Archive for July, 2012

I’m a dreamer. I see things and my mind just takes off, often spinning out of control, imagining what it could be. True confession: I mentally decorate nearly every interior space I enter. I mean wall treatments, furniture arrangements, lighting. The whole nine yards. I even do this in public spaces. Why should it be okay that they are dull and uninspiring?

So I draw inspiration from almost everything.

And then there’s reality. Which I’m facing right now.

We have a small tenant house on our property which we’re in the process of renovating for the first time. I see it as a cottage:

When in fact, it looks like this:

But even so. I see clematis growing over lattice on the porch, underplanted with hydrangeas. I already have the vintage porch furniture for it. And the real wood shutters to replace the horrible plastic ones. I even see shutters on either side of the front door. Isn’t it adorable!?!

And then we go inside. I’ll start with the kitchen, which i would see like this:

However, the reality when we first got in there was:

And, actually it’s almost worse than that. The ‘wood paneling’ on the walls (which I think can be adorable painted white, isn’t wood paneling at all. It’s contact paper. And the ‘parquet’ floor? That vinyl floor tiles.

So after working on it for a while, here’s what we now have:

But do you see the hardwood floors?! Turned out that under the vinyl were three more layers of plastic flooring, ending with old linoleum that brought all of the rest with it in one big sheet. Super lucky.

Condition of the walls? Not so lucky. I see walls of the palest grey (Farrow & Ball’s Pavilion Grey), white trim and tissue-thin white cotton voile curtains to waft in the breeze. Marble counters, beaded board back splash, and sleek stainless appliances. And, of course, a fabulous 1920s French chandelier dripping with crystals for over the central island. Don’t you just see it?

The dining room to go with this fresh and charming kitchen? This is the one I imagine:

Pretty sweet, huh? The airiness of my kitchen flows right on through, doesn’t it?
But this is what I have:

Remember the vinyl tiles from the kitchen? They covered these hardwood floors, too. Pulling just half of them up took me over 6 hours. And cost me my favorite, chartreuse green flip flops. The stuff they put those tiles down with is like human fly paper! Chip had to come to my rescue and got the rest of this room, plus the living room finished in just a couple hours! No, I cannot explain it.

And this room has great potential. The wainscoting is lovely. I see carrying the grey from the kitchen walls into the dining room, and painting the wainscoting the soft white of the trim. The ceiling, naturally, must boast another equally stunning chandelier, hanging from a ceiling cabana striped in the grey and white. I’m thinking a sisal rug for texture, a large, round, limed-wood, pedestal table with french chairs. And a pretty daybed, upholstered in Belgian linen, under the window. Straight panels, hung from the top of the walls would frame both windows. Better, don’t you think?

And the powder room?

But what we found was this:

And with a little work, we accomplished this:

In spite the leaking pipes, twenty layers of contact paper and wall paper, seriously damaged wood floor and failing fixtures, I see potential here, too.
With the floors dried, cloroxed, sanded and waxed, they’ll be lovely. And here’s my one indulgence of wall paper. I just love it in small spaces. I’m thinking toile, but I’m open to what ever trips my trigger in the wall paper store. It’s such a tiny space that I feel it can be completely indulgent. Of course a white, pedestal sink and new white toilet. Inset plantation shutters for the window, so it can remain open in decent weather, while maintaining privacy. And in here, the smallest of delicate chandeliers, like a pretty jewel in it’s box. That’s what I see.

I’ll be shooting pictures as we go.   It’s a long slow process, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Thanks for reading,

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Here’s a few items I just photographed today. Enjoy!
Love these chairs.  They're not identical, but a perfect pair.
The brass number updates this beautifully painted chest.
How could I not love this adorable piece?  It's chartreuse, after all.
Shapely dress forms
The Cottage has expanded here at Chartreuse.  Check out the space at the top of the stairs.
Actual brass tags from Ford Motor Co.  Perfect for anyone driving a Ford.
So graphic.  Love the shocking yellow gear.
Fabulous red leather chair.
I think I need a wall like this in my office.

I’ll be posting more in a few days.

Thanks for reading,

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Found a few treasures

I love road trips.  And they’re especially fun for me when they involve a little hunting.  For Chip, hunting means guns, ammo, and meat in the freezer.  For me, hunting means something quite different.

I begin such trips with the Suburban emptied of seats and debris.  So it’s basically a pickup truck with a roof (and sometimes I really resent that roof . . .).   Next, the requisite Starbucks drive-thru.  Essential to my sanity and happiness.  And what makes it extra fun is when you’ve got a buddy who is every bit as excited about the day as you are.  On this day it was Cathy of Heather Grey Designs.

Naturally, the day we chose was over 95 degrees.  But we were undaunted.  Loaded with 8 bottles of water, suntan lotion, and granola bars, we were ready for anything.
Here are some photos of our finds:
Love this oil painting!  I realize that it’s beat up and chipping, but there’s just something about it that I love.  (Don’t tell Chip, but I may have to keep it.)  The big galvanized tub is cooler than it looks in this photo.  It was white washed ages ago, and has such a great patina.
The concrete duck and metal urn are Cathy’s.  Both great finds.  The carelessly tossed trophy is mine.  Don’t let the haphazard-looking packing fool you;  each one of these items is precious to us.
What is it about old dress forms that I love so?  And the more dilapidated it is, the more I want it.  She’s already in the barn!
Such a nice cabinet.  It was so tempting, in excellent condition, with all its drawers.  But the price was just too high.
This old printer’s cabinet I absolutely loved.  All the drawers were there.  The hardware was original and so beautiful.  But at $700, I just had to leave it behind.
It was a super successful trip, though.  We filled the Suburban to the point that the young men helping us pack the last pieces simply did not believe it would all fit.  But they didn’t know with whom they were dealing.  Cathy and I climbed, pushed, shoved, cajoled, and, in the end, fit 1/2 dozen paintings, mirrors, 4 chandeliers, a chair, 4 tables, books, tags, trophies, china, lamps, a dress form, a 3′ diameter galvanized tub, and a 5′ solid concrete statue.  Yes, we know how to pack. 
And all that water we brought?  Would you believe we drank all of it?  And never had to use the bathroom.  That’s just how hot it was.
Altogether a great day.
Thanks for reading,

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I’ve just returned from Marietta, Ohio. You may not have heard of it, but it’s one of the most charming towns I’ve seen. I didn’t say city, for this is clearly no cosmopolitan place. It is a town, a truly all-American small town.  And as such, it’s just plain lovely.

And what may be most charming about it is that I don’t think Marietta realizes how charming and extraordinary it really is. That’s partly because it’s seen a population growth of nearly 0% over the past 20 years. Coming from a place that’s experienced nearly 100% growth over the same period, that sounds delightful!

But it’s not just this quiet consistency that make Marietta so inviting. It’s the downtown, full of stunning architecture, which boasts a thriving Front Street, facing on the Ohio River.

We go to visit friends, who we helped move from Maryland to Ohio nearly 25 years ago. As we’ve returned to visit them, we’ve watched the town evolve as their family grew. We’ve become charmed by it and return each time contemplating how pleasant it would be to live there.

After Mass on Sunday, I strolled back to my car and just had to snap these pictures to share with you the loveliness of it all. (Please excuse the quality of the photos, as I only had my iPhone with me.)

I had parked my car right in front of this porch and it’s garden.

Here’s the whole house. Note the amazing curved front.

A couple doors down was this lavender charmer.

The attention to details is part of what sets this town apart.

And this is the delightful front porch (which people actually use in this town!). Isn’t it decorated with such flair?  The leaded glass filling in the end of the porch, the mirror hung by the door, the inviting furniture arrangement all draw you to it. I would have loved to drop in and share a glass of lemonade with this creative decorator!

The view of the dome of St. Mary’s, across the street from these houses

Another view of the curved-front house. This image shows the extraordinary architecture more clearly.

St Mary’s front entrance. Not at all what you’d expect from a quiet little town in Ohio. And the interior is even better!

What’s tempting is that many of these houses have For Sale signs out front. This 1903 Cape Cod boasts twin french doors leading onto the porch, and a front garden just perfect for hydrangeas. (Yes, I’ve thought about it . . .)

Detail of the french doors.

Want something a little larger? This 1919 beauty is also for sale, and has a pretty bricked patio and finished basement (for $269,000!)

And they all have such lovely yards.

But this butter-yellow brick beauty is really my favorite. (and it already has hydrangeas!)

This is it’s front. Don’t you just want to move in?!  If this one were for sale, I’d probably have Chip packing us up already.

sigh . . .

And just look down the street!

It was 4th of July weekend, and all the flags were flying.

I think I need this wrought iron fence and gate.

And if you like something more formal . . .

And, oh the porches! This one is on an early 19thC white brick home. These porches gaze off into the ethereal town cemetery. Sounds creepy, but it’s absolutely lovely in a Midnight-in-the-Garden-of-Good-and-Evil kinda way.

The House of Seven Porches. Though only these four are apparent from the street, it does make one anxious to see the rest.

And did I mention that Marietta is a college town? To top it all off, Marietta has the vibrancy and engaging activities that come with having a thriving college located in the middle of town.

Bottom line – if you’re ever in Ohio (a haven for great vintage finds), drop in on Marietta. Take a stroll down front street, breath in the beauty of the scenic river view, and enjoy the shaded streets with their exceptional collection of fine architecture.

Do you know of an exceptionally charming, yet little-known town?  I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading,

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