Monday, July 20, 2015

An 18th Century Cabinet intended for Marie Antoinette is mine!

A French Linen Press dating from the 18th century has come into my possession.
It all started with this photo sent via email to me from one of my Chalk Paint 
graduates asking if I might be interested.  She was moving and had to let it go.
It needed restoration of the top crown molding and the bottom, but the rest of it
was in solid shape.  Well I fell in love with the cabinet in all its worn out faded glory.
I had never owned a French cabinet this old, and the older the better in my mind.
I gingerly told Mr. Maison Decor that I had interest in picking up an old French cabinet.
He was not enamored of the idea.  Considering we have 4 cabinets in our dining room at the
present time (overflow from closing my shop) I could kind of see his point.
However, I could see the carved panels and the beauty in this old piece and I just had 
to have it.  After all, Justin and his wife had just moved out into a bigger place,
which meant my son Colin would move out of my old former home office into
their basement apartment, freeing up a large room that could hold this new old cabinet.
 Later that day we found ourselves in a very tight underground garage 
with Mr. Maison Decor's truck. The cabinet was so wide that it wouldn't fit all the
 way in, so he strapped it in, with about two feet hanging off the back tail gate.
 It felt like Christmas morning for me! I was the only one smiling, as all the guys in the house were
 against the acquisition.  (Except Justin who said if I didn't  want the cabinet he did).
While standing in the garage something startling happened. 
While hubby and the seller's husband were securing the linen press, 
the seller started to tell me that there was a bit of a story associated to this piece. 
 That the story goes it is was actually commissioned for Marie Antoinette, by her lover, 
the Count Axel Von Fersen of Sweden. 
It seems he hoped she might live with him if he could free her from prison and so he furnished an entire house for her.  If you look up Count Axel Von Fersen you will see that he was indeed the lover of Marie Antoinette, and he remained in love with her his entire life.  He visited her in Versailles many times, and had a room above hers at her country palace.  There has been much documentation to their relationship.  He tried to help her escape when her life was in danger, and was not successful. 
The seller wrote me this account of the cabinet:
  "My Great Aunt Mary's story (she was born in 1896 and died in 1987) was that she bought it in Maine and one of her favored workmen was charged with refinishing it. They stripped it because they did not recognize that the painted rococo style on the blue ground was the authentic original finish of the cabinet.  She asserted that it was a piece that ended up in Maine because Count Axel Fersen (Swedish, fought with Rochambeau in the American Revolution and devoted cavalier of Marie Antoinette altho most agree that their relationship was chivalric but not sexual) had furnished a house there that he hoped to take her to after he sprang her from her imprisonment in France.  All his plots in that direction came to naught."
The Count and Marie originally met at a masked ball, which is featured in scenes from the movie, Marie Antoinette, by Sophia Coppola.  Marie fell hard.  He was a dashing soldier with ties to the Royal Family of Sweden, but chose to serve in the war, and even traveling to the United States for a year, living in Newport, Rhode Island, fighting with the Americans in the Revolutionary War.  It was a remarkable love affair in history.  So could I possibly be in possession of a French Linen Press that was intended for Marie Antoinette?!  Wouldn't that be totally amazing?  And if it were, how did the cabinet end up in a garage in Lexington Mass, where it would be for sale at a most reasonable price?  
I will try to get some more documentation, but this story for now, is as good as it gets! 
Once we got the cabinet home, we enlisted Colin's help to drag it inside.
There were smiles at the very beginning of the moving stage.
But that would soon change.
This photograph doesn't show the difficulty these two had just getting it inside and up the stairs.
That was as far as the antique linen press would go.  It hit the ceiling and they couldn't get it
to turn the corner. The spacing was too darn tight.  So now it was back down the stairs, and that was
even more scary than trying to bring it up the stairs.  I was crushed with disappointment. Hubby was at his wits end, and Colin was mad too.  Why, oh why, did I need to get this cabinet they wondered aloud in not exactly those words.  Lots of grunting and sweating and words not be repeated were happening in the stairwell as the cabinet was brought back down. 
I could see it crushing my husband with one slip up.
Back outside and onto the dolly it went.  Colin was not a happy camper. 
 He had better things to do, like move his own furniture into his new apartment 
in our basement.  It was 90 degrees and humid.
I wondered what could I do with this huge cabinet now that it sat outside.
My wire garden furniture was all tossed aside as we prepared to position it underneath the tree for the time being.  I suggested maybe I should just salvage the doors and do away with the rest.  No one was speaking to me.  It was not fun times, it seemed no one but me saw the brilliant part of buying old French cabinets.  This piece had giant crown molding and shelves inside, just waiting to be reattached and put into use.  Apparently it was originally painted in a pretty blue color but the seller's Great Aunt Mary had stripped the cabinet, leaving behind the tell tale remains of blue paint.  That made sense to me, as most country French pieces made from pine wood were painted.  It really was a lovely cabinet and I hated to think of just ripping it apart and using the doors.  
But then the dust settled and my husband came back to his kinder gentler self and the next thing I know he set two large landscape timbers on the ground under the tree.  He insisted it not be set right on the ground so it wouldn't get any further damage.  He said it was a great cabinet and he would get one of his excavators over to our house and take out the window of my new work room and hoist it inside!  And just like that it was going to have a happy ending!! I was beyond happy as I set up our wire furniture to face the old French cabinet.  A glass of wine in hand,  I sat there and enjoyed it and thought about Count Axel Von Fersen and his paramour Marie Antoinette.  
It was all so romantic and historic.  Just the kind of thing I liked.
For now we have laid a tarp over it and anchored it to the tree until hoisting day.
I hope you enjoyed the little adventure I had this weekend. 
All's well that ends well, and as for Marie Antoinette, we know that not to be the case.
I hope for myself and this cabinet we will enjoy a better fate.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Summery Home Accessories

 A day trip to Cape Cod with Mr. Maison Decor resulted in 
a happy meet up with the owner of The Spotted Cod in Sandwich.
Lee Repetto and I have a few things in common.  We were both in 
magazines published by Matthew Mead.  We both use the watery blues and greens
in home decor, and until recently we were both home boutique owners.
 I have to admit I have been thinking about ditching my blue and green accents in 
the living room after my head was turned by Sandra's amazing home, also on the Cape.
If you missed that house tour, click on the link at the end of this post to check it out.
It was so inspiring it had me second guessing just about every detail in my own home.
One result was that I rearranged the furniture and placed this bench and basket set up
in front of the sofa for a coffee table.  Initially it was in my little hallway opposite our coat closet.
I can stack books and magazines and set my coffee cup down without a worry.  Stash more of my  magazines in the baskets underneath and I can hide my obsession but still get at them easily.
On our quick trip to Bourne yesterday, I had a side trip to The Spotted Cod in Sandwich, a neighboring town!  I had been dying to see Lee's shop in person.  While there I found the striped candles I have been looking for~ and the colors were just what I needed to give me a little decorating pick me up. I bought several sets in fact, and I love how they add some life to the washed wood bench, don't you? They feel modern and zingy and its a dose of happy right in the middle of the room.
 A striped throw (from a recent trip to Marthas Vineyard), some crewel work pillows from Homegoods in a beautiful powdery aqua blue along with a homemade lime green and blue toile pillow pull the colors of the room together on the white sofa.  It feels so summery!
Some old blue bottles hold faux peonies.  I will use real flowers as well,
but these work great when I am not around to fuss over the real variety.
Look for bunches of faux flowers at HomeGoods or local craft shops, but 
aim for the most realistic blooms you can find, then clip them apart and put
single blooms in vases or bottles of varying sizes.
So add a few well chosen home accents, and consider using surprising 
pieces for furniture tasks.  Its made me love my room all over again!
 Here are a couple of pics from The Spotted Cod. 
It is located right next doors to the Daniel Webster Inn,
 so if you are in the area, be sure to put this on your must list.
 Lots of lovely candles, linens, lighting, artwork, serving pieces and tons of smalls.  
Lee has the shop all decorated in color groups and its just delicious!
You can see the lime and white candles in the middle of this table display.
Look at how lovely everything looks.  haha~oops that is my pocket book
sitting on the floor while I darted around taking pics to share.
It was a treat to meet Lee and visit her beautiful shop.  And it was 
fun to come back home with a piece of it and have it revitalize my living room.
Visit my HomeGoods Pinterest Happy by Design board here
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Note: This post is partially sponsored by HomeGoods as part of my participation in their designer program with Pinterest, Happy by Design.
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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summertime shots around the house

Its summer time and I am in a very white and blue mode.  More white
than blue.  I loved this throw I picked up on Martha's Vineyard at a local
home goods shop in Vineyard Haven.  I'm inspired to clean and pare down
the look around the house.  Hiding things in baskets, like this HomeGoods chest, 
 helps me achieve this goal of less is more.  
One new basket I love is this triple container with a handle that I also got at HG.
I loaded it up with our everyday silverware and it is one of my favorite home 
improvements (on the tiny end of making changes around the house). 
 It has made it easier to unload the dishwasher as it all goes right
into the basket, as well as carrying it out to the courtyard for summer dinners,
or simply grabbing a spoon to stir the coffee fresh from the Keurig.

 Our summer garden has started producing tomatoes, which is really awesome. 
 Cuttings from our mint and basil plants are stuffed into the baby silver cups and 
line the windowsill making for a summer-fresh display.
Summer time is fleeting, and I am so happy to be home and not in a shop
this year so I can enjoy the simple things.  
We have some interior changes coming up this summer that I am excited
about, the best will be getting our French door installed!
Hoping you are making the most out of your precious summertime.
It's in full swing here, with one beautiful day after another.
And I'm loving it. 

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Note: This post is partially sponsored by HomeGoods as part of my participation in their designer board on Pinterest, Happy by Design. 
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Friday, July 10, 2015

A waterfront yard, and beating mosquitos naturally

 The dream of having a home on the water is one many share. Hubs and I 
would love to one day own a home on the water, or at least one with a water view.
Of course waterfront property always has its share of mosquitos, 
but I will show you how to deal with that issue in a bit.
My friends have a home on a river in Maine that leads out to the Atlantic.  
They have played up the most of their spot with gorgeous outdoor landscaping.
Mr. Maison Decor and I joined them for the Fourth of July this year, and although
the day ended up with a few showers, it did clear in time for the local fireworks display. 
 Sue is a long time friend of mine~we used to play tennis together and always had a ton of fun.
We were mad dog competitive and enjoyed being on a team together for years.  
I haven't seen much of her after I opened my shop,  so it was a treat to get to come up
 and spend the night with her and her husband and chew the fat.
 The guys did a great job on the grill and in the kitchen~lobster and steak!
We all sat down to eat inside their sunroom that faces that water.  
The perfect 4th of July dinner in New England.  Sue has a lobster boat,
 and she gets her own lobsters! We would get to go out on the boat in the morning,
 and I was excited for the experience.  
 After dinner we headed back outside and watched the guys build a fire in the sunken fire pit, and waited for the sun to set and then the fireworks to start.  I thought it would be the perfect setting to try out the new Stinger All Natural Repellent Lantern I was asked to review. The Stinger lantern people had come up with a new idea in mosquito repelling.  It was an ALL NATURAL repellent! Would or could that really work? This would enhance my chances of getting hubs to hang outside at night in our own courtyard that we just built if it did.  And what better of a test than to try it out by the water, after a light rain?  Those buggers should be out in force, right?  
 Here are the details about the "All Natural"  mosquito repelling lantern by Stinger.


The new Stinger All Natural Mosquito Repellent Lantern is a device that repels insects up to 225 sq. ft. An ultra-quiet fan diffuses repellent into the air using powerful plant-based, all-natural active ingredients.

Quick Facts
  • Outdoor use
  • Repels insects using a fan-dispersed repellent pad
  • All natural, for safe use around children & pets
  • Blue, LED lighting for night
  • Uses 4 AA batteries (not included)
  • Repellent refills come in 6 packages per PDQ tray
  • MSRP $12.99
  • Available at and
 The guys got the fire going, Sue brought out her homemade berry pie with raspberries,
 blueberries and blackberries that she picked from her yard, and I fired up the Stinger mosquito lantern.  We all had our jobs, haha.  A little foil wrapped package held what appeared to be a wet wipe that was impregnated with different types of plant based oils, like eucalyptus
 and rosemary and I put it in a little compartment on the lantern. 
 A small fan circulates the oils through the air to ward of the mosquitos.  
 It was very quiet, and frankly I forgot I was even testing it out. 
 However I rarely am bitten by mosquitos, but it would be interesting to see 
if my husband would be so lucky. It looks like a decorative lantern and the way
 it is designed with a little loop on the top, you could suspend it from a tree branch, 
or the interior of an overhead umbrella over your outdoor dining table
 as well as just plunk it on the table, like I did. 

 What a gorgeous view! It doesn't get much better than this. 
 Nightfall came quickly~fireworks were being set off along the riverbanks
 to celebrate our nation's birth. It felt wonderful to be in such a natural setting celebrating 
with close friends, and feeling grateful to be living in the land of the FREE.
 Not much of a photo, I know!  It was pitch dark outside, except for the flares of the fireworks, the burn of the firepit and the soft glow of the Stinger lantern.
And now for the suspenseful part...did the lantern really work??
You can see hubs enjoying the evening as the soft blue light from the Stinger Mosquito Lantern glows on the table.  Not a single mosquito was in sight!  This thing was really working!
 Not ONE mosquito came near any of us.  Not one.  As we went into the house at the end of the night,  I asked hubs to shut off the lantern.  As soon as he did, he said a mosquito tried to land on his nose! So I have to give this amazing lantern a ringing endorsement.  The only bad thing was that I left it behind at my friends now I will be buying one for our courtyard dining table so we can enjoy extended periods outside without being bitten.  Its so nice to think that we didn't need to spray  chemicals on our bodies, or in the air to try to eliminate the chance of being bitten. 
 What could be better than to sit outside with your kids and pets and not have to worry about them being bitten.  No sprays, no mess, no was wonderful. 
What a great invention.  I am 100% thrilled with this lantern!
Morning arrived, showers and breakfast were finished and we headed off!
 We headed out to the local marina to take a ride in Sue's lobster boat. 
 She is pretty amazing I think.  Driving a lobster boat?? Ok, well knowing Sue like I do,
 I guess I am not really that amazed, its just how she rolls. 
 Lets get going Captain Sue!
 She would head out under the big bridge and right towards the Atlantic ocean. 
 My cowboy would untie the lines so we could shove off.
 This was going to be a nice little cruise on a perfect July day. 
The girls were up front, while the boys sat in the back. 
We obviously were married to very secure men. 
 Behind the guys you can see an old maritime jail. 
 It looks like a big beautiful chateau!
No longer in use, it sits on the river banks just falling into disrepair.  
Wouldn't it make an amazing home?!  
We drove past lovely homes and hotels on the banks of both New Hampshire and Maine.
The stately Wentworth by the Sea among them. We saw a couple of seals. 
 They look like dogs swimming out in the middle of the ocean!
 Our cruise was over so we headed back to the marina.  
Old wooden boats and modern ones dot this small Maine marina. 
 It was a lovely ride.
We parted company and shared hugs and kisses. 
 They have made a nice life for themselves, and its one I admire. 
 Sharing hobbies and the day to day tasks, yet taking time out to smell the roses 
and sail the ocean blue is what a good married life is all about, don't you think?
Hubs took his happy wife back home,
 but not before we stopped for a lobster roll at the Galley Hatch.
It was a nice summer getaway to a memorable spot.  
Thanks Sue and Gene!  Next time we fire up your pizza oven, ok?
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