Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Little French Inspiration from Maison Decor

For quite a while now I have been thoroughly addicted to Amy Chalmers blog Maison Decor. Amy is a local Boston designer who had not too long ago opened a shop in Malden MA. I had been trying to get over to this shop for months but it’s been a busy summer and tough to squeeze in a visit even though it’s almost just in my backyard.

Finally several weeks ago, after months of perusing her blog admiring all of the fantastic French inspired furnishings in her shop I took a few moments of my vacation, coerced my one of my best pals who is from Atlanta and happened to be in town for a visit to head to Malden to check it out.

Me & my pal on our visit to Maison Decor included a really fun chat with
the incomparable Betsy Speert
Photo borrowed from Maison Decor

Ok, let me just start with the shop is quite a bit smaller than it appears on Amy’s blog but it is filled with such goodness you don’t even notice it’s really quite a small space. Really such lovely things!

Such a beautiful space at
50 Summer Street
Malden MA
Photo borrowed from Maison Decor

Amy is (self-professed) obsessed with Annie Sloan chalk paint and after reading & hearing a ton about this unique finish I have been super curious. And with my recently re-done bedroom (see here for my “if at 1st you don’t succeed” bedroom) having neutral walls I've been very conscious of my need to pull pops of color into the room.

So when I kept seeing the Annie Sloan chalk paint my wheels started churning on how I could use it on some little fun something. And then, I happened to see this piece in a lovely little home decor store in Lancaster PA while I was on vacation this summer:

Beautiful inspiration piece from Bed & Bath Affair
in Lancaster PA. If you are ever in Lancaster
this shop is pure loveliness!

And I loved loved loved the color. It was just what I was looking to bring that “pop of color” into by master bedroom. But, the cabinet was a bit beyond my budget. Hmmm….

Then I considered my current bedside table that I had purchased along with 2 other matching pieces at Goodwill in Atlanta probably 15 years ago for way cheap. I thought it was kind of cool and liked the lines of it. I’ve enjoy edit for all of these years since but it now has definitely reached the “seen better days” category.

Good storage, right size, just a sad finish kept
this piece from being perfect.

So….. great inspiration piece +my desire to try the chalk paint + a very tired bedside cabinet = a new project I just had to work on!

Now that I had a plan I was so excited to get started.

My dining room seemed just as good a place as any to lay
out my Dollar Store plastic tablecloth (ie drop cloth) and
go to work

Amy told me that basically no prep was needed just a clean dry surface and brush the chalk paint on it. Guess what, she was so RIGHT! The paint went right on.

One coat down.....

Two coats later I was rubbing on the wax to seal the paint and give it that nice finished look.

Waxing on...

Then just reattaching the original hardware; I contemplated replacing the hardware but I was operating on a "see as you go" policy…why spend the $ until you are sure what you have on hand isn’t going to work. And guess what, I actually like what I had.

Finished product...just pending my decision on whether
or not to add the white edge accent

The only question now is do I add some white edge highlighting to the doors & top? It sure would make the blue pop buuuuttt it kind of looks nice as is with the lines of the piece speaking for themselves. What do you think…to detail or not to detail, that is the question…

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sunday Meander - House of Seven Gables

I have been super busy this summer with my huge house project (check out my sneak peak here).  Working my full time gig during the week and painting (as well as attempting to keep up some semblance of a social life) on weekends has kept me hopping. 
To keep me entertained while painting I have been downloading audio books to my IPhone from my local library.  It’s been a great opportunity to catch up on the classics while multitasking.  One local author classic that was on my list was Nathanial Hawthorn's The House of Seven Gables …living just a couple of miles from the actual house in Salem MA makes this a must read…I love that I live in an area with such a rich history!
So, a beautiful Sunday meander has definitely been overdue and a couple of weeks ago I decided to visit The House of Seven Gables and wow what a beautifully cool place.  It has the most magnificent front vista (being right on the ocean). 
Beautiful vista on a beautiful summer day.
photo courtesy of Coastal Home Magazine

Beautiful vista on the day I visited...not so sunny but
magnificent none-the-less

The house itself is not unusual for 1600’s New England – parts original to 1600’s and parts from centuries since.  There were many renovations and reconstructions between 1655 and 1908 but the last renovation in 1908 was done with the sole purpose of turning it into a museum that honored both the original property as well as the fictional House of Seven Gables from Nathaniel Hawthorn’s novel.

Street view of The House of Seven Gables..there are 3
of the seven in this shot (peaks that don't join at the
top of the roof line are considered dormers...not gables).
Can you imagine this loveliness in your back yard?? I can
(but of course not the work required)

One of the original features is the verdigris greenish gray paint treatment that was on much of the woodwork.  There is very little question with the quality of detail put into the construction (can you say carved moldings & gorgeous paneling anyone) and the number of rooms in this home it was built (and rebuilt in many times) by families with extensive budgets.

Verdigris Green Paint original to 1655.
Looks pretty fab for almost 400 years
photo courtesy of Landry & Acari

The wallpapers are all period reproductions...true to the era
but recently produced.  If you're a wallpaper person
(I am) you will love the gorgeous papers in this house.
photo courtesy of Landry & Acari

Fabrics are also period reproductions.  Most of the furniture
is not 17th century design but pulled from the Federalist
era of the house.
photo courtesy of Landry & Acari
One odd little thing though, many of the ceilings were very low (maybe 6’ or a few inches more).  Our tour guide told us that contrary to popular belief ceilings were not lower because people were shorter 400 years ago but more in an effort to save the cost of heating.  Totally makes sense here in New England….now I’m actually kind of appreciating that I don’t have any vaulted ceilings in my home.
Very soon on a beautiful day this fall you will find me having
a lovely relaxing lunch at one of these tables in that are set
 up for visitors at the ocean front edge of the property.

PS:  If you haven't read Nathanial Hawthorn's classic book "The House of Seven Gables" (find book review/excerpts here), you should.  It really was a great read!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Boone Plantation - If it's good enough for Ryan & Blake...

So last summer when I was in Charleston SC on a work trip I took some time as I often do to see a site or two in the area.  At the time I shared some great shopping “opportunities”  (check them out here and here) but what I hadn't yet shared was my all too brief visit to Boone Hall Plantation.

It was a great stop but I found myself struggling a bit on what to share with you and how not to sound like a “Mt Pleasant Tour Guide”…so here I am a year later not having shared any of my experience in this beautiful place but with some kind of ok pics and my memories of a wonderful afternoon spent in Mt Pleasant SC.

I had really totally put my thoughts about Boone Hall Plantation away until yesterday when I happened to see somewhere in the “serious” news of our day that Ryan Reynolds & Blake Lively  had secretly gotten married and had done it at Boone Hall Plantation.  I immediately went back to the photos in my file and thought it's way past time to share my lovely visit.

"The Avenue of Oaks"
Driving up to the house the driveway is lined with 300+
year old oaks – so beautifully southern plantation-esque.
I found Boone Hall Plantation from a brochure in the hotel lobby – you know those displays of Six Flags &  Zoo/Aquarium brochures that are ubiquitous to every hotel lobby.  I generally find most of the attractions in these displays to be too “family” friendly or too touristy for my liking but Boone Hall Plantation was just a couple of miles from my hotel and I didn’t have a ton of time to explore so it seemed like it really had potential to be a nice break from my work day.  
Can't believe I captured the rain clouds that were hovering.  It just poured
for a short time then cleared to a beautiful day.
What I was struck mostly with was how modern Boone Hall Plantation is.  Considering the property was developed in the 1700’s and it’s been a working plantation for hundreds of years one would expect to find Scarlett O'Hara on the front portico of Tara.  But actually the current home was not built until 1936 – there are brick cabins on the property which were originally slave housing but the home itself is not a historic structure.   It's certainly beautiful, just not historic.
There are 9 original slave cabins on the property.  They call
this "Slave Street"
Each cabin tells a different part of the story of the lives
of the slaves who lived at Boone Plantation
Unfortunately like many of these tours there was no photography allowed inside the house and my usual web scan left me empty handed so I only have external shots of Boone Hall Plantation.  The Slave cabins are authentically sparse and small with a lot of historic artifacts & documentation on slave life in the 1700’s at Boone Hall Plantation.  They are perhaps one of the most well preserved visually impactful group I have seen.

Boone Hall Plantation is still a working plantation and has survived like any good business by changing to adapt to their world around them.  Our tour guide shared that they have survived all these years by producing bricks, harvesting pecans as well as working an agricultural farm.

Well worth a short visit if you find yourself in Mount Pleasant with a few hours to kill!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012 Summer Project...Sneak Peak

Sometimes when I am in the middle of a HUGE project I wonder what I was thinking when I decided it was a good idea to take such project on.  

My peanut butter colored 1929 bungalow....before
This is the case at this time when I am in the middle of the project I decided to take on for this summer.  I am well over 2/3 done but with much of the detail work left to do it feels like it will never be completely done.

Here’s a sneak peak at my project midway in…

Paint glides right on the asbestos shingles

Scraping done, painting begun
 I'm still trying to figure out how to get to the dormers to get them painted (climbing on the roof didn't really work out so well for me).

What was I thinking?