Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Repurposing the Widow’s Room


Redecorating seems to be a common thing with widows and I’m behind the normal time frame for doing mine. After all the hick-ups, hand wringing and worrying my re-purposed room is finally done. Once just a guest room with a full size bed and not much room for anything else, now it’s a multipurpose hobby room/guest room and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I spent hours shopping the internet and local stores for options to host a rare overnight guest that has a smaller footprint than the full size bed. I looked at day beds, convertible footstools and benches that turn into twin beds, futons, air mattresses and sleeper chairs. I’ve never bought furniture online before but I took a chance on Wayfair and ordered the smallest sleeper chair I could find. Most sleeper chairs are 51 inches wide with a 35 inches mattress but the Clayton I got has a 35 inches overall width with a 30” wide mattress. (A standard twin is 35 inches but reviews I read online said twin size sheets fit great and for the bonus point the bedding can be stored inside the chair.)
The chair came in a huge cardboard box and I had paid extra to have it delivered to the room of my choice. When the guy asked me to sign the paperwork, I asked him if I could inspect it first so he helped me get it out of its box. I gave him a tip for being so nice about that, but I wish I had asked him if he’d take the empty box out to the garage on his way out. I couldn’t lift it, so I cut it up. I worried I wouldn’t be able to put the chair together on my own, and while it was awkward for someone like me who can’t get down on the floor, I was able to get it together in less than an hour. The holes for the eight large screws had been pre-drilled---so easy-peasy.

The chair only comes in two colors and fortunately I like gray so I bought the area rug to match the chair. It came from Mayfair too. I broke all the rules for how you’re supposed to use area rugs---it’s too small---but I don’t care. I did it because I wanted a clear distinction between the “art studio” side of the room and the guest room/reading/writing/sewing side. Not to mention a painting easel shouldn’t be around that much floor color that can reflect up on the canvas. But the chair needed to be grounded thus the broken rules. It’s my house, I can do that.
The most accurate colors above.

The lamp by the chair is a true-color Ottlite for quilters and crafters. I’ve always wanted one and if not now, when? I’m not getting any younger. The light on my easel is a true-color lamp, too, but the room gets window light from the north which is ideal for artwork. I’ve never painted with northern light so I’m excited about that. The footstool and table next to the chair are pieces I stripped and refinished decades ago. The music boxes on the table are ones Don gave me during my Gone with the Wind phase and the basket on the floor with the books is one my husband’s mom used to carry eggs into town to sell to the local grocery store during the depression.
 
The desk in the corner is the one that I used to keep closed and covered completely with my childhood dollhouse. I agonized about moving the house but in the end I’m glad it found a new table top in the garage. I’ve had this desk and chair since my twenties. They were one of my very first stripping and refinishing projects and I spent a lot of years with it as my only writing space. The baskets in the photo are called running board refrigerators, tin lined and made at the turn-of-the- century when automobiles came with dust jackets and driving goggles. The baskets now contain knitting supplies. The painting on the wall is one of mine from the 1980s, not very good but the colors match the decor in the room. I look at it now and see things that I’d like to change. That’s the trouble with hanging your own artwork so close to where you’ll be mixing fresh paint. 
Sitting in my new chair I get this view of my new art studio corner and the other photo below is my view when standing up behind the chair. (You can click any of these photos to enlarge them.)
 
This painting corner is a standard work center for artists---brushes, easel and paint cart. The rolling cart top is small for mixing paint and holding a palette, but I already owned it so it will do for now. I’ve cheated with the blue storage boxes, they hold more than just painting stuff. One side is teddy bear making, cross-stitch and quilting supplies. They came from the closet in this room and after some purging in there I can now actually sit at my sewing machine and find things. If I ever decide that I won't be making any more bears, the boxes with those supplies will house my oils and watercolors still in the basement.

Speaking of paints, I learned an important lesson when I unpacked my acrylics. The tubes where I was careful with replacing the tops, the paint is still good after all these years, the ones where I wasn’t careful I had to throw out. That’s my next step forward…buy supplies. And wouldn’t you know it, the only art supply store in town just went out of business and I’m boycotting Hobby Lobby, so I have to order online. JoAnn Fabrics has some paints but not very good quality. 

The watercolor print above my brush station is a view that can be seen in Saugatuck, MI, just before the Kalamazoo River meets up with Lake Michigan. It's one of my favorite places in the world.

And last but not least leaving the room you get a view of my spaghetti poodle collection, so named because the clay is pushed through a sieve to get "noodles" that look like hair on the porcelain dogs. The poodle painting above is one of mine from the mid-1980s. I haven’t painted much since then because I got too busy finishing college (25 years after I started) then we got caught up in dealing with parents with increasing needs---first Don’s mom and then my dad ending with twelve years of time consuming caregiving my husband. Gosh, I can’t believe so much time as past since I was seriously into art and bear making! By the way, the sewing closet I didn't put on the tour is to the left of the poodle collection and to the right of the new chair.

Now that you’ve been on the re-purposed room tour, what do you think I should call it? I’ve been calling it the art studio/guest room but that’s too long. A good friend told me to embrace the art part and suggested the art room. Craft room, play room, hobby room and art studio all makes sense, too. Fellow bloggers suggested the peace or sanctuary room or the wellspring. I'm leaning towards just The Studio. I’m so confused! But it does need a name for those times when I think, This needs to go to the _____ room or I say, “I must have been in the _____ room and didn’t hear the phone when you called.”

It may have taken me a while to do a redecorating project so common in widowhood circles but I think Don is looking down from the great unknown and he’s pleased. He was my biggest art benefactor and fan. And he'd be impressed that the make-over only cost twenty-seven cents over nine hundred dollars for what I had to buy---the chair ($652 on sale), two area rugs, two true-color lamps, a throw pillow and bed sheets.  ©


28 comments:

  1. I LOVE IT! The Studio Room sounds just perfect! And it looks just perfect! Good job. Now I have to finish up the garage. Amazon delivered storage containers. So I'm out of excuses ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Studio is a name that hit me while I was writing this post and I think it works. Now that you've got your containers, you're going to enjoy the finished results of organizing your garage. My project was like giving birth, it took so long!

      Delete
  2. Jean, this is freaking awesome!!! What a room to tickle the imagination. and what a big window to bathe the room in north light. Aah : -) What an accomplishment... I can see the need to christen this room with a befitting name. Maybe pick a name that will spark a conversation you'd want to have. People will ask "Studio? What are you working on?" "Sanctuary? What....?" Whatever you call it, you will get right to the heart of your inner muse in this room. It's so inviting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All my rooms have big windows and I have some many glass fronted artwork hanging up I get interesting reflections all over the place. You've given me another idea: The Musing Room.

      Delete
  3. I love it! It's fabulous! And I would definitely refer to it as the studio. I had someone in my house and I was showing her a quilt so we went into my sewing room (which is also my laundry room) and she said "oh your studio!". So that seems to be a common term! And a lot of art quilters that I know use Dick Blick on line.
    You have so many interesting pieces in there. It must be a joy to be surrounded by them! And I know what you mean about hanging your own work-i have small quilts hanging all over my house and I walk past and I think of things that I would change (and sometimes I do-i have gotten into adding little embellishments on the top of the quilts!)
    You can't really add from a painting-fortunately!
    Regards
    Leze

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love having things with histories of their own. Growing up I'd walk with my girlfriend to visit her grandparents after school and they had such wonderful stories to tell about old things. They gave me the love of antiques.

      I have a quilt I had made of Don's t-shirts a few years before he died and every time I'd find one of his patches around, I'd sew it on as an embellishment. With your landscape and scenery quilts I can see how it would be tempting to keep adding texture. We have a woman in our state who comes to town for our big Art Prize contest. Twice she's walked away with a $200,000 prize for her landscape quilts. Ann Loveless, I'm sure she's been written up in magazines but here is a website you might enjoy about her process. https://www.artprize.org/loveless-photofiber/2015/northwood-awakening Be sure to click 'see more' at the bottom and enlarge the photos.

      Delete
    2. Oh, and I meant to add that I'm surprised Dick Blick is still around. I used to get things from them mail order before the internet was around.

      Delete
  4. You did a fantastic job. I love it and it didn't cost an arm and a leg either. Enjoy.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 'arm and the leg' part was a nice bonus, wasn't it.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for the link to Ann Loveless...those are quite gorgeous!
    Regards,
    Leze

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's perfect! Congratulations on your new space. I love the idea of calling it "the studio" -- sounds so purposeful and grown-up.
    I've had very good experiences buying stuff from Wayfair.
    -Jean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm fast becoming a fan of Wayfair, too. Now I want to take a photo tour of your extra room, when you get it done.

      Delete
  7. The Studio is a perfect name and a perfect room!!! You are going to love your OTT light. I have had mine for about 6 years--right over my right shoulder and my recliner. It also makes February a much less depressing month also. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Studio does fit the bill, doesn't it. It's general enough to cover whatever activity (but sleeping) I might be doing in there.

    I don't know what took me so long to get the Ottlite---I've heard nothing but good things about it. Well, I do know. I didn't like the modern styling with my vintage furniture. But they must have added more styles since I seriously looked at them in the past. The style I got would work well all over my house. Though I can NOT believe how expensive lamps are in general! The Ott was on sale for $159.00. But then I've rarely ever bought a new lamp---just olds one to rewire. Last week I bought an Ottlite light bulb for the living room. What a difference for reading! Has anyone tried those light beds that are supposed to be good for wintertime depression? Now I'm wondering about them.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Replies
    1. Congratulations, all six of your tests worked. What you probably missed is the message that says that what you wrote has to wait to be moderated before it shows up on this blog. That means I have come along and click it through for public viewing. Anyway, you were doing the comments right!

      Delete
  10. Apologies!! bugging to get 6 test emails. (Knew abt the approval, but it chucked me out with no warning after I keyed in my input, ditto with tests).

    You're inspirational. I've done the renos but decluttering has me stumped.

    The chair is beautiful. Checked out thr lamp - exxy but gorgeous. Will get when on sale.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No apologies necessary. I'm just glad you stuck to it until you figured it out.

      De-cluttering is hard and time consuming! But it was worth it once I made up my mind. I turned a room a hardly ever used into one I'll probably use every day, once my paints get here.

      Ottlite has different styles that are cheaper than the one I got. The one I really wanted has a high and low brightness and it had the goose neck to focus right where you want it. Ottlite has a lot of styles now they didn't have when I checked them out before. I bought a 100 watt daylight bulb for my living room where I sit and that light is almost as good at the Ottlite. $20 for a light bulb, can you believe that!

      Delete
    2. Well, during the renos, I couldn't believe the myriad of choices , including for house lighting!!!! I opted for the LEDs because I couldn't face having to then choose light bulb covers. No regrets - the light is beautiful, like a sunshiny day. Tx for the info - if the daylight bulb gives you as good lighting as the Ottlite, will try that. Tho" with the bright ceiling LEDs, don't really need a floor lamp. Funny, with getting older, I just like bare essentials in a room - the minimalist look (so easy to keep clean).

      Re decluttering, I've painted ceilings, high windows, moved big boulders in the backyard (amazing what you can do when you know there's no help around!!!), etc - but decluttering is really HARD. Its getting close to a year, and I've just nibbled around the edges and discarded the very obvious stuff.. HUGE SIGH!!

      I think your blog is wonderful.

      Libby

      Delete
    3. I don't have a cover on any of the ceiling fixtures in the house. I carefully chose the style so that I can use a long armed light bulb changer without having to use a ladder. I'm impressed that you've painted ceilings. I did that when I was younger but I don't do ladders now.

      I'm working up to being a minimalist but I have a LONG way to go. Like you said, de-cluttering is hard. I have used eBay, taken stuff to the local auction and Good Will. I will do all that again in the good driving months. I'm determined to keep on downsizing.

      Thanks for commenting, Libby, and for signing your name. Nice to meet you.

      Delete
  11. Well, this is just fabulous. It's beautiful and useful. When I was reading your list of names to call it, I was thinking simply "The Studio." Simple and appropriate. I love the colors and the pictures and... well, all of it. I enlarged all of the photos, and I like your painting that you think "is not very good." I so wish I could do that. There's an artistic gene in my family, but it skipped me. One of the most important things to me about a room is how comfortable it feels. It looks like you will be very comfortable in there. Enjoy it for many years in good health!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I love the aesthetics and warmth of your home so it means a lot to me that you like my room. I wasn't sure if the chair would be comfortable but with the footstool it really is plus I can see so much out the window I can't see from other rooms. My paints are coming the end of the week so I'm busy looking for a subject to try first.

      Delete
  12. So beautiful and so perfect! I vote for "the studio" too. My friend had a small sunroom type addition built onto her home overlooking her patio and gardens and she calls it "my studio". It is so lovely to get an invitation to "come over and we'll hang out in my studio". I wish for you many happy creative hours there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! 'The Studio' is now rolling off my tongue easily so I've settled on it. I am moving my laptop into this room. Right now it's in the library. Next I have to learn how to play music on it.

      Delete
  13. Your room is lovely. I really like the chair also. You are so talented! Yes, The Studio sounds great. Wishing you many happy hours creating. :)
    Oh, I've never heard of those lights, sure could use one here; I'll have check those out. Thanks for the tip!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope the talent is still there. It's been a long time since I've tried. It's like exercise, it will probably take me three months before I get it back to were I was when I quit.

      If you do a lot of handwork you'll love the ottlite.

      Delete
  14. How satisfying! It does take time, thinking about how to change a room. Now when you walk in, you must get such a great feeling — perhaps of light, space, and happenings. Of course your talent is still there: it's just been quietly fermenting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I walk in that room and it's almost like a dream. I have an art studio full of light! I hope you're right on the fermenting talent. Anytime in the past when I've had long periods of time in between working on art, it always took a couple of months to get back to where I was. But it did come back, so I'm very hopeful. Thanks for commenting, Rachel!

      Delete