Friday, May 27, 2016

Bringing French Country Home : Goodwill Hunting!

There I was. Cold hard cash in hand. At my weekly check-in at Goodwill. 
 I quickly scoured the housewares aisles and came up empty. Drat!

Saturday was a big sale day and they usually stocked the shelves a day or two in advance. 
That's when I usually found "it." But I just didn't see anything I couldn't live without.

I wandered down the housewares aisle looking sad.
I knew exactly what I was looking for, well, sort of. (Anything white, silver or ironstone).
Very specific, I know. I'm a "know it when I see it" shopper.
And I hadn't seen it. Yet.

I wasn't about to leave the store without thoroughly checking every single space
so I went downstairs and began my usual search pattern.

Not looking for anything big like a couch so I skipped that area.
 On to the smaller furniture where I'd found some treasures in the past 
like this curvy little side table that I'd painted white and distressed.

But wait! What's that?
There. Back in the corner with the plastic chairs and garden tools.

Looks like a ... a basket!
I picked it up gently and inspected it further. 
It was big. From the looks of the carved wooden handle, I thought it was old.

My heart jumped a little.
Woven splint wood sides and bottom in fair shape
(a few broken bits on the corners but that just gave it character). 

And now, a peek at the bright pink sticker: $5.
I didn't know where I'd use it but it had to come home with me.

I realized I had to stick to my self-imposed anti-hoarding rule to get rid of something
every time I bought something new. So I donated a belt.
Hey, that counts!

I took a picture of it and emailed it to my antique go-to galfriend, Rusty. 
"Look what I found at Goodwill! What do you think?" I asked, then tapped the "send" key.

While I waited for a response, I logged on to Ebay and searched for antique baskets. 
I soon found a near twin of my basket. It was labeled "Shaker Laundry Basket, early 1900s." 
And the price was several hundred dollars.
Could it be a Shaker? I held my breath.

Rusty replied promptly, "Oh, my gosh. It's Shaker . . . Probably late 1800s, early 1900s. 
You did good!"

Wooo Hooo! I didn't really care if it was valuable.
Okay, that's not totally true, but mostly I was just tickled to know it had some history.
And I realized its less-than-perfect condition affected the value. But I didn't care.
I loved the different-sized splints on the sides and bottom. 

And how the wide vertical pieces wrapped around the bottom.

Once home, I spent the next few hours playing with my new toy. Trying it here and there. 
Finally, I settled on the top of the fridge and leaned
a silver tray in one corner and my favorite chicken in a basket in the other. 
The inside held some large domed plate covers and a big cake stand. Yes!

Then, I draped a pretty crocheted scarf over the edge,
accenting the old wood nicely and covering a broken splint.

I love the richness of the wood splints and the hand-carved handles. 
You just don't find that color or craftsmanship on something new.

Monday, May 23, 2016

What Makes a Garden French Country?

A French Country garden? 

You don't have to have an intricate parterre or an old limestone fountain to get that look 
although that would be wonderful, wouldn't it? 
It doesn't even have to include a lovely old palace or acres of tended flowers 
like this garden at Luxembourg. 
Well, maybe just a small palace would be okay. 

While visiting France, I loved the sound of walking on gravel paths in the gardens, 
through museums courtyards and along the wide path leading up to the Eiffel Tower. 
There are acres and acres of gravel paths at Versailles like these.

Let's think on a slightly smaller scale.

One of the first things I did in my garden upon returning home 
was dig out some grass in the front yard.
And then, a little more grass. Until all the grass was gone.

Then I designed curved pea gravel paths in my front and back yards.  
The edges are softened with thyme, creeping phlox, wild geraniums and soapwort.
The front lawn has been completely replaced with a garden.

This walkway curves around the porch through a chippy metal arch to the side garden. 
French Country gardens are a blend of cottage style and formal design 
with curvy lines and a lush wildflower look. 

When I first purchased this house, the yard was entirely grass.  
Now the gardens have taken over and encircle the house. 

Gardens in the south of France often contain Mediterranean plants such as 
lavender, catmint, rosemary and sage, giving the landscape a purplish/silver hue. 

The back yard path twists and weaves gently to the back gate. 
It's filled with "red chip," broken pieces of flagstone that match the stone patio. 

Roxy, the little photo bomber, prefers a grassy area so I left a kidney-shaped patch of grass 
in the back yard especially for her! How appropriate, huh?

A dry stream bed with a brick path lends a natural touch.
And more curves.

A bistro table and chairs tucked under the old crabapple tree, enhances that French Country feeling and provides a romantic spot to admire the sunset with a glass of wine.

Add a recirculating wall fountain for a soft soothing sound, 
some candlelight in hanging lanterns, and voila
Bringing French Country Home!

Now if I just had a rooster or two. 
Guess this curious squirrel will have to do. 

If you enjoyed your visit to my garden, I hope you'll follow me by email.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Changes in the French Farmhouse Sunroom

French Farmhouse style looks as if it's evolved over time 
with exposed wood beams, worn area rugs, soft textures and gently used furniture.
I'm incorporating these ideas into my sunroom/breakfast room as I continue to refine that look.

Please come in and get comfortable.

A few years ago I loaned this green velvet chair and ottoman to a friend. 
She's moving to a smaller place now and returned it to me. 
I had to sell my wicker sofa and shuffle things around to make room for it
but I had always imagined this comfy chair facing the little gas stove. Cozy. 

Of course, you know how one thing leads to another.

To make room for the chair and ottoman,
I moved my red farm table from the window wall to the stone wall .
I actually like it better there as I can see out the bank of windows better from across the room.

Here's where it had been . . . 

 and here it is now, nestled against the opposite wall.

I had been using a dining room chair at this table 
but I recently found this great little farm chair for $4 at a yard sale. 
At first I thought I'd paint it white but its mottled finish has grown on me 
and I think I'll just leave it as is.

This vintage tea towel was the perfect size and color for my fresh new look. 

Once I started moving furniture around, of course I wanted to change the accessories too. 
This embroidered table runner folded over an expansion rod softens the window 
and complements the farmhouse style with its simplicity.

A few pieces of ironstone always add a sense of age to a room.

And a deer antler hugging a vintage salt cellar lends a bit of natural whimsy to the room.

The thing I love about this style is its casual charm 
where comfort and vintage decor invite you to put your feet up.  
Thanks so much for stopping by!

If you enjoyed your visit, I hope you'll follow me by email.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Garden Visits -- Front Porch Reveal

I couldn't wait to bring a little Spring to my front porch.
The new additions this year are these two white rockers from my Ethan "Alley" Collection.

They didn't always look like this.
I actually found them sitting in the alley waiting for the garbage pickup. 
They were structurally sound but . . .

the finish was in pretty sad shape.

It took a lot of scraping and sanding.

And a lot of painting. 
I've seen these chairs in lots of different colors but I prefer a crisp white. 
At least I didn't have to worry about getting white paint on the dog. 

One down, one to go.

All done!
I had the sewing machine stand stashed behind my shed
and the outdoor rug rolled up under the daybed.
Last year's pillows came from Pottery Barn. 

Finally, I painted the tray and lantern white to match the chairs. 
The little photo bomber approves. 

At the other end of the porch is a little vignette featuring a salesman's bed sample I painted white
with some rubber boots and a galvanized bucket of blooms.

These are the most comfortable chairs ever.
The porch faces east, a perfect place to have a hot cup of coffee, feel the sun's warmth,

Friday, May 13, 2016

What a Difference a Chair Makes

I have added two little chairs to my home recently and they've made a big difference.
Here's a peek at one of them in the kitchen . . .

but first let me show you the old chair in the office.
It's Ron's desk chair which was a standard office model with wheels. 
Housed in the guest room, it didn't do much for the French Country look
I was going for but it did the job.

When Ron decided to use his computer in his man-cave downstairs instead of at his desk, 
he said he was thinking about selling his office chair. 
Did someone say "Whoopee!"? 
Oh, yeah. That would be me.

(And yes, that's Roxy's favorite cardboard box bed under his desk).

From Corporate to Country . . .
I happened to have an old wooden chair listed on Craigslist that I pulled.
Then I took the chair out of the attic and plopped it down at his desk. 
What a difference. The office area instantly went from corporate to country.

When he mentioned the chair was a little hard, I had no problem finding a pillow for the seat. 
I do have a bit of a pillow addiction so I actually had one or six handy.

I even suggested we could drape a pretty white tablecloth over the desk 
but I guess that was taking it a tad too far. File that away. 
Still, what a difference a chair makes!

On to Chair No. 2 . . . 
The other chair is actually a bar stool.
I'd been wanting a stool forever for my tiny French Country kitchen but it is really really tiny. 
There simply wasn't room for a stool. 
But baking cookies requires lots of standing with a resulting back ache to boot. 
Wouldn't it be nice if I could sit down in between batches?
But where to put it?

Then, the Goodwill gods smiled on me. 
Rustling around in their basement recently, I spotted a bar stool. 
It had a low curved back and a woven straw seat. And it was already painted cream colored. 
It was new but it looked old.
Very French Country.
I couldn't pass it up for $10.

You know, you can make just about anything fit if you try hard enough.
Like those old jeans. 
You know what I mean. 
I wiggled that stool into the corner under the countertop and voila!
It fit. Sort of.


I can't tell you how often I have used it. 
It's so nice to be able to sit down in the kitchen and talk to Ron as he makes a sandwich. 
He says I have to make him some cookies now that I have a chair!

I love pulling the stool over to the window and looking out at the garden 
while I'm having a cup of coffee. It's just the right height and the low back is comfortable.

Yep, what a difference a chair (or two) makes!

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