Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Church Office Conversion

First, let me be clear. Conversion, in this post, does not refer to a rebel on his knees in a pastor's study opening his life to the Lord's dynamic intervention. Rather, this post is about a space conversion, the adaptation of a space for a different use. Stick with me and learn about: adaptive reuse.

Proclamation Presbyterian is a mission congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.  Founding minister, Rev. Troy DeBruin, rented an office on Main Street in Mt Joy, Pennsylvania. This temporary space is close to the Church of God building where the fledgling congregation meets each Sunday evening at 5 p.m.

At the end of the summer, I undertook the challenge of helping the pastor turn an ugly, on-the-street office into an inviting, multi-use church base.


The new church headquarters is two rooms, a large outer room and an inner office. The outer, multipurpose room is about 13 by 30 feet, and the inner room is 16 by 19 feet. Both rooms have nine-foot ceilings.

Originally, the outer room walls were painted fatigue green and the woodwork bisque. Because we were working with a bare bones budget, I decided to change only the wall color and work with the  neutral woodwork. After all, this is rented--not permanent--space. In the fall, a group of volunteers came and helped us give the walls two coats of Benjamin Moore paint (linen white).


I purchased a comfortable sofa and chair covered in a soft, yet durable, wool and had floor-to-ceiling draperies constructed to warm up the huge room.

On the wall where a folding table served as a make-shift desk, we placed bookcases.



The ping-pong table which leaned against the opposite wall was adapted to become a conference table. 
                             
It was painted Benjamin Moore Roxbury caramel to match the draperies.When young people drop by, a net and paddles resurface, the conference room chairs are wheeled out the way, and the table can again see competition.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the main room, the young pastor has a stand-up desk where he can work when his desk chair gets uncomfortable.

 Hidden behind the stand-up desk is a microwave, mini-fridge, and coffee maker.

With the outer room ready for guests, the inner office needed to be refreshed. When the church first rented the space, the bare walls and temporary furniture made the room look makeshift.


However, a couple more gallons of linen white paint and two more sets of ceiling-to-floor draperies   transformed the space.
                             

Then, new-to-the-church desks and credenzas add professionalism to the office.
                           


Now the space is being used by all ages--from tots enjoying daddy's computer, to teenagers playing pingpong, to adults at prayer.
This is what I call adaptive reuse!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Facelift Takes Years Off a Bath

Before Christmas we decided to give our master bathroom a facelift, nothing major, just a nip and a tuck. The makeover began, as they all do, with the modest intention of a minimally invasive procedure: merely a paint job.

However, when I looked at the room with a critical eye, I had to admit the once-classic-beauty had the design-equivalent of drooping eyelids and a sagging jaw line. Now mind you, I did not want to spend the price of a real facelift :).  I just wanted to tweak the room without breaking the bank. How much would it take to refresh the lady?

Ferreting ideas from Pinterest and Houzz, I embraced the makeover maxim: subtraction before addition. First, off came the peeling wallpaper. Although I loved the paper when we built the home, the surfaces had steamed for twenty years producing a not-so-youthful glow.
Beige and mint wallpaper was definitely over-the-hill.
Next, I studied the room's bones and realized that, whereas youth is streamlined, this lady was--well, shall we delicately say--embellished.  Soffits above the double sinks and cabinetry around the mirrors crowded the space. 
                             
Away they went.
A new face emerged.

Losing the excess was so freeing, we also eliminated the upper door of the corner cupboard.
Ah, less is more!
With the nips & tucks behind us, we were ready to contour a youthful vibe. I had the walls painted a Benjamin Moore Color Stories selection called "picnic basket", purchased a pair of gilded mirrors from the 1940s, and lighted the vanity with three Circa sconces.  

The old embroidered cafe curtains were country, not cool.


I replaced them with sleek Roman shades. 
(Drapes made by Pat Martin of Going Home Interiors.)
Now we step, instead of onto the needlepoint Victorian runner,

 onto a contemporary dhurrie rug. 

I love how the fleur-de-lis rug pattern acknowledges the Napoleonic motif on top of the mirrors.

 Finally, I splurged on a lighted makeup mirror (since I am not getting any younger myself)...
 and a new shower head for my husband.

Actually, the master-bath face lift didn't break the bank. We kept our flooring and countertops and  didn't move or replace any plumbing fixtures. Yet, I think you'd agree, she looks years younger!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Best After-Holiday Return

A local greenhouse has an annual return-your-poinsetta-and-get-twenty-percent-off-a-house-plant sale. I try to take advantage of the deal, because by late January I am ready to be done with Christmas decorations.
  This year, I replaced the poinsettia with a white cyclamen surrounded by white-tipped ivy.
Besides the new centerpiece, I also got some new plants for around the house to replace ones that had shriveled from lack of care. These are white speckled plants called a Domino Peace Lily.

 They don't require light, but they do need a drink regularly.

I have a personal aversion--no matter how realistic looking--to fake plants--be they plastic or even silk. If it isn't real, I would rather not have it. The only exception to this is glass or pottery blossoms, but even they too aren't as good as the real thing.

However, I don't have a particularly green thumb so I have to be careful which plants I choose. They can't be finicky or require careful monitoring. So, here are my tried and true favorites: jade plants which don't require much water,


succulents, and mini-palm trees thrive when they are ignored.
And perhaps, the most foolproof "plants"--curly willow twigs. They don't require light or water, but then they don't bloom either.

Every once in awhile I succumb and purchase plants that require care. Why? I guess, because "hope springs eternal in the human breast."

Two plants I have been coddling are these fiddle-leaf figs. They like lots of light and weekly watering. After I got them, they each lost a main branch of leaves and only recently have each sprouted another branch. The verdict is still out as to whether these will survive my black thumb.


I encourage everyone to splurge on blossoms this winter. Even if they won't last more than a few weeks, their fresh beauty will brighten your days.




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pitch-Perfect Anniversary Ambiance

Our anniversary was December 23rd, and even though my to-do list was still long, my husband and I ventured off for two days to a gentrified country inn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It was perfect for a holiday get-away.
The Inn at Perry Cabin charms guests with varied roof heights, dormer windows, and columned porticos. Enshrouded in the mist of winter, the clapboard hotel seems to float above the Miles River which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.

A variety of outbuildings and garden follies add to the property's quaintness.



The interiors, decorated in English country style, are cozy and inviting.




Decked for the holidays, the hotel is an ideal place to celebrate Christmas.





The inn is located in the Victorian town of St, Michaels, Maryland which is replete with antique shops and bookstores. At this time of year, the village churches were especially festive.



If next Christmas you are looking to splurge on a big anniversary or if it is your year to share your family with the in-laws, I'd highly recommend The Inn at Perry Cabin. It's wonderful at any time of year, but especially uplifting for a winter holiday get-away.

p.s. We have been married over 40 years, and I am still learning how to be a better wife. Let me share two insights from our trip last week. I should have put aside the pressing Christmas card list, and just enjoyed face-time with my best friend. On a positive note, we did take time to pray together. As the old expression goes: "The family who prays together stays together". On our trip I analyzed why that is true and concluded that when you express your thanksgiving, your wishes, and your hurts to God in the presence of your spouse, they learn a lot about what makes you tick and vice versa. Besides, when your "better angel" talks to the Almighty, it is endearing to the one listening in on the conversation.