The Grand Duchess and Young Master return sometime Monday evening, barring delays along the way due to predicted strong thunderstorms of course. Yours truly has been busy the last week or so with some surprises for them, including repainting the upstairs bathroom as well as uncluttering (decluttering?) the living room and library on the first floor.
Of the two of us, I am really the more domestic. While the Grand Duchess makes some fantastic things in the kitchen, I am the one who does our laundry each week, makes the beds, and keeps the first floor of the house straight and vacuumed. It will come as no surprise then that it has occurred to me in the last 18 months or so that the rooms on the first floor could look even better with some careful rearranging and through simply putting away other various smaller items. You know, getting rid of that cluttered late Victorian over-decorated look. Bare surfaces, free of encumbrance are attractive and almost zen-like by comparison.
And let's face it. Unless one is fortunate enough to live in a 20-room house, you just can't display everything -- the nick-nacks, the trinkets, the tschatschkes, the STUFF you acquire in adult life -- on every surface without it beginning to look junky after a while. No matter how skillfully it is arranged. You know, like the set of Sanford and Son on TV back in the 1970s (the American version of Steptoe and Son to you British and Commonwealth visitors). Nope. Clutter is the devil. The devil.
Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately?), I sold and/or gave away about four additional boxes of non-fiction and fiction books pertinent to my subject area the summer after I finished graduate school back in 2003, so that particular task was not quite as arduous as might have been the case. Whew! While I admittedly wish I still had the books now, the fewer one has to move, individually or boxed up, the better.
Anyway, all of this work is meant to be a surprise for the Grand Duchess. Our eighth anniversary is on Tuesday, the day following her and the Young Master's return, and while I have a small gift for her to open, my various interior decorating activities are part of that. I haven't said anything about it when we've spoken on the telephone. Hopefully, she'll approve of everything that has transpired in her absence.
Last but not least, I've also been plugging away, here and there as time has permitted, on those first five wagons and carts, which you can observe in the final photograph for today just above. They are very close to being finished. Needless to say, with all of those harnesses, collars, and straps, painting up a supply and pontoon train isn't something to undertake lightly. I now recognize why I have not yet bothered to add limbers and horse teams to my various artillery contingents!
After examining quite a few photographs on the net of the harnessing and reins for draft/draught horses, I decided simply to wash the areas in a dark brown using a new #4 round brush with a good point. The girths (around the horses' middles), however, were painted with a much lighter 'leather brown,' a small plastic bottle of Ral Partha color that is about 17 years old, believe it or not, and still going strong. The gaming shop on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin where I bought it and a few other bottles of acrylic hobby paints that are still with me is, needless to say and sadly, long gone.
Today (Sunday), it's on to the front hall downstairs, which gets the same gray-green (Olympic -- Green Tea Leaf latex with a satin finish) treatment as the second floor bathroom. I've done a bit of research online to find fairly authentic (correct) interior colors for craftsman style houses, and this particular green is the one I like best. Not too dark, light enough to make a room seem bigger, and visually more interesting than bone white. Green is also a calming color, which is something I desperately want and need in my life. Calm.
The previous occupants of our house, students whose parents lived in another city and actually purchased the place for their son (and friends) to live in during his university 'experience' -- Talk about spoiled! -- painted most of the first floor in a light cocoa brown, which isn't a bad color, but when every room has it on all four walls, well. . . It's a bit monotonous. The painting was done rather sloppily too, so after six years of living in the house ourselves and making mortgage payments to our bank, it's time to fix things and do the job like it should have been done in the first place. Know what I mean?
Later. . .