Monday, December 16, 2013

The Living Room

Family Room... Den...Music Room...Parlor..... Living Room... whatever you call it.... We have one.

That room that cannot be found in modern homes. That room where Christmas trees hide, prom pictures are taken, engagements are made, and those valuable things children are not allowed to touch are behind lock and key. My parents have a beautiful living room. It has an ancient rug, easily over 150 years old. If I'm exaggerating, it can't be my more than 40 years. The rug they have is gorgeous. Purples interwoven with mauves and dark pinks on a faded navy background make up the ostentatiously large rug. It's so big, when the house was being built and my grandmother was buying the home- she had them remeasure the living room in order to fit this rug that once belonged to her parents.

But this blog is not about my parent's living room-- it's about ours.

And I like to call ours the music room.

The Music room, with a tongue in cheek smile every time I say it, is painted the same turquoise as the dining room. Our red leather chairs have found a home in here until I can recover the sofa and chair. The old dining room table from DC holds lamps, and our grand piano sits in the corner.

What? You don't have a grand piano?

Like I said, we call it the music room.

Let's start with the grand piano...

After we bought The Money Pit house, my aunt called me and...

Wait, let's back up.

My godfather and aunt lived in the family compound long enough to raise four children and have them bring home nine grandchildren. Last year, they put their large house on the market in order to downsize. The sweetest new family bought the house almost instantly. They will raise their three children across the street from Brother and SIL.

In the living room sat an ancient piano that I knew nothing about, other than how pretty it was. It had a dozen or so silver frames that held debutante pictures, wedding pictures, black and white pictures, and a crystal vase that always had fresh flowers. There was a brass lamp over the shoulder of an old piano teacher's chair. These three things sat in a large room with the rug. The sofa that I wait to recover was also in this room with portraits of her children, wing back chairs, and the beauty of age that comes with a home.

They packed their belongings and downsized almost 3000 square feet. That piano was not going to make it in the new home. Their oldest daughter was going to take it, but there was no room. Of the other three children- no one played the piano. No one had the space for this large instrument.

Let's face it- grand pianos are big.

But, we were in the process of purchasing and remodeling our large home and only have enough furniture to furnish about 2000 of this 3800 square feet. Rooms sat empty or only partially finished. Old furniture that was going to be thrown out found new life as we graciously accepted things to help us make this house our home.

One night, before returning to DC, my godfather called me with that sweet slow voice of his with a question-- do you want my grandmother's piano?

The things I did not know, now I do. And I cherish them.

My godfather's grandmother was a piano teacher and a professional pianist. She taught the town children to play piano on this piano and it was a gift to her from her husband. She never told anyone that she was losing her hearing, but when they heard her pound the piano instead of playing, they knew. The piano that sits in our Music Room is 109 years old and (before it was moved) was pitch perfect. There is a key to lock it away from four year old fingers and the serial number hand etched under the lid, under the hammers and the cords. It is... beautiful.

I had no words. Absolutely no words at what this gift meant to me. What my godfather and aunt did not know is that my husband has been itching to learn to play and wants to take lessons with LMC- something they can do together.

It is one of those things that I love about family and about the fact we were Hometown Bound.

Sadly, the chair got caught in our basement pond and now needs to be refinished. All in due time. It's on the list of things to accomplish for 2014. Along with getting the piano tuned.

Enough about the piano.

I mentioned the dining room table from DC. It's such a pretty piece and was a gift from a family who did not want it anymore. We used it on Raymond Avenue for many different things before packing it up and taking our little four seater to DC.

It held fun dinners, Christmas plates, New Year's appetizers, art projects with LMC, and we had no use for it in our new home. I could not bare to part with it, and not just because we lacked furniture. It is a place of happy memories. Husband picked up a magazine one day and a few days later, I picked up the same one. In it was an idea that we both loved-- cutting a table in half and bracing it against the wall for end tables.

Neither mentioned it to the other, but it was in the back of our minds. Back at the house, the table sat collecting dust in the corner of the playroom and I was not ready to relegate it to the garage for Husband's work table.

Then he mentioned an idea he saw- and I loved it. He split the table down the middle, used L-brackets to mount it against the wall and there it sits, an ingenious solution to a problem. At some point, my mom will give me the wardrobe doors that once hung in my grandparent's house and they will go above these tables, but for now-- it is artwork and plates.

Dad gave us the piece above the table on the left. It is an opium high. Can you see it? The opium cigarette and the hallucination? Pretty cool, right? It needs a new frame, but-- all in due time. I love this piece.

Above the red chairs is an Ernest Lee painting of a marlin with tuna coloring. Clearly, he is not a deep sea fisherman. Husband and I found this when we were dating at the annual Attic Sale held by the local Junior League. There was a rip in the canvas and Husband knew that the canvas could be re-stretched. I had no idea what that meant, but knew that for $14, we could throw it away if he was wrong.

He was right.

The fish is not in the exact middle anymore, due to the stretching- but if I did not say it, would you have noticed? The colors are awesome and it brightens up a dank wall. However, this wall is anything but dank!

The lamp behind the piano is an IKEA special and I made the lamp shade for Bennie's nursery in DC.

Notice the floors. The hardwoods are run on a diagonal. This little feature is an added bonus to installing your own hardwoods. We talked about doing the whole house on the diagonal, but thought it would be too much. At some point, we will upgrade the carpet to a zebra skin. First, Husband has to find a zebra to kill and I think the only ones you are allowed to kill are in Africa. The zoo might not be impressed with him if he pays for admission and has his shotgun with him. Perhaps a zebra could pass peacefully onto zebra heaven and we could inherit his skin? I bet you have to know people for that to happen-- and I do not know those kind of people.

The windows are new. We had to replace them in both the dining and living rooms. We made a very important discovery-- windows ain't cheap. It is amazing the way it updated these two rooms and made us want to make the rest of the windows look as beautiful as these. Another day.... another day.

That's the living room. Wordy, wordy, wordy... I can get so wordy when it comes to the house!


Last few things... this more about the Christmas tree than about the living room.

We have two trees this year. We went from a rosemary bush to two seven foot trees in a matter of two moves and three years. Last year, living on love, I hung our sterling flatware on the tree. So cheesy. It was one of my favorite things about our Christmas tree. This year, not quite as much living on love, but much more from nostalgia- the tree looked bare. I hung more Christmas balls from the old box that held my grandparent's ornaments. Still bare.

I grabbed a recent purchase (seen below, ice cream fork in Chantilly with MB engraved- yes, I started a sterling pattern for both my children.) and tied a little bow with a hook. On to the tree and it looked more complete. Another piece of flatware, another bow-- a little more complete. Husband rolled his eyes, LMC looked at me like I was crazy, but I clapped my hands and hung more pieces of flatware.

It's nutty, but I love I it.

This is probably the last year that my sparkle sticks will be in good condition, but I have no idea where to find them. Nor, where to find them for a dime a piece!

When my grandfather worked for Ma Bell for 40 years, they gave him a tea set. It has a creamer, sugar thing, tea pot, and sits on a small footed tray. I have the tray on the piano and the other three pieces on my entry table. At this very moment, the tray holds our Little People Nativity set that LMC loves. She moves a chair to the side of the piano. Standing on her tippy toes, she plays with Mary, Joseph, the fairy- Gabriel, and baby Jesus. They are not in a manger, rather a stable- according to my 4.5 year old. 

Gotta run-- late for ballet!

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