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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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

So my dear friends Meg and Ben live in a great albeit new house ion the Chesapeake Bay in North Beach, Md. They used  to live 5 blocks from me, and prior to that, Meg lived WITH me for 5 years. I think we both secretly  think we'll end up old ladies living together again, once those men die and leave us their fortunes. It will be sad for a while, but then it will be fun. (kidding, guys! we'll be sad FOREVER!)
Anyway: Meg and Ben let me run their life last weekend as they headed into the North Beach House and Garden show. they needed a firm hand to make their already lovely and interesting house gorgeous and serene. 
Now above you see my pride and joy. Ben and Meg, like me, have a laundry problem. They hate to do it, hate to fold it, hate to put it away. So several years ago I conceived of this system of baskets. The shelves were built  but for years they were just filled with a  jumble of clothes etc because they refused to just pull the trigger and buy the bins. The house tour, however, changed all that. 

See? Lovely. its a demosntration of a key principal: group like objects for order and beauty. Now all their laundry (dirty in baskets, clean in bins) is gorgeous to look at and easy to get to. Any no one has to put anything away. It comes out of the dryer, gets folded, stacked in a bin, then popped on the shelf. I love it. Here are 2 more views.

They have a great deck off their bedroom that they just painted -- and I tell you, the paint is a miracle. It feels like a place you want to be instead of a splinter fest. Ben made the chaise longue (not lounge! it's French!). The chandelier thingy is a group project (but I'm please to say my innovation). They had this old spool bed piece hanging around for years. I suggested it become a candle chandelier. A yard sale yielded mason jars for $2 and a spool of stiff wire. Ben painted the spool thing, and I twisted the wire. The brilliant design thing here is that by hanging it up it draws attention to the high ceiling, and it creates a foreground, which makes the background look so much more real and 3-dimensional. Gorgeous views without foregrounds can look like painted backdrops.

 Here is their kitchen. It wasn't much to look at before -- builder grade cabinets and crappy Formica counters. A coat of paint and some mail order butcher block, along with some bead board and it's gorgeous. The light is something I unearthed in an antique store for 40 bucks. It weighs about 6,000 pounds. Ben figured out how to rewire and hang it.

 Here is their living room. The colors are basically drawn from the Chesapeake Bay and tidal marshes outside -- that's the green and gray and blue you see. But the room needed color. Now I'm not one for color or pattern but Meggy is. I make fun of her for it -- she loves wee bitty patterns like holly hobby. She even likes her plants holly hobby -- little,  tight, speckled flowers. I like my blooms blowsy and fragrant (peonies, jasmine, clematis). But I "allowed" her to indulge in the living room. She came up with a great mix (I nixed a few) of colors and patterns. it's not something I would ever come up with on my own but I love it.

The rug is from Dash& Albert. That was a requirement: the room is large and needed a huge presence to anchor the living area. The night before the house tour we had pizza and the box collapsed on my leg. I tried to balance the pie but the hot cheese slid right off. This is where oxy clean comes in. You can even see the stain, which was ENORMOUS the night before. It was right at the foot of the green chair on the left.

 Here's another view. There is also a day bed in the corner, backed by a mirror to reflect even more water views. It's a great napping spot. That's not us in the picture. Those are neighbors coming to check out the place at the beginning of the house tour. But the skirt works in the space, so I'm ok with it.

Here's another kitchen shot. Ben built the pot rack out of a salvaged piece of metal -- probably an airplane cargo door, we decided after seeing something VERY similar in the movie Midway, which was playing last weekend.  Again: grouping like things-- steel pans -- is a great way to display otherwise mundane things.

 The cabinet came from Housewerks in Baltimore. Super cool and reconfigurable -- those trays can be moved up or down. I spent a lot of time arranging these pots. All their vitamins and prescriptions -- things they need every day -- are hidden in that tall sided box. Always keep your KitchenAid mixer out and ready to go or you will never use it.

 And finally: the view. I had nothing to do with this. It's why they moved here. Away from me. Booooo.
But the good news is I get to use their house as a weekend getaway whenever I want it. I know the alarm code, suckas!

1 comment:

  1. It's the laundry room that pushed me over the edge.
    I hate them.