12.16.2013

MOVING IN SOON



I'm calling this photo DK36. That's the name of the paint by Donald Kaufman that I have used in my living room; it changes all day with the northern light, sometimes more mauve or lavender, sometimes more grey. You get a hint of that in this picture, along with ladders and plastic and drop cloths, all reflected in the glass as I shoot out the window.

Next week, next week,  the contractor keeps saying. We will be done next week. I am bringing people in to clean up this weekend. He's been saying this since November 1. Next week and next week and next week, creeps in this petty pace from day to day....

Oddly, though this end game is madly frustrating, the delay has given me time to reflect on the process of making a new home at this stage of life. I could write a book on the subject. The uncertainty about whether or not I could pull this off, yet again. The bother, how many years left do I have, anyway? The exhaustion, in anticipation, of yet another project. The worry about picking colors, tiles, floors, lighting. The consideration of a lifetime of habits of living; which did I want to stop? Which can I never end?

And the pleasure, the profound pleasure, of setting out on this creative adventure. Every time the rising tides of climate change felt too depressing to contemplate, I could glance at the rising pile of tiles I was considering. A welcome reprieve.

But for now: I love my new building. I feel as if I am moving into a grand dormitory. I love the smells coming out of neighbors' kitchens, curry, roast chicken; strangely intimate, to know what strangers will be having for dinner. And I love the sounds, too: string trios and horns and operatic voices. And I love the neighborhood. I'm discovering an entirely unknown-to-me part of New York; thanks to an invitation from the marvelous writers Laura Jacobs and Jim Wolcott, I stepped off the subway one day two summers ago, and feel in love with Washington Heights. The feel of an older Broadway, the scale of lower buildings with the kind of fanciful ornamentation that architects today ignore. The breezes coming off the Hudson; the proximity, an easy walk, to the Cloisters, one of my favorite New York landmarks.

And the absolutely grounding joy of my own home, once again, to do with what I please.

Next week, next week. I wander from room to room, after the electricians and painters and plumbers have gone home (or not arrived), peeking under the plastic, gazing out the windows, imagining where my Chinese table will go, or how I will get rid of even more books once I've filled every new bookcase (in the dining room, bedrooms, kitchen). I cannot wait to unpack. And settle down. To live with my decorating decisions--is that kitchen floor a little too unusual? Was that entry color too bold? I will see what was a mistake, what was a triumph. And I will love it all. I've been dreaming my way home for a long time now.




27 comments:

quintessence said...

I can't wait to see, and hopefully see you with it. It all sounds marvelous and a new adventure at any age is always worth while!

Pat said...

Please keep us posted. I have lived in the same house since 1985. While we love our home and don't want to leave, it is exciting to see others start on a"new space" adventure.

Lois said...

I have been on a journey like yours since June 2013, selling my home in Northern Virginia and coming back to my childhood home on Long Island, being near the Great South Bay and a train ride to NYC. I had a quick quiet moment of light in June and decided to act on it. I like you had to wait to move in. My little condo-house, I have my own front door, needed work, and with a very good contractor, we bonded over Toto toilets ,the work is almost finished I am nearing 70, but I feel like I have a new lease on life. It sounds that is the the way you are feeling, Dominique. Please think seriously about this journey in your life. A book from you is needed.

Judith said...

Just beautiful. And I sincerely hope that you do write a book on the subject. We are planning to move from our home of 20 years -- as soon as we figure out where we want to live next that is. For us, with the children grown and self-sufficient, we realize that we don't have to live the same way we always have.

LindaB said...

What a beautiful color. Light changes during the day are sooooo important. We recently repainted the living/dining. I had hoped to use a mauve pink much like your choice, but out light would have made it perennially gloomy. So we opted for two lovely blues from BMoore. Serene. Your beautiful windows and views and wainscoting will make all the difference. How elegant. Very belle époque!
Yes Please do write that book. We need your voice in our lives, D. My sweetie and I wrestle w. "The Move", but so far we maybe should but we just don't want to. Three grandchildren in four years. A son just graduating from Univ. I love having my g'daughter over for the night or my other daughter w. her two up from Miami. It's chaotic but enlivening and then they go and it's oh, so peaceful.
Here's hoping you are a ll maison come New Years. Wishing you a Christmas that is calm and bright...

Leslie in Portland, Oregon said...

What a beautiful photograph! I am still figuring out how the non-reflected images outside mesh. The inside, reflected images portend a very intriguing home-to-be. We have had the same color in our dining room for 28 years (ever since the previous owners spent months creating it), and it is wonderful---the changes with the differing light never cease to amaze me, and I like them all. I look forward to reading as much as you choose to write about the process (right from the start, when you were looking for it) of making this new place your home. Best wishes for a smooth move, without further delay, Leslie i

ArchitectDesignblog said...

Lovely view and love your high baseboards. Hope we get a grand reveal!

la Contessa said...

I am VERY excited for you!LOVE the color……I may need to paint a room just so I can use it too!I want to share something with you so delete my comment after you read.I like you have two SONS about your SONS ages…..24 and 26.I took them to PARIS for a week.We had our photo taken in the TUILERES and inside the LOUVRE by an Australian photographer.I think you might enjoy doing something like this with your BOYS.I called it the last HOORAH,before wives, house payments, work vacations, etc…..you get my thoughts.My husband just rolled his eyes at me!Once I had booked the trip I thought what have I done!What if they sleep all morning,what if they complain about walking…………well they did none of that and I can honestly say it was one of the BEST things I have ever done!They took control of the map,they had patience and followed mom from the Louvre to Versailles.They even allowed their photos to be taken with chickens!You see I owned an antique shop called the Hen House and the photographer came up with this idea.We were doing the DUCHESS of DEVONSHIRE in the Tuileres Gardens.I bet you know the photo!Please sneak a peek at www.vintagehenhouse.com.On the RIGHT is NEWS click on that and look for THE SHOOT.I think you may enjoy…………thanks,Elizabeth

Carren_Jao said...

Always beautiful prose. Best of luck moving in and making a new home!

MJH Design Arts said...

Congratulations Dominique. Yes! Home. Please update with photos--will you make it by Christmas? Blessings. Mary

karensandburg said...

What a view!! And as you can tell, we're hungry for more pictures. We move in a month to a new neighborhood after 6 years in our current house. Then we'll move again when our house is built, and I have to say, I think moving is transformative. You get rid of "stuff", re-evaluate all of it and how it relates to who you are now. You get a new coffee shop and bakery and grocery and that feels cleansing and fresh to me. And most importantly, you get to correct the mistakes of houses past. For me, I put in too many windows in my current house - they should have been more purposeful and the dark bathroom floor tile was a mistake with all the marble and glass tile and the family room was simply too big. But a new place suits who you are now in all those idiosyncratic ways. You say it is profound pleasure - this creative adventure. The eye is much improved, the senses, the emotional wisdom required to dress a room. I love it all.

William said...

Congrats on the new pad, Dominique!

Classic UWS abode and that real base and crown molding - awesome!


Washington Heights is definitely where all the cool kids are moving. It's been known for a long time to have the buildings with the best architectural bones in the city, along with the best views, and the best deals when it comes space with the best bang for the buck.


I have some friends who live on Sylvan Terrace. A short walk for you. If you never have, check it out. It's like going back in time.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NYC,_Sylvan_Terrace.JPG

dterrydraw said...

Just for the record?.....the "Australian Photographer" is the deservedly well-known, expatriate photographer & writer (I have two highly enjoyable books by her, and two others on which she's collaborated with Vicki Archer of "French Essence"), Carla Coulson. Her website can be found at: http://carlacoulson.com/
Carla is, indeed, very good at her work. I'm currently toying with the notion of commissioning a shoot by her of my in-laws (they're French, so getting their tails to the shoot won't be overly difficult) and "THE" grandchildren.
Level Best as Ever,
David Terry

Cristina said...

magnificent photo!
and good luck for your new nest, Ms. Browning!!

la Contessa said...

DAVID,
That would be WONDERFUL!!A Beautiful gift for all.
I have two of yours framed……I remember what you said, "DONOT give to him all at once!"It's hard for me to keep them under wraps,but think that is what will happen as I haven't found the perfect frames for all.MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!Once again……..THANK YOU!

Fiona said...

Every one is different, I am in flux too, living in "huge Dormitory" situation as you have eloquently put for the last few years is definitely not for me. I put mine up for sale 3 months ago , it sold and I will be moving back to the country. I bought a small Victorian house renovated except for my own taste and a few new updates, 2 acres of land , gardens, a summer kitchen, screen porch and a small inground pool. It also backs up to a river so I can watch he boats.
All the things that give you comfort, cooking smells, music, one women singing opera until I thought I would go mad! Loud voices, arguments and laughter drove me crazy. I hated the intense smell of indian spices and garlic permeating thru my walls and hallways. the close proximity to people, the lack of privacy......1 month into moving in I was thinking of moving out.
Thats my experience, but you are different and obviously love the city and the people. I wish you luck in you new home. I always had a small escape for the summer that helped immensely, i was able to sell that too and buy in the same beautiful area in a more substantial home, I hope you have a summer escape from the summer heat too.
My dear father came to visit, stayed 1 week, on his last day, he insisted i move out as soon as possible, saying, "you need land under your feet"....he was so right! Good luck with your new digs, enjoy the convenience, you will have lots of fun I'm sure.

Lisa said...

Welcome to the neighborhood! We have been up here for 7 years now and still love it.

Heather in Arles said...

Please add my name to the roll call of those gently prodding in hopes of the direction of a book. I know, very easy for us to ask, many months of hard work for you to deliver! But it just seems that so very many of us are "up in the air" at a much later age than before. Like others, I am also in flux with a move needing to be made before next June. So I have time but the where and the wherewithal are entirely yet to be seen...A little perspective shared would be most welcome!

Linda R said...

Please, please a book! You are a kindred spirit. Pictures of the new apartment too, please. Always look forward to your posts.

James said...

Hi Dominique, I am a good friend of the lovely Gail O'Neill and she sent me this announcement that you are moving to Washington Heights. I moved here to Riverside Dr and 150th almost two years ago and it is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods I have lived in. The buildings truly are representative of New York over a hundred years ago and I love mine so much. I hope you love yours and that someday we may meet.


Warmly,
James Weis and his sweet puppy, Henry the dog

Deannelove said...

Amazon managed to have Slow Love delivered yesterday and I am loving it.
After so much loss, mother, husband, and
now a breakup with lover, you are providing
me with some direction and internal peace.
So happy you resurrected The Silver Palate,
after all how would one make delicious Split
Pea Soup! It actually may be second volume.
Keep writing .... I miss the editors note of
each House and Garden edition!

Reba said...

This is the first time I have been on a blog. I read Slow Love this Summer and I have marked many pages that brought me to tears. I got on this site to see if it was possible to e-mail Dominique. Maybe I would feel better if I "talked" with someone who described the emotions of being attached to a home as she did in the book. After 25 years I am getting divorced. I am faced with the decision of selling my home that has been in my family for 5 generations.... Page 79 "The problem is I am in love with my house." Page 256 "I've finally decided that home is not necessarily where you live all the time; it is where you want to be when you die, where you want to be buried or have your ashes spread." I cried alot when I read this as I imagined I would live in this family home when I was old. Although a simple house in a small town (where there are no jobs and I have no college degree) I will struggle to keep it on my own. Three years into this divorce (still waiting on lawyers) the savings is gone, I need a roof, no direction ... how do I "not be so attached to my home"...
I enjoyed the book greatly and now will spend some time exploring this site.
Thank you.

Mia said...

I have been very sick but something about you post made me take the time to answer. "Home is where the heart is" if your heart is where your home is, then try to stay in your house but if you cannot afford it Reba, sell it , rent a small comfortable house or better an apartment and all too soon it will become your home, Sometime a new adventure can help with your grief, there are many beautiful places to move too, start again, find some friends, they are waiting for you. Dominique has moved a more more time most recently into an apartment in the city. Its a process, we are works in process nothing stays the same, you will grow from this, come out the other side, survive a whole lot smarter. Find a mentor, ask for advice, look into local colleges never say never!

Reba said...

Thank you for your kind words Mia and the good advice. I hope you feel better soon!

Patricia said...

I just found your blog by meandering through some links. And here you've just moved to Washington Heights, a NY neighborhood I always found fascinating and enticing. I can't wait to hear about your new life there.

Sarah Lee said...

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