Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Better Late than Never!

While the rest of you are posting stunning images of your Autumn tables, Thanksgiving, even Christmas; I am here, just barely dusting Summer off my flip flops!
Though still a work in progress, I want to share some of my gardens with you!

I remember there was NOTHING here when we moved in four years ago.
We removed all the compacted, hardpan, clay soil, 2-3 feet deep and replaced it with garden soil in all the beds as we went...
Let's start with the backyard...

The Potager
You cannot tell but the raised beds are cut away on an angle toward the center.  I added fence post finials to the beds for a finishing touch.
I took this photo before I leveled the plinths that the concrete fruit topiary baskets rest upon.  The pedestals are mysteriously heavy.
Rest assured they are level now.

The color was of the utmost importance.

I enlisted the help of the highly trained professional at the Home Depot paint counter one afternoon...

Me, "Does this look like a green-y blue, grey-ish black to you?" 
Him, "Yes".
Me, "Is this one more green-y?  You know, like teal?"
Him, "Yes".
Me, "Four-score and seven years ago, our Fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation!"
Him, "Yes".

It was at that moment that I realized I was alone.

This is the closest I could get to green-y blue, grey-ish black before Home Depot closed for the evening.

This is the first time I have ever planted vegetables.  I overdid it by a wide margin.  As in "feeding an entire Third World country with the excess" wide margin. 
Imagine my chagrin when my neighbors refused to make eye contact, lest I accost them with 30 lbs of zucchini or such an abundance of tomatoes that I had to use a wheelbarrow to bring them to their door!  
Yes.   That happened.
"These are heirloom!"  I would exclaim as I attempted to divest myself of the evidence of my folly.

Next year I will know better.  I hope I remember.

 The boxwood surrounding the perimeter of the potager will make a great frame in a few years.  I still may make a lattice fence to keep the bunnies out of the strawberries!
This year it didn't matter because I had so much I didn't even care what the bunnies ate.
Grace tried to get them to eat the broccoli but it was a no-go.

Their diet consisted mainly of strawberries and random nibbles of cucumbers. I wonder if the cucumbers made them burp?
Do rabbits burp?
If you know the answer, please leave it in the comments.

The Parterre
The parterre built itself!  I had no big plans.  It just kind of happened.
It started with a six foot circular bed filled with lavender.  I paid the neighborhood kids ten cents a stone to use as drainage in the bed, then filled it with bags of garden soil.
Then, one night, I couldn't sleep...
and the rest is history!
Here is the parterre the day I finished planting.  This is before the pea gravel and the limestone curbing.
It's just a wee hedgerow here!

Here is the parterre last month.  The angel was my Birthday present last December but it wasn't delivered until Spring.

The Limelight hydrangea in the lower right corner is part of a long hedge. The yew hedge to the lower left, is on its way to knitting itself together too!

Last Winter's harsh weather took its toll on the growth of the boxwood.  I had to clip quite a bit away.  It is filling in nicely, however. I also changed the triangular shapes around the lilac standards into curlicues.

Do you want to know something funny?
I mean, downright hysterical?

I thought...get this...I thought that a garden would be much less work than a lawn!

I thought I would actually be afrolic amongst the flowers all Summer!  Not a care in the world!  Flowers in our hair! Flowy dresses!  Cucumber sandwiches!

Yeah, well, I just finished closing up the beds.  Many shrubs and perennials are stored in the garage until Spring.  The ground froze before I got to them

I was able to plant a privet hedge as well as a reading garden surrounded by privet, though!
I had to replant all the arborvitae, over 50, that died last Winter and all the annabelle hydrangeas, and over 300 perennials in the Shakespeare beds, as well as 14 pear trees!  Oh!  And the apple trees!

That is another post for another day.
I still have to get bulbs in the ground!



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Grey in the Entry

I found a pair of urns on Craigslist for $15 each and was subsequently faced with the challenge of where to put them!  
Have you ever done that?  Bought something and then tried to find a place for it? 
They have such a beautiful silver patina that only comes with years of age. How could I turn away?
The people I bought them from absolutely hated them!
They said they were so cheap because they had holes in the bottom.  I didn't have the heart to tell them they were drainage holes. LOL!
In the end, we were all happy!

This is my front entry "before".  I never intended for the painting to stay.  It belongs in the Family room.  It was overwhelming in the entry. 
The space is about four feet across, from wall to wall.  More of a wide hallway than an entryway.
The ceilings are 18 feet tall and I thought the large painting would work but you cannot stand far enough away to get the proper perspective.

Here it is now!  Loving it!  The unicorn crest is perfect here!  I almost put it on Craigslist!  So glad I didn't! 

 I practically have to do yoga to get a decent photo because of the angle of the library wall!

To refresh your memory, here is the unicorn crest before I painted it!

I am trying to picture what this vignette would look like if I never painted anything?

If you recall, this cabinet was a Craigslist find, as are the side tables that I used as plinths for the urns.

Looking at this vignette, I realize how much paint I have used since we moved in.  LOL!

The crystal candle sconces were also Craigslist finds.
The pair of winged cherubs were initially purchased for use in Gracie's nursery, flanking either side of her crib.

Detail of cherub...

I use ostrich feathers, rather than tassels for the door keys.  I found a shop on ebay that carries them in every color of the rainbow.

So excited to decorate for the holidays...big plans for the entry!



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guilt-Free Gilt!

I found a Venetian grotto-style piano stool in a catalog several years ago.  You may have seen photos of it here on the blog.
I was a little intimidated by it.  I wanted to gold leaf the piece, but I cringed at the thought of all those tiny crevices.

So, like many a well-intentioned project, it sat.

Until last night...

I am in between coats of pain on my Louis XVI secretary, so I thought I would tackle this while the paint dried.

Instead of gold leaf, I chose to faux finish.  Much simpler, faster and a lot of fun!

Also, far less expensive than buying an antique Venetian gilt grotto chair at auction!

My stool, found at Van Dyke Restorers.

Inspiration came in the form of this Venetian gilt grotto chair ...

More inspiration from Christie's.

The "real" giltwood Venetian grotto chairs are very expensive.  For example, the gilt and ebonized version from Christie's sold for $5,000!

Following, you will find the steps I used to transform my dull, black piano stool into a magnificent work of Venetian art!

A little hyperbole never hurt anyone.

It is pretty, though!

Step One:Pure Gold Acrylic Craft Paint.  Dab it on with the tips of your brush.  I used a large chip brush.

Step Two: Burgundy Acrylic Craft Paint...brush on and wipe off immediately.  I apologize for the poor lighting.  This was done at night.

Step Three: Antique Gold Acrylic Craft Paint...brush on and dab off with cloth.  You will pull some of the other layers off.  This is a good thing!

Add more Antique Gold Craft Paint, stippling, rather than brushing, it on.
Sand lightly, then add Pure Gold and Antique Gold randomly.
Then add Burnt Umber Acrylic Craft paint and wipe off, letting it settle into the details...

Sunlit patina...

You can see the burgundy details here.  So pretty!


The patina changes with the lighting...

Detail of patina on foot...

Before and after...

This is the paint I used.  Total cost was about $3.00!

All of the gilt with none of the guilt!



Sharing with:

Courtney, at French Country Cottage, Feathered Nest Friday!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Louis XVI Secretary Cupboard Transformation

The Music Room is coming along. 

 I moved the Craigslist secretary in front of the doorway opening between the Music Room and the Family room, then covered the "windows" between the room with tapestry panels.
A new wall between the rooms would have cost over $5,000!  Then there is the issue of permanence.
Most people love open concept homes, so this is a win-win...When we move I can take the "walls" with me and the new owners have an open concept home!
On another day, I will show you the giant Verdure tapestry on the other side of the wall, in the Family Room!

However, today we are concentrating on this...

I love the secretary I found on Craigslist but it had a thick polyurethane finish that depressed me.
I debated a long while as to whether I should paint it...
Some people had very strong objections to painting wood on my Facebook page!
The little girl in me didn't want to offend them.
Then I stood up tall, grabbed my paintbrush and began painting!

*Deep breath*...first brushstrokes are the hardest!

The exterior, painted in one coat of Annie Sloan Old White.

Here it is in its "During" phase.   Interior, including glass shelves, painted with Annie Sloan Aubusson.
Still lots more to do!
I will mix Annie Sloan Clear Wax with Paris Grey and wax the exterior, then  distress it.  Finally, I will add Dark Wax to the carvings...

This is my inspiration piece!

Three more steps...or so...

Wish me luck!



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Perpetual Motion

My home, like yours, is a work in progress...constantly changing.

After my last post I found this pair of reproduction processional lanterns on Craigslist!

The Blackamoor sconces will go to our bedroom...

What's not to love?

Side View of Processional Lanterns...

The first time I ever saw a processional sconce was in Emeril Lagasse's home, decorated by Tara Shaw and featured in Veranda.
I was smitten.

This pair, found on 1st Dibs, is $9,800!

This pair, also found on 1st Dibs, is $12,000!

This pair, from Christie's, sold for $5,794!

As you can see, the cost was prohibitive!




For both!

Yay Craigslist!




Sharing with:
Courtney, at French country Cottage, Feathered Nest Friday!
Cindy, at My Romantic Home, Show and Tell Friday!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Sunroom

“The sun,--the bright sun, that brings back, not light alone, but new life, and hope, and freshness to man--burst upon the crowded city in clear and radiant glory. Through costly-coloured glass and paper-mended window, through cathedral dome and rotten crevice, it shed its equal ray.” 
~ Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

My favorite room in the house during the transition between seasons.  
It truly is one of the reasons I fell in love with this home!   

I customarily find myself a little bewildered this time of year.
 Not quite ready to turn my back on Summer,  I spend more time in this room, I think, in part, to ease myself into reality.
The cold, hard reality that is a Midwestern Winter!  LOL!

Most of the plants outside the sunroom windows are still green.  Soon enough, they will grow to cover the view of the neighbor's homes.
This Summer, we replanted 70 arborvitae, 30 annabelle hydrangeas, more Green Mountain boxwood, pear trees, apple trees...
We lost many plants to the cold last Winter.

A place for tea and books...

The shells in the urn help to lessen the sting of colder months ahead...a visual reminder of warmth.

Sunlight flows through every inch of the room.

Craigslist settee and chairs; ebay clock, crown and sconces. The clock was a 3
$30 purchase I pained to resemble a Mora clock, then added a finial and appliqué.

Clock Before

Every item in this room is an inexpensive Craigslist or ebay find except for the large crown.  I did find it on ebay but the vendor allowed me to make payments!

Statue stands just outside sunroom.  She looks so much like our Gracie!
A pair of corbels from a long gone Victorian mansion act as a plinth when placed back to back.

Altar candlestick collection...perfect for cold nights...
The tallest was formerly a lamp that I dismantled.

I realize we need to paint the trim.  Sometimes I wish I were an octopus...but I'd be a procrastinating octopus and I would likely get the same amount I guess I'm okay the way I am.  Also, as a human, I have opposable thumbs! Two arms with attached opposable thumbs trumps eight arms with ...hmmm...but they have suction cups.  How would that work?

Where was I?

Oh!  Yes...the sunroom!

The kitties also love this room. This is where we keep their food dishes!
I'm surprised their are no cats on the furniture in here!  This is where they are usually found!

Some cool weather reading...

I am learning to work with the house.  It has been through so many transmogrifications!
Thank goodness for Craigslist!  I can sell what doesn't work and replace it with something that does!

 Say hi to McGillicuddy, everyone!
He is another one who doesn't have opposable thumbs... and is looking for someone to open his cat food.

I guess that's my cue!



Sharing with...
Kathryn, at the Dedicated House, Before and After Wednesday!


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