I am super excited to have my mom as a guest poster! She is wonderful, and I’m a very lucky lady. She is a student of life, wearing many hats – as many women do. Never idle, she spends her spare time sewing, knitting, reading, writing, and painting. She is also a newbie blogger herself, at Living, Loving, Cooking. Let’s cheer her on so she’ll post more on her own blog!
I like to paint things. I like to paint rooms, but I especially like to paint furniture. Almost all our hard furniture is painted because I bought it at yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets, and it needed a “makeover.” Sparky calls this activity “dragging stuff home from the junk shop,” but I call it “rescuing nice things that need some work to restore their usefulness.” Over the years, he has learned to trust my vision. Most of the time.
This painted, made-over furniture puts our house squarely in the decorating style that magazines devoted to categorizing decorating styles call “cottage style,” which means “a house in which most of the hard furniture is painted because it needed a makeover – said furniture was probably bought at yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets.” “Better Homes and Gardens” often features rooms decorated in cottage style. There is a magazine called “Cottage Style,” and I recently saw a magazine called “Flea Market Style.” These magazines feature pictures of rooms in which all the hard furniture appears to be painted. Just like in my house.
I also like slipcovers, which also fall into that style of decorating, but that’s another story.
This preference for painted furniture is partially innate – one of my earliest memories is of my mom painting a little 3-drawer washstand gloss black – but it mostly stems from the fact that – except for mattresses, our sleigh bed, and one or two chests of drawers (which we bought unfinished), I’ve always had to buy furniture at yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets. It’s an economic preference; I’ve never bought new, finished furniture because it’s just too expensive. Luckily, I like to paint furniture! A fresh coat of paint on furniture or walls makes the whole world seem brighter. With a little effort and a very little expense, I can have brand-new things whenever the spirit moves me to change colors.
And therein lies the problem. There’s always something that needs painting! Of course, our house was a fixer-upper, and every room and all the trim needed paint; even the ceilings had to be freshened. The process of painting each room brought me A LOT of happiness. Covering up the dingy, circa-1970 paint with new, updated colors – mad fun! And I thoroughly enjoyed finding some similarly-styled dining-room chairs and painting them all the same color (“Better Homes and Gardens” hint: if they’re all the same color, each one can be different, but they still look like a set). Things get dicey when I bring home another new-to-me old piece of furniture, like the dining-room chair I recently bought at a thrift store: after I painted it, all the other chairs looked shabby. Not shabby-chic, a look I admire on other people’s furniture, like Elaine, who has a set of beautiful shabby-chic chairs that look aged – no, patina’ed – by time and loving use.
To my eye, my furniture doesn’t acquire a patina, it looks old and chipped and in dire need of a new coat of paint. So painting one chair led to painting all the chairs, which made me look at some other painted pieces with a critical eye – and the next thing I knew, I was rooting through my paint chips, trying to decide what color to paint the table in the sun room. And a little 4-drawer chest I use as an end table in the sun room. Brand-new things with a few brush strokes!
I ended up making an extensive list of projects, including new paint for the hallway and my bedroom and spray-paint for a patio table. I’m psyched! I’m ready to start! And I may look at slipcover fabric this weekend.
I am Robin – wife, mother, grandmother, and teacher, but I don’t define myself by any of those roles, although I take pride in being a responsible adult since that’s what I’ve done best for two-thirds of my life. I’m a seamstress, gardener, reader, painter, baker, writer, and student (in no particular order), all of which define me. I have been a student for most of my life, finally making it through graduate school (in 1999) to a Masters in Creative Writing; my current course of study is Culinary Arts. I can’t wait to be called Chef Robin. I spend an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen at school following my Zen Master, Chef Alex, around, trying to tap into everything he knows. He is patient with me, as are my husband (who will always be my sweet boyfriend) and 3 daughters. There are many days when I listen to loud Neil Diamond in the truck and drive fast – at the same time – and some days I would keep driving if I could, without looking back. But I’m a homebody, so I always end up back at home.