Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Cottage and The Slipcover


I confess. I kept one image from you when I shared the photos from the Bazeley Cottage. In the light filled corner of the master bedroom sits an amazing slipcovered chair ~ quintessential English and the essence of cottage chic.  I am also quite fond of the antique painted gray chest.

When you think about the cottage design aesthetic, slipcovered furniture often comes to mind.


The slipcovered chair above is from a corner of the stylish New York studio apartment of design consultant Ellen O'Neill featured in House Beautiful.

 Even though this is a New York studio apartment, it has a distinctively cottage feel. Proof that a chic environment can still exude cottage charm. Maybe this is just my opinion but it has all the elements of good cottage design even painted white clapboard floors. I would love to take a peek under the slipcover... probably a vintage find brought to life with that crunchy washed linen slipcover.




Ellen O'Neill comments on the charm of the faded stripes of the red and white slipcovers from the living room of her Bridgehampton, New York home:

""I love that sun-bleached look. It's vintage fabric, and apparently it was once some kind of a cabana. In the underpinnings of the slipcovers, you can still see the little embroidered eyeholes where the ropes would go. So it comes with an interesting story. It's not just yardage. It had another life."



Michelle Fritz is the talented seamstress from the blog Make. Her work was featured in Country Home several years ago. Although this article appeared in February 2006, these linen slipcovers are just as relevant today and might easily change with the season's by adding colorful, graphic pillows.





I adore this versatile slipcovered table from Wisteria.  I love the clever storage it conceals.





I enjoyed this DIY slipcover project from Isabella Max Rooms. You can follow along as she makes slipcovers for her dining room chairs out of painter's drop cloths.



Finally, one of my favorite resources for slipcovers is Bemz. A Swedish based company that offers loose fit Belgian linen slipcovers for Ikea furniture.

 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lessons Learned at the Weekend Home Tour

I can't resist sharing a few thoughts and photos from the weekend's home tour! I know I am right in the middle of Exploring Cottage Design but I can't help myself. I have been admiring one of the homes on the tour for almost a year as I pass by on my morning walk. Who would have ever thought I would actually get to go inside and meet the designer? Saturday was such a crisp and beautiful day. I just love Spring in the South!


One of the most exciting things I learned at this year's tour is that there is a very talented, young designer in Winston Salem named Emily Taft. She is the designer behind the sophisticated interiors featured in the first seventeen photos. My photos truly do not show these interiors to their full potential. I am excited to share with you that Emily and I are getting together soon for an interview to learn more about her design philosophies and sources of inspiration. I'll share beautiful new images of this incredible home taken by a professional photographer. Don't you just love her business card!

 



Formerly just a kitchen tour, The Tour of Fine Spaces showcased ten homes in Winston Salem. From a DIY renovation in historic Old Salem to this new home that was built in the heart of Buena Vista on a beautiful  lot where a 1920's brick Georgian formerly sat. It's always hard to take an old house down but this designer took care in putting something with old world charm back in it's place. I came home very motivated and inspired! Here's just a few things I learned:

 There's no substitute for an abundance of natural light.

This picture does not do these huge double french doors justice. The custom made shutters are at least 3 feet wide and 10 feet tall. The true beauty of these enormous doors can only be seen from the interior. The living room is flooded with natural light streaming through the large expanse of glass in these doors. It seems that Southern Exposure was a top consideration when these architectural plans were drafted as bright sunlight illuminated my path with every step  I took in this lovely home.



Simple, tailored linen drapes are chic, timeless and affordable.



I am seriously in love with limestone floors!



It was not until I reached the kitchen that I discovered the true genius of this light filled home. The kitchen features a glass window wall with glass front cabinets that give expansive views into the beautifully manicured backyard. There was really no way to take a picture of this design element. The sunlight was so bright coming in through the windows that is over exposed my shot.



Floating glass cabinets and big backyard views are covetable.






A pretty blue bedroom is always appropriate and forever stylish.




Creating little nooks makes a house cozy and functional.






Stark makes a wool carpet that looks like their signature sisal!





Even the most formal house deserves a porch swing.



Pea gravel makes a very elegant ground cover.






By arranging herbs with different textures and colors in a graphic x pattern, you can create an amazing kitchen herb garden with even the smallest patch of earth.



Benjamin Moore Ashen Tan 996 is a very pretty gray paint color.



Cafe curtains make a lovely kitchen window treatment, providing privacy and natural light.




It's hard to replicate the beauty of an old house staircase.

I had the pleasure of talking to one of the homeowners on the tour and learned that he and his wife had just returned from a year living in Singapore. His home was notably influenced by his travels. He explained that in Singapore they walked everywhere and lived more simply. I regret that I didn't get any pictures of his modern, Asian inspired renovation. The lampshades in the living room were covered with little linen slipcovers creating an almost Asian lantern effect. The master bedroom had a zen-like atmosphere with sparse furnishings and featured a bed on a low platform with dimly lite bedside lamps. The stairway leading to the basement was almost floating with cable railings. This brings me to my last lesson learned:
Travel will positively influence your interiors.

The Tour of Fine Spaces supports the Junior League of Winston Salem's programming aimed at nurturing and educating individuals to build healthier families and stronger communities.




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Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Allure of a Cottage Front Porch


The cherry blossoms are falling from my weeping cherry tree in my backyard as I write this post almost as if it were snowing. It's going to be a blue-bird day here and I CAN'T wait! I am absolutely giddy for Spring and just wish I had a beautiful cottage porch like the one above {via} where I could sip sweet tea and pour over the pages of my new Elle Decor. I swoon for that interesting color on the clapboard floor and am loving those faux bois chairs.

Today, I am off to do the rounds at my favorite local garden shops and gather some new Spring blooms to plant all my planters on my back deck. After my morning gardening, I plan to meet a friend at the Junior League kitchen tour and then head over to an art show and sale for Senior Services. It's a girly kinda' day!

Anyhoo... continuing my series on exploring cottage style, I thought I would share just a few inspiring cottage porches, a little history about the traditional haint blue porch ceiling and a recipe I plan to experiment with tonight when i return from my girly day and enjoy dinner al fresco on the deck.



I know you've probably seen these photos from Southern Living of Haskell Harris' charming Birmingham cottage. The front porch is everything it can be with clematis climbing the front porch posts and that adorable slipcovered porch swing and rocker. The gray and white painted floor is the finishing detail that really takes it over-the-top for me. I just love it ~ so simple yet so charming!




I love also love to have a garden room or mud room like the one above adjoining my cottage porch...and the wish list goes on and on!



I love a cottage porch with a pretty sky blue painted ceiling. I actually just learned recently the true purpose of the Haint blue ceiling from reading a post by Laura Casey Interiors. Here is a quote from her post:

"According to Louisiana legend, a “haint” is a spirit or a ghost. The blue paint represents water through which evil spirits cannot pass. Some say a blue porch ceiling helps extend daylight as dusk begins to fall, and others still believe that it helps keep bugs away. When the tradition began, bugs were deterred by the lye in paint – today many theorize that insects do not nest on blue ceilings because they think the blue paint is the sky."

I have always admired a blue porch ceiling. The blue ceiling gives a little unexpected pop of color and adds authenticity to a porch. I first noticed it on the porch ceilings of the historic houses in Charleson, South Carolina and always thought it was just a tradition that started in Charleston. I should have known there was a good story behind the trend.






I love following Eddie Ross and found these two photos, above and below, from his own porch so charming. You will enjoy both of these posts ~ A Light Lunch for Four and A Vegetarian Lunch for Six and gather great menu and styling secrets for your own spring entertaining. I love how Eddie mixes old linens, vintage china and hotel silver. I also like the small floral arrangements made from cuttings from his garden. This spring  I am making an effort to plant more flowering plants in the garden around my home so I can bring cuttings inside for the table and the other small containers I have all over the house.



When life gives you a cottage front porch, make Vodka Rosemary Lemonade.

1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice, preferrably Meyer lemons
2 rosemary sprigs
Club soda
1 cup vodka

In a saucepan, bring lemon juice, sugar and rosemary to a boil over medium-high heat. You should stir pretty regularly in order to make sure the sugar dissolves all the way. Once the mixture boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for two minutes. Off heat and allow syrup to cool in a pan for at least an hour. Discard rosemary.
Mix one cup vodka and 3/4 cup syrup in a pitcher. Taste for desired sweetness and add more syrup if needed. Top off with club soda.



Have a nice weekend!



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