warm welcome

Walls and doors don’t generally tell you, at least not in plain English, what color they are supposed to be.  But, with all due respect to the former inhabitants of this home, this was most certainly NOT the right color for our front door.  Drab rust?  Personality-less orange?  No thank you.  And along comes the panacea for almost any problem of the home: paint.

This part of the process — the color selection — is my favorite part.  Ahh, the anticipation of a transformation is so wonderful — just picturing all the ways that this newly colored fill-in-the-blank (in this case, front door) will enhance my life.  I truly believe, as long you stay within a saturated palette, you really can’t go wrong.  You can just go right…in so many ways.

And isn’t it amazing what a difference a bit of paint can do.  I wanted a warmer welcome.  I wanted the first impression, when visitors came up the little path towards our door, to be one of cheerful greetings.  If the door itself could speak, I imagined it saying, “Hi!  Come on in!  I hope you like snacks and friendly cats and boisterous toddlers and a bit of a mess here and there, and enough colors and interesting things all around you to keep you entertained for quite a while.”

And as folks left, even those of us who live here and come and go many times a day, I imagined the door saying, “Come back soon!  Next time, let’s have tea and play checkers on the porch.  And, don’t forget your raincoat!”

And oh, I think it does — I think it says all those things.  Can you hear it, beckoning you just now?  I can.


it bears repeating

It’s true there is no such thing as an original idea.  Thank goodness we can recognize this since there are so many good ideas out there worth borrowing –  even from oneself.  As in the case of our green room, here in Portland.  Family room, den, toy room, bird-watching room, music room.  The room you pass through to get to the bathroom or the kitchen.  It’s easier to just call it the Green Room.

We went around the world with paint color ideas for the in interior of this house — around the world, that is, and back home again.  After careful consideration, we landed, for this multi-purpose room, on the very same color we used in our last multi-purpose room — the one in our old Brooklyn apartment.  Yep, we loved it so much, we decided to repeat it.  That, and then throwing all of the same furniture in there, and well, it looks like we shipped that old room across the country.

Orlis Blackbird (et al.), in his birthplace, one day old.

The truth is, we just couldn’t help ourselves.  It was a great color (Benjamin Moore Meadowlands Green, which, this time, we had color matched by the good local folks over at Miller Paint)  — one that brightens up a bit of wear and tear like nobody’s business.  We couldn’t help but stick all the old furniture back in the new green room too –  the little dresser that we found on the street, painted pink, and decoupaged with old marxophone music notation; the pair of ostentatious lamps procured from an ancient relative I never knew; the futon where countless friends and family members stayed overnight during visits; the $20 curtains, the patchwork quilt-top I scored at a flea market, and all the toys that never stay in the baskets.

Back in Brooklyn, it was a room you just wanted to be in — a place we shared countless belly laughs with good friends, where visiting family and friends would harbor for a night or a week, where we endlessly entertained others and ourselves, and where plenty of good ideas were born.  It was a quilting room and a music room and a storage space for entirely too much stuff and a place we enjoyed thousands of snacks and meals.  It was where I labored to bring Orlis into the world, and where our baby boy took his very first breath of life.

Old green room and Orlis learning to stand.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s just amazing what a coat of fresh paint can do.  Transported from east coast to west, indeed, it already feels there is a lot of history in this new, green room.  I walk in there, and memories flood.  Yes, I do think we’ll call this room, “Brooklyn.”  On some level, Orlis will know where he came from.


sun palette

It’s Christmas in my yard.  And by “Christmas,” I do mean the fun-surprises-popping-up-everywhere holiday — I’m almost starting to feel spoiled.  It seems like every few days something new is sprouting up or showing her true colors around here and I don’t know what the heck any of these plants, flowers, trees, or shrubs are that I’m seeing out my window, but I do know daffodils.  And the daffodils have arrived.

And have they!  Orlis and I are seeing daffodils in nearly every yard we pass.  Our own offers just a sprinkling here and there, but some yards just go crazy with them.

just a sprinkling

a yard gone crazy!

It takes awhile to know one’s land, so while I do vow to learn the names, preferences, and personalities of these wonderful growing things over time (and adding some of our own too), for now we are experiencing these generous plantings by the previous owner as the visceral delight-to-the-senses that they are.  In fact, it has been working perfectly just to follow the lead of an 18-month-old — touching, tasting, smelling, listening…admiring.  Listening to the flowers has become my personal favorite.  Sometimes they sound like the airplanes passing overhead; other times like the chickens in the yard next door.  In any case, our yard is a playground and a learning laboratory both, and all we really have to do is notice.

who knows?

Portlanders, I’m learning, do like to complain about the weather.  And yes, here in the Pacific NW we are offered much generosity in the way of water from the skies.  Christmas for our soil, if you will.  There are plenty of days (or parts of days) when it’s not so easy to go out and smell the flowers — when it makes much more sense to bring the sunshine indoors.  And for that, I am grateful for the sun palette.

Amid the patches of grey, I do find myself gravitating towards those friendly yellows and oranges these days, — when it comes to choosing something to wear in a pile of clean clothes, in sharing with a special feline a patch of mid-day sun, and when it comes to the paint on my walls.  I believe, there are few problems a can of paint can’t fix, and in the case of a bit of muddy March blues, this is especially true.

Heeding the warnings of seasoned Oregonians, (“use the bike lanes!”, “choose bright paint colors!”)  I am utterly delighted, truly, to bring a bit of Sun indoors — especially when She is being shy to show her face outside.   Bright colors?  You don’t have to tell me twice.

We used the Benjamen Moore color palette but had them match the colors over at the local Miller Paint Store to keep it real.  So, it’s low-voc Miller Paint, I assure you.  After some deliberation, we decided on the colors “marmalade” (lighter orange) and the darker “tangy orange.”  They just tango, together, don’t they?  And, I adore the way they show off that gorgeous quilt made by Orlis’ grandma.  I love being in that room now and can practically feel the warmth of these shades from the sun palette working their magic on me — I hardly notice the drip-drips out the window.

For the little sunroom off the kitchen — the very 1st room we painted — we chose Benjiman Moore, “American Cheese.”  And likewise with the double-take orange bedroom, I love being in here.  The cheerfulness factor is potent, and let’s face it, the color was well-named.   Throw a couple of playgroup toddlers in there with their burgeoning vocabularies and their bite-size everything, and I do declare, in fact, you are my sunshine.