Monday, November 23, 2009
A Mini Metamorphosis
It all started when Brooke from Velvet and Linen wrote about her office upgrade. She was asking us about what lantern to choose to replace a shabby cute chandelier.
At first I gently mocked her for her choice, a lantern from the Wisteria catalog. I reasoned that since she and her architect husband Steve have impeccable taste and resources why on earth would she settle for a $250. lantern made in China?
But after I saw how cute it looked, I had to eat a tasty piece of humble pie. Go HERE to get it.
I had a case of my own shabby cute going on in my kitchen. I chose these two chandeliers five years ago. They were well priced and sweet enough. But lately they have really been bugging me, and I knew it was time for a little upgrade.
So I asked Brooke about some choices I made, amongst them her lantern. My reservations about Brooke's Wisteria lantern were two fold: One the shape was very much like one I already have in my living room.
The other concern was the fleur de lis motif on the Wisteria chandelier. Here in New Orleans we have to be careful not to use too many fleur de lis, lest we look like a Saints rally. And the last concern was cost. I needed two lanterns, and with the shipping charges and taxes two lanterns would take me well over $700. I'd like to say that $700. is cheap (and really it is), but it's too much for me.
I e-mailed Brooke a ton of images (thank you Brooke for playing with me, especially when you were not feeling well). We both like this lantern. It has Chinoiserie lines, and the price was very right - around $120. per lantern (with free shipping). Go HERE to get it.
It came flat packed.
Ooooh! When I first saw it I thought that were alot of parts! But my living room lantern also had to be assembled, so I knew we could do this. I forgot to ask Brooke if the Wisteria lantern arrived intact, or if she had to put it together too.
I didn't have a thing to worry about, because my super Tangoman Alberto put them together for me while I was at work!
They are very cute. I chose them not only for their cuteness, but because of their size. I wanted an over size lantern. I think a lantern (like a clock) has to be big and over the top to make a great design statement, and this baby is 34 inches tall! We have high ceilings so the proportion is perfect.
Another funny thing is that my little Wal Mart (yes Virginia I shop at Wal Mart) lantern reminded me of something. Oh yeah! It's a Julie Neill lantern! Of course hers sells for $2,000.- $3,000. and is made by a cute local boy welder as opposed to a guy in a factory in China. And hers also has some crystals and a crown.
But, hey I've got a box full of crystals too, though for me, it's overkill, so I think I'll leave them off. And too many crowns in New Orleans is as tricky as too many fleur de lis.
Okay, now we are going off on a tangent. As creative types I know you can go there with me.
Our kitchen is crap. It's cute, but it's crap. It needs a major renovation, but we do not, and may never have the money to do a proper renovation. I like to be optimistic and do small things that can make it clean and attractive.
When we first moved in, I resurfaced the counter tops (for $15.!), and Alberto recovered the cabinet doors and removed some too. We inherited a Bosch dishwasher (which looks like crap, but I love how it works), and a 1980's style stove. We had our own cheapo refrigerator, and a portable island. I made do and cleaned the horrible stove. But I always thought if I could replace the hideous black glass stove with a white one, it would be a small upgrade.
A couple of weeks ago our neighbors were having an estate sale. They had put their dad into assisted living, and were cleaning out the house. They were selling the stove for $50. The WHITE stove. So I jumped on it. It is not in perfect condition, though Mr. Stanley (the dad) never used the oven. There's some rust on the stove from sitting in an empty house. But I cleaned it up, and it looks (and works) just great.
The kitchen was a bit of a war zone for about a week. I've learned not to rush Alberto.
Soon the old shabby cute chandeliers were down. Jenny do you want them?
Alberto wanted to know exactly where the new lanterns were to hang. I devised a way to let him know with some twine, and circus acrobatics on the ladder to tack the twine to the ceiling where the lantern should hang.
One of the things I desperately wanted to correct was the fact that the lighting fixtures did not hang over the table or the island. The Feng Shui of the room was always slightly ajar. So here was my chance to balance the energy.
The first one to go up was the one over the table. Woo Hoo! It looks great!
Then the table became the work bench for Alberto, a catch-all for his tools.
So did the baker's rack. It was like this for days. Patience. I have learned patience.
In the meantime, I did lots of cleaning, and moving things around. I put up this great metal folk art cat done by Charles Gillam over the stove. The kitchen is filled with art, and flea market stuff. There is no theme per say, but it does have an urban country flavor. The cat creeping along the top of the stove makes us both smile. And his cats-eye-marbles for eyes glimmer when we turn the hood light on.
The counter tops got a bit of a de-cluttering. We like our tools in view and on hand. I role model on Julia Child's Boston kitchen, and on Martha Stewart's kitchen in Turkey Hill.
I have always had plate racks in my kitchens, something I picked up from my days of decorating with English country style.
We don't have the wall space for a hanging plate rack, so these counter top ones do the trick for our everyday dishes. The antique canisters on top are from the Paris flea market.
The lantern over the island is finally up! Doesn't it look great?! You can also see more of our kitchen tools displayed on the French pot rack, and the mid century credenza.
I have many sets of china and platters stored there and in the cupboards over the sink.
Alberto built this rolling pantry that is tucked under the stairs. I was inspired HERE and asked him to build it for me. He's the best isn't he?!
It is so nice to have the lantern centered over the island. A toggle hook placed in the ceiling, and swagging the chain from the electrical source is pretty easy. Of course it had to have a dimmer switch. The one over the island was easy for Alberto to install.
At first Alberto told me that the lantern over the dining table could not have a dimmer, because of the way the wiring was installed for the light itself, and a tandem outdoor light. They shared the same electrcial box. Even with 25 watt bulbs the lantern over the table was way too bright. Alberto asked if I could deal with it, and I said certainly not. In the meantime I ordered some 7 watt bulbs online, and prayed that 42 watts of light would be dim enough to dine by.
Alberto is an electrical engineer, so he got motivated to rewire the whole mess. He made another opening for a seperate electrical box, one for the lantern, and one for the outside light.
No job is ever as simple as it sounds, and Alberto had some issues to deal with. But with the help of Cholo, all's well that ends well and mama has her dimmer switch!
I need to touch up the paint, but I think it looks pretty spiffy.
All the tools have been put away.
Everything has been cleared off the bakers rack.
All the cook books have been dusted.
A few pumpkins are lined up for Thanksgiving.
I've done a practice run for the table setting. We are having a small dinner party on Thanksgiving.
So I hope you like my mini Metamorphosis Monday!
Make sure you go to Between Naps On The Porch to see more wonderful and clever transformations!