December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

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 burgundy...at 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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