Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Step one....Nine Hundred Nintey Nine To Go....

So the round table I had unfortunately placed in my entry was reassigned and Am still looking for a nice rectangular shape to replace it. Once I  made the decision , it became increasingly more difficult to live with the table and urgent if temporary measures had to be taken.
Enter a weird  large table thing that I found. I cant figure out what purpose it served the maker but I don't care because it is solid camphor and I bought it for crazy cheap!I  intend to have it split in half to form a slim sofa table but for now it can serve at the entrance. A lot of my house seems to be living in the meantime!!
no close ups - its not pretty. I tacked some fabric to the back of the table
I have figured out that I  want interiors that are cool (am in the tropics), laid back, work well ergonomically and do not have that contrived everything-just-so feel (hate that).

When I lived in India  I used  to go out in the heat of summer and I remember  peering at windows and doorways that  in the blinding  heat looked dark,cool and so inviting. I imagined people lolling about sipping on fresh salty  lime juice and eating cucumbers and I would get homesick despite these not being memories of home. I want to create what I  imagined the interiors to be like.
 The carpet situation is temporary. That shield is an 'trophy'  the Hubs got -complete with an actual sharp spear!The space between the art and chairs is awaiting more artwork . Am trying to find the balance between contemporary  and  a authentic Kenyan vibe

 We had some very ugly seats (imagine huge in a bad way,back rests on an angle so when one sat they automatically reclined and filthy blue fabric). They belonged to my husband from his bachelor days and I had them in a store for years. When we moved houses and I suddenly needed new seats I "naturally "thought of the monstrosities I had hidden  away. Enter a professional sofa maker who agreed to fiddle with the frames to reduce the size and straighten them and now I don't have to entertain people who are all laying down staring at the ceiling! Speaking of I found the fabric for the seats in a shop the design is called 'mazurry'(I suppose the Chinese were attempting to say mzuri-Swahili for nice/pretty) it came in this yellow,sage and a brown-white combo. Of course you can see it's a knock off  La Fiorentina  and it is quite lovely up close.

The Hubs was very hesitant when I mentioned dark gray for the walls and the compromise was to paint a few walls to see how we would get along with it. A year on, Am happy to report  that relations have been most cordial and I have green light to paint the rest of the entry,  I may, or may not Am worried about ending up with a literal translation of a black and white palette(does that even make sense?) See the white ceiling now imagine dark gray  right next to it and add the black and white light.It could all start feeling silly.

This light is way to high but I love it and i hope to figure out a way to lower it and maybe different shades. Finding non hideous lights in Nairobi is almost mission impossible.In fact the more you want to  spend the uglier the fixtures.  

This the view of the entrance from the living room the entry is  an addition made by our selves. The doors (rickety frenchies) were removed and some wall knocked out to link the two rooms. See that crazy bright afternoon sun? Do not analyse the fireplace  I have not really gotten to it.
This brings me to the problems of merging spaces for me, floors.The new entry floor is wood planks while the old living room .....very old and lovely mahogany parquet that we don't want to get rid of but the awkward contrast irks me to no end. I am sure that one will eventually have to go.

Now a sneak peak at a project that I started forever ago and Am yet to finish. It nearly drove me to drink actually it drove me to drink.....It was so difficult. Truth is it was not that difficult but things kept going wrong like the gray that looked wrong, I cut the primer with spirits instead of thinner and it turned into goo on the chair and ruined a brush oh and when i broke one of the  legs.......
Soon after I took this picture  a gold spray paint and sand paper  loving demon took possession of me and ruined the chair in the name of distressing and detailing ! When will it ever end?????? (sobbing and pulling my hair out)

I need to apply a coat of poly to seal  the paint because I have found out   that spray paint in Kenya is super crappy and  rubs off  onto stuff. Who'd have thunk it? Look at what my blue chair did to my lovely walls........oh well it's fun learning new things I guess.
Forgive me my many errors and typos. Ostriches tend to get excited when they are thinking actual thoughts(rare phenomenon).....that spelling skills just disappear!
Love  Autrichenoire.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Well, This Is Embarrassing.......

 We (Kenya) let in a mass murderer and even fed him lunch!!!!
If you have heard of Darfur and South Sudan, this is the man responsible for it all. Kenya a signatory of the Rome statute  in a diplomatic gaffe to end all diplomatic gaffes invited him to the adoption of  our new constitution meant to signify a break with the bad old no democracy days and the colonial shadow.
We  invited a mass murdering crazy to celebrate our  new found democracy, respect for freedom and human rights!!!
Instead of arresting the bugger and handing him over to the Hague, we fed him  lunch and let him sit in the front row with other heads of states.

Autrichenoire hangs head in shame and outrage.

In other news am suffering major decor funk and cant get any project going. What is the cure???

Thursday, July 29, 2010

You Are So Fired!

Dear little round table,
As your are well aware, you were recruited and given a specific role in the autrichenoire household earlier this year. The same was done based on promises made by yourself specifically regarding your ability to bring style, awesomeness and encapsulation of the personality of the employer that is Casa Autrichenoire.

Despite valiant efforts by the employer to repackage your assets, and build your capacity to perform as per the contract,  you have consistently failed to deliver on said promises and in particular you have not been stylish further, the tendency to shout grandmother on drugs is both disturbing and annoying.

This has forced your employer to avert their glance every time they enter the house which  is not an acceptable situation.

We duly acknowledge your potential for awesome and for that reason you shall not be terminated for the time being but take notice that you will be redeployed to another department where your talent may be put to better use.Take further notice that this is for a trial period only and failure to deliver on awesome will result in immediate termination and relegation  to the yard sale pile.

yours truly

Director decor management
Casa Autrichenoire

:-) Sorry  I could not resist....I think this area needs a long, rectangular presence. A console now whwre will I find one one in this furniture desert that is Nairobi? 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In other news.......

 warning: many words ....many many words

I must confess that in real life,I am a lawyer not cool sounding like classically trained concert pianist but it pays the bills and if I apply my full powers  I can make grown men cry.
I am currently employed by the government and focus on ensuring the citizenry justice, fight for the down trodden and such.
When I first joined, I loved my job :- I listened to tales of woe, I empathized, I was outraged by the unfairness of it all, gave the really awful tale bearers my money and litigated like a rabid dog.
Then it got old- really old. I mean woe, despair and general misery 8-5pm, five days a week for six years? Too much and of late I have found that  I hate my job -a lot.
I thought that I had chosen the wrong career but when I caught myself thinking  "boo hoo cry me a river " in the middle of a tale of woe and admiring the villain, I found myself thinking " I admire your guts. I mean I will have to crush you to dust but i respect the attempt at villainy"
I realised that the diet of non stop misery (other peoples), stupid moves that I am expected to fix and ridiculously low pay had dried up my bleeding heart  and turned it black and crusted over . The do gooder phase is over and done and it annoys me to no end  that i am expected to fix other peoples mess and this led to the realisation that its my current job I hate  not my career .Yay!

So I have  resolved that if am going to have no soul I may as well as hang with people who approve of that kind of thing and be paid big to work for the dark side.I am going corporate.

I have a bunch of interviews lined up and this has been my week. So hello my name is Autrichenoire and I am team dark-side.
 on the plus side corporate will mean money to buy camera= better photos win-win!

Due to the fore going (see legalese coming back) my life has been these books. Now interviews are all done let us all cross fingers for me to switch teams!!!Imagine me and Darth Vader exchanging notes during  tea break.
Tasty citrussy goodness

In an unrelated  matter the citrus season is insane!the oranges are unbelievable!
I filled this basket for less than 1$ it is all am eating for now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

DIY is not for wusses and cptn kirk rules

I have a full time and demanding job in kenya that is 8-5pm five days a week.By the time i get home, supervise home work and play with the baby am just worn out.
So my home decor projects have to happen over the weekend the thing is sometimes you just want to sleep in, maybe watch some TV (read captain James T Kirk) btw i have the hots for the capt in the worst way  its ok  my husband is cool with it and after watching  the final frontier he teases me endlessly for having the hots for a fat old dude in a silly outfit -he doesn't get it. I admit not Kirk's finest moment, that was  the series but i digress.
Projects especially DIY are time consuming, taxing and cut into Kirk time and when you dont have labour saving gadgets? nightmare. This i found out while refinishing this chair 

sanding is a straight up bitch there is no other way of putting it. I was sandinng several pieces and grew muscles in one hand.The hubs is a sensible guy  he is like -just get someone to do it and am like then it wont be DIY!srsly!!!He thinks i need medication.
Covering chairs or any thing without a staple gun is a straight up bitch.
I had to hammer a gajilllion  tacks too tiny to allow a good grip and my fingers are traumatize by the hammer. who knew such a hell existed?

After suffering a lot and cursing my refusal to just get someone.....VOILA! I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR!

A pretty side chair and when it is admired, i swell with pride like a ..proud parent .all injuries are forgoten or forgiven. DIY has delivered big time all is forgiven.
once again before also picture my equipment-it worked good!

I used peacock blue spray paint,a fabric scrap and hessian a little light sanding and she was done!

one more look proud parent style!

Ignore the mayhem in the living room it is a work in progress and will soon be ready for close ups! you may
 enjoy a glimpse of the gray wall painted with crown's pebble.

 (BTW I succesfully linked something!major!)

autriche says later!

Monday, June 21, 2010

wanted : my own style

I have been rather silent of  late because starting this blog meant that i photograph (and i use the term very loosely ) my stuff and try to analyse critically-to avoid putting incoherent tripe up. This made me realise that
i need to have  a point of view a voice that rings true to me, a style i can identify as my own.So i have been on a quest of sorts to discover the true autriche .Mountains were climbed krakens fought  and i have an idea of where i want to be headed for instance my inbuilt shelves a fairly  foreign concept in these parts but  after much explanation, cursing, once even tears i got them. phew all that work and they not that fancy!


behold ! okay but i piled on everything but the kitchen sink and my eyes were like sweety... NO!
gosh taste so awful that i offended myself .
hey progress in the quest no crowded fussy piling on of stuff. simple clean that's the ticket.
not there yet but certainly (my eyes are no longer bleeding) the right direction. less stuff  way less tiny stuff and am thinking of painting the backs of the shelves a dark Grey . In the top picture i have historically important pieces such as on the top shelf the native hut poll tax levied against the natives by the colonialists to get them to need money and hence agree to provide cheap labour. this tax was a major grievance in the mau mau war waged by the locals for freedom  if only they knew freedom would involve being one of the most highly taxed countries in the world!
while at it, i also reworked my bookshelf. situated on the back of the in built with black boxes above.

its abit fuzzy ...sorry. it faces the back door opening out to the "forest" and i would love to have  seat there to read and get away from noisy children and super noisy games..... a lovely dream .look
the forest is just twenty trees planted close together and is lovelley  sigh.
i am now back to the quest  and will report back soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sun room, entry, I dont know what it is

The  entry to my house  is awkward.You walk in , hang a sharp left and a find yourself in the "sun room" we only call it that for lack of appropriate descriptive and it has huge windows. Seriously who has a sun room in Africa? we are all trying to get away from the sun not get more of it!

so any away i  repainted and refinished the little pedestal table,  threw on a nice table cloth, some pictures to identify the residents, cleared the toys away and presto an entrance separate from the sun room.

i cant get my photos to rotate so just tilt your head pretend its a fun game
the copper plate I added for a key and stuff catcher.

The view from outside - how nice not to be met with piles of toys at the door. now stored in the dead space behind the door when it opens.see the blinding light? that is at 7.00 AM. Add onto  my ever growing to do list, sheers for sun control.
Notice the pooled curtains.Luxurious looking as proclaimed on blog sphere? No. try dusty seams. Africa is too dusty for these! grimy! I am taking them up by about 2 inches

I used a black stain for the table top I did not leave it on for too long. The table now has an ebony like pattern that I love. Lift her skirts to glimpse at the leg; someone thinks it a great place to play. I will share the  full sun room Monty after sheers, floor covering and few tweaks.

and onto  some coming soons
This coffee table that I found in a second hand shop. It has a lovely oval shape with pretty iron legs I cannot for the life of me figure out why someone would discard  this piece. Must be the current madness sweeping the nation, symptoms include throwing out really good quality furniture to make room for the mass produced   laminated particle board  crap from china (not an insult) that costs a bundle(ie;stuff not allowed into my house). Their loss my gain.Am thinking silver paint. I have looked for silver leaf but cant find it. My living room needs a look at me piece and this is it.I will share on how it goes wish me luck.

Next up this chair that i found while looking fort a desk for my daughters room. it was love instant glorious i cannot live without you love. I still got the desk but sacrificed a weeks worth of lunch money to get it(lunch is over rated anyway no actually i raided the left overs -i love lunch).The seat is a lovely peacock blue linen ruined by filth i will try and save it for a lumbar pillow.

check out the cane back a rarity in these parts of the world as well as the carved details to die for  i tell you.
Am not yet decided on whether to painting or attempting to restore the wood (time has been unkind). who knows how the spirit will move me? For sanding sanding and more sanding.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My grandmother's world meets my world

When i got married,many a moon ago,the women of my extended family threw me a bridal shower as demanded by our customs. this shower was no  buy cake, invite your girlfriends and play naughty games kind of shower.
this was like all kinds of female relatives singing dancing,ululating and dispensing  questionable sound advice for marital bliss as well as assembling a trousseau.(well maybe not so different from your every day shower). 

The upside was that i made out like a bandit in the gift department. Down side, what do you do with 60 assorted tea mugs with every pattern from wolves(true story) to golf trivia? Have you ever seen golf trivia transfer ware it will give you the sads.

Some relatives wisely decided to go time tested classic. I recieved hand woven baskets ,clay pots and all kinds of calabashes and gourds to kit out my real kenyan wife kitchen.All these am glad to report hold places of honour in my house. If my house ever caught fire and all the people were safe, i would go back for these.

the hand made baskets in my living room the orange/brown one near the window was given by my mother

looking at them reminds me of child hood visits to my grandmother 's rural home. In the morning all in her kitchen ( a round mud hut with a smoky fire underneath a pot held up by 3 stones) and she would blow on the fire to make the tea boil. Hanging from the rafters were baskets just like mine only bigger which were a pantry sort of. One held maize meal another millet or sorghum others delightful surprises for her citified grand children -a giant paw-paw sweeter than candy, a sweet potato to buried in the embers of the fire to roast, some eggs, just bounty from the land given with love to her children.
she also had a big ass gourd whose contents were so sought after, so valuable, it had to stay locked up in her bedroom.the gourd contained soured milk -so delicious sweetened and eaten with  maize-meal.Whenever she came to visit  the gourd full of sour milky goodness came with her. sadly she is gone now and the baskets and gourds gone with her. I feel sorry for my children who have missed out on the experience of having an old school grandmother-their grandmothers come to to visit with chocolate and cash to buy treats . sad.

these are my gourds they live atop an Armoire in my bed room the largest one (wearing a fedora) reminds of Alice kavula my grandmother

Anyway my point? fill your home with things you love, things that have meaning to your family. make your own regardless of whether it is trendy or not

sorry about the fuzzy photos....let me show you what i use for a camera

totally state of the art maybe even cutting edge equipment

Two befores to help me stay on track.the first a table i bought to define my awkward enrty way as usual i only remembered to take photos after taking it apart and starting stripping the finish.

the table top wasn't in bad shape but i am anti stain everything mahogany so it had to change

the base it's metal and pretty i like the details at the bottom

the white stuff is soap i remembered to take photos mid wash

my trusty accomplices

my entryway also masquerades as a toy station not pretty
will post afters real soon. I know this ostrich is really rather gabby!how does one get her to shut up?
love to all autriche

Monday, March 8, 2010

swahili doors autriche style

one of my favourite destinations is Mombasa, Kenya. It is a short flight away 45mins or about four to five hours by road from Nairobi. I love the heat, the history, the food, the languid pace of life, the Swahili life style and the Swahili architecture and design.I can spend hours in 'old town' the original Swahili settlement and a world heritage site. i spend hours tramping up and down the charmingly named "ndia Kuu" literary meaning the old road. Way back when sea faring was the only means of international travel travellers would land somewhere near ndia kuu and walk up the incline into Mombasa and Kenya. everything that is Kenya as we know it is thanks to ndia kuu since that the route that brought in the west to Kenya. whether that was a good thing or not has nothing to do with this post and i aint touching it.

inserted :eye candy to provide respite from the super long lecture-as a peace offering sorry ;-)

a mishmash of the native Africans and sea faring traders including Arabs and Indians resulted in a new culture and language known as Swahili. The language thus born has become lingua franca in East Africa. as for their design especially in furniture, simply brilliant from the famed carved Swahili doors built to withstand battering by elephants to everyday pieces, they excelled and the art is still being passed on from master to apprentice .
that is the non schooled in Swahili history but think that they are the coolest version. consult someone who actually paid attention in school for better details.
the point of the long winded tale is Swahili doors see peace offering above. I love them I want one they cost an arm, a leg and a kidney. What is an ostrich to do?

look at the detailed carving with strong Arab/Islamic influences and a touch of African in the borders and it is actually being used in a Swahili style shop(swoon)
this brings me to our house, we bought it from  someone who had been unable to evict the tenant but that did not stop us. The acreage, location and price were unbeatable add to that a colonial era house ?..sold. Evil tenants be damned! Getting evil tenant guy out took a full year, lawyers, police, auctioneers and private security  wow talk of drama!  It merits a whole post or ten. The house was just about to fall down and the Reno job is the fodder for this blog. 

Evil tenant guy was running a Swahili reproduction business out of the compound so I ended up salvaging lots of bits and pieces from the rubbish pile and in the kitchen (which was awful-picture cabinetry from the fifties  painted a sickly shade of pink and stenciled with seaside motifs in  dirty ink blue shudder) there was a spice cabinet mounted on the wall OHHH score! solid rosewood and doors modeled on the Swahili doors.



Forgive the photo quality i use a phone camera and its going to betah way for some time and why wont the stupid picture center?
even with a crappy camera the hand carved details are amazing. I took it off the wall removed the shelving to mimic authentic Swahili doors in miniature ...i literally DIE! (sorry Rachel Zoe).

Am thinking on a wall with the sunlight hitting the waxed to a gleam details just so. Be still my heart.
sorry for the super long long post.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

you know me - dont you

so i have been running myself rugged to make the man i schlep for happy but alas the ways of the man are a mystery for he/she/it can never be pleased. During such un-fun times it is necessary to resort to the bag of pick me ups.

chocolatey bliss the man? what man ? i loves you man!

live long and prosper. beam me up scotty!

last but most important,