Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Persian Beauty

I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art over the holiday weekend and found myself captivated by the Persian carpets in the permanent collection. They are everything I love with fading colors rich and beguiling.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

my dining table

In the big scheme of things it's pretty junky: a 1920's French-ish perfect-for-the-space forty-two inch something-or-other that I found in a thrift shop. Painted white with a blue stripe; it had a nice shape, three leaves, and was a steal. So I brought it home thinking I could refinish it. After stripping the lacquer off the top and the paint off the base, I found that the base wouldn't hold stain. Big oops. Then Mr. Husband said: "Why don't you gild it?" This novel idea resulted in an antiqued composite leaf finish over red bole and a walnut top (I used The Art of the Painted Finish as a guide). It is truly mad and still makes me smile.

For a Roundtable of singing teachers, pianists and friends, I lay out an ivory linen cloth, china, candles, tulips in a crystal vase, yummy food, ivory handled serving ware, Chinoisierie transfer ware and let everyone help themselves. Greenery-vallery all the way.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Umbrian Serenades 2012

So excited to be off to Spoleto, Italy this summer (July 25th - August 7th), singing with the Umbrian Serenades, a wonderful cultural experience where a-cappella singing in three magnificent spaces, food, wine and much merriment with wonderful friends is the order of the day. While there last year, I found a lovely print of the Duomo c. 1840 and snapped a photo of the same piazza, though from a slightly higher elevation. I can't tell you how wonderful this experience is. Life-changing is a good two-word description however. Go! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

In the black

A long-waited day arrived yesterday: a black cabinet, under-the-counter refrigerator, Kohler enamel sink, nickel faucet and butcher block countertop was installed. With only fifty-two inches to work with, figuring out how to make everything fit next to a twenty inch stove (which I am not including since it is going to be replaced with a stainless and black number) was something of a rubric's cube. 

I originally wanted to use beautiful green tile as a backsplash (see my previous posts), but decided not to do that after having a bug put in my ear by Blue- god bless him. He was right. What I had planned wasn't going to work. His solution? Mirror. And I didn't have to look far: it was sitting in the back of a closet after being removed from the back of a door. Seeing that it was the perfect size...well..let's just say it was fate. 

The dinnerware is old Lenox and Minton, the latter found at the flea market this past week. I plopped it on the counter with some champagne glasses and an antique light that usually resides on an old oak kitchen dresser, the top of which you see in the foreground (it needs a bit of work).

(I really do believe that lighting is everything - or nearly everything - after being onstage at the opera for more than twenty years. While you can't make a badly designed set look great, you can make a terrific one look awful if you don't know what you are doing.)

The cabinets above the sink (which you can't see thank god) are metal and were installed when the apartment was converted from a single family house into a co-op in 1947 (the second co-op on the upper west side actually). They are going to be torn out along with the wall above which covers unused space. Things to work into that unused space? Ductwork that will reach to the stove. And what a glorious day that will be. While cooking in a small space has its advantages, dealing with grease is not one of them; an extractor fan is a must.

I stained the countertop antique walnut and then treated it with a product called Waterlox. It's made out of tongue oil and can be renewed without having to refinish, something I would have had to do if I had used a plastic finish and it became cracked or chipped. I like the countertop's look and feel. It's real. 

Things are in progress. We are in the black.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

a rose is a rose is a rose

Beauty in the City can be hard to come by: we planted two rose bushes in front of our co-op Brownstone only to have them stolen a few days afterwards (a writer who lives in the building wrote about it here). Smarter on the second go-round, we chained the plants to the window guards. They've grown well and are over six feet tall now. I can smell the blooms from ten week away. Wonderful. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May Mantel

I found Parisian nacre opera glasses in a drawer while looking for something else and threw them on the mantel along with my c. 1905 Manuel Garcia relic which has a 'new' 1850's frame, a Head of a Youth from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and brain coral. I like how the coral echoes the Youth's hair. 

Ok. I can't remember the last time I used the word nacre, but it seems that Wikipedia is trying to educate us. That's the word that comes up when you google "mother of pearl." 

If only those opera glasses were magical and could look into the past. I'd focus them on my relic and peer back in time to see the great maestro at work in his studio. That's where my head is at right now: long dead singing teachers and their means and methods. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Aesthetic Knobs

Six Aesthetic Period knobs beckoned to me this morning at the flea market. "Forget about that old glass knob you have! You can use us on the kitchen cabinets you want to make; you know- the ones that will be double height. We'll look great and 'go' with the Aesthetic Period kitchen dresser, mirror and china cabinet you already have!  Take us home now!" So I did. Now I have this picture in my mind's eye of the front of the cabinets being painted with figures of angels and gilded halos: all very Burne-Jones, don't you know. Mad. Over the top. God that would be a lot of work. But there you have it.