Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quick Change Artist

The week after Thanksgiving here in the United States of America I envy the Canadians. They sensibly celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday in October, giving themselves time to catch their breath between autumn and Christmas. We, on the other hand, frantically dispose of our turkey feathers, harvest gourds, and pilgrims on black Friday and quickly deck our halls for Christmas before the calendar flips to December.  Whew, I just made it. 

If you came to my house this the last day of November, you would be greeted by a magnolia leaf wreathe with a Burberry plaid bow, and red berries. I always think it makes a nice transition between autumn and winter.


Inside, red pillows and a red poinsettia make the sunroom festive. 
The living room is decked in gold balls, a white poinsettia, and
 my choir of carolers.
 The library sports a small feather tree and
white bisque nativity.
 On the doorway leading to the lower level, I always hang the wreathe I made when we were poor newlyweds. The calicos are still bright. I hope I have held my age as well as it has.

Of course, the piece de resistance is the tree. I guess I have not crossed the Rubicon into old age, because it is still a live tree, seven and a half feet tall, and sporting 800 tiny twinkling lights.
Now, I must press forward and onward to the pile of Christmas cards waiting to be addressed. I have yet to buy even one gift. I won't panic though, because the house has changed out of its Thanksgiving garb and is fittingly dressed for the Christmas holidays.

May your season be bright.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

All Will Be Safely Gathered In

Welcome to our home at Thanksgiving.
Our kids and grandkids are set to arrive in a couple of hours. When they arrive, I will throw open the door and hug each one.

I have decked the halls for the holiday. Pheasants, hens, ducks of all sorts put us in mind of turkey and stuffing.

Outside the colors are still vibrant, but soon will fade.

Inside the bounty is gathered.
 A table is prepared for two tiny tots--both just 2 years old.
 When they arrive it will be nearly bedtime. I have made up mattresses on the floor,

 in every corner...
 in every nook,
for grown ups
and toddlers...
old folks and
 elementary school students...
 and their parents...

In our family, we share holidays. Every other year our kids and their spouses come for Thanksgiving. On opposite years, they come for Christmas. I love when it is our turn for Thanksgiving, because it brings back one of my earliest and favorite holiday memories. 

When I was a preschooler, we went to my paternal grandparent's farm. As some of the youngest cousins, it was a big deal when the teenage cousins let us play hide and seek with them in the barn. I still remember hiding quietly in the hayloft, holding my breath, waiting for whoever was "it" to find us!  

After that, we played Annie-Annie-Over, a game involving throwing a football over the smaller barn and racing around to catch whoever caught it on the other side before they could make to our side. The weathervane below came off that barn. It was given to me this year and hangs proudly over our back door, often reminding me of those kind older cousins, my wonderful grandparents, and that wonderful holiday so long ago.

Happy Thanksgiving to you. May you find someone to be kind to as well.

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.