Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Love, Blue Rooms and Hemingway on Valentine's Day

I feel sorry for my partner. Imagine having a design journalist manage your household? ("Are you putting green and purple sheets on the bed? Together? Are you really going to do that to me?") 

Seriously. No wonder he drinks. 

(Side note: He deliberately switches the towels and bedlinen around when I go away for work, just to be wicked. I come home and the house looks like someone's vomited Pantone's mis-tints everywhere.

Anyway, I realise he lives a very difficult life with me as a partner, and so every now and then I try to make it up to him with marital rewards. (No, NOT that kind.) If you've been in a relationship for a few years you'll know these keep the peace. What's that old adage? "A marriage is less like love and more like a business arrangement where you both try to balance the books and keep an eye on the competition."

So, as a gift, I gave him this (above). It's a Fishing Pass. For 12 months' of Guilt-Free Fishing. 

He used January's pass last weekend, and has a February trip to King Island this weekend. A group of his mates have chartered a plane and are flying down to the island to do Secret Men's Business. When he comes back, I'm going to Sydney for a girlies' week. This is how you keep a marriage together, you see. It tends to work beautifully.

While he was away on last weekend's Bloke's Bonding Trip with the political boys, I decided to turn his bedroom into a 5-star, hotel-style suite. As a treat.

(This is our bedroom, but when he snores, I sleep in the Maid's Quarters in the back. So I call this his bedroom.)

The 'theme' was 'Hemingway's Boat'. The book of which I read over summer, and loved.

Repainted the walls, which were splotchy from the last painting effort.
(WHO hung those wonky pix?)

Then re-painted the butler's trays. These were spray-painted with gold paint, then lacquered over with a Feast Watson Choc-Walnut finish, so they resembled the side of a boat. 

The curtains were $20 at Spotlight. Love those Spotlight sales. Hate the navy and gold fabric but it does look masculine and we can't afford Manuel Canovas.

The padded bedhead was a DIY job with leftover Ralph Lauren navy pinstripe linen, bought for $12/m.

Made a little Hemingway side table. We already had the replica of Hem's house in Key West and the bestselling book Hemingway's Boat by Paul Hendrickson, and then I found the boat on sale – the closest I could find to Hem's beloved cruiser 'Pilar'. (Just ignore the dubious painting job on the table.)

The finished product. 
The Hemingway Suite.
(Sorry about the bad hospital corner on the bed there. The whole bed looks dishevelled! I had to get back to work!)

This was my helper. He likes to oversee things. When he's not emitting gaseous smells and humping his Jack Russell sibling.

RR loved the new bedroom. He loved it so much, he decided to write a poem. This is what he wrote:

Our love is like a Hemingway boat.
It always manages to stay afloat...

When he gave it to me, I had to try not to laugh.

"Is that all you have for me?" I said eventually, with a solemn face. "Love is like a boat?"
"Well, I agree it's not Keats," he said.
"Perhaps you need to revisit it?" I suggested. "Perhaps it's missing a verse, a stanza, or something...?"

(Actually, this is the replica card. The original was damaged after the dogs trod on it.)

"I'll write you another poem on February 14," he said generously.

And that, my dear readers, is how we keep the magic going in our house.


  1. Loved "Hemingway's Boat"- the bedroom is perfect!

    1. Isn't it a great book? Going to try to find the DVD of 'Hemingway and Gelhorne' next, with Nicole Kidman.

    2. After reading Hemingway's Boat, I read Hemingway & Gellhorn. The HBO movie was pretty faithful, but, still, the book was so much more.
      Try the book too!

  2. LOVE the room. I've been searching for the perfect shade of blue, and it looks like you found it. Is this a Ben Moore color?

    1. Thank you. We were so lucky with the colour. It's difficult to find the right navy. We wanted a real old-fashioned navy, like those found in school uniforms and naval jackets and rugby tops, not too cobalt and not too black. This was by a Australian company called Taubman's and it's a paint called 'Vanquished'. I know Ben Moore has a similar colour as I saw it in the NY store, but can't remember the name. If you're stuck, find a sample of navy somewhere, either from a book or clothing, and ask a paint company to replicate it. Good luck!

  3. Oh I love it, you are an absolute wonder at decorating. Oh I watched the Hemingway and Gelhorn film last week, oh it's turgid!

    1. Oh I'm so envious! I keep missing it. It was on in the US when I was there for work last year but kept missing it somehow. (Can never work those hotel TVs too!) Some people hate ol' Hemingway - my sister-in-law loathes him - but he was 'a misunderstood character', as they say in the trade. He was such a prolific writer, and had AMAZING taste - both in cities and in women. (Paris, Key West, Havana...) He was in terrible pain for most of his life, because of war injuries, yet got up each day and wrote 3000 words. A man after my own heart. x

  4. Janelle-a has a Fella
    Who really floats her boat
    But if he dares to switch the linens
    She'll be handing him his coat!

    (sorry, couldn't help myself) This was such a funny look into a real world 'Day in the Life' and it appears you're doing just great at navigating the choppy waters of marriage. The deep blue nautical theme was perfect. I might have painted the ceiling a half strength of the same color, for a cozy cabin feeling.

    1. What a great idea Donna! I actually thought of that, after seeing an imagine of an ensuite where they'd painted the walls navy and then put gold wallpaper on the ceiling. BUT WHO HAS TIME TO WALLPAPER A CEILING? Perhaps we could paint the ceiling that 'Haint Blue' used on verandahs in the Deep South, to keep the bad spirits out? x

  5. This is the first blog post I've read about a snoring room. When we renovated 3 years ago, we had our master made into two rooms inside a suite. The smaller room we call the "snoring room" I'm the snored so it's where my husband would go to sleep. It has turned into my room. My closet is in there and I like to stay up late reading. I'm getting ready to spruce it up. "My room" will be much more feminine. I'll send you a link when I post.

    1. Loved hearing about your Snoring Room Maureen. Would love to see the pix whrn you're finished! Do email them if you have time.

      A Cup of Jo once did a blog post on couple who have separate bedrooms and SO many people commented to say it had saved their marriage. Even Tom and Katie had a Snoring Room installed, apparently. I actually like having my own bedroom. (Mine is hot pink and tangerine.) But it's also because I often work until 3am and it's not fair disturbing my partner at that time. Thanks for the lovely comment. x

  6. I wondered why the poem was in your very nice distinctive writing .

    I love Hemingway I once had a book of his short stories all about men ..of course.I always thought it would be fun to visit his houses on e day

    Glad you're busy's the Hanging Rock book?

    1. Hanging Rock book is FINISHED Stephanie. Oh praise be to the Lord! That book nearly killed me. I am NEVER writing another #%&#%$^^ novel again.

      It's now sitting for a few days, to 'cure', before the final edit. (Which might be a huge red pen through the lot.) Valentine's Day is the D-Day. Readers will be offered a free copy. x

      PS Come with me to Key West one year. You'd love his house there. We'll go on Fantasy Fest Weekend for a laugh.

    2. Don't you dare use that pen ..well only judiciously .I'm sure its fantastic

      trip to key west? ...anytime !

      My friend bought me the huge book from the V&A's exhibition of film costumes.Marlene in gold bejewelled long skirt with tight jacket, edged in fur, outfit by Adrian
      They don't make them like that anymore.

      Did you know one of the celebrated Hollywood designers 1940s and 1950s Orry-kelly was from Kiama NSW

  7. Janelle... snap! We are twins. I used the same paint ("Vanquished") last weekend to paint the Man's study bookshelves (left the frame white, only painted the inside back panel navy) and then artfully loaded the shelves with books, blue and white chinoiserie china. Made a blue and white ticking cushion for the desk chair and added a white desk lamp. All very crisp and fresh. Man comes from from OS tomorrow. Hope he likes his new study. My only comment is that the navy needs several coats - I used thee coats to cover the previous smokey grey paint. But it certainly qualifies as proper old fashioned navy. Judith in Canberra

    1. Oh how marvellous! Vanquished is such a great name too, isn't it? That bookshelf sound beautiful. And I LOVE ticking. The chinoiserie china sounds gorgeous too. Your room sounds so much more dignified than my tossed-together effort.

      I agree about the coats. We actually used a Porter's Paints before we tried the Taubman's. But Porter's over-tint their rich, saturated colours, and so they go on in a splotchy way. (We had to get a professional painter in to assess the problem, because it looked like a mess.) I had a stern word to Porter's. They should have recommended a grey-based primer to go underneath.

      We had to sand the entire room by hand to get rid of the Porter's Paint, then do a 3-1 undercoat, then go over it with the Taubman's. (As I refuse to go back to Porter's.) The first paint was a little weak, so I went over it last weekend. RR finished when he came home.

      Painting. It's SUCH a nightmare, isn't it?

  8. Oh Janelle.. what a honey you are. This blog post has inspired me to be brave and 'just do it'! You are so creative, and not afraid to share your gift with others. Thank you so very much for sharing your gift today.. its Inspired to me convince my better half F that we 'need' that Taubmans Vanquished in our Study !!!- Blue (and I quote from Color - Victoria Alexander magnificent book)resonates with beauty, purity, and wisdom. It can help ease tension, and gives a feeling of tranquility. Blue also projects an image of power, credibility trust and professionalism.
    I love all what you did in your 'boudoir'.. well done!

    1. You should! Just go and paint a room navy. It's "the new neutral".
      I love Victoria's book. She emailed me with a lovely thank-you note after I did a post about it. Love a woman with manners.
      Hope you're well. Have been looking at your beautiful tours with envy... May just do one later this year.

  9. this is the funniest post i've ever read! i love it. how on earth does anything get done around here? you nailed it!


    i love hemingway, love your bedroom redo and love you too!

    1. Dear Janet,
      Was so sad at your post last night. Kept thinking about Miss Doris before I went to sleep. Hope you, Miss Doris and your son are all okay. Hugs from here.

  10. Hello Janelle Happy New Year! I have responded to a few posts and they have vanished into thin air! Here goes again hope it goes through! I have been loving your posts especially the Paris post.I am going in April and I can not wait.I had such a laugh reading this blue post and a tear.I do adore the blue and the make over study it looks sensational.You do have such a talent for decorating.I have just started building a house near the beach and am toying with the sandy colours and the navy blue accessories for a statement.I wonder about a navy room I will have to wait see.I bought the Carolyn Roehm White and Blue book on your recommendation it is so lovely.I watched Hemingway movies but yet to read one must do that.The tear was for the photo of your helper Cav I mentioned another time that our beautiful Cav Tess died last year 12 years old and she is a replica of your Cav.They are the most divine companions.They have to be involved in everything that is going on!!!! When do you sleep! Have a wonderful restful weekend.xx Trish

    1. I do remember you talking about your beautiful Cavie Trish. I'm sure he's still there in spirit. I'd be heartbroken if anything happened to Cooper. He follows me everywhere, even into the garden, the bathroom, the dressing room... I don't think it's separation anxiety? I think Cavies just do that.

      So exciting about your Paris trip. Do just ask me if you need recommendations for great things to see. And your beach house sounds beautiful. I actually love red and white beach houses. They're so cheery. Google a place called The Beach House at Pink Sands Hotel in Harbour Island. It's all red and white stripes. Navy and white would be lovely too though. Send some emails when you've finished decorating.

  11. I love it when you post photos of your home, it's so cozy and the navy looks great.

    I sleep with ear plugs every night of my life because Mr FF is the worst snorer. Glamorous it isn't.

    I like the way you mix your fancy fabrics with your Spotlight finds.

    Have you draped curtains over a wardrobe in the bedroom?

    Mr FF gets a leave pass every Saturday morning to pal golf so frankly he doesn't really need any more xxxxxx


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