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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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Rustic Lake Cottage: Part 1

Last fall we purchased an antique Fishermans shack by the waters edge in New Hampshire.
This little place was built in 1910, and it looked like it. 
But the lot was so wonderful, situated right next to the water,
and that was all it took for us to want it for our own.
A beautiful view of Northwood Lake could be seen from the windows of the shack.
Summer days spent outside in hammocks, with dips in the lake, burgers on the grill,
and trips on our boat were dancing through our minds.
We bought it without stepping foot inside the place, knowing that one day we would likely
rebuild a sturdier more practical home here, but for now this sweet little camp would do.
 After we passed papers we headed over to the "camp" and checked it out...
I have to say I was a little disappointed. 
Undaunted and determined to make the most out of it however 
so we could use it during the summer months to escape from the city.
To have a place for Mr. Maison Decor's boat and watch our kids water ski.
So I called up Matthew Mead and asked him about spraying it white inside...
 A few days later, Matthew and Jenny Mead came over and we sprayed and sprayed.  
The old barn board soaked up the mildew killing primer
 we applied giving it a white washed effect.
It was coming out almost kind of charming!!
The old windows dropped down inside of Indian shutters and 
revealed full screens that let in the air.
And the view.
It was showing some promise after all.
 Jenny took a break with Piper out on the old dock, which was begging to get put back together.
Mr. Maison Decor worked on setting the sections of dock back in the lake, 
while the rest of us sprayed the cottage interior.
By the end of the day, we had a place to dock our boat, and lay our heads!
Now back to the interior...
 Wait, no, this isn't the finished cottage!! 
This is my inspiration for the Rustic Lake Cottage.
It is a lake cottage in Michigan, owned by designer Suzy Stout.
All the elements I found so appealing...
the vintage accents, the white background with the colorful
palette and floral elements would be my guide to our own Rustic Cottage.
 More inspiration from Suzy Stout.  Wicker, and more wicker!! And I love the green wicker most of all!  She mixed it in with the white wicker.
I love the look of the overall green and white with floral.
 Here is a sunporch of the small living room.  
White painted floors and painted furniture abound.
 Another angle showing the wicker rocker in that delicious green color.
 Loved this scraped pine bench with bark cloth floral pillows, the fun patting, and the pretty sconce.
All the white wood walls and trim look so fresh and perfect for a lake cottage.
 She had a couple of bedrooms with painted pieces and floral fabrics with bright colors.
The green painted bed was so beautiful!
 I loved how Suzy decorated her cottage and she inspired
me to bring the same joie de vivre to our own tiny cottage.
Last fall after we bought the cottage, I stumbled upon a yard sale where the woman
was selling all kinds of old white wicker pieces, including a long day bed, and 
a Bar Harbor loveseat, and more.  We hauled all our yard sale finds up to the cottage
on the 4th of July and set up our little cottage.  A few days later I went hunting in
some of my favorite antique shops and found this glorious green wicker chair!  
And an old painting of hollyhocks, which seemed perfect for my Suzy Stout inspired cottage decor.
There are random bits that came with the cottage like the navy and white durrie rugs.
Not my first choice, but fine for now.  
 This old pine work table from our original Boston Maison Decor store found its home
in front of the triple windows in the center room, which we are calling the porch.
A set of 4 old oak chairs came with the house and have a Scandinavian feel.
Sturdy and rustic and useful.  Maybe one day they will get painted, but for now 
we had a list a mile long, and if it works its fine for now.  This is not a decorators cottage,
but a real life summer cottage that isn't trying to make the cover of a magazine....yet.
The yard sale find wicker love seat came into the porch, and the pine table got
an April Cornell tablecloth in a pretty blue French print. It was fun to just add things
here and there without trying to make it match.  Seemed like the more it didn't match,
the better it looked!  Remember, this is using what you have and throwing it together.
And its soooo much fun to decorate like this.
 The kitchen was the runner up for maybe the grossest room in the cottage.  
It was really dingy and dirty and the owners left behind a harvest gold fridge that didn't work.
As they had yanked out the electricity from the cottage five years prior.  And now the electric 
company wouldn't hook it back up unless it was "to code".  Which it clearly is not.  
There is a shallow enamel sink with a brass spigot that carries water from the lake.  Yes. 
This is a true RUSTIC COTTAGE.  I happily hung up some cup hooks and added colorful coffee cups in a green majolica, and added some other bits to the old wooden shelves.  The most we use 
the kitchen for is putting the cooler on the counter top, which happens to be made of lead.

There was a lovely round sink hidden under one section of counter.
We have been told by many that this is where the fish would be cleaned.
There are four rooms to this cottage.  The main room upon entering,
which was an addition in the 1950s or 60s.  Then you enter the "porch"
where we have our table and couch, and then in the distance is the tiny kitchen 
that was also an addition at some point.  And to the left you can see another room.
That is the bedroom.  We called it the Scary Room.
As a matter of fact, it was so creepy that neither my husband or I wanted to sleep in there.
Until I spotted this old brass bed at Eagle Antiques, the same day I found the green
wicker chair at Rustique, a resale shop with vintage and refurbished pieces.
 I knew this would be the perfect solution for lifting our air mattress off the floor.
And so at only $40, it came home to the rustic cottage.
Over the years I have found many treasures here at reasonable pricing.
Located on Rt 4 in Epsom, NH, its next to the Hannaford supermarket.
Hubs marveled how sturdy the brass bed was....and then he cleverly built a wood
panel to hold the mattress and our weight.  In one night we were sleeping in
our little longer the scary room at all.
It was enchanted sleeping in this old brass bed with a candle, and a mosquito net.
More decorating to come, and one natural disaster....
thats next on Rustic Lake Cottage Part 2.

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