I come from a long line of painters. Sounds strange to say aloud, but when I look at my family history, that’s what sticks out.
My grandfather was a custom house painter, as was my uncle. My father spent his youthful summers working with his father, as did my brother. My grandmother in Japan was also a painter, albeit slightly different from my American side in that she preferred oil on canvas and traditional calligraphy. As did my mother.
I love paint. I love the way it adds a new dimension of sweat to any person who accidentally smears it on their forehead or rubs it against their trousers. I love the way it settles into the crevices of your palms when gripping a wet brush, or the way it lazily swirls with the gentle stir of a paint stick.
There is a certain rustic romanticism that exists for me with paint. I’m not sure why, but there you have it. And don’t even get me started on Moonlight and Valentino. As a die-hard Bon Jovi fan, this whole movie is just too much for me to handle.
When we moved into our new home, I was in desperate need of some color on my walls. Switzerland is an amazing country. But one thing they don’t do very well is home-decor variation. Everything. Is. White. And not just that nice crisp white from a fresh coat. I’m talking asylum white, the kind that you find on the tiles, the tubs, the cabinets, the doors.
In addition to my obvious distaste of the color scheme, I was also in desperate need of a comfortable eating area. We were lucky enough to find a place with a separate dining room, and with Aidan entering his discover & conquer period (he was 14-months old at the time we moved in), I wasn’t about to destroy our good dining table with his food-smearing, utensil- prodding adventures.
So I set about redoing the small nook we had in our kitchen. It was a small area, only about 1.8 square meters, but definitely large enough to fit a small table and a few chairs.
I have never stencilled a wall before. I’m not sure exactly what prompted me to do it. Looking back, perhaps it was my way of merging the practical and artistic strengths of my two families. On 19 September, on my 34th birthday, I began a project that would take me months to finish. Aidan was in daycare only two days a week, and by the time I finished all the day-to-day chores, I had little time to paint. But I had already purchased the stencil, the paint, the tape, so there was no turning back. The inspiration for my kitchen design? Right here…
Stencil products from Cutting Edge Stencil are ah-mazing. The website includes a tutorial on how to do everything. What looks to be horribly complicated, is not. It just takes patience. And time. And perhaps a simple reminder that at the end of the day, it’s just you, the wall, and a bit of paint. Worst case scenario is that you mess up, and worst case fix is that you repaint the area, and start over. Doesn’t seem so scary anymore, does it?
With that in mind, I began. At the end of my first day, this is what I had finished. And I won’t lie. I was damn proud.
It would be a few more weeks until I completed the stencilling. The edges were particularly difficult, but again, with the help of Cutting Edge Stencils tutorials, I found my way around them.
With the paint complete, I realised the kitchen had taken on a life of its own, and the table and chairs just weren’t going to cut it. The square shape of the table was clogging my kitchen. The chairs were taking up too much space. And as much as I love turquoise, the colour was too harsh a juxtaposition against the soft grey walls.
I could do better. Over the course of the next month, IKEA and I became quite close. I wasn’t looking to spend a fortune, but I did want to transform the kitchen into a place that was warm, inviting, and enjoyable to be in. Importantly, I wanted to maximize on the space I had to work with.
A few trips later, I had purchased a round white table, an accent clock, a picture wall shelf, and five single unit EXPEDIT wall/storage cubicles. A few screws and a couple of calluses later, this is what I created…
My kitchen is now aglow with life. It’s the place we retreat to for lazy weekend breakfasts and family-of-three dinners. I’ve since added homemade cushions to the seats, but I’ll save that for another post. It actually is time for dinner, and the kitchen is calling…