A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed

Welcome to My House

June 17, 2012
When I was a young, as I would flip through the pages of Country Living magazines, I would quietly reveal my hidden wishes to God.  I never wished to have a mansion with large windows,  heavy drapery,  huge armchairs and sofas, and rooms large enough that they could just swallow you in one gulp and make you feel like you are Gulliver in the land of  the huge and the tall. I only prayed that God could give me a little cottage-like house, warm, cozy and small enough that the rooms could hug me tightly. In this house, I dreamed to have pine Americana farmers’ furniture. I wanted to have primitive art on the walls, and I wanted to make my own quilt bed spread, my own drapes, and cherry pies with real cherries on top,  just like I had seen in those Country Living magazines. In those photographs, it seemed to me that the rooms were occupied by people who wore handmade sweaters and were were loving, caring, and laid-back. In that world, it seemed no one would be greedy enough to push, shove, and back stab some one else just to have more of something. Those photographs from the Country Living magazine seemed to portray an idealistic land of happiness where every one could live happily ever after. Now, maybe because I had not really asked for much from God that he could not offer, it happened that later on in life  I was given exactly what I had asked for. As I am writing these lines, I have a homemade cherry pie on my Americana kitchen table – and that looks really good to me.



When we moved into this house, this fireplace that you see here was a very average, boring fireplace. I thought to myself, “There is no way I can live with boring. I have to do something about this.” That’s when I decided to changed it up. Of course, I could not do anything about the shape and the structure of the fireplace, but I could do something by covering and hiding what I did not like with what I did like. I first sketched my idea, my design, everything on paper. I then started my search in different antique shops, architectural salvage places, and tile stores. I started gathering my pieces with which to decorate my fireplace, each from a different place. I purchased my fireplace screen from Tony’s Architectural Salvage, a place in the city of Orange in Orance County. The place has closed or change hands since Tony himself sadly passed away recently, but back then, he had this very large warehouse of all these amazing pieces of artful architectural salvage antiques. Just visiting that place brought so much joy to me. It was as though I was visiting a museum. To me, each piece he had was a work of art. I digress. The tiles, I bought from a tile store on State College Boulevard, where a majority of the tile stores are located in the Orange County area. The tiles I purchased are all hand-painted, one-of-a-kind tiles imported from Italy. To cover the surface of my fireplace, I used drywall, paint and hay, all mixed together, and I inserted my tiles in the mixture before it dried. The wood pieces were all nailed in, and I decorated the fireplace further with several old different metal design pieces which I had also bought from Tony’s. Finally, I painted the surface with a bright blue paint which I just love – it’s my very favorite blue.

Small Bathroom

Small Bathroom

What can we do with little bathrooms that basically consist of a bathtub, a toilet, four walls, and a sink? I think sometimes going to the extreme with these small spaces can create a whimsical mood of fantasy. For my own small bathroom, I sent out a few images from my paintings to a place that claimed they could make tiles – any size, any shape – from your favorite image. I looked for a rustic-looking sink with a lot of character, and used my favorite type of blue (the same shade I had used for the fireplace) to paint the bathroom walls.



If you want to create mood and change a room drastically without buying any new pieces of furniture or spending a lot of money, then all you have to do is be daring with colors. Yes, be brave and create pure magic through colors. I wanted a bedroom in which, when I open my eyes in the morning and look around, I can’t help but be energized, smile, and jump out of bed. I love the colors red, orange, black and white. These are all such extreme colors, but if you love colors like I do, then you would have no doubt of using them and having them work for you. I love these colors so much, I even picked red tiles for my bathroom floor. The man who was installing the tiles for me had said, “Ma’am ,I don’t know if it’s a good idea to use red tiles in so many places and entirely for your bathroom. Believe me. In all my days of working and installing tiles, I have never done a bathroom in which the walls and floor were red.” I told him that maybe he just was not brave with colors like I was.

The Decorative Tall Door

I bought my over-14-feet antique door, which had come all the way from Argentina, also from Tony’s Architectural Salvage. It has blue glass windows, which gave me the idea to color the wall behind it with the same shade of blue. I installed the door right in the front of our main entrance, at the end of the foyer. I like to think of it as a door which opens to another door.

Narrow Stairway to the Attic

Painting a patterned design on your stairs? Yes, I guess you can do that like I did. Patterned designs probably work best for very narrow stairways, like one that leads to your attic. I drew my design first on a sheet of a paper that was the same size as one of my steps, then I traced and transferred that design by using a carbon copy sheet, placing it in between the sheet of my original design and the surface of my steps. I then traced and followed that design on all my steps, one by one, so the pattern repeated and created a fabric-look. Using acrylic colors, I filled in the patterns I had drawn. In the end, once the acrylic was completely dried, I applied a few layers of glossy polyurethane (purchased from a hardware store). This made the surface of the stairs so durable that it was almost impossible to be scratched and it also made the surface super easy to whip up and clean.

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