Sunday, October 25, 2015

Castine Fall Foliage

It's foliage season once again in New England. Maine, which is nearly half of New England and predominately forested, is ablaze with fall colors now. Maine's hilly terrain, red blueberry fields and water reflections all heighten nature's brilliant display. So go see the golden birches, fiery maples and scarlet oaks at their peaks.

And might I suggest a visit to our seaside town of Castine? The many historic homes, painted crisp white, are especially stunning against the vibrant hues. Here's a quick look from our stay last week.
Hello, sunshine :) Happy, bold and gutsy, this sunflower-yellow door framed by whimsical trim livens historic Castine. LOVE IT! With an autumnal wreath and yellow mums, it looks especially welcoming.
Don't miss the sugar maples on the village green where the Adams School (above) and Castine Historical Society (below) are located.
In addition to the foliage, many late summer and fall flowers (dahlias, sunflowers, mums, asters, etc.) were still putting on a show. Our hedge of 18 Limelight Hydrangeas, which we planted last summer, was covered with blooms all tinged with a dusty rose. For a casual supper with friends, I clipped an armful for an arrangement in the antique urn. I also gifted a few bunches to our friends.   
We had a couple of damp, foggy days where the landscape appeared dreamlike. Good thing I had my chunky sweater, wool socks and a cup of hot chocolate :)
Cheers,
Loi
PS - See more from last fall here.

 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A DIY Chalkboard

Ceane, my friend and client, and I were chatting about all the changes in her newly updated kitchen (the one I wrote about here), and what else was left for us to tackle. Artwork came up, and I knew we had to inject a pop of something bold, colorful and fun for this family of five. Ceane and her husband have three adorable children plus a mischievous puppy. I immediately thought of an oversized chalkboard. How cute would it be to have the kids create their own art?! Plus it would certainly keep them busy while mom and dad make supper. And, the chalkboard would add a cool yet casual vibe to this historic home.

Before we look at the chalkboard, let's recap the kitchen makeover:
Instead of gutting the kitchen, we had the cabinets repainted. New appliances replaced tired and dated ones. New Calacatta Gold marble countertops, 4" x 8" subway tiles, and divided-light windows brought back classic charm to a space that had been previously renovated with a hodgepodge of materials. The piece de resistance, which we all agree, is the unlacquered brass faucet over a farmhouse-style sink - both added during the makeover. I suggested the unlacquered brass finish to complement the original brass hardware that we reused. 
ABOVE: The gleaming faucet set about a month ago.
BELOW: Today the 'living' patina is a bit darker, more mellow. It's interesting to see the finish change weekly.
I'm guessing in a year or so, the patina on the faucet set will resemble the old brass knobs and bin pulls.
Now let's check out that chalkboard. At 72" high x 56" wide, it makes a huge statement! Because of the custom size, we decided to make it ourselves. Okay, Ceane's handyman helped...a little. Okay, a lot :)
Here's what we did:

1) Used blue tape to mock up various sizes.
2) Selected already-primed stock moldings (window and door casings) for the frame.
3) Nailed the moldings to the wall. (Most lumberyards will miter cut moldings.) Then painted the frame.
4) After research, Ceane selected Rust-Oleum's Specialty 30 oz. Flat Black Chalkboard Paint.
5) Applied 3 coats of paint, letting each coat dry completely. Tip: use blue tape to cover frame to keep paint off.

One final step I learned from Ceane: the entire chalkboard must be conditioned / seasoned by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk onto the painted surface; then the residue wiped away with a barely damp sponge or paper towel. Otherwise the first image drawn will be 'etched' in the painted surface, leaving a shadow even after wiping.  
The kids could hardly wait for the paint to dry - didn't take them long to start having fun! The chalkboard is also great for homework such as practicing for a spelling bee.
And wouldn't it be cute to write the menu for a casual meal in the kitchen?

While there photographing, I also did a little styling. Here's a peek of the living room. By the way, Tom and I just installed this antique French gilded mirror from Tone on Tone. I gathered a bunch of white pumpkins and a couple of blue-and-white bowls, and voila: simple yet festive for fall!
Do you remember my antique Moroccan coffee table and French haystack painting? A special thanks to our friend Ashley for her help in placing these pieces in this loving home :) 

The sofa, clubchair and ottoman are from Crate and Barrel. Small footstool from Tone on Tone. Sconces from Aidan Gray. Indigo fabric on pillow is Jasper by Michael Smith. Dining room lantern from Circa Lighting. Paint color Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore. 
I hope you've enjoyed seeing more of this beautiful home. Ceane, you're the best - thank you!!
xo,
Loi