Welcome to My Parlour

Some of my friends have been asking to see photos of my house. For most of the winter, the timing never seemed right to take pictures--not only because I was suffering from "my-house-is-never-clean-enough" syndrome, but also because the daylight hours are so limited in the winter months, and when the sun does shine in, it is thin, direct, and harsh--most unflattering.

Well, the world is tipping back into summer, and the sun has taken on a golden, glowy tone that has me cleaning out corners and doing odd fix-it jobs, dreaming of seeds and landscaping ideas, and eying up the can of paint destined for the bathroom walls in a way that is making it nervous. Also, it has enabled me to take some photos of my home that partly convey the way I feel about it. It is my "happy place."

So far, I have only photographed the kitchen and the living room, but it's a start--not to mention, where we spend most of our day (excluding my office, which is just off the kitchen in the addition/entrance.)

DSC04435 web.jpg

One of our first renovations (which I'm pretty sure I mentioned last summer) was to remove a peninsula that divided the kitchen from the dining room. We had originally intended to put it back once we solved the leakage issue causing the mold we found on it, but liked how open the space was without it so much that we left it off.

The only unfortunate thing is that the flooring in the kitchen/dining area was very new, and now needs to be replaced because of the big L-shaped hole in it where the peninsula used to be. Hopefully, we will be able to do that this summer.

DSC04423 web.jpg

DSC04428 web.jpg

While we have "made do" with a lot of free or re-purposed items, I love seeing how we can make them work and look beautiful together. I also love how almost everything has a story or some meaning to me. The table was a gift from my mom and step-dad. The "Faith" sign was a gift from our church family in Mena. The apron hanging below it was my Grandma H's. The spice racks on top of the stove were hers, also. The photo of the little girl beside the apron was a gift from my Aunty Lin. I made the angel cross-stitch while I was in India with Jason, before we even started dating. The cat-tails on the shelf were gifts from the kids from our dugout. And the shelf itself was a gift from my friend Candace, which she had her uncle hand-make for me. (Tucked into the "Faith" sign is a silk rose that Jason gave me while we were courting, but it's hard to see in this photo.)

Even the dishwasher was re-gifted to us from a couple at our church that was redoing their kitchen. She didn't want the dishwasher to go to waste--she loved it more than their new one, but had replaced it because it didn't match the new appliances! And she's right--it's 19 years old, and still works great, despite a year or two out in our shed! (So what if our appliances are now three different colours? Four, if you count the stainless-steel toaster!)

DSC04425 web.jpg

Jason made this shelf out of a couple of weathered pallets to fill in the space left behind by the removed peninsula. I LOVE IT!! (He even re-used some rusty nails to complete the "rustic" look.) The little doll was made for me by my Grandma M. when I was a child. "Twinky" is made of muslin and yarn (for the hair), with a hand-embroidered face and moveable arms and legs. She is too special to leave in a box in the dark somewhere--and nice and handy when little Norah comes for a visit. The lava-rock mortar-and-pestle does get used in my kitchen. I am pretty sure that also was a gift from one of my grandmothers, but I don't remember for certain. And those two kids in the photograph are my brother and me as teenagers. Don't ask me how long ago that was... I'll never tell! :-)

DSC04430 web.jpg

When we moved in, the kitchen cupboards (which are resin doors on wood-veneer particle-board boxes) had a wood-grain look to them, and a significant amount of wear-and-tear. The upper cupboards next to the range hood, in particular, had seen their better days. I loved the look of black and red cupboards, so I decided to paint them. I LOVE the results! Instant face-lift! Also, after about twenty minutes on YouTube, I decided that glazing them would not be beyond my ken, either, so off to the paint store I went. The red ones are glazed with black and the black ones are glazed with red. (The black also had a layer of red underneath, and the black was thinly applied to let it show through.) I just added the knobs to the drawers on Friday (the day these photos were taken), and liked it so much that I bought knobs for all the cupboard doors yesterday, too.

The red display cupboards originally had some etched glass fronts, which the previous owners had replaced with smoked mirror tiles. I am not quite sure what I am going to put in there--eventually, I think I'll put some glass or bead board, but for now, they are dust-catching zones.

There are a few "stories" in this photo, too--the little yellow "happy-face" mug was made for me when I was a child by my great-aunt Myrtle, who did ceramics as a hobby. (It actually says "Talena" up the side, spelled right, and everything!) Amanda recently gave me the matching tea-cup pictures as a thank-you for helping out with the cooking on her "India Night" Jolica show in January. My friend Renée took the photo of Noah in the bucket. And the cross on the wall was a gift from our Peace River church family when we moved away in 2008.

Just to the right of these red cupboards is the door into the addition, above which is this sign, scored on Etsy at Bedlam Country Crafts:

DSC04432 web.jpg

As I tell my guests when they notice it and laugh, "I look at the sign, and I laugh a little, and then I realize that it's not all that bad... and my children get to survive another day." (You can also see the trim piece above that still needs to be painted, which is why the piece that broke off on the left has not been replaced.)

The living room is directly adjacent to the dining room. In fact, that is where I was standing when I took the long shot of the dining room and kitchen, above top. The colour of the feature wall was directly inspired by Jason's and my love of chocolate. :-)

DSC04413 web.jpg

You can kind of see the little pony wall (brown in the left foreground, covered in pipe-cleaner crafts) that separates the two rooms. On the other side is a built-in bookshelf. That, combined with the tall shelf you can see here, is the sum total of space we have for our "library" right now. Sad, I know. And the top shelf is all cookbooks! We have totes-full of books in storage in the Sea Can, which I have dreams will have a room of their own someday--or at least, a room they can share with guests and the children's games someday, but that will at least allow them to be able to breathe fresh air again! (Right now, I try to rotate them out about once a year to keep our selection fresh and age-appropriate.)

The armoire hides our television and other electronics when not in use (a score off of our local Freecycle network). The kids like to play educational games on their laptop (right where I can keep an eye on them!) when they are finished with their school work. I like that the projector screen rolls up to reveal our lovely Stephen Lyman print when not in use, just like a flat-screen T.V. wouldn't.

DSC04417 web.jpg

The front window looks out across the yard, the garden, the trees, the field... it's awesome.

The curtain rods were new last week. The curtains are old, but perfect--I scored them at my friend Larrissa's garage sale last summer. There were two more than we needed for the living room, so those ones went into the master bedroom.

I have plans to replace this futon with a big, overstuffed leather chair--just as soon as we can get that aforementioned guest/family room to put it into. Other than the spare bunk in Jude's room, this is our only "guest bed" at the moment, which irks me. Also, there really isn't room for it in the living room, and it's kinda ugly, but you do what you gotta do. The couch, which is extremely comfy to sit on, is extremely un-comfy to sleep on, so the futon stays. But someday, we'll have a big chair, and room for real side-tables! Someday!

DSC04418 web.jpg

We'll finish the tour of the living room with the "school station", which consists of the small bookshelf behind this blue chair, and the dresser beside it. (There is also the whiteboard which is visible in the dining room in the very first photo, and several bulletin boards on display in our hallway.) Not your typical living room furniture, but a definite part of our current lifestyle. This blue chair is easily transportable on the laminate floor, and I often put it in front of our "library" shelves to face the room for visiting, or for enjoying the scenery through the windows. Also, the blue chair and the school dresser are both from my Grandpa and Grandma H's estate. The small book shelf is from my other grandparents. And the couch and cushion are from Jason's Uncle Dale--a gift he made sure would go to us before he died.

I painted the small yellow terra-cotta pot that I use to keep my garlic (sitting on the turn-table spice rack on the kitchen counter) with the verse "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me" from Psalm 23. Surrounded by so many mementos of family, and friends, and those who love us, I hardly needed that reminder... but it does seem to sum up the atmosphere of our home perfectly.

That, and the phrase, "Guests are welcome here."

... So when are you coming for tea?