Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Almost Famous

As you know I've been making some improvements to my wee domicile.  You may remember the stove.  You may also remember that I said this particular stove had been discontinued, and that in fact I believe I got the very last new-in-box exemplar on the planet.  I don't know why this stove wasn't more popular - it's obviously awesome.  (After a week of rigorous testing, I can safely say that it makes better grilled ham and cheese sandwiches than the prior stove, as the flame levels are more sensitive.)  As a refresher:


The stove in situ.  And then this weekend I was watching House Crashers (sometimes when I get sleepy Hulu suggests things that I should watch after I finish the shows I regularly follow), and I saw it:


That's my stove.  It's in the after shots, by the way.  As you can see from this image, they went with Shaker-style cabinetry (SHOCKINGLY) and an absolute-black-granite-and-Carrara-marble checkerboard floor, which I thought was very fetching.  Obviously (from the episode title), the desired effect was a retro-style kitchen, but that was not mentioned in any of the babble during the show.  I know that sounds hard to believe if you've ever watched these type of shows, but I'm serious (though I suppose I may have been sleepier than I remember).  The homeowners said they were "really into black and white," which of course is a color scheme but not a style, and Josh applied that as a modernized version of "likes '50s retro," which I think was totally reasonable, and the homeowners were quite happy with, but he never said that he was doing that

And - you may be able to see this tragedy coming - he never said a word about why he was selecting this stove.  In fact, the stove was never commented on; it just swooshed by the camera in the "after" sequence.  He didn't mention that it comes with two oven racks plus a really cool half-rack.  He didn't say that it has a timer that allows you to set it to cook later (although they never mention the function of things, just marketing babble like "high BTU burners," while homeowners who have never heard of British thermal units nod seriously).  Actually, it may be that all modern stoves are programmable in this way, and I've just had older ones so long that I'm behind.  If so, please enlighten me: what can you safely put in a cold oven for hours and set to bake thereafter without it going bad in some way?  So far the only thing I've come up with is pre-assembled frozen lasagna, which seems pretty prosaic to design a fancy oven feature around. 

Anyway, obviously the saddest thing Josh didn't mention is that the stove was chosen for this kitchen specifically because of its retro style.  Since he didn't even mention that the kitchen was supposed to have a retro style.  Obviously he toned it down - there were no red vinyl ice cream counter bar stools, and he also didn't go with the Big Chill or Elmira stoves (which cost almost exactly twice as much), so I guess it was supposed to be either a dilute or an inexpensive (but then, that floor could have been ceramic instead) version of retro.  But whatever his logic (if you can call it that) was, he didn't explain the awesomeness of my awesome stove when it was sitting right there on my television, and this makes me very sad. 

Then the next day I was watching Color Splash.  (This gives an inaccurate idea of the productivity of my weekend, by the way.  I spent two days with my husband at a friend's cottage on the water.  Then I came home, did the dishes and the laundry, spent ages trying to fix the wiring in the stupid closet light fixture that suddenly stopped working because it is cheap - of course after I threw out the box and the receipt; ultimately I had to buy another one and install that but now it is working again - refinished a craigslist mirror, rehung most of the wall decor in our bedroom including one of the curtain rod brackets, made a big pot of rainbow chili, went grocery shopping, did a major Home Depot run, roasted pork tenderloin for salads for the week, checked out my favorite junk stores and the unimpressive Memorial Day sales at World Market, weeded the vegetable garden and watered it several times, moved around all the plants in the bed behind the house so they are symmetrical and there are no more ferns and then mulched them, transplanted the eggplant and basil and the last of the corn, transplanted two full-grown azaleas from the back (too shady) to the front, trimmed the other azaleas in the front, cut down the enormous ten-foot high euonymous to about three feet and neatened it, cut down two large shrubs/small trees in the front, and ripped down an enormous mass of vines that are preventing my climbing rose bush from blooming in front.  I am absolutely covered in cuts and scratches from ripping out all that shrubbery, and it is now even more likely that I will eventually get a tetanus shot.  And no, I did not finish my list.) 

Actually, first I should note - one of the first projects I tackled after we got home from our little getaway was the giant mirror we had just gotten from craigslist.  After we moved the armoire out of our room, there were no mirrors in there - but all of our clothes were there.  I considered this impractical.  So I decided the spot behind the closet door needed a mirror:


Yes, behind that door.  On this bit of wall (from an older photo):


My first thought was that I should get this Ikea mirror, which I have long admired:


All the framed things in our room are in silver, since I figure it goes well with the pale gray walls.  So I like that one because it would match.  Plus, it's really big (good for double-checking outfits).  And the frame is real wood.  It's $99.  Then I found it on craigslist locally for $50.  End of story, right?  In the meantime, however, I had convinced myself that it had an Art Deco vibe, in light of the rounded corners.  (Don't ask me to explain my logic.  Art Deco isn't really my era anyway.  I could be way off here.)  So I started looking for other options.  Surely, I thought, for $50 I will eventually find something stupendously awesome. 

That is a true statement, of course, if you focus on the key word eventually.  That's what craigslist is for - eventually finding something stupendously awesome.  When I forget that, sad things happen.  Yes, this is foreshadowing.  So I searched craigslist and then, while I was away at my sister's graduation (my baby sister just got her PhD!  I am SO PROUD it is ridiculous), I saw a mirror that looked somewhat like this:


But less expensive-looking.  (No, I didn't actually save the photo from the ad.  That would be much too sensible.)  It was $50.  It wasn't silver, but I decided a nice antique wood frame might even be better.  I reached out immediately.  I was traveling, and we had trouble coordinating the pickup time.  Eventually they could do a time when my DH could pick it up, but I couldn't.  He kindly agreed to do so.  After locking in this arrangement, I suddenly started to worry that it would be a shiny new Ethan Allen-looking thing.  Still pretty, of course, but more new-furniture-store than I had in mind.  Explaining this concern to my husband would be unfairly obscure, so I decided to hope that it had a nice patina and simply accept whatever arrived. 

That evening when I got home, I ran up to our room to see the (very large) mirror resting on our bed.  As I walked through the doorway, before I even got my hands on it, I suddenly had a thought for the very first time: what if it weren't wood at all?  What if it were...plastic?  I should have asked this question immediately when I saw the ad - unlike my patina worry, it would be easy for the owners to answer.  It would certainly explain why they were willing to part with it for $50 (and no one else had gotten it yet).  And it was a very obvious area of ambiguity, especially given that I saw the pictures of it on my phone

So, of course, it was plastic.  Molded plastic - completely hollow on the back.  And there was no returning it on grounds of stupidity.  Then we went away for a couple of days; when we returned, I was confronted with the mirror.  It was on my bed, so I figured I had to deal with it before I went to sleep. 


After several days to accept the situation, I had concluded that there was only one solution.  Plastic painted to look like wood is not OK.  But plastic painted to look like silvered wood would be fine, because (stay with me here) silvered wood is already a faux finish; if you see a big carved wood frame in a metallic color, you know you're looking at paint (or foil), not solid metal.  So, that would have to make it OK.  I also happened to have an unused can of silver spray paint - I don't remember when or why I bought it, it's just been hanging out in my stash.  Obviously, this was the time to try it out.  But first I had to laboriously tape off the mirror glass.  Fortunately, there were several DIY shows to catch up on while I did so. 

Once I got it taped, the spray paint went on surprisingly easily, without the drips or defects I've found the process plagued with in the past.  One good coat and one touch-up coat (and a bit of drying time) later, I inspected my results.  (And I took zero pictures of this process, by the way.  Why would it occur to me to do that?)  I would have thought it impossible, but it looked even more like plastic than when it was fake wood.  If Barbie had a silver baroque mirror in her playhouse, it would look like this looked.  I attributed this to the unvaryingly even color of the silver paint, and decided to help it along with some silver rub 'n' buff, which has a duller finish, with more depth.  But I quickly found this impractical.  For one thing, buffing simply removed the spray paint (maybe I should have let it dry longer).  For another, the frame has a ludicrously large surface area, and I didn't want to go through a whole tube of rub 'n' buff turning the frame from silver to silver.  Since my fingers were already covered in waxy stuff, I fetched out some black shoe polish and started rubbing it into the grooves of the design, where I figured the frame would have discolored naturally if it were old. 

Yes.  I bought a baroque mirror frame that was plastic.  And spray-painted a perfectly sound manufactured good.  And then I faux-finished it.  I am more or less opposed to all of those things.  But somehow, in my mind, they cancel each other out.  Spray-painting (let alone artificially distressing) an actual antique wood frame would have been a grievous sin, but since this one was already plastic, I decided it was basically libel-proof.  Eventually I had smeared shoe polish into all the crevices.  It didn't have the convincing antique wood appearance I was foolishly hoping for, and I was having a hard time assessing how different it really looked.  (Here is another place where before-and-after pictures would have been very helpful.)  But I felt reasonably confident it had lost the tinsel-y effect of the uniform silver color.  Mostly, anyway.  And of course, the whole endeavor had a no-turning-back quality. 

So the next order of business was to hang it behind the door (and move the crucifix and Our Lady of Czestochowa to hang with our framed photos on the other side of the room - another thing I did not photograph).  I carefully measured so that it would be exactly centered between the corner and the window framing, as usual resulting in it being further off-center than if I had eyeballed it:


Funny thing.  It still has a decidedly ticky-tack look - I'm not going to pretend otherwise.  But once it went up on that wall, I realized that the wall had needed a really large, assertive framed thing hanging on it.  The whole time we've been living here, our room has seemed really unfinished, for reasons I could never explain.  I would never have guessed that several square feet of spray-painted plastic ornament were what was needed to give it that pulled-together feeling.  (And this does much to confirm a growing suspicion I have had that framed things should be very large, or just don't bother.)  Now, granted, I take terrible pictures, and that one is bad even for me.  You'll have to take my word for it that the composition is effective in real life.  But I'm not going to claim that the mirror frame looks classier in person, because that ain't so.  It is what it is. 

I figured that it would hang there until I found a suitable frame (meaning not fake, and also quite large - the idea was to have something that would look like wall decor but function as a full-length mirror.  To its credit, my spray-painted wonder there succeeds on this measure), for approximately $0, which is my remaining budget for the project.  In the meantime, that mirror would either punish me into more zealous searching, or maybe it would grow on me.  In the long run, I figured that if I wanted to use it somewhere else, I could paint it either white or black, as that's about as toned-down as I thought it could probably look. 

So, as I said (you forgot?), I was watching Color Splash.  You know Color Splash?  With David Bromstad, one of the earliest (was it the earliest?) winners of HGTV's DesignStar?  I always did like David (but seriously - keep the shirt on.  Pr0n is a different channel, thank you very much).  His style is about the exact opposite of what I like, and when he is retained to do "traditional," he ends up with something like Starck ghost chairs "because of their traditional lines."  (I don't think anybody owns actual antiques on whatever planet he's from.)  I preferred him as a contestant because he had real carpentry skills, which I respected.  As a host, his signature is large-format paintings, and he hires a carpenter.  (David, if you're reading this, maybe rethink that one.)  But when he is hired to do his style - which seems to be a sort of sleek, ultra-modern, slightly-industrial, super-saturated-color Miami Beach thing - the results are a lot of fun.  This couple (which seriously should just get married) was surprised and pleased by their new living and dining area.  I was surprised by the mirror:


That's right.  David Bromstad, of ultra-modern, screaming-color sensibility, is using what I would consider a toned-down version of the mirror I just hung in my bedroom.  Granted, in actual earth time he did it long before I did (not sure when this episode aired), but when I saw the episode, my mirror was already on the wall.  Without racing stripes or clothes pin sculptures, naturally.  Of course, as with my stove, everything you can see in that shot was discussed extensively as a design choice except for the mirror, which just appeared there in the final sequence without comment. 

Maybe it's for the best.  I don't really need to be famous. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

the closet: finishing touches

I am now outside the deadline by even the most delusional measure, but I thought I would share my last little bits of things on the closet.  First of all, I did buy the super-fancy neo-Gothic lacquered iron clothes hook.  And I installed it! 


And I explained to my DH that it was for the clothes that have been worn once and are thus unsuited for either the dresser or the laundry bin, and he already started using it - I didn't even have to put some of his clothes on there myself or anything.  We'll see whether he likes it, but I really do hope this will stick.  Also, I don't know if you can tell, but there's a wee laughing face in the ironwork.  I think of it as a tiny gargoyle for my closet.  LOVE.  Less lovable, but perhaps still important:


I added the conduit over the small exposed run of Romex.  It's even more sloppy in real life than it appears in that picture, but without me shoving them aside, the coats cover it entirely.  So I consider that done.  You may also remember that my original plans called for figuring out something for the space between the closets on the green-bedroom side:


So, I moved the big armoire from our room (which had been housing suitcases, which are now at the bottom of the third-bedroom closet that my DH was previously using):


Also, I hung some things on that wall.  One of them is a framed scrap of the original wallpaper from inside the closet.  I guess maybe I could have taken a better shot of that.  Anyway, the armoire is the new linen closet:


I admit I liked my old linen closet better.  But I like being able to use that space for a master bedroom closet even better than that, so I am going to embrace the armoire-as-linen closet.  Because now this:


Looks like this:


And I am not throwing out that bag of unused shower curtain hooks because I have a brilliant plan for them, by the way.  Meanwhile, I moved the highboy that had been in the green bedroom into the armoire's old spot in our room - and also moved into our room a shorter dresser that had been in the peach bedroom, which I was using for my clothes:


So now all of our clothes (except my floor-length dresses, which are in the far corner of the green-bedroom closet, and really I don't have too many of those) are in our room.  It's a regular miracle, people. 

The end. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

closet and house stuff

So as you might expect, by now I have put the clothes in the closet.  Like so:


In the foreground there is a pile of sweaters, sitting on top of my little CD/alarm clock.  They are supposed to go on my husband's sweater shelf in here:


But I couldn't reach it.  I figured that he could, and he agreed to put them up here, but he didn't understand it to be pressing in the way that I did.  Ultimately I fetched the stepstool and put them there myself, but I didn't take another picture.  I have the right side of the closet:


Including the shelves in the niche:


Both of us have suits on the full-width lower rod.  Mine are below: 


Look - the floor! 


And the ceiling! 


As planned, I am using my extra-high bar on the right for my dresses, which are longer than shirts and jackets. 

It's all very exciting.  I want to clarify a few things.  First of all, the night I published my last post, I went home and suddenly realized how my closet - which so sadly looked like a builder-basic special (only blue) after all my hard work - could have looked beautiful.  Designed, even.  I could have used a fluted wooden porch column in the center, to hold the rods on each side.  I could have used nice rod-end hardware to hold the rods at the ends.  (Uh, obviously.)  I could have supported the shelves with cleats around the walls (back and sides), and the half-width shelf could have been supported in the middle with a decorative wooden corbel.  Then I wouldn't have had any ugly metal brackets, and there would have been pretty stuff in my closet. 
Behind the clothes, where it couldn't be seen. 

And it would have cost a good $100 more.  Once I got the clothes in there, I realized that that was really stupid.  Good design, for a closet, is actually all function, I think.  If the functional design is good, it will look good, but it can only look so good because it's a closet.  IMHO, our closet looks pretty great.  When you look through the door, you see a neat row of shirts, and a neat row of suit jackets.  Topped with sweaters.  Given the number of higher-end stores that look pretty much like that, I think we're doing fine.  A porch column would be a great idea for a pretend closet. 

Second clarification.  I still have not put in the fancy hook (no decent reason - it already came in the mail - I just have to find the right size wall anchors in my stash and get that done).  I'll share a picture when it's in, because it will be awesome.  I also haven't put the conduit over the run of wiring on the left side:


Now that area is concealed by shirts, and I am getting tempted not to do it.  But I should at least give it a shot in case it's easy.  I will not be sharing a picture of that, because it will not be awesome. 

Also, I have made some progress cleaning out and reorganizing the two closets in the other bedrooms (which we were formerly using), and the armoire in our room, but I have not yet re-established a linen closet (in the armoire, probably), meaning we still have this situation:


I also haven't finally decided what furniture goes where, largely because that will require me to move an extremely heavy armoire (it's oak) and a highboy that is not that heavy empty, but presently is full, and is taller than I am, so still a pain to move.  Plus another dresser that is only quite heavy rather than ludicrously heavy.  But I will get there (shortly) and then there will be pictures (that are of no interest to anybody). 

Meanwhile, I did so much work in the garden that no one but me can see the amazing transformation, which I sincerely hope actually will look amazing some time this summer, or at latest next summer. 

And also, on Sunday (peculiarly enough), my stove came.  (It was supposed to come last Friday - this is the second stove; the first one came two Fridays before, but was badly damaged.  I figured a delay was just going to be the start of the problems with the latest stove, but it was undamaged and looked brand-new.)  I failed to take a picture of my kitchen with two stoves in it and a cabinet pushed in front of the door, but that looked weird, as you can imagine.  (As people who have bought new stoves will know, delivery happens on one day; installation is later.  So for some period you will have two stoves.  And my kitchen is not large.)  The installers came Wednesday.  Whereupon they changed this situation:



Which I just never liked - somehow it was not quite working, aesthetically.  Please note that I did not buy a brand-new stove because I thought the old one (which I am also responsible for selecting, although it was just $170) was ugly.  I replaced that one because repair to the oven door was impossible, causing it to be dangerous, and it had additional defects that would have cost more to repair than the stove did to buy.  So now I have this:


You may be able to see that I kept the spice-and-condiment rack from the prior stove, which was probably my favorite part of it.  (It came with that, by the way.)  It was attached to the old stove by brackets screwed onto the back, which I (uncharacteristically wisely) spirited off the old stove and hid before the installers came, in case they should want to steal my spice rack and/or its hardware.  (I also kept two burner grates and two oven racks.  You never know when they might come in handy.)  In a stroke of good fortune, the spice rack sits perfectly square on the back of the new stove with no brackets.  It's heavy (and full of glass), so if it wobbled at all, I would screw it into the wall, but so far it is contentedly inert. 


A broader view of the wall. 


Oh, and look - from the other direction!  So, what do you think?  Is it an aesthetic improvement?  I think it's better.  I can't decide whether it's all the way better, or what that would even look like in theory.  I think probably maybe best would be something the same color as my cabinets, but maybe best would be an Aga (actually I think that probably is true by definition).  But I am happy if this is good.  And I think that it is.  My little tea-towel there is covering up the cute shape of the oven window, but I think what with the styling of the controls it still looks kinda retro.  Plus there's the shape of the burner grates - which I didn't photograph.  That's also retro (in my view, based on my many hours of staring at mid-century stoves). 

So far it has only heated water for tea and baked pizza, but it did both of those things plenty well :).  And no part of it is broken that I can see.  The programming features are intuitive and easy to use - already better than its predecessor's.  In the next week, I intend to test it on homemade bread, cookies, and broiling the Gruyere onto some French onion soup.  (Yes, I know it is not soup season.  I haven't had a working broiler in a very long time now, and cheese is at the top of my list of things I miss broiling.  Followed closely by summer vegetables, pork chops, and salmon.  We'll get there shortly.) 

I think my kitchen is done now. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

the closet, week 5 or 6 depending on how you count

So I specifically ranted about this "six-week challenge" being a five-week challenge.  (And unfairly abused the selfless hostess of this project, Linda of Calling it Home, who hosts the round-up of both the real one-room challengers and the goofy copycats, like me.)  And I specifically started off by saying that I had six weeks of work to do, namely:

Week 1 - demolition
Week 2 - put up studs; move wires into place for overhead light (including 2 junction boxes)
Week 3 - re-insulate ceiling; drywall, tape, and spackle
Week 4 - paint inside and outside; replace picture rail and baseboard outside
Week 5 - hang light, shelves, and closet poles
Week 6 - put clothes back in

And therefore, true to my promise, I have not finished.  I did demolish, frame, and wire.  I didn't need to re-insulate the ceiling because it hadn't been insulated in the first place (that is, the insulation was higher up than I thought).  As of last week, I had hung drywall, taped, and mostly spackled:


I had also replaced the picture rail and the baseboard, and painted most of the outside:


That leaves the rest of the spackling, shoe molding for the outside, more painting outside, painting the inside, installing the brackets, putting in shelves and poles, a few odds and ends (trimming out the switchplate, for example) - and putting the clothes back in.  So as of now, here's the outside:


With shoe molding and everything! 


(I am aware that I still need to clean the floor in there. Actually, I also need to wax it - I roughed it up more than I planned to.)  And let's see what it was supposed to look like...


Not too bad!  I still need to decide what goes where the highboy is now ("linen press" in the diagram), but that is clearly a week-six-and-beyond job.  And as for the inside of the closet:


I'm not merely a bad photographer (though that is true). The closet is 62" by 37", finished. And no longer has missing walls. I even used the big camera to try to get some decent shots, and you just can't see the whole thing. But that shows that there is a rod at 40" off the ground, with a shelf above; then, there's a rod 35" above that on the left, with about 12" of shelf space above that.  On the right the rod is all the way at the top (no shelf), so I can hang dresses: 


And around the corner to the right is the niche:


Here is the wall opposite the niche:


I did frame out that switch:


But not as well as I was planning to.  I can explain why that didn't work 100% and how it could have worked better if someone else is planning to do the same project.  A gratuitous shot of the ceiling area (helps a little to see the upper shelves):


And - demonstrating the fine detail capacity of the bigger camera but not my brushwork:



Obviously, conduit for that stretch of wiring is on the "still not done" list.  And I haven't bent back the plate on that box, either, because I have a specific tool that will do that beautifully and I can't find it.  I did, however, clean the floor for those photos.  Before it looked like this:



(Don't ask me why that picture is sideways.)  But of course, the newly-cleaned floor doesn't appear in any of the shots I took of the closet. 

Oh, and you may remember that last week I had a dilemma.  I had discovered that the boards I removed from one of the old closets were solid cedar.  While I had originally bought a box of cedar tongue-and-groove to line a little bit of the closet for moth-proofing, after this discovery I felt it behooved me to use the original-to-the-house material.  By Saturday, I decided that the right thing to do would be (1) strip the small boards I was using for shelves in the niche down to bare cedar; (2) strip the scrap cedar and use it to make the half-width shelf, and vertical dividers for that shelf; (3) purchase some new cedar to use for the full-width shelf; and (4) cut some remaining scrap cedar into S-curve brackets to visually divide the full-width shelf into cubbies.  And then return the closet liner I bought to the store.  I figured that would be enough for moth resistance, and it would be a few accents of raw cedar against the blue walls, which would look fine. 

Then the store didn't have the cedar I wanted in stock, so I figured I would order it and pick it up later (in my increasingly limited time).  Also in said limited time, I had to strip my remaining cedar (and finish everything else - painting hardware, etc., etc.).  So I bought the serious stripper (Klean-Strip), rather than the environmentally friendly stuff.  It said right on the bottle, "strips multiple layers of paint at once."  I was all pleased with myself - from here on out, I have decided, I am going to select products based on their environmental hostility. The green movement has gotten on my last nerve. I would like to tell you that the Klean-Strip was immeasurably better than the non-toxic stuff I used on the antique table, but in fact, the rest of my closet design was cemented by this:


There was a layer of blue paint on the boards, and under that a layer of yellow, and under that, wood.  So, in 15-30 minutes, this product strips half a layer of paint.  Assuming that the second application finished things completely (unlikely), I estimated it would take an additional 17 hours to finish the necessary stripping.  It was at that point that I decided all the shelves in the closet would be painted white (as they appear above).  I also decided to return the box of cedar closet liner to the store, and spend the $30 on these instead:


A five-pack is $10 at the big orange store.  Done. 

And regarding the cedar-stripping project - the non-toxic stuff costs 20% more and probably smells worse, and doesn't really strip better, but it claims to restore the ozone layer and make your Cheerios more nutritious.  Your call.  Personally, I have decided to leave the scrap pieces in the pouring rain for a few days and see whether the results would make good outdoor furniture.  Turning them into a planter seems too disrespectful.  (And I don't need planters.) 

So, what else didn't I get done?  This is pretty obvious, isn't it?  I didn't put the clothes in.  That's going to take me at least another week!  OK, not really.  But I wanted to let the paint cure fully (last night it was wet), and knock down some roughness in the paint job, and maybe there are one or two other little things.  I wanted to put some hooks along the closet wall, so my husband could hang up pants and shirts that are worn, and will be worn again, and therefore can neither go in the hamper nor back on the shelf (I have tried every other solution to this problem; his preference is to pile them on beds and chairs, and the aggravation is shortening my life), like this:


I used to have a few of those old-fashioned hooks kicking around somewhere - I just sort of acquired them. It was very helpful in our last old house. I may have run out of them?  So I was figuring I would buy a few, maybe something like these from the big orange store:


They sell a few similar variants, from $.88 each to $2.98 each. Then two things happened.  First, I woke up and realized that the wall I wanted to put them on was this one:


Which does not have room for a trio of hooks.  Maybe a hook.  And second, at some point while cutting in the paint around the floor I was idly staring, and, apparently for the first time, I saw the hinges on the closet door:


I tell visitors that my 120-year-old house doesn't really have a lot of charm for its age - the curved wall and the servants' stairs are the only bits of strange character left. It doesn't have any octagonal rooms or crazy trimwork.  I manage to forget that the house is (a very humble) neo-Gothic, but the house remembers.  Those are the hinges on the closet.  Look at the hinge pins!  They have finials!  (How on earth would you remove them without damaging them?  I hope that is never necessary.)  So I went into a mini-crisis wherein I decided that every bit of my "cottage-style" design for the closet was based on anachronism and self-delusion, and I should start over, and wallpaper it (as it apparently was originally!), and probably I should have this light fixture:
 


In the antique brass finish, of course. It's $300, from House of Antique Hardware.  It later occurred to me that, though the one above is a huge step up in fanciness (and price), other than the polished nickel finish, the one I bought is not entirely dissimilar in style:


It's the fluted globe that I was most particularly drawn to, and it looks as though I was not too far from historical accuracy there.  (Let's just ignore the blue, white, and silver part of my plan.)  Meanwhile, while I browsed House of Antique Hardware to reeducate my apparently wayward tastes, I discovered some rather extraordinary hook options.  Of which the most extraordinary clearly was  this:


Go to the site and look at it close up.  See how Gothic!  They're $7.99 each.  And apparently I can only fit one, so...I mean, that's not much more than three $2 hooks (though there's shipping, too)...and it will obviously hold more things than one ordinary hook.  It's almost like I have to buy it.  It comes in lacquered iron, which I figure will split the difference between my polished nickel light and my (literally) antique brass hinges.  (That's how you mix metals, right?) 

And it would establish, I don't know, a few square inches of actual design in my space.  Because now that I have the project done, I realize that my precious, precious closet resembles nothing so much as the "before" pictures from when people make over a builder-basic walk-in closet in a new home (except that it's blue and has a really cool light, obviously).  I had more custom finishes planned, but they turned out to be functionally impracticable, not to mention I ran out of time.  (If there are customizations that will be feasible and make the closet more useful, I definitely can and will add them later.)  However enormous or miserable or exhausting, my project doesn't really come up to scratch when you look at the contestants' ORC work.  Such as Erin's:


Or V's:


And there's lots more.  And I haven't even looked at the copy-catters' work yet (and some of that is professional-quality, too - uh, some of them are actually professionals).  It turns out that I am not competing in that league, and that would make this post pretty darn sad, except for one thing:


Perspective.