Friday, February 25, 2011

Greedy Scheming

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately instead of writing my own. Mostly design and fashion blogs, like academichic and designsponge. Throw in a little House Beautiful and some Etsy browsing. The result is a manic desire to remake my home with quirky things I can’t afford, and to cut up half my wardrobe and re-sew it. All at the same time. Needless to say, my mind hasn’t been on my work too much lately.

Going to the Celadon Outlet at the old Navy Yard with my friend, Pretty Smile, did NOT help my greed and scheming. The outlet is for scratch and dent furniture and overstocks, and I saw at least a dozen things I would love to decorate a hypothetical hipster bungalow with an outdoor kitchen and mossy bricks. I do not own a hipster bungalow with an outdoor kitchen. Any mossy bricks I possess are by sheer
accident, and I live in fear that someone, probably me, will slip on them the next time it sleets, which is a pretty rare occasion in Charleston, SC. Yes, I know, I’m talented that way. Thank you, Mother, for passing down your inimitable physical grace. *Ahem.* Moving on…

My house is a 1965…ranch? It was a long, narrow brick house, until somebody added a mother in law suite onto the right side of it. In the 2000s, it was updated by a flipper, who had the wisdom to leave the original six inch baseboards and crown moldings, but who did a lousy job installing his own carpet and linoleum. He also did not replace the original, cracked windows or improve the insulation. This condition led to the purchase of some very expensive flannel sheets from Dillard’s that are cloud-soft, blissfully warm, and also pill like no other. *grumblesnort!*

When we moved in, we had only bought a few things as we needed them. Most of the rest of our furniture was hand-me-down from Will’s aunt or parents. From Will’s aunt, we received a heavy cherry veneer bedroom set. The worn out bed slats eventually dumped us on the floor at 3 am, and I didn’t like the cockatoo-chewed, neo-Victorian headboard well enough to keep it, so we dragged it to the curb
before we left Miami. However, we kept the nightstand, and pair of approximately 300-lb dressers. I’m exaggerating the weight, but wow, they’re heavy. Solid wood is usually worth hanging onto even if it’s not my style, says I.

We replaced the matching bed with a modern sleigh bed from It wasn’t long before that dumped us on the floor as well. All it took was my 200-ish pound husband sitting down hard on his side of the bed, and that was the end of that slat. Finally gave up and bought a metal bed frame to attach the headboard to. Unfortunately, the footboard took a beating when the slat cracked, so I’m going to try to glue it back together with some heavy duty wood glue. If that doesn’t work, well, the bed looks just fine with no footboard, and we both like to hang our toes over the end. Tall peoples’ prerogative. Alas, rubberwood is a huge rip-off.

Nature apparently abhors a vacuum-why is that, anyway? Is Nature really a giant cosmic shelter mutt? I ventured that question to a dog fancier at work, and he pointed out that God spelled backward IS doG. I’m not prepared to go that far, theologically. John Calvin and my minister father might both have issues with that, and I don’t want to end up like my college roommate who was a Bible major. She had recurring nightmares of John Calvin and the Greek verb luw chasing her. Hi, Annie! How ya sleeping lately?

Anyway, MY nature abhors an empty corner I could be decorating. Once we fix the broken footboard, that will free up the floor space of the corner to the right of the nightstand on my side of the bed. Got that? The wall to the right of the nightstand is occupied by a Chinese ink painting scroll that was a wedding gift. I had been toying with the idea of getting a cushy chair, footstool, and tiny bookcase to put in that corner. Because I totally don’t read on the couch all the time. My books are starting to take over, and I want to move the more embarrassing titles off the top of the piano. No, I don’t read romance novels. Haven’t read one since college, when it was beyond hilarious in my clique of virginal, horny girls, to give romance novels as birthday presents and read the steamy parts aloud in a deadpan voice. I just have a suspicion that having more than a certain number of Mercedes Lackey novels will make people think I’m frivolous. The reality is that nobody notices, and I’m secretly afraid that being female inherently makes me frivolous, but that’s between me, God, and my imaginary counselor.

So I need to get the fairy tales off the piano and move to the forefront titles like “Druids,” The English Country Gentleman and the Age of Chivalry”, “Selected Works of Chretien des Troyes,” and “The Complete Annotated Works of Shakespeare,” All of which I have read, thank you very much. And I think Titus Andronicus is a sad example of what artists will do for money. Much Ado about Nothing is still my
favorite, so maybe I am lowbrow. I never got into Sudoku, either. I will now embrace my plebeian status. Will it hug me back?

The problems with that fantasy of a bedroom reading nook are that 1. It’ll clutter the room with too much furniture. 2. I’ll never use it. 3. It’ll just end up covered in clothes that aren’t quite dirty and need one more wearing before washing, thereby increasing clutter even more, and 4. If I can ever manage to get knocked up, I’ll need that corner for a crib while Beers Jr. is a newborn. *Encouraging news on the
fertility front: the doctor said that since I’d been on the pill so long after marriage, I am really only one year out from detoxing, not two. Doesn’t change the amount of time that’s passed, but it makes me feel better. Hopefully my thyroid problems will fall in line soon.*

After all that digression, I know what the real problem is. I either have too many books or too few bookcases. And I don’t like one of the bookcases. We got it free, and it’s just a plain, wood-grained particle board DIY-er. It’s not particularly sturdy and it’s certainly not attractive. I have shoved it up in the corner behind the French doors in my living room where I don’t have to look at it.

Here’s where the temptation comes in. I saw two stunning bookcases at Celadon. They’re distressed cream, made out of some plasticky stuff, but they look like antique wrought iron garden gates. My pragmatic hindbrain is reminding me that not only are they not sturdy, which I profess to require, they are also something like $400. Each. That’s the sale price. Whiiiiiiine. It’s like the Anthropologie catalog. I don’t even like half their stuff, and it’s all stratospherically expensive, and who can afford that anyway, but I STILL WANT TO BE THAT GIRL! I want to be that girl who has fragile, expensive bookcases that look like antique garden gates. With exotic knick-knacks and rare plants, and only about a dozen actual books on them. Sadly, the last time I saw great design intersect practical living was in the Not So Big House books by architect Sarah Susanka. I can’t afford those bookcases, and I sure can’t afford to hire an architect. I’m also pretty sure THAT GIRL is a hypochondriac control freak who hasn’t spoken to her mother in six months. She also has a friend with benefits named Stefan. I don’t like her.

What is a lot more manageable is getting a large bookcase from Good Wood or craigslist and painting it to my specs, maybe painting the back and shelves a fun color. Maybe wallpapering them. I could do that. It wouldn’t break the bank. And it would fit in better with my non-hipster, non-bungalow décor. It is also true that upgrading bookcases is hardly an emergency on the priority list. In fact, replacing and adding kitchen lighting would be a much better return on investment, since my huge kitchen is sun-drenched during the day, and grim and dim at night.

I can also go though my books. Yes, I’m feeling faint at the idea, but I’m hanging in there. I’m wondering if, at almost five years out of college, I need to keep every single book I referenced in my undergrad thesis? Some of them are unbelievably boring, and hardcovers take up a lot of space. Probably time to revisit those. But will I still be respected for my mental acuity if I get rid of half my research books on druids and medieval poetry and keep the Mercedes Lackey? Eek!

Another thing I can do to satisfy my design craving is go back to the Celadon outlet and NOT buy the bookcases. When I went, I saw a pale chair with a hybrid Gothic/Moorish arch on the back. It was under $100. The exact price escapes me, but I think it was $75, which isn’t at all bad for a dining chair. If they have two of those, I can buy them to expand our dining room seating from four to six. We frequently host hours-long card games, so having more chairs would be a boon. We usually just drag in the piano bench, and I get nervous every time some hulking guy plumps down on it. Furthermore, if my mother in law lets me have her white Danish-style chairs when I get their big black table after they move, the two Gothic chairs would make excellent captain’s chairs at the head and foot of the table. If she doesn’t, the two Gothic chairs would still make excellent captain’s chairs; I’ll just be pitching a raving, lunatic fit while I shop for four more chairs. I should probably sell advance tickets. That tantrum promises to be entertaining.

Naturally, I’ll go back to Celadon, cash in hand, and there won’t be two of the Gothic chair, and I’ll talk myself out of just buying one, or there will be two, but I won’t have any peace about buying them. “Peace” is always how my mom described having a mental or emotional check on doing something that’s probably a bad idea, or the timing is wrong. She ascribes that feeling to the Holy Spirit. I’ve felt that many times when I was all revved up to buy or do something and I just couldn’t and
couldn’t explain why. Sometimes it was an upset stomach providing the jerk on the reins. Sometimes it was certainly the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the sour stomach and the Holy Spirit feel pretty much the same. But I didn’t do or buy what it was I wanted to do or buy, and not doing it has always proven to be a good decision.

**Update** I did go back to Celadon, cash in hand. And there was only one of the Gothic chairs and I didn't buy it. Instead, I went to Next to New in Mt. Pleasant and bought a scrolly mahogany table that had been painted celery green. It wasn't a bargain. In fact, it was [Price Redacted], but I loved it, and I'm using it as a nightstand.

I won’t die if I don’t do any of the above. In fact, just writing it all down and puzzling it out takes a lot of the urgent sting out of it. I’m also pretty easily distracted by pretty things. In a day or two, I’ll have another “great” idea that will feel like I can’t breathe if I don’t do it RIGHT NOW. I’ll live through that
too. What’s more important than how trendy and tasteful our home is, is how our guests feel in it.

Nobody’s ever complained of feeling unwelcome, so I can quit obsessing any time now. Maybe I’ll quit obsessing tomorrow. After my next big idea.


  1. Ok, so I was just coming here to post about my latest greatest idea, inspired by...YOU! And now I feel a wee bit guilty because this might stick some sewing ideas back in your head, but since I went shopping today and winced at the price of a cute scarf, I've decided to make it myself. And then while I was at JoAnn's, which is my nearest fabric store, I saw THE CUTEST DRESS and I was like, this is so Anna. We need to go fabric shopping together at some point.

    Anyway, long story short: Butterick patterns are on sale this weekend for 99 cents. The end :)

    PS: I promise to show you pics of the scarves when they're done. Washing the fabric tonight! Squeee!

  2. ARGH your blog eated my comment! Retyping...

    Ok, so I came here to your blog because I was out shopping earlier today and saw a cute scarf. Then I saw the price tag and went, OMG I can make that way cheaper. So off I went to the fabric store and there I saw some super-cute dresses and then, well, I ended up getting the fabric for TWO scarves AND a pattern for a dress for less than the cost of that stupid (but VERY cute) scarf in the store.

    AND I found out that Butterick sewing patterns are on sale this weekend for 99 cents at JoAnns! Even though you might actually make your own patterns, probably, in which case the sale probably isn't helpful... :)

  3. Ah! We don't have Joann's in Charleston. We have Hancock instead. And I have a plastic comforter bag full of patterns, probably half of them uncut, haha! I really need to get off my Shadow priest and go back to remaking that 70s blouse I took apart. <3

  4. And no, the blog didn't eat your comments. I've had some bad times with haters, so it's all moderated. I approve everything that gets posted.

  5. I thought it got eaten because my browser was acting up (I forgot to approve the scripts for googleusercontent and but now of course I see it's moderation too.

    Regarding the dressers: why not paint them? I saw a cute dresser redo in the magazine Making (it's from the UK but B&N totally carries it) and they made it look so cute. They took a solid wood dresser, painted it gray, swapped out for knobs, painted the feet gold, and then lightly "distressed" it. Totally neat and you could do most of it in a day I think.

    Oh, and for the chairs you were thinking about? Freecycle or craigslist. You can get some really good deals on there and have fun DIYing them, either with paint or, I bet you could do this, since you sew already, some minor reupholstering.

    Am I planting more ideas? Sorry :)

  6. Well, the dressers themselves are in okay shape. I'm only using one of them-the larger one-in our bedroom. The smaller one holds my fabric collection and lives in the dining room, which serves as my workroom. The dressers themselves are in pretty good shape, so I'm loathe to do anything to them just yet. The matching nightstand looks the roughest, but since I got that green mahogany table from Next to New, my hatred of it has subsided because it's now on Will's side of the bed. I bought a huge silver lamp from Marshall's to put on it and that has made a big difference.