Purchase an Upright Piano

I’m on the fence when it comes to the new age, power of positive thinking many bloggers seem to embrace heartily. I had a dose of it at Camp Mighty and when I made my life list, but I can’t say it’s a regular part of my life. I’m not discrediting it, I’m just saying I don’t put enough thought or action into the practice to form much of an opinion. Speaking of my life list, I need to get on that. I need to review it every now and then and see what I can chip away the same way I do here weekly with The William Morris Project.

Maybe that’s why I can’t entirely discredit the idea that thoughts become things. When I wrote my intentional home list in January, I considered it a list I would take years to tackle. But here I am, every week–every day, really–thinking about my house and what will make it a home. And somehow, things are happening. I’m thinking things into existence (new age) or my commitment to the project makes me act when normally I wouldn’t (practical). All I know is that I was thinking about the living room a few weeks ago, and how I would love for it to have an upright piano. Then my carpool partner dropped Mikey off from school. I went out to greet her and, knowing her mother plays the piano, asked her to let me know if she hears of anyone looking to sell an upright.

Her eyebrows shot up and she said, “You can buy ours. My brother just gave me his latest hand-me-down, so I’m looking to get rid of the one we used as kids.”

She sold us her piano for $100.

Those of you familiar with pianos will recognize this is a modest piano. We bought this piano for Nicholas and it’s perfect for our needs. We hope to start him in lessons this year or the next. Either way, it’s his and piano lessons will be his thing, the thing Mikey can’t take over. I love my Mikey, but his personality is like a vacuum. It draws everyone in. It commands attention. He is smart and athletic and creative, and I think Nicholas sometimes gets the shaft as the younger brother to someone who lives as large as Mikey does. I would like for Nicholas to do something that doesn’t require him to follow in his brother’s footsteps.

This is how the piano normally looks. The candle and vase are up there because that’s where the Mister places them. They didn’t bother me enough to move them, though they won’t always stay there. The rest are cards from Mikey’s 8th birthday last week. 8!

Yesterday I played around with the styling, trying to see what I want to do in the future. I always imagined large scale photograph on that wall.

I propped my landscape and brought over two brass candlesticks to see how it would look, but the painting is too small in scale and the overall look is too traditional. I don’t have any large scale photography right now, but I grabbed some framed prints and did a mock-up to get a feel for how it would look. I would hang whatever I decide on for the final product, of course.

It looked okay, but the scale is still off. The frame is too tall, perhaps not wide enough. The pictures on either side were also distracting me. I wouldn’t leave them up if I hung a large scale photograph over the piano, so I took another picture cropping them out.

It’s better, but I think it’s still too tall and narrow.

I’m not sure if it’s because the scale looks better with the candle and vase or if it’s the power of groups of 3, but I think this looks better. I’ll keep playing around until I find the magic. So, I purchased a piano. I can strike that off the list! Of course, I just added “Style the piano” to the list. Maybe I wasn’t that far off when I thought The William Morris Project would take me years.

Edited to add: Hah! Two people in the comments reminded me that you don’t style pianos that you play. I had a piano growing up and played for over 10 years…the top was always kept clear. I’ve been reading blogs too long, thinking the piano needs to be styled! Well, that just makes finding the right scale photograph/frame all the more important–relatively speaking.

This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.

Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Tell us about it with a link or comment. A few guidelines:

  1. Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
  2. Your post must relate to your efforts to create an intentional home. I have a delete button, and I’m not afraid to use it.
  3. No links to giveaways, please.
  4. Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.

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  1. I’m with Alana a piano for $100!! I love that came into fruition and I can’t wait to see Nicolas behind it with his big smile, little voice and legs swinging away at the bench:) BTW, how large scale? I happen to know of this great mountainscape photograph by a very talented photographer….

    • It took me a while to figure out where I was going to place it, too. I was told by a designer that I shouldn’t buy one because it will crowd the room, but I’m not interested in having my room be magazine perfect.

  2. Beautiful! We had a piano growing up and it was so lovely to have in the house. I still play it when I go home to visit my parents.

    • We had one growing up, too. I knew even as a child that I wanted one in my house. It’s important to me that the kids participate regularly in art and music. It’s one of the reasons they’re in private school.

  3. The piano looks gorgeous in your living room! (Especially with that stunning coffee table you have!)

    One thing, when Nicholas starts playing it, I would take all the things off the top. I think the piano looks lovely styled, but styled pianos are for people who don’t actually play – My husband and I both play piano, and 1) heavy objects on top will change the sound of the piano, making it more tinny because the objects will hamper the vibration 2) There are songs that require the lid be lifted, which creates a richer and more open sound reminiscent of a grand. Styling an upright leaves no option to do this.

    I often see heavily styled pianos on blogs, but I think they just use the pianos as decorative objects – no serious piano player I know would do that.

      • This is valuable news to me. We have an upright that my daughter plays and it is a clutter of stacks of music, a small lamp (necessity for evening playing), and a vase. I need to rethink that and ask her teacher about opening the lid. I am in Ohio and not sure if climate differences matter, but I had a built in humidifier put into the piano to better preserve it. The tuner recommended it. (Be sure to get it tuned. Makes a huge difference when learning) There are lights that blink when the piano needs to be “watered” . I have mine between 2 windows in the living room and hung 2 prints over it. Looking for that large original art, but haven’t found it yet. I inherited my piano and had no clue about quality. The tuner said it was a quite decent and respectable one, and he tunes for the Cleveland orchestra and several of their musicians. You may be surprised you got a nice piece, like I was. Good luck to Nico. . . younger sibs need that division of interest . . .advice from one who grew up in the shadow of a sister like Mikey, and did not have it.

        • Ha! We’re in Florida and we have a DE-humidifier for our piano. It’s a long rod that is plugged in and stays just a little warm. It’s been so humid here the thought of a place where things have to be “watered” sounds heavenly!

  4. We’ve been thinking about getting a piano as well for boobear. I want a cute shabby little upright that I can paint. Husband wants a baby grand and has been scouring CL for one. He usually buys what he wants so I have a feeling a baby grand will be in the house soon whether I like it or not. Never mind the fact that we still need toilets.

  5. This is fantastic. Being intentional brings results! An upright piano is on my list for “one day.” My parents got their first upright piano at a school auction for $1 in 1973. I think that your $100 piano is the modern day equivalent. I hope to bring about such an intentional result for myself one day, too. Great work.

    • $1! I just checked, because I was curious. Buying it for $1 in 1973 is as if I bought it today for $5.31 today. You parents SCORED.

  6. Wonderful!! I’m not much on the power of positive thinking (it’s a little too woo-woo for my brain but I admire and envy those who do believe and practice) but I’m happy for you no matter how it came into your life! We have the piano that was in my house and I love having it there. I agree with Jenna about the styling – there was never anything on the piano when I was growing up.

    And I love how you have thought this through for Nicholas. That is the best part of all.

    • There was never anything on mine growing up, either! Completely forgot. I guess I’ve been reading blogs for too long. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      p.s. It’s woo-woo for me, too.

  7. I have a free piano that I was given nearly 15 yrs ago by a friend who didn’t need it anymore–I just had to pay to move it. The paint is terribly dinged up, so my list includes “paint the piano” and “reupholster the bench.” I also need to have it tuned–one of those jobs that keeps getting pushed off the list in favor of more urgent expenditures. But it’s been perfectly fine for the kids’ lessons and to accompany myself when rehearsing my chorus parts. I do keep some family photos, a lamp and my great-grandmother’s metronome on top. The day someone gets serious enough with their music that we need to open the lid, I’ll gladly remove everything, but we’re just not there yet.

  8. isn’t it amazing how things work out? You wanted a piano, you got a piano!
    My sister has the piano that was in our house growing up. I want it, someday. Her kids don’t actually take lessons, so I’m hoping that if I ask her for it (because my kids will be taking lessons at some point), she’ll give it to me.

  9. I love your piano! Especially the way you got it! We have dibs on a relative’s piano, but until then, we’ve got an electric that isn’t beautiful, but it’s useful. My husband had one growing up, but never learned to play until he was in college and stumbled on a grand in the music dept. Now he plays beautifully by ear, but can’t play anything unless it’s in the key of C. (Thus the electric piano. It’s the only way he can transpose his music into other keys!)

    Whether the piano is something Nicholas is really gifted at or turns out to be just a hobby, he’ll be glad he got those lessons!

  10. What a pretty little piano! I love the wood color!
    The stand up piano I played as a kid is sitting in a closet at my parents’ house. I keep waiting to get settled in a home to have it moved there. I think my mom may be counting the days until it gets moved out of her house so she can have the closet back…Sorry, Mom!

  11. Wonderful! You will never regret it. It’s wonderful to have the sounds of someone playing music in your house. An idea for something to hang above the piano is to have the sheet music from Nicholas’ first recitals framed. I put my kids’ recital pieces — teacher’s markings, stickers and all — into frames and hung them near the piano. I love them!

  12. Positive thinking weirds me out (because what if you think positively with all your might and then things still suck? don’t you feel worse?) but I can get on board with intentional thinking. I’m skewed in the opposite way and secretly believe in jinxing, so I follow a “(top secretly and never vocally) hope for the best and plan for the worst” system.

    We had a rescue piano growing up and I loved it. My mom found it covered in layers of paint on a friend’s porch and spend a ton of time refinishing it and then only had to spend the money getting it back in tune. I never got particularly good at playing, but it was still special to have a taste of it.

  13. I bought a beater piano when my kids were babies, full of fantasies of the musicians they would be. It was a horrible piano that we never got fixed, and my kids are as lacking in musical talent/interest as me! Oh well. It made a nice home for some kind of creatures who lived in it one winter. I found evidence of their home later–the inside was filled with some kind of nut casings!–which is right about when I decided the piano had to go! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure your experience will be much better than mine.

  14. Just to throw another whirly in the midst of other comments – you’ve already edited to add about clearing the top of ‘stylings’ but as for the picture above … if this is going to be Nicolas’ place, the picture should either reflect his personality or be something he’d enjoy looking at while playing. I don’t know how practical it is to assume an 8 year old has a picture preference that would mesh with the other things in your room, but that’s my thought anyway.
    My parents put all of us (except one brother) through piano lessons so it was never our individual ‘thing’. I think, looking back, I would have felt very special if I had a picture I knew was picked just for ME hanging over the thing in the room that was just for ME to shine.

  15. Lovely piano. We’ve been looking for one too (think that we may have found the right one, but are hotly awaiting a response from the seller/giver-awayer).
    How awesome that you are thinking of Nico, and how he can express his sense of self separate from his sibling. Ollie decided today that he would like to play trumpet, not piano (like his sister). I’m still on the fence regarding the idea of a five year old blasting away on the horn…time will tell.

  16. Ha- how awesome is your new piano!
    I’ve ALWAYS wanted a piano and to learn how to play. Never took music lessons- that was my sister’s thing… Anyway, I have ‘permission’ from the hubs to find a piano and to find someone to teach all of us, a family lesson. Fortunately little man loves pianos, as much as a 3.75 yo can.
    Right now I’m using my positive thinking for a canoe. I usually put ‘it’ out there in the universe and what happens, happens. Let it be God, karma or woo-woo, I figure- what happens is meant to be. And if I’m patient enough, it usually always works out in the end. Usually the patience part takes a lot of wine.

  17. I love what Shaina said about choosing pictures/photos that would reflect Nicholas’s personality/interests. Also, an alternative to hanging one large picture, you might try hanging several frames instead (odd number of 3 or 5, depending on the size of the frames) as an interim solution. This way, there’s less pressure to choose that “one perfect picture”, you probably already have the smaller frames at home, and you can easily switch out the pictures to reflect the change of seasons, holidays, special events, family members, Nicholas’s changing interests, etc.

  18. Hi, great story on the piano. A thought on the large scale art: a Phoenix blogger emailed her image file to Kinko’s/FedEx and they printed it out on a 3′ x 3′ sheet for 6 bucks. She was doing gift wrap images so it might take a little research but the price is definitely right. Pop it into an Ikea frame and voila!

    http://www.azcentral.com/members/Blog/JaimeeRose/151117 Here’s the link if you have any interest. Again, congrats on the piano!

  19. Such a smart way to go. If it turns out to be a fleeting interest you are not out much and it is a pretty piece of furniture meanwhile.

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