Tag Archive | art

Cleansing the Palate

In this new house, we are still in the drudgery of the “pesky little jobs list.” These are things that we have to do to make the house functional. It has nothing to do with decorating or adding my own flavor to every room. It is pure drudgery and we have to keep on keepin’ on, or like the Nike slogan says, “Just Do It!”

None of the things on this list are worth blogging about, but they do have the potential to save my marriage. Every time my husband rolls up a rug because the basement door catches on it, or when the towels pile up on the bathroom floor because there are not enough places to hang them, I swear under my breath at him. This “pesky little jobs list” is oh so important.

The fight between The Rug and The Door.

The fight between The Rug and The Door.

It includes things like trimming the solid wood doors a tiny bit shorter so they will open over a runner, installing handrails on the stairs so my mother-in-law will not plummet to her death, hanging blinds for privacy, organizing the tools in the basement, and bleeding the radiators so they work, all the way upstairs. I kid you not, this list grows at what seems like an exponential rate.

One of two new handrails.

One of two new handrails.

Sometimes I think this is just because we bought an old house. And then, when all I have to do is close the door to the baby’s room when she sleeps, I am thankful for that old solid wood door. I love the radiator heat as it does not dry out my skin in the cold winter months like forced air does. Believe it or not, when carrying a baby up and down the stairs, it is useful to have a handrail all the way up.

I was considering adding the chore of painting to the “pesky little jobs list,” but then I changed my mind. Right now it seems overwhelming because I still have at least six rooms left to paint in this house.

Benjamin Moore, Green Hydrangea.

Benjamin Moore, Green Hydrangea.

But paint is like a palate cleanser. It is the fig between the cheeses and the sorbet between the courses of your gourmet meal. Paint is what allows me to start thinking creatively, with a clean slate, and then move on to the fun part of decorating. Paint is the fresh air in a room.

Benjamin Moore, Green Hydrangea.

Benjamin Moore, Green Hydrangea.

Sometimes I think it is like the Golden Gate Bridge around here. Once I get finished painting, I will just have to start over again. But this is also an opportunity for new ideas. With a new paint color, you can change the look of a whole room.

Benjamin Moore, Fresh Butter.

Benjamin Moore, Fresh Butter.

The good news is, paint is cheap. And while my “pesky little jobs list” continues to grow, I will not add paint to it. It deserves more of a place of honor. Perhaps I will add it to the “pesky BIG jobs list” instead.

© copyright Mariam d’Eustachio 2013.

My Little Corner of Paris

It has been exactly twenty-one years since I was in Paris. Traveling with an orchestra, I managed a break-away and had the afternoon all to myself. I wandered the streets, looking every part the tourist, wearing the most uncomfortable shoes! In spite of my aching feet, it was extraordinary. I will always remember the art and the cafés. And to this day, my common sense is always overruled when it comes to shoes.

I have a little corner in my kitchen that reminds me of Paris. Perhaps it is all the peeling and cracking paint on the nearby sunporch that evokes some sort of old-world charm, or just the rose-colored glasses I put on this morning, I am not sure which. But either way, my corner is French and it is where I go to drink my coffee.

My little corner of Paris.

I set up the gate-leg table against the wall and replaced the sci-fi sconce with an outdoor lantern. I put two chairs that I had from a bistro set with it and hung all the paintings I had collected over the years around it. Landscapes, birds, boats, you name it. The theme here was “French Country Clutter” and it works! My pots are hanging on the adjacent wall and the limited amount of space you have to stand up from your chair and hit your head on a pot is definitely European. I love it!

French Country Clutter.

Sometimes it is nice to be short.

I have to tell you about the sconce. It got a new life here in my Parisian corner when I purchased it from Community Forklift and painted it with black metal paint. I covered up the shiny brass and now it is transformed.

Brass Before.

Black After

Before with Sci-Fi Sconce.

I still have to paint the walls in the kitchen, and renovate the rest of it, but for now I am enjoying my little corner of Paris.
© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.

Stork Sighting!

Superstition runs deep in my blood. I am constantly running around rescuing spiders because I know it is bad luck to kill one. Of course, the sensible part of me knows this is silly, but I cannot bring myself to intentionally kill a spider. I am afraid of the deluge of bad luck it could bring. I even avoid cracks in the sidewalk. I know, I know: strange.

That said, I cannot reveal too much about our latest news, for fear of jinxing it. But my husband’s office has been quickly turned into a nursery and I am thrilled with the results. I did not repaint anything, because I painted it only about a year ago, so the color scheme is the same as the old office. We used Benjamin Moore’s, Anjou Pear on the walls, and a light blue called Palace Fountain from Valspar, on the ceiling.

New nursery.

I used an ABC quilt that my grandmother gave me as a gift several years ago as inspiration for this room. I have always loved that quilt, which she had made for Secondo, my second child, when she was on a trip to Thailand.

Hand-made ABC Quilt.

I also grabbed an old desk from Prima’s room, which could still use a coat of paint, for use as a changing table. The painting of Dahlia flowers next to the crib is from my husband’s family and adds a pop of cheery color. The curtains are stolen from my neighbor’s house and the crib has been on loan for , ummm, like 13 years or so.

Dahlia Painting, from great-grandpa d’Eustachio.

The dress-up box, yanked out of storage, is an old favorite and the chair is pulled from elsewhere in the house. I gave an old mirror, a previous trash find, a coat of white paint. We did not spend any money in this makeover, except for the cheap new light fixture we replaced for $7.00.


Changing table nook.

Chair and New Yorker magazine cover.

The stork will be arriving in Beltsville in August and I am thrilled it does not involve a pregnancy, or a delivery, in the traditional sense for me. Sometimes a baby needs a home, and in this case, she will grow up in mine.
© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.

Jack London and His Square.

If you threw a rock from Jack London Square in Oakland, you could hit Alaska. Well, at least the cabin Jack London lived in, during the Yukon gold rush in Alaska. Seeing that log cabin, so basic and an obvious tool of survival and necessity, surrounded by palm trees and a beautiful harbor, is a strange site. A place where two worlds collide. Jack London, famed author of The Call of the Wild, The Sea WolfWhite Fang and other classic American novels and stories, is from Oakland, California. Thy have honored his memory and commemorated his work right in the middle of the city.

Jack London’s Alaskan cabin in Oakland, California.

This is a lovely tribute to Jack London and a reminder of the Alaskan frontier and the history of our great American West. Nearby, the Oakland farmer’s market, is the place to be on a weekend. The food, the produce, the colors, the art, are all a testament to the bounty that California has to offer.

California produce.


California seems so innovative. Buildings have green things growing up the sides (on purpose), the art is built into the streetscape, and soul food is offered up vegan. Only in California.


I tasted everything at the market: jams, olive oil, juicy nectarines, cherries, samosas and watched and chatted with an islander making pizza.  What an amazing place where so many cultures and backgrounds come crashing together and the result is this open-air market.

One day I will have one of these in my backyard.

The Art Show boasted everything from sculpture, to 3-dimensional works made with found objects like sticks, corks, and paint chips, to abstract art focused on color. These local artists displayed creative and novel pieces that could add charm or a conversation piece to any living room.

The farmer’s market in Oakland is a reminder that in Maryland, we raise chickens, but in California, they raise produce. The bounty is incredible and the scents, tastes, smells, and scenery add up to an inspiring and rich experience.

Jack London Square Mural.

If you ever find yourself in Oakland, go to the market and meet up with Jack London.

© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.

Vintage & Vogue

Last Christmas I was shopping at an arts fair in DC and was stopped dead in my tracks by the most gorgeous poster I had ever seen. I quickly ran through my Christmas list to see who HAD to have this as their gift and came up short. Not one person on my Christmas list needed this piece of turquoise eye-candy, with a peacock thrown in for good measure, other than me. Damn! I could not justify spending the money.

Published November 15, 1911 for Vogue magazine.

The image haunted me for several months until I remembered I was living in the age of the internet and could probably track it down. This little research project led me to an all together new-to-me discovery in the world of early advertising. Magazine covers and posters made in the early 1900’s that were drawn by the best illustrators of their time. The poster I lusted after was published on November 15, 1911 for Vogue Magazine and was drawn by artist George Wolfe Plank (1883-1965). He drew many covers for Vogue in those days in the Art Deco style and helped set the tone in the art world and fashion industry through Vogue.

Poster by George Wolfe Plank, illustrator for Vogue.

At last! The Vogue poster hangs on my brick wall in the living room. I love how the black in the poster picks up the black piano and pops against the brick.

Vintage Vogue Poster.

The second Vogue poster shows an elegantly dressed lady with a tiara of peacock feathers cascading down her back. It is as if she has donned the peacock’s plumage herself as she heads out for the evening. Once again, Vogue is setting the standard for style and elegance among American women.

Peacocks in Art

Peacocks are a common subject and theme in art representing sheer beauty and vibrant color. In Christianity, they are a symbol of eternity and are often depicted in early Christian art. The woman in the Vogue poster was riding on a peacock, both elegant and beautiful, while they admire their reflections. Hardly Christian, but still a fantastic and fashionable image for Vogue.

“The Peacock Room” by James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art.

Just a few years before these Vogue posters were created, artist James McNeill Whistler had finished his “Peacock Room” in London, and once again peacocks became all the rage.

“The Peacock Room” ceiling detail.

So, after several months of anticipation, I did order prints of two Vogue posters and later ordered frames for them. This turned out to be less expensive than if I had bought them through the fair where I had first laid eyes on it. If you are looking for vibrant color and inexpensive art, this is a great way to add it, with vintage flair, elegance, and a splash of American pop-culture too.

© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.

reference: The Vogue Poster Book. Published in 1975 with an introduction by Diana Vreeland.

Blogger’s Remorse and a Formula

So one day, I woke up and thought, “What the hell am I doing?” I have had an affair with a blog. Or maybe this blog is just another crazy scheme like my Dad gets when he thinks he found a winning formula for the racetrack. Something like this: size of horse + length of mane + how awesome the name is = furlong over dirt. That will be the winner, for sure. I am filled with an overwhelming sense of inadequacy and am full of ideas that turn out to be one scheme after another in a long chain of risk-takers that usually lose.

Big breath.

I love design and color, being inspired, and I hate the computer. There is a certain amount of headache involved in this latest scheme. Especially when I am banging my head against the keyboard. I have learned a lot about things like html code, web statistics and other non-design related things. I have viewed these as uncomfortable side-effects. I will hopefully later refer to this time as growing pains and apply all of this newly acquired knowledge to a blog that is fun to read and focused on design.

Inspiration from Angela.

Angela, my sister and muse, is a never-ending source of ideas and creative energy. She is optimistic and young and ambitious. She is an amazing photographer. She encourages me to keep going.

What a beautiful spread.

Only in Las Vegas.

So now this latest scheme has a formula that goes something like this: beautiful rugs + interesting art + inspiration = a space you want to be in. You may have nowhere to sit, but you will be happy in it. My friend Valerie started this formula, and I am hoping to let it grow and blossom into a beautiful blog and a place you want to read in. Hopefully, along the way, you will spruce up your space and be happy that you did.

View of the ceiling in Paris … Casino in Las Vegas.

© copyright 2012 Angela Hunanian and Mariam d’Eustachio.

The Other Woman

There is another woman in my life. I snuck her into my home, only hoping my husband wouldn’t notice. She served the dual purpose of beauty and function in one. I was intrigued by this see-through lady and wanted her to hold toilet paper rolls and the clothes I was constantly discarding all over the bathroom floor. What a fabulous find!

Me and the wire lady.

I know I am not the only person out there who is tired of waiting for Rosie to come around. Growing up with “The Jetsons”, we have realized so many of their futuristic fantasies including cell phones, flying cars, and machines that dispense food. But alas, where is Rosie, the Robot Maid? This wire lady is the closest thing I have to Rosie, holding up my clothes and keeping the toilet paper within reach. I can’t ask for anything more than that.

Glimpse of the wire lady in the mirror.

I found her at Marshall’s and could not leave without her. I had been looking for a solution to the toilet paper problem and here it was standing before me. I had considered a free-standing birdcage, but I just knew when I laid eyes on her that she was the one. She was a steal at only $50.

My husband gets annoyed by extracurricular pieces of furniture. This is why I had to sneak the lady in. I thought for sure he would understand once he saw her in place. Besides, isn’t this some version of every man’s dreams?

He did grumble and still does on occasion. But the next day, I went into the bathroom, surprised to see her adorned with….

The Other Woman.

This represents peace in our house. At last, she had worked her wiry charms on him.

© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.