The artwork. pt 1


I always loved school. Knowledge is what matures you and conversely in the end the quest further is what keeps you young. I excelled as a student, until college where I became very B+ average as learning for the sake of putting all of the pieces together for someday didn't fit my personal ever changing pair of shoes. I struggled as I was much too busy putting my fingers into light sockets to understand the energy and shock of a world that was overly sensual to my youthful needs. Holding the hand of one concept while being the segued conduit to the next unrelated idea is how I feel connection. I can be a very straight-lined pragmatic thinker, but also have a stubborn streak that can catapult me for years in the wrong direction. As I have gotten older, I have allowed myself time.

Time to think, feel and yes sometimes circle the landing pad a little longer than normally to avoid back tracking at top speed to reassess my plan in real moments. It's my personal best bet for time management. Think twice. Act once. Commit.

Today is the day that I pound in the first nail in the otherwise perfected walls of a complete top to bottom renovation. It's almost like cutting yourself on purpose after a snake bite. OUCH. No matter how much preparation or planning, the walls could still end up looking like Swiss cheese and that seems disrespectful to all those that worked so hard to correct the previous problems. It will however become one of the most important steps in personalizing my home. I have hundreds of pieces that I would like to display as to make this the most current calling card to taking a look inside of me. This is intimate as each piece speaks and becomes an integral part of who and what I want to project for the next phase of my life.

This house is mid-century. A true '55 gem.

Good bones, just old ones. Now that the repairing cast has been removed, we can get down to what makes a house a home. The details. The personality. It's a shame that some people don't get your vision until it's a complete staging, but in many ways their excitement for the finished product is more invigorating than the more conceptual thinkers. It's sheer emotion and that has such great energy.

Mid-century is not just a style, but a way of living. It came into our perspective as a departure from farm life and big "dormitories",, past the small starter bungalows of the post war era, to be the wave of the future hopes and dreams of an anxious Kennedy generation.

These were ranches. No longer needed were the Walton's 2 1/2 story digs for the farmhands, or the swing of a nation to 2 bedroom, one bath bungalows for the less than 12 kids, but still too many bodies for the square footage. We were changing and growing. It was the inception of Madmen and yes some mad women too..

This was a movement It began with a post depression, pre-baby boomer sophisticated outlook. True sophistication is simplicity in motion and an appreciation of art combined as a way to conduct your life and thoughts. We no longer needed multi levels that would rarely if ever be in use. The bungalow, although efficient and cheap to maintain, didn't have the space for entertaining., and the 60's and 70's were coming and we needed to think ahead! Those keys in the punch bowl weren't going to throw themselves at the guy in the Nixon mask at the swingin' neighbors party.

True mid-century was taking a decent usable square footage and maximizing its potential. They are almost always ranches and usually start about 1200 sq ft and can go up to become what is called a "sprawling" or "executive' ranch that gave plenty of room for entertaining. Not all mid-centuries are modern in design or have the flat or slanted roofs that are frequently associated with the Jetson's version located more often in warm coastal climates. The more extreme versions were designed to take full advantage of the year round climates with their function, floor plans and indoor outdoor living concepts.

They were meant for function over form and design over decoration. Living spaces were open to best utilize what is available for the day to day function of your life and time. Lesser used areas were kept to a minimum and had multi purpose functions, furnishings and layouts. Lines were kept simple to maximize space and appliances, fixtures and all finishes were generally of excellent quality to stand the test of time and taste. Much in the same way that our current lifestyles standards lead us to commercial grade appliances, allergen free hardwoods and solid surface kitchens and bathrooms, the 50's through the 70's generally used quality construction items. The newer space for space's sake large McMansions will not fare so well in the same time constraint.

For some, I understand that 1500sq ft would not work for them, but I am single. I am over 50. I don't have the need to house multi families or even guests at once. For me, this is the Howard Hughes of tiny houses. It's the 3 bears of perfect. It's just right. If necessary, I have designed spaces to be of perfect daily use, yet very comfortably double for overnighters if necessary. But, for the most part, I have opened the entire space to work the largest for me and entertaining on a day to day basis.

That's 363 days of my year. I am amazed at those that purchase a house, or use a space for what "might" happen 3 days a year. That's what Holiday Inn is for. Ninja Plz.

So the hammer, tape measure, and nails came out.

I don't believe in exact science when hanging pictures and artwork, as there is none. I have been thinking for years on a patented "picture hanger" that actually takes the guess work out and is cost efficient to not only use but produce. That is certainly a post for another day:)

So, for practicality I will give you a few hints and suggest a beer or two to calm the nerves, while putting that first nail in the wall. If you have to repair a few nail holes later on, it's just as easy to make two milkshakes as one. Live for the moment, and just get the pics on the wall.

There are a number of "art" walls to address in this house, as that is important to me and each one deserves thought and relative precision. With that in mind, this will be the first in a short series of posts dedicated to hanging artwork and creating special visual moments in your home.

The first wall that I tackled was the imperfect surface that Catrena and I wallpapered to hide the sandy painted surface that I no longer had the patience or check book to correct yet one more time. It also was part of the guts of this small home that couldn't be hidden any more effectively than to cover it with something. It is was it is and you have to draw the line somewhere. I've already topped the point of no return and after spending lavishly on the bones, I am relying on my talents to cover some blemishes.

This wall in the former utility/laundry room is located in the very center of the home. Thankfully now the washer and dryer are no longer there and with the wall removed and doorways expanded, it becomes part of the kitchen as well as "hallway" to both major living spaces of the house. It is a perfect space for a gallery of items, as the upper one third is covered in commercial grade linen paper and the lower third was given interest and depth with repurposed painted knotty pine to tie the look of the darker lower kitchen cabinets completely around the room.

The biggest issue was using a framed piece that would be large enough to cover the electric panel and generator connection. It needed to be a big piece and with something that sizable, it would need balance on the other side. It's more about the visual weight of the picture than the size itself, as a couple of smaller options that have a cohesive theme can give the same result.

For this, I have a collection of black/white/sepia toned vintage photos including a number of armed services, organizational and fraternal order photos that have always been attractive to me. I love their antique nature that is balanced with pragmatic functionality and a graphic simplicity that is eternally contemporary. I could look at the faces of the young, honest servicemen for hours delving intimately into what their thoughts might be. It seems so innocent and pure. They are preparing to give the ultimate sacrifice for the love of their country. It gives me pause for daily humility and gratitude. It's where we are, where we came from and WHY we need to always remember. It's like going to church for me every morning over coffee.

First I laid all of my tools on the counter remembering to always take each one back to it's home base. I spend a lot of time "thinking" I know where I last left or used that screwdriver!

Next I cleared a space in the living room floor measuring a plot equivalent to the space to be covered on the wall and marked the parameters with small pieces of tape. This allows me to place my artwork in differing configurations over and over again easily without even touching the project wall.

The largest picture was the first to be hung with the longer piece below it to create two of the corners and straight lined dimensions that would dictate where the rest of the smaller items would go. The simple black frames, cohesive theme of the items and geometric placement give the 10 or so pieces the look and feel of one large statement.

I love the look of collections. They feel thought out and sophisticated. A groupings cohesion can come from common framing, a universal theme, or a common color that threads the fabric together. Artwork can transform a space.

Keep a theme with your favorite pieces and group them together.

Stay tuned for part 2 in this series.