Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tete-a-tete Summer Tablescape on the Balcony

Welcome to Panoply! While many of us are looking forward to the transition of seasons by August, we are still very much in the throes of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Today I'm inviting you out on our balcony, where we can share a little tete-a-tete meal. 
Tete-a-tete comes from the French tête-à-tête, which literally translates as head to head. In our new loft location, our tete-a-tete refers to a private meal set for two. 
I want to thank Chloe Crabtree from the blog Celebrate and Decorate for hosting and organizing several bloggers each day this week, bringing you late summer tablescaping ideas, all in one convenient place. You'll find the list of other stylists and their blog links at the end of this post.
We can enjoy dining alfresco on our balcony for casual meals during the warm weather seasons. Our dwelling is oriented with primarily southeastern views, where sunrises fill our space with abundant light once above the distant hillside and cityscape. The high position of the summer sun and its directional movement through afternoon and evening allow for sitting on our balcony without direct sunlight glare for most of Spring through Summer. I shot both morning and evening photographs for this tablescape to demonstrate the flexible use of the light and space. 
Sunrise over the cityscape
Early morning hours show a city waking up, and a common river sighting is barges going up and down river, transporting coal. In the photo below, the barge is going up river to receive a load.
Summer sunsets, though not in direct view from our balcony, generate some spectacularly reflective shadowplay on the buildings and light in the eastward sky as the sun sets in the west, dropping out of view over the river. It's a show in itself to watch the sun, clouds and weather patterns, both east and west.
Evening shadowplay

Evening light from the west, lighting the eastern clouds
Overhead outdoor fans and southerly breezes from the river keep the air circulating on the balcony. Food fare this time of year for Mr. P. and me is quite simple and easy. The balcony accommodates a small table with service for two quite nicely.
Of course, there is always a plan for dessert in our home after each meal! 
Evening views on the river will likely include recreational boaters enjoying the water.
Or, the skyline in the distance....
From a professional lens (below, by West Virginia photographer, Jesse Thornton), this is a closer view of the skyline from our balcony. We recently purchased this photograph and framed it for our loft. It is known around town as the 'church and state' view, popular among both amateur and professional photographers.
The photo  of my tablescape below was taken from inside our loft, looking through the plate glass windows. The reflection was minimal so I took advantage of seeing the view from a center angle.
We're still feeling the sense of vacationing in our loft, or maybe it's just that summer living seems easier, in general. One thing's for sure, we are enjoying downsized living. 
Summer Balcony Tete-a-tete Tablescape Source List
Dinner plates - Dollar Tree
Enamel salad / dessert plates - Pottery Barn
Solid Blue, Yellow Napkins - Waverly 
Lemon / bee towels - Williams Sonoma
Napkin Rings, Tablecloth (Ralph Lauren) - HomeGoods
Bee glassware (La Rochere) - Sur La Table
Flatware - Oneida
Daisies and Greenery - Grocery
Clear pyramid vase - Blenko 
Be sure and stop by each day for updated links below, taking you directly to each blogger's table setting with a late summer theme. Check out Jenna's post at the The Painted Apron next.


Please let me know you were here by leaving a comment. I appreciate each one of you, and getting to know new visitors is an added bonus to continual blogging. Hopefully, you'll return again. Thanks so much for your visit and readership today.

Rita C. at Panoply

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Tales of the Traveling Tote: Fun in the Sun

Today, my Traveling Tote friends and I are bringing you a special summer edition of our travels, called "Fun in the Sun".  We wanted to catch you up while the summer fun was actually happening, versus recapping summer when everyone's all into pumpkin this and pumpkin that. Our normal schedule will resume on September 1. To read all about my tales since joining the group with my two totes - Miss Luna C and Miss Charley C -  you can go to this link.
I'll make this brief. Miss Luna C and I have been having a luxuriously lazy summer! After spending months downsizing earlier in the year, we are now about doing as little as possible. When we last caught up (here), Miss Luna C and I had headed to the beach to start our fun after several months of a downsize move project. I knew it was going to be a good vacation when my plane seat row stayed emptied on the flight down!
We spent the week doing mostly this:
And a little of this:
We even trekked to one of Miss Luna C's summer campsites to see all her friends:
Mornings were spent walking:
And evenings were spent gazing:
Since that beach trip, Miss Luna C and I have been taking it nice and slow, just hanging out in our new digs. I've labeled myself a summer sloth. I'm not in any hurry to get up and go, and when I do, Miss Luna C typically stays behind. But that won't be for too much longer. Mr. P. and I are hoping to take a couple trips soon, and we're in the planning stages now. No hurry, no worry.
So, without further adieu, you should mosey on over to my tribe sisters' posts and see what's been going on in their worlds. I know Debbie and Patti have been especially busy in their travels.  Patti at Pandora's Box  has a little surprise for those of you interested in a token giveaway too!

Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths
Emily with Miss Courtney Childs@ The French Hutch
Patti with Miss Kenzie and Miss Taylor @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Coquille @ The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Luna C @ Panoply (you are here!)
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie with Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Ricki Jill and Countess de Monet @The Sketchy Reader
Cherry Kay with Miss Carrie Ann Hall @ Entertaining Women

Come back and see us again on September 1 when we resume our quarterly updates to the Tales of the Traveling Tote. Our tribe enjoys your company, and hope you enjoy ours too!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

July Garden Memories

Little did I know this time last year that we would be selling our home. In 2004 we did a major renovation to the adjacent lot beside our home, turning it into a landscape garden. Fast forward to 2019: we turned over the keys to the property on June 8, maintaining all the landscape beds and lawn until that time.

Earlier today, Mr. P. & I met with the new owners of our home for a walk through of the property's mechanics. Although we closed in February, the new owners just now took possession from the realtor. They arrived in the country two days ago from Hong Kong (the husband grew up in our area and they are returning to the US permanently). Since June, the lawn had been maintained by our grass service, but the landscape beds had not been tended to at all. The walk through of the landscape garden made me sad, as the weeds took every opportunity to flourish through previous paths.

Garden posts were regularly featured on my blog, and this video tour (below) was filmed by me on July 23, 2018, almost exactly one year ago. Viewing this video this morning was bittersweet.
During today's visit, I couldn't even bear to take one photo. I identified weed from plants purposely planted while walking the grounds, demonstrating how easy most of the weeds would be to pull. The new owner (husband) and I couldn't help ourselves, and started pulling weeds, most of which are taller than most of the planted shrubs in the landscape right now.

I do have plenty of garden photos I took from winter through late spring of the garden, and I busied myself with transplanting a few plants to my sister and daughter before the move. Those will be my new garden escapes.

I'll choose to remember my former garden as it was this time last year. I plan to send this video to the new owners so they can see its beauty and potential too. And if the new owners would like some advice in gussying up their garden, I may volunteer a few hours there, too.

Have you ever gone back to a former home and seen your garden, in particular? How did it make you feel?

Rita C. at Panoply

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Downsizing: Tips on Purging, Organizing

When sharing our recent move into a loft condo, I promised I would offer my personal tips on downsizing in terms of purging and organizing. That's my topic today. Even if you aren't contemplating a downsize move, this strategy might help for any sort of necessary organization project, so you may want to bookmark or pin it for future reference. It's taken a while to just organize my thoughts and finish this post, and it's a bit lengthy, so you may want to even read it in sections (which I've separated for your convenience).
If you remember Steve Martin's movie, The Jerk, you can probably relate to this clip, "All I Need". It's a good parallel to downsizing.
My strategy before packing for our downsize was two-fold: a serious purge and organization of what remained, what I needed. We downsized more than 50% of our prior square footage. While some of these points may seem elementary, they're written for those who really don't know where to start. They do NOT include steps toward getting a house ready to list for sale; rather, they begin at the point where a house is either already on the market or sold.

Draft a Timeline, and Sequence Your Tasks
*  Once the house is available and ready for sale, wrap your mind around the possibility of going into contract right away and get busy right away. Time is of essence. Our house was never even on the market when it sold!

*  Negotiate the closing date and move out dates with your realtor(s).

*  Draft a timeline, blocking off certain tasks by certain dates to meet the schedule of closing and vacating your property. It may help to start by looking at your end date and work backwards. The point is, no matter how drawn out or compressed your schedule is, try to schedule and work toward key events with intention of reaching your goals!

*  Be prepared to either purchase boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, and even plastic tubs for the downsizing effort. If you know of someone who is moving during your timeframe, by all means recycle from them or, if you buy, try to pass on to someone else who may be moving soon (ask family, friends, or post 'Free' on Craigslist or Facebook yard sale).
Moving Supplies
Get Inspired, Measure Twice, Purge Once (or Twice or Thrice!)
*  Your new space will undoubtedly inspire you (or else you need to question your decision to buy!). Before your new space is under contract, it's a good idea to visualize how you will use the space. Get busy in deciding what will go to the new space, what will need to be purged. Taking a careful look at the seller's furnishings is also good, as you may want to negotiate some of those items into your contract. This process may be fluid at first, but will soon take shape more definitively.

*  Style, structure of your new home can influence your choices. The age of our building (originally constructed in early 1900s) and modern design of the seller's renovation to the loft interior sparked a leaning toward straight lines and the Art Deco aesthetic, both representative of a modern look (but with vintage flair). I knew we had many furnishings that would already work in this style.

*  Size matters. Measuring all the wall spaces in your new space is crucial, and goes hand-in-hand with taking measurements of your current furnishings to see what and how pieces will physically fit. High ceilings or low ceilings can determine scale necessary to balance a space. High ceilings can accommodate larger furniture more easily, as an example. Try to roughly sketch it out so you can get a feel for the fit of things. I lost a lot of sleep going through this exercise repeatedly, juggling furnishings in my mind and on paper!
Size matters, functionality is important!
*  Functionality is important. In a downsize, it is critical to have things in their place and a place for the things you choose to take. This may sway your decisions in the pieces you decide to keep. The more versatile pieces can be, the more attractive they become in trying to make work for your new space. For example, a bookcase can be dish or linen storage, and a china cabinet can be linen storage. Or, a small stool can become table surface or even extra seating.

*  Color preferences can also steer your choice of furnishings. You may like the seller's color choices and it may steer you to want to change your furnishings, either with slipcovers, which room will hold which furniture, or by purging and buying replacements. Or, you may want to change wall colors in your new home to go with existing furnishings that you choose to take.
Before (top) and after (bottom) of Master BR painting
*  If money is no object and you have no reservations in purging what you already have, a new home may be your opportunity to just go with another style of furnishings completely, simply for the sake of change.

Basic Principles While Purging: Math, Matters, Motivation
You may be doing some purging of items in anticipation of your home selling and finding your new space, but once you have your new space under contract, it's time to get serious. A few things you may want to keep in the forefront of your mind when trying to make decisions in purging:
*  Do the math. Make an equation of the square footage of your new space to the old space. Ours was 2,275 new space to 5,000 former space, or 45% (2,275 / 5,000 = 45%). Translated to purging, I told myself for every 2 of most things, I needed to purge 1. For multiples, using 10 sets of dishes as one example, my goal was to purge 5.

*  Determine what's most important, what matters to you in a smaller space. Is it style, form/function, or beauty? Base your purging decisions on what is most important to you. Storage was important to me, and versatile functionality of pieces was equally important. Beauty sometimes took a backseat when an item was too big, or not in the style we anticipated using in the new space (our master bedroom furniture, though I loved its style and storage, was just too big for our new space, so we purged it).

*  Start purging with something that easily motivates you. It will spark your inner energy and, hopefully, keep you enthused. I started with my clothes and shoes first.
Easy targets for purge jumpstart: clothes and shoes
Okay, we've skimmed the surface, and you now have some basic things to concentrate on while purging. Let's dive deeper!

Purging, Organizing by Category vs by Room
A lot of professional organizers say the best way to pack and purge for a move is to go room by room, and that makes sense to me for kitchens and bathrooms. For most rooms, though, I have an alternate proposal: do it by category. Examples of this would be: clothes, paper, books, linens, games/toys, dishes (if you have a lot of sets like me), to name just a few. A few of my justifications for purging, organizing by category:
  • Purging by category allows you to pick one that's easy for you to get started so you can see quick results and jumpstart your motivation to continue. My wardrobe was an easy starting point. I still had 20 yr old work clothes (that fit), and now was the time to bless others!
  • Purging by category allows you to see the size of various collections. If you decorate with like kinds of one category of items (hello vintage purses, transferware dishes and pictures!), and they're scattered among various rooms, you'll soon see my point. It makes sense to gather them from ALL rooms before you begin the purge and organization. 
  • Once you move, you may not choose to use all the same items from one dwelling's particular room to the next dwelling's same room, or you may repurpose a piece of furniture in an entirely different way in the same room.  Pictured below are various porcelains & other small decor items I gathered from various rooms and separated by take, purge, and store.
Purging by category: gathering small porcelains throughout the house first
Keep, Donate, Sell or Gift - the Actual Purge
You have decisions to make, and your timeframe may have an impact on what route you go.  Here are some options/venues for purging to consider (and I used all of them):
* Selling outright. My choice venue for this was in my established antique booth spaces. I limited selling only vintage or antique items, nothing contemporary. For more detail on that front, see this post. Consider selling contemporary items via Facebook yard sale, Craigslist, or local newspaper. If you have the luxury of time and good weather, have a yard sale. I chose not to waste my time schedule on selling through other venues besides my booth spaces. I have participated in yard sales, and that begs for another post of lessons learned. I'd be happy to oblige if anyone's interested in my tips for yard saling.

* Enlist family and friends for items you want to gift. My two married daughters and one niece were willing and anxious to take furnishings, and they coordinated a move to help each other and get it all out in one day. I also "strongly encouraged" my daughters to take some sentimental things such as their coming home outfits from birth and those outfits from their one-year old portraits.
Family truckloads day
*  Take family and/or friends up on offers to help you through the nitty gritty of purging, organizing, and packing. One of my sisters helped me continuously for nearly six weeks, two days a week, six hours each day. She helped me through indecisiveness on what to purge/keep (she would resort to the  "does it bring you joy?" question only as a tiebreaker), helped me drop off donations, and gladly took carloads of items each time she came to help. 🤣

*  Call a donation site to take items you want to purge that family & friends don't want. Additionally, each day I worked through boxes, bins, drawers and cabinets, I filled my SUV and dropped off a load to various donation locations.
Donation move day
*  Rent a storage unit to move things you really want to keep (after purging!) but won't have room to store in your new abode. It makes sense to organize and store seasonal decor such as Christmas and other seasonals this way, as they are not typically used year round.
Storage Unit Storage
*  Schedule and see the major move to your new home through. It's important to be there and note any mishaps right away. Additionally, if your move is to a reasonably close location, you can make many small moves yourself, accomplishing many smaller moves before, during, and after the moving company does their job. This also allows you to re-use tubs, boxes, paper and bubble wrap!
Professional move day
*  Engage a consignment business and/or an auction house to take what furnishings you don't want to move with you, but would like to sell. Bear in mind the percentage take for these businesses runs anywhere from 30-40% typically, and the most likely scenario is you receive your share of proceeds once the items are sold. Outright purchasing by an auction house is not typical. We scheduled this move after the major move to our new abode was complete. Alternatively, you could opt to have the sale hosted in your home (consignment). I chose not to go this route, mostly because our home was already sold. I did not want the risk of damaging the house interior or outside grounds with traffic of buyers coming and going. I've seen it too many times as an antique dealer who frequents those sales.

Chart Your Daily Progress
*  Keep notes on what you accomplish. In a downsizing effort, it's the ultimate reward for a list-making nerd to look back and see that proverbial list totally crossed off! It can be as simple as using a monthly planner and noting total hrs and subject worked on, or detailed descriptions.
Charting daily progress
*  Better than notes, take photos! I have a gazillion before photos of my house, garden and storage, but if you don't have those already, take photos of your rooms, even cabinets and drawers, before you start your project. Each time a move happens, big or small, take photos so you can see the progress. Sometimes it didn't feel like much of a difference for me, even when big loads were going out! However, I assure you, eventually you will see the huge difference in the befores and afters!
Empty House, Exterior after final move with auction house.
Take Breaks
Seeing your daily progress several days in a row allows you to take time off, guilt-free. It's a necessary thing to recharge your motivation for the duration of the project. Everyone is different, but when your bones and muscles ache, you're losing sleep at night, or feeling overwhelmed - those are all signs it's time to take a break. Dinner with friends, a night out with your partner, a day of reading, or doing nothing at all are all good suggestions to turn down the busy meter.
Dinner with Friends
A Night Out with My Honey
Accumulated Magazine Subscriptions through the Moving Project
Finish the Project, Celebrate!
Once the move is completed, it's important to finish the job entirely.
*  If you have a garden, consider digging up a few plants for transplanting at either your new home or a family member's (if you have little or no gardening space). Pass along plants can prove to be both sentimentally and agriculturally important. 
Pass Along Plants for Daughter
*  Do a final cleaning of the house and garage. Getting to the end point is cathartic! The trash was put out, and my sister & I celebrated! My husband and I also celebrated by going on vacation after the big move and the last load (with the exception of the auction house load out) was out of the house.
Celebrating the end of the project with my sister
Summary
Our downsizing effort took a full six months. Throughout all of this timeline, I was purging, organizing and packing daily. In an attempt to help those of you who may find yourself in a big move project scenario, I've outlined several points I went through to meet our timeline. Whether you're cleaning out an estate, downsizing your own home, or know someone else who is, I hope this has helped you. Looking back and summarizing, these are the key points I wanted to share with you:

  • Draft a Timeline, and Sequence Your Tasks
  • Get Inspired, Measure Twice, Purge Once (or Twice or Thrice!)
  • Basic Principles While Purging: Math, Matters, Motivation
  • Purging, Organizing by Category vs by Room
  • Keep, Donate, Sell or Gift - the Actual Purge
  • Chart Your Daily Progress
  • Take Breaks
  • Finish the Project, Celebrate!
Thanks for your readership, always. Feel free to leave your comments on this subject. They're certainly welcome.

(A special note of thanks to Marty of A Stroll Thru Life's 510th Inspire Me Tuesday for featuring this post and to the readers of Liberty's B4 and Afters and Shelley's Calypso in the Country's "Best of the Weekend" for showing most clicked interest in this post!)
Rita C. at Panoply

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Panoply Booth Displays: Purging Household Items

One of the first things in downsizing I did was offer my Panoply sisters to come shopping my vintage wares, both those items stored and used throughout my home. Dividing many of my things allowed us each to share in the potential sales versus me solely taking over the booth spaces for which we all share rent expense for. The sisters came in mid-February. The purged wares became the basis of most of our antique mall shared booth displays so far in 2019. I haven't shown any Panoply booth updates since Christmas 2018 (which you can view in this post and see I was already beginning to purge some of my holiday decor then). Today I'm sharing some of my personal vintage items that have sold in our booths since that mid-February purge.

My four seasons garden statues sold within 24 hours of being placed in the booth.
Almost all of the garden items shown in the photo below also sold: the redwood stools and table, the cherub concrete flower pots (and the reclining cherub statue), the white metal lantern, watering cans on the right, and the concrete squirrels.
Additionally, my concrete birdbath and numerous vintage garden tools from my personal collection sold.
Big ticket items which sold included my stepback cabinet I had in my sunroom and displayed seasonal dishes on. The clock and 1920s boudoir flapper doll also sold. The gorgeous transferware platter was an item I insisted my sister take after not selling in one month. She insisted I try to sell it first.
The chest of drawers below was in my basement, full of vintage linens. It sold (and most of the linens within were given to my sisters). 
The harp girl polychrome bronze statue was previously in my living room, and it also sold.
The desk and windsor chair pictured below were in my guest room. The desk has sold, along with the glass figurine vase. The chair is still available.
The large platter pictured below, which was used in a tablescape here sold, as did the large ceramic rooster and jardin sign on the wall.
After the rooster platter sold (but before the large rooster was bought), I brought in several European grain sacks, all of which sold. The mug rack on the table was also purchased, as were the baled mason jars (Hazel Atlas).
More smalls which sold through my purge included a couple of mirrors I used in my decor: an antique plateau mirror and a beveled dresser mirror with cherubs
The perfume atomizer (Irice) also found a new home.
Several more smalls sold, from things as small as a cork sphere pencil caddy and locally commemorative high school football (Mr. P.'s), to a vintage handbag of mine and a couple of French pastoral prints.

The following photos show more items still available, currently in our booths, from my vintage wares purged. I had five mannequins at one time in my home (three in vignettes, two stored in my basement), but only took one with me in the downsize. It was a hard choice, but I ultimately decided to purge four of the five, the last of which is pictured below. The transport scroll of famous French metro stops (replica) on the wall was also purged.
More items which were hard to give up for sale are shown in the next photo. The Hollywood Regency period (1940s-50s) crystal chandelier, Art Deco period (mid 1920s - 1930s) beveled wall mirror, 'St. Marguerite' statue and framed print (from the legendary German folklore, ballet, opera and ballads, Faust) are some of my treasures now available for someone else to enjoy.
There was a glimpse of a primitive bench in the photo above. We've since created a new display with it, shown below. It was on the landing of the second floor of our former home.
There are a mix of other items in this display. The left side shows a bathing sculpture next to a recycled mirror with the graphic "Salle de Bains" (French for bathroom), and a small French clock, both purged. The right side is a graduated set of primitive measures. Other smalls are on and beneath the bench.
The bench is placed on top of a wallpaper hanger's table, a very utilitarian item for our displays. The table allows for separate displays beneath it. Currently there's an antique wicker bench which was in my sunroom, and a concrete poodle statue (a tribute to our pet poodle, 1994-2006).
More of my purged items currently available in our booths include my apple orchard ladder, the Herbs de Provence and Jardin de Fleurs graphic wall pieces, the wooden floral painted tray, and the French framed oil painting of the rooster.
Picnic baskets and yard games also came from my purge.
Needless to say, it's been rewarding to see the things I purged sell so quickly. For those remaining to be sold, well, there eventually may be a promotional sale to move them also. We are celebrating 11 years in our rented spaces this month, and the mall will be celebrating 13 years since opening in August.

Panoply booths are located on the first floor of the South Charleston Antique Mall, 617 D Street, South Charleston, WV. It's an easy on/off of WV I-64, Exit 56. We hope you'll stop in if you're traveling anytime this summer via Charleston, WV on I-64, I-77 or I-79.

Thanks so much for your visit today!

(A special thanks to Kathy of A Delightsome Life's Home and Garden Thursday and to Barb of French Ethereal's Share Your Style #217 for sharing this post as a feature on their respective blogs!)
Rita C. at Panoply