Kitchen Renovation x Three

When my husband John bought our home seven years ago, two years before meeting me, he chose it thinking he would do a bit of renovation and sell it as he had all the houses before. He enjoys remodeling homes and selling them on and has done quite a few since he finished working in television about fifteen years ago.

Built in 1997, it had spent its whole life as a rental before he saw its potential and made the local owner/builder/landlord an offer they both found acceptable. When you live in a house built by someone who still lives in the village who you see in the pub, you may find you are also surrounded by others who had a hand in the building process or who lived in the house before you. I won’t go into it now, but we’ve heard some interesting stories that could fill more than a few pages.

I’ve seen a lot of John’s before and after shots of his renovation work in earlier properties and I appreciate how he is able to see possibilities where someone else might walk away. The first three photographs will give you an idea of what the kitchen looked like when he first bought it. There was a great deal of reddish dark wood throughout the house like you see in the window of the first photo giving it a completely different look than it has now.  (All of the early photographs were taken by John)

I don’t know if this is the original kitchen from 1997, but having always been a rental before John bought it, I can’t imagine anyone investing money to leave behind. I know it’s done all the time in New York city apartments and I’ve known people who have spent $30,000 on a kitchen renovation in a place they did not actually own, but they’d lived in for twenty years or more.

While I never had to live with the linoleum tile pattern on the floor, until recently the brass switch plates that came with the house were still on the walls. I’m glad John agreed that it was time for them to go. The new lighter ones blend so much better and are easier to clean.

You can see the beginnings of the first of three big kitchen changes dating from when he bought it in 2005. Thank goodness he added more ceiling lights too. I can’t imagine working with only one or two lights in the kitchen as this one had.

Here you see the cabinets going in. John bought the cabinet doors from Ikea and built the rest of it from big sheets of furniture board because it was as he said, “less expensive than ready-made and more flexible.”  The countertops are the old ones from 1997 just before John tiled them black like you see in the photo below. He believes in reusing materials when possible.

The second kitchen redo was much smaller, taking place in 2009 when my things arrived from the US. John added more glass fronted cabinets for my china and other glassware along with another solid cabinet on the left side of the window over the sink.

The other side of the room where the table sits is shown during the first renovation in the third photo above. As you can see by the funny bit of wall sticking out in that picture and the one below it, our table placement choices were severely limited and it never felt as if the space was large enough to move comfortable in especially when family and friends joined us.

Here’s a last look before the wall came down. After John built the extension so I might have a room of my own to write, the configuration of the house changed making it unnecessary for the entry door you can see in the photo below. Before building what he jokingly refers to as the East Wing, that door opened into the master bedroom. After the addition of a hallway, my studio space, and two bathrooms, it became possible to take down the corner wall and open up the room a bit more.

The out-dated Artex ceiling went too, along with the door leading from the main hall into the East Wing hallway. Then he pulled up the small bit of dark wood that had been part of the hallway floor and took out the door you see on the right. He fixed the wall afterwards and then put a new door and partial wall in where the hallway begins. The ceiling is dark in this shot because the plaster was still drying.

Here’s how it looked yesterday when I tried to catch a bit of light on a rainy day. I could have used my blogging friend Kerstin’s property photography skills as my pictures don’t do as good a job of giving you an accurate feel for the space. Notice we still have the leather chairs along with four more in the attic. John is okay with them, but I have a different vision in mind and I’ll update you later when we make a change. That lamp in the corner needs a bit of work or replacing. John enjoys a softer evening light so we’re likely to keep something there.

This cool piece is one of two that came out of an old smithy that was attached to another much older home that John owned years before meeting me. Both were stored in the garage and I’d imagined them inside the house from the first time I saw them. Renovating the kitchen created a place for this larger one and the smaller one found a home in the living room.

The little potty was one I used as a child on overnight visits with my great-grandparents who did not have indoor plumbing. I can see a few cobwebs in the slot where it’s sitting. (Note to self: dust more!) This piece was missing a drawer and I put the potty there as a funny reminder of a time when grand houses would have a screen off to the side during dinner parties so guests might relieve themselves without straying far from the table. Given that we are fortunate to have three bathrooms, this will never be necessary if you come for dinner.

John suggested this one might look better painted the color green you see in the kitchen, but that’s not happening! I love the primitive look of it and like seeing the dings and peeling paint from its use in blacksmith’s work space.

John built the new cabinets in the photo above using old materials to create units that were more shallow than the ones there before. He replaced the laminate floors with hardwood and I found a smaller entry rug for the door in the things I brought over in 2009. We think it’s a good match. Everything had a fresh coat of paint and the cooker hood or range hood as I’d call it is one that John found online. It works so much better than the old one making me especially happy when John cooks fish.

You may notice that we have not settled on a decision for the backsplash. John likes it as it is, but we tend to be messy and I think we’ll need at least a sheet of glass or acrylic to cover the green part up to the molding he installed. He also turned an unused space into a cookie sheet storage area by hinging the small wooden strip below the oven and adding a pull.

The lights in these cabinets are actually pale blue, but they’ve turned deep purple in this photo. You can see the new countertops John installed. He did a lot of work on them to help make them less prone to staining.

See the two raised boards he made from leftover counter-top wood … this works well to keep wet products off the wood so it doesn’t stain. You must be more careful with these, but I love the look of them and have not had to work that hard to get used to working with dry ingredients in one part and wet in another.

I moved some of the art that I brought from the US. These pieces had been in other parts of the house and added one (on the left) that I bought during a trip we made to Wales. I think it all came together fairly well.

You may have noticed that the art work on the sides of the window near the sink is in the spot where cabinets used to be. We had considered open shelving there for dishes and stuff, but I’m glad we found another way. I prefer the art and like how the space feels bigger and less cluttered.

John is already on to his next project, working on plans to change to the interior stairs and the entrance to the house. He never stops.

My friend Jean commented the other day on how lucky I was after seeing pictures of some of the renovations we’ve been making and “by we, I mean John.” That little saying about what we are doing has become a bit of humorous phrasing for me, but one meant to playfully acknowledge all the effort he puts into making our home so comfortable and appealing. He does such a nice job and I do feel lucky, but it’s his gentle spirit and kind heart rather than his construction skills that make me feel fortunate to share a life and space with him.

How about you … any projects on your list this summer? Share a link if you have one or leave me a link to your favorite home remodeling blog. I’m more than a little addicted to bloggers who are known for their DIY skills.

Missing My Girl At Christmas

Miranda, Asda, ComedyI knew it would be hard to live so far from my daughter when I moved to the UK and I knew there would be times when it would be more difficult, but must the Universe feel compelled to send me constant reminders at Christmas!

There’s a comedian here in the UK who shares my daughter’s name and this holiday season there seem to be television commercials and signs for her everywhere. It makes me want to shout, ‘Enough!’

My Miranda is never far from my thoughts. I generally have a photograph of her as my screen saver on my laptop and images and reminders of her are scattered throughout the house as well.

I won’t bore you with all of them, but some of my favorites are in the photos below. They’re mostly a few quick snaps from this morning taken in a way to avoid the dust and pre-Christmas mess so be advised they’re not my best work.

This photo was taken by my brother-in-law, Leon when Miranda was not much more than one. It’s the first thing I see when I walk into my studio space.

I had this copy of one of my favorite pictures of me with Miranda put on canvas last summer. It was pre-digital and the best copy I could find so it could not be reproduced any larger and keep the sharpness. I love seeing this when I do my hair and makeup in front of the mirror in the hall of my studio.

I have a more recent of photo of Miranda on my desktop, but I try not to put any taken too recently on the blog to give her a smidge of privacy. She was in a friend’s wedding last month and looked so pretty in her role as maid of honor that I wanted to post it, but not without discussing it first.

She made this when she was in pre-school or kindergarten and it sits in an old piece of furniture I rescued years ago from a barn on my grandmother’s property.

I keep a dresser tucked behind the sliding glass doors in my studio that house my closet or wardrobe as they would call it here. ( More can be seen in this post )

It’s here that I keep a few bowls that Miranda made me when she was a little girl and there are some cards from her and photos as well.

The puppy pic is her precious boy and the picture below is from our mother-daughter camp days.

 These dusty images are next to the bed and the bookmark is one she gave me about five years ago.

This was from a Christmas photo taken in 2009. It was my only other Christmas without her and I used a big bowl she painted when she was young to give us an angel in the dining area here. The ornament was only there for the holiday.

Angel Bowl I went through a big angel phase about twelve years ago and Miranda really made me smile when she made this gift for me.

I like to keep a favorite photo of Miranda in the kitchen and I see it every time I come into the house as we almost always enter through the kitchen door.

She’s twelve in this photo taken in Paris when we went for the Millennium New Year in 2000.

Finally, here’s a shot from when I tried to grow Sweet-Peas in the back garden because it was my nickname for her when she was a baby. I need to add that I’m not known for my gardening skills and my poor plants did not flourish or even sprout.

Miranda’s work keeps her too busy to visit during the month of December and she has little time for much else until January. I think next year I may suggest that I fly to see her in January and so we can celebrate Christmas on January 6th, the original date for early Christians.

Anyone else out there having to get creative about how they see family during holiday celebrations?  

To Carolyn From Paris

I have said this before and it is still true that one of the best things about blogging are the friends you make online. If you are lucky, you may have a chance to meet in person and tonight was one of those magic nights where once you get past hello, you laugh and talk like old friends who have been sharing secrets forever.

Kim and I have been reading each other’s blogs and corresponding through email for longer than I can remember and I have always enjoyed her blog, Sassiland where she writes mostly about her life in Paris.

I was totally enchanted by her romantic heart when she went to the gravesite in Paris where I’d left my wedding bouquet when John and I were here on our honeymoon and I loved how she took the time to send me a photo showing me that my flowers were still there several weeks later.

Back in April of 2009, I was pleasantly surprised to see a message on another blogging friend’s site directed at me. While on a trip to Paris in 2009, Carolyn, who blogs at My Sydney Paris Life had chance to meet Kim and together they sent me a little message that you can see here.

Tonight after being treated to a lovely dinner at a Paris café by Kim, we snapped a photo for Carolyn who is home in Australia. Well, we think she’s home in Australia now. Carolyn is such a woman on the move it can be hard to track where she and her partner Clive might be and although her blog is about more than just travel, if travel tips are what you need, her space is loaded with great planning ideas.

I took the photograph below in the evening light of the café so it’s not my best work, but I think the message on the map is clear and that’s what is important. (Hello Carolyn, wish you were here)

Elizabeth & Kim

I have to say too that Kim very thoughtfully remembered my birthday with a sweet-filled cup that I loved at once. If you followed the extension posts I wrote about John giving me a room of my own for a writing studio then you will understand her reason for choosing the one she did.

It was a wonderful way to bring our Paris visit to a close. Margaret and I will be seeing the last of the sights tomorrow and then we’re off to Cornwall to rest up for John’s birthday followed the next day by Margaret’s. Thanks for following us around Paris this week. I hope you’ve had as much fun as we have.

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.

~ Virginia Woolf

 

 

Amber Waves Of Grain

American children grow up learning the words to the song, ” America the Beautiful ” and if you’re not familiar with it, this version by Jon Bon Jovi is well worth a listen.

“Amber waves of grain …” is one of the lines in the song and walking up on the fields of gold this weekend immediately brought it to mind. As much as I love living here in Cornwall with John, scenes like this can make me feel a bit homesick for the US. I’ve only seen wheat fields like this while passing through Kansas so it was not the wheat fields that made me homesick, but rather the song of America that came to mind.

I’ve been knackered since our company left Tuesday morning, worthless in terms of writing, but I still have some photographs from our July 4th celebration that I’d like to share tomorrow.

I Married Superman

Last night I emailed the image below from Target, to my husband John.

Some of you may remember that our original building plans for the the extension also included adding an en-suite bath for the master bedroom.

In the beginning

Adding the bath meant that we had to steal a few feet from the master bedroom for a corridor leading to my space. Along with the extension, the master bedroom got a new look as well and part of that involved new bedroom furniture. While we did not have to do such a major renovation or build out, this space has gone through a fair amount of change as well. Part of that change involved redecorating. We are down to just one or two changes in the master before it’s complete and the bedside tables are a topic of conversation lately.

Since John is so good with building things, we have talked about how he might build the bedside tables and occasionally, as I have about 599 times over the last nine months, I’ve emailed him examples of things I like from the internet. Some of my favorite resource sites during the renovation have been places like, Young House Love, Design Sponge, and the always inspiring, Poppytalk. In addition, Design Therapy, Bloom Studio, and Apartment Therapy gave me tons of ideas as I was planning my space.

Last night as John was checking his email, I heard him say, ‘You must be joking!’ I knew when I heard him that he was talking about the bedside table and went to his study in time to hear him say, ‘I can’t make that!’ Of course, I had not really expected him to make it, but was only sending him another in a long series of images that had caught my eye.

Now to fully explain the title for this post … a few weeks ago, John ordered a pulley with the intention of hauling a five and half foot unvented hot water tank up into the attic (loft) to provide hot water to the two new en-suites. When he suggested that he and I could lift it up through the smallish opening for the attic space using the pulley, I thought to myself that it might be a difficult task, but being my father’s daughter and having never shirked from heavy lifting, I thought we would manage, especially when John said our next door neighbor would help if necessary.

A few days after that conversation, I came down the corridor from my studio and noticed the attic door was open and the pull-down stairs pushed way back out of the way. When I saw that I knew immediately that something was up and up it certainly was. It seems while I had busied myself with something out of hearing range, the pulley had been delivered and John had used it to hoist the cumbersome tank all by himself. I was both shocked and impressed to find I had been living all this time with … Superman! That man continues to amaze me.

Coming Out Of The Closet

Right! Here goes with something you don’t know about me even with all the secrets I spilled yesterday. I know what you’re thinking … can there really be something more?

Today I’m coming out about clutter. My closets have never been organized places where clothes hang neatly or where you could open a door and know that something was exactly where you left it. In fact, there have been times when whole rooms began to resemble a big walk in closet and were so bad that even my closest family members were bared from entering.

There are quite a few people who would agree with what I have said here going as far back as my roommate Diane who shared an apartment space with me when we were university students. More recently, my daughter Miranda would not hesitate to confirm that as late as 2007 there was at least one room in our house that looked like more like someone’s storage building out back than it’s intended purpose.

Three guesses which one looked like a ” tip. ” (a British expression I’ve come to love)

rubbish tip (n.) dumping ground, garbage dump, garbage heap, refuse dump, rubbish dump, tip

It was … my home office space. That’s right, the very place I had always had in mind would be my retreat, a place of peaceful serenity where I could write uninterrupted by everyday life. I dreamed of a space like the one I have now while I was working for corporate America. I was fortunate over the years to have three homes where there was enough room for me to have a space designated as my office.

It is no surprise that my writing life was given the least amount of attention and my ” offices ” always reflected that lack of priority and focus. While the rest of the house might have been fairly tidy, my office was always unfinished, over-cluttered, and completely unwelcoming for any creative energy. It was plainly as I said before, a tip. More than a time or two I found myself channeling Bette Davis as I tried to pick my way through the junk pausing in frustration to utter her famous movie line, ” What a dump! “

The day I saw my  home in Atlanta for the first time, I walked upstairs into a delightful space that felt more like a sweetly decorated little treehouse than an upstairs room in a downtown bungalow. The windows were open and outside a light rain was falling creating a happy sound through the trees that formed a canopy of leaves all around the house.

I was enchanted from the moment I stepped inside and the owners who were selling it themselves, were near enough so that the husband volunteered that the room I had fallen in love with was his wife’s office space, and that she was a writer. Of course I was interested in hearing more and asked what she had written, never guessing the connection we already had.

When he picked up a copy of her book from the shelf, The Truth Shall Set You Free, I was stunned as I had read it only a few months earlier. While working a medical conference at St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia, I walked into a used bookstore and found her book signed with a personal inscription and I snapped up the first edition which had been published only three years earlier.

The book is under the owl and on top of Virginia Wolf

Sally Lowe Whitehead had accomplished a great deal in her office space, writing a book that had a tight hold on me from the beginning and I saw our book connection as a sign that I might also find a way to put the ideas I had on scraps of paper into a book or two of my own.

Standing there recalling the contents, I shared with Sally how I had read her memoir and knew her story, which must have been a bit disconcerting. I remembered enough of the inscription for her to glean that she had known the person who owned it. It turns out that this man had died of an AIDS related illness and that knowledge pretty much sealed it for me. Working as I was in HIV, I thought the universe could not be any more clear. This was surely the place I would write all the books I had dreamed of writing.

When I closed on the house, I took my copy of her book with me to the attorney’s office and Sally signed it with the words below.

To Elizabeth,

What a journey we’ve come to share.

I am so pleased our paths have crossed.

Enjoy your new home!

It is waiting for you with open arms.

Blessings always,

Sally Lowe Whitehead

I was excited to move in and set up my office in what had been the space where she had completed her book. Here is what my office looked like in late 2007. You be the judge … tip or not?

You’re probably thinking … messy, but not really a tip, but what you don’t know is in order to have it look as it does in the three photos above, I had to spill over into another room down the hall.

Again, not awful from this angle, but what you can’t see is all the junk on the other side of the room. All I can say now is, never again!

I’ve shown you my new space and now I want to show you one more thing … the closet! Let me expose what I keep hidden behind closed doors. Once again, John did all the work and built the interiors according to my specifications.

I wanted my closet (wardrobe) space to be divided into three distinct areas. Not only do I write in this room, but I use it as my dressing room too. There are four mirrored doors the length of the wall to bring in as much light as my sliding glass doors will allow.

The first thing I wanted was to be able to hide my chest of drawers so I asked John to build a section that would accommodate the piece of furniture I had already purchased. I keep shoes I rarely wear in little travel bags underneath. Because our small refrigerator has a wooden cabinet front there was no place to put my magnetic collectables so I bought a metal board from Ikea to put some of my favorite quotes and things that I used to stick on the frig in Atlanta. You can see it just above the chest at the back of the closet.

At the far right you can see my hanging clothes with a shoe rack at the bottom and laundry basket under the longer clothing. Notice the pillow color on the daybed.

Now for the business side of life. The left side of the closet holds things related to cameras and computers and business related papers. I have my sewing machine and sewing box tucked in there too. The chest is also from Ikea and has dividers inside that keep all the bits separate and organized. When I put it together, I left the bottom panel out of the second to the last drawer and John fixed it so the last two drawers slide out as one deep drawer that is perfect place for files. Notice the pillows now on the daybed … I did as some of you suggested and made two with orange backing and two with green.

So here ends our week-long tour … please feel free to sign the comment book on your way out and thanks so much for your kind attention.

What You Don’t See

As open I have been in revealing my new space over the last few days, there is a still a lot that you don’t see. Carolyn commented that my post yesterday was one of my most intimate and she was right. The books we choose say a great deal about who we are or sometimes, who we wish to be.

Patrice shared in a comment how she was one of the friends I invited to come see if there were any books that she wanted when I was trying to cull them before my move from America. Along with books on art and decorating, she took away some of my self-help books. I have read quite a few over the years as I tried to deal with the repercussions of a traumatic early life, but as Mariellen mentioned with her nod to my Jon Kabat-Zinn still on the shelf, you can see I kept a few that were more helpful than others. Some of those that remain have become ongoing resources for me on the path to reclaiming myself.

John will probably blanch several shades of red or white (funny how I make him sound like a wine) when he reads this post as his first instinct is to revisit his belief that Americans spend excessive amounts of time and money on therapy and engage in far too much self-help speak. Even with all of the conversations we’ve had about this topic, he still shows an innate sense of compassion and understanding when it comes to people and my needs in particular.

If you feel as if you’ve had a deep enough look into my ‘ personal ‘ space then you might want to stop now and come back next week when I will be showing some pretty pictures of our recent trip to Wales, but if you want to hang around for a bit more ‘ Show & Tell ‘ I am quite happy to share more of the stories that go with the photographs I posted yesterday.

This shelf holds several things which work together for me. You can see the well read collection of some of my great aunt, Wylly Folk St. John’s books that she wrote for children. They are temporarily held in place by some of my old family cameras, but there are some extra special bookends coming in the mail that will add a new element to the story. The painting was a gift from two special people who I’ve talked about here. It always makes me think of them as well as reminding me of Savannah, Georgia where Aunt Wylly grew up with her brother Walton, who was my grandfather.

The typewriter is an old portable that sits next to a photograph of my Aunt Wylly, with her brothers Walton and Johnny, who worked as a cartoonist for Walt Disney. My grandfather co-owned a book business with my grandmother Elizabeth and a few of those books made their way here too. My sister Margaret gave me this photograph as a gift a few years ago and it remains very special to me.

One of my favorite pieces of art that I own is a sculpture by Atlanta artist, Debra Fritts whose work has changed a bit since I bought this piece at The Dogwood Festival in the early 90′s. When I bought it, she saw me deliberating before my purchase and said, ” You must be a mother? ” To which I said, ” Yes, I am, but that’s not why I’m drawn to this. It has to do with reclaiming a piece of myself.” Over the years it has come to represent different things to me, but I still feel a little heart twinge when I think about what my life was like back then versus now. It’s no accident that it shares a space with some of my books on writing.

Gene Stratton-Porter is an author I collected until a few years ago. Her most popular young adult novel was Freckles, but Girl of the Limberlost remains my favorite and the closest to my heart. The mother-daughter story resonates with my own story and my relationship with my missing mother. The irony is not lost on me that she gave me my first GSP book, Girl of the Limberlost as well as Her Father’s Daughter, handing it to me as she was putting me on a plane to him at fourteen.

In addition to one of my favorite photographs of my daughter during her teen years taken after she and some of her friends had been playing with face paint, you can see a special ornament that I wrote about here. In the book stack are some that are significant for a number of reasons, but the ones I remember most from childhood are the Lois Lenski books with my favorite being Judy’s Journey. My mother gave it me to read during a cross country road trip that accompanied one of our many moves during my childhood. By the time I was fourteen, I had been to ten different schools with four transfers during one school year. Written in 1947, Judy’s Journey was about a poor child who worked in farmers fields with her migrant family and while I never picked cotton to earn my next meal, there was much I identified with in the children’s lives that Lenski  portrayed in her stories.

This wooden box is made from a tree that was my father’s favorite which he called Socrates. When he died and the family home was sold, my step-mom had the tree cut down (it would have been taken down anyway) and had a box made for each of my father’s three daughters. The folding yardstick was his and there is a small picture of him as a teenage boy holding a hammer after finishing a sign for the mailbox for a 4-H project. Notice he is wearing the hat that you can see hanging here on our wall in Cornwall. The travel frame is waiting for a picture of me with Miranda and the other two small pictures are of my great-grandfather as a young man and as an older one eating homemade ice cream in the overalls he always wore.

I have quite a few books on writing on other shelves along with more of my favorite authors, but I’ll make this my last revealing photo for the day. Here you see a mix of books that I know some of you will recognize such as The Artist’s Way At Work and The Creative License along with How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci.

My really special books here are the ones that speak to the mother in me. My old copy of The Mother’s Almanac which I’ve had since my daughter was three months old and The Penny Whistle Party Planner were great resources for a number of years and were two books I just could not part with even though at 22 my daughter is far from needing anything I might find in them now. Finally, the little fish is one of the very first mother’s day gifts that my daughter picked out herself when she was very young so of course it had to come Cornwall. It makes me smile to remember her face when I opened it.

Revealing Almost All

I spent my early years in what my therapist would later refer to as a war zone. My armor, my exoskeleton, and my daily protection, was found inside the pages of books, some of which sit on the shelves you see. As a child I disappeared almost completely into the stories and lives of characters who for better or worse, lived a life I wished to be a part of as they seemed more desirable than the one I struggled through. Although my life changed for the better in every way not long after my fourteenth birthday, books have remained constant companions and books in abundance require bookshelves of some sort.

John has created a marvelous space for me and built bookshelves exactly as I wished them to look. Having had built-in bookshelves that were filled to overflowing in four rooms of my Atlanta home, I had to do a big sort through as I could bring only those that mattered most to me when I moved to Cornwall. I gave away piles of books, offering them to friends after boxing up more for my book-loving daughter than she will probably want in the future. The rest I sold or donated before shipping what you see here.

(A view from my desk)

Nothing is placed without thought on my shelves and I wanted to share a closer look in the direction of a few special areas. I am always curious when seeing a friends bookshelves for the first time. Feel free to look around mine if you wish and thanks to all who have shared my enthusiasm and excitement as this space has grown from a garden space in the backyard, to a warm and welcoming work space.

All Aboard

My sister Margaret saw pictures of my completed new studio space this morning and said something while we were iChatting that made perfect sense when I took a second look. She said my new space made her think of the Orient-Express. It was a combination of the wall lights, the interior windows facing the corridor leading into the larger space, and the vibrant colors. Additionally, she thought that the curve of the coving (crown moulding) gave it a bit of a train cabin interior especially around the bookshelves and daybed. I did a little internet search and although my studio is not quite as swish as a cabin found in an Agatha Christie novel, I can see what she means now. What do you think?

This photograph will give you a clear picture of how the door looks.

The orange curtains make everything glow a lovely warm shade in the morning before I open them for the day.

I love this shot of the entry taken from the other side of the glass door.

The picture that welcomes me when I come into my space is one of my daughter Miranda. It was taken when she was about 18 months old while sitting in my grandmother’s old wicker chair.

I know I am being a terrible tease here, but I will be back tomorrow with more of the big reveal.

A Trip To The Loo

For anyone not already in the know, a loo here in the UK is slang for toilet. While my new bathroom has one of those, it’s so much more than I initially envisioned when John said that he was building me a room of my own and a bathroom too. I have not done much of the physical work beyond painting and decorating, but I have had the final say in every aspect with the exception of the bathtub’s location. Based on the size I wanted, it could only go in one way and John did a great job making everything fit. He designed the shower in the master bath to accommodate a few more inches in mine since the two bathrooms are back to back. My goal was to make my bathroom unfussy, attractive, and functional without overwhelming the space and I love how it turned out.

The wall color is called Treacle Delight and it’s actually slightly warmer looking than in this image. As much as I love this space, there are a few quirks I want to explain because they’re the kind of things I would probably notice and say, ” I wonder why she did that? “

So in anticipation of some possible questions you may have, here are a few answers in advance. I made a change in the toilet placement that required a box (shelf behind toilet) to cover some of the pipes because the major lines were in place and couldn’t be moved. The creative angle of the toilet paper holder is necessary to because I wanted it on that side and it is too tight to go in the regular way. The last thing I might have done differently is the placement of the radiator. I thought that I would have the bath towel rails hanging above it so the towels might be warmed by its heat, but after the radiator was in place, I decided I wanted the towel rails on the other side of the bathroom. It was too late to move the radiator by then.  A clear plus to having the radiator on the side near the toilet becomes obvious on a cold morning.

I chose the art for this room carefully. The painting and ceramic face you see are two art pieces that I brought from America. I took a large stick from the moor, shaped it up to suit my needs and attached some stems from a cotton plant to echo the rows of cotton in the silkscreen print above.

‘Spirits of the Field’ is the work of my friend Mollye Daughtry, who hails from Alabama, but calls Atlanta home.

The face is one I bought from Michael Barnes, an artist I met in 2004 at The Dogwood Festival in Atlanta Georgia. I noticed on his website, that he will be back this year in a booth at The Dogwood Festival. Look for him if you get a chance and please say hello for me.

Here you can see the repurposed window John used so my space could have more light. Because there are no windows to the outside, these two (the second one is on the other side of the door) provide borrowed light that makes the space seem larger and brighter.

Initially I wanted subway tile in my bathtub area, but all could find were large tiles. I discovered this subway tile look and thought it really worked. (It’s a Laura Ashley tile)

I had the mirrors over the sink made to order (from an online site) and wanted to have two of them for several reasons. One was that I wanted to give the impression that two people could use the sink at the same time even though it will just be me. I’ll show you the second reason later. (notice the other window)

John made the sink stand for me based on my loose directions. I gave him a couple of photographs of some I liked from the internet and asked him to modify and merge them into one for me. I love what he was able to create.  Oh … and my white waste bin in the corner is glass, so if you’ve over for a visit … please be careful what you drop in it. John put all the hardwood floors in as well.

I love the back ledge on the sink. I am still looking for just the right soap dispenser.

I picked these out too. John likes them because they’re energy-efficient.

The sink came with these hand towel holders which I’m using until I decide if I want something else. I think I’m going to stick with these.

Now … back to those mirrors. When the addition was built, my bathroom wall was part of the old exterior wall and had a window in it. John suggested we use the window inset to create a bathroom medicine cabinet even though it only extended about halfway behind the mirrored space.

The cabinet is behind the mirror on the right.

It is a deep, tall, space … perfect for hiding all my stuff.

A last look … what do you think?