Wrought Iron design
Creative decorating magic on a budget
by Sally A. Downey
Six months ago, Kerri Nahas made a bold move to brighten the “blah and boring” beige couch and matching drapes in the second-floor Phoenixville condo she shares with her husband, Chris. She striped the drapes with turquoise paint and scattered a half-dozen multihued pillows on the couch. The new pillows and embellished drapes complement two contemporary floral-pattern chairs and complete the decor in the living area.
Kerri had already stained the coffee table mahogany; arranged photos, prints and paintings on pale pumpkin walls; and crafted seats for the black kitchen bar stools from a tweedy welcome mat. By the front door, Kerri converted an 8-by-8 alcove into a stylish dining lounge with strawberry walls. She fashioned a high-backed bench from plywood upholstered in olive-green chenille. The bench and cushioned chairs flank an oak table covered in textured vinyl (wipeable) wallpaper. The table is set with red place mats, red and white napkins, whimsical napkin holders, and white and ruby china. Miniature electric candles on a dozen corbel brackets add sparkle. Living in such a vibrant environment “feels like being in Jeannie’s bottle,” Chris Nahas says.
Kerri, 27, and Chris, 29, grew up watching reruns of I Dream of Jeannie, the 1960s TV sitcom about a genie released from a bottle by a hapless astronaut. When not making magic and causing chaos, Jeannie, the genie, retreats to her plush, jewel-toned home inside the bottle. Kerri substituted imagination for a genie’s powers to transform their small condo into a charmed space. After she and Chris purchased their home three years ago, Kerri says, “I had different ideas for each room and a very tight budget.” She furnished the condo with sale items, thrift-store finds, and family hand-me-downs enhanced with paint, paper, and fabric. She had to be creative, she says, “to achieve the high-end look I envisioned within our price range.” To tone down the Arabian Nights decor in the living area, she and Chris filled the space above the kitchen cabinets with dozen of quirky-shaped bottles spray-painted white. For the bedroom, Kerri chose a soothing aqua, white, and gray color scheme. She crafted a headboard from plywood and gray-and-white print fabric, and cut silver mats for oversize wedding photos. (She and Chris got married in April 2012; a bird cage that was used for gift cards at their reception has been transformed into a lamp.) Kerri trimmed gray curtains with strips of white fabric and silk ribbon. The striped motif is repeated in her studio. When she decided that the patterned curtains were too short, Kerri says,
“I added the striped black-and-white fabric left over from the two ottomans I covered.” The ottomans are positioned in front of a black leather sleep sofa, for occasional overnight guests. Strawberry walls are decorated with a collection of canvases covered with cheerful black, white, and red print fabric. Kerri has worked at home, from a computer on the round white table in the studio, since January, when she launched her own design business, Nahas Home Interiors. Before establishing her company, she was a floor manager for a drapery wholesaler, then worked for a furniture company. “My major was English,” says the Temple University graduate, “but I’ve always enjoyed art.” Chris is an actuary for U.S. Liability Insurance Group in King of Prussia. Though his degree from Villanova University is in math, he is also a talented artist. Two of his abstract paintings hang on the wall in the living area, and a small religious icon he made in a college class has a place of honor on an etagere. He helped paint the condo and hung the wrought-iron chandelier in the living room. Chris also accompanied his wife on several of her numerous shopping expeditions Kerri found supplies and furnishings at area stores, including Jo-Ann Fabrics, Kmart, Home Depot, Walmart, HomeGoods, The Dump, Ikea, Lowe’s, Boscov’s, J.C. Penney, and Michael’s. “I became very familiar with all the home stores, from independent family-owned shops to big-name chains and online,” she says. “The resources I gathered help me with my clients’ spaces.” “Many people can dream up a fabulous space when there’s no set budget,” Kerri says. “The fun part for me is making it happen for less.”
‘Thrown Out’ of the Family Home
By Annette Gendler
There is a house I long for and yet never have set foot in. It is in Reichenberg, now called Liberec, in the Czech Republic, one hour north of Prague. It was taken from my grandparents in 1945, when the expulsion of Germans began.
Before my first trip there in 2002, I searched my grandfather’s papers and found a recounting of what had happened: “On July 9, 1945, a couple with the beautiful name Najemnik appeared with uniformed men and claimed my house; within an hour and a half I was rid of my house.” Perhaps the way you lose a house determines its emotional value going forward.
My grandparents never saw it again. When the Iron Curtain crumbled and my grandmother could easily have visited, she insisted, “I am not going back to where I was thrown out.” After being carted away on a freight train, my grandparents shared an attic with rats in the U.S.-occupied zone of Germany. I only knew them living in the one-bedroom social housing apartment they were allotted later. My grandmother never talked with wistfulness or bitterness about the lost house. She did talk about laying new copper pipes for central heating, or the kitchen garden where my young uncle used to trample absentmindedly through the lettuce. But she never lamented, like other refugees of our acquaintance, the “grand old times.”
Perhaps it was because those times hadn’t been that grand. My grandparents bought the house in 1937, a year before Hitler annexed their region as the “Sudetenland,” and Reichenberg became its capital. As the Nazi fervor mounted, my grandfather, a former city councilman for the Social Democrats, lost his position as principal of the girls’ middle school. Since his brother-in-law was Jewish, interrogations and a house search followed due to allegations that “Jewish money” had been involved in financing the house.
Not until I saw the house did I realize it was a small villa in the mansion part of town, up an incline from the Museum of Natural History, where Hitler stopped on his visit on Dec. 2, 1938. Their neighbors were Nazis, and my grandparents dutifully went to see Hitler arrive, lest they attract attention by not going. I have walked up that incline three times, and each time I worry that the house might not be there anymore. Thankfully its gabled roof has always appeared. Its façade is a monument in our family. We have our grandfather’s photographs from the 1930s, a cousin’s from the 1950s, my brother’s from 1988, and now mine.
The house has essentially stayed the same. The wrought-iron flower-pot holder atop the garden archway is still there. We have a photo of our dad, 7 years old, in a cable-knit sweater, posing under it. The stucco above the windows that was almost dropping off in 1988 has been repaired. I always wonder what it would have been like to be a grandchild in this house, to snuggle into a window seat in the sun porch and read all day. With the amber glass in the entryway, it’s the kind of house I would have loved to have, and perhaps my 1920s style apartment in Chicago echoes that. But since my grandparents received compensation from the West German government, there is no claim to be made. And what would I want with a house in the Czech Republic?
On that first visit, my brother and I rang the bell, despite our fear to be met with a tirade against Germans who sniff around. A woman with a tired face came to the gate. We didn’t speak a common language, but when we showed her the pot holder picture she understood that our father had lived there as a boy. She let us in, motioning us towards the back. The yard, where Dad used to stretch out on the grass to watch the bombers fly by, was vast.
Our host summoned a neighbor who spoke some English and clarified that she didn’t want to let us into the house because it was a mess. But we were grateful just to walk the yard. How could this simply be someone else’s house? Couldn’t this woman see my uncle’s ghost trampling the lettuce in the kitchen garden? When we left, a sense of abandoning overcame me, as if I were forsaking the house.
Each time I have visited, I pace the sidewalk and snap pictures. There is nothing else to do. How do you greet a house? And how do you say farewell? Each time I leave, I look back several times as if I were waving good-bye to an old friend. And I know that sometime soon I will travel thousands of miles again to spend five minutes staring at a house.
Add colour to your winter garden
Midwinter may officially have come and gone, but for local gardeners there is still a lot of moist, cool weather to come. Now is the time to look after indoor plants, colour up corners around the patio, plant up containers with indigenous flora and repaint garden furniture in readiness for spring.
There is still time to plant colourful winter bedding plants. Established colour bags of these winter flowering annuals can be planted directly into a prepared bed or container. Pansies, petunias, calendula and kale do best in a sunny corner, whereas fairy primula will do better in the shade.
There is still time to plant the bulbs of tiger lilies and tall white St Joseph lilies. If planted now, these exotic members of the lilium family will be flowering by December. Lilium bulbs need good drainage so are best planted in containers where they will be protected from snail and slug damage when the summer rains arrive.
Winter is an excellent time to go shopping for the garden. Install a wrought-iron gazebo or add an archway at the end of the vista. Revitalise the furniture by painting it in a new colour, or find an attractive set of three containers to create a focal point on the patio. Garden centres are quiet this month, so you can roam without crowds and have staff to help at every corner.
Revitalise your pots and containers by planting up indigenous flora. For a shady container, consider plectranthus ( P verticillatus and P. strigosus), asparagus ferns or streptocarpus. For the sun, pot up a Cape reed (Chondropetalum tectorum), Elegia, buchu, Erica nana, E blenna, Acmadenia or even the Agathosma ovata, which cascades over the container’s edge bearing a mass of pink flowers.
Pelargoniums make fabulous pot specimens. Try the lemon-scented Pelargonium crispum or P. fulgidum, which flowers at the end of winter. For larger pots, consider Melianthus major, Acridocarpus or the mickey-mouse plant (Ochna serrulata) with its yellow flowers.
Bulbs are especially suited to containers. Horticultural legend Rod Saunders suggests that you plant pairs of summer and winter flowering bulbs in a single container. His now famous recipe combinations include the following pairs of potted bulbs as suggestions for year-round colour: Amaryllis and Babiana, Clivia and Crinum, Cyrtanthus and Freesia, Geissorrhiza and Galaxia, Gladiolus and Ixia, Lachenalia and Lapeirousia, Moraea and Ornithogalum, and Romulea and Veltheimia.
Sale of CHQ raises hopes of a revival
Wealthy Irish-American businessman expected to unveil plans to develop centre
The wealthy Irish-American businessman, E Neville Isdell, is expected to unveil plans in the coming weeks to develop the centre as a major destination for a variety of interests including food, beverage, entertainment and possibly culture.
The new owners are also expected to target selected retailers to capitalise on the increased footfall likely to come from the various interest groups. They will also be looking at the possibility of increasing the number and duration of events in CHQ and George’s Dock.
Mr Isdell’s advisers apparently plan to adopt a 10-year strategy to make CHQ one of the top places to visit in Dublin. Mr Isdell said yesterday that he was thrilled at the opportunity to develop and improve “this wonderful, iconic and historic building.”
They would be evaluating and developing a number of ideas over the coming months and engaging with the relevant local and national bodies to assist in their objective of establishing a new distinctive location for Dublin.
The elaborately-glazed centre has been performing badly in recent years with more than 80 per cent of the retail space currently vacant.
It is an open secret that the centre has been losing money since it first opened for business in 2007. Only eight of the 22 internal ground floor retail units are rented. Two others on the outside are held on short leases. The building has an overall floor area of 13,749sq m (148,000sq ft)
CHQ was originally promoted as Dublin’s most exclusive shopping centre but when it failed to attract top luxury retailers to cater initially for thousands of workers in the financial district, the DDDA was forced to go back to the drawing board.
A number of retail experts were engaged to charter a future course for the centre, but despite an elaborate marketing campaign all efforts failed to put CHQ on a profitable footing.
Stack A was to have been a contemporary art museum under the original masterplan for redeveloping the Custom House Docks, adopted in 1986. But within a year, Charlie Haughey had decreed that the museum would be banished to the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.
An important early 19th-century warehouse, with impressive wrought-iron roof trusses and brick-vaulted basements, Stack A is a protected structure on which € 45 million was lavished by the DDDA for its restoration.
For the past six years, it has become an increasingly bleak shopping mall along the lines of Tobacco Dock, in London’ s Wapping, which had failed years earlier. Apart from Ely Wine Bar, which opens outwards onto the dock, and the other tenants trading at the centre, CHQ has been a spectacular flop.
A recent article in The Irish Times argued that Stack A needs a major public use, such as a city base for Imma would provide. Alternatively, it might be developed as a science museum, along the lines of W5 at the Odyssey in Belfast.
Summer Art Spectacular at Noank Foundry
by Robin T
Once again the Noank Foundry Artist Studios will open their doors for their Spectacular Summer Art Open House on Saturday, July 6th, from noon – 7 pm. Always a festive community event, the open house and sale celebrates many local creative talents and provides a peek into the work spaces of the area’s most celebrated artists.
This year, the summer spectacular will feature many new and exciting artisans. In addition, there will be an herbalist with cool and delicious fruit smoothies, and the Foundry will also host a wine tasting, featuring South African wines. Joining in this welcome summer tradition, many of the local Noank businesses and restaurants will be offering specials as well.
The Noank Foundry, a historical village landmark that has been transformed from abandoned building to working artist studios, will host the celebration of art and will include foundry artists, as well as many invited guests. In addition to traditional fine art paintings and sculpture, this event will include silver and glass jewelry, wrought iron, stained glass art, herbal remedies and spices, photography, a local author, and yummy snacks.