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A Potting Shed…

8 Jul

I had a hankering this year for a potting shed!  I don’t know if a love of gardening is one of those things that develops as we grow up or what, but I decided that a potting shed was indeed in order.  I can tell you that as a young girl gardening was a dreaded chore.  We had a four-acre garden, is that even a garden?  I had to spend hours out there picking peas, butter beans, green beans, squash and okra only then to have to peddle my goods at the local grocery store for gas money.  Then, of course, we had to shell and put up all these fresh vegetables that we kept for ourselves.  I didn’t have as much exposure to gardening of the flower variety because my Mother did most of that.  There were times that I’d help her weed the beds or something and of course I hated it.  It interfered with my laying out in the sun time and none of my friends had to do it which made it doubly unbearable.  So to say the least, when I was out on my own, gardening of any variety was the farthest thing from my mind!  My grandparents lived across the street from us and the huge garden was in between our place and theirs.  When I would go to my grandparents’ house, my grandpa would walk me around his yard and show me every last bloom on his tomato plants or whatever else he had growing.  I would try to feign interest in it however, because he was so excited for each tiny bloom!  The first place I lived in on my own was an apartment and I was thankful for no yard work, never even crossed my mind that I would ever entertain wanting to do any.  When my husband and I bought our first house, the interest began to emerge ever so slightly.  I put out a few potted plants at the front door and on the porch.  One of my good friends loved gardening and she tried her best to convert me, and she couldn’t resist from pulling a few unsightly weeds from my front beds when she was over.  After we finished this house however, I started to turn my attention to the neglected landscape.  Most of it was reserved for the professionals who knew what they are doing, but I started to want to dig in the dirt little by little.  I wanted to do my potted plants of course, then, my love of cooking prompted me to think about growing some herbs and maybe some tomatoes!  Hence the need for someplace to do the work surfaced and it became a fun little project to create the potting shed.  My husband built it for me and I painted it to match the house.  We added the flower boxes to dress it up a little and to continue my Tuscan theme outside somewhat.  I stocked it with garden implements and soil, lots of different size pots, and as soon as Easter passed the calendar I was ready to start.  We had a really late Easter this year which made waiting all that much worse, but my grandpa swore that you could never plant prior to Easter because of a chance of a freeze.  Was he ever right!  This was a really cold spring so I waited until I could begin my gardening in earnest!  After my first few times out there I knew that the shed wasn’t sufficient.  I now needed a garden table to actually work on to save my back from all the bending over.  Then I thought, well it would be nice to have somewhere to sit down and cool off while I’m working, so chairs and a cocktail table came next.  My husband bought a hammock years back but we never had anywhere to hang it, so he put it out there near the potting shed.  Beneath our screened-in porch and upper deck is a great little shaded area that beckoned for the potting shed; it’s shaded most of the time and needed something there anyway to fill the space.  I can piddle with my plants and he can chill in his hammock while I work!  I decided to plant mint, oregano, basil, rosemary and tomatoes for my little herb and vegetable garden.  Didn’t want to go hog-wild my first time out of the gate.  It is very manageable!  Funny thing is I watch those tomato plants every day, and when the first little yellow bloom opened I was ecstatic.  I had raised this thing and lo and behold it was going to produce a tomato!  I thought about my grandpa…he would be so excited and he would be willing to walk around with me to check all my plants.  I do indulge myself by showing everyone that comes over my container garden.  Now I can’t wait to eat that first ripe tomato!

Whole area Sitting area Potting shed outside

Deer Buffet…

5 Nov

This weekend was so beautiful and warm so fall planting was on the schedule for first thing Saturday morning.  I had wanted to get a jump on things so I went to Home Depot on Friday night to get all the plants and soil.  Friday night is a perfect time to go – no one is there, and I knew Saturday morning would be chaos.  I selected beautiful flowering kale with matching purple and pink pansies to plant together in my planters and in the annual beds.  Saturday morning I’m all set to plant and I get the tools out, go around to the front flower beds and find that my beautiful pansies that were just bursting in vibrant blooms are all GONE!  Not one blasted bloom in sight.  The deer foiled my fall planting and chose to graze on the pansies.  They didn’t care for the kale!  I had four flats of pansies full of blooms and there was nothing left.  So I picked out the ones that at least still had a few leaves on them and planted them.  I don’t know if they’ll come back or not and I certainly don’t know what color they are.  The ones that were eaten down to basically no leaves I just am leaving out for the deer to keep snacking on.  Maybe it will keep them away from the poor remnants that I am trying to revive!  I don’t know if any of that spray deer repellant works on plants or not…anyway maybe they’ll eventually bloom, otherwise I’ll have just kale in the annual beds!

More of the Finished Downstairs…

13 Aug

Here are a few more of the before and then post renovation pictures of the downstairs.  First the befores.

You can see what we were working with and what needed to be updated and now this is after new paint, new floors and stair balusters.  I am showing the afters in the following order: butler’s pantry, dining room, dining room looking out to foyer, library and formal living room.The butler’s pantry really remained mostly original.  We kept the cabinets and countertops that were there when we bought the house.  I liked the antique white of the cabinets and the granite had been installed fairly recently and was very nice.  I liked the idea of this room not being exactly like the kitchen.  Butler’s pantries originally were much bigger rooms than this since they housed all the silver and china and serving pieces.  They tended to be white, more utilitarian in those days.  So keeping with that we didn’t change anything here but the wall paint and floor.  The butler’s pantry is a great space dividing the kitchen and dining room, a vestibule, if you will!  I want this to be where friends make themselves at home and grab wine glasses and cheese boards or mix cocktails when they’re here.  We actually use our dining room.  We host a lot of the family holidays and sit in there and have a formal meal.  When we have larger parties I set up the buffet in there.  The library also remained somewhat original.  I liked the built-ins that were already there so we kept those.  I just changed the cabinet pulls from brass to an oil rubbed bronze.  The tray ceiling had a weird curved section at each corner (it was a custom item, obviously, just not sure why! we referred to it as the ‘ceiling butts’) that we did remove and just went back to an original square-shaped tray ceiling.

Powder Room Preview…

12 Aug

The powder room remained a question mark right up until the end.  I really did sort of like the original wallpaper that was in there even though it had a bit of an Oriental flare to it which did not go with my theme.  I was on the fence about it until I was not able to get it clean, then it had to go.  I did not want streaked, stained paper in the powder room.  I was able to salvage the ceiling paper though and coordinated the faux finish wall paint with the ceiling paper.  We then replaced the pedestal sink with a nice wood cabinet vanity that has some usable storage space.  I think it turned out pretty good.  Too bad about the old paper though.  I think the vote was mixed as to whether to keep it or not.  Some people said they liked it and some immediately said ‘You’re changing that right?”

Redoing our Den…

7 Aug

If you remember back to my first posts of the house one of the worst things about it was the fireplace in the den.  It was so dated and looked very 70s even though the house was built in the 90s.  We really hated that fireplace!  The den, obviously will be one of the most used rooms in the house.  It is open to the kitchen and that’s where we are every day and most times that is where friends gather too when they’re over.  We had to revitalize this room and make it a warm and inviting space.  See the afters now.  We completely demolished the old fireplace and built ins and updated it with dark wood tones and stacked stone.  We decided to take the stone all the way to the ceiling, even though it’s a two-story room.  The room somehow commanded a big fireplace.  The feel now is akin to a mountain lodge room and I absolutely can’t wait until the weather cools off enough for us to build a fire in there and enjoy it.  The fireplace has never ever had a fire burned in it.  The original people who tiled the hearth covered over the gas starter with mortar and it never worked until we rebuilt it.  I guess the other owners didn’t want to just build a fire and light it the old-fashioned way, so we’ll be the first ones to enjoy it!  Here’s the difference.

Retro Chic…Repurposing

30 Jul

We spent Saturday with my niece who has just moved into a new apartment and is preparing to begin her Masters program, so of course we wanted to be there to help do some of the ‘finishing touches’ and decorate.  Her Mom was also there to lend support and guidance!  Of course we had to make sure we weren’t taking over with the decorating bit since it is her own place and she definitely has her own style!  We must be careful not to overstep boundaries, right!  She is going for a retro chic look, very hip indeed.  She’s using a lot of red and black with a little bit of yellow accent mixed in.  She found an old turntable stereo which she fell in love with and it is being used to play a lot of Bob Dylan!  Yes very retro indeed!  A friend of hers made a very unique clock for her out of an old vinyl album – just loved it!  The apartment is a darling  little loft studio very close to campus.  My niece selected a bright red sofa as the focal point of her living room and then based the rest of the theme around that.  She and my sister were here two weeks ago and we went to the antiques store looking for old rake heads.  Her plans were to use the rake heads as a wine glass rack.  The idea was so creative I had to share it with you on my blog.  I just think it’s fantastic and what a way to repurpose in a very chic and retro way!  One rake head ended up being a great place to store necklaces and bracelets.  Check out what she did here and I know you’ll love this great idea.

Our Earthy New Exterior…

20 Jul

When we bought the house the exterior was a goldish, yellow color, not bad really, but certainly not my first pick.  My husband adamantly wanted to change the color so we went with the new (or shall I say rebooted) earth tones.  We were choosing from several shades and had the painters put test strips of paint on the house so we could look at it in different light at different times of the day and decide.  I did not think, however, that they would choose the very front wall, closest to the road, for their test paint.  I came in and saw it and nearly choked, expecting to get a letter straightaway from the HOA complaining.  It was really funny because when all the shades were up there together in test strips it looked like camouflage.  I know the neighbors were thinking, Lord, who has moved in next door and please don’t let them paint the house camo!   We loved the brown shades and it seemed to fit with the style of the house.  I was really surprised when my husband came up with the idea to paint the eaves, soffit, fascia and gutters all a dark bronze.  I was resistant at first, but thought that since he’d let me pick out most of the other colors, he could have this choice.  Our painter was really skeptical and kept asking ‘You want to paint all that?”  We even resorted to printing out a picture of the outside and highlighting all the areas that were to be bronze, just to make sure.  As soon as they did the first soffit, I was sold.  We liked it so much that we then went a step further and painted the window sashes all the dark bronze too.  It really seemed to give it an old world feel like they were old, iron windows.  See the original paint color below, then the new paint colors.  Hold on though, something just isn’t quite right is it?  I know.  We painted all our interior trim very bright white which of course dictated that our plantation shutters be the same bright white.  The day the shutters were installed I just loved it, gleaming white shiny wood work looked so fresh and clean, beautiful!  Until I walked outside and looked at the house from the front.  The shutters that I loved from the inside looked way too stark from the outside outlined by all the dark brown.  I felt like I was in a fix as my mind ran through scenarios to correct this.  I thought at first to repaint the dark sashes that we loved a lighter shade so the contrast wouldn’t be so great, but since our windows are casement windows, they are one big piece of glass that rolls out with no panes or anything to break it up, that option would not really tone it down as much as we needed.  I loved the paint from the outside and did not want to change it, but when looking at the house from the outside it just did not work, the white windows were glaring!  It was like staring at someone with too white teeth – you just couldn’t look away – too white, sort of unnatural!  After a couple of weeks of mulling it over and asking friends who came by to look at the house their opinion – who kindly would say they didn’t notice 🙂 we had an epiphany!  Tint the windows themselves!  It would tone down the too white shutters from the outside and give us an added level of energy efficiency.  To top it off we even get a rebate from our electric cooperative for having done so!  Look at the last set of pictures now and see the difference the window tinting made.  There’s only one little bit of white left and don’t worry, it’s going to go away too.  Stay tuned!

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