May 20, 2018:


Yesterday Prince Harry married American Meghan Markle and I couldn't get enough of the royal wedding. What a gorgeous dress, the bride was radiantly beautiful and the church at Windsor - oh my goodness, the flowers alone were soooo beautiful. There's nothing like a good love story to make one appreciate how precious we can be (and should be) to each other.

I'm glad the weather was perfect yesterday for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex's wedding. I can't say the same for around here. Spring keeps teasing and then going away. This morning I woke up to a "balmy" 47 degrees F outside, rain, damp, and I turned the heat back on! It's May 20th, the heat. should. not. be. on. Period.

Last Thursday, however, was beautiful. I was able to get a goodly amount of yard and garden clean-up done over several days last week. I also took some photos of my flowering tree anchoring the north corner of my house and made the current collage. I think it's an ornamental cherry, and on the the other end of the house, I think that's called a purple sand cherry? I'll have to check that. The blossoms on the tree do not have a distinct fragrance, but the purple shrub that wants to be a tree (despite my hacking it back, back and back yearly - I'm losing, by the way) has myriad blossoms with a distinct fragrance. I can't decide if the scent is too beautiful to bear or too awful to smell, it certainly can be overpowering!

This coming week will be the third cut of the grass this season. We had rain late Friday night and then for several hours earlier this morning. This rain, on top of the rain we had over four days the prior weekend, and the grass is growing like nobody's business! I don't mind doing the grass, though, as long as it's not too hot, too cold, not raining, and not too windy. I'm not picky at all, am I...

I still have a lot of raking out of areas that suffered from snow mold over the winter, and have not yet really tackled cleaning out the north flower bed in the backyard. That will be a chore!

But Memorial Day weekend is coming. This coming Saturday I will be out with a friend (who has a nice large van - goody!) stocking up on potting soil, top soil to fill in never-ending low spots in the yard, grass seed, and lots of plants! For some reason, this spring seems busier than those in prior years. I can't figure out why that is...


Friday, October 5, 2012

Fantasy Library/Study on the "Cheap"

Hola darlings!

While I was putting together the Beautiful Bedroom: Look for Less (see prior posts), when I was searching for a secretary/hutch in different price ranges, I came across this Chinoserie-styled modern-day secretary/hutch at Wayfair:

I don't consider it's styling over-the-top -- the chinoserie painting is very finely rendered for instance and not overdone; and the red color is pitch-perfect, mimicking the antique tones of deep rich ox blood red.  For me, this piece was love at first sight, except for the ball and claw feet :)  I can't help it, I just love oriental anything (just about) and I especially like inexpensive.  This secretary/hutch is $547.00 but shipping adds up.  Curbside shipping is included in the price, but if you want delivery inside with packaging removed and the piece assembled, it's an additional $149.00.  That puts the price (for me, because I need to have the piece delivered and put together inside my house, I can't do it by myself!) $696.00.  Still, for the price (including shipping and assembly), I consider this still a bargain price.  Here are the particulars on the piece:

 AA Importing Secretary Desk with 3 Drawers - 45871

  • Secretary desk
  • With chinoiserie design and accents
  • Top section has single glass door that opens to reveal three removable shelves
  • Lower section has a drop down door exposing a writing surface and storage nooks
  • Three working drawers below the drop down door
  • Hand painted

  • Dimensions:  80" H x 26" W x 16" D

    The piece is constructed of MDF (medium density fiberboard).  I don't care, I want it anyway!  Never in a million years would I be able to afford a true antique piece made out of real wood.  I'm partial to red pieces, too.

    So, I've had this piece on my mind for a few weeks now, and I wondered how I could put a bedroom together around it.  I tried a few things last night, but it didn't work -- well, at least, it didn't come together easily after just a little bit of hunting for inexpensive furniture pieces to accompany. Bah!  Humbug!

    This piece is impractical to use in conjunction with a desktop computer with a separate screen, keyboard and power tower (unless it could be disguised in some way), but for a laptop on a wireless network, as long as a power outlet is nearby, it would work.

    Tonight, when I thought about using this piece as a star in a library/study, such as my small middle bedroom upstairs (9.2' x 11', with one window and a sliding door closet space) that barely made the mininum building requirements at the time I had this house built, of 100 square feet per room, I thought - this would work!

    I would add as essential requirements:

    (1)  A comfy seating piece
    (2)  A chair for the desk/secretary
    (3)  Bookcases
    (4)  An area rug
    (5)  Curtains for the one window in the room

    Here's what I came up with:

    (1) Seating Piece

    From Target, I really love this "storage chaise in black" that offers under-the-seat storage too!  I can definitely see myself stretched out on this piece with one of my books doing research, with a little portable accent piece table holding a glass of wine at hand. Or just snoozing on a lazy afternoon while a soft breeze blows in through the sole window that opens to my backyard oasis, surrounded by my much-loved collection of chess books, museum special exhibit catalogs and historical tomes :) 

    Decorator details include the tufting and what appears to be nail-head trim, plus solid wood legs in a mahogany finish.  The seat lifts to reveal storage space!

    Upholstery:  "Soft black" microsuede (a perfect look of lux without the care of velvet), tufted
    Dimensions:  31.0 " H x 63.0 " W x 25.5 " D  (It's about the size of a small love seat, but not as deep as a traditional love seat would be, thereby saving precious space in my space-starved fantasy den/library)

    What I Like:  With it's dimensions, it could be floated at an angle in front of the window in the summer, or in front of the closet (that is only used for storage in this single-person household), and also placed against either of the long walls or the short "door" wall, giving me plenty of options in my small room.

    It's priced at $212.09.  Shipping weight is 68 pounds.  I don't know what the shipping cost would be.

    I chose this piece (1) because I like the dynamic of the black "Frenchy" style with the red chinoserie of the secretary/hutch and (2) a great price plus storage.

    (2) A Chair for the Desk/Secretary

    This is a very important piece to a den/library because it has to be the right height and has to be comfortable and also hold-up to long-term use.  I am not a fan of wheeled chairs in my home.  I prefer to add an area rug underneath the area where the chair will be moved in and out, to spare the carpet underneath excess wear/tear from the chair sliding back and forth and those minute adjustments we all do while we're working.  The exercising of actually lifting and heaving does me good, and no wheels are present to wear ruts into the carpet underneath :)

    The height of the secretary/hutch's flip-down cover that is used as a desktop is from the floor is - unfortunately - unknown!  Darn.  So, buying a desk chair would be an adventure.

    From appearances, it appears that the drop down desk-top is about 16 inches deep.  However, because the bottom of the secretary/hutch "bows out", like a bombe chest of drawers, that probably eats up as much as 10 additional inches of space that a chair could not scootch forward without feet/legs bumping into the bottom part of the secretary.  That only leaves a clearance of about 6 inches to be able to pull a chair up close to the desk top for typing on your laptop.  Hmmm....

    After examining my present set-up in the front room/living room, with my laptop resting about two inches from the front edge of the desk, and my front chair legs scootched in  about 12 to 16 inches underneath the top of the desk, well, that's a problem.  But sometimes I sit straight up in my chair and my feet are tucked underneath the chair rather than extended underneath the desk.  Clearance then wouldn't be such a problem. Sometimes I angle my chair, too, more toward the fireplace and the t.v. on the mantel (this is not an issue in my work spots behind the sleeper sofa in the family room or in my former work spot in the library/den, which is sadly abandoned these days).  I figure if I slightly angled my chair at the drop-down desk top of the Chinoserie secretary, a smaller-profile side chair without arms would work.

    What did I find?  Oh, the suspense is killing me!

    I went shopping for something in red, cream/white or black upholstery (looked at patterns, too), something that would coordinate with the soft black microsuede upholstery and mahogany finish on the chaise-longue, as well as the ox blood red color of the Chinoserie secretary. 

    I didn't spend a lot of time looking - that's not the point of this putting a room together relatively quickly exercise.  I found this beautiful faux-leather chair at Target and thought it would be a lovely fit for my fantasy library/study:

    This is the Elizabeth Armless Accent Chair in Faux Leather in "red," with - unfortunately, the wood finish is not specified!  It appears a dark brown or perhaps espressro finish (always a safe bet).  I think this would look fabulous with the red Chenoserie secretary/hutch and the black microfibre chaise-longue.  It has very nice tailoring, including tufting on the back and seat.  The price (not including shipping) is $143.18.

    I selected this chair because (1) it's price and (2) it's classic style that will go with many different styles.  The red color is bold, but can also act as a 'neutral' in many different color schemes, as long as the fashion is not too extreme.  I especially like the open space between the back and the seat, to add some "airiness" to the small room this would go in, and the red, while not an exact match to the deep faux-lacquered tones of the secretary/hutch, would echo the scheme.  A touch of "moderne" in an otherwise rather tradtionally styled room.

    But wait!  I found another chair at Target, a tufted beauty in polyester in more "traditional" lines that would play off of the lines on the black chaise-longue very nicely.  It also introduces a light color into the scheme in my admittedly small room:

    This is the Curves Hourglass Chair in Oyster.  The legs are finished in espresso, which would go beautifully with the mahogany finished legs of the chaise-longue.  The chair is on sale right now for about $135.00 (not including shipping). 

    (3)  Bookcases

    My requirements are that they cannot overwhelm my small room; they should be relatively shallow - no 16" to 19" deep cases; and ideally, nothing more than 72" (6 feet) tall.

    I settled upon a black finish.  I considered espresso or other darker wood-toned finishes, and even creamy-toned finishes. Primarily I was looking for a style and color that would go with the red chinoserie-finished secretar and the black sort of "Frenchy style" chaise longue.  And either chair - the red "moderne" look chair in faux leather or the more traditional tufted curvey chair in oyster.

    I looked at several different vendors, and finally selected these bookcases on sale right now at Target online:

    This is the Delano Large Bookcase in Antique Black, at a 65% reduced price (right now) of under $88.  Wow!  Two would cost $176.00 and would provide this particular room with tons of book and storage space. Even adding shipping and putting these babies together would be soooo worth it!  I love the open sides with the "X" pattern, and the storage shelf at the bottom.  Substantial and yet airy at the same time, offering ample book shelf space for what I call the "scholarly" collection:  books on chess history; books on the history of games; museum exhibit catalogs; auction catalogs featuring primarily games and, particularly, chess (one of my passions).  The open sides reduce the appearance of "bulk" and would play off the curvy lines of the Chinoserie secretary and the chaise-longue
    in an intriguing way. 

    (4)  An Area Rug

    I was looking for a relatively small area rug to suit my small room - between 5' x 7' and 6' x 9 in a traditional "oriental" pattern (my partiality) and a rug that would be (1) inexpensive (2) having the colors in the room and (3) easy care.

    One can look at area rugs forever and ever!  I prefer to go with first instincts rather than looking for the best bargains and the perfect thing.  Well, that's just the way I rock. My time is more precious to me than saving a few bucks here and there.

    I went right to, where I've successfully shopped for area rugs before, and quickly found these in black/red/beige/creamy tones.  I feel that either of these rugs would work with either of the chairs: red "Moderne" style in faux leather; and the more traditional "shell-shaped" curvy and creamy "tufted side chair" in polyester.  I selected these two.  One is a more traditional "Oriental" pattern; one is classified as "Oriental" but has a more "moderne" esthetic.  These are my two choices, selected in under 30 minutes!!!

    I selected this one first!  It's got all the right colors:  cream, red, black, beige, and a nice open and yet Oriental pattern. This is the Soho Ivory Oriental Rug (approximately 5' x 7') for (at this time) $75.99.

    And I found this rug just a few moments later, looking during one lunch hour. It has all of the colors and it really caught my attention:

    This is another Soho rug, "Soho Red Oriental Rug."  It is approximately 5' x 7', in primary colors of ivory, black and red.  This rug has "oriental" elements in it (the central medallion and surround) but also something that reminds me of Art Deco styling.  Rug #1, by contrast, is very traditional in its styling, while having the same colors.  Tonight (when I'm posting this ), this rug is offered for $82.99.

    (5)  Draperies

    I did not try to find ready-made.  It also took longer than I expected to find material to make a set of drapes (or curtains) and perhaps a couple of toss pillows for the chaise-lounge.  But I found it!

    Here it is, from

    This is Richloom Solarium Outdoor Kirkwood Cherry.  I don't care that it's "outdoor."  The color and the pattern and the ease of care are what grabbed me. I think this would make fabulous curtains for the solo window in my small den/library and a couple of nice throw pillow covers as well.  The price is right, at $8.98 a yard (54" wide, 100% polyester, medium weight, washable).

    I haven't added this all up - I'm too tired tonight, I haven't eaten "supper" yet, it's past 10:30 P.M. my time and I have to go to work tomorrow.  Ideally, yeah, I sure wouldn't spend all of this money at once just to finish a room, and that's not how most of us operate, anyway, unless we're independently wealthy (I'm not).  So, this room will remain a fantasy for the time being...

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