Monday, June 13, 2016

On Deck(oration)

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Surprised to see me at the helm again? Rhys, poor thing, is trapped in Tuscany, recovering from a grueling week heading up a writers' workshop there by drinking Chianti and eating cinghiale y crostini al tartufo. Let's all take a moment to feel sorry for Rhys.

The Spode Hunt ware
Okay, enough of that. Today I want to talk about home decoration, a topic we rarely touch on here at JRW, because we A) have been living in our homes so long we have all the comfy chairs right where we want them and B) barely have the time to make our beds, let alone repaint the living room. But I'm sure I'm not the only one to get the urge to shake things up every now and then. I do it seasonally, since I am the Queen of Slipcovers.

Now it's summer, I'm going to be replacing the green damask slipcovers on the living room chairs with white-on-white striped cotton covers. I have a whole box of pillow covers that come out in June as well - white and pale green and yellow instead of green-and-maroon and red-and-brown. The Spode hunt china with its autumnal colors goes back inside the china cupboard, and I display the Canton Rose instead - all bright and light. I'll put away the wool and plush throws and replace them with cotton ones, because this is Maine, and we're going to need to wrap up some nights, even in August!

Smoke stains and water damage!
In the parlour, the winter slipcovers of dark crimson not-really-velvet get swapped for coral and geranium, and the pillows will lighten up as well. For the rest of the downstairs - the library, the kitchen and the family room - it's mostly just summer flowers to evoke the season. We inherited a burnt orange wall-to-wall carpet in the family room that would cost a fortune to replace, so we've decorated around it with cream and brown. There's not much of a way to summer-fy those colors, so I just close my eyes until fall comes round again.

No swords indoors.

Usually, the hot-weather, cold-weather change out, combined with several subscriptions to home decor magazines, is enough to satisfy. (Ross calls shelter magazines Playboy for women: "They're full of beautiful, desirable things that will never be yours.") But this year, I've gotten a real itch. I want to paint my kitchen.

We "did" the kitchen in 1994, right after we moved in. We tore down a crumbling plaster wall and had it drywalled, had the wooden floor refinished and glossed up, and painted the doorways, window frames and chair rails a deep green. I hung lincrusta wallpaper to echo the pressed tin ceiling in the foyer and covered the center panels of the (original 1920s) cupboard doors with a bright floral Waverly print. We replaced the old hanging lights with bright sealed brass and had under-counter lights installed. And then we stopped.

Peeling lincrusta. The edge of the door's not so great, either.
Twenty-two years later... the lincrusta has started peeling off. One of the glass light fixtures had been broken, thanks to a kid playing with a sword. There's water stains on the drywall and the ceiling (we got the leak fixed but didn't repaint downstairs.) The wooden floor is worn and scuffed. There are smoke stains on the cupboard above the stove that can't be scrubbed off. But mostly, it just looks dated. Too busy, too much color and pattern, too floral, too late-eighties/early nineties.

My inspiration! (From Pinterest, of course)

So I want to redo it in black and white. Strip off the lincrusta and paint the walls, doors, windowsills and cupboards in white. We have a black-fronted oven and dishwasher, and the original iron hinges and pulls on the cupboards, which I think will pop against glossy white. Maybe replace the laminate counter top with something glossy and black, if we can do it ourselves. (Youngest's ongoing boarding school expenses mean we have a pretty limited budget.) Keep the overhead lights, but spray over the bright 80's brass with an oil-rubbed bronze finish.

Of course, you all see the biggest problem I have with starting a kitchen re-do: I still have to deliver a book! In the meanwhile, I'll continue to cut out pictures from magazines and price materials at the local stores. How about you, Reds? Any real - or dream - decorating you'd like to do?

I don't see any spaghetti sauce or cat hair, do you?
LUCY BURDETTE: Julia, you astonish and amaze me! I do the absolute minimum, that is take off the flannel bedspread and wool blanket on our bed and replace with a bright yellow and green quilt.

Though come to think of it, we finally had to throw out a rug under the kitchen table which had faded to an ugly tan (lots of sun!) And then the chair cushions had to go--not only because blue paisley didn't match anything, but also because the foam cushions were pushing out on all sides. I had some new cushions made by a seamstress on Etsy. I wish I'd gotten something a little darker to hide spaghetti sauce and cat hair, but other than that, we're thrilled.

HALLIE EPHRON: Lincrusta?! Had to look it up. TWO sets of dishes? And Julia, you could write for one of those dirty magazines.

Susan's tea-themed summer pillows.
We moved into our house 40 years ago, redid the kitchen, put on addition 10 years later, and beyond that have patched the paint and Elmers-glued the wallpaper seams. But I do have a pale gray set of slip covers for my couch that I have never (maybe once) used. Since the dark green it usually wears is fading (and you would too, after more than 25 years) maybe it's time to pull them out. Problem is they make the couch look literally like the elephant in the room.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Wow, switching out dishes? That's so Martha Stewart! We take off the beds' down comforters and put on cotton quilts, and switch out all the wool/velvet cushions for cotton in the bedrooms and living room. That's about it. Don't get any home decor mags, but I'm a fan of decor8  and a few other design blogs. Right now I'm working on a gallery wall with a new piece of art Noel and Kiddo had framed for me for Mother's Day by art duo Faile, titled, "A Call to Adventure." I love it — makes me think of a sort of mad Mary Poppins.

Hank's winter pillows...

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Love it!  Oh, we have lincrusta on our hallway's so great and subtle.  We change too, in the spring. Er, summer. Er, soon. Our winter slipcovers  (soft loden green velvet) get changed to crisp white canvas. The pillows get changed ,too--here are winter--and summer (just the covers for now...I'll change them. Soon. Really.).  And we change dishes, too..the winter wreaths with luscious grapes and apples and plums to the summer wreaths with summery flowers and pale green stripes.   The only sad part--when the pool opens next week , the ducks leave. To every thing, turn turn turn..


...and her summer covers!
Who else wants Debs' fabulous leather sofa? I'm swooning.
RHYS BOWEN: Julia... Is it something about your part of the country that turns everyone into Martha Stewart's? Two sets of dishes? I have two sets. One good, for company, one everyday for us. And I change decor as I move from our California house (John's family antiques) to our Arizona condo (my choice light and airy Scandinavian, I.e. IKEA). We've done odd bits of upgrading in our CA home over the years... Replaced ugly brown doors with white ones, redone our bedroom, my study, but I have some projects planned if I ever find time for them: new hall floor desperately needed. Present one old and cracked tiles. Scrap that awful popcorn stuff off all ceilings. Major job. Repaint interior, put crown molding and recessed lights into living room. Replace kitchen counters. Replace downstairs bath. Ideally I'd like to leave these in the hands of a capable person, go away and come back to find them all finished! Luckily I'm still in Italy, too far from home to want to rush out and change the pillows!

DEBORAH CROMBIE:  I love JRW. I'm always learning new things. Today it's that our the anaglypta wallpaper below the chair rail in our living and dining room is actually a type, or brand, of lincrusta. Who knew? It was put in by the contractor who flipped our old house back in 1994 or so, and we like it and have never redone it. Unfortunately, one of our cats likes it, too. As a scratching post. We have three or four places now that we have to keep blocked off. Another project to tackle. (Repairing wallpaper, not getting rid of cat...)

As for the seasonal flip, we change duvets for cotton quilts, velvet cushions on the sofa for summer woven, winter for summer runner on the dining room table, and that's about it. Oh, we put away the furry throws in the living room, too. And I love to completely change out the cushions on my front porch swings, but so far they are all still in the attic... Here's the summer living room decor.

JULIA: I have to confess, the Spode and the Canton Rose are only two of my sets of china. I also have an old ironware and gold set for twelve and a blue-and white Royal Dalton set for eight. This is why I could never live in a tiny house...I'd have to choose between my china and Ross. And I'm not sure which would win out.

Readers, are you swapping things out for the season? Or, like me, do you have a yearning for a BIG redo (but first I'll finish the book! I promise!) Send me your pics and I'll put them up on the front page!

More inspiration. If I finished my book...
...maybe I could HIRE someone to do this!
Mary Sutton's fab living room w husband-made built-ins!
More built-ins at Mary's house.

Mary Sutton's kitchen. Love the 50's cutout above the window.

Mary's husband installed the wainscoting! Envy.


  1. Alas, living in Florida means our changes took place months ago when we removed the down blanket (we DO get temps at the freezing level in the winter) and replaced it with no blanket and a summery cotton quilt.

    I always say this year will be different and I will re-do (fill in the blank), but deep in my heart I know it's more bucket list than to do list.

    Julia, the kitchen remodel looks spectacular. Thank you for the Linacrusta education. never heard of it. Interesting stuff.

    Enjoy the season change! Have the black fly abated yet? My husband and I were talking about missing Maine in the spring and we checked the weather. Nights are still cool in our area (Northern Aroostook) so we figured the little devils were still running rampant!

  2. I am in awe . . . the most that changes around here is the bedspread . . . .

  3. I don't change out anything except the down comforter (but I do get my books in on time...). And I have your kitchen, Julia! My man is that handy guy who renovates old houses for us and for others. We moved four years ago and he gutted and rebuilt every room. I got white cabinets and a gorgeous greenish black counter, with an antique wooden island top using really wide pine boards from our previous even-more-antique house. I added pops of primary colors in the teakettle (red), the crocks that hold wooden spoons and spatulas (orange and yellow), and the towels (red, green, and blue). I love it. Come visit Amesbury and I'll show you.

  4. Lovely post to read today - right up there with those magazines I confess to reading. I also confess that of the comforts of the house, what changes out are the blankets that I keep on the family sofa and chairs. They are replaced by lightweight throws for the summer - because we have to have a little something cozy for snuggling in watching TV. I am a little past due in getting that done this summer, maybe today! But I confess to switching out the china cabinet in my dining room most years. I have my good china, and then several tea sets that always look good displayed. My friend and I love flea markets, so an occasional plate or set of tea cups will come home with me for practically nothing, and than can prompt a whole change-out of the cabinet. Right now it is only my cream and off white pieces, before that it was blue and white, and before that it was a mix of florals - yellow, blue and white. Maybe it's time for my own blog post about that.

  5. I love reading about other people's re/design work in their houses. We've been in our house for 17 years and are trying to muster the energy to repaint the main living area and kitchen...actually, I mean trying to muster the energy to find someone to do it for us. I hate painting! As for switching out slip covers for different seasons, I avoid that by not having slip covers. At our cottage, we do transform the sun porch from its winter duties as a wood piling spot into its proper summer duty as a spot for sitting, reading and art play (I like doing collage, my partner paints). Julia: If I promise to buy the hardcover edition of your book as soon as it hits the shelf in my local shop, will you sit down and finish it????? I am on tenterhooks about Clare and Russ's life and community.

  6. Yes Julia, I'm with Amanda, no decorating until the book is in--we are dying here!

    Hallie, you deserve a kitchen redo as good a cook as you are!

  7. I actually went out this weekend and bought paint for the main bathroom. The only room in the house I haven't painted in the ten years we've lived here. Now I need to go back and get paint for the ceiling (paint the ceiling first!), and pick out another color for the bathroom cupboards, then new door pulls. And I have materials for a new quilt for my bedroom--which will mean new curtains, new paint, new bed linens. Maybe in another ten years....

    And Julia, if I lived closer, I'd organize a work party of your dedicated readers--we'd redo your kitchen so you can keep writing--honestly, we'd be quiet as little mice!

  8. You're on the right track, clipping photos (or making pinterest boards) of your proposed renovations and pricing options. Summer is the best time for a kitchen remodel (cook on grill, eat cold food), with the garage available as a work shop for sanding and painting cabinet doors. What drives you crazy? Take care of it this summer...wallpaper? cabinet doors? floor refinishing? Swapping out light fixtures?

    Keep researching countertop and sink options. New products hit the market all the time. The kitchen sink faucet is the workhorse faucet of the house. Splurge on a good one.

    Good luck! My first kitchen job (of three) was eight years in planning and naturally, I was pregnant with #3.

  9. A major renovation project is going on here. Always. The house is 90 yrs old, so there's always money being poured down some hole or other. We are doing over the living room (ripped up carpet, refinished floor, and the search for the kids-are-grown white sofa has been epic. Now you have given me second thoughts, Julia. I should have sprung the extra $800 for slip overs?) But in July, the jackhammers come to fix the basement water issue.mthere's nothing worse than water loose in a house. Erg.

  10. Ps. Pinterest. More porn for women. I keep my decorating pictures hidden from my husband.

  11. How would you live those beautiful rooms? They never have a book or three open on a table, or couch. No cat or dog hair, or those, ahem, souveniers left by puppy teeth or kitty claws. Real homes are where real people live real, and sometimes messy, happy lives!

  12. Wait, Julia, is THAT your kitchen? Or a picture of a dream kitchen?

    We have a leather couch, too, but it is navy blue. Or, well, it was, but then it got hit by sunlight for so many years, and now it is sort-of navy. I still love it, though. Huh. I bet it's twenty-five years old and it is still completely perfect.

    Who above talked about cabinet and drawer pulls? SO right--they can make a huge difference.

    And we just sent our sunroom chairs out to be reupholstered…my beloved but 10 year old stripes were threadbare, and even I couldn't continue to ignore that. Cross your fingers the new fabric works! I is kind of risky…:-)

  13. When we moved into our old house (1924, old for Atlanta), up in the huge walk-up attic was not only a big cedar closet but also two very tall but very shallow closets which puzzled me. My mother knew, of course, and told me they were for hanging the curtains you switched out with the seasons, heavy brocade for thin sheers. When my sister lived in Savannah, everyone put on white or pastel slipcovers in the summer and changed the curtains, and changed the oriental rugs or woven rugs to sisal. It was all in aide of making you feel cooler of course. It did work pre-airconditioning. My mother put pale blue cotton slipcovers on everything in the living room for years until one year she realized she liked it better and just left it.

  14. Changing out for seasons? We took the down comforter off the bed and replaced it with a light cotton quilt. And that's about it.

    When we bought the house in 1998, it was...ugly. Some sort of pink with floral wallpaper and forest green lace swags in the dining room. Everything else was what I call "industrial cream." You know, that bland color that goes with everything. They'd just put new carpet in the living room. There as indoor-outdoor glued to the oak hardwood in the den.

    We've redone the kitchen twice. A new laminate countertop to replace the awful yellow with chrome. Painted the walls and the hubby put up a nice stone backsplash. We redid the hallway with a green plaster finish (boy, that was tiring work). Each kid's room has been redone. The Boy's three times because it was my office, then a nursery, then he decorated in super hero's. Now it's been painted again (gee, I guess that's four times) and the hubby made a nice built in desk when he took out the closet - because as soon as The Boy leaves for college, it's gonna be my office again. The Girl painted her room blue and did a "High School Musical" theme back when she was 8. The movie stuff is long gone and we finally told her she could paint the walls again. Oh, and we gave up trying to refinish the pine floors upstairs and put in nice, plush carpeting. Gray in The Girl's room, light brown in our room and The Boy's. Oh, our room had more hideous floral. I did a suede finish on the walls, chair rail with wallpaper below in a parchment-looking paper. Then we hung prints The Hubby brought back from an Army trip to Korea on the walls.

    But our real pride and joy is the dining room, living room, and den. Hubby built bookshelves in the living room and den (the living room ones have slate tops) and put a wood-burning cast iron stove in the living room with a slate hearth. Custom silk curtains in the dining room (those cost more than I will share and are going with us if we ever move even if they don't fit windows in the new place - just 'cause). He also made the wainscoting in the dining room (oak-colored). Just this year we felt confident enough to put the Persian rug he bought on his first Gulf War Army deployment down in the living room. We tore up that awful carpet in the den, and put in floor to ceiling bookshelves (also made by The Hubby).

    This year's project is central air. Some day, when the kids are gone, we're gonna tear apart the kitchen and put in granite countertops (or whatever), new cabinetry, and new appliances. A little island between the dining room and kitchen. Right. Someday.

  15. Mary, can I borrow your husband? I mean, I love my Ross, and he's a whiz with landscaping and gardening, but he's sort of the anti-handy-man in the house.

    Everyone else: if you haven't, take a look back at the front page for a look at the beautiful work Mary's husband has done in their home. (Maybe "Can one of you do basic woodworking and home repairs" should be one of the questions the priest or minister asks in premarital counseling.)

  16. Hank, no, the slightly blurry, dark pics of stained, broken and peeling stuff is MY kitchen. The all-white, beautifully lit and photographed interiors are from Pinterest.

    Incidentally, I have a new respect for home decor bloggers. They must work their tails off keeping their places clean for photos. I was going to take a couple wider-angle pics of my kitchen, but I would have had to clean for an hour before I'd have let you all see it...

  17. I promise I won't touch the kitchen until after HID FROM OUR EYES has been handed in!

    Edith, maybe I could borrow your guy as well as Mary Sutton's? Clearly, I don't need more money for home renovations, I need more husbands.

  18. Julia, I'll let him know what you said. His mantra is "It's hard to mess up good wood." It's been a lot of love and patience - especially patience. He, of course, has his own full-time job, so most of these projects have to be shoehorned in on weekends.

    I am quite lucky. There are very few projects where we've had to call pros - mostly dealing with plumbing, gas, or electricity where it's best if left to licensed, insured professionals. Oh, and installing the wood stove. Because, you

  19. Julia, we redid our kitchen nine years ago. I can hardly believe time has gone so fast. It was a HUGE ordeal--we moved wall, windows, and doors, as well as completely gutting cabinets and counter tops. I lived with piles of shelter magazines for a couple of years before, so keep looking at those pictures! Ours has held up well, too, I think. It needs a coat of paint now, but otherwise I wouldn't change anything except for our Kitchen Aid two-drawer dishwasher. Don't ever buy one of those, folks.

    The sofa, ah... I do love the leather sofa, but have given up on trying to keep it pristine and am instead going for the "loved, scuffed Chesterfield" look. And I don't have to worry about slipcovers...

  20. Mary Sutton, you could make a fortune hiring out your husband. The bookcases are wonderful. Don't you think they warm up a space?

    I don't swap anything out but the throws and the bed coverings. However, since I want to build a new house, I've been A)sprucing up our 1939 house for a sale someday, and B) drooling over lovely, airy rooms with a lot less stuff to take care of. Writing for a local shelter magazine for the last four years has not done a darned thing to take the edge of this desire, either. I keep getting new ideas!

    My oldest daughter recently redid her house, with a totally neutral palette. But she has boxes and boxes of seasonal pillows and other decor: winter, summer, Halloween, Christmas/holiday, etc. Her husband gives her a hard time about how pillows seem to multiply in the dark.

    Gosh, I haven't heard the term lincrusta in decades. Some friends restored a wonderful historic home here in Cincinnati, and they had to have the missing parts of the (wood) lincrusta wainscoting in the stairwells to the third floor made. By hand. I can't imagine the staggering expense, but you should see it, it's fabulous.

    Good luck with the update, Julia. It's a big job, but very satisfying when it's done. While I was in Europe our cooktop, which was new when we added on to our old, dark, cramped kitchen, bit the dust. Now I'm reevaluating the whole kitchen thing here, too. I don't want to spend a lot of money on it, but we do need a way to make the omelets.

  21. Karen in Ohio - yes. The books and the wood, just so welcoming. And in the winter when there's a fire going in that stove I don't want to leave my living room.

    Perhaps I have found The Hubby his second career once he leaves civil service for the government! LOL


  22. The flags come out on Memorial Day and stay up all summer (the Patriotic Season). I don't display my fine quality 35 year old Correlle dishes, and I am stripping off the 20 year old linoleum in my kitchen - just replaced the 20 year old faucet! New tile and paint in the kitchen and that's it for me!

  23. Um, Debs, what happened with the dishwasher?.

    Mary, and Mary's husband,WOW.

  24. I envy you folks with handyman husbands. My guy can't do the useful type stuff I need done. But if you need an electric fence put up. . . My ongoing dream is to repaint the kitchen. I swear, Aggies lived in this house before us. The house is maroon; the livingroom and dining room were painted maroon. All of the kitchen cabinets are painted maroon. The LR and DR are now a nice pale yellow. The kitchen hasn't magically changed. I am afraid to get an estimate for painting the cabinets. Even the insides are maroon. So, it remains a future project. We just got a new roof and that will have to be it for the year unless we win the lottery.

  25. Hank, the dishwasher seemed like a great idea. And so pretty. But the drawers don't have real motors, just water-powered impellers, because there's no place to put a motor. And the thing is impossible to work on. A new dishwasher is on my "when I finish my book" list, but I don't have the time to do all the consumer research right now. Or want to spend the money:-)

  26. Sitting here waiting for mammo results, which I chose to do instead of returning to my kitchen renovation. 1923 house, and it's been fun uncovering past renos. This time is it is from the plaster out! Best finds have been the old wallpaper and returning to the original nine foot ceiling. Floor is done. Cabinets go in the end of the week. Appliances arrive next week. White cabinets with dark gray to black granite, cherry island with butcher block top, butter walls and dove grey subway tile splash back. Someone please hold me. Oh, and the renos also includes the powder room and dining room. In for a dime, in for a dollar. Lots of them. Stay tuned. Film at eleven.

  27. Debs, I just replaced our old dishwasher, with a Bosch Silence Plus 44dBA. It's the best dishwasher I've ever had (and it was replacing a Bosch). It has flexible interior (including a silverware tray that we find we love), lots of useful cycles, cleans the dishes like a boss, and is so quiet you can't hear it when you're standing next to it. And it uses very little powdered detergent. They no longer recommend the pods, since they leave a residue (plastic) on the interior of the dishwasher, and on your dishes, ew.

    Julia, I used to be a kitchen designer (for less than a year, but I learned a lot), and one bit of advice I'd give you is to make sure that you can replace your old stove in the future without disrupting the rest of the kitchen. Appliance sizes have changed, and you don't want to spend a lot of cash on new countertops around an appliance that you might need to replace with a couple to few years. Measure it, and measure the replacements that you might eventually want in that space. Typically, stoves were 30-36 inches wide, but they've gotten bigger, and it could be tough to find one that fits.

    Refrigerators have also grown. We (actually, I) designed our kitchen in 1999 around our old fridge, and when it died I found they now make them with the hinges on top, and now we can't open the door on the cabinet above. In fact, I really don't remember what's in that cabinet any more. :-/ A friend promised to modify the doors for me, so they slid sideways instead of opening out, but he has never gotten around to it.

  28. Karen, thanks for the recommendation on the dishwasher. I'll check it out--when I finish the book... And that's great advice on the appliance sizes, especially on the fridges. I think you have done more interesting things than anyone I know!

    Ann, waiting for pics!

  29. Karen,

    I hear you about the appliance thing. We have the original 1920's (we think) cabinets, with room underneath for an icebox. A real icebox. When we moved in, there was a 50's refrigerator that fit the space perfectly. It also used electricity like nobody's business, so we had to replace it. The problem? Our kitchen has two full windows in the west side, three (3!) doors on the south side, all the cabinetry, countertops and plumbing on the east side, and another two doors and a solid masonry chimney and woodstove on the north wall.

    Which is why our frig is in the hallway across from the WC. #joyofoldhouses

  30. Starting a kitchen remodel this week and scared to death.

    Julia, I was whining about the cost of new slab granite countertops and my brother told me there are lots of DIY videos on YouTube on installing granite tile countertops.
    Home Depot sells black granite tile.

  31. I'm still wondering if I should tell you about the hiding place in the Billerica woods.

  32. Reine, yes!

    And yes we has only one choice for our new ish dishwasher -- we got the only one that fit. There's a certain freedom in that...


  33. No decorating skills of any kind means that my one big acknowledgement of winter's end is that the extra comforter comes off the bed. (I almost put it back on a couple of times this past week.)


  34. All I can say is if you want to redo your house, be careful what you wish for and know that it's a snowball in the making. Last year was my redo. Completely gutted the main bathroom, which had those lovely green sinks and tubs and tiles from the 50s. I do love the new bathroom. which I pretty much designed from clipping pictures of things I liked. The block glass window was my contractor's idea, and I love it. I also had the bedrooms, living room, and both bathrooms painted. Oh, and the little library room, too. I had new floors put down in all of those rooms, too, except for the master bath. The master bath just got refreshed a bit with a new vanity and shower door and paint. I lived in a mess for so long that I thought I would never get out from it. Now that it is done, I do love that it's all fresh and updated. Put in some new lights, too. The worst problem I had was finding a mirror to go over the vanity in the new bathroom. Finally, I decided to use the gold leaf one in the living room, had my painter paint it white, and voila, perfect. Choosing the small chandelier light for the new bathroom was my favorite accessory choice, as it was just right, too. The countertop to the new bathroom vanity is marble, and my bathroom guy used marble trim around the white subway tile around the tub. I had bead board put up around the walls beyond the tub.

    Julia, where do I send the pictures to for you to post. I will send pics before and after of the bathroom.

    And, Julia and Hank, I'm so impressed that you all change out dishes and slip covers and the like. I don't do anything different except change the blanket on the bed to a lighter one.

  35. Hank! That's how we pick our dishwashers!

    OK, on the hiding place in the Billerica woods... walk the fire road in from Riverdale Road and follow the Shawsheen River which will be to your right but not too close. When you can see that you are uphill from the river, there's a small clearing. There are two large holes dug into the ground. When people want to hide there they cover them with pine poles, mud, and pine needles. They leave an opening for getting in and out. There are small hand and foot holes dug in the inside surface of the hard dirt walls.

    One of my uncles brought a friend to visit when my parents were at work. They wanted me to show them where the "pueblos" were. That's what the kids called them. When I started out with them, the woman who lived next door yelled out and asked where we were going. I told her who the men were and that we were going for a walk in the woods. They changed their minds. I realized what they'd been up to when I was 13. My uncle asked me to help him deliver Pesach wine for a Maimonides School fundraiser in Brookline. Don't worry. I got away, and he moved. Eventually he was caught for similar and imprisoned.


  36. Oh, Karen, great advice about the appliances. I just got a new refrigerator last month, and although we measured, and the place where I bought it (run by a friend of the family) was sure it would fit, it lacked about an inch sliding under the overhead cabinet. Luckily, I had someone who was great at a fix. He was able to take the single cabinet unit off the wall and shave off the amount needed gone. Great fit and I got the refrigerator I finally wanted.

    My kitchen got a refresher about 8 years ago. New floors, fresh paint, and painted cabinets. I went with painting the cabinets because they were older, solid wood cabinets in great shape, but painting them an ivory made all the difference.

    And another thing about a redo. There are so many little decisions, as well as the major ones. I had to pick out closet doors and hardware for the bathroom and blinds and ... I found the perfect closet doors for my new bathroom and wanted those for the bedrooms, too, and, of course, they had quit making them all of a sudden. So, I asked my contractor to pick up some close to them. He got them, but before he put them up, I decided they were just not nice enough. They looked cheap to me, and I knew I wouldn't be happy. So, off I went to find others. I did find some that I liked and we used those. Best advice is if you think you aren't going to be happy with something before it even goes up, you won't be, so go for what you want.

  37. We finally replaced our old laminate countertops with it - indestructible and easy to care for. Also a new and deeper set-in sink to go with. Love those Pinterest pix!

  38. Susan, can you tell me where you got the tea themed cushions? I can't afford a big renovation but that fabric would cheer things up! Thanks for the article; funny but there were a lot of similarities with my parents' old house (glass door knobs and built in class shelves) even though it's in Hawaii).