November 12, 2017:


It's hard to believe, but winter has arrived early in my hometown. One week it was in the 70s and gorgeous outside, the next week it dropped down into the 40s and then boom, less than a week later, into the 30s. We've already had several hard freezes, the earliest that's happened since I moved here in 2014. Anyway, the trees had not even begun to turn color yet in the neighborhood - and now most of them are bare due to the many hard freezes and strong winds that blew most of the days last week. Wowsers! Today, however, the sun stayed out all day, there was no wind to speak of, and the temperatures felt positively balmy outside. I was very glad because I had to be out and about today.

So, the poor trees did not have a "fall" this year but we did get enough rain to ease my mind that my pines and shrubs will have enough moisture in the ground to survive the winter. The squirrels are SO fat and SO furry, I can't help but think they know we're in for a bad winter. Sigh. I'm way behind in everything including lots of garden clean-up that now I won't get to unless we get a few days of "Indian Summer," which doesn't seem likely this year. I did, however, get everything outdoors pretty much put away, except for the area rug (it needs to be "washed" with some soap and rinsed off) and the mosquito net curtains on my Shezebo. Now I'm already thinking about Christmas, and soon it will be here, before we know it! So, I figured it's about time I put up my "autumn" photographs from prior years as the seasonal header here at Maison Newton. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, that will be here soon and then it's into full-tilt Christmas decorating. Take care, everyone!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Help Design Paralysis: Update on Living Room II

Negative space!  I only recently learned about this concept at one of the decorating blogs I regularly check on -- and unfortunately it's not saved as a favorite on this particular computer and I don't remember it's name.  Ach! I will find it and add it, I promise.  [Added June 6th:  It's Christine Fife Interiors.  She is absolutely wonderful - love her website and her reaching out to help people who write to her with decorating dilemmas.]

I didn't know what it was called, but I and countless others of us know what it is, even if we don't have the exact terminology to put a name to it.  It's that sense where something is off, and needs an additional something to fill things up a bit.  You know, that feeling where you know something is off, or missing...

I can't define the exact principles but I did get the part that there will always be "negative" space in a room or wall arrangement -- it's just the absence of an object taking up visual area -- and the goal one wants to achieve for a well-balanced decorating scheme is to have irregularly-shaped "negative" space.

I had a negative space problem on the wall above the fireplace in the living room.  Here is where I left off last Saturday afternoon:

Overall, I was pretty happy with this arrangement -- and the area I treat as separate but related to the fireplace area, to the right of this picture, where there is a table and lamp and wall arrangement.  I'm leaving that out of the equation right now.

So, this looks pretty good, I'm thinking.  And it took a lot to get to this point.  When did decorating get so hard?  Geez!  But there was something missing.  I felt it just as surely as a toothache. Two somethings missing, actually.  There was a large rectangular blank area above the curio cabinet to the left of the metal basket sculpture, and there is a second wider but shorter rectangular area beneath the metal basket sculpture and above the t.v.  Can you see them?  I wish I knew how to doctor up these pics with little arrows and drawings!  Anyway, these negative spaces were crying out for something, and as it was, the basket sculpture was hanging up in the "sky" like the Moon, with no relation or connection to the objects on the mantle.  That is another decorating faux pas that can be but isn't always related to negative space

I thought about it and thought about it.  Mr. Don and I emailed back and forth, back and forth, kicking around possible solutions.  I was first concentrating on the space above the t.v. and below the basket sculpture.

I thought perhaps something related to Goddesschess (my avocation) or to chess (my love).  I thought about buying some letters to spell out "Goddesschess" in the space, stretching from the curio cabinet on the left horizontally to the framed map on the right.  I briefly thought about trying to make them myself out of cardboard, and instantly dismissed the idea, LOL!  I'm just not an arts and crafts type of gal.  But that would mean making a trip to Michael's or Joann Fabrics, which would mean waiting until the following Saturday, and spending $ too! 

Nope.  Wasn't going to go that way.  Thought some more.  Chessboard.  I have two chessboards that would fit the space!  One, unfortunately, is at the office because it's what I and my student use to play on.  It's hinged and holds the pieces inside, so it would fit perfectly ofter two small nails in the wall.  The other chessboard, the one I had at home.  Oh, what a beauty she is!  No, I didn't take a pic.  After hefting it around I decided it was just too heavy to try and put it on the wall, which would entail descrating it in one way or another to insert fasteners strong enough to hold it to equally big, strong fasteners up on the wall.  Was NOT going to happen!  Beautiful chessboard went back into the cabinet where I store my games.

I thought about re-hanging my plaster-of-paris square Chinese ideogram in the space, and/or somehow working in one or more of the brass Chinese ideograms -- you can see them both in this photo from Christmas 2009:

But without even trying to put one or more of them up on the wall (and having to make countless nail holes in the process) to try them out -- or go the "newspaper outline" route (which I have actually used successfully), I kept looking at that circular brass basket sculpture and thinking "circle." 

I wanted to put another circle in that space.

I had limited options at hand.  I dug out a long-stored decorative brass plate, and then a second much larger decorative brass plate, and all the while, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking about the small bulls-eye mirror holding court in the guest room upstairs...

I will not bore you with photographs of trying this, and then that, and then that....

In the end, the bulls-eye mirror won out, and I love how it is anchoring the formerly negative space!  I also love the reflection - it shows practically the whole room, including the big round-top window and bounces light around in such wonderful ways.  It's not a big mirror, it's about 11 inches overall, but it sure does pack a big wallop!  I bought it years ago at a Bombay Company store at Old Orchard Shopping Mall in northern Illinois. 

Coming in a close second was this plate:

This plate and the bulls-eye mirror are about the same diameter, but the mirror won out because of the reflection it shows!  It just added a whole new dimension to the space and the "view." 

About that negative space above the curio cabinet, oh my. 

I had lots of ideas about what to put up there.  My first choice was globe bookends anchoring either end of a run of impressive books.  Then I thought about a basket vignette and some really tall candlesticks (which I do not own), or perhaps the "star" brass plate (see pic above) on a nice stand, with some other accompaniments...

In the end, I opted for simplicity and as little dusting as possible. Thus, I raided the family room and brought in my simple "sphereis."  I may change things later on, but for now, I am satisfied with how it looks resting centered on top of the curio cabinet:

I'm much happier now than I was last week Friday evening, when intensive "experimenting" started.

As you can see, I did use the "star" brass plate.  It's now anchored behind the lamp on the table to the right of the fireplace.  Buddha is also there. 

Last night, I changed the locations of both, so the photo above is not the most current view.  I tried taking pics tonight when I rushed home from the office but they just didn't turn out right.  Blech.  I lowered Buddha by nearly a foot, so that now the top if his headpiece is equal with (on the same plane as) the top of the mantle, and I raised the location of the star brass plate so that it is  now pretty much centered with equal space between the bottom of the lamp shade and the top of the plate, and the bottom of the plate and the top of the horizontal table surface.
Before: Location of Buddha above mantle line; star brass plate
hung too low on wall behind lamp.

After: Buddha's headress now even with top of mantle;
brass plate centered within the "negative space" between
the bottom of the lamp shade and table top (although
in this photo it doesn't look like it!)

Yeah, putsy, heh?  From my crappy photos, you can't even really tell that I moved Buddha and the brass plate!  But you know, to my eye I think the new location of both items just work better on that area of wall.  I treat that portion of the wall as a separate unit when working to solve a problem, but it is absolutely related to the overall look and theme of what's going on with the entire wall and in the room as a whole. 

I'm not sure I'm finished yet.  I may be, but I want to wait to see what the mirrors and shelves look like on either side of the big round-top window, once they arrive from Target.  Maybe it will be, actually, too much.  Maybe those stretches of wall should remain bare.  Don't know yet.  I'll see. 

Got lots more photographs, but this is enough for tonight!  Whew - what torture to get to this point!  Unbelievable.  When I read other blogs about decorating, it just all seems so fricking effortless, you know?  Like, so what am I doing wrong?  Why am I constantly double, triple, and quadruple thinking my decisions about what looks good and what doesn't?  It's my house, so who would ever care besides me, and no guest of mine would ever dare criticize cuz I'd kick his or her butt out in a second if they ever did (kidding - sort of). 

Meanwhile, Mr. Don still hates the t.v. on top of the mantle. He thinks the idea of making slip-covers for the toss pillows on the sofa and love seat is a good one.  However, all of the materials I fell in love with are absolutely too expensive!  There was a perfect golden-camel material with little "buds" of green and like $37 a yard.  It would take 1 and 1/4 yards to cover 2 pillows.  Hmmm, I've got four pillows to cover.  I don't think so!

So, not sure what I'm going to do that way.  Maybe nothing, maybe just removing the pillows for the season.  Now I'm going to go light the bowed-out candles in the candleabra :)

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