Copper Sinks – A Love Story
“Flowers from my garden.” he said, presenting me a huge bunch of flowers as he glanced around my farmhouse kitchen, softly lit by copper pendant lights. “I’m John, your new neighbor, nice to finally meet you.”
The hammered copper range hood winked and glowed knowingly, reflecting the colors of the gold, orange and red blossoms that I held in my arms. I placed the wild flowers into my copper farmhouse sink while I grabbed a vase and started filling it with water. “They’re lovely”, I uttered, conscious of his eyes on me.
“Your kitchen is … fantastic,” he said, seating himself at the big fired copper table that I’d polished within an inch of its life earlier that day. I looked round. Yes, the kitchen was newly remodeled with all of my favorite things. My over sized range, the original cast iron beauty is now adorned with my custom made hammered copper range hood. I love the texture and warmth that I feel from the colors of my copper clad kitchen, the deep gleaming hammered copper farmhouse sink, the glowing wooden furniture with hammered copper accents and the bright Mexican rugs on the floor just said “Welcome” every time I walked into the room, the heart of the house and my refuge from the world.
And now, this man, with his unsettling good looks and a clear taste for the finer things in life, had walked into my kitchen too, bringing copper colored flowers smelling of an incense both sweet and wild. Had my new neighbor walked into my life, as well as my kitchen? …..
There was a pot of coffee quietly bubbling on the stove, and seemed only polite to offer him a cup. “Thanks,” he said, “no cream, no sugar. You know, this is just how I’d pictured my kitchen. The copper…the tiles, the hammered copper hood, the Mexican copper kitchen sink…just look so warm and natural.” I glanced round at the kitchen, seeing it with his eyes. Yes, it was a look that a man would like; and a woman.
“I just love copper, and this is all made from reclaimed copper, so, you know, its earth friendly.” I felt about sixteen years old as I put a plate of homemade oatmeal cookies on the table. His blue eyes crinkled up into a smile that for a moment had me rooted to the spot. “What made you choose copper?”
“Hammered copper just looks so beautiful, it’s classic, but it doesn’t have that “Selected by the Designer” feel. I like to make my own choices and I wanted something, oh, I don’t know; elegant, rustic, modern, old fashioned, cozy, chic, all rolled into one. I have copper in the bathroom too, I have this great big free standing hammered copper tub, I just love to soak in it, with candles and a glass of red wine.” I couldn’t seem to stop myself gushing. This man, who looked so natural sitting at my kitchen table and talking about interior design, was making my head swim.
“I’d like to see that.” John said, and I blushed to the roots of my hair. “I mean, I’d like to see that copper tub,” he laughed.
I thought of my beautiful hand crafted copper free standing slipper tub with its ornate carrying rings, standing on the pale blue marble floor of the elegant bathroom. I thought of the hammered copper tiles setting off the matching copper wash basin with its lapis lazuli surround. The piles of thick Egyptian cotton towels in every shade of azure blue. I knew that John, sitting at my kitchen table and gazing at me with a look which I didn’t dare to interpret, would love my bathroom.
But, hmmm, how could I show a man I’d only just met my copper bathtub? That felt a bit….private really. “How about coming and seeing what I’ve done with copper in my sitting room?” I suggested? “Lead the way!” John said, unfolding his long frame from my kitchen chair……..
I led the way down the hall to the sitting room, and flung open the door with something of a flourish. I knew that in the gold of the late afternoon sunlight, the beautiful room would be looking its best. “Wow,” exclaimed John, “This is sensational! You’re an artist!”
I’d chosen soft buff and warm rose colors for the walls and soft furnishings, to complement the custom-made copper hood over the fireplace. The floor was polished walnut, with antique Turkish kelim rugs inherited from my Aunt Daisy placed here and there.
On these late summer evenings, a chill was starting to creep into the air, and the copper clad fireplace was stacked with sweet smelling logs ready for the fire I would build later. I just loved to lie on the old, intricately patterned rug in front of the hearth, and watch the flames flickering and reflecting on the copper tile surrounding the fireplace. Little copper accents, like light switch covers, made the room look so inviting. My huge copper topped coffee table was stacked high with magazines and books, waiting for the long lazy evenings. It was flanked by two big ancient sofas, ancient, but as comfortable as heaven, which I’d found at an auction and painstakingly recovered myself in an old fashioned rosy chintz.
“Wait”, said John, and he disappeared back in the direction of the kitchen. Moments later he returned, the jug of copper colored roses in his hands. He placed it in the center of the copper coffee table, and the gorgeous colors gently reflected in its dappled surface.
“Beautiful,” he said. But he wasn’t looking at the flowers…..
We walked back to the front door, and I realized that all I knew about John was that he lived next door and had great taste in interior design. “So, what do you do for a living?” I asked, as I pushed open the heavy oak door and stepped into the golden late afternoon sunshine. “I’m a garden designer,” he replied.
The worldwide fraternity of gardeners has one unbreakable rule – gardeners have to show their garden to other gardeners! “You are? I love to garden, I’m just an amateur of course, but come and tell me what you think of this.” I led him through the little alley of old fashioned scented roses and into the back yard, where I’d made a terrace.
“I might have guessed,” he laughed, “the copper theme again!”
The west facing terrace, built painstakingly by me and my brother out of reclaimed brick, glowed in the sunset. Along the balustrade, I had lined up a whole variety of free standing copper bowls and basins. Some in the mysterious dark finish, some in the chestnut color that I so loved, and one or two in the vivid living flame color. Out of the bowls spilled geraniums, verbena, autumn crocus, late snapdragons, asters and a tumble of herbs.
I suddenly felt a bit silly, showing off my little efforts to this professional, who was standing with arms folded and an intent expression on his face. Slowly he turned to me. “I’ve been struggling for an idea for a big project up at Mountain Pine Ridge. You know, the Shelman place?”
The Shelman’s are the richest family in this part of the state. I was impressed.
“You’ve given me the theme on a copper platter. Do these online copper people do very big copper tubs?”
“Well yes, they do everything. I splashed out and bought a lovely copper tub for my bathroom…”
“How about a big terrace, just like this but, well, fancier and a lot bigger, maybe with copper tiles even, and instead of copper bowls, huge copper tubs filled with…hmmm, I’m not sure, could be white and cream daffodils in the spring, red and orange poppies in the summer….I need to go and do some drawings, think of some planting schemes, copper accessories we could add in. It’s a great idea.” He strode around the terrace as he talked, and ran his fingers unthinkingly through his dark hair. He came to a halt and faced me. “Will you help?”
“I’m no expert, but it sounds wonderful. I could help if you’d like me to.” I looked up at him. Suddenly we were standing rather close. I backed away, feeling just a bit overwhelmed at all that had happened in the past few hours.
“I don’t even know your name, copper lady.” he said in a low voice, looking straight into my eyes…..
That night I slept restlessly. I woke in the small hours, the room filled with silver light. I walked out onto my tiny bedroom balcony, and gazed down at the flower filled copper bowls on the terrace, looking ghostly in the moonlight. Over to my left, I could just make out John’s house through the trees, and I could see a light glowing in one of the upstairs rooms. So John couldn’t sleep either.
I went back to my bed, with its intricately patterned copper headboard, but sleep stubbornly refused to come. I rolled over and traced the patterns on the copper with my fingers in the brilliant unearthly light. Grapes, vine leaves, birds – how I loved that headboard. But I had never shared it with anyone.
I thought of John, coming to dinner that evening, and finally sleep carried me gently away in its arms.
Later, in the kitchen, over a cup of coffee which I hoped would clear my sleepy brain; I started to map out a menu for dinner. Arms propped on my copper counter top, I mused. It was just dinner with a neighbor, a new friend, someone I’d maybe be working with. So why did it feel so important to get everything right?
First, an appetizer. My brain seemed to go numb. I couldn’t think of anything but soup, but soup wasn’t right. Inspiration was needed. I got up and ran my fingers over the cookbooks on my custom built copper shelves. “French Provincial Cooking”? No. “Miami Spice”? No. “Cooking with Jamie Oliver” No.
Then I found my grandmother’s old handwritten household book. I hadn’t looked at it for years. Yet the softly patterned, worn rose pink cover, with my grandmother’s spidery writing announcing “Household Hints”, called to me like an old friend. I opened up the faded pages, filled with my grandmother’s advice, ideas, and of course, the recipes of her Italian homeland.
Yes. Traditional family food, that’s what I would cook for John. And accompany it with rich red Italian wine. I scanned the book, found the recipes I wanted, and started to pull down copper pans from the shelves. John was going to have the memorable meal of his life.
Several hours later, after a trip to the Mexas Farms Farmer’s Market in the next town and to my favorite little hidden away deli, Georgio’s, I surveyed the ingredients for dinner spread out on my hammered copper work surface. In my nervousness, I seemed to have bought enough to feed an army. Piles of deep purple eggplant, peppers in every shade from cream through yellow, orange, red and even brown, three different kinds of lettuce, rosy onions, two huge loaves of freshly baked bread, and a pile of delicious smelling paper bags containing ham, salami, cheese, olives and in fact, just about everything the deli had to offer.
I got out my grandmother’s recipe book and laid it open on the copper counter top. I didn’t really need it, but it gave me comfort. I began to cook. I loved cooking in my copper cazo cookware, they gleamed so brightly and seemed to add an extra flavor to everything prepared in them.
At seven o’clock, on the dot, there was a knock at the door, and I gave one last hasty glance around my dining room. The French doors opened out onto the terrace, where my hammered copper planters were filled with flowers giving their delicate fragrances to the night. Small gleaming copper nightlights were dotted amongst them. The huge copper topped fruitwood table was laden with food, and reflected back the light from the overhead copper oil lamps, which had belonged to my grandmother.
I’d made a big platter of cold meat and cheese for an appetizer, joined by chunks of crusty peasant bread, with a bowl of warmed garlicky virgin olive oil for dipping. The sudden thought that John might be a vegetarian had me thanking heaven for all the vegetables I’d bought, as I rapidly chopped up peppers, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes and carrots and piled them higgledy piggeldy in a bright living fire copper bowl.
For the entree, I’d chosen my grandmother’s beloved pesto, with basil fresh from the garden, potatoes, beans, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and fresh Parmesan, which I’d be serving over hand- made lasagna in my favorite chestnut brown copper serving dish.
Then my secret indulgence, fresh plums stewed with brown sugar and just a touch of ginger, served with outrageously lovely soft Italian mascarpone cheese. Finally coffee and my tiny grandmother’s secret recipe home- made almond biscotti. All of this joined by a bottle of crisp Italian Chardonnay, safe in its copper wine cooler, and in case John preferred it, a mellow red Merlot from my Uncle’s vineyard in southern Italy breathing in a Bohemian ruby crystal decanter. It was like Tuscany had come to visit in the USA.
My rapid survey of the room pleased me, and when John’s knock came again, I headed to the door, heart pounding uncomfortably.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, looking me up and down, “am I too early?”
Fool! I’d been so busy preparing food that I forgot to prepare myself! I glanced down ruefully at my sauce bespattered apron, my raggedy t –shirt, cut-off jeans, and my bare feet. I didn’t dare think what my hair looked like. “You look great,” he grinned, obviously realizing my embarrassment, “and something smells fantastic.”
“Please, come in, go through to the dining room, that way, make yourself comfortable” I said wildly, trying to pin up my hair and look relaxed all at the same time, “I just have to, err, run upstairs for a minute.”“I’ll be waiting for you!” he called behind me, as, mortified, I raced up the copper balustrade stairs to make myself presentable…
A frantic rush into clean jeans and my favorite violet velvet sweater, a quick scrub of my face in my copper pumpkin design bathroom sink basin, a drag through my hair a couple of times with my brush, and I raced back downstairs and into the dining room.
“I brought this for you,” said John, handing me a small package wrapped in what look like a Mexican newspaper. “Sorry I didn’t have time to wrap it properly.”
I undid the parcel, and found a little skeleton figure with a Mexican hat and a big skeleton grin, playing a tiny copper guitar. “I hope you like it, I thought, with all your Mexican copper, maybe you’d like this little guy, but I can see it’s a crazy present, I’m sorry, what was I thinking?” It was John’s turn to babble.
I balanced the small figure on the palm of my hand. “Thank you so much! He’s adorable! How did you know that I just love these Day of the Dead skeletons?” On my trips to Mexico, I had always admired the jaunty traditional skeleton figures carrying out day to day activities which you find everywhere around All Saints Day.
“I didn’t. But I’m glad you do. Can we eat – I’m starving! And I have something to ask you.”
Intrigued, I invited him to sit down at the copper table, looking beautiful with its extravagant load of food. John poured the wine, and looked into my eyes in the most unsettling way. “What shall we drink to?”
“Err, how about, to new friends?”
“No, let’s drink to new projects.” We raised our glasses, the Merlot on fire in the light from the copper lamps, and I chorused obediently, “To new projects!”
“So, you have a new project?” I asked as John helped himself to cheese and prosciutto ham.
“Well no. I was rather hoping that WE had a new project.”
“We?” I said, wonderingly, “What do you mean?”
“Just look at this place.” I looked around. The dining room looked comfortable, homely and elegant all at the same time, with my beloved copper gleaming in the lamplight.
“Remember I told you about the big project up at Mountain Pine Ridge?”
“Yes, the Shellman’s place, the garden. But what’s this ‘We’?”
He grinned at me, and my heart skipped just a tiny beat as his blue eyes crinkled up.
“I went up there this afternoon while you were, I imagine, slaving in your hammered copper heaven kitchen making this truly fantastic food.” He raised a piece of crusty bready balanced with every kind of cheese and meat and took an enthusiastic bite. He chewed contentedly for a moment. “Mmmm, this is fantastic. Anyway, I gave Mrs. Spellman a quick rundown of our ideas for the garden. ” (Our ideas? Where did that come from?) “And she loved it. And she’s asked me to do some interior work for her. She’s bored with the interior of the house, and she wants to completely re-do it, with a series of interlocking themes, and one underlying motif. She wants us to come up with a plan.”
“Us? What’s this ‘we’ and ‘us’ John?” I asked, sipping my wine, and with a shrewd idea what was coming.
“I want you to work with me on this project. I’ll pay you of course,” he added hastily, as he saw my look of consternation.
“No it’s not that, it’s just, well, I’ve never done anything like that before, I wouldn’t know where to start, what to do…..”
“Come on, look at this gorgeous house. It’s like a jewel box. And you did that all by yourself, right?”
“Well yes, but..”
“But me no buts, copper lady, this is a make or break project for me. I need your help. Please don’t turn me down.”
John put on such a pathetic, woebegone face that I burst out laughing. “Well, if you think I can do it, sure, I’d love to help. So what’s the theme?”
“Need you ask? It’s copper, magical copper…….”
That night I slept restlessly again. In my dreams a procession of copper sinks, copper tops, copper hoods, copper tubs, copper bowls, copper tiles, copper pet bowls, copper spa bowls and little coppersmiths with tiny hammers paraded before my eyes. I tried to image what the Spellman house would be like, and came up blank… my alarm went off.
John arrived bright and early as agreed, knocking loudly my door. When I opened it he was looking, I have to say, extremely hands on in what I took to be his work outfit – lace up thick soled boots, scruffy chinos, and a white t -shirt carelessly topped with big sweater which looked as if it had been dragged through a hedge. I was glad I’d chosen to wear jeans and shirt, finished off with a silk jacket and a velvet scarf for style. At least one of us looked a little bit professional.
John eyed me up and down. “You look perfect, partner!”
“I’m nervous; Mrs. Spellman is going to see through me with one look.” I didn’t see how I was going to pull off the role John had given me the previous night over dinner, as interior designer for just about the richest and fanciest family in the state.
“You’ll be fine. After all, Mrs. Spellman has told me she wants copper, and you’re the queen of copper! But there is just one problem.”
“Oh?” My heart sank. Although I was scared by the thought of working on such a huge project, and my feeling about John were…confusing….a big part of me wanted badly to work on a sumptuous house where I could let my love of copper have full rein.
“I don’t know your name. What’s your name? I can’t go on calling you Copper Lady, ‘Mrs. Spellman, allow me to introduce my partner, Copper Lady’” he continued in a high squeaky mock British accent, laughing, with those adorable blue eyes a-twinkle.
“It’s Freddi, with an ‘I’” I half whispered, “Freddi Rosewood.” I’d always hated my name.
“Nice. What’s Freddi short for? Frederica?”
I blushed; Confession time. If I was going to be partners with this forthright man, he was going to see my full name sooner or later. “It’s, err, actually, it’s short for ….Aphrodite.”
“Aphrodite?” John was trying to suppress his laughter, I just knew it. “Isn’t she the goddess of love?” asked John.
“Yes, and also, she’s the goddess of copper. My mother loved copper too, and well, she was a bit of a hippy, and so, she called me Aphrodite. Can you imagine what that was like at school? So I’m always called Freddi. And Rosewood was my husband’s name, I’m a widow.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” said John, remorsefully, “I didn’t think.”
“Don’t be. It was a long time ago now, and it wasn’t a happy marriage. But he did leave me quite comfortably off.” I glanced around the house which my late husband’s money has bought, and not for the first time, thought I would exchange it all, even my beloved copper furnishings and fittings, for the truly loving relationship which I’d never known. I blinked back a small prickling tear of self pity, and swung my scarf around my neck.
“Come on John.” I said, and took him by the arm “No cold feet, no second thoughts – we’re going to go and convince Mrs. Spellman that we can do this copper makeover, even if I have to die of fright in the attempt!”
Drawing up in front of the Spellman’s mansion, I was filled with misgivings. The place was huge. How was I ever going to turn this into the copper themed beauty Mrs. Spellman envisaged?
John and I were shown into a large drawing room by a silent maid. I looked around. Lovely proportions, and some good furniture, but an awful lot of junk too. It had the sad neglected air of a home not much loved. While John stared out of the window at the garden, clearly thinking about his copper pots, I started to picture in my mind how copper could be used to make the room live again. A copper fireplace hood, hammered copper tiles surrounding it, a large copper topped coffee table drawn up in front of the fire, most of the furniture thrown out…my reverie was broken by the entrance of Mrs. Spellman.
Wearing jeans and a baggy sweat shirt, her strawberry blond hair swept up in a ponytail, she wasn’t at all my idea of the rich owner of a huge mansion. She stuck out her hand, “Hi, I’m Jill Spellman; you must be Freddi, the good fairy who’s going to turn this pumpkin into a copper palace!”
“She’s marvelous, Jill,” said John, “she has some wonderful ideas.” I did? It was news to me. But something was coming into my mind as I looked around the room.
“Sit down the two of you,” said Jill Spellman, perching on a scruffy looking sofa. “As you can see,” and she looked around ruefully as she talked, “this place has been rather neglected. My husband, Todd, inherited the house from his aunt Sarah. We’ve been living all over the place since we got married, and we’ve only just moved back here. You probably know that Todd has political ambitions. So we need to completely fix this place up.”
She paused as the maid brought in coffee and delicious looking cakes. “Please help yourself. I just love to cook – my secret vice – so the kitchen needs to be very special. I thought a hammered copper hooded range, authentic Mexican copper sinks, a complete copper batterie de cuisine…but I’m running ahead of myself.”
“I asked John in to do the garden, because we plan to have big garden parties. We also want this room completely decorated, Todd’s study, all the public areas downstairs, the kitchen, of course, and we have a massive ballroom that we’re going to use for entertaining – oh, and a big dining room. And the guest rooms and bathrooms upstairs…and I absolutely must have a copper theme running throughout the house and the garden. ”
“What’s the budget?” asked John, cutting to the chase as usual. Jill named a figure which was frankly staggering. And then another only slightly less staggering figure for our fee. “But I must insist on the copper theme. Freddi, John tells me you’re the best copper expert he knows, and I have a real thing about copper, so that’s the theme. But tell me, what ideas do you have, you must have had some advance thoughts?”
I took a deep breath. This was my huge opportunity, and it had to go right. “I have a copper based theme which I hope you’ll like, and it’s this…
I drew a deep breath. I had no idea if my idea was good or bad, but I plunged in anyway. “Copper is a beautiful material to work with. It’s so adaptable. It can be cool and modern, warm and countrified – but you know all that. I have a home that features a lot of copper, it’s been a passion of mine, but my house is small, so I picked one style – a country style – and it worked. Whereas this house is very large, and so, we need to vary the looks of each room.”
Jill and John watched me intently. I seemed to have them with me so far.
“So, my idea is that the house is a box of jewels and semi-precious stones. Every room will have a different jewel theme. So, for the kitchen, I think amber, with a casual look, but very professional. Copper work surfaces, a double stove with a big copper hood, a double kitchen sink, copper of course, and a separate pair of sous chef sinks.”
“Why copper work surfaces?” asked Jill, “Isn’t that a bit unusual?”
“Well yes it is, but you know, copper has antiseptic properties and it’s being used a lot in hospital for things like door handles. So I’d recommend that we have copper door handles, finger plates, light switches and stair rails throughout the house as a matter of course. But the kitchen prep areas, we’ll have some copper work surfaces and also a stainless steel surface for pastry making and such like.”
Jill nodded her approval, “And the amber?”
“I think we should have amber colored walls, and floor tiles, with some copper detailing on the floor tiles. If you like to eat in your kitchen, then we can have very bright work lighting over the cooking and prep areas, and I’m thinking amber glass oil lamps in copper over the eating area for a more friendly, cozy light.”
“That sounds wonderful, I can just see me and Todd eating a plate of spaghetti by lamplight after a hard day on the campaign trail,” laughed Jill. “OK, so what do you have in mind for the ballroom?”
The ballroom was the room which had given me the most trouble. After all, I’d never even been in a ballroom in a private house! When it comes to ballrooms, just call me Cinderella!
“Well, when John told me there was a ballroom, I was very excited of course. And I want to have a good look at it before we decide exactly how to treat it. But the jewel theme will be diamonds and crystal. John says you have a wonderful wooden sprung floor, so we don’t want to mess with that, but we are going to suggest you renovate it. We think that the ballroom should be kind of like fairyland. So we plan on a copper ceiling, very highly polished in the living fire color, so that when you look up, the colors of the ball gowns are reflected, but not like a mirror, which would be too obvious. “
“What about the walls? I hate that red damask wallpaper!” asked Jill.
I had to think on my feet. “Well, we want to look at it carefully, but we’re thinking damask wallpaper,” I glanced at John, who was looking at me slightly open mouthed. He knew I was making this up as I went along, I just hoped he would be happy with my top of the head ideas, which I was trying to make sound as if they came from the expert I was supposed to be. “But not red, we want palest silver, to go with the diamond and crystal theme, and to keep some of the feel of the original design. And crystal chandeliers, but crystal and copper, we can get them hand made for you. And there’s a staircase right? Into the ballroom like Gone With the Wind?”
Jill nodded again, “Yes, it’s a double one”
“Fantastic! That’s going to be all rebuilt in copper, just imagine it, and the handrails and stair rails and balustrades are going to be…twined with copper leaves and fruit, and embedded with tiny twinkling crystals. Like a Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Jill jumped up and gave a little girlish clap of her hands. “Oh excuse me, I’m just so excited! You have wonderful ideas for using copper! But let’s go and tour the house, I want you to see all of it.”
After the tour of the house, during which time John stayed very close to me and rather quiet, we all settled down, in the kitchen this time, for more tea and cake. Just then the phone rang, and Jill excused herself. “Is everything OK John, you seem very quiet?”
He grinned in that endearing way. “Oh, I know when I’m watching a master at work, or should I say, a mistress?” I glanced down at my hands. “You are just such an expert at this. You know how to sell an idea, and Jill is eating out of your hand. I’m sitting back and letting it happen.”
I felt a flood of relief. I was so excited by the wonderful project; I was forgetting that I was the junior partner.
“Just one thing, Freddi. Can your copper people really do all this stuff? I mean, a staircase, really?” “Yes, I know they can. They are such great people, I’ve worked with them on a few special projects for my house, and nothing is too much trouble. You know, when they started out in their business, just for fun, they made a house just about entirely of copper, so they learnt from the ground up. And they have the best coppersmiths in the world working for them, down there in Mexico.”
Jill came back into the room. “That was Todd, he loves what we’ve talked about so far, and he’s increased the budget too.” I was starting to really like this woman. “He wants to know what ideas you have for his study.”
We’d seen the study, a large untidy room with a mish mash of odd pieces of furniture, but with a lovely bay window looking out onto the garden.
“OK, well I think we’re going to choose emerald for the jewel theme for the study. A big partners’ desk, emerald green leather seating, copper trim for the bookshelves, we can open up the fireplace and put in a lovely dark copper fire surround and hood, so it will be comfortable in the winter, and a nice private place for Todd to meet with important people. A big low copper coffee table, and I’m thinking, maybe a small wet bar area in the far corner, with a copper sink and bar top, nothing too much, just so he can mix a drink or two for his guests. And a beautiful emerald colored Chinese rug.”
”Todd’s going to love that idea. How did you know green was his favorite color?”
Careful observation of his possessions as we toured the house had given away that little secret, but I contented myself with looking wise and mysterious. “Just designer’s instinct, I guess.”
The next day John and I returned to the great house and carefully photographed and measured the rooms. Jill and Todd had left for a trip to Washington, and so John and I were free to relax a little as we worked, and bounced ideas off of each other about how we were going to turn the house into a copper jewel box.
After we had worked all morning, the silent maid brought us a tray of coffee and sandwiches, and we ate them in the autumn sun on the terrace, where the project had begun for John. “So, Copper Lady,” he said, munching a ham sandwich, “what are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking that I’m scared out of my mind.” I replied, conscious of his eyes on me.
“Why? You have wonderful taste, I’m a designer, I can do the drawings, and your copper people have agreed to come in on the practical details of the project. I’ve got loads of contacts that can do the actual decorating work; it’s going to be great!”
“John, what do you think about the kitchen? Jill loves to cook, so we need to make it special. It’s a big room, and she wants to use it for casual meals. I’m thinking, we use the bay window for the dining table, and have an oval table to fit into the space. Something like French fruitwood. Long amber colored curtains to the floor, with a copper thread running through the fabric, tied back with thin copper chains. And then a long copper work counter between the dining area and the kitchen itself. In the dark color copper, very dramatic.”
“And I’ve seen a fantastic copper coffee making espresso kind of machine in Mexico, in a coffee shop, in the bright copper, it has this huge eagle on the top, I know I can get one, and Jill would just love it, it would look great sitting on the counter. Then two big butler type copper sinks, side by side, under the window, set into a fruitwood counter, and a smaller copper prep sink to one side. Jill wants to keep her multi fuel stove, but I’m thinking of a big copper hood, in the dark copper again, and maybe we could use the eagle motif on the hood, if we can get that coffee maker. “
In my mind I could see it all, and I forgot where I was, picturing in my mind the lovely kitchen filled with copper. Suddenly I realized that John was smiling at me with a kind of goofy look on his face. “I love it when you get inspired Freddi,” he said, “You just love your copper so much. Don’t forget the amber theme for the kitchen, what else can we have in amber.”
“I haven’t forgotten. How about antique Biot glass wear? And how about we have a copper dinner service made? I think that would appeal to Jill, and it would look gorgeous on a fruitwood table.”
“Don’t forget copper tiles all around, and we’ll conceal the appliances behind fruitwood cabinet doors. We could use the eagle them on the tiles – can your copper people do that?” The energy was high as we bounced ideas back and forth.
“My copper people can do anything!” I laughed, and it was true. I knew that they would be holding my hand all the way, and that their Mexican copper smiths were the best in the world.
John leaned forward. “You’ve got a crumb.” His finger gently brushed my lip. “There, that’s gone.” My stomach felt as if it had taken a very sudden elevator ride from the first to the twenty first floor, and the place where he had touched my lips burned like the fire in the heart of copper……