Saturday, September 26, 2009

tile and windows and doors, oh my!

I've been through renovation obsessions in my life, but nothing like what's happening right now, as I envision our little plain (pink) vanilla beach house turning into a lush little gem on the water.

When I bought this 1942 cottage in 1989, I lay awake nights envisioning different colors on the walls, what to do about wall paper, bathroom issues and the like. Then I focused on how to rectify the sins of the previous owners, beyond having ripping up the shag carpet and popping off the mirrored gold stickem tiles that sprouted everywhere on the walls.

In 2000, just before Mike got sick, we were in the midst of a kitchen renovation, opening the wall between kitchen and dining room and expanding the space into what was eventually a glorious, light-filled, exquisite, custom kitchen as perfect as anything I imagined.

The bathrooms were next, but not until the floor nearly collapsed beneath the tub. The result is so pretty, and it's a treat just to brush my teeth over a 1920s carved oak French washstand that we turned into a gorgeous vanity, to take a dip in the clawfoot tub, or to shower surrounded by black marble and sunshine from the skylight above.

But this beach house. I'm stymied. Maybe it will all come together. Aluminum windows are recommended but I want the rot-resistant ultra hard Mexican mahogany. Sliding windows are common, but I want casement windows that will open in, with screens, and the usual protectores made prettier for the outside.

Tile? Tile will be everywhere, covering inside and out in the same floor color. But what color should it be? Mexican Modern, the most evident beach style, calls for creamy travertine or some other kind of light tile, and white walls, glossy surfaces.

I've tried to imagine living in a modern space and I can't see it. I look at the pictures in books and they're lovely, but they're just not me. I need terra cotta tiles and Mexican Talavera as accents. Wooden windows. Ancient old wooden doors. I want colors in the bath and in the kitchen, deep, dark, rich tones that are really at odds with beach life.

In my mind, I'm painting the walls a creamy white, to make up for the richness of tones elsewhere. The sofa and chairs are slipcovered in white canvas and the furnishings are spare, with lots of open space and a few very large, favorite pieces from home.

It doesn't seem like mattresses and box springs are typical, but I want a bed high enough that we can lie there in the morning and without even raising our heads, see the emerald waves of the Gulf right outside the bedroom window.

In my mind it's beautiful and all I want to think about. But other things creep in, like propane tanks, and water pressure thingies, and ceiling fans, and where to put the electrical outlets, and outdoor lighting, and hookups for the washer, and whether we can just skip having a dryer. And what about surge protectors? And water heaters?

It's occupying every waking moment and some in the middle of the night when my eyes pop open with another vision that I simply must remember. In the meantime, I need to do something here, tagging the garden perennials I recognize so I can have a plant sale in the spring. So much to get rid of, inside and out, in this cottage I've lived in for 20 years.

That's what's going on in Tulsa, where we are studiously avoiding anything to do with the H word (+ealthcare) or anything P (olitical). I keep thinking it's probably not smart, planning this move, giving up work at the high point of my earning years, and then something rises up in me and says fuck it, do it now or maybe never. What the hell.

You? Got plans? Dreams? Taking a new, possibly risky direction in life? Tell, please.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Linda said...

One thing that is absolutely necessary is getting a handle on time. This has saved me no end of distress.

Its a psychological leap that has nothing to do with a clock.

Here it is: "Manana" does not mean "tomorrow".

It means "not today".

Latin life revolves around a less demanding mind set about time.

Sounds simple. Takes getting used to.

Linda

September 27, 2009 9:05 AM  
Blogger LSL said...

I'm still trying to figure out my plans and dream my dreams. But I am loooooving hearing about you making yours come true.

September 27, 2009 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Dallascracker said...

Travertine goes well with any style. My travertine is almost installed. It looks wonderful with our traditional dark word work and wall panels. We also have it in the kitchen where the walls will be done in a Mexican plaster style and color.
Have fun with the planning and don't be shy about stealing ideas from luxury hotels and magazine articles.

September 27, 2009 4:13 PM  
Anonymous Mark H said...

Wow do "I" get the big feeling coming from YOUR writing here: excitement, anticipation, wonder, and a trip to the unknown (retire) is the adventure of a lifetime.

What a thrill to "feel" this in your new sense of place.

September 28, 2009 12:18 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Who says you can't have color at the beach? Check out lots of resorts and homes that have more traditional Mexican style....so many new ones are very contemporary.....I prefer the cultural stuff too.....wood, tile, color..........it's your house, go for whatever you like!!!!
I think the last question is a whole new post!!!!!!!

September 28, 2009 1:17 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I retired at 58, gave up a lot of money and am paying through the nose for health care, but I've never regretted it for a second, and you won't either......

September 28, 2009 1:19 PM  
Blogger NinjaMom said...

Actually, as I look at my 3 month old beautiful baby sleeping, I'm pretty content with keeping things the way they've been. :) But, I'm going to start work in a couple of weeks and I'm terrified after 3 years without a (paying) job. Only one day a week but enough to send me into a tail spin.

I LOVE hearing your plans. You have a wonderful creative mind. I'm sure the beach house will be spectacular. :)

September 28, 2009 3:16 PM  

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