Thursday, November 6, 2014

Focal Point


Clearwaters Photo courtesy Flickr

Nothing says no more living like an animal than parking an orchid on the bathroom sink. A dinner guest brought me the plant, and I was happily surprised to discover that it transformed the room. Over the last several years I’ve been fooling around with the painted walls that top the original painted fir wainscoting in the space. 

In the spirit of museum ceramic repair, I used a gold paint pen to trace a few fine cracks in the plaster. It’s been an interesting way to observe the effect of natural forces on a fabricated interior. A steam punk house painter liked the experiment, which gave me the courage of my folly. The room never quite happened for me, though. Adding the plant was the finishing touch, like embellishing an initial on a manuscript page. Like the pattern of cracks in the walls, the plant is the product of forces beyond human control. The apparent randomness of its forms opens the eye to expressive growth beyond ordinary daily routine.

As it happens, my visitor showed up just after I finished a minor painting project in one of the rooms upstairs. Nearly all the walls in the house are sponged in broken color to make the most of their rich and varied histories of wallpaper and sudden earth movement. A sponged wall is trivial to refresh. Simply dust it softly with a microfiber cleaning cloth. Then pat on fresh paint here and there with, ideally, the same sea sponge used to execute the first layers. Altering the percentage of a given pigment changes the effect of the walls. I like to choose one CD as work music and play only it until the space is finished.

The combination of broken color on old walls, painted floors, and essential furnishings produces a room that’s trivial to maintain and peaceful to use. As in a traditional Japanese room, it takes only one decorative focal point to announce the intended style of the space. 

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