On a Mission

Buying my house was a big decision for me – the biggest I have ever made on my own. When I sold my previous house last spring I seriously considered moving to a larger city – or leaving it all and moving to Tuscany…or the Piedmont region of Italy…too many episodes of House Hunters International I suppose.

After some serious soul searching, I decided to plant some roots again here in the Lowcountry. I just couldn’t bring myself to leave my friends and family, and the beauty of this place…just for another step in my career, and the potential for a better singles scene? I dug deep to think about what was important to me – and came to the conclusion that I wanted a real “nest” for the family I would like to build.

I was mortgage free for about a month – and here I am eight months later!

I have been busy “pinning” ideas, reading decorating books like “The Things that Matter” by Nate Berkus, and reading articles – planning for how I want to decorate and fix up my house. Believe me, this house that I love did not have anyone to really love it before me. I find evidence of this every day.

Recently, I came across a great article on Houzz about decorating with intention by creating a mission statement for my house – right up my alley!

I went through the entire mission statement exercise, and this is what I came up with:

“My home is an inviting, energizing, rustic sanctuary where creativity lives and breathes. It is a place where my family and friends gather for warmth, love, connection, fun, peace, and nourishment.”

-Laurie Sessa

Doesn’t that make you want to visit? I sure hope so.

I love the idea of having this mission statement to guide me in my decorating/design decisions. It really simplifies things and keeps me focused. Which is another way of saying, it stops me from buying stupid things. Rather, I am making decisions with purpose and intention…making choices that are tied to my values.

My house isn’t close to there yet – but I sure am working on it. Fueled by my tax return check, I just finished redecorating my bedroom and bathroom, and did a few other things in and around the house.  If you have been reading, you know that I am not exactly handy. I hired some professional help, bribed my dad to do a few small projects, and handled some things on my own (shopping and painting are skills I like to use).

Here are a few examples of what I did – and how it ties to my “mission.”

This is my new chandelier in my dining room. I love the quatrefoil shape, and the weathered look. This is one of those precious things that will stand the test of time. If/when I move – this DOES NOT convey!

New chandelier for my dining room.
New chandelier for my dining room.
This flag was given to me by my very close friends, Mary and Brian, and was flown over Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on July 28th, 2012. I know this because Brian is a Major in the Air Force, and he gave me this flag along with a certificate after his deployment in Afghanistan. Don’t worry, thanks to Mary, I know and practice flag etiquette. When I raise my Notre Dame flag on occasion, I will properly take down and fold my American flag and store it safely.
Flown over Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, July 28th, 2012
Flown over Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, July 28th, 2012
This is my new mosaic mirror. I love mosaics. There is something about making beauty out of chaos that I find appealing. If you look closely in the reflection, you will see Animal and a very small penguin collection. And a glass wine jug filled with yellow forsythia. On my dresser you will see just a few of my accessories and pictures with friends. These are just a few of my favorite things.
Mosiac mirror. LOVE.
Mosiac mirror. LOVE. With some awesome things in the reflection.

I guess I should have taken a before picture of my bedroom so you can really understand the dramatic difference here. But I didn’t because I would like to erase the “before” from my memory. Rest assured (as I do now) that this room is now full of light, serenity, and style.

Updated bedroom with new chair, curtains, walls, ceiling, fan, and bedding.
Updated bedroom with new chair, curtains, walls, ceiling, fan, and bedding.

My mom gave me this vase a few years ago – it spells the word “LOVE.” Every week I buy fresh flowers (most of the time yellow flowers) to fill it. Until a few weeks ago, I had very strange “awnings” covering the windows on the back of my house including this bay window in my kitchen. Those awnings are now gone, and natural light now streams into my kitchen and sun room.

LOVE my vase and fresh yellow flowers.
LOVE my vase and fresh yellow flowers.

That is all for now. Mostly because that is all I can afford to do for now. And because now I have a mission that will help me be deliberate and intentional with my choices…which will naturally slow me down.

Built-ins for my books and desk are on the horizon…stay tuned!

Home is Where the Art Is

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
-Thomas Merton

Tonight my new house feels like home. My Dad, an engineer that happens to be very talented at placing art and furniture, came over last night to hang my pictures and rearrange furniture in exchange for Sunday dinner (remember – I love to cook for people who help me. My short to-do list includes minor toilet repair, storm door installation, or digging up/moving a crepe myrtle. If you have any of these skills, contact me! Good wine, good food, and good company in exchange for your labor!).

Tonight as I sit in my sun room, I feel connected to my space in a new, very good way. From my comfy couch, I can see a lot of my art in my purview. Having these pieces in place in my new home grounds me in a way that I didn’t realize until tonight. Just like my taste in music, movies and books – my taste in art is eclectic. I like variety – oil, watercolor, glass, acrylic, mixed media, pottery, photography, jewelry…you name it. The only thing in common in all of my art is that I have emotionally connected with each piece in some way, and that ties them together – and to me of course.

Prior to buying my house last month, I had been in a state of transition – moving three times in three years. Somewhere along that part of my journey, I made a conscious decision to acquire “real” art, and to purge my prints or pictures purchased at places like Home Goods or Bed Bath and Beyond.  Maybe I started in an attempt to connect to the space I was living in – to make that space feel like home, even though it was temporary. Maybe I did so in an attempt to feel grown up and independent. Maybe I did so in an attempt to express myself artistically as I starting living on my own for the first time. Maybe it was retail therapy – just to have a little fun splurging on somethng special. Likely a combination of all of these things were at play!

Here are some of the highlights in my “collection.”

This painting of my dog Derby is in the place of honor over my fireplace.

Derby as painted by Greg Hart

I consider it to be one of my first pieces of “real” art – painted by my friend and artist Greg Hart. Greg is a super talented portrait artist (see his website: http://greg-hart.com/home.html), and has been featured in a shows at the City Gallery in downtown Charleston, and online at “Buy Some Damn Art.” Greg found my dog Derby two years ago when Derby was a stray – emaciated, sick, and abandoned on the side of the road. This portrait of Derby is doubly special since it is painted by his rescuer. Very cool.

My next “real” painting is by another friend – Karen Myers (http://karenannmyers.com/). Karen was a coaching client of mine last year while she was the Executive Director at Redux Contemporary Art Center. Karen is known for her patterns and exact detail in her painting – and while she normally paints women in bedroom scenes, she painted this lovely piece of a penguin for a Antarctica-themed exhibit at her former studio, Scoop.

Penguin painted by Karen Ann Myers

I don’t know why – but penguins are one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I think it’s a combination of how silly they look, how unique they are as birds who can’t fly, how they mate for life, how the dad takes care of the egg while the mom goes for food – clearly there are many things to adore about penguins. My girlfriends who know me well surprised me with this painting as a gift for my 40th birthday last year. I treasure this painting as a reminder of Karen, and of my incredibly fun and crazy birthday celebration with my friends at the Grove Park Inn last year.

These next two pieces I bought together at the foot of the Duomo in Florence, Italy, last fall. Reeling from my claustrophia fit after climbing the bell tower, I tried to relax by walking in the courtyard, browsing through the street artists’ watercolors.

Street Artist in Florence, Italy

These watercolors of the Tuscan landscape will forever remind me of the most beautiful place on Earth that I have ever seen.

These are my poppy paintings. I bought them from a gallery around the corner. I don’t know the artist, and I didn’t buy them on a trip anywhere special. They make me smile. Sometimes it is just that simple.

Poppies

I like to say that I am a jewerly artist – that is a medium where I may have some talent. That said, I am not an art expert by any means. I never took Art History in college – and I can’t paint, draw, or sculpt. Though I know very little about art, I now know what I like, and I have enjoyed starting my “collection.”

I like collecting…memories, art, people… Each of my pieces are part of who I am, and as I sit and relax in my new space, I feel joy and contentment. I have a lot of walls to fill up – and I can’t wait to find more artists and art to collect – to have more adventures and to make lasting memories along the way.