What natural element ages as beautifully as wood? As with humans, it is exposed to gentle care and polish when new, exposed to the elements of time when aged. Though the newly constructed highboy stands strong and sturdy, the decades old writing desk has a strength of time. It tells a story, or two, or three. It bares the faded semicircle of a perspiring summer drink. The legs seem not as steady as in the past, yet support the weight of words written and elbows rested.
Scratched and scarred matters not to those of us who appreciate the well worn wood. There is no substitute for the patina which occurs over the years. As a matter of fact, designers and builders are repurposing aged wood for flooring and cabinetry. Perhaps an entire room or floor is not in your budget or to your liking, however a sampling of antique wood in some form or another adds character to any space.
Take a moment and observe the aged wood in your home. Has it been with you for so long, you overlook it? Is it a piece that doesn’t command applause and adoration from others, but you could never let it go? Give that generational hand me down a second glance. Move it to a center of focus, accessorize with a touch of formality. Hmmm…a new life for a dear friend. Pay attention to old friends and aging loved ones every day because…
There are three men in my life. My husband, my son and my father. These are three very, very tall and strong men. As I have watched over the years I have realized that their powerful statures are dwarfed by their immense hearts. Loving their children is in every fiber of their being. Father’s Day is a brief period in time when attention is paid with barbecues and greeting cards. This seems a rather bland salute to the men they are. These magnificent men in my life are deserving of much more than I or their children feel capable of providing. How do we capture the appreciation we feel in a gesture? How do we explain to them that, yes, we are keenly aware of the sacrifices they have made? How do we confess that they were not always successful in disguising the fatigue in their eyes as they were determined to be present completely for every ballgame, program and recital? How do we thank them for enduring those,who tried to dismiss their endeavors time and again, in order to provide for their families. The truth is we may never be able to adequately thank them. All I can do is love my husband with an intensity of gratitude and respect every day of my life. All I can do is take every opportunity available to me to let my son know that his magnificence as a father is the greatest gift of my life. All I can do is remind myself that I did everything in my power to show my Daddy how much he was loved before he left this earth. All I can do is thank God every day for giving me these three most wonderful men. All I can do is love them completely every day because…
Recently I had the pleasure of attending a culinary class conducted by Paige Vandegrift. My take away from the evening was that the French are masters of picnics. I suppose we Americans have narrowed our vision of this particular pleasure. A limited assortment of transportable foods that may not always please the palette. The arduous task of hauling coolers, bags, boxes, sprays and bandages. The Google Map minded search for location. Shall we attempt a new attitude?
The French are much more enamored with ingredient freshness and quality than most Americans. Although we are becoming aware of such considerations with increasing frequency. Organic grocers, farm to table offerings in restaurants and clean eating are more than a trend.
Picnicing is the joy of delicious food savored in sunlight or under the stars. Whether created in one’s kitchen or collected from the market, most definitely a drive thru is not part of this picture.
Perhaps we are conditioned to assume picnics fall into two categories…romance or family gathering. Both are lovely, of course, but shall we think a bit out of the box (or basket)? The next time a lunch with friends is on the calendar and the choice of eateries have been exhausted…picnic!!!! As children, we were thrilled by the proposition.
With 4th of July at our doorstep, I wouldn’t consider changing one red white or blue part of it. From the burgers and potatoe salad to the flinty aroma left behind by an array of colorful explosives of varying size and shape. However, hopefully this post provides food for thought when pondering a picnic. It may suggest we slow a bit and appreciate the day because…
I so admire the masterful manner in which my dear friend creates her annual landscaping year after year. My green thumb is indeed a very pale digit. Decorating the interior of my home is basically two steps, have an inspiration then put the elements in place. Be it a table vignette or escorting a piece of furniture from one room to another, the design remains in place until I deem otherwise. The beautiful garden on the other hand is a living, breathing design of nature. Subjected to a moody climate, uninvited nibbling creatures, even an overzealous implement…it is in constant evolution. I am in awe of those masterful green thumbed gardeners who passionately prune and pluck throughout the season.
I am equally enamored by the hard scape of a glorious garden. Perhaps it is due to my affinity for structure or the way these gates, walks and walls seem to spill from the house itself.
Nature’s generosity with shape and color is most definitely a work of art. As with all works of art, they are accentuated by light, supported by structure and confined by determined space. Thus we rely on lantern light, urns and stone to bring attention to nature’s artwork.
Curb appeal seems a rather bland description of beautifully designed landscape. What it actually is is an introduction to those who are the heart and soul of the home.
A backyard is grass, shrubs and trees. A summer room is garden beds, water, sunsets and shadows. These are the spaces that soothe souls and encourage laughter. Conversation echoes from tree tops as bare feet slap the wet pavement then are quieted by soft grass.
To all of the gifted gardeners, you have my admiration and envy. You have a natural instinct to bring out the best of what nature has to offer in a manner which benefits us all. As I stand among my plantings this summer with hands on hips and eyes perplexed, I will send a silent nod to a gardener in Maryland and wish she were with me. Perhaps you too, will have an occasion to think of a particular garden and the hands of the one who is it’s caretaker. Such are the sweet thoughts we have at some point in our day because…
I would imagine I am not alone in my experience of having spent time in a grandmother’s attic searching for treasure. Those treasures were often void of monetary value, however the stories woven through the dust was of great personal value. The aroma of aged paper and cedar chips. The dim light from the overhead exposed bulb. The warmth, check that, the heat from the summer days visiting the grandparents. The many traipses down the steep attic stairs asking to keep a chipped China doll or scarred velvet purse with tangled fringe and tarnished chain. The adventure most likely included that heart pounding anticipation of lifting the stiff, reluctant lid of a trunk. Whatever lay inside was undoubtedly a magnificent find, be it photos or newspapers, sweaters or scarfs. It mattered not their importance to anyone else…they had been relegated to reside in the trunk!
Our youthful anticipation rushing to discover the interior caused us to foolishly overlook the beauty of the exterior. Fortunately, with age comes wisdom. We retrieve these wooden caretakers and bring them out into the open. They are now charged with providing a resting place for cocktails and coffee, for lamplight and novels.
Perhaps you have possession of one of these beauties. Has it been dismissed to a rec room or garage? Have you deemed it not to “go” with anything in the house? Please reconsider.
The days of foraging a grandparents attic may have given way to our current lives of mobility and technology. However we must never underestimate the sentiment of youth. We take it with us wherever we go and for as long as we grow. Beautiful trunks will accentuate our decor in countless locations. Their very presence will create memories. Their contents, a babies blanket, a ribboned bundle of Valentines, a pair of tiny mittens are yours to choose. Tuck such treasures inside as our grandmothers would tuck treasures in her attic. These children of the digital age will someday be quite grateful. As we are grateful to our ancestors for preserving and protecting everyday because…
What once was old is new again. This is true of tie width, dress length, hair style and room design. Recently there has been a reaquaintence with open shelving in kitchens. While the uniform appearance of closed door cabinetry continues to be preferred, open shelves offer a much desired twist.
Kitchens, particularly European, of the past had open shelving throughout the work space. Closed cabinetry was actually individual furniture pieces, free standing and beautiful! The American farmhouse continued with this concept, however it eventually surrendered to the “custom cabinetry” of past decades.
New construction or major renovation need not be the only occasions to consider implementing a bit of open shelving in your kitchen. Removing a few existing cabinets, particularly on either side of a window or stove, and replacing with thoughtful shelves is a satisfying task. Take time to contemplate the material. Rough hewed wood, black iron, marble, smoothed with milk paint…
The arrangement of what you may choose to display in the open brings about a reaquaintence with my number one design consideration…balance. Remember with open shelves, the entire wall becomes a design work.
Be not afraid to give this design a try. Countertops have long carried the burden to display. Lift those cherished pieces upward and give them their due. Store the cabinets. This gives you the assurity that you always have the option to return to the original design. I love the stimulation of stretching a few boundaries now and then. This sprinkles life with the seasoning we need every day because…