Monday, September 17, 2018

My French Dollhouse Project


 A dollhouse is my latest project after finding this nice wooden handmade example at a 
local consignment shop.  I saw it several times and would think about buying it, but I didn't have
the space to work on it, until my son moved out of my old studio/bedroom space.  
Then I got my room back, and visited the shop, and there it still was!
Oh yes, it finally found a home, and someone to love it.
This big mint green house seemed kind of Frenchy to me, and I imagined the ways I could
transform it, and then decorate it with a French flavor.
The first thing I did was to paint the sloped area to be the roof color instead of the 
exterior wall color.  Then I toned down the happy mint green color to a respectable
ochre color one might find when driving through the countryside of France.
 See? Like this chateau!  
 The next step was to figure out how to make slate tiles to cover the roof.  I wanted a realistic 
looking slate tile, and after searching the internet for ideas, I came up empty and so put on my thinking cap.  Hard paper cardboard material in matte black was found at my local craft shop, 
and then I washed a combo of two grey acrylic craft paints over the black boards to create a dusky
slate grey effect in shades of grey.
Using a paper cutter, I trimmed the board into 1.25" strips and then cut out tiles
approximately 1.5" long.  
The next step was to fit the shingles to the roof, and I used a pair of scissors to fit any
tiles that needed trimming. Scribing the edges quickly with a pencil I fit the edge tiles first,
then continued along the lower edge of the roof, working my way up to the top.  Because I 
had shingled my garden shed last year, it helped me to understand how to shingle a surface.
It took a long time to get the roof shingled, but I was happy with the result.
The facade of the house is the next thing I need to think about, as far as giving it
the old aged look of a French chateau.  
 Piper can't seem to figure out this new thing we are doing.  Going up into a room she has never hung out in, and watching me do something for hours on end.  She naps and then checks in on me...is it time for our walk yet?
I hope to find something to use as a roof fence along the top edge, and do something
with the chimneys.  The front door needs to be made over as well. 
 What I loved about the dollhouse was that it was never touched inside.  The interior is ready
to get decorated, after some moldings are added.  Stairs need railings, windows need trim, doors
need to be added....this is a project that may take years!
But the most fun of all is finding things to add to the dollhouse.
Like these tiny pumpkins that I painted blue to look like my favorite 
Cinderella pumpkins that I find every fall for my house.  And this
simple chest of drawers that cost $4.99 in unfinished wood.  I painted it up
in Duck Egg blue chalk paint and then aged it and gilded the knobs to give it 
that shabby faded grandeur effect that I am striving for with this house.
Goodies will be arriving this week~a grand piano, an Aubusson rug, 
and a French country dining room hutch to hold  some purple transferware!!
Can you see where I am going with this?
Stay tuned for My French Dollhouse Project updates.  I will likely include 
snippets of progress in regular blog posts for those interested.
The world of miniatures has captured my attention and its all so 
fascinating to me.



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Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Enchanted Tale of the French Country Cottage

  
French Country Cottage
Its a brand new book detailing what is a most romantic fixer upper fairy tale . 
 A real life fairy tale that took place in today's world...
One that happened slowly over a handful of years as a young mother and wife bought a 
run down abandoned home with her husband in a small California town.   
I've watched much of it first hand as I became friends with Courtney Allison
 in the blogging world when we both began in 2010.  
She with her French Country Cottage blog and I with Maison Decor.
  We shared a love for romantic French decor
 and for creating spaces with our own hands, sharing on our blogs what
was born out of visions of what could be, instead of what was there.

Courtney's cottage was rundown and tiny, but bit by bit she renovated rooms such 
to the delight of her blog followers.  All of us French Country Cottage readers swooned over
 her choices, like when she put a huge French armoire in a small bathroom 
and filled it with towels, and then swooned some more when she added wallpaper in
 a pretty floral design and then hung an old gilded chandelier to put it over the top. 
 Her choices are always inspired and unique, as Courtney is truly an original.
 We found inspiration from each remodeling project as she created her dream home.  
In her new book, you will see how she added to what was there, 
and the changes they made.  The enormous fireplace is original 
and was flanked by small windows, which now have been replaced
with glamorous French doors, adding to the romance of the space and 
allowing access to the garden spaces she created for outdoor living.
The dining room is an area that is actually part of the living room, 
and in her book, Courtney shows how she made defined spaces. 
 It was fascinating to see more of her cottage
 than we get to see on her blog, also "French Country Cottage".
Now I could finally see that she did indeed live in a cottage,
 and these various "rooms" were actually located in one large space in the old cottage.  
Tips on how to combine living spaces are just some of what you will find in the book. 
The book is divided neatly into categories with the interior and exterior spaces
laid out, and her out buildings such as the  extra cottage and a new greenhouse.
But lets talk about the outdoor spaces, shall we?
This English feeling sitting area by an enormous Lion fountain is 
so incredible!  Talk about creating a memorable space!!
Courtney always finds such fantastic pieces to make a statement, 
that you cannot help to start hunting on Craigslist to search for your very own 
Lion fountain, or huge gilded mirror, or marble topped tables or fancy chandeliers.
Her outdoor spaces are truly magical, and there is one I aspire to create for myself. 
 The pergola building has an incredible stone fireplace Courtney and her husband 
made themselves.  I recall many years ago emailing with her about her Pergola 
after a storm destroyed the first one she had standing.  I was devastated for her.  
But of course she got it rebuilt and carried on with her can-do spirit.
 I was in love with the outdoor spaces she created, as they are full of the 
rustic romantic style I am attracted to. 
 My own yard has several "outdoor rooms",  but none quite as glorious as hers.  
Building an outdoor fireplace and then a room around it, is on my list for sure!
I have been bugging hubs for two years now to build me one with our big granite blocks,
and now that I have this book in my lap, I may just need one made from these 
rounded river rocks instead. Courtney tells how they built it from scratch.
Her home is loaded with romantic details, from the daybed in the attic
 to the pretty bedrooms and amazing kitchen spaces!
 Decorating ideas abound in this pretty book.
They were lucky to have another tiny home on the property that was also rehabbed.
This cottage is left in a more rustic and original state, but none the less, Courtney 
remodeled it with the same romantic French style using old painted furniture 
and gilded mirrors and of course, old crystal chandeliers.

 Courtney shares her journey and how she became braver with each step she took finding
her own unique style as she remodeled her rundown cottage.  It is a tale I could relate to, and 
a remarkable journey I have so enjoyed watching on her blog.  You can keep up with Courtney
 on her blog located right here on my blogroll (in the right hand sidebar area).

 I am quite sure after you read this book,
you will feel there is nothing you can't do with your own home, 
no matter its condition or size.
Just stick to your vision and bring it to life, one chandelier at a time.
Lastly, this book has easily just become one of my top favorite decor books.
When I heard she was writing a book, I couldn't have been more excited to get a copy.
It arrived a few days ago, and I couldn't put it down! I have already started reading it again
and pouring through those beautiful photographs of Courtney's home.
Simply put, its beauty and inspiration and attainable house goals all rolled into one.




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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Pretty Floral Aubusson Rugs


Aubusson rugs in needlepoint have always been a favorite of mine.
They originated from the town, Aubusson, in central France on the Creuse River.
It is known for making its beautiful carpets since the 15th century. 
 Aubusson rugs are considered the most elegant and luxurious carpets, and one can find them at
auction for reasonable prices these days.  They cover the floors in the grand homes and palaces around the world.  I love mixing the fine elevated look of the rug with some rustic pieces for some Maison Decor style. 
 Green and blue-gray with some pretty floral swags and bouquets make this undeniably romantic and French rug right at home in my living room.  I recently purchased a room size Aubusson that is so big I am hoping it will fit in my dining room.  I worried if the dogs might ruin it with their rough housing and fur shedding, but instead they LOVE the softness of the wool, and it has become a favorite spot to relax.  Its also easy to vacuum, so I am pleasantly surprised at how well it is working in our active household.
Piper poses here with a brand new book I just got from my blogger friend, Courtney Allison.
"French Country Cottage" tells about the journey of her fixer upper cottage in California that went from being an abandoned dump to one of  blogging world's most celebrated and recognizable cottage!  Her style speaks my language and I can't wait to share this book with you
on my next blog post this weekend!
And look...
Courtney has an Aubusson rug right there on 
the cover under her gilded settee! 
She also subscribes to mixing the fine romantic luxurious pieces with
the rustic elements, which speak to my heart.
More on Courntey's French Country Cottage style on my next post!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A true French Farmhouse Kitchen

This gloriously pretty French Farmhouse captured my attention, but truth be told, the 
charming cottage style kitchen is how I found this beautiful home.
 This enchanting kitchen was custom built by the homeowner to imitate the kitchen in 
a favorite French hotel restaurant, La Mirande, which has a Chef's Table kitchen.
The open shelving with the decorative trim work, painted blue, is incredibly charming!
 Here is a wider view of the kitchen, with the oak Chef's table in the center surrounded by ladder back chairs in French blue.  Loads of copper hang from the walls, pot rack and over the Lacanche range.
Its just so charming!! Read more about this French Farmhouse and the beautiful renovation on the The Glam Pad blog here.  I fell in love with the kitchen, and then the rest of the house!
 Follow on Instagram with updates on the property @provencepoiriers for more images of this dream French farmhouse in Provence.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Country House Style

Making Your Home a Country House
It has been one year since Nora Murphy and her team came to shoot my "country house" for
her soon to be released book on Country House Style.  Here is a sneak peak at some
of the beautiful images that were taken last July, when Piper was still a little pup.
I loved this photo!
  My living room looked absolutely beautiful and Piper posed like a star.
The beautiful blue opaline chandelier gets the spotlight. 
I have received an advance copy of the book from Vendome Press,
the publisher of Nora Murphy's Country House Style.  Most of the images 
I am sharing today are outtakes, and didn't make it to the book.
Wait till you see what did make the cut!! 
OMG! So completely gorgeous!!
 The dining room table was set for a relaxed dinner with a mix and match
style of plates from my transfer ware collection and some pretty green majolica.
The big balloon wine glasses in amethyst glass were a wedding gift from my sister.
Big antique French monogrammed napkins dressed the table.
 This bedroom photo did make the book.  
During the shoot, the Swedish chair was 
put in the place where I have a dark wood French cane chair as it looked
 lighter and brighter.  For the most part, all was photographed
 as I had it for our every day living.
Nora brought these hydrangeas from her own Connecticut Country House garden!

 Nora and I posed for a few shots outside in the courtyard and in the house
in front of my transferware collection in the open cupboard.  But in the end
the photos of the homeowners with Nora did not make it into the book.
Interestingly she said the editor said that photos of people can date a book.
And I think she is absolutely right...think bouffant hair dos and bellbottom pants.
Hahah, Nora and I might feel we are dressed in a timeless style, but time will tell.
I have a lot of decorating books that are timeless, in the sense that the design is still
current to my liking.  Old copies of Country Home magazine still look fresh, and I 
believe the country homes Nora has chosen will stand the test of time and inspire for decades.
The book is loaded with big glossy photographs that speak to many different
country styles and the tag line of the book is "Making your home a Country House".
Nora talks about collections, and how they add that country style to a home.
The tips and stories of Nora's own journey and those of the other homeowners
will inspire you to refine your own Country House. 
 I Promise. 
For more of a look inside the pages of the book and to preorder
the book, due out in September, visit Nora Murphy's site here.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Peter Hunt, Cape Cod's famous folk artist


The folksy art style of painter Peter Hunt is my latest obsession.
His story is a rags to riches tale, and it happened in my own back yard on Cape Cod.
Peter moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts with his parents in the late 1920s. 
Peter followed in his artist father's footsteps, and began painting as a hobby.
He painted old furniture and household items found at thrift shops,
decorating them with colorful folk art patterns he called peasant style.
His patterns called to mind Pennsylvania German and French Provincial folk art.  Hearts,
flowers, birds, fish, angels, maidens and suitors were all depicted in his happy colorful designs.
Peter sometimes would add French phrases to the designs, and this became his signature style
 as well as a way of identifying his pieces.  The year the item was painted would
 be noted this way, "Anno Domini '43" to indicate it was painted in the year 1943.

His artistic journey began after he painted a chest for a small girl with scenes from her life. His reputation spread and soon he found his items selling to the wealthy summer patrons of Cape Cod.  They loved his fun and cheerful pieces of furniture, perfect for their summer homes.  
He became so well known, that Dupont sponsored him with their paint line and 
produced a book on how to paint decorative furniture.
New York's cosmetic giant Helena Rubenstein was a famous patron.  Peter was quite a charmer and a colorful character, known for his good looks, wit and outrageous story telling.  
His reputation was quite bright in the 1930s and 1940s, due to his popularity 
with the jet set and their promotions of his peasant painted designs. 
New York department stores clamored to carry his furniture, so Peter hired local teenagers and taught them how to paint in the Peter Hunt style.  Macy's and Gimbels carried his wares.  Peter also came out with decals for those who were artistically challenged so housewives could decorate in the Peter Hunt style.  He wrote the Peter Hunt Workbook, and Peter Hunt's How to Do It,  encouraging women to redo furniture during the challenging depression era and World War 2.  

This charming simple painting style captured many hearts.
There is a Peter Hunt bench sitting in a country club in Hyannis.
Life magazine, House Beautiful, Vogue, National Geographic, Country Living 
and McCall's magazine all have featured Peter's art.
Peter Hunt even landed the cover of TIME magazine! 
He was asked to create the Cape Cod room in the Drake Hotel of Chicago.
He painted sea murals on the walls, and the room was adorned with Cape Cod style
items, such as copper chowder pots hanging from the beams.


His painted pieces were quite desirable then and now can be spotted at auction these days 
bringing thousands of dollars, like this mirror currently on 1st Dibs for $3800.
His charming style has inspired me to try this style of "peasant" style painting.

His popular painting style waned in the 1950s. 
By then he had moved to another town on the Cape, Orleans, and opened
a shop called Peacock Alley.
He lived there until he died of a heart attack at home, almost penniless.
His story fascinated me. 
 A man who had no formal training, but painted from
the heart and followed his passion to find popularity and success for most of his 
adult life.  His cookbook and his workbook are on their way to me now,
as I have hunted them down on eBay.  Its been a joy to research him, and see
his painted pieces.  Peter influenced and taught many other artists, such as 
Nancy Whorf, who started her own art career painting in the Peter Hunt style
also in Provincetown and eventually shifted to fine arts painting.
This is one of Nancy's pieces, and the Peter Hunt charm is evident in her brushstrokes.
Her former home, still decorated with many folk art details she painted, is available for 
rent on Airbnb.  She is a celebrated artist in her own right, but began her journey under the tutelage of Peter Hunt.  Stepping back in time to uncover the life and times of this major 
folk artist was such a highlight, and I hope you enjoyed learning about Peter Hunt.


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