Maison d'Etre

In which a girl buys her apartment and learns to decorate it from scratch.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

to get a cleaner or not to get a cleaner, that is the suggestion

My mom's coming to visit and she's allergic to the cats. Dishes are piling up in the sink. I'm sort of protesting for some reason. Or else I'm stalling. Do you ever do that? Wait to clean because you know you have to do a really big clean in a few days and why do it twice?

Other people tell me I need to hire a professional cleaner. But I have mixed feelings about it. Ethically it's so complicated and I'd rather spend my, um, spare income on something fattening to eat or flattering to wear.

But if not now, then when?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

i thought about scraping the hallway this weekend

I've decided that I'm painting the hallway between my bedroom and the bathroom a really bright, royal blue. At least that's the color I remember buying months ago when my friends made me get the paint. I think the ceiling in that little nook is in fine shape so it doesn't have to be professionally skim-coated. Easy peasy, right? But I can't decide what color to paint the ceiling. I was set on silver, then French guy told me I should paint it bronze or gold instead because it's warmer. What do you think?

I have a decision to make, which means it'll be another month before I paint the hallway. At least.

Help me make this decision: silver or gold...or white?

Don't let Emma's butt in the picture or my real, live "Street Girls Bringing Sailors into Hotel Must Pay for Room in Advance" sign from the Norfalk Hotel in Virginia influence your decision.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

i swept today

Got enough cat hair to conjure up a third cat. You'll have to trust me--I still don't have a working digital camera. So far this morning, we have Emma crying non-stop for yogurt. She likes vanilla and maple the best. Other cats come running at the sound of a can of tuna opening; mine comes when she hears the seal on a yogurt container. We're a funny household. Have I mentioned that I call the cats bunny? It's my nickname too.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

forget art...the cats dictate the decor

My bratty cat Emma has spent 11 years:
-- scratching my couch to shreds;
-- keeping me awake by howling all night long and/or knocking things off my dresser;
-- batting one piece of dry food at a time onto the kitchen floor where she eats it and leaves crumbs that feel icky on my bare feet; and my favorite,
--dipping her paw into her bowl of water and splashing it around until her food mat is sopping wet and the crumbs I just mentioned are soggy. That feels even better on my bare feet.

But now she has a new hobby: She has torn a hole in the batting underneath my box spring, so she can climb up into it and sleep between the springs directly beneath my head. If she just lay there quietly it'd be one thing. But every time I roll over she lets out a pissy little yelp and scratches at the top of the box spring. Have I mentioned that this is right beneath my head?

Look at the little devil.

I am going crazy. I lie in bed at night fantasizing about nailing plywood to the bottom of the box spring or turning my bed into a captain's bed with drawers to keep her out. Help!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

i've been in an art buying frenzy

I was just looking at the art gallery Mixed Greens again. It's amazing. I've decided that I'm spending my money on art and letting the art I buy dictate my home decor.

A few months ago I bought two drawings by my friend Franklin Evans. I didn't realize it until I got them home, but they're both images of trees. Then I fell in love with a winter treescape by Jim Murphy. I must have been a dryad in a former life. In any case, I'm going to do a wall of tree images in the living room--I'll mix media and styles and seasons. I just bought two small oil paintings of trees--see above--by Nick Jainschigg, a teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Once I've got my trees. I'll buy a sofa to match.

inertia sets in...again

Last night I ran into two of my poetry teachers--both named Matthew--at a Slavic Soul Party. Don't ask. It made me extremely nervous to imagine them leaving the place and talking about how much my poems stink. To calm myself, I decided to take a loooong walk home. When I got there, I tripped over a bunch of paint cans that have been sitting in my front hall since I bought them two--count 'em two--months ago. Does the pigment in paint separate and go bad if you don't use it right away? Our in-house reno editor tells me all I need to do is shake (or stir) and it'll be good as new. Lots of other people tell me to store my partly used paint cans upside down to keep it from drying out. Oh, and to write the name and color number on each can for touch ups if I can bear to think about things starting to fall apart.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"help" from a wedding party

This weekend, my good pal and neighbor, Melissa, got married and had her reception down the hall in her apartment. Her husband spent the past month painting my living room green. For free. I couldn't figure out why he was so enthusiastic about it. Until Saturday. He wanted my house to serve as the smoking lounge for the partygoers.

When I found them there puffing away, I was glad to play along and even pulled out some vintage ashtrays so they wouldn't ash on my plates. As the evening progressed though, more and more people were streaming into my apartment--it was like La Dolce Vita. I decided to take advantage of the situation and ask everyone's opinion about how I should decorate the place. One of the guests--a Frenchman in a pin-striped suit (on crutches)--rose to the occasion. He was up and hobbling from room to room in no time.

I didn't realize how much I was exposing myself when I called attention to my space. After a bit of amateur psychoanalysis which I'll spare you, we started on the bedroom, where French guy decided to open my closet door. Everything came tumbling out. Literally. It was bad. Then it got worse. When I turned off the light to show off my leafy views, French guy decided to go through my underwear drawer. Not in a pervy way, but I was completely shocked. And mortified. His explanation: I'm trying to see how you live so I can help you arrange the furniture. How I live, indeed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

in the beginning

They don't call me Combustible Cathy for nothing--everything I touch (including my old rental apartment) bursts into flames. The most recent episode happened last summer. I was in the middle of closing on my place, when the apartment two floors up caught on fire. Well, the owner's crazy ex lit it on fire, but that's another story.

Because it was arson, the fire warden wouldn't let the firemen clean up the water. It sat there for six hours, leaking down into my apartment until I got home late that night. I was in the kitchen and heard what sounded like my bratty cat Emma wrestling with a plastic bag. Then I realized that it was a rhythmic drip. I raced into the living room. There were puddles on my floor, the ceilings were sopping wet and the paint was starting to split in a grid all the way across the room. To top things off, I sprained my ankle when I ran downstairs to get the super.

Monday, May 15, 2006

if you lived here, you'd be embarrassed by now

It's been nearly a year since I bought my apartment. And as you can see, I've done a whole lot of nothing with it. The truth: I'm afraid. I don't know where to start. The kitchen needs renovating, the walls need painting, I need furniture. And I'm loath to change anything because I lived here with my former boyfriend and I still can't believe that he's gone. In my tiny little mind I think: "keep everything the same and you can pretend that he's just on vacation for a week."

Of course, none of this stops me from entertaining. Here's a default "before" picture from my Thanksgiving in December party. If you lived here, you'd be embarrassed by now...