In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

The Transformation Begins... Living to Dining Room

I'm an extremely impatient person with very low personal standards, and a firm devotee of the Half-Assed Craft (tm). Which means: I never have the forethought to take good "before" pictures, and I tend to go at things quickly but enthusiastically -- believing the test should be if you squint your eyes and ask yourself: Does it look better than it did before? If the answer is yes, VICTORY IS MINE. (and yours). I love me some Martha -- worship her actually -- but cannot possibly live up to her standard and neither can you. Face it.

(I always read Martha Stewart Living on plane trips. It gives me a sense of control.)
So I am beginning the long painful process of removing a 10 X 10 1970s sectional sofa from my living room, painting walls and floors white and rearranging all my dining room furniture into my current living room, and making tiny animal sacrifices to the Furniture and Doorway gods so my new Kensington sofa (a 10-footer for me! in a 14 foot room! intentionally! god help me and the moving company tasked to getting it in my wee house) will work out. It will sit in front of the fire in the library. If I can get it in my house.

Here's a mock up of what it will look like, with a tip of the hat to Restoration Hardware's online catalog and my computer's Paint program. (There is a WWI era welcome home from war banner hanging on the wall behind the couch, going up the stairs).

The current living room, the largest room in the house at 13 X 14, will become my dining room. It's next to the kitchen, so it makes sense, because in the current configuration with my dining room in a 9 X 12 addition on the back of my house, I'm forever darting down a long hall cum pantry to get people their dinner.

And the new dining room will be large enough to hold a 9-foot library table which if everyone squishes can host 16 people (YES IT CAN! LALALALALALALA).
So I am painting the room white - -walls and floor. The room had a cocoa brown wall as of Wednesday. Here's a before/in process shot...taken when I got a wild hair to paint the wall. Wild hare? Observe the cool ceiling beams. My house was built around 1850.

So after I did a poor job painting ( the wall still needs a few touch ups, especially near the ceiling and floor -- you know, the hard parts) I hung all my art, willynilly. But I love it! I have a few holes to fill in yet... It's dark because it is pitch black outside. The room gets nice morning light, and gorgeous golden afternoon light in the deep fall when the sun is low.

When I finally get the table and chairs in there it will be like eating dinner in a very, very bad museum. Glorious!

Here's what I'm going for, but not as perfect or fancy. Or wealthy. (that's what makes it mine.) This is Daryl Carter's dining room -- the DC lawyer turned massively successful designer.


  1. oooh! I sat on that sofa last weekend and loved it.
    More photos please...

  2. ha! I go visit the couch about once a week. It is wending its way toward me, accoridng to Restoration Hardware... maybe this week. There wil be much removing of doors. More pics to come :)