansion of cysts and adhesions, and hormonal instability (and worse problems, like cancer, ruptured fallopian tubes, and miscarriages). 

I am no exception.  And as I walk down the street I hear the accustomed refrain in my head, that I'm pretty sure we all hear - you're not as pretty as she is.  You're  not as thin as she is.  You could never wear that.  You don't have her posture.  You're not as young as she is any more.  Your hair will never look that good.  Those people will look right past you because you're old and out of shape and unattractive.  And then I climb to the top of a ladder and I hear a voice I'm not accustomed to at all: Everyone knows you're clumsy, but you never fall when you're doing this work, and you never break your expensive supplies and tools.  It's a good thing you have really long arms - most women couldn't reach that.  You just read a blog where someone said she hired a professional to do a wiring job like this, but you learned how to do it yourself.  You know, that's a lot heavier than you realized - you couldn't have lifted it a few years ago.  You're doing manual labor in the heat and you didn't realize an hour just passed.  In fact, you're about to finish this job and start another.  A lot of people would be exhausted right now, but if you pause and think about it, you're not even sore.  You actually feel good

I don't know what to do with that voice yet, but I don't think my life or my body is a waste.  Maybe at some point that will really sink in. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

more rugs outside my budget

This topic entertains me.  The RugsUSA sale is in its last day, by the way, for anyone shopping for a rug.  The sale only applies to items branded by RugsUSA - not the products of other companies that are also sold through the website.  (And there is no easy way to tell, except by looking at which ones are on sale!  They don't pay me to say this - I won't be buying one myself, since I don't really like the ones they've branded.  At least not for indoors.) 

So I moved on to eBay (because why not?).  That yielded similar results to Overstock - many interesting items outside of my price range.  Actually, let's back up.  The items over my ceiling on eBay cost less (although they are new) than the ones on Overstock, which is sort of good news.  And the average rug on eBay that was way outside my price range was much more attractive than the average rug on Overstock that was way outside my price range.  Note to self: if you ever have a significant rug-buying budget, check eBay first. 

Backing up further - why are 90% of the items on eBay now brand-new and sold by commercial sellers (not ladies who have a part-time business selling on eBay, I mean, but companies that also have brick-and-mortar stores)?  I'm confused that regular(-ish) retailers would think selling through eBay is useful, and frankly, as a (now rare) eBay shopper, it's just not what I'm looking for from that site.  Anyway. 

The price on this one is ridiculously good ($35):

But it convincingly looks like plastic even in what I assume is a flattering photograph.  It could only look worse in person.  And though I'm tempted to buy it on the basis of the price alone, I'm not 100% sure whether that color would suit the room. 

Then there's this one:

I really like that one (and I'm more optimistic about it looking right in the room), but at $170 it's just outside the budget.  By the way, that one is used.  I think it's the only used one I found in a suitable color.  I'm actually looking for used, OK, eBay?  Sheesh. 

OK, this one is a little more questionable on the color (might work but I'd have to see it in person), and at $86 for new and wool is not a bad buy:

So maybe.  I really like the colors in this one:

But it's $165.  It is used (so that's positive), but it is in Turkey.  And with free shipping, so I get why I'm not going to get a break on the underlying price.  I probably need something used and local.  This is not so far away, but of course it isn't used:

And therefore it's $106.  Which isn't terrible at all, but again, the colors might or might not work depending on how they read in person, so not worth throwing that kind of money at really. 

What's next?  Etsy? 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

room and rug dilemmas

Soon I shall write a post about things I did while I wasn't here.  It sounds more impressive when you put a month's worth of work together.  Also, I have been unintentionally overdosing on thyroid.  As a result my heartbeat is severely irregular and I have trouble sleeping (don't freak out - I finally clued in about the source of the irregular heartbeat on Friday afternoon and I have not taken any thyroid since then.  Heartbeat hasn't gotten back to normal yet, but at least I'm not making it worse), and also my (already naturally quite thin) hair is falling out.  The only symptom I don't have is dramatic weight loss, of course.  (OK, I also don't have a goiter.  What is that a symptom of again?)  But it has made me more productive, not to say manic. 

In the meantime I want to talk about a room I was supposed to be finished with.  As you will recall if for some reason you have memorized my floor plan, my house has three bedrooms.  One of them is the master, which just got a strange plastic mirror:

One of them is green, and it just lost a few square feet 'cause we conjoined its original wee closet (and some extra square footage) with the original wee closet in the master, resulting in this bumped-out wall:

And then there's the third bedroom.  When we moved in it looked like this:

Well, that's a listing photo; that furniture had been removed.  The walls are sponge-painted, darker yellow over lighter yellow.  My inspiration picture for the room was this one, from DesignSponge:

So I painted it twice before I got to what I perceived to be the perfect apricot color, which unfortunately I cannot photograph remotely accurately, so it looks more or less unlike this:

 Although that is a pretty good representation of the color - in a lousy photo. 
I found linen-ish curtains with embroidered hems on 50% off clearance from Target (after admiring them but deciding the whole set would cost too much for the guest room) and then I switched to cutesy curtain rods from Ikea (that's the only room that's been painted twice OR had two sets of curtain rods bought new for it - I like to prioritize): 

And I had a dresser in there (with my clothes), but I moved that into our room (shocking!) after the Great Closet Building of 2014.  And then, for whatever reason, moved in an occasional table from the green bedroom that fit nicely in the green bedroom but looks odd in the peach bedroom:

Whatever.  Anyway, my sister is staying with us for six months, and she might need someplace to put her clothes, maybe.  She now has a closet to use, since my DH and I have moved our clothes into the closet in our own room, but she might need some other stuff.  I've been sort of idly looking for things that might be useful in there, and that method is actually sort of working out. 

I helped a friend move a couple of weeks ago who was trying to get rid of everything, and she sent me home with a lovely little desk.  It was heavily scratched, and I refinished it.  I am getting better and better at that - this is my best work so far, and I'm really proud of it.  I was considering painting it gray or white (which would have matched the room better), and I'm very glad I didn't, because as I worked, I realized it was much older than I had thought - I'm no expert, but I think it's more like 100 years old than 50 now that I've tinkered with it.  I'm not showing before and afters because I didn't take any befores, and anyway you just can't see differences like that accurately in photos.  It really shines now.  Here it is:

I think my sister will find it useful for actual writing-and-reading work, but in the long run, it will work toward my original vision for the room: that it would be a sewing room when it was not housing guests.  I expected to put my mother's (originally my great-grandmother's) beautiful old treadle-foot Singer on that wall, but it was stolen before I could get it home.  (I'm still very angry about that.)  I do, however, have a beautiful antique electric Singer from my MIL (it's sitting on the floor next to the desk in its case), which will go on the desk.  My contemporary electric machine will probably be concealed somewhere in the vicinity :).  And the drawers will be perfect for sewing supplies, which currently are overflowing the closet shelf. 

By the way, the top of the desk is veneer and it was chipped, as was the veneer on one of the drawers.  I patched them with wood filler, which I stained to match as best I could (I could have spent more time on that if I had been set on a perfect match): 

And here's the patch on the drawer - upper-right corner of second drawer (the one that's missing the handle - my friend says she has it somewhere, which I hope is true):

It is not perfect, but it is not a new desk and need not look new.  When people say that they have to paint a wooden piece because the veneer is damaged, that's an excuse.  And if, after they paint it, they "distress" it, they're not fooling me.  It's not that they can't deal with imperfections, it's that they want to ruin an antique to hop on the Annie Sloan bandwagon (which they will tire of in five years, and either repaint all their "distressed" furniture, or throw it all out and buy new).  I do not approve. 

The stool under the desk I actually brought back from my sister's - she was getting rid of stuff, too.  I think I'm going to recover the top of it eventually.  (More on that in a minute.)  Then as we were driving home one night we noticed a sign that said "free" atop an interesting silhouette at the end of the neighbor's drive.  I insisted my husband train the headlights on the article, and decided I had to have it.  I don't love the colors (though I do love vintage velvet upholstery in general), and it has a faint smell that could be cigarettes, but I was not passing up that fabulous shape.  And then I forgot to take a photo.   

For now it is sitting in the carriage house, airing out (I hope).  It may also get some baking soda to help with that.  One of my medium-term goals is to learn to reupholster furniture, and I now know what piece I will be starting with.  As long as I can get the smell out, it's allowed in the house with its current fabric, and if my sister wants it in there, it can go in that room.  (Though it will wreak havoc with the color scheme.  Maybe I need to throw a blanket on it.) 

So that's three pieces of free furniture so far. 

The quilt on the bed was made by my husband's grandmother, and though I love it, it was never intended to stay in that room.  It doesn't match, but I wanted something on the bed:

I pondered a matelasse coverlet, but I think what I really want is a duvet for the feather comforter that's folded at the foot of the bed now.  Something in ivory with eyelet, I think.  It currently has an ivory jacquard duvet, but that one has some sort of stains on it that many rounds of bleaching haven't removed.  (It's clean, it's just not pretty.)  Once I find a good replacement duvet, I plan to cut out an un-stained section of the current duvet to make a case for the olive-green body pillow in our room, which doesn't match that room (or any of the others, in fact).  I've been trolling for duvet sales, but so far I haven't found anything for a pittance (this room is already "done," so I'm not willing to spend much on a redo.  I need to keep an eye out at thrift stores, too). 

That brings me to the room's rug.  It's a little Flokati from Ikea, a little under 3' x 5' (which Ikea no longer sells).  That piece in particular was really drawn from the sensibility I saw in the inspiration photo.  I was trying to do the room inexpensively, and this particular item was $30.  I have heard varying thoughts on the durability of Flokatis, but this one is clearly low-end, and even with rather light wear, it traps dirt and sheds rather noticeably.  It is very soft, though.  It is also a bit too small for the space with the dresser removed - it looks sort of lonely: 

So I've started passively looking for a slightly larger replacement.  I don't think I want another flokati - I think I'd like to find an Oriental rug in appropriate colors.  So when I noticed that RugsUSA was having a big sale, I perused ever so many options, and found this:

Not the most common colorway for an Oriental rug, but on my computer, at least, it looks like it has some nice apricot areas that might match the walls (and the room next door is green, so why not?).  Unfortunately, the sale doesn't apply to it, nor do any of the site's promotional codes (I spoke with a representative to clarify this issue).  I would need the 4x6, which is $135.  While that isn't a bad price for a wool rug, it's over my budget for small tweaks.  Then in my favorite junk shop, I stumbled over this:

It's almost 8' x 10', which is very nearly the size of the whole room.  (I might be able to fit it if I put it under ALL the furniture.)  I like that it has the peach color, but also the traditional blue and red, in the same rug.  Though that may also make it odd.  And that color may be more pink than I actually want.  I also like that it has some visible age, though I may not be so keen on the stains.  I believe it's really wool.  The guy quoted me $100 and I think he would take less, which is pretty fabulous for a rug of that size.  But I am unsure on the prudence of buying a rug that may be too large for my space, may be the wrong color for my space, and may be dirtier and harder to clean than I realize.  I've gotten lucky on insufficiently-planned rug purchases so far, but this is a fairly big gamble. 

By the way, the flokati that is there now has a future in two places: one is recovering that little stool, after this fashion:

(I would like to take this opportunity to note that I just got very lucky on a google image search for "woolly stool" - I couldn't remember on what blog I had seen the how-to, but it's quite straightforward.)  The other half of the rug will probably be a case for a throw pillow (after some appropriate form of cleaning).  If anyone else wants to try that trick (on an actual budget) and doesn't have a displaced flokati floating around as raw material, may I suggest Ikea's faux sheepskin for $10?  You're welcome. 

So the obvious next direction for my project was rug shopping.  (First of all, because shopping is always essential.  And secondly, because the biggest time investment in all of my projects is research.  I'm not claiming I'm not foolhardy, but anything difficult, dangerous, expensive, or extremely heavy involves significant prior reading if I can't scrounge up an experienced person to stand by and keep me out of trouble.  And yes, by "research" I typically mean "shopping.")  So I found some stuff and now I want you to look at it. 

First I found this:

It's $225.  Of course shopping online in this case is dumb because the exact shade really matters - is that a golden yellow similar to the pale orange on my walls?  Or a dirty beige?  Mustard?  Bright yellow?  Maybe a pink-er color would be better, like this:

It says it's peach.  Surely it means that it's the color I mean when I think of peach.  Or more likely, it's too pink.  (It's $240.)  They're both hand-knotted wool pieces from Pakistan, which is nice, and also explains why they're significantly over my budget.  There's also this one, in salmon:

That's definitely too pink.  And $290 - moving in the wrong direction.  So...instead of trying to match the peach walls perfectly, I could just aim for a traditional colorway in muted tones that would sort of coordinate.  Like this one:

Except that it's $505.  This time hand-knotted from Afghanistan.  OK, OK, imports.  Along that general theme, there's also this one, which at $315 seems almost affordable by comparison:

It would go well with pale peach walls, right?  Without making them look like just an aggressive beige?  It must be so cheap 'cause it's made in China :).  There's also this one:

For a mere $272.  It's also hand-knotted and wool, but this time made in India.  Uh-huh.  Oh, here's another wool rug hand-made in India:

It's not peach or warm ivory at all; it's deep red and beige.  But it's not the usual Oriental colorway either.  And I think it could coordinate with the colors in the room?  Is there any point mentioning that it's $815?  Probably I love the pattern so much because it reminds me of this:

The Farrow & Ball "Melrose" paper I originally wanted to use for an accent wall in that room - until I found out how much it cost.  (So somewhere in a parallel universe there is a version of this room with that wallpaper and that rug.  I bet they look great together.)  Apparently F&B doesn't make that paper any more, which is just as well.  Probably what I need to get for that wall (the accent wall was going to be the one with the desk on it now) is a nice stencil so I can do a white floral print for $0.  And maybe an old framed picture to hang above the desk.  If I do that, a suitable rug will probably come to me under its own power.  Right?