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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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Rustic Lake Cottage: Part 2

 These freak storms happen in only minutes.  
When we left the cottage it looked like this.
We had spent the weekend painting and putting in the dock, 
planning to return the following weekend.  But two days later a freak wind storm,
called a microburst, hit a small section of Northwood Lake. 
We heard from friends that our cottage suffered tree loss, but no one was sure if the cottage had been hit.  Matthew Mead drove over the next day to check on it as he was planning to do a photo shoot there, and he couldn't get down the road as the electric company had clean up crews tending to the downed power lines.  They had to cut up massive trees that were blocking the road.  The following day he returned and grabbed some horrifying pictures of the damage.  But the strangest thing was that the cottage was not hit by one single branch.  Somehow we were unscathed.
An enormous tree, the biggest on the lot, lay on its side 5 feet from our cottage, 
its huge rootball in the air, higher than our roof.  
The dock my husband had just worked three days on to put in the water, 
was now floating in the lake, sections dotting the shoreline and in the lake. 
 When my husband and I finally got to see it for ourselves, it was a shock.
You couldn't walk to the water from the cottage without walking 
through the neighbors yard, as it was so treacherous. 
That is hubs standing next to the root ball of the biggest tree that fell beside
the cottage.  Notice the chain link fence that got ripped up into the air with it.
 The large tree next to our dock that I showed last time where Jenny Mead 
and Piper sat last week, before hubs assembled the dock, was no longer standing.
It too lay on its side with a massive rootball exposed into the air, taking the day lillies with it.
Both of our neighbors had trees go right through their roofs.  The damage was quickly done with that forceful storm. We were all so lucky that none of us were staying in our cottages when it struck.
 The following weekend we returned with hubbies smallest excavator and our youngest son to get to work on clearing the trees.  A cousin and another friend, who is an expert tree guy, worked all day long to cut the logs into 8 foot lengths.  By the end of the day, they were all cut and stacked by the side of the yard.  It was an amazing effort, and we are fortunate that we could do this work ourselves.
The yard was becoming usable again, and perhaps our summer would be salvaged
in some regard. I had the tiny grill going nonstop, and I never ate so many hamburgers
in a 48 hour stretch.  Lets not even talk about the hotdogs for breakfast. 
Natural disasters are never expected and you just have to deal with 
the consequences of Mother Nature.  Looking at it now we can say
 we have a better view and overall the lot feels larger and the storm 
was a blessing in disguise in that regard.
This was the view from the kitchen window during the tree cutting and clearing. 
It is all cleaned up now, and I am so thankful for the efforts that made that happen.
The storm brought my decorating fun to (almost) a screeching halt....
 Hubs reassured me that the trees would be gone and not to worry.
So before we headed up for the tree cleanup, I visited a local consignment shop.
A wooden top wicker desk, a cute old blue chair and a pretty blue tole tray came
home with me to bring up to the cottage.  I have been collecting old wicker pieces
for the cottage and this desk will be a great piece to have for a cocktail bar 
or a writing and reading spot.  We tied it in the back of the truck and headed north.  
I planned to rearrange a little furniture and play house while the guys handled the cleanup.
It found a spot next to the fireplace, which is in the bigger
room, which was an addition.  I spotted the moroccan bird cage
at a local antique shop near the house and I took that home with me
for the cottage.  Something about a bird cage...this one has a charming little
hand carved bird on a swing hanging inside of it! 
The weird little window above the desk fell apart the first time I tried to open it.
Half of it just fell out onto the ground, glass and all.  Nice. 
We covered the screen with heavy plastic and stuffed it back in place.
A little pair of shutters are now on my list to hide this situation.
We plan to tear the cottage down one day and build a real year round cottage,
and so we are trying our best not to sink money into this bonafide money pit.
The bit of decorating I am doing is a lot of fun, and has made a world of difference just hanging out
in the space.  However its not "real decorating" more of a spiffing it up with pretty things found at yard sales and antique shops.  When I saw Matthew Meads romantic photo shoot
of the cottage, I knew it could really look super cute.
Matthew staged it all with the vintage floral fabrics he collects.
I loved it so much I hunted down a pair of old vintage floral
draperies to use at the lake.
This is what I found!
 A pair of long pinch pleated unlined panels.
They are on a bluish green background with garden roses in pink and blue and white.
I found them on Etsy and there were quite a few old fashioned fabrics and drapery 
panels available.  I may use them as upholstery fabric on the wicker sofa, or hang them by
the windows.  They are going to look great with the green wicker armchair I found a few weeks ago.
We will be bouncing back and forth on weekends to visit our cozy lake cottage for 
some summer relaxation.  Most days we are at home, and this has been a warm
and wonderful summer. I will be bringing my mom up to visit the cottage and plan to hang up the curtains, and take a pic to show you all....
until then, enjoy your summer! 

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Romantic Photo Shoot at the Lake Cottage

One enchanted lake cottage. 
Our simple rustic lake cottage was treated to a 
romantic style makeover for a photo shoot and the results were simply storybook.
Matthew and Jenny Mead went to the cottage to do a shoot for one of his projects.
I couldn't wait to see the results, as they have created such beauty over the years
on projects for so many magazines and retail companies.
Matthew collects vintage fabrics and has quite a collection of romantic florals.
I loved how they brought the cottage to life.
 You may recall we all sprayed the cottage interior over the 4th of July.
This sweet cottage style was the result of deft styling and a less is more attitude.
Matthew and Jenny added a pretty floral curtain in the kitchen doorway,
a big jug of roses and an old fashioned floral painting to create the storybook look.

Achieve this look with a few yards of pretty fabrics and some rustic
stripped down pine and oak pieces.  Choose your accent pieces sparingly, keeping a country
feel in mind. Looking so romantic and enchanting, this is one chic little lake cottage!
For more images on the romantic lake cottage 
follow Matthew Mead on Instagram @matthewmeadstyle 
and me at @amymaisondecor.

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