I've noticed that the interior designers on HGTV talk about doing an "install" -- emphasis on the first syllable -- at a job site; in other words, doing the placement and styling of furnishings in a room. It's the final step of a design project.
I've recently completed my own "install." Isn't it funny, by the way, how often verbs become nouns these days? For those just tuning into my little dog-and-pony show here at Lotus & Persimmon, let me get you caught up. In April of 2016, I left my one bedroom apartment in the rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood of Haebangchon (HBC) in Seoul, Korea, and moved lock, stock and barrel to a small town in Ontario in order to be near an elderly parent. I brought the entire L&P collection with me, or, more accurately, paid a small fortune to have it packed up, stored, and eventually forwarded to me by sea and rail.
Towards the end of my time Seoul, I actually had to get rid of the sofa in my living room to make way for fresh acquisitions. At the very end, my living room was essentially a warehouse:
Fortunately, my new living room is bigger. I'm not using it as a living room, however. It's my home office and the L&P gallery, from which I write these posts and of which you're going to see many pictures in future. To compensate for the loss of a conventional living room, I've turned the spare bedroom into a sitting room where I read and watch TV, by which I mean Netflix and YouTube.
When I bought this house, the owner had just repainted it. I chose to economize and live with her colour choices. The empty room looked like this:
I'll indulge my hunger for vibrant colour in a future house, I guess. My favourite wall colour ever was the imperial Hue purple that I had put on the walls of my Saigon apartment -- I lived in Vietnam's second city for nearly 5 years. In the meantime, this colour works well as a backdrop for the L&P Buddhist art collection, as I hope you'll agree when you see the final results below.
There was very little I needed to buy in the way of furniture. The only major piece NOT making its way across the Pacific was a desk. My HBC living room had been too small for one. Fortunately, a local antique shop had just what I needed:
It's a late 19th century desk made right here in Ontario, and it was actually cheaper than a brand new solid wood piece from the big chain stores. I'm now tapping out this post on its surface.
There was an interval of almost 2 months between the date I took possession of the house and the delivery of my shipment from Seoul. I had paid in advance for 2 month's storage in Korea because I knew that I would need time to find and buy a property in Ontario. The shipment by sea to Vancouver and then by rail to Toronto only took 5 weeks. It was then trucked to my house by Korea Global Logistics, whose small but efficient team unboxed and placed the furniture. Yes, that's right. All the furniture had been custom-boxed on site in Seoul by the firm of Allied Pickford, whom I've now used for 2 moves. I had no worries about my late Qing elmwood table when I saw how carefully it had been boxed up:
Of course, the movers' placements were only preliminary, pending my own unpacking efforts. By contract, the movers only unpacked and placed the furniture. It was my own task to unpack the contents of the dozens of carton boxes containing the small items. This was the north wall of the living room, the same as the one in the photo above, mid-way through my unpacking:
It took 6 people 1 day to pack everything up; unsurprisingly, it took me working alone 6 days to unpack everything. Note to those moving east-to-west across the Pacific: buy plug adaptors before you leave. North American stores tend to stock only adaptors for the other direction!
I had thought of hiring a handyman to help me hang the large framed pieces. In the end, though, I decided just to invest in a carpenter's level and get on with it myself. Here's a view of the north wall with the art hung:
Note the new desk at left. Apart from the office chair and the file cart, everything came in the shipment from Seoul. I freely admit that hanging the large pieces was a bit taxing to do by myself. My largest piece is an almost 2-metre-long Korean landscape that I opted to hang in the dining area of the kitchen. I nearly put my back out doing it. There are definitely times that you should ask for help.
The next day I tackled the other side of the room. This is how it looked before I started:
And this is how it turned out:
The table in the foreground is the one that you saw boxed up in a photo above. I've since decided to relocate the group of celadon vessels. The table surface is too valuable for other purposes.
Buddhism teaches us that nothing is permanent. This "install" is no exception. Eventually, as pieces get sold off -- starting from the launch of official sales on July 4, 2017 -- I will have to re-arrange all these items. For now, though, I'm quite pleased with how my office/gallery has turned out. What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below.