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Here’s a few pictures of my fall-decorated dining room. I had a blast putting it together – just in time for my daughters’ birthdays and Halloween.

Hope you like it!

I just love the play of the heirloom pumpkins against the silver candlestick and European sack linen.

 

The graphics of this non-working Big Ben clock on my mantle add some playfulness to the formal room.

 

Okay, so I have a clock thing . . . This one is adorable, and perfect when perched upon these 18th century French books.

 

These candlesticks are a favorite auction find. They’re from a church alter and are the perfect scale for my 11′ ceilings.

 

The mantle. (The bull’s eye mirror is from my grandmother. This spot is exactly where she always had it. When I look through it, it takes me back to my time as a little girls, fascinated by my distorted reflection in the glass.)

 

The sparkling, amber branches give off the perfect warm, fall glow. We leave them on all night as nightlights. (The dining room is the nexus of the house. With 4 doors in and out, you can’t get anywhere in our house without going through the dining room!)

 

 

I love adding an unexpected element to a table vignette. This vintage print was just perfect for my fall composition. The little mouse makes me happy, too!

 

The sideboard was also my grandmother’s, and also in exactly the same spot where she had it.


Thanks for reading!

Virginia

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Believe it or not, I’ve never actually used chalk paint before yesterday.  I see the beautiful pieces come into the barn.  I see them online.  I really love the look and so many of the colors.  But I’ve been reluctant.  Partly because I’ve heard there’s a learning curve involved, and partly because it’s not easy to get.

So I’ve never tried it.

Until yesterday.  As I was looking at this piece:

It’s got such great lines, outstanding construction (it’s actually a solid oak Thomasville piece) but the yellowish, 70’s stain, with slate blue highlights,  just weren’t working for me.   Painting it was the obvious solution.

Some crazy thought flicked into my head that this piece, and this time (3 days before Market Days)  was right for trying chalk paint.

Common sense tells you to try a new technique on something small and unimportant.  Take a good look at this hutch.   It’s so tall that I need a step ladder to reach the top.  It’s about 6′ wide, and weighs more that a small elephant.  And I was planning it for the centerpiece of my Market Days display.  This piece is both huge and important.

Undaunted, I started in with my deep taupy paint.  Just the muted cocoa/grey shade I was looking for.  It was looking great, and going on so easily!  “Wow, looks like it really will cover in one coat!”  I wanted to squeeze myself.  You see a big part of the motivation to try chalk paint was that so many people had told me that this miracle is true:  chalk paint covers in one coat.  And it doesn’t chip, or need primer.

But when I climbed down off of my ladder and gazed back up at my masterpiece, I saw that the paint was drying at least 6 shade lighter than it went on!  It was almost cream colored!  Oh no.

I took a deep breath.  That’s okay.  I’d planned on the antiquing wax.  It’ll make all the difference.

Out comes the wax.  Now I’ve waxed before.  And I know that wax takes elbow grease.  So elbow grease I gave it.   Initially it was beautiful.  The happier I was with it, the more intensely I rubbed it in.  Until – oh horror! – the wax was pulling the paint off.  Throughout the piece I was looking at whole swathes that were just antiquing over the original finish.

I could have cried.

Instead I walked away.   In search of someone to whine to.  I found Fran.  Fran is a seasoned painter, and a master fixer-upper.  “Oh just dry brush some more paint in those spots.  It’ll look great.”  I wanted to believe her.  I wanted to have it all turn out.

My plan?  Abandon it.  Have a limoncello martini (an excellent solution to most summertime problems), a good nights sleep, and paint it with some Farrow & Ball in the morning.

But when I returned this morning, I decided to try Fran’s advice after all.  And look at how it came out:

I am so pleased with the finished product!  I really  love it.  And it did actually cover in one coat.

Turns out my problem was that I should have wiped the wax on gently, not so harshly.   Upon further investigation (and whining to everyone who would listen to me AND knows something about painting with chalk paint) the Annie Sloane paint has quick drying qualities that the paint I used does not.  Additionally, the Annie Sloane wax does not rub off the paint the way the wax I used does.  On the flip side, this wax is completely organic and natural and doesn’t smell at all.  The Annie Sloane wax (though much easier to work with) does reek.  So there’s the trade off.

What do you think?  Do you like the final effect?   You’ll have to wait to see the whole thing, as it’s so heavy, that I have to have 2 men to lift the top back on.

By Saturday morning it’ll be fully decorated, and you’ll see it if you drop in on Market Days.

Another Market Days perk?  Repurposed & Refined, one of the temporary dealers, is offering chalk paint demonstrations throughout the day.  I think I’ll be taking one in!

Thanks for reading,

Virginia

 

August 12, 2014:  Here’s a few places to go if you’re interested in learning more, from real experts, on chalk paint and specialty furniture painting:

CeCe Caldwell Chalk Paint (http://cececaldwells.com/instructions-for-use/)
Annie Sloane Chalk Paint (http://www.anniesloan.com/)

And now my favorite paint company in the world, Farrow & Ball, has jumped into the game with some great insights into painting furniture with their extraordinary paint:

http://us.farrow-ball.com/find-it-paint-it-love-it/content/fcp-content

Have fun!!

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Actually, this should be titled, “Before & Now”, because while it’s technically ‘after’ pictures I have, they are not the magazine-ready kinda after pictures you may be hoping for.  Things happen around here in baby steps – mainly because we inevitably run into the unexpected.

So this post is really an update on the ‘cottage’ we’re working on.  And I can hardly express how happy I am to just be this far along in our process.

ROOM #1:

BEFORE

You may recall that all that wood is actually contact paper.  And those parquet floors are stick-on vinyl tiles.

ImageSo here’s what we had after removing the contact paper and vinyl tiles.  Yes, those are holes in the wall. But the hardwood floors had a great patina.Image

AFTER:

This is what we have today.  A bit of patching, a couple gallons of Farrow & Ball’s Pavilion Gray, trimmed with Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, and it’s worlds better.  Don’t you think? It makes me so happy to open the door now!ImageI just LOVE the old built-in cupboard!

ImageHere’s a detail of the colors.  So pretty and calming.Image

 

ROOM #2:

BEFORE

This room seemed to have the most potential because the lighting is so nice and the wainscoting has so much charm.  But this room had the stickiest floor tiles of all.  We tried everything, and finally ended up using a belt sander to sand the gunk off the floors. Image

 

AFTER

We had initially planned on staining the floors after sanding, but I really like the look of the raw sanding.  The patina would be totally lost when covered by stain.  What do you think?ImageRoom #2 BEFORE

(with the ‘parquet’ floor)ImageParquet floor removedImage

AFTER

And, voila!  The wainscoting did not disappoint.  Nor did the soft natural lighting of the room.  ImageDetail of the wall color in Room #2ImageIt’s the same Farrow & Ball Pavilion Gray that’s in the first room, yet look how the lighting changes it.  I just LOVE that about the F&B paints.ImageRoom #3

BEFORE

Again with the floors.  And this wall color was almost like a trip to the Caribbean.  It was super intense.ImageThe ‘parquet’ floors removed.ImageAFTER
We’re still working on this one, but the walls are finished, painted Farrow & Ball’s Blue Gray, with F&B’s Old White as the trim.  The combo is like a softer, warmer version of the colors in the other two rooms.  A really comforting transition.ImageDetail of the wall and trim colors.

Image
Room #4

BEFORE

Moving upstairs, this room is directly above Room #2 with the wainscoting, so it has that beautiful natural light.  Even though it’s the smallest room in the house, it’s one of the prettiest.

Image

AFTER

And here’s what paint can do.  Farrow & Ball’s Borrowed Light, trimmed with Benjamin Moore’s White Dove.  Upstairs we did stain the floors, using Rustoleum’s Kona stain.  Don’t you just love the deep, rich floors in contrast to the pale walls and trim?ImageBEFORE (Room #4)Image

 

AFTER (Room #4)

Another angle of this beautiful room.  You just want to stay in there it’s so pretty.

Image

ROOM #5

BEFORE

This is the room above the turquoise room.  It had the grungiest walls and trim of any room in the house.  It took 2 coats of primer to make them paintable.  And, like every room in the house, it had the vinyl tiles on the floor.Image

 

AFTER

And here it is with F&B’s Blackened on the walls and Cooking Apple Green on the ceiling, and Benjamin Moore’s White Dove trim.  We used the Rustoleum Kona stain throughout the upstairs.ImageAnother view with more of the ceiling showing.Image

So there you are.  We’re about to finish up completely with the renovating process and begin the decorating – my favorite part, of course.  I’ll keep you posted!

Thanks for reading,

Virginia

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It’s a annual ritual I’ve been through for the past 18 years, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

It always begins with the excitement of (my absolute favorite part of school) picking out the new school supplies. There is just something about those freshly sharpened pencils, brand-new pens, gloriously clean pads of paper. I’m happy just touching and gazing at it all.

And I have spread this little bit of wonder to my girls. We’re like kids in a candy shop when all the store roll out their aisles of supplies. Each girl would pick out her favorite things. We’d come home with bags brim-full. Gaze at them, love them. . . But then, what do you DO with all that stuff?

Here’s a few ideas:

I love these old card catalogs with all their cubbies. I especially love that they can be labelled so nicely. Put each family-member’s name on a column of drawers. Label the extra drawers with the supply it holds. For larger items (spirals, notebook paper, workbooks, etc.) place baskets beneath or on top. Organization of school supplies: done!

Another great card catalog.

Brass plate detail of card catalog. I just love brass tags, and find them even cooler when they’re still attached to the object they came with.

For textbooks and workbooks, consider an open hutch. This one is great because it has the ‘bar’ across to catch things before they fall.

An industrial shelf like this one (love the wheels and side bars!) works great as a compact school organizer. Give each child a shelf. Let them pick out a basket (or get a group that are identical to save on stress) to place on his or her shelf. Let each choose a heavy, flat-bottomed object to use as a book end. Fill the baskets with their small supplies. Stack the workbooks, and secure the textbooks with the bookends. Voila! you have all their school stuff in a personalized space that takes up less than 10 sq. ft.! Pretty sweet, huh?

Lockers are another great solution. They not only catch the school supplies, but they also give you plenty of room for sneakers, hats, gloves, and sports equipment. I love the cheerful color of this set, and that the doors flip up to open. Who wouldn’t have fun putting stuff away in this cool locker set?

This locker set is made up of shelving and a set of tough locker baskets. Each basket can be completely removed from the shelf, making it easy for everyone to access their baskets at once.

Next, we’re on to desks and some really clever ways to contain your desk-top supplies.
Thanks for reading,

Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The last time I saw Paris, it was timelessly itself, very much like the first time I saw Paris over 20 years ago. But this consistency should not be mistaken for lifelessness. Paris, for me, has maintained its freshness, its beauty, and, yes I must say it, its chic in a way only Paris can.

And what made it extra special this time, was that I was seeing it all with my daughter, on her first visit.  Seeing it through her eyes helped me to see it in a fresh way.  It’s the details that shine.  The desire to make every thing they create beautiful sets the Parisians apart.

Here are some images of our visit:

An apartment building on the Isle de St. Louis, the smaller of the two islands in the Seine

 

I found myself fascinated by the variety, details, and beauty of the doors of Paris.



Katherine’s first real look at Paris, as we emerged from the Metro into the Tuilleries Gardens (the Louvre is in the background.).

 

The well-known face of Notre Dame cathedral. But this is not my favorite view of it.

 

The spectacular flying buttresses of Notre Dame, photographed in the delightfully quiet garden behind the cathedral. One of my favorite spots in the whole city.

If you go, look for the side streets and don’t forget to look up. Some of the most charming parts of the city are the quietly elegant quarters where tourists fear to tread. Also – don’t miss the fabulous ice cream shop on the Isle de St. Louis. It’s swoon-worthy.

Thanks for reading,
Virginia

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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?
Imagination:

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,
Virginia

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Chip, me, Sasha, and Katherine, last month, at Sasha’s graduation from Chip’s alma mater, McDaniel College.

The love of my life, Chip, is turning 50 in August. Unlike his looming 30th birthday (couldn’t believe how he mourned his 20s!), he’s taking this one in stride. In fact, he’s even embracing it. (Though the AARP packet in the mail was not received with any enthusiasm.) And he wants to celebrate it. With a party. A big party.

Now this is music to my ears. I LOVE a big party. I love everything about it: the planning, the creating, the decorating, the prep, the event itself, even the cleanup has a certain charm for me. I just, plain love parties.

So you’d think we have them all the time, wouldn’t you? Not so much. My soon-to-be-50-year-old husband likes to keep his home and his family to himself. So my having a business literally in our backyard, with the public streaming in once a month is really asking all I can of him and his domain.

So hearing him calling for a party was pure delight.

And then the other shoe drops: “You know, a real kegger!” And he’s smiling so genuinely . . .

College memories of drunken frat guys, blaring hard rock, and beer bottle littered yards came to mind. My little bubble was burst.

You see my idea of a party begins with the perfect invitations to set the mood and theme of the event. My favorites are outdoor parties, so strings of lights, beautiful tables, flowers, upbeat music, flowing wine.

The decorating I had in mind didn’t involve wheeling in a row of kegs and bags of red Solo cups.

But I’m a creative person. And I love this man. There must be a way to marry these two concepts. We’ve been married for 25 years, after all. Certainly our ideas of a party can be melded.

So here’s what I’ve come up with – and I’m SOOO excited!

Chip loves cars. He loves fast cars. And he loves racing. The kind of racing they do around great big circular racetracks. And the mother of all these races, in his estimation, is the Indianapolis 500. Now I love vintage. This race has been run for over 100 years. So I think, “There must be some really cool vintage tickets out there – the perfect image for his invitations!”

I actually found a 50th anniversary ticket on eBay (similar to this one).

That’s the seed. Next I envision bunting hung from all our porches.

This is actually the home of President Harrison in Indianapolis, IN, but the volume of porches (and bunting) is like what I have in mind. (I’ve already ordered it!)

Little American flags interspersed with checkered flags in the flower arrangements on the tables.

Maybe I could even make little checked flags to go in the drinks!

An adorable double wash tub (yes, I already have one!) filled with little pints of milk (the winner of the Indianapolis 500 is traditionally handed a glass bottle of milk to drink in winner’s circle).

I know, you’re thinking, “Cute, but, YUCK! Who would want to drink milk at a party?!?!” But you see, I’ve got the cure for that, too. Sitting along side our cute little tubs of milk will be the mixin’s for mudslides. Another of Chip’s favorite things.

Add tubs of beer and wine (and maybe even a keg . . .), strings of lights (you see there are just some things I must have), pretty tables and chairs throughout the patio and lawns, highlight reels of Indianapolis 500 scenes showing on the side of the cottage, and we’ve got ourselves a party even Chip would enjoy.

Am I sounding a little too carried away already?

Wish me luck!

And thanks for reading,
Virginia

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‘Tis the season for yard saling. And for barnstorming. And this month I’ve been up to both.

Artists, history and architecture enthusiasts toured barns throughout the Buckeystown area last weekend.

 

Our barns were included on the tour, and our visitors embraced the opportunity to learn and enjoy.

 

Barns are beautiful.

 

At the reception afterwards, we were able to purchase this delightful oil painting, by Courtney Lee, of our beautiful barns.

And then on to this weekend’s fun: Yard saling! Chartreuse & co’s annual Yard Sale is this weekend, and we’ve all been rummaging through all our treasures, projects, and finds, marking them at irresistible yard sale prices.

Plus, we’re always bringing in fabulous new finds. Here’s a look at my favorites this month:

Silverware chimes. So simple and pretty.

 

This pretty french chair is one of a pair.

 

There’s a number of exceptional vintage cameras in the barn now. This one has to be my favorite.

 

Aren’t these just the cutest little owls, ever?

 

I just had to include this one. After years of struggling and coaxing, my hydrangea is finally not just surviving, but flourishing! I’m sooo happy!!!

 

That just-right shade of tangerine. And a matching pair, too!

 

If I had a beach house, this arrangement would be there.

 

I love everything about this console table. The bow-front. The carved details. The spot-on color. It’s just perfect.

 

These lamps (there’s a pair of them) are that perfect bottle green. And I love that the bottoms are open, so you can create vignettes inside them, and change them so easily.

And I’ve finally gotten some serious work done on my laundry room. Result? Tons of yard sale-priced vintage linens that I just can’t fit in my newly organized space.

I’ll be posting pictures -before and after – when the room is finally complete (I ran out of paint part way through . . .)

Thanks for reading,
Virginia

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I love barns. I think everyone should. So much of our heritage, livelihood, even sense of place, finds its origins in a barn.

Our oldest barn, the bank barn, was probably constructed in the 1880s. It would have been built before our house, which was built in 1889. Settlers and farmers routinely built their barns first – building them larger and often stronger than the house they built for themselves.

So this Saturday, June 9, from 10am-4pm, our barns are part of the 6th Annual Frederick County Landmarks Foundation’s Barnstormers Tour. This year the tour centers on Buckeystown, and our barns have been selected to be among the 9 farms-worth of buildings being showcased.

The bank barn’s heavy timber skeleton is exposed inside the structure, where you can see that no nails were used in its construction. Every joint is pegged. It’s truly a marvel of engineering.

As you drive through the countryside over the summer, take note of how many barns you see. They are disappearing fast, but can be saved.

Our dairy barn has seen the greatest changes over the years. After the cows, it was used for storage. When we bought the property, the appraiser told us that the barns were a detriment to its value. But a little vision, a lot of investment, time, and energy, and this barn has become the heart of Chartreuse & co.
Sad truth: everyone who owns property with these old barns on them is being told by appraisers and insurance agents that they are a problem and should be destroyed.

This spectacular ceiling is what we found when we opened up the second floor of the dairy barn. This space was designed (and used for 90 years) as a storage space for hay. It was never intended to be beautiful, and yet look at how extraordinary it is!  It still takes my breath away almost every time I come up the stairs.

Check out the Landmark Foundation’s site for details about the Barnstormers Tour, which will include docents at each of the 9 barns, explaining its history, functions, and construction.  Artists will be at each barn, depicting its beauty in original artwork created on site.  And the entire day will be capped off with refreshments and live music at Mayne’s Farm, where the artists renderings will be available for sale.

Tour admission is $15/person, under 16 is free.  There is no charge to get into Chartreuse & co’s barns.  Tickets will be on sale at Chartreuse & co.

Hope to see you this Saturday!

Thanks for reading,

Virginia

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The Crum family (Chip, Katherine, Sasha, Virginia) following Katherine’s graduation from Hollins University – the capstone event on our graduation weekend.


Yup. We did it. Two graduations in two states, less that 18 hours apart. It was a whirlwind, exhausting, exhilerating, and (hopefully) once in a lifetime!

Just a few bits of trivia that made it especially significant to us:

1. McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland is Chip’s alma mater. Not only did Sasha (our younger daughter) graduate from there this year, but also our niece, Caroline. So we now have a mini alumni association in our own family.

Our personal McDaniel Alumni Association: Caroline Koogle ’12, Chip Crum ’84, Sasha Crum ’12

2. Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia is my alma mater. The speaker for my commencement was Dr. Paula Brownlee, our beloved, then-president of Hollins College. My classmate, and Dr. Brownlee’s daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Brownlee Kolmstetter, coincidentally, addressed Katherine’s commencement. And as a surprise to Liz, she was presented with an honorary doctorate from the school – which her mother was on hand to present to her. All this, plus two other members of my class were there – one with her daughter, Catherine, graduating with mine! WOW.

Dr. Paula Brownlee (Hollins College president 1981-1990), Katherine Crum ’12, Virginia Crum ’85, Dr. Elizabeth Brownlee Kolmsetter ’85, Collette Foster-Frank ’85, Linda Bertorelli Jennings ’85, Catherine Bertorelli Jennings ’12

And so on they go. Sasha’s already knee deep in graduate school. Katherine is about to begin her internship at the National Museum of Women in Art in Washington, DC. And Chip and I are left smiling, watching them go.

And, of course, we have the colors selected for their apartment – the contractors will arrive soon . . .

Thanks for reading,
Virginia

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