Thursday, October 13, 2016

Autumn Creeps Up Slowly

Fall has come in stages to our home this year. 

In September, I planted mums in the planters on the patio...

and in front of the barn.

 Then I came inside and pulled out the autumn throws and pillows.

Two weeks ago, I purchased pumpkins and kale for the front step. 

Then last week, I rescued my glass pumpkins from their tissue paper and tupperware coffin. 

Finally, today I made a new autumn center piece.
  I got inspired by finding the cool slate, long & skinny container.
Maybe decorating in bits is best. Doing a single thing at a time, doesn't make it seem like such a production. How do you decorate?  Are you all in or do you pace yourself?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Update by Aging a Home

Our daughter and son-in-law recently completed a make over of the exterior of their home. Wood rot on their home's face and deteriorating gutters dictated major repairs and a paint job. My daughter had been "pinning" favorite home exteriors for years. She had contacted architects to get advice on paint colors and products to achieve an old world feel. In essence, they wanted to update their home by aging it. 

Here are some before and after photos. Prior to the renovation, the house was a bit disjointed with a stucco section and several brick sections. Because the bricks were dark red and the stucco was beige the house had a checkerboard appearance.

Rachel began by researching how to achieve an aged appearance. She found that you can whitewash brick by mixing water with paint. A second option is to smear morter over the existing brick. The third option is to lime wash the brick.

Rachel settled on the lime wash. She found a product called ROMA. Unlike paint, lime wash was used historically on brick because rather than chipping, it weathers by slowly washing off over the years. It also is more translucent than paint and yet can be tinted any color. No wonder this is the technique they have used in Europe for centuries.

In deciding what color to tint the lime, Rachel again looked at historic European homes for inspiration. The beige/brown trim color on their home was replaced by the more "au courant" gray which actually has been popular in the Netherlands, England, France and Belgium for centuries.

When deciding on paint color, architects and colorists tell you to try large samples in your geographic location. How right they are. A color that looks wonderful in the south, like Lamb's Wool by Pratt & Lambert, looked too earthy in the midwestern light.

After trying dozens of shades on her house, on every side, and at different times of the day, Rachel chose Early Morning Mist by Benjamin Moore as the color for the ROMA product to be used on the brick and for the paint to be used on the stucco. The trim color, Intellectual Gray by Benjamin Moore, was picked to blend with the shingle roof.

The picture below was taken part way through the facelift. You can see how the freshly painted stucco now blends nicely with the freshly lime washed brick. Also notice how the red brick side looks new, while the left side of the house looks more aged and mellow.
Rachel and Curt made another dramatic change to the center front of their home. The undersized lanterns were removed...
and replaced by more appropriately-sized gas lanterns. Again, Rachel did her homework. First, she got a number of bids on running the gas line to the front door.  Next, she researched gas lanterns. The Bevelo company headquartered in New Orleans won her loyalty for their handcrafted lanterns and their customer service. Finally, she made mock ups of the lanterns she liked and taped them to the house. This helped her to get the right-sized lanterns. 

Electricity is a wonderful modern invention for interior lighting, but there is something alluring about the flickering light of the gas lanterns. I'd say the old out shines the new in this case.

The dramatically updated aging is most apparent at the back of the house. Here is the before with the 1980's beige color scheme,

and here is back of the house with the new, but old gray. What an improvement. It is hard to believe it is the same house! The stucco is painted Early Morning Mist by Benjamin Moore, and the wood is painted Sherman Williams' Intellectual Gray.

Below are some side-by-side, before/after photos.

Isn't it amazing what a coat of paint and some lime wash will do?  By aging their home, they took years off its appearance.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

From Cellar to Stellar Lower Level

My daughter and her husband recently completed a gut renovation of a cellar,
transforming it into a stellar lower level.
What formerly was a dark, scary hole
is now a pleasant, sunlit space.
Before you only descended into the dungeon, when you had to do laundry.
Now, no one dreads getting to the washer and dryer.
Before the basement stairwell was enclosed and claustrophobic.
Now it is light, bright, and inviting.
Formerly the stairs were enclosed on both sides.
In this picture, one side of the stairway was already removed.
Now, three quarters of the way down the stairs, the side walls disappear and balustrades reveal a large room on one side and a wide hallway on the other.
In the basement's prior life, it had barely a seven foot ceiling height.
Now, our over-six-foot-tall son-in-law doesn't feel like he should duck when he is in the space.
(To achieve a code-approved ceiling height, the couple had to have the cement floor jack-hammered and the earth beneath dug out a foot. This was possible, because the house was built in the 1930s when footers went down further than they do today.  Of course, digging out a basement is an expensive endeavor, but it was totally worth the time, effort, and cost, because the space is now useable and legal!)

Before the renovation, the southwest corner of the basement was a tiny room  used for storage.
Now it is a spacious guest room.
Whereas the bathroom was on the western wall, 
now it has moved to eastern side of the basement.  
Sacrificing the window in the bathroom now allows sunlight to stream into the main room. 
Six panes rather than four in the backdoor also bring in more light.                           
Needless to say, the homeowners are quite pleased with their renovation. They credit Finecraft Contractors, Inc. with the quality workmanship ( or Their crews were pleasant and professional. The project was completed on schedule and to my son-in-law's and daughter's complete satisfaction. No wonder this company has been named Best of Houzz for the past three years in a row!

I hope you have been impressed with this extreme makeover. Anna deserves all the credit for the interior design. My next post will detail her design choices and their sources.

 (I would like to credit Susie Soleimani Photography with the well-lighted photos. The other photos are my own.)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Saarinen Marries Chippendale

A friend of mine recently played matchmaker to an unlikely duo--a camelback sofa and a tulip table.
Who would have thought that an 18th century sofa could be so happily married to a mid-century modern table? I wouldn't have thought to pair the two, but I must admit that the chemistry is undeniable. Maybe it is the arch-backed that aligns so well with the gracefully curved pedestal. Whatever the cause, the pair form a happy union.
The companions now sit in the eating area of the kitchen that got a face-lift several years ago. (

As is often the case, pairing traditional with modern furniture refreshes the whole. The new outcome is often referred to as transitional. Whereas traditional design references 18th century French and English styles, transitional design mixes in contemporary forms, especially midcentury modern styles.

In this transitionally-styled kitchen, the sofa style was designed by the London cabinet maker/furniture designer, Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779). The arched back and single cushion seat has been a perennial favorite, but to bring it into the 21st century it needed to be tweaked.

My friend chose to have the sofa reupholstered in an outdoor Sunbrella fabric. The  stripe is more current than a damask, and the washable fabric much more practical for eliminating stains than a silk that might have covered an original Chippendale sofa.

The table my friend chose as the sofa's mate was designed by Eero Saarinen (1910-1961).
wikimedia, Eero Saarinen
Saarinen was both an industrial designer and an architect. His architectural landmarks include: the St. Louis Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch, St-Louis,
and Dulles International Airport's main terminal. (No wonder he was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1962.)
wikimedia--Washington Dulles International Airport

You probably recognize Saarinen's furniture shapes that show up in homes and offices today, more than fifty years after he died. 
wikimedia--Eero Saarinen's pedestal armchair designed in 1956
I wonder what the two famous designers would have said about the pleasing progeny their union produced?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Skye's the Limit

(A word of explanation for my delinquent posting. In addition to long distance babysitting two days a week for a darling grandson, I have been helping my mother who fell and broke her hip just after the holidays. Although she lives in a senior complex with continuum of care, it has required much family assistance to downsize her to an assisted living efficiency apartment. As if this didn't keep me busy enough, we also took a three week trip to Macedonia and France for my husband to be part of a physician mentoring partnership and for me to speak to a women's group. In my downtime, I gave a bridal shower for a nephew, and then we all celebrated at his wedding on the beach in Connecticut. So, you can see why my blog has taken backseat to all the family events.)  

Now to catch you up on some of the things you have missed... 

Back at the end of January, I went to our granddaughter's third birthday party. The theme, by popular demand, was Skye, the female member of the PAW Patrol.  
Image result for is sky the only girl on paw patrol

Tables were covered in paw prints. 

Dog bones hung from chandeliers.

Emergency vehicles severed as center pieces

A pink and turquoise color scheme kept the decorations unified and feminine.

Guests were favored with cookies decorated accordingly.

Naturally, Skye was front and center on the cake.

Birthday girl sported a pink bow in her hair and wore a shirt with a pink doggie carrying a birthday cake on his back.

 Her cousins, who happily are girls, came to the party to offset her three brothers!

 She was quite pleased with the cake...

 especially, when it was time to taste it!

After the food was gone, and the presents were opened, birthday girl got her face painted like her favorite PAW patrol character.