Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Paint can be tricky.  Add to the mix the lightening effects of painting exterior surfaces, and I become frozen with indecision.  Whatever I choose, I’m stuck with it, and so is everyone who drives by and/or visits my barns.   So here I sit, paralyzed with indecision as the warm summer painting season passing by.

A mere six years ago, when we purchased this property from my family, we had the barns painted.  Feeling nostalgic and wanting to honor the past, I simply had them repainted as they had been all my life:


Classic white with dark green trim.  If you travel up and down Buckeystown Pike, you’ll find barn after barn painted this same way.



But the job was done poorly, and now, after only six short years, we’re faced with the need to paint again.   And I’m itching for a change.

I’d really like to move on to this look:

barn paint



Farrow & Ball’s Railings is an great choice.  I attended one of F&B’s color seminars, where I learned to go 2 tones darker for exterior color, as the sun washes it out, making it appear much paler outside than it does indoors.


Here’s Railings as a trim color – so beautiful.

There is no comparison for richness and fullness of color to the Farrow & Ball paints.  And here’s another choice – but paler:  Downpipe:


downpipe against red brick

I really like this color in combination with the red brick.  Our house (which could also use fresh paint) is red brick, and I’d like consistency throughout the property.

Farrow & Ball downpipe

This image above is F&B’s Downpipe against Cotswolds stone.  But doesn’t anything look beautiful against Cotswolds stone?



Amherst grey

And then there’s Benjamin Moore’s Amherst Grey.  So elegantly sharp with it’s crisp white trim.

amherst grey benjamin moore


Or, Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal.  This image gives you a great look at how color can change.  On the cards, Kendall Charcoal is darker than Amherst Grey, yet if you compare these images, they appear to be almost the same color.


Best Exterior Outdoor Green House Paint Color, Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green, Gardenista

And here is Benjamin Moore’s Black Forest Green.  Try to envision this barn with crisp white trim framing the small door, and outlining the detailing on the large barn door.

You see how it goes?  I just need to choose and get on with it.  But whatever I choose, it necessarily eliminates all those other beautiful, tempting choices.

It’s just so hard to decide . . .

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this vexing issue!

Thanks for reading,


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I really don’t like malls.  They’re all the same stores, same basic layout, same corporate look.  But every now and then (yes, especially this time of year), I’ll drop in.  When I go, my favorite in this area is Tyson’s Corner/Tyson’s Galleria – mainly because they have the best Apple store in the area AND Anthropologie.

But, much as I love both those stores, there’s still a bit of that corporate-ness to them (this shop window, is just an example of what I’m saying).

And then I found Free People:


Firstly, I just love these spectacular doors.  And it’s the details that make this for me:  the gravel “pavement” with the cute bike parked outside, the bronze doors that look like it’s a pavilion plucked from the Tuilleries Gardens in Paris.


And then you walk in to hardwood floors (no big surprise, or exception there), charming clothes and accessories, and – here’s the part I love – handmade holiday decorations!  Yes, the staff at Free People made this adorable pom poms them selves, and set up this charming display.


And I’m always a sucker for incorporating natural elements in displays of any kind.


And don’t they just plain look fun to make? IMG_3818

These pretty cones are a nice complement (not sure if they made these, too).


I was surprised to find this level of personality in a corporate store.  Kudos Free People.

Happy Holiday shopping to you!

Thanks for reading,


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What better to put you in the Christmas spirit than a December snow? And we’re already on our second one here in Buckeystown, Maryland! I’ve lived in this area all my life (eg. a very long time . . .) and cannot recall a December with two early snows, especially over 6″ (the mid-Maryland definition of a decent snow).

So how am I celebrating this natural phenomenon? Sipping french vanilla coffee, in pajamas and slippers, ensconced in my down-cushioned sofa, watching the snow fall outside our wall of windows. Ahh, contentment . . .


What I awoke to this morning:


And a few images from Sunday’s snow:







I think the 14′ Christmas tree, which I struggled all month to decorate (and keep upright!), looks spectacular the way Nature has trimmed it.  The ultimate flocking!

If you got some snow, I’d love to see pictures of it!

Thanks for reading,



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Let’s start with the most basic of mantle decorating designs:  candlesticks flanking a clock or mirror.  There is nothing wrong with this design.  Yet, take a look at it.  Does it really draw you in?  Does it turn your head or engage your interest?  Not really.


Step 1:  Add greens.  A base of natural greens – found in your own yard or clipped from the Christmas tree – is best.


Step 2:  Create asymmetry.  Change the height of one of your candlesticks to add flow to the display.  Here I use books – my favorite decorating go-to for giving an element the height it needs.


Go further with the asymmetrical design by moving the candlesticks together, and pulling the clock to an off-center position.

It’s getting better, isn’t it?


Step 3:  Employ vertical elements.  I’m removing the round clock so that I can add some additional height.


I’ve found just the thing in this vertically hung, vintage mirror.  Mirrors have the added benefit of their reflective nature and room-opening power.


Step 4:  Intertwine layers of garland.  Intertwining the wired, glittered garland with the natural greens gives shape and interest.  When using store-bought greens, always work with them to give them the lively shape that you want them to have.  Never leave them flat as they come from the store.

Here, interweaving them with the natural greens gives liveliness to the display.


Note how this base of greenery has tied the major, vertical elements together.


Step 5:  Add texture.  These paper garlands add whimsy and texture.


Step 6:  Include a theme.  They mantle already looks great, but we can take it to the next level with a theme – in this case I’m doing Woodland.


Step 7:  (Woodland theme)  I’ve added both a natural and a tinsel tree, combining the glittery with the earthy, as we’ve done with the garland base.


Step 8:  Add figures.  These felted deer provide a sculptural element, and serve the design function of linking the white, carved frame to the trees and garland below.


Step 9:  Maintain visual balance.  The ‘weight’ of the deer needs to be balanced on the opposite side.  In this case 2 large pine cones – one natural and one dusted with German glass glitter – work perfectly.


Step 10:  Tuck ornaments and tiny items amongst the greenery.  Small owl and squirrel ornaments complete the Woodland theme, as they add that extra level of interest – that little something you see as you come nearer to the mantle.

Compare this photo to the first one.  Quite a difference.  And we had so much fun doing it!


Step 6:  (Vintage Toyland theme) Let’s remove the formal candlesticks (which provided that shot of red for the Woodland theme) in favor of a vintage toy store sign.


While the elements are completely different (silver candlesticks vs. graphic sign), design-wise they serve the same purpose, which is to balance the trees and mirror.


Step 7:  Add whimsy.   Love the playfulness added with this candy cane.  It also draws together the base to the full height of the mirror.


Step 8:  Embrace scale.  If I had room on the mantle, I’d love to use this vintage toy horse in the display.  Alas, it just won’t fit.


Step 9:  Add little details.  Tuck vintage ornaments among the greenery.


Step 10:  Use graphics.  Add to the graphics of the toy store sign.  I’ve used the blocks to spell out N I P, as well as a little red and white bike license plate.


And here’s the final product.  I love the richness and detail of this display.


Note the little toy truck poking out from under the ‘toy ‘n joy’ sign.




Step 11:  Don’t forget the fireplace itself.  If you’re not burning a fire, use this space to display beautiful items that integrate with your mantle.  In this case the blue child’s skis, candy cane, and oversized letters do the trick.




Hope you found this inspiring and useful.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks for reading!


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I’m totally in a garden state of mind. Our new landscaping is coming into full bloom, and it’s just been decorated with some great vintage treasures. Here’s few of my favorite images of it:


These sweet little chairs take on an sculptural appeal in the garden.  The green chest adds just the right punch of color.


In the little spring house, which the new landscaping surrounds, has a fresh look, too.  This pie chest and its topiaries are just the right balance for the weathered door and walls of this beautiful space.


Vintage trellis growing out of our boxwoods – which we planted in an old, concrete water trough.


I love how this vintage bottle reflects the soft light of the stone house


This exceptional, hybrid wisteria was just planted in March.  It’s been trained to grow along the ‘new’ stone and brick wall – created as a ruin from salvaged, vintage materials.


These ‘ruins’ are brand new – just constructed in March.  They comprise the main structure of our new patio area.  This wall continues to the left to our outdoor fireplace.


Looking back at the stone house from the fireplace area, these vintage furnishings invite you to linger a while.


And yes, I just had to share this image one my time.  I just love the magnolia playing off the rough, old silo.

Hope you enjoyed this look into our garden. What part is your favorite?

Thanks for reading,

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Think about Spring and what comes to mind?  Warm sunshine on your face.  A breeze carrying that kiss of warmth and promise of summer.  And gardens bursting into their own.

This Spring is bringing me the most spectacular garden I’ve ever had.  And it’s been such a rewarding lesson in being faithful to a vision.

Here’s some befores, some durings, and you’ll just have to wait a little on the full-on afters:

Beginning the Monday after our February sale, Jared Herman and his team arrived and began the earth moving.

Beginning the Monday after our February sale, Jared Herman and his team from Old Towne Historic Landscapes arrived and began the earth moving.

As the footers were poured, I began to see Jared's 2-dimensional design come to life.

As the footers were poured, I began to see Jared’s 2-dimensional design come to life.

I had tried over the years to create a pretty little shade garden along this wall.  The only thing that thrived was poison ivy.  Solution?  A water feature!

I had tried over the years to create a pretty little shade garden along this wall. The only thing that thrived was poison ivy. Solution? A water feature!

The brick paving throughout is artwork, but what I really can't wait to see is the water wheel that's going to be hinged on the iron frame built into the pond's coping.

The brick paving throughout is artwork, but what I really can’t wait to see is the water wheel that’s going to be hinged on the iron frame built into the pond’s coping.

Around here, you either Go Big, or Go Home.  Jared totally got that one.  This spetactular outdoor fireplace was built straight, on a hinged base.  Once it was set, Jared and his crew lowered one side to create a convincing 'ruins'.  It appears that the fireplace, over the years, has pulled away from the crumbling house walls.  Amazing.


The irrepressible crew, who worked through wind, rain, and snow to finish this huge job inside of a month.

The irrepressible crew, who worked through wind, rain, and snow to finish this huge job inside of a month.

The crumbling wall.

The crumbling wall.

From inside the  planting beds, accented with 'windows'.

From inside the planting beds, accented with ‘windows’.

The crumbling walls on the north side of the entry.

The crumbling walls on the north side of the entry.


The plants are coming in this week.  Can't wait to see!  I'll be shooting pictures all summer long . . .

The plants are coming in this week. Can’t wait to see! I’ll be shooting pictures all summer long . . .


This one’s of Jared, the mastermind and creative genius who saw our barns and could see the gardens they needed.

So there you have it.  Our work in progress is becoming pretty spectacular.  Jared’s planting a beautiful wisteria in that picture of him.  He planted it and trained it’s branches over the ‘ruins’ and up the fireplace.  The other plant he’s featuring?  Hydrangeas.  I almost cried when he told me.  I absolutely LOVE them.  And dogwoods, and magnolias.  Historic, timeless plants to complete the vision.

But what do I love most about the whole construction?  The stone and brick used in the walls and fireplace is all salvaged from toppling farm buildings right here in Frederick County, Maryland.  So in our own little way, we’re preserving something of those other barns that couldn’t be saved.

Happy Spring!  Hope you’re inspired to go out and create something wonderful in your yard.

Thanks for reading,


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Elle Decor (one of my favorite magazines) dished out their prediction of style trends for this coming year. Some of them are obvious, as we’ve already been seeing them. But some are unexpected things to look for:

1.  Brass is in

After years of silver being the hip, fresh metal, gold tones had to make a come back.  In contrast, brass now looks so new and unexpected.  Truth be told, this trend has been developing of a while.


I do like how the gold accents warm the space.  Not loving the walls and rug with it (or the lamp for that matter).  This room still needs some life . . .


Here’s an example I love from the Atlanta market I just attended.  The charmingly curvy legs on this pretty metal table make me happy.  I think I have just the spot for it.  The warm gold is just right for it, too.  It wouldn’t work at all in the shiny silver we’ve seen so much of over the past 5 years.

2.  Green is in.

This one I totally applaud!  As you probably know, green is my favorite color, and I just can’t decorate without it in one shade or another.  Pantone has declared Emerald Green the color of the year.  We’ll see.  But green in general is a must-have color.


I’m not one for pure modern (there’s a nice nod to history with the french chairs), but I just love this space.  And what makes it pop?  Why that fabulous chartreuse pear lamp, of course.  A continuing trend I’m predicting for this year:  lucite furniture.  That invisible little end table is perfect.

3.  Embellished walls

According to Elle Decor this means anything from full-on trompe l’oeil to sea-grass wall paper (a pretty broad category, if you ask me).  However broad, I love the trend.


Ahhh, my two favorite trends in one – embellished green walls.  To die for . . .


Here’s a great example from the Atlanta market I just attended.  This compelling Paris street scene was drawn with charcoal on a drop cloth, and put up as a temporary wall in the High Design hall of the market.  The image drew you straight into the ‘room’.


Absolutely love this space!  These ‘walls’ are also hand-drawn on drop cloth.  The ‘french moldings’ appeared to have been created with a Sharpie!  So clever.  And if you have a sure hand, so easy!  (The russet silk sofa is pretty awesome, too.  Love the perky, striped pillow with is.)

4.  Lace

This is one I’m not so sure about because, frankly, I don’t love lace.  But here’s a pretty use of it:


Lace accents on textiles is something I was definitely seeing in Atlanta, too.

5.  Beige is big.

Somehow ‘Beige’ as  a trend is a little silly to me.  I mean, isn’t Beige just always a go-to in interior design.  It’s almost cliché.  But they say it’s trending for 2013, and I’m not going to argue with the loveliness of these rooms:




And what makes Beige a workable, interesting design choice?  Use of texture.  Look at all three of these rooms, and you’ll see that it’s the variety and play of texture that makes them great.

What trends do you see evolving out there for 2013 and the future?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and observations.

Thanks for reading,


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