Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Country House Style Book Shoot and Pretty Purple Placemats

Big news to share over here....
I have been asked to have my home included in 
a gorgeous coffee table book about Country House Style. 
 One of those heavy beautiful books you have sitting on the coffee table 
that is about lovely homes that you drool over.  
But this time, my home will be inside the glossy pages!!
And how did this come to be?
 Nora Murphy, of the award winning Nora Murphy Connecticut Country House blog,
got a book deal with the creme de la creme publishing house, Vendome Press, to
write a book about her amazing country house.  She also selected four other homes
to include in the book, one of which is mine!  Essentially the book will be
about Country House Style, and how to create a country house for yourself.
That is EXACTLY what I have done with my own home, starting about ten years ago.
Elements of country homes all include a certain esthetic of relaxed living areas.
Mixing of the fine and fancy, the rustic and elegant, and a general overall purpose
that invites one to enjoy their life in the most simple of ways, but not sacrificing style.  
I couldn't be more honored than to be included in Nora's book.

Visit Nora's blog to see more of her incredible country home, with a link at the end of this post.
See how she recreated her entire home with a refresh project that is sure to inspire everyone!
From the very beginning, Nora had big ideas. Big unique ideas.
Her own master bedroom suite was created when she
 had a large chicken coop moved to her
site and added it onto her antique farmhouse!! 
OMG, can you imagine?  I certainly think it sounds like a normal project!! 
So I guess she and I are kindred spirits.  My ramshackle shed 
project was a triumph for me, I can only imagine how satisfying 
it was to turn a chicken coop into an amazing bedroom suite!
This is the chicken coop addition above, isn't it stunning?
And her cupola is not overlooked by I am just about to install my
own cupola on the ramshackle garden shed.  
Seen here in Matthew Mead's current
it is no longer ramshackle~its the most adorable shed now.
And its going to look so great with its own cupola!
Nora will be shooting here very soon, and so I have been trying to squeeze in a few
last minute decorating projects, none of which I have shown on the blog.
Some are incredibly beautiful, and I am thrilled with the result.
Yesterday I worked in my dining room, after getting a set of pretty quilted placemats
from April Cornell's website in Vermont.  She is known for her clothing and home
decor accessories that are happy pretty florals.  I bought a set of placemats as 
that is what we use every night when we dine at home.  However these caught my
eye because they had the color purple, a very hard color to find in home textiles.
But let me tell you my secret to using them...I flipped them over to use the backside.
The front side has a patchwork quilt of pretty florals in pink, purple, 
aqua and celery green.  I will use both sides, but the plain purple felt a bit
more restful to my eye.  It is nice to have the option for turning them however.
Sometimes I catch her items at HomeGoods or Marshalls, but I couldn't resist getting
this set, which also happened to be on sale, through her website. No this is not a 
sponsored post (which means you get things for free if you write about them). 
I just happen to love April's stuff.  
Oh, one more thing about Nora....
She is the creative director of Ethan Allen, Global corporation.
Pretty impressive, right?  
And she won best blog a year or so ago....
And currently her home is in the current issue of Country Home magazine!  
So Nora is one to watch, and I am glad I am on her radar.

 photo signature_zpsxi5q1w6r.png
Read more »

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Shockingly Cheap Belgian Linen Panels for my Dining Room and little Reeve

 The finest linen is made in Belgium, and so it was a shocking surprise when I found Belgian Linen panels at rock bottom pricing at HomeGoods! Run, don't walk, if you are interested
 in getting some linen panels for your home.  I have purchased curtain panels from HG before,
but I have never seen linen panels, and there were several colors and styles.
 White ruffled linen, lined and at 96" long, these couldn't get into my cart fast enough.  This package is a PAIR of panels, not just one.  YES!! A pair for $89 bucks.  So do the math, lined, ruffled linen for less than $50 a panel.  The other panels I scored were in a mineral blue color.  These were shorter at 84", unlined, and rod pocket style, at $59.  I am redecorating my family room in a Swedish color palette, and these would look perfect for what I had in mind. Hopefully I will be sharing that room soon.   Piper the puppy is putting a dent into my productivity however.
 The long white panels were irresistible, and I have to say they look wonderful!  
 If you are looking for a refresher, go hunt some down for yourself, you won't regret it!
This room feels light and airy~perfect for summer. 
Ruffles are on the leading edges of the panels, and I let them hang straight down
 to the floor, without pulling them back. I am in love with the look of these panels.  
My little sidekick, Piper, joined me when I hung up the panels. 
 She is so sweet, and I am really enjoying her puppyhood.  
But she is not the only new little one in my life....
We were blessed with the arrival of little Reeve. 
 She is my first grandchild, and I am over the moon about her. 
 Could she be any cuter??
My life is full, and I am on a high enjoying these new additions to our family.  

 photo signature_zpsxi5q1w6r.png
Read more »

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Puppy Piper and a cupola and weathervane for the shed

 My first kiss. 
Piper joined our family almost a week ago, and she is a pure delight! 
She is a golden retriever puppy with a sweet and playful temperament.
 She is 8 weeks old and seems to be pretty smart, in addition to being delightful.  She is doing great on her housebreaking, and sleeping through the night after the first two nights.  No whining or whimpering in her crate either, and I have to say it is because she found it comforting to join Colby.  As soon as we took her out of the car, she seemed a bit flat in spirit....maybe it was the three hour drive.  But as soon as we brought out Colby to meet her, her little tail started wagging, and it hasn't stopped.
 We put in a fence last year so we could let Colby out to do his business in a secure setting.  When we trained Colby for bathroom breaks, we used the x-pen that you see Piper sitting in.  It is the place we plop her down and tell her to do her business.  She is getting an A on her report card so far! After she does her biz, she gets to get outside the pen and play with Colby.
 This view shows the small contained yard we created for the dogs. 
 There is another gate that leads to the back yard and the courtyard.
 Last night both dogs enjoyed being on the other side of the dog yard as I grilled some burgers.
Colby is always hooked up to a long lead when he is in the courtyard side. 
 Piper got to run around and check things out.  So far we can keep up with her....
 In the meantime, it was remarkable and lucky that I located a
 golden retriever weathervane at HomeGoods. 
On the clearance aisle!! 
 Then I shopped my Facebook Yardsale groups for a cupola, and voila! 
 I found a new wooden cupola that seems
 it will look just right up on top of the garden shed.
 This is my next outdoor project, and I think it will look really cute up there.
Remember this image of my shed in Matthew Mead's UPSTYLED HOME Outdoors issue? 
Currently on the shelves, it is packed with ideas.  And I am always adding more things to my outdoor spaces, and trying to improve on the spaces we have established.  The cupola is something I wanted to do FOREVER.  I remember when I was first married to my kids dad, and we had a tiny garage.  I asked him to build me a cupola...he did.  He was busy building it in our basement. One day he came up to have me take a look at how it was coming out.  I went downstairs to see the biggest most enormous cupola I had ever seen!!! OMG.  Our garage was not much bigger than a shed. LOL.  So it never worked out, the scale was all wrong, but like I said, I have been wanting a cupola for a long time.
 Leading to the shed was this old arbor I found on craigslist.  The climbing rose planted last year is doing really well, and it has just started to bloom!  I am training the canes to the arbor and I have no idea if this is how to do it, but I think you just "persuade" the branches to go towards the arbor with garden twine/wire stuff.
 Piper is just so sweet....
I loved trying to catch her in a pose, and she granted my wish.
 She is a little soft furry dollfaced puppy!  
You will be seeing alot more of Piper in the blog.  She is already growing like a weed.
 She stands up in her pen, as if to say, hey I did my business, now let me outta here!
And she holds her own in a gentle tug of war game with Colby.  
Its all dogs around here for much of my day, and it will be that way for awhile.  
I will be lucky to get that cupola installed....but I will give it my best shot.
P.S.  Piper has her own instagram account: 
@pipers_parade if you want to see more of Piper and her progression.

 photo signature_zpsxi5q1w6r.png
Read more »

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Exterior curb appeal projects and our new puppy Piper

 After spending all last year working on the back of the house creating the courtyard, 
it was time to spruce up the front of the house and give it some curb appeal.  
Remember?  It is on news stands now, if you haven't looked for it yet.  
 It inspired me to address the front of our house, and so far so good!
We created some new flower beds, including a small rose alley that has my first David Austin roses.  If you haven't heard of them, they are old fashioned full blown roses with many petals per bloom.  
 The boxwoods that used to be along the fence got some boxwood blight, and so all were removed.
The narrow space along the new fence from last year seemed to be a good spot to try out some roses.
I like the idea of guests being treated to some pretty flowering plants as they approach the gate. Originally I planned to do all fairy roses along the fence, but as it turned out, the nursery only had two left when I inquired to the inventory.  By the time I walked down to the roses area, I saw a woman passing me with her cart holding a fairy rose!!! OH NO! So there was only one Fairy Rose left, which I got, and then I stumbled into a section that had David Austin roses.  I had heard so much about them and seen their photos on Instagram and Facebook, so I decided to try them as well.
 This is the Heritage Rose by David Austin.  Its a peachy pink rose, and the only one I have brought inside for cut flowers at this point.  They don't seem to to last long as a cut flower, and I had read somewhere that they last longer on the bush.  Anyone know about this?
 This pretty one is a deeper pink, The Alynwick Rose.  It practically looks like a peony!
I also have one more that isn't in flower yet, as well as the Fairy Rose, which has masses of pretty tiny pink roses on a shrub formation.  I hope they do well in their new spot...
 The other flower we added was a row of Nantucket Blue hydrangeas.  I want to create a hedge
along the front as part of our curb appeal project.  We had a Thundercloud Plum tree for ten years that suddenly got some awful black blight which killed it, so that was removed and in its place we planted a row of the hydrangeas.  The will grow to four feet wide by four feet high, and it should create a nice border, as well as great cut flowers all summer long! Who doesn't love hydrangeas?
This is the street side of our "sideways" house.  The front door sits sideways, and this side view has the lower door to our son's apartment, and a smaller deck above for morning coffee.  This weekend both doors are getting a black paint job, and so far the first coat has them looking really great!  I found some terrific faux boxwood square wreaths that are going to be hung on both doors.  
Here is one coat of black paint on the lower door, and there is the boxwood
wreath from HomeGoods.  I love the simplicity of the wreath. 
 A pair of hanging baskets were hung between the porch openings, 
and summer curtains are in the works for softening the space where the narrow posts are.  
 Our yard is composed of many different "rooms", and this one just got a new bed of Catmint, or Nepeta, along the fence.  A cobblestone border was added, and some sod to freshen up this enclosed "dog yard".  This has been a godsend, just letting the dogs out into a safe contained yard to do their business.  Walks are part of our daily routine, but this space is a major convenience, and its pretty to look at as well. My son Colin lives in the apartment, and he is always lending a hand, mowing or planting as the need arises.
Gardening and landscaping brings me great joy, and now that I am home full time, its been fantastic to get to some of these projects that I have been dreaming of doing for a few years.
 Last but not least....we are getting a new puppy!  Piper is an English Golden Cream Retriever.  The English version of the American Golden Retriever, the English Creams are lighter in coat color, and have blockier heads.  Colby is going to have a little sister, and I will be working hard at training her and integrating her into our home and lifestyle.  
Here she is at her 7 week checkup exam.  Isn't she the cutest little thing? We get her next week on her eight week birthday.  So the push is on to finish a few projects around the house so I can be free and clear to be available to being a puppy mom, once again.  

 photo signature_zpsxi5q1w6r.png
Read more »

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Luscious Linen Balloon Curtains for Master Bedroom

 Romantic and luscious, these Linen Balloon Drapery Panels are gorgeous!
They add more of the European relaxed glamourous look that I was going for in the
master bedroom redecorating project.   Soft Surroundings is so
wonderful for their European and French home decor offerings.
I was delighted to partner up with them again on these beautiful window treatments.
  They have a large selection to choose from,
 but I really had my heart set on these linen panels for our bedroom. 
The panels are lined in white cotton which gives it extra weight and fullness.  
The bottoms of the panels are sewn back onto the lining and it creates a balloon effect. 
 These are not puddled and turned under at the floor, but instead are sewn with a balloon
bottom which is effortless to create a perfect cloud-like bottom that sits 
elegantly on the floor.  The top of the panel is a tie top created from a ruched and ruffled header, 
which feels like the essence of European glamour.  The color of my panels is ivory.  
The ivory is very soft, off white, not yellowy, and it looks nice with the white bedding.
The panels do come in white, but I was afraid it may be too white, so I opted for ivory.
Can I say......I am in LOVE!
The gauzy ivory linen with the white cotton lining sits elegantly on the floor.
I pull the curtains closed at night with a simple tug, and they don't get
 messed up on the bottom like puddled curtains do.  I couldn't recommend
these curtains more highly~they are beautifully made and look incredible!
My husband got in bed the first night they were hanging, 
looked up at the window and said, "Wow, these look very grand!"
Grand, indeed!
Another tiny thing we did to the bedroom was to add these simple wall
sconces.  They are not hardwired, and they have a pull chain to 
turn them off and on.  The cord is tucked behind the headboard, and it is
one of my favorite improvements in adding to the overall ambience of the room.
Since I love to read at night, and hubs falls asleep before me, they also are 
good at directing the light in a small pool towards my book.  I am reading 
Empty Mansions right now, and its fascinating!  True story about a rich eccentric 
heiress, with many mansions that she kept up, but never visited.  Bizarre! 
I lie in bed and look at my grand curtains and think maybe the heiress had 
something similar in her bedrooms~she was born in France, after all.  
The master bedroom is a wonderful respite at the end of a long day in the garden (me), 
or out in the excavation pit (hubs).  We love everything we selected, the mattress, 
the bedding (which is the Regency Tapestry Coverlet from Soft Surroundings), 
the tufted blue headboard, and last but not least, the Linen Balloon Panels!! 
Note that I ordered the curved bronze rod from Soft Surroundings
to hang the panels as they show in their online shop.  It is not the easiest
rod to install, and although I was able to do it myself, it really is a two 
person job.  Lets just say my 25 years of custom window treatment installations
came in handy on this pesky but alluring rod.  I like how the rod curves out
into the space of the room, and that is why I think hubby thought they looked grand.
Its an understated wow kind of look!  
Simply put, these panels are wonderful!  

I read a lot of the reviews on the Soft Surrounding site
and some were concerned about the wrinkles in the panels when they
unpacked them.  I had a simple solution to handle this issue:  give the 
panel a spritz with Downy wrinkle releaser and smooth the panel with your hands
after you have hung them up. The wrinkles came out right away, 
and it only took ten minutes for me to do both panels.  

 photo signature_zpsxi5q1w6r.png
Read more »