Wow wow wow. Just wow.

A few months ago I got an email from a couple in Piedmont asking if I could come edit and style the vast (my word, not theirs) collection of artifacts they've picked up from all over the world. Um, yes, yes I can. I would love to. Let me in. Right now.

When I arrived at their house I was thrilled with it's stature, age, and SIZE. I doubt I've ever been in a house this big. My inner 8-year-old self went squealing around the rooms pretending to be a princess while my 39-year-old self introduced herself calmly to the very nice and beautiful woman who opened the door.

She welcomed me into the entry way which is actually a hall, a grand hall, there's no other word for it. It's just stunning.

SEE?

Through the hall was also a loggia. Do you know what that is? I didn't know either. It's this and I want one.

The beautiful lady led me through a dining room that doesn't even pretend to be a place for every day eating. This thing is strictly a special occasion dining room, like for when the president stops by or something. The kitchen was next and then the room she wanted me to work in, a big one with a fireplace, floor to ceiling shelving, couches and an eating area. Because they are human and not royalty this is the room where they spend a considerable amount of time. They had moved in this past summer and their collections had landed on the shelves, haphazard and spilling over in their abundance. This is where I come in. Perfect!

Over the course of two weeks I stripped down the shelves, did a lot of piling like with like and mentally cataloging everything, which was a challenge on par with playing chess (for me), edited out what didn't belong, and styled the heck out of those shelves, which wasn't a challenge but instead a heart-pumping thrill-joy that let me know I am doing the right thing for my heart. In the process I got to explore the house and see other collections, like their fabric and clothing from around the world (this couple does awesome work in developing countries) and an amazing variety of puppets and masks and some camels that I fell in love with.

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Here's where we started. They were using the shelves as surface area essentially, and knew it. 

This is a collage, not a panorama because I am the worst Before picture taker ever. I just forget. 

This is a collage, not a panorama because I am the worst Before picture taker ever. I just forget. 

After! I'm cutting this photo off because I had nothing to do with the rug, coffee table, or chairs, though I did make the seating arrangement make more sense, because that's what I do!

After! I'm cutting this photo off because I had nothing to do with the rug, coffee table, or chairs, though I did make the seating arrangement make more sense, because that's what I do!

I took out all the colored ceramic ware and consolidated it into the bookcase next to the kitchen and not in the larger view of the entire room - they just weren't working with everything else. The room and collections wanted to be monochromatic so I let them. Now they aren't fighting with an identity crisis.

Then I added books by raiding their gorgeous library (picture every amazing dark, all wood proper library you've ever seen in a movie) for books with the right colored spines. I'm a big believer in bookcases housing books, especially when they are surrounding a fireplace and accompanied by couches. Cozy!

Next I moved some of the shelves to create more proportional and symmetrical lines within the shelves. Then I played and played and played. Here is the process!

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The beautiful lady emailed after living with it for a while and said, "I wanted to let you know how much more I like the kitchen/family room because of your vision!", which is all I can ask for really. 

Posted
AuthorSarah Reid

OH FOLKS.

It's been a year. A real doozy. It started out with what we have since coined The Hellacious Winter of Hell.  Then we got married and had a couple of lovely honeymoons (that was nice!). We had a fine and pleasant summer. And then this fall an old nerve condition of mine came back with a vengeance and has forced us to coin this winter The Winter of Pain (notice my absence around here? Doubt it. I'm a terrible blogger. Well, if you did I had good reason). So when it came time to start making Christmas plans I proposed something RADICAL. CRAZY. UNBELIEVABLE. I proposed that we not see any family, that we claim the Christmas as Matthew and Sarah's Christmas, a Christmas for making new traditions, new wonderful memories to replace last year's God awful ones, a Christmas for connection and appreciation of each other and our marriage and one that celebrates the strength and perseverance we found, together, this year. Matthew, a Christmas Hater, whole-heartedly endorsed my idea immediately, probably sure that I would come to my senses and revoke my offer in the next 10 seconds. But I did not. We told our families, who were disappointed but lovingly supportive, and we made some secret plans for us, and only us, to look forward to.

We had thought we'd just be at home by the fire. We'd dress our fiddleleaf fig tree up with some ornaments and drink eggnog and listen to records and sleep late and wear pajamas all day. Dreamy, right? But then our friends Rob and Laura told us they always to to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs on the day after Christmas (leave the kid with grandparents in LA, drive on over) and unexpectedly Laura said, "You should come!!!" It was her obvious enthusiasm for the idea that made me actually consider it. Normally I'd think, "That's so nice and you totally don't want us to come so I won't even consider that sweet offer you are hoping I decline." But Laura is a no-bullshit kind of lady, my favorite kind, and I knew I could trust her invitation was sincere. So we said we would think about it seriously, having discovered Palm Springs this past summer.

We considered the fact that we normally spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets and car rentals and gifts flying to family every year and that this year we'd be spending almost nothing (I did spend a significant amount on cat tshirts for Zane, but that's another story). We considered the fact that the Ace Hotel is a hotel that both of us have been wanting to stay at for as long as we've known about it, even if it's like a satire of a parody of a Disneyland show called Hipsters In Their Element. We pat ourselves on the back heartily when we realized that the decision we had made in the beginning of the year to get a Virgin credit card meant that we would have free direct flights to Palm Springs and looked at each other and said, "Why the fuck not?"

As if it couldn't get any better than that I asked myself, "Why not go for Christmas? Like, wake up in a hotel room on Christmas?" I proposed this to Matthew anticipating a lengthy budget discussion and disappointing answer but instead I got, "Sure!" So I booked everything immediately, anticipating that he would come to his senses and revoke his answer in the next 10 seconds. And, fyi, we still spent less than we would have visiting our families. More importantly, I was so so so looking forward to a Christmas with just my sweetie; we so so so needed it.

As Christmas got closer I realized that Matthew probably thought that he was off the hook for presents, his least favorite part of Christmas and my favorite, but he was wrong. So I let him know how wrong he was and gave him a list of local stores he could go to, my girlfriends' numbers for guidance, and reminded him of my handy and helpful Pinterest board Presents You Can Buy Me (you should make one, it's kind of awesome to have). I had been getting him stuff for months, like I do, wrapping as I went along, getting giddy about waking up on Christmas morning with just a small pile of stuff for the two of us. Happy sigh. Once we got straight on the expectations we had only to wait for Christmas Eve and our flights.

The flight to Palm Springs from SFO is less than an hour and half. As soon as you are up in the air you hear, "We're preparing for landing." But we did manage to have one drink before touch down, aided by my first gift to him, the Carry On Cocktail Kit. It makes any overly priced airplane whiskey into a decent Old-Fashioned with only a slight amount of embarrassment to swallow with it. Such is the price of being a person who likes cocktails. We landed in the desert in the evening on Christmas Eve and got a cab to take us the 2 miles to the Ace (Palm Springs is very small and the airport is right on the edge of town). 

This is not going to be a post about the Ace, Palm Springs, or anything you probably actually want to hear about. It's beauty is not capture-able, in words or photos. The ridiculousness of how on the nose the Ace gets what hipsters want is not something to be described or illustrated. Google image that shit. Just believe this, it is a terrifically accurate compound of design, services, food, drinks, and people that appeals to people like, um, I guess, me. I don't actually think I'm a hipster, but I think I have the aesthetic sensibilities of some of them. The good ones. The ones with taste. Moving on.

We checked into our room with a patio and fireplace. We perused the mini bar, which we swore to not indulge in and which was half empty by the time we left. We giggled. We unpacked. I noticed that something was wrong. Something was terribly terribly wrong. It was Christmas Eve and we didn't have a Christmas Tree! How had I overlooked this glaringly obvious mistake? How could I think through this whole week and not consider the fact that we wouldn't have a tree? Not one to ever let anything get in my way when I want it, I started collecting things from around the room that I could turn into a tree. Matthew  passively let me, knowing that it would do absolutely no good to suggest I do anything otherwise with my time and energy. He's sweet like that. This is what I came up with.

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Let me break that down for you. That's a $75 dollar walking stick that Ace keeps in your room just in case you might want to pay them $75 for a stick. Thanks Ace! Perfect foundation for my tree, no? The linen was a little blanket for the patio, the hooks were already hanging on that conveniently slatted wall, the star is made of Kleenex, the garland is my scarf and the tie to a robe the make you wear when you join their cult, um, ranks, um, fan base. The round white things are Matthew's cotton swabs which he generously "donated" to the cause, the base is a wastebasket, and the skirt is a mesh bag nicely shaped like a half moon. I was beside myself as I put our gifts under the tree.

Having accomplished that I felt much better. Time for dinner. The Ace makes sure you don't need to leave the compound if you don't want to, and they also make sure you won't want to. We went to Christmas Eve dinner at their house restaurant called King's Highway. The whole compound is on the grounds of an old HoJos, so the Ace loving kept lots of the original HoJos restaurant intact, like you should, while adding a brilliant and perfect hipster layer over everything. It's embarrassing people, but it's stunningly awesome too.

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We had, I'm not kidding, a kale and quinoa salad for our Christmas Eve dinner. It was so good damn that I just don't care that you are laughing at me right now. I'd do it again, you jerk. We had excellent cocktails. We looked around at all the families who come to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs for Christmas and at all the beards. So many beards. The people watching was so good that we forgot to talk to each other. We looked at our map of the compound and felt like we were in a movie about hipsters and did some serious soul-searching. I'm gonna use that H word a lot, have you sensed that yet?

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We went back to our room, sat by the fire on the patio, read, snuggled, and eventually went to bed. When we woke up it was Christmas. And it was beautiful and we were in the desert. And we went and got Stumptown coffee at the restaurant and the Times at the front desk and sat on our bed in our pajamas and opened our gifts. You guys, it was perfect. Neither of us went overboard, we both bought thoughtful and meaningful gifts, and again, we so so so soaked up the much needed aloneness and togetherness the trip was bringing us. 

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Does it seem materialistic and shallow to squeal with every opening of every gift he gave me? I don't care. Gifts that people think about, even if they are tiny or inexpensive (especially if they are tiny or inexpensive), mean so much to me. My therapist say it has to do with my need to be seen and understood. I love her. For someone who would rather do almost anything than shop for gifts, he did good. So good.

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Happy sigh.

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This picture is upsetting, I know. Do you hate me? Sorry about that.

After we got tired of being so awesome we went to breakfast where we ate whatever the hell we wanted, which for me was elaborate french toast and mint-honey fruit and for him was probably something annoying like tofu scramble. There were an alarming amount of Santas sharing the dining room with us.

Next it was time for adventuring, as in meandering around the grounds for 10 minutes. It is gorgeous and perfect but both Matthew and I had do a significant amount of leaving our college degrees behind and sank into the experience without being bothered to be critical about it. My 20-yr-old self cringed, my 39-yr-old self felt happy and relieved.  Oh well.

Whew! That was exhausting. Back to the room!

That's more like it.

That's more like it.

We spent the next couple days sleeping, doing puzzles, eating, reading, not watching the television, visiting with Rob and Laura, playing Scrabble, drinking, and doing more puzzles. I was in a considerable amount of pain due to my stupid face nerves and the dumb cold in my head that lingered the whole time, but doing puzzles got me in a zone where it all melted away. Wearing their cult robe probably helped too.

Typical morning.

Typical morning.

Typical afternoon.

Typical afternoon.

Typical night.

Typical night.

When it came time to check out we reluctantly did so in this awesome lobby with its stuffed coyote and perfect leather chair. We didn't bother looking at what the mini bar cost us.

Days like these remind us that

It better be.

Happy 2015! Couldn't be worse than 2014.

xoS





Posted
AuthorSarah Reid
CategoriesMiscellany!

Given my absolute fear of the ocean and dislike of water in general it is surprising to me just how totally in love I am with boats, or more specifically, boat imagery, history, and mechanics. I get seasick on them, avoid going on them as much as possible (which, thankfully, is very possible), and have no family history with them.

And yet. How totally stunningly beautiful they are. They are objects that by mere context (floating in vast bodies of water) become instant metaphors for (as well as literal representations of) human perseverance and ingenuity. They make being in an environment that would otherwise kill you possible. I just can't stop marveling at them.

Reading In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick is what got me started. I promptly read every book on whaling I could find, excluding Moby Dick, which I have no good reason for not reading except that the two copies we own are like sacred pets to Matthew and I am known to break spines. Book spines. Not pet spines. I love pet spines. And whaling books, what few there are.

After I read about whaling I moved on to pirating history, named my cafe after a lady pirate, commissioned my friend Stevie to paint this boat, and started collecting, very selectively, interesting boat stuff. I'm super picky about my boat stuff; If I'm gonna buy something it's gotta be something I've never seen before, which is actually a hard thing to find. Knots, buoys, and Salvation Army boat-on-the-horizon prints are everywhere. So when I was at the Alameda Flea this month I stopped dead in my tracks when my eyeballs took this beauty in, I mean, WHA?

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I picked it up and pretended not to care and nonchalantly asked, "How much?" fully prepared to pay up to $50. "$10? It's not signed." "Cool." I handed the man $10, put it in my bag and calmly strolled away while quietly dying inside. Seriously, it felt like my organs were melting. Or like when I found this basket. As soon as I rounded the corner I took it out and gazed at it with all of my affection and more. It's painted on a thin piece of wood, is just about the perfect color palette, and clearly never got finished. Is there anything better than a good boat painting? Well, maybe a good boat painting half finished. I didn't buy anything else that day because sometimes when you find the perfect thing you don't need more things. Just that one perfect thing.

Until tomorrow.

 

 

 

Posted
AuthorSarah Reid

Remember when Matthew and I walked from our house to the place you get married in in Oakland? And then we waited and waited? Such a great day so far and it only got better. After being called to go to the Wedding Room we all piled into an elevator and went to the second floor. There is a little waiting room and office outside of the Wedding Room where we waited for the couple ahead of us to hurry it up and kiss already. They were an elderly lesbian couple who's only witness was a relative who wore a very large cross around his neck. Interesting. The stories we all have to tell about how we got to the Wedding Room.

We waited there for a good while.

Nice lady.

Nice lady.

The office looked like a middle school office.

The office looked like a middle school office.

I called Zane. He didn't answer.

I called Zane. He didn't answer.

Many people thought that Matthew and Kevin were getting married, which, to be honest, would kind of be awesome too.

Many people thought that Matthew and Kevin were getting married, which, to be honest, would kind of be awesome too.

Kevin took lots of backlit Matthew shots as we waited for god knows what. So much waiting.

Kevin took lots of backlit Matthew shots as we waited for god knows what. So much waiting.

Finally, it was time. Kevin and Michelle sat, Finley-Ray tried to sit, and Jessica took photos. We had written vows but the clerk had stuff to say too. I don't remember it except to say that it was lovely, not canned, meaningful, and sweet. 

Oh right, this is where I explain how god-awful ugly the room was. We loved it. It was so absurdly ugly, how could we not? Really look at it, take it all in. Amazing, no? We even have an electrical outlet on the floor between our feet.

We had written our vows separately and had successfully kept them from each other. I volunteered to go first because I couldn't wait to say mine. I talked about a lot of things including always drinking morning coffee and evening cocktails with him. No one who knows us was surprised to hear that Matthew had the same sentiment in his vows. I gave a little fist pump and under my breath whispered, "Yeeeeeeees."

During Matthew's vows we both started crying. Truth be told, he cried a more than me, which is why I married him of course. We had both done a fair amount of preparatory emotional work in order to be super present and open during this day, not wanting to black out or not let it in like it deserved. I was all melty when I saw how raw and open Matthew was saying his words to me. Aw. Sigh. Gosh. Love.

Then the snot started dripping down our faces and not in a cute subtle way but in a "Hold the phone, I need a tissue immediately" way. Kevin and his handkerchief came to the rescue and we could resume after a good laugh. We exchanged rings (brass and from Etsy) and the clerk declared that by the power vested in her by the county of Alameda and the state of California we were married!

Snot.

Snot.

Rings.

Rings.

Husband and wife.

Husband and wife.

Kissing.

Kissing.

More kissing.

More kissing.

Sharing the arbor because it's so awesome.

Sharing the arbor because it's so awesome.

I'll tell you about after the ceremony next time!

Photos by Jessica and Kevin.

Posted
AuthorSarah Reid