Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Home Sweet Apartment ~ in Pink

Since bringing back from my parents' house the mantel my dad built for me and Mike last April, I've been painting it and fixing up the things that will surround it.  My treasured old "Home Sweet Apartment" needlepoint is the first piece I've revamped for the mantel-wall.  It was one of my very first eBay finds back in 2001, that most-miserable of years, and even though--or maybe especially because--I was unexpectedly living with my parents again at the time, I was thrilled when mine was the winning bid:  This vintage sampler, like a Field of Dreams-type "If-you-find-the-decorations-for-it-the-new-home-will-come" talisman,  gave me something concrete to work toward as a frustrated twenty-four-year-old.  

In the summer of 2002 when I finally had my first all-to-myself-with-no-roommates apartment, I delighted in unpacking the needlepoint and dolling it up, and what a year before had arrived pine green and maroon with an unfinished wooden frame became pink and aqua to match the little dining nook in my new place.  
"Home Sweet Apartment" behind me as I would sit in the corner seat under it there and work on school work for my second Masters program.  "Home Sweet Apartment" beside my newly-ex-boyfriend and I as we sat across from each other at this vintage tablecloth-clad table eating bowls of my homemade soup and awkwardly figuring out our post-breakup friendship.  "Home Sweet Apartment" above me as I bawled my heart out in this pink-dotted chair the following New Year's night after realizing we weren't ready to be "just friends" just yet and that we might never be able to in this lifetime.  The sampler over me and my mom when she showed up on a whim with two chocolate muffins from the bakery and listened as I made us tea and told her all about it.  The sampler over a whole bunch of us when I hosted both my first family dinner and first birthday party and relearned that as long as I had love to give--and gave it--I wasn't down for the count.  Before I moved out of this first "all mine" apartment, a former professor joined me for cookies and lemonade under the needlepoint and commented that I was good at making people feel welcome.  "Hospitality is your thing, isn't it," he thoughtfully noted.  And that's when "Home Sweet Apartment" really clicked for me:  I really had created a home here, not just filled and decorated a rented space. 
The pink and aqua needlepoint became a more subdued and not-very-Val-like red and yellow in 2007, so as not to overwhelm Mike with my pink-and-rainbow-loving tendencies.  Our studio apartment was so tiny, it was hard to do any real decorating in it at all, so the yellow and red actually didn't bother me too much.  When you can roll out of bed in your home-sweet-apartment and land on the kitchen floor, or open the bathroom door while sitting at the dinner table, the color combination of a sampler's matte and frame isn't your biggest homemaking concern.  Besides, the sweet sampler watched over me and Mike, this time hanging from the apartment's built-in mantel, during all our goings-on for four years the same as it had when it had been pink and aqua for me before.  Home was still love-filled and our favorite place.  Be it ever so humble, you know.   
Today it became pink again, though, and I don't see it changing after this.  It finally looks just right to me.  I covered the yellow matte with the dotted pink upholstery fabric that I had used to cover the captain chairs in my little circa-2002 pink and aqua corner.  I repainted the red frame black.  And I removed the glass-front since I don't trust this apartment's wall to hold its weight.  While I continue painting the mantel and fixing up the wall around it, at least this much is done.  That I figured out a way to incorporate the old chair fabric makes me especially happy.  
"Lighten up, Val--It's a sampler," I know, but when I look at it, I remember the journey it's accompanied me on and think of it as a witness to the past twelve years.  When Mike and I eventually move on from renting, I will pass it on to its next owners with a prayer for their own resilience and contented refuge in home.  
Sweet, indeed. 

17 comments:

pam said...

Looks great, and love the roses print with it! It's great when you walk in somewhere and it feels like "home" . Not like a place you are staying until you get where you want to be. ;)

Val said...

Thank you, Pam. :) I love the roses with it too. I'll be so thrilled when this wall is done and I can take pictures of it all tgether. One step at a time.... :)

heidi said...

I love the colors you used. It all looks wonderful.

Heidi’s Wanderings

Nellie said...

You are an excellent story teller! I love the sampler and the way you relate the occasions over which it "presided." Life goes on, and we move with it, bringing about new experiences. You are doing wonderfully with yours! Love that cat! Certainly a bundle of sweetness!

Val said...

Thank you, Heidi. I just emailed you. :)

Val said...

Nellie, thank you so much, that means a lot to me. ♥

And yes, Stuffed is quite the charmer. The plumber had to come last week, and even he stopped to cuddle Stuffed for a minute before starting his work. That made me and Mike laugh. :)

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Love your sweet sign and all of the ways you have used it in your home.

You are such a happy, positive person, and it's a joy to read your posts.

Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

Kim said...

It is beautiful and even more so because of all the meaning it holds for you. I love to visit your blog- you have an excellent way with words that makes me feel so drawn into your memories and stories. Hope you are having a wonderful spring.

Amy said...

Youuuuu....can come decorate my house any time. <3 I love your style!

La Table De Nana said...

You are so Mary Engelbreit:)Love your place..and that sign.. glad you got it and kept it..a little treasure.

Val said...

Lorraine, thank you. Love to you this week. ♥

Kim--Thank you! This post did't feel to me like it had really come together, so I'm glad I managed to get across what I was trying to anyway. And it feels more like summer, but thank you, and I hope you're doing well too. :)

Amy, thank you! I realized I needed more pink around me, so the mantel-wall is going to be the pink spot in the apartment. I've missed having a bigger dose of it to look at. And the patchwork chair, when all done, will be beside the mantel. One project at a time, but I hope it'll all be together before the end of this summer. :)

Monique, thank you. :) "So Mary Engelbreit" is a sweet compliment. :)

Rev. Jim said...

Val: I love the improvements! But, where's a picture of the mantel?
You also need a "China Shepherdess" ! :)

Taby Jean said...

I just love the little pieces follow us around all our lives. I have a few of those too, that have been redone & redone to match an ever changing background in our silly little house! Fantastic post--

http://aclosetintellectual.blogspot.com/

Lisa said...

Rev. Jim's comment is interesting, but isn't Olivia de Havilland as good as any shepherdess?

Val said...

Exactly, Taby Jean.

Jim, I should have known you'd mention the china sheperdess. :)

Olivia will soon have a new home on a new wall here, but yes, Lisa, it gets no lovelier. :)

asmplelife said...

As always, Val, a wonderful post. That sampler could tell lots of stories - thank you for sharing some of them! I would have guessed hospitality was your gift - you've made this little blog a very warm and welcoming place =)

Val said...

Thank you, Cheryl. :)