Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A to Z With a Smile

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Robert Burns

Paint it white - I found this card from Michael Pelkey in the downsize and purge in New Orelans,  and placed it on the newly painted mantle in our beach house. It's the first decorative accessory I added.

In life plans change. I have always aspired to go from plan A to plan Z (and back) with grace and a smile. I never let a client see me fret or sweat. Since the last time I posted Dave and I had a restoration plan for our beach house. We were going to renovate the Love Shack and live in it while the larger house was being worked on. This meant raising it up and replacing rotten termite damaged wood under carriage with concrete piers. Dave also wants to move it to a better place in the yard. Some sewer and plumbing issues also need tending too. In short, it needs more than cosmetic attention.

Plan Z went into effect when Dave fell while moving an enormous amount of stuff from his New Orleans home to storage in Bay St. Louis three weeks ago. He injured his shoulder (a serious tear), and has seen a doctor. The only remedy is to rest the shoulder which means no lifting, no strain, no swinging the proverbial hammer. Since Dave is doing the bulk of the work on both houses, this development is a set back as we will be officially homeless when we must vacate my New Orleans house at the end of the month. The woman who bought my house has been super nice allowing us to stay rent free for 45 days after the August 23 act of sale.

I have managed many projects over the course of a thirty year career, so I jumped into action, and made the executive decision to get the big house ready first for us to live in. Except for the plans to take the back part of the house off and rebuild it, the rest of the house is sound and basically needs cosmetic attention. This I can do. We can even live in the back part of the house as is. It's basically a large add-on lean-to sort of structure that contains the kitchen, and a combination laundry room and large bathroom. The foundation of it has termite damage, so Dave will eventually carefully dismantle it (saving precious exterior weatherboards). He will raise it up to be level with the rest of the house, pour new concrete piers, and enlarge the footprint of it to create a dining space in the new kitchen. An en suite bathroom will be configured for the second bedroom, and also a reconfigured laundry room. 

Cosmetic I can do. I had the interior doors painted black. The en suite bathroom in the larger bedroom is small and funky but usable. A fresh coat of paint and a good cleaning will suffice. Eventually it will be renovated, but for now we are grateful to have not one, but two working bathrooms in the house.
It's all white and fresh. Ceiling vents need to be enlarged and we'll install white ones, and yes the ceiling fan will be replaced with a lovely vintage one Dave has in storage with no light kit on it lol
So I hired painters to paint the inside and out, and someone to clean up the floors. Surprisingly everything is being painted white inside and out. I added my signature black doors. We found the shutters for the house in the shed behind the Love Shack and they will be painted Quietude by Sherwin Williams. At the same time, the HVAC is being installed, and water lines connected. And Dave purchased a twenty foot long shipping container that has been delivered, to securely hold his tools.

I had all the interior doors painted black except for the front door, which will be removed for restoration. It's cypress that we will have stripped of old paint. It has an old stained glass window which also needs extensive repair and restoration (it's missing several old stained glass panes).

Back in New Orleans, we hired two guys to clean out my garage. And I continue selling furniture and editing my possessions and donating to The Salvation Army and Goodwill, and to friends who can use my things that I have no room for. I also hired movers a couple of weeks ago to move 100 boxes to storage (and those 2000 antique and vintage bricks). Forty of the boxes are Alberto's tango archive, which I hope to place in an educational institution once I have time to do the necessary administrative work. Dave and I have also been continually stocking our booth in Antique Maison in Bay St. Louis.

The center hall looking toward the kitchen. It's costing money to clean up the kitchen and second bathroom/laundry room, and paint it, but it must be done to be livable. It's a shame since it will be torn down in a few months and totally renovated and restored. It's only money lol.
So onward from plan A to plan Z. And I am smiling because this house is so lovely.
We are trying to go from plan A to plan Z with grace and smiles. It's hard when physical pain is involved for both Dave and me. I'm like a little old ant on an anthill, slow and sure and getting things done. I'm 80% packed. The rest is last minute things we will need when we are actually moved into our beach house.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


Inspiration Wednesday - Hit the Bricks

Things are getting tense. Dave has been working non stop for two weeks clearing his house and garage out, mostly having to work in record breaking heat and humidity. He is running on fumes and pain. He's at the point where he just throwing stuff away. The closing for his house is in two days and everything has to be cleared out.

He has been collecting old building materials for the past 30 years of his career as a contractor who restores historic properties. Some of it has been sold, and some of it carted off to storage for the restoration of our beach house. One of the things he has collected and amassed is old bricks.

What's so special about a pile of 2000 bricks? Well they are mostly "soft reds" and many made by the St. Joe Brick Works in Louisiana. The much sought after "hard tans" and "soft reds" used bricks coming from demolished New Orleans structures were originally manufactured at St. Joe Brick Works and other St. Tammany Parish brick yards in existence before the turn of the century.
These used bricks are beloved by home renovators and can fetch between $2.50 - $4. per brick.

So when Dave told me he was just going to abandon his pile of bricks, just leave them in his yard for the new owners to deal with, my heart sank. He really is hurting for him to even think of such a thing. I got busy trying to find a solution. I found a mover who will go and get them and move them to our yard in BSL. It will cost $800. I found a brick company specializing in selling antique bricks that would buy them for 60 cents each ($1200.) and take them away from Dave's yard. To buy them again if you could even find them (they are getting more and more rare), would cost upwards of $5000. So I have made an executive decision to pay the movers to take the bricks to BSL. I know Dave would be very sorry to leave them behind, and I know one day they will look amazing as a patio or walkway at our new place. I also love the New Orleans connection to our Mississippi house. 
Dave and I love old bricks
One day we hope to a have a pretty brick patio
Ignatz - poster boy for bricks
A brick walkway up to the front porch would be perfect
Dave has a pile of 2000 vintage soft red New Orleans bricks that he has collected for 20 years
Just dreaming of the day we can use the reclaimed bricks
Used St. Joe bricks are highly prized since they are no longer made
More brick walkway inspiration
A picket fence and a brick walkway - YES!
Krazy Kat and Ignatz always make me think of bricks

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Digging It Up

We did the first home improvement! Well actually we hired Brent Moralle with his big digging machine to clear the yard of all the overgrowth. Now we can really see the house and Love Shack and how big the yard is (it's big). Click on images to see them bigger.

All the overgrowth has been cleared away. I am so happy the overgrown Sago palms are gone and you can see the front of the house. One day there will be a walkway, pretty plantings, and a picket fence, and of course the house painted, and restored. Dave found the shutters for the house in a shed behind the Love Shack. We are thrilled to have found them!
Brett and his big machine pulled out all the overgrowth

Even the Love Shack looks bigger
Clearing it all away from the house
The yard looks a bit forlorn and rough and huge. Another guy is going to come by and smooth it all out and take away more debris. Sometimes things have to be deconstructed in order to build them up again. One day pretty plants and a picket fence in front and nice driveway will be in place.

In the meantime Dave is nearly done cleaning out his house in New Orleans, and moving his things to storage in BSL. His brother drove over from South Carolina to help with this last big push. The record breaking August heat hasn't made it easy for them.

I'm still packing at my house. Right after both our houses close on the 23rd of August, it will be my turn to get my things to storage in BSL. Our little shop in Antiques Maison will be ready for us this weekend to place a few things and to stage. I'm also teaching tango this coming Sunday in Biloxi, invited by local teacher there Percell St. Thomass. We're running on fumes and happiness.

As ever, thank you Charlie Pettway our broker who has become a friend, for her excellent referrals for the workmen we need.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Tattered Perfection of John Derian

Inspiration Wednesday with John Derian

My girlfriend Sarah and I took a ride out to the house. She had only seen it from the outside. I had not been out to the house for a couple of weeks. Dave has made a few trips moving things to storage, and to oversee the clearing of the yard of all the overgrowth (more about that later).

Every time I go inside the beautiful old house I am charmed by the light and the peeling paint and worn floors. Dave is gong to power wash the inside and outside of the house, to remove the whatever peeling paint comes off. No doubt latex paint has been applied over oil base, and a lot of it will be knocked off the walls. We've talked about leaving the walls in this distressed state, leaving the patina of time intact.

So the designer and shop keeper John Derian comes to mind. He embraces the artful tatter in both his city and country homes. His New York city store is a treasure trove and added inspiration for his particular point of view. I think our beach house could look very charming with a few Derian like touches.

I am inspired by John Derian - Tattered finishes, vintage and antique accessories, and specimens from nature
All of our walls are bead board so I can't do wallpaper, but I'm thinking of doing an all over stencil. I love the speckled spatter painted floor in this John Derian room. We are not going to strip our floors, but rather wire brush clean them and softly buff them. Maybe spatter paint might be something to do as well.
I love the floors left worn and in an original unfinished state
Note the Oriental rug - I can't wait to lay the ones down that Dave has
The distressed walls are perfection. And here's that spatter floor, that looks amazing with the Oriental rug.
I love how John Derian does bedrooms in his country house
We have lots of art to create interesting gallery walls
I have tons of shells and curiosities that I can hardly wait to use on out beach house
This dining area by John Derian is so inspiring
I'd love an old cast iron kitchen sink
There is a vintage cast iron bathtub in our beach house that I hope can be moved to my bathroom. The back of the house has to be dismantled and rebuilt. This is where the kitchen, laundry area, and second bathroom are located. When Dave puts it back together we are going to reconfigure things so that each bedroom has an en suite bathroom, and the kitchen is expanded to accommodate a nice dining table

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


It's been a whirlwind...

We closed on our beach house a month ago. That was the easy part. Since then both of our houses in New Orleans sold in record time. While this is wonderful, it also puts a lot of pressure on us to move. And we have no place to live since the beach house is basically a bit of a ruin right now.

The buyer for my house has been a dream. She loves my house, paid over ask, accepted the inspections without me having to do repairs or give money back, and is letting us stay in the house rent free 45 days after the closing. Both our houses close on August 23. So that means we have until the end of September to move.

Dave is desperately trying to finish a big contracting job Uptown in New Orleans, so he can start work on the Love Shack (the 300 sf cottage on our property) and have it ready for us to move into at the end of September. In the meantime, we rented storage space in Bay St. Louis, and he has been shuttling furnishings from his house to it. The plan is to empty is house first, then do mine.

So I have been packing and packing and packing. And selling off some furniture. It is daunting. The original plan was for us both to downsize tremendously. But then something else happened to make us hold on to our various collections of antique and vintage furniture and bric-a-brac. We acquired a prime booth in the best antiques mall in Bay St. Louis!

We will be shopgirls!
Nearly three years ago I was doing an interior design project in BSL, and I did a fair amount of shopping for the client in this antique mall. The ladies there were super friendly and helpful. Later I brought Dave there, and we all had many fun cordial interchanges. By coincidence both these women are leaving BSL! I was happy for their new changes in life, but a little bummed because I really wanted to hang out with them, One of them had the prime booth in the store, and I asked her about getting it in a kind of joking way, and she said, it's yours!

Dave looking over the contract for the space in the antique mall
Dave and I always talked about doing some kind of shop together, making our years of hoarding collecting pay off as an activity for our semi retirement. So here it is, the universe providing once again. I also was invited to teach tango in a fabulous art space nearby.

I will be teaching tango at Studio Waveland
So in the span of a month we have a new house, we sold two houses, we have to move, we have to renovate a place to live in, and we became shopgirls. These Saturday a guy has been hired to clear out all the brush and trash trees in the yard, and remove vines off the Love Shack. Dave's brother is coming from South Carolina to help him move, so hopefully Dave's house will be cleared out this week.

We've walked around the yard (I got bitten by fire ants last weekend) and the house several times, talking and planning, often taking our planning sessions to the local cafes and ice cream parlor. All in all things are humming along. We are both anxious to keep things moving forward, and still happy with our decision to take on this major challenge .

The Mockingbird Cafe in BSL
I celebrated my 70th birthday a couple of weeks ago, with lunch with dear friends and also a huge tango party. I truly do feel like 70 is the new 30.

The Oriental Rug

The Oriental Rug - Inspiration Wednesday

The Oriental rug. Is it even PC to say Oriental? Anyway, it is a classic that has gone in and out of fashion. For the past few years it's been seagrass, hides, overdyed, and chevron pattern rugs for me. Between Dave and I we have three Oriental rugs, two large traditional ones from him, one smaller Kilim from me. Since our beach house is a combination of our styles, I'm incorporating the Oriental rugs. One will go in the living room, one will go in a bedroom, and one will go in the center hall.

Learning to love Oriental rugs again
I pulled a few inspiration images to make me get in like again with Oriental rugs. I haven't used them since my hippie days in New York. They are kind of looking fresh again to me.

This geometir in a mud room

This one is a art of the kind of mix of furniture I'll have to make work

This is a lovely traditional room

Another great mix

Hallway inspiration

I spy a hide in the adjacent room; I still have mine

Bathroom Oriental

Another inspiration for the bathroom

Love it in the dining room

Mixing it up with an Oriental rug

I'll be bringing a pair of orange velvet French armchairs

Layered Oriental rugs

Center hall inspiration

One of the bedrooms will get an Oriental rug

More living room inspiration

I like the modern looking stripes on the wall mixed in with the traditional

Brown furniture and Oriental rugs are in my future