Ken and I are both constitutional over-planners. We tend to produce detailed, elegant and highly optimistic plans partly out of sheer high spirits. This makes us mildly smug at times: you won’t catch us making dozens of trips to a hardware store because we haven’t captured the right measurements.
Jennifer writes about discovering her latent nesting instinct.
Our Bathroom Light-Hunting Safari Part 2
Lighting our half-bath presented a Gordian knot of design challenges: limited space, basic functional requirements, and poor choices at our initial price point. We can’t expand the bathroom and I don’t intend to give up hope of grooming in there, so price had to give. We would find a specialty store, thereby resigning ourselves to paying for good materials, thoughtful design and an expert staff. In this case, it was well worth it.
Part 1 of Our Bathroom Light-Hunting Safari
Ken and I realized yesterday that for weeks we’ve been in the grip of what a friend of mine from graduate school calls the Serengeti Effect. The Serengeti Effect originally described human behavior in relation to the refrigerator in a graduate housing apartment, but the following scenario may sound familiar even if you don’t write J.D. or Ph.D. after your name.
To hear recent transplants talk, the only true safety in Tucson lies in retreat along the freeway to Vail or Marana, and the neighborhood where I grew up is a meth-crazed wasteland. For me, part of nesting has been to reject the hype, return to my old neighborhood, and to think very carefully not just about how to create a peaceful home, but about what’s needed to sustain a community. Part of the answer, I think, can be found at bookstores like Antigone on Fourth Avenue.
Here’s an odd contradiction about the 21st century: online pharmacies beg to sell me drugs I am anatomically unqualified to use, clothiers dog me from website to website, promising me a discount on a shirt I flirted with a month ago, and ads gibber and dance in the online columns of The New York Times itself, but when I am eager — nay, determined — to spend money, I find that I can’t.
[This post is part of Our Kitchen Molding Makeover series.]
I’m not much a shopper, and I find shopping online downright agonizing. That said, it is strangely gratifying to browse the antique and furniture sections of our local Craigslist. To the experienced (or simply fanciful) reader, every entry tells a story: a new bride fulfilling her part of a furniture divestment treaty, or a college student desperately trying to unload a couch too heavy to be moved and too shabby to be sold.
I firmly believe that good taste is not innate; it is cultivated through education and opportunity. Admittedly, this belief is self-serving, since as a child I papered the walls of my bedroom with calendar art featuring unicorns, and I like to think I’ve progressed. Chance and opportunity have rescued me, and even family members otherwise inclined to regard me as dangerously volatile admit that I have a good eye for clothing and color.
We stopped by to see my folks yesterday — Ken needed to borrow my dad’s circular saw — and while the guys went out to the garage to inspect the race car, mom talked animatedly about her latest role in Two Old Goats Racing: restoring the interior of the Catalina. My mom has sewn for much of her life, and is an accomplished quilter. Auto interiors involve stitching and fabric, but the terms, equipment and skills are radically different, and no less daunting.
If you’ve been following the story so far, you know that Ken urges people to make relatively inexpensive changes that have a huge impact. Moldings and painting are his prime examples of this principle. But some of the most important customizations are almost imperceptible to outsiders, but provide intense, daily satisfaction.
In the video below, I give a quick tour highlighting several easy, cheap kitchen projects that lower the inertia that can discourage major bouts of cooking. I’ve provided more details below.
No household can be truly harmonious without a cat or two. Chiefly they serve as fluffy, pettable ventriloquist’s dummies (as in, “Julia says, ‘Is this all there is? It’s all ashes — ashes!’” or, “Sky told me he thinks you look great in those briefs.”) More importantly, though, cats’ scapegoat function turns them into the unsung (and unwilling) heroes of many a marriage.
Whenever possible, Ken and I buy everything from tortillas to Trollope novels from stores within about a three-mile radius of our home. We get paint and primer from my main man Pablo at a Sherwin Williams three blocks away; I’ve almost entirely sworn off Amazon.com in favor of a nearby used bookstore; and a couple of times a week we pick up flowers, condiments and cheese at a little Trader Joe’s just down the road. As a result, we know “our” sales clerks and checkers, and feel more comfortable about supporting the companies we do business with.
[This is part of Our Tucson Molding Makeover series]
Now that I am the proud owner of kitchen crown molding and a lugged door casing — or “eared architrave,” a term that Ken prefers, less because it seems more elegant than because it is somehow endearing — I find myself marveling at how organic and unpretentious it looks.
[This is part of Our Molding Makeover series]
Two weeks ago we decided to install moldings throughout our home. If this were a painting project, I would have immediately started scampering around wielding paint chips and constructing and demolishing intricate theories.
Like arguments, decorating schemes can be inductive or deductive: that is, you can follow a concrete example to a general principle or vice versa. In other words, you can pick a color you like and find others that work with it, or you can pick a concept or palette and rotate colors through it until one set pleases you. Either way, color theory can help you to create and eliminate possibilities.
First, my hatred of all things digital is legendary. I print documents out to read them, and edit them by hand. My favorite way to transport data is what software engineers call “sneakerware” — that is, walking over a hard copy. My “mood” on the internal instant message system reads “I find instant messages intrusive.”
Once they’ve gotten used to the idea of me dating online — editing and posting my dating profile photographs voluntarily — my coworkers gasp, “Weren’t you afraid?”