Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Music Room Anyone?

Now that the wedding craziness is over, I thought I would share with you some of the house projects I have worked on in between wedding stuff.  In the two years I have been retired, I have managed to do a few projects, but not nearly close to the number I have sitting in my head! (I can hear Bob cringing as I write that line). One of my favorite projects just kind of came to me out of the blue... transforming my living room.

The above shows the finished product,(sorry, no before photo to share).

My home is a 1973 colonial.  When you walk in the front door, to the left of the foyer and stairs is a combined living room/dining room space.  I think it is a pretty advanced open-concept design for 1973, and one would think I would know exactly what to do with it being that everyone wants open concept design today.  Uh, welllll....I didn't.  The dining area was easy to design:  table, chairs, china cabinet...DONE!  But, what to do with the living room area.  The problem was we really spent so little time in that room, all of our together time was spent in the family room where the TV and computer are located.  I had filled the living room with haphazard pieces just to take up space.  There was no design plan...sigh.  Then inspiration hit!  The one piece in the room that dominated the space was the piano; it had to stay.  So, I thought, why not make it the purpose of the room...a music room.  LOVE IT!!! Once I had decided on a purpose for the room, the design all fell into place.  First I transformed some of the pieces I already had to fit the theme.

On the large outside wall, I created a music- themed photo wall.  I started by framing some music sheets from my daughters' band days.  I also was lucky enough to find sheet music that was stamped with black block prints of birds done by a local artist who also is part owner of a favorite antique shop on Main Street downtown Flemington. I thought it would create a nice mix of art and music.  Since the walls are a Wedgewood blue, I decided to keep all the frames light.

The center picture needed to be larger, so I scoured the music in the piano bench and found Phantom of the Opera...our very favorite Broadway play.  It brings back such happy memories.  My oldest daughter's marching band won first place with this music ( in fact it is her saxophone sheet music from high school that I framed.)

You can also see that I stylized the top of the secretary (an heirloom from Bob's mom).  I tried to keep things simple: a few books, silver pieces and alabaster statue.  I kept the music theme going by rolling up some sheet music and filling the large silver urn (actually an ice bucket we received as 25th anniversary gift).

On the drop down top I placed my oldest daughter's flute (sadly she no longer plays it) along with a vintage ink bottle and a few pages of random music. Next to the secretary you can see my youngest daughter's saxophone (again relegated to the past).
As I scoured garage sales last fall for items to furnish my youngest's new home, I scored this pair of wall sconces... music harps!  Perfect fit to round out the music wall collage.
 Next, I turned to the sofa area that I use as a divider between the living room and dining room areas.  I covered the sofa ( a 1980"s pink floral number...YIKES!!!) with a neutral pewter- colored slip cover.  I added some vintage doilies as arm covers and tossed on some neutral -colored pillows to freshen the look and blend in with the color scheme of the wall collage. I brought in a vintage pie crust table I had used in the family room and topped it with a converted oil lamp that I had purchased years ago and had been using elsewhere in the house.  I like it here in this room better; it adds to the old world charm that a "music room" connotes, don't you think?

 Behind the pie crust table I placed a hinged pair of glass doors that I had purchased a while back on an antiquing outing with Bob.  I just loved them and at the time didn't know where I would put them, but I knew they would look nice somewhere.  I was so right.  They make the perfect room divider here. Plus, I continued the music theme by decorating a few of the window panes with sheet music.  Also on the pie crust table you can see the crystal vase holds a collection of drum sticks that I scored for $1 a piece at the same shop I got the bird block prints.

In front of the sofa is a diminutive vintage glass-topped table.  I brought it into the design by simply slipping a few sheets of music under the glass top and simplifying the vignette with a footed silver bowl, mercury glass candle and Waterford crystal bowl.

To the right of piano is a vintage music cabinet I had found over ten years ago.  I used it to store all of the piano music my girls and I had accumulated over the years.  Plus, who could resist such a lovely you see the mirror peaking out on top and the lovely turned legs?  So, as I was transforming the room, I wanted to highlight the piece even more.  Two years ago, my daughter had given me a replica phonograph.  I decided it absolutely needed to be in my music room, so I placed it here on top of the music cabinet.  I opened the doors so you could see the lovely shelving, used some of the shelves for album storage (I won't tell you I have an original Abby Road album and the original Tapestry album...can we hear a you're that old!!!!), and threw a couple of vintage linens on the door.  Just love the monogram even though it's not my letters.

So, that's how my music room came to be.  I apologize for the photo.  There is so much light streaming through the windows and (sigh) I am still using my cell phone for photo taking.  But, I think you see the gist of the themes in the room.  Blue, creme, gray, neutral colors are so soothing. And of, music, music.  I now love the room and you can find me at quiet times, reading on the sofa or tinkering away at the piano.  I have even been known to put on an old album and sip away on a glass of wine.

Do you have any rooms that never seemed to get use?  Can you think of ways to transform them into useful spots again?  I'd love to hear your ideas.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Reading Roundup

One of my very favorite pastimes is reading.  I like to get reading suggestions from other people.  It just makes it so much easier to pick out a book to read, and I'm sure there are others out there who are just like me.  So, I've decided to start a monthly post called Reading Roundup in which I will share with you, what I've been reading.  I hope it will inspire you with some titles or authors that you might like to try on for size.

So here is what I'm reading this month:

Song For Night by Chris Abani.  I'm reading this book because I am tutoring a student who was assigned this for Summer Reading. It is not for the faint of heart. The story's main character, My Luck, is a child soldier in Nigeria.  He is fifteen at the outset of the story but has been involved in the war for three years.  His job is to sweep the landscape for mines.  He, like the other members of his platoon, has had his vocal chords severed. This was done to prevent screaming when a landmine doesn't want to scare the other mine sweepers with death screams!  The brutality of the war is stark and revolting.  The depravity of mankind is close to the surface of this book, but My Luck is the shining example of how one can cling to human goodness in the face of overpowering evil.  I haven't finished the book yet, but must admit I can't wait to be done with it.  So very brutal.  The writing is superb and borders on poetic, but I wonder why it is necessary to include it in a summer reading project.  Thank goodness my student is going to be a senior.  I guess the message is:  here's the real world kid...take a look!

Because Song For Night is so overwhelmingly oppressive, I needed something light to counteract it.  Enter The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen.  The book is set in Mullaby, North Carolina.  I just love Southern novelists, of which Ms. Allen is one.  Their prose usually drips with rich descriptions and details just like the Spanish Moss that droops from tree tops in the South.  This book lives up to my expectations of luxurious details, plus it has some very fun plot twists, some mystery, some romance, and even magic. The main character, Emily, has just come to live with her giant of a grandfather...uh, yes I mean giant...literally...he is almost 9 feet tall!  Emily's mother, Dulcie, has just died, and since Emily never knew her father, she goes to live with her grandfather, Vance. Emily has never met her grandfather and finds him shy and reclusive.  Everything is strange for Emily who has had to leave the rather austere life in an all-girls school in the North and acclimate to the down home, folksy life of a small Southern town where everyone knows the business of EVERYONE else.  Emily soon realizes the mother she knew (an activist who supported a dozen causes), who lead a very plain life, had a very different past.  Dulcie was rich, popular, and very much a materialist.  Something happened to change all that...and Emily will find out what everyone else in Mullaby already knows.  A very fun read.


Next on my list is The Traveling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones.  I haven't started to read this one yet, but it was recommended by the Modern Mrs. Darcy. I've been following MMD on Pinterest and her blog. Go check out her blog HERE. What a find!  She has great recommendations and great taste!  In fact, she spoke highly of Sarah Addison Allen, so that is why I picked up The Girl Who Chased the Moon. I loved the cover of The Traveling Tea Shop and love, love, love tea shops in general (gotta visit Teaberrys in Flemington if you are ever in the area) so I thought I would give this book a go.

Finally, I've decided to begin checking off one of the items on my Bucket read every one of Shakespeare's plays.  I've read quite a few already, but many still remain.  I decided to start with one of his earliest Measure for Measure.  I dusted off my old Shakespeare anthology from college days...

It was cool to see some of the annotations I had made almost 45 years ago!!!  I even found some bibliography lists meant to be used in research done on those old purple ditto sheets...anyone remember those?

I decided to listen to a recording of the play as I followed along in the text.  A really good resource can be found at THIS website.  I was disappointed in Measure for Measure; it seemed simplistic and relied on silly and see through mistaken identities.  I chalked it up to Shakespeare starting to tryout his dramatic wings...after all I KNOW what he ultimately produced...he's not called the Sweet Swan of Avon for nothing!  I'm  looking forward to reading more of the bard.  I'll keep you posted.

So that's what I've been reading lately.  What great reads have you been delving into?  I would love to hear what you have on your reading list!