Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why I Like Marsala: The Pantone Color of the Year for 2015

Lots of people in blog land are talking about Marsala which Pantone announced as its Color of the Year for 2015. I was reading comments on one blog where there was quite a bit of hating on the concept of the color of the year and on Marsala.

I am not a trend follower when it comes to colors (or other things) in my house. When everyone else was decorating with hunter green, navy blue, and wine, I spent years searching for a peach comforter (which, by the way, I never did find).  I can’t say that I am unhappy to have missed the hunter, navy, wine trend. So yeah, I do hate that it is almost impossible to buy home decor in a color that is not “in”. Which brings me to Marsala and why I am actually glad to see Marsala as the color of the year.

This is my vintage rug. This picture really brings out the individual colors more than what you would see if you were looking at it in person. The background is darker and the flowers and foliage fade into the background making the pattern more subtle than what you see here.

You may think it is hideous. You are entitled to your opinion. My great grandmother bought this rug for her dining room approximately 90 years ago. It is now in my living room (yeah, my family never throws anything away) and I like it. I think it goes with my vintage vibe but it has posed something of a decorating challenge with its old fashioned colors. Depending on the light, the darkest color either looks like brown or dark wine. Could it be Marsala? 

Maybe it is just because I need something that goes with the rug, but to me Marsala is a perfectly nice color. Pantone's press release says that Marsala is an excellent choice for rugs. Ha! No, I will not be painting the living room Marsala. That would be a bit much. Some pillows might be a nice touch though.  I’m glad this color is having its year in the spotlight. Maybe I will stock up on accessories in Marsala. The old rug still has some life in it and who knows how long it will be before Marsala comes around again.

By the way, Pantone says that they don’t just pick the color out of thin air. They claim to look at current culture, trending colors (especially in fashion), and surveys of designers in order to come up with the color of the year. Could I be on trend by accident?

Obviously, the Color of the Year is all about marketing. Take it for what it is and unless you have a vintage rug that is impossible to match, you might just want to ignore it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Year Ahead 2015

Image courtesy of krishna arts at
Usually, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I have been thinking about some of the ways I would like to improve our house in 2015. Until I find a new job (and maybe after) most of what gets done around the house will have to be low-budget or no-budget projects.

All of our home improvement focus and funds for the past 2 years have been devoted to getting the house painted. Now that’s finished, I think most of our home improvement energy this year will go toward finishing up exterior details like:

Finish painting the garage. Only the 2 most visible sides of our garage have been scraped and painted. I already have all the paint for this. I might have to buy some blades for the carbide blade paint scraper but that should be about the only expense.

Replace gutters with period-appropriate, half-round gutters. I have not even priced this so I don’t know if this is realistic for 2015.

New screen/storm doors for front porch and kitchen door. My husband wants to go with an old-fashioned wooden screen door, especially for the front porch. At less than $100 unfinished wood screen doors are a very cost-effective option. I have plenty of paint left over from painting the window sashes to paint them with.

Strip and repaint the front porch outside light fixture. This fixture appears to be original to the house and just needs a little spruce. It has had way too many coats of paint over the years and they need to be removed before the fixture gets a new coat of paint.

Do something about the foundation. The foundation of the house has been coated with some kind of textured paint or stucco. I’m not sure what it is but I know it is peeling off and needs to be re-coated with something.

Make over the front yard. The freshly painted house makes our crummy front yard look even crummier. Good thing it is about the size of a postage stamp because we need to remove all the old grass, level, and re-seed. We also need new landscaping in front of the house. And, maybe a tree. This project will likely take most of our home improvement budget for the year.

New front door. Our 1929 Craftsman style house has a 1950’s Mid-Century Modern style front door. I have a new door on my wish list.

Inside, I will continue to work on de-cluttering, organizing, cleaning, and other projects that I can do without spending a lot. 

The inside of the house could use some freshening up and it would be nice if I could do at least one room this year. Most rooms just need some paint and a few tweaks. The bathroom is the exception. It is horrible and needs to be completely remodeled. I don’t even dare dream about getting this done. Not only is it the most expensive project that needs to be tackled but it is the most inconvenient as well because it is our only bathroom.

Here's to 2015 and making our house a better place to live.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Year In Review 2014

Happy 2015!!! We had a very quiet New Year’s Eve and New Year's Day. Before we get too far into 2015, I want to do a brief review of 2014.

For the first 4 months of 2014 (pre-blogging) I was working long hours with little time for anything else. By late spring things at work had slowed down and I had time to get my flower and herb gardens weeded and mulched and possibly looking better than they had in several years. I also planted our tiny backyard vegetable garden but for the second year in a row, it was pretty much a failure.

Spring also found me working on the House Diet by rounding up items to donate to a fundraiser yard sale.

The front porch got new coat of concrete paint on the floor. The old wicker furniture got a fresh coat of white paint. And, I sewed new cushions and pillows for the porch furniture.

My job of 17 ½ years ended at the end of July and being unemployed gave me the opportunity to start this blog.

For over 2 years the restoration and exterior painting of our house has consumed all of our home improvement focus and money. More about that here, here, and here. The painters finished up in the spring as soon as the weather permitted, leaving me with the window sashes and back doors to paint.

I spent August and September painting window sashes (in between looking for a new job and helping my mom through a knee replacement). For its size our house has a lot of windows. There are 11 double-hung windows, 2 stationary windows, 3 louvered vents, and 3 doors (the front door is natural wood so only 2 doors needed to be painted). Before painting I repaired window glazing and caulked wherever needed. The basement door needed some extra attention and I attempted to repair one of the panels by putting in a new piece of plywood. Each window and vent, as well as the 2 back doors, received a coat of primer followed by a coat of high gloss paint. The kitchen door needed a second coat of paint. I also gave most of the window frames an additional coat of paint because I wasn't completely happy with the way they looked with the primer and one coat of paint that the painters were contracted to do.

All of the storm windows were freshened up with white spray paint. I added some weather stripping to the bottoms of the windows before putting the storm windows back up.

In October we took a short vacation followed by a long weekend. In between our refrigerator stopped working and had to be replaced.

Also, in October, I had my first IKEA shopping experience.

The year ended up with holiday decorating. Usually, I am lucky to have to time to put up a Christmas tree. This year the decorations were still simple but I was able to put out some old favorites that I usually don’t have time for. 

Those are the high points of the year. On the home improvement front, 2014 will be remembered as the year that the exterior of the house was finally painted.