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? 


  1. My heart beats fast when my thyroid meds need changing, etc. Sounds like your dosage is too high if your heart is beating fast. That is what happened to me. They had to start low and move up. The T3 was a tough one but they did get it right. I would call your doc on that one.

    1. PJ - yes, definitely needs adjustment. (I don't know whether my current prescribed dose is wrong - I realized I was taking more than I'm supposed to.) I've talked to my doctor, and after I start taking it daily again I'm doing a new blood draw to see where things are.