If you are having "Tea at Em's" -- you are a bit out of breath because you've climbed four flights of stairs while glancing at our shocking pink and bright orange walls, and my paintings and posters from our off Broadway show.
We are not rich, but my mother gave us money for the down payment on the building where we live and work. Over the years, we paid off the mortgage and now own this five story building, and occupy two floors.
Each floor is 2,200 square feet. The third floor is our offices and studio theater. The top floor is our home. It used to be a loft where lamp shades were manufactured. The photos show how Em, the homemaker, transformed a space that once upon a time had gas jets, no electric lights, no bathroom, no hot water, or heat.
"Come in," I say.
"Wow," or "Gee," you'll probably think. Here in the middle of Manhattan, you don't expect to see a bright green enamel floor, a bright green enamel metal ceiling, and curved white walls.
"We can sit in here, " I say with a gesture, leading you to a curved wall, with a keyhole shaped doorway. (Click on the picture; when its larger, you'll see in the slots on the curved wall and John Cullum's theater awards.)
We walk through the keyhole and there we are. It's a special room.
"JC and I have often have breakfast here. Even in the middle of the winter, we feel like we're sitting on our front porch on a balmy summer day."
You look up and see sun pouring in from the skylight overhead. In the corner there's a huge bird cage that was home for our white pigeon, "Little Soup," who stunned us when he turned out to be a she, and laid a beautiful white egg. We also had a dog named "Teechie," a cat named Helpie," and three fish tanks.
I pick up a large silver ashtray that's sitting on an large beige marble coffee table. "This is JC's trophy from playing a celebrity tennis match as Billie Jean King's partner." (JC, before he became an actor, played high-level tennis -- when I met his family in Knoxville, I was open-mouthed when I saw all the trophies he'd won.)
The furniture in the green room is white wicker. I point out the white rocking chair. "That's from my play 'Zinnia,' and the books over there -- that's antique, formerly a baker's rack, where I keep some of our paper back books.
I lead you through our dining room. You take a good look -- there's a 10 foot white Formica dining table that is shaped like a huge mushroom, with five black and five white folding chairs around it. On the other side of the "push through" for dishes, is a smaller mushroom -- the kitchen table, and our kitchen.
Everything is brown, black or orange. The refrigerator is huge. There are cabinets galore. Dancing left and right, I can whip up a meal for two, four, or ten people in about thirty minutes. (No kidding, it's my Hawaiian Chinese recipes, and I love to cook, got a knack for it -- I'm a natural!)
I ask, "Do you want coffee, espresso? Hot tea or ice tea? Where would you like to sit -- in the green room or in our brown living room?"
The brown living room is a hangout room -- walls covered with patches of patterned cloth -- shades of red and brown -- squares, rhomboids, and triangles. It's got very cozy, comfortable brown velour couches, a large black marble coffee table; end-tables are logs. Book shelves and great lamps are everywhere.
Yes, that's a piano -- it used to be black, but with paint remover and a lot of elbow grease, JC and I turned it to a golden sort of brown. The brown room is where we shoot videos for our YouTube channel, Air Broadcasting; the Mac Computer (it has a camera) sits on the piano; we sit on the piano bench.
Yes, our home has clashing colors here and there -- it's somewhat wild looking, but practical -- easy to keep clean, and there are plenty of closets. There's also a room with a separate entrance for JD, our actor son -- with him in Hollywood, it's where JC makes me rye bread in our bread machine).
There's a real laundry room. I've got my own lime green bathroom, and JC has a white and forest green one.
The bedroom is an attic room in the middle of New York City. Real brick, pointed -- no ceiling -- just the beams, and above the beams is the roof of the building. It's cold, brrr cold in there in the winter, but great for sleeping. Here's peek at foot of the bed.
P.S. In the brown room, behind the brown chair with a yellow X on it's cushion there's an Em doodle wall.
The wall used to be a bland tan burlap. Now it's my eight-foot by four-foot "Heart" doodle -- worth a click. I sat on ladder one evening, and did it with chalks.
Yes, our home is an interesting mish-mash of styles and colors that's ... well ... it's like a stage set. John Cullum loves it and belongs here, and I certainly belong here; it's our home-made "home sweet home."