The Art of Achieving: the imperfect pilgrimage of one person's journey

I love beauty as much as the next person. I fawn over the craftsmanship of a painstakingly thought out detail, the intersection of a structural beam that kisses the wall and disappears into the great unknown somewhere above the hard ceiling, the paint job whose lines are militant in their precision, the window whose somebody’s forethought so carefully frames out the view in the backyard of the barn with its codfish topped cupola.

Courtney Barton . Twin Throw Dohar . Ector Eggplant $195.

Instagram and social media, magazines, photo shoots, and Hollywood are all staged, and air brushed, to make you believe they were born of the imagination of such satirical thrillers as The Stepford Wives, which is to say, they are robotic in their image of near perfection. Life however isn’t perfect, unless your view is perfectly messy – then you are on the right side of reality.

Maison Balzac . Pink Carafe and Glass $74.99

I have no idea what the point of this particular rant (also known as a blog post) is about today. Maybe its a recognition that doing something well is really hard. Maybe it’s a thank you note and expression of gratitude for all the long hours, dedication, and obsessive tinkering that lead all these creators that I profile, to produce things of beauty. Maybe I am trying to cut myself some slack, at the start of this new decade, which has not been at all easy.

Look at that happy little planter of stars. Star Finished Brass Fire Place Screen. $2,395.

I’m going to work under the assumption that even if it looks effortless to me from the outside, that it likely wasn’t. Perhaps the little flaw was strategically hidden from the camera’s capturing eye, or the maker, made hundreds of that special thing that they make, before one was even close to camera ready. Putting the effort into getting good at something takes time – even if you have a propensity to do it well, and if you don’t – well then, you need to be so stubbornly determined that no collection of failures will deter you from your heart’s desire.

I love a good story. The best have a moral, a lesson, a way of turning the leaf over in your palm and viewing it through an entirely different lens. Perfection is boring you see, and whether I know the real story or not, my version is always going to be interesting. It’s always going to include a little challenge, a little strife, and an underdog that prevails.

Chairish . Lauren Jane Lounging Lady $621.

Happy Saturday.

Side Table Challenge

Top: All Modern . Keith 1 Plug-in Wallchiere $92.99. Bottom: Bungalow 5 . Isadora Tea Table . Natural $663.00

Bedside tables are very personal. Are you a reader, and need to stack up books and magazines next to the bed? Prefer a vintage alarm clock and not much more? These considerations have to be – well considered before you lay down hard earned cash. Too tall and you are apt to knock your noggin on it at night. Too short, and you’ll find yourself tossing down the expensive iphone, putting the screen in peril. Think about what makes you – you when your tucked beneath the sheets on a Sunday night. It’ll serve you best all the other nights of the week too.

I love a lamp on the bedside table, but it does take up a lot of room. For this challenge I looked into wall sconces – plug in only. Unless you are renovating the bedroom the prospect of bringing in an electrician for the one tiny job of installing sconces in the bedroom can seem daunting. If you are a little bit like me, you might tell yourself that you will definitely do it, likely after having fallen in love with a ridiculously expensive pair of wall scones, awaiting their arrival, and then looking at them wistfully for weeks – maybe months on end, watching as “call the electrician” gets kicked down the To Do List, and you go to bed without reading your book because it would necessitate you getting out of bed after your all warm and sleepy – to turn the light out. Boo – who wants that.

Worry not, I have selected quite a few DIY sconces for the refresh. Check them out and let me know which combo has you singing your favorite lullaby.

Sidelined: A tiny attempt at building

Not exactly tiny, but sublime.

I’ve spent my whole life watching other people build things. I read about, write about it, make my living working around people that actually do it. With their hands and their minds and their patience and problem solving they are cleverly places that matter. Place-making, make no mistake, matters. How we live within those walls has as much to do with what we do in it, as how we are influenced by it. Sure I can slap a coat of paint on it, put up a pretty picture, and cover the floor tired and worn spots, dents and dings and imperfections, but gosh darn it. I want to have my hand in the mix of making something perfectly imperfect.

Built into the landscape . be mindful of your town’s ordinances – they may require a set back from your property line.

I realize with a deep sense of impending dread that what I am likely to create when I stubbornly embark on this tiny house adventure is a host of frustration over my inability to execute what I so clearly see in my mind.

I love the idea of barn doors opening onto the back yard or garden.

I understand that writing about something – is not the same thing as actually knowing how to do something. It’s not posing exactly, but it’s also not creating, and creation of anything is really the closets thing that we mere humans can expect to get to nirvana. I want to feel that elation – that oneness – that sense of belonging that comes from building something.

Slipping into the scenery.

Since 2020 was undoubtedly going to test me, I decided to at least be in control of a singular element of the many that were out of my control. Last week I started my Tiny House Building Class. Let me say right out of the gate, this class is tiny-lite. Lite because carpentry and the laws of construction are complicated. Yes, three are laws – whenever mother nature is involved, you can expect that you better learn to follow them, or she’ll get the best of you. Trust me on this one. These laws are complex. I don’t allow myself to feel too badly about that, primarily because even the very best builders can get stumped by them. It’s true. Second, I’m terrible at math. If you say, oh what’s that 8 x 12.5 tiny house in square feet….I’ll look up at the sky for a while and say, hum, like 84SF? Trying to remember if I read it somewhere else and am even close to right. Now, this might seem daunting to someone that, like me, is horrible at math – that’s both algebra and geometry – not like most people who are good at one OR the other. I’m terrible at both. This might lead you to the conclusion that I shouldn’t even bother to try. Forget it. I’m trying. I can use programs that figure the math out, I can apply manual tricks like measuring things out with small scale mock-ups – or full scale if I have to. The point is, I won’t be deterred, and no amount of telling me to … Carl (that’s my teacher’s name) will get me to listen.

What I can tell you is, it would be super expensive – mistakes always are, if my father who is brilliant, and really good at math, building, zoning regulations, history, boating, fine finish carpentry, how the world works and so much more, wasn’t helping me. But he is. You can get help too. People are surprisingly willing to help when you just ask…nicely.

Room with a view.

My tiny house isn’t going to have wheels. If it needs to be moved, we’ll just have to jack the whole thing up and truck it away – that can be done too – I’ve seen it.

Any tiny house of mine needs a heat source.

Applied Knowledge: Make your own molding

Flat faced doors and cabinets can feel modern, or boring or both. That’s not to say that I don’t like modern, I do – very much in fact, but unless you are doing something to that flat surface – like say crafting it out of an extremely rare wood, or painting it with a gazillion coats of high gloss until it shines like a veneer…it may look like a tag sale find that’s not so special.

I adore a long sentence but I might have broken my record with the above. Any who, I am not bashing a tag sale find, and the Cape Cod Townie in me will always be in turns conflicted about lovely that elegant wood, and resenting it. I’m a complicated gal, but I like to believe that somewhere in the midst of that turmoil – something beautiful emerges.

If I am to apply the things that I have learned in the past, sometimes “faux” is the way to go. It’s not the wood that’s so expensive, it’s the labor. Further, if you paint on a definitive border as an inset to your paneled door in place of a molding, you move from traditional to contemporary – cool even. Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say you can’t make “traditional” moldings cool. I know you can. As I so often say to my incredibly talented friend Jennessa…..”I’ve seen what you can do with a cupcake”. Well, I’ve seen what Kelly Wearstler can do with a molding and a can a paint, but every pony needs more than one party trick. Don’t you think?

Stage Right. Just a hint of reality.

Get after this week or it’s liable to get after you.

Suzanne Kassler . Daybed by Atelier Vime – Beaucaire.

I wish I could say that this was the last of it, but like a tween – I’m smitten, and there really is no way of telling when I’ll stop crushing so hard on rattan. Maybe some adorable bit of eye candy will come along next week. Maybe it’ll be another month, however long it takes to get it out of my system, be kind to me. You remember what an all consuming heart throb does to you.

Rattan can be ratty, and I’m not opposed to a little tattered and worn, as long as it doesn’t poke me in the butt. I don’t appreciate being jabbed under any circumstance. As long as I won’t be physically accosted by the piece, a significant amount of high-gloss paint can go a long way to making that piece look perfectly at home, in a fancy setting, or on some old weathered porch.

However, it’s the sublime perfection of these latest pieces that have been capturing my imagination. Still very much in the dream stage, the piece that I have my heart set on is so obviously outside my price range – though I can’t tell you what the price is other than to say that its “upon request”, which is just a nice way of saying, forget about it. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

Atelier Vime . Beaucaire . Stool – Price upon request

They can go on being that way if they want, but I have found that if you set your mind to it, and the it that you set your mind too is something that you want very, very badly, well then you’ll find a way to get it.

Perigold . Gold Metal Vase with Rattan Trim and Glass Insert . $94.80

Suzanne Kasler, I rue the day I met you. Oh, wait a minute – I never did meet you, did I. I just stalk you on instagram, buy your books, and end up getting hooked on ridiculously expensive finds like Atelier Vime’s Beaucaire Daybed and stool. I think you owe me an apology. You could make it up to me by shipping that little beauty of a stool to my home address.

Happy Saturday.