Form Adopts Function at Dunhaven Place  

Posted by Heidi in

Two and a half years ago when we bought our sublime little cottage (okay, it’s actually a hybrid of a condo and a townhouse but a girl can dream, right?) I experienced some real panic. Not only is 1,000 sq ft not a lot of space for 5 people but it was 300 sq ft less than we already had (which was 200 sq ft less than we had before that and a whole basement less than we had before that). What’s a girl to do?

Clearly, some downsizing was in order but I was loathe to do away with a single one of my pretties. Hadn’t I already left so many beauties behind? And, by the way, aren’t your living spaces supposed to get bigger as you get older and get more kids? I mean, really! I was feeling cheated but I was darned if I was going to be defeated. I fell to thinking about ways that I could keep everything I wanted without having to keep it in boxes on the living room floor. In fact, it became rather a fun challenge to find ways to make it all fit without looking too cluttered or just plain slovenly.

In the end, I found that I could part with a few things without it hurting too much (in some cases, not at all, particularly when it was something belonging to my husband or children) while finding solutions for the rest. Here are just a few ideas I came up with (it wasn’t hard—anyone could think of these things, still, pictures help).

I have a really hard time resisting any type of container, dish, bowl or box if it is adorned with roses. And, I might ask, why should I? I justify buying more (at bargain prices, always!) by pressing them into service. These pretties hold pens, pencils and other little items that migrate in their direction. The larger off white vase often holds candy wrappers (of the chocolate variety, the candy being safely stored in moi). The box behind the vases has carved roses on the lid. While it sits there looking pretty, it hides my postage scale, digital camera paraphernalia and mailing labels for my eBay auctions. The three drawer box it is sitting on came with a bunch of wooden puzzles my little guy received as a gift one birthday. I use it for scrap paper that I need to keep, or at least, am convinced I do, but have no real home. Since this box didn’t come sweet, I painted it up and added the roses to the knobs with water slide decals. Viola! Now it’s all about roses while still being utilitarian.

Patio umbrellas are so expensive! I found this one at Ikea for a song. It has a white on white print of some leaves which is nice—plain but pretty. No roses, but I didn’t let that get in the way of our relationship. It keeps the sun off of me when I sit out there and it doesn’t clash with my flowers (plus, it was cheap!) so what more could I ask? Then, last month, my in-laws called and said they would like to visit. We were happy to see them but after a winter of everyone being sick, there was a lot of spring cleaning to do and not much time to do it in. Frantic, I started going through boxes of stuff in the living room (hey, I have been here 2.5 years—stuff has accumulated) trying to decide what to keep and what not when I ran across this gorgeous crochet tablecloth. I inherited this wondrously beautiful thing which is why I haven’t gotten rid of it in spite of the fact that it is the wrong size and shape for every surface in my home. But now I had a decision to make and that is when inspiration struck! I tossed it over the umbrella in the back and have been madly in love with it ever since. I am enchanted with the way the sun shines through the crochet design, a much readier form of eye candy than if it were to be draped over any of my white pieces of furniture. I also love the way the four corners drape over the sides of the umbrella. It still isn’t the right size or shape for anything, the umbrella included, but I just can’t bring myself to care.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention and I really needed to invent a way to make this ugly black TV set work in my living room. How does one get away with the illusion that your home is not just old but vintage, a place from the past, when there is this obnoxious indisputable undeniable evidence of the 21st century? This piece of mischief had been in the master bedroom of our old home which wasn’t ideal but better than not having a TV at all (our old one died and my husband bought this after the death of his mother with life insurance money. He gave me half, the jewel, to spend any way I wished so how could I say no?). However, the new master bedroom would be too small for a TV like this, besides which, we were getting pretty tired of watching Spongebob. In bed. With the kids.

What’s more (and there is always more!) I wanted a fireplace, something with which I had been spoiled at each of our last four homes. It wasn’t about the fire, it was about the mantle, home to any number of pretties which would have to be jettisoned if no mantle could be procured. This was getting to be a real dilemma.

The solution to this problem was easier for me than it would have been for some as I already had the wonderful antique headboard that makes up most of my “fireplace” surround. It was once brown and attached to a bed in the Breckenridge Hotel which I am pretty sure no longer exists but could be found, once upon a time, in the town of the same name in Colorado. For years I had been using this headboard (which I found in a thrift store nowhere near Breckenridge) to hide the ugly red brick or brown brick or whatever color brick came with the fireplace in my home for the last 10 years. I had long been toying with the idea of painting it but was chicken. What if it was a mistake? Having helped (i.e. pressed into service) my mother strip paint off of more than one chair during the course of my childhood, I shied away from ever having to do such a thing again. Now, I eagerly slapped paint on it so that it would match the mantle that my very clever and talented brother-in-law, John, (as opposed to all the other clever brothers-in-law of which I am possessed) made for me out of trim molding (trim molding!) from the measurements I gave him over the phone. (My measurements! Over the phone! I am still in awe of his great talent.)

Now, when people come to visit, if it is winter and the DVD of happily roaring fires is playing, people actually think for a moment or two that it could look like a real fireplace if caught from the corner of the eye or just in passing or if they had left their glasses behind or some such thing. With that I am content.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at Wednesday, May 07, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Heidi- I'm sure you have, but have you been to antiques and things in Pacheco? They have quite a few things that match your style. I like to fill my antique tea cups with roses from my garden on my mantel. (Your garden is a lot more manicured.)

May 7, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Hi Janelle, it sounds like we have a lot in common--I collected antique tea cups for so long my husband started to threated to move out if one more teacup came in! What with the small living space, I have had to really pare down my collections, sad to say. I actually haven't been antiquing in Pacheo yet but I would love to. I wish my garden were a little less manicured, honest I do, I just don't have a lot of actual dirt and it is narrow and straight, etc. One day I would love to get rid of the aggregate in the backyard and have a smaller patio with lots more dirt to plant. That would be lovely!

May 8, 2008 at 8:09 AM

After seeing what you created with a headboard and a few pieces of wood I am so impressed. I loved the fireplace and I am one of those that not only would have been tricked by the DVD of a roaring fire. I would have tried to roast a marshmallow on it. That is how realistic it looks.
It is Fabulous.

May 8, 2008 at 6:41 PM

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