Friday, August 24, 2012

A Day at Home

How did we get to late August this fast? I’ve been so busy I just noticed the crape myrtle trees in our courtyard garden are almost finished blooming. And, now the Japanese anemones are about to bloom---something I look forward to each year. Can’t wait to post about them!

I finally had a day free, and decided to stay home. No errands, appointments, or work. Just some reading, enjoying a bit of food, tidying up the garden, and catching up on laundry (last on the list).

I hope you are enjoying the remaining days of August. Have I told you how much I appreciate you reading my blog? Many thanks! :-)
 When I am home and have time, I like to start the day with a pot of black tea. I picked up a yummy blueberry muffin from our local bakery.
 The living room gets morning sun so I decided to have breakfast and read the paper there.
 I didn't plan it, but the West Elm white-washed tray matches our bleached floors. Kinda neat, right?
 Here is our little courtyard garden. We built the fountain and painted it black so it would appear deeper. There are 6 white blooming Natchez crape myrtle trees underplanted with Monroe White liriopes.
 The last remaining blooms of Natchez crape myrtle.
 Monroe White liriopes seem to glow in the shade of the crape myrtles' canopy
 I had a friend over for lunch, and we made Danish Smorrebrod "open sandwiches."
 These elegant but humble sandwiches are always properly eaten with a knife and fork.
 We chose "smoked salmon with dill and lemon" and "prawns with egg and cucumber." The recipes are from "Danish Food & Cooking" by Judith H. Dern with John Nielsen and William Lingwood.
 A dense, artisan whole-wheat loaf is healthy and tasty. I set the table with pale blue plates from C&B and the following vintage pieces: French bistro glasses, French creamware platter, Swedish hotel silverware, Swedish stone salt cellar, English bread board and knife. The linens are also from C&B. 
 Have a great weekend! Farvel!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Comfortable Home Enlivened with Art

Picking a favorite painting in JB and M’s home is a treat. Not only have they collected wonderful works from other artists, M has filled their contemporary home with her own pieces. A self taught artist, M started painting 50 years ago while raising a young family. She needed art for her walls, so she began copying from books and museums. I’m so pleased to share JB and M’s home and a few special paintings.
In case you missed it, I recently featured their beloved gardens. You can see that post here.
 Rustic oak beams reclaimed from a barn and antique French fireplace add to the warmth of the sunny breakfast room. 
 A panoramic view of the grounds. I love how the vibrant oil painting from French artist Roger Muhl (1929-2008) continues the landscape inside.
Muhl worked in the representational style, and his pieces capture simple shapes with vivid colors and light.
 Two of M's paintings propped on the mantel. The trumeau is original to the limestone fireplace.
Another Muhl behind a pair of chairs upholstered in the palest blue linen.
 Shortly after the Swedish Rococo armchairs arrived from Tone on Tone, JB and M decided to bleach and grey-wash their pine floors. Hanging in the living room is the very first Muhl painting they acquired from David Findlay Gallery in the 1960s. Muhl knew and was friends with 3 generations of the Findlay family.
 The wormy chestnut paneled library is furnished with English antiques.
 A luminous Muhl painting brightens the paneled library, which JB and M use as their winter study.
 3 paintings by M hang over an English chest.
This is my favorite painting by M. I love how intently the pup is sitting, and the bit of mischief on the faces of the boys.
Speaking of pups, this is Tiggy after dinner - rub my belly please :)
 Copper pots and vineyard baskets in the kitchen were brought back from France.
 M hand painted, glazed and fired all the tiles in the kitchen.
 A season of garden flowers arranged by M.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Collecting Creamware

I am addicted to antique pottery from the 18th - 19th century!! From white ironstone to majolica to creamware, I really enjoy buying and selling them, and stashing a few away.....for me! :-)

Shortly after discovering white ironstone I also became interested in creamware, a form of opaque earthenware started in the 1750s. Perfected in England, it was also copied throughout Europe. Rorstrand produced fine examples for the many manor homes in Sweden, while Creil became the first factory to produce creamware in France.  

Creamware can be found in many colors, various glazes and transfer printed designs, but it is the monochromatic "off white" form I prefer. I love how contemporary these unadorned, neutral pieces look. 
 On our Swedish Gustavian painted secretary is a trio of English oval chestnut baskets with their undertrays. Left: "woven" basket with reticulated rim by Neale. Center: Wedgwood basket with uplift handles and arcaded rim. Right: Spode basket with scalloped rim, dolphin heads and fretwork.
 Various creamware pieces including a candy dish with braided handles and reticulated rim.
 As with our other collections, I like displaying "en masse" for impact. Art, decorating and garden books with creamware in the library. The 3 large English banded tubs are footbaths (would have been part of chamber sets).
 The sconces are made from architectural elements. I designed the 6 bookcases around them.
 Instead of an empty black hole, I stuck some pods in this tea caddy which is missing its lid :( In front is a pair of rare French Empire knife rests. The soup tureen is by Wedgwood. The large French platter has damage, which I don't mind.
 Top row - Left: footed bowl with side masks / faces. Center: covered meat dish with flower finial. Right: fruit stand with egg cups in front.
     In this French Directoire (Ca. 1790) painted vitrine cabinet is a collection of early 20th cen French creamware pieces.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cultivated over Many Years

Where to begin? This is the story of JB and M’s love affair with their home, gardens, collections and each other. Married over 50 years, my friends JB and M live in a contemporary home they built in the 1970s. (BTW, Ali MacGraw is M’s childhood friend and a bridesmaid at the wedding. Yes, I have permission to write that :-) Back to the house: basically it is a series of “severe boxes” with pitched standing seam metal roofs, picture windows, French doors and 10 skylights. To me, the architecture is a bit Shaker, a bit Hugh Jacobsen, a little Belgian and a whole lotta cool!
I will share the interiors in a future post. And maybe more gossip :)  For now, let's tour the gardens on this 5+ acre property. A BIG thank you to JB and M!
 A formal boxwood knot garden adjacent to the house.
 A long vista to the woodlands.
 Specimen trees, roses and mature boxwoods.
 The house, built in the 1970s, was recently re-stuccoed.
 The upper parterre garden is divided into 4 beds: herbs, potager, roses and perennials.
 Do you like the pair of antique garden pots from my shop? :-)
 M and JB are passionate gardeners and designers. JB built all the stonewalls. M takes care of perennials and plants.
 Pair of 18th century statues.
 Sage, tomato and cucumber plants in the potager.
 M showing me the lemon-yellow flowers of the okra plant.
 A cloche tucked among lavender plants.
 The property is dotted with follies and outbuildings. Top is the garden shed, and bottom photo shows the summerhouse.
 The shade garden with English staddle stones and Japanese painted ferns.
 Looking back at the house.
 These last three photos, taken by M, show the gardens in spring.
 Tiggy contemplating a climb over the wall.