Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guest bedroom--the belated reveal

We completed nearly all the work on our guest bedroom last summer, but I didn't want to give you the full reveal until I hung some pictures and completed the quilt--and I really dragged my feet on completing those details.  So, at long last, our guest bedroom:

The painting over the bed is an old oil of my parents' house.  It was built in 1906.  My great-grandparents bought the house in 1930, and lived there until their deaths in the early 80s.  My parents then bought the house, spent a few years making necessary repairs and upgrades (energy efficient windows, installing insulation, modernizing kitchens and baths, etc.), and we moved in when I was four.

As an aside, P and I are so happy with the quality of pictures I can coax out of the new camera.  Playing with the white balance and using a really low shutter speed has yielded some lovely results here!

Now the remaining problems are definitely the photographer's (i.e., my) fault--like the feeling that the house is not really level:

The decor in this room is rather more traditional than we're planning for the remainder of the house--we decided this was the perfect place to use some special family heirlooms.

We found this pieced, unfinished quilt top among my grandmother's things after she died.  We don't know who made it or when.  My grandmother's younger sister was an avid quilter, and our best guest is that this is a project the two of them worked on together during a visit.  (Since the two of them lived 3,000 miles apart, visits were infrequent, and when they did occur, quite long.  That side of my family is fairly reserved: they bond not by chatting, but by quietly working side-by-side.)  But the fabrics used in the quilt puzzled me a little--they are an odd mix, with fabric types that are not ideal for quilting.  After long study, I finally realized--they are scraps cut from old men's shirts!  And my, they do look like the types of shirts my grandfather favored!

The quilt top was in rough shape-frayed and off-square at the edges, a few holes in the middle where the old shirt fabric had simply given way, and a variety of stains from long storage.  But it's imagined heritage is still special enough for me to be determined to preserve it.  I'm hoping it exudes shabby chic, and not just shabby.  I sewed on a double border to make it large enough for a queen bed, and quilted it.  It won't stand up to use, even infrequent use in our guest room, forever, but I prefer for an object like this to be used and admired than kept properly boxed and preserved in a closet where no one will see it.

But there is an exception that proves every rule, isn't there?

This quilt square was made by my great-great grandmother.  The aforementioned great-aunt had an entire quilt top of these squares.  Several years ago, she cut apart the squares, and sent one to each of her children, nieces, and nephews--including my father.  My parents had it properly framed--acid-free paper, UV-shielding glass--and gave it to me as a wedding gift.  It awes me--I've never even seen a photo of my great-great-grandmother, I know almost nothing about her, but here is this piece of her in my house.

Here are the pictures to the side of the bed:

The middle one is a print that P's mother commissioned several years ago, of their house.  They built it when P was a toddler.  Much of the building was done by P's father and grandfather.

I thought it would be fun to frame a few photos of our families that showed the houses--but for all the years we lived in those places, it was surprisingly difficult to find photos where both people and houses looked good.

To the left, we have P (left) and his brother:

And this is my grandmother, holding my baby father:

I hope the room tour was worth the long wait!  It's certainly come a long way since we had guests in the spring, hasn't it?  Which is to say, family, it's safe to come back now!


Michelle said...

Definitely shabby chic--not shabby! Love the quilt...I wish I knew how to do that. And the quilt square that you have framed is amazing--what a wonderful piece of family history! You are quite lucky to have that, as well as the photos of P (your husband, I assume?) when he was a child.

This post really drew me into your blog--I haven't had a chance to read much of it, but I am thinking you are working on a fixer-upper or something similar? Great job on the guest room! If you work as diligently on all of the house, it will be awesome!

BTW, thanks for stopping by my blog and entering my first blog contest! I'm following back.

:) Michelle

L said...

Thanks for the kind comments! Good luck with your own (future) place!

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