never had any other desire so that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden.

-A. Cowley, The Garden, 1666

Monday, September 13, 2010

nook of despair update

We have a breakfast nook in the small house. This 20s feature should be adorable. It is NOT, at the moment, a source of pride and contentment. No quiet bowls of maple scented oatmeal or gently steaming cups of herbal tea are enjoyed there.

Why? Because like most of the small house, it desperately needed renovation. The cabinets where crookedly hung home depot specials with bright gold knobs. The countertop was an unattached piece of emerald green faux marble formica. The chair rails were strangely attached and also crooked. The eating area was a raised platform of questionable construction and blanketed in an even more questionable damp carpet remnant. The dark wood and brass chandelier presiding over the platform was festooned with dusty plastic grapes and was wired so questionably that we had to remove it before the house inspection. There were peeling blue vinyl self-stick tiles over the rest of the floor with a strange overlap tongue of sheet vinyl sticking out from the threshold of the kitchen.
And it was swathed in recalcitrant wallpaper that was patterned with a pastel palette Monet nightmare...

...which was pasted onto the plaster walls with the Glue That Would Not Die.
We tried vinegar water, hot water, and fabric softener...nothing. Broke down and bought a paper tiger and the icky chemical gel...nothing. Anger had me tearing off the floral part, leaving wide tracts of paper backing clinging to the wall.

I decided to refocus attention to other, less maddening, areas to rehab. The nook sat silent and dark; grumpily collecting recent acquisitions, various stacks of papers and flyers, tools and home improvement materials. It sulked, became embarrassing when we had company, and despaired. Here is a glimpse of it during a bridal shower...I had actually hung a curtain over the doorway to conceal the shame.

Finally goaded into action by the stalwart can-do optimism of my mom, I returned to the battle. I brought out the "big Guns", renting an industrial wall steamer from home depot. My mom and I fought the good fight in 90 degree weather, hair curling from clouds of hot moisture, armed with scrapers of all sizes.

And prevailed victorious.

Riding the wave of energy we also tore out the upper cabinets, the platform, and the vinyl tiles.


at last, the beautiful...and the ugly

Here at last, is some visual entertainment for the little bloglet. Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Here is the garden in june:

for a month, crookneck summer squash was our friend. I'll do a post later on my favorite way of preparing it. here's our first harvest with some fresh thyme and a few nasturium leaves headed for a salad:

tommorrow, i'll post what the garden looks like now (brace yourself), and the plan for the fabulous fall garden. I got some ideas at the heritage harvest festival at Monticello this last saturday...