Friday, January 25, 2019

My Potting Shed

A warm greeting on this January day!

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful start to 2019.

I have settled into a routine of working from my design studio at home. I do love my new flexible schedule, and uniform of cozy flannel plus fuzzy slippers (on days that I'm not meeting with clients, of course 😉). I do, however, miss the social part of a retail shop - things like friends and clients dropping by for a quick browse and even those random chitchats with the mail carrier. It's been an adjustment not having a store!

In case you didn't know, Tom and I have closed Tone on Tone in Bethesda, Maryland. We still have our antiques booth at the York Antiques Gallery in York, Maine.

My mornings now are usually spent in the studio and, after lunch, I'll pop into the recently completed potting shed to dote on my topiaries. Speaking of that, let's take a tour of the shed, which I sometimes refer to as the topiary house. Click on photos to enlarge. 
Here is the architect's 1928 sketch of our cottage. This gives a good birds-eye view of the property - house, garage and courtyard. Thankfully, nothing major has changed in the 90+ years except that the enchanting parterre garden in the courtyard was replaced long ago by a flagstone terrace. Because our cottage is rather small at 1,600 sq ft, I don't mind having this walled terrace as an additional (outdoor) room. It does make a charming, private space that's fabulous for entertaining from May to October.

We recently converted the garage into my design studio, and also built a new 11' x 18' (exterior footprint) potting shed at the end of the courtyard, centered on the entry gate. The idea is to have a compound, like a teeny-tiny country village, with different places for different purposes. It's fun going from building to building.
I designed the shed to complement the existing architecture, but not to copy or compete. Finding that right slate palette to match the house and studio's roofs proved impossible, so I chose copper with standing seams. The custom stucco finish is identical on the three buildings, and all windows have a similar exterior bronze color. Notice the lantern's scrolled iron brackets - I wanted to pay tribute to our gate's arch with this light fixture. See below.
Let's get out of the cold...come inside, please! Even though the space isn't palatial, there is a lightness and feeling of openness thanks to the skylights, oversized windows, and lofty pitched ceiling. A pair of closets flank a wall of floating shelves over a base cabinet painted in gray. Flagstone flooring gives the room a garden spirit, while tying it to the courtyard directly outside.
One of my favorite elements is the stainless steel, which brings a utilitarian sensibility to this workspace. A huge thanks to Cheney Millwork in Beltsville, Maryland for fabricating the stainless steel shelves as well as the countertop. They did a perfect job. The finish is smooth, durable and flawless! See more of their work here. Also, check out their Instagram page @cheneymillwork .
These polished steel pulls and knobs, with their industrial vibe, look just right paired with the stainless surfaces.
A couple overall views. You can see a corner of the heating / air conditioning unit in the above photo (top left). Behind the painted lantern is an air exchange unit for circulation. BTW, I'm thrilled to finally find a spot for this antique French orchard ladder.
Now for the fun part: moving in! My collection of old terra cotta pots has found a new home. I've been busy sorting, cleaning and getting them ready for spring planting. Antique trugs along with baskets hold garden necessities such as jute twines, plant markers, pruning shears, etc. 
I love the weathered patina contrasting against the silvery shelves!
A woven linen towel from Sweden hangs ready to dry wet hands. Both the tole hook and miniature giltwood frame came from antiques dealer Melissa Alden at the York Antiques Gallery. Pop over to Melissa's Instagram page @m.aldenportcity .
Every gardener needs a calendar. I look forward to planning this season's schedule very soon.
Who can resist this vintage stone squirrel? She's found a spot near the myrtle topes.

And here they are! 🌳🌳🌳 Everyone is happy so far. There are more topiaries on the other side. I also have a few inside our home. 
Snow might have been falling outside our cottage in sub-zero temps, but inside, it's warm and cozy for us and the topiaries.

Cheers,
Loi
PS - Don't miss my next post on the studio!

52 comments:

  1. Hello Loi, There is nothing that you can't do to perfection! (Except maybe escape the spam comments above, which I am sure you will delete.) I love the stainless shelves, and I like my own stainless steel kitchen counter so much that if I were building a "dream kitchen" I would seriously consider stainless counters in lieu of the increasingly exotic materials that seem to show up. My favorite details, though, are those cabinet pulls shaped like small pipe sections with elbow joints!
    --Jim

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    1. Haha!! Weren't those comments odd? Yes, I removed them :)
      Thank you, Jim. I was just outside watering the plants.
      Happy New Year!

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  2. Dear Loi,
    It's a wonderful thing you did. I love natural light, plants and ceramics. Also the floor.
    The house and the snow cloak is ... a dream!
    Many greetings on a winter day, Mia

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    1. Thank you so much, Mia!
      This is my happy little place :)
      I love spending time here....makes winter just a bit more tolerable.
      Loi

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  3. This is simply perfection. I always admire how much thought you put into every space, seemingly never rushing the process. The results bear this out.

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    1. Hey Erin! Thank you! Come visit me one day. And bring the dogs :)

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  4. This makes me smile, and dream of my garden building, as of right now a pile of 19th century barn beams, but still dreaming. I am very envious of your topiaries, still trying...I have one hanging on.

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    1. This little potting shed project took almost a year due to a very busy and WET 2018! For the longest time, we lived around a muddy construction site. I'm so happy it is done. Good luck with your project.

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  5. Hi Loi
    I was so happy to see your post. Your compound is ideal! I love it and the entire idea. Your shed is perfect for you and your topiaries!!! The cottage is charming, especially in the snow. Looking forward to seeing inside it and your studio.
    Spring will be here soon!
    xo
    Patty

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    1. Hi Patty :)
      I hope you and MC can come visit us. I'd love to show you everything in person.
      xoxo
      L

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  6. I love your Bethesda village, just the antidote I needed here in the DMV what with all the political drama. Now that you’re settled in, I sincerely hope you post lots of stories about your studio and work. Your work is so calming and tasteful, your clients are really fortunate. Also, I’m saving for a trip to Stockholm, probably next year, hopefully, and would love to read your top Scandinavian tips, as well as travel tips to Maine. I’ve followed your blog since the beginning and am excited to follow along as you expand on this new phase of your career. Happy New Year!

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    1. Thank YOU so much, Tami. The best time to visit Scandinavia is early summer when the days are long, bright and cool. August is lovely but can be very quiet as many Scandinavians leave for their summer homes. I love, love Stockholm and Copenhagen - two very beautiful, chic cities. The old town Gamla Stan in Stockholm is a gem. Cheers,

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  7. Hello Loi. So nice to see you again. Your studio conversion is beautiful, and I love the stone fence with the courtyard gate. Can't wait to the cottage!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! We really love our home, and I look forward to sharing more :)

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  8. WOW.WOW.WOW! Loi, you and Tom have been blessed with the skills and business sense to have had such a successful business. You have developed a loyal clientele and your skill sets are extremely valuable and much appreciated. Now, you have found your "forever home" and it is striking. Clean lines, but with a hint of vintage and of course, your signature Tone on Tone. Exceptional design and conversion of that garage! A DREAM!

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    1. Anita - Thank you, thank you!! We are grateful to do what we love.
      And congratulations on your blog anniversary - 10 years of sublime photos, poetry and beauty.
      Many hugs,
      L

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  9. Loi, everything is just amazing, awesome, fabulous - you are the best and put the rest to shame haha! I love everything single thing you have done with your new 'village home', all is perfection and I can't wait to see your studio. Know many people will mourn the closing of your welcoming shop - it too was stunning - but I think perhaps you will eventually be even happier here at home designing more spaces for the lucky clients who come beating on the door! Find a hiding place for the flannel pj's!!!!!

    Looking out at my potting shed I see I have a lot to do come spring!
    Best wishes for 2019 from Bob and me - perhaps we'll see you in Maine this summer if we come your way!

    Hugs - Mary

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    1. Hi Mary!
      I'm so grateful that you and Bob visited me at my former shop. That was really lovely!
      Please give my best to Bob.
      Look forward to reading about your travels ahead.
      xo

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  10. I'm dying over the lovely strokes of genius - both large and small. The shed so beautifully fits the property and will surely function as well for your work as it looks aesthetically! The industrial hardware details - love. I'll be showing my husband all of this (hint, hint!), and I can't wait to see the studio! Well done, Loi, and best to you as you transition to more home-based work. You know your buddy here considers the proportion of time living in pajamas while working to be true wealth! xox

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    1. Hey there! We should have a PJ party here....you and I :)
      Thank you my friend.
      xoxo

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  11. Hi Loi, As usual, it's all gorgeous. I know how hard it is to not have a shop. I love my clients!! The snow makes everything even more beautiful!! xoxo Mary

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    1. Mary - Happy New Year!
      I loved Tone on Tone - the best 15 years! But it took up such a chunk of my time, especially the weekends. It's an adjustment....
      Hope you are well my friend.

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  12. This is really a special place you have built, and its thoughtfully done. So nice to have your own town village, where you and Tom can go about your living and hobbies in such nice surroundings. I loved the outdoor lantern and the one inside! Completely charming!!

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    1. Hi, Amy :)
      Thank you my friend! Tom and I need to visit you on our way up to Maine. I want to admire your transferware collection in person.
      xo

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  13. Everything fits so perfectly: lovely layout for your entire property. Imagine having the original architect's drawings: priceless! Very very nice Loi!

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    1. Libby, hello -
      Yes, a neighbor emailed the drawing to us - that was such a treat! I am trying to locate more info about the architect as well as the prior owners.
      Thank you

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  14. Loi, you live in a real treasure. How wonderful that you have the original drawings. Our home was built in the 1930s. I love the charm of these older structures. Your courtyard with its stone wall is so inviting. I agree, it is a perfect space for entertaining May to October. Thank you for sharing this new topiary space. It is a grand addition for your amazing topiaries. I'm in awe everything I see any of your topiaries.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah. I also have old photos of our home, which I'll share on the blog one day.
      As for the topiaries.....that's an obsession and addiction of mine :) They get lots of TLC.
      Cheers

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  15. What an exquisite place. I love how you kept the style of the original cottage. Hoping you update soon. You have me dreaming of spring and planting season......Thanks!

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    1. Thank you! I'll share more soon. We are working on the gardens this spring so please stay tuned :)

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  16. What a lovely space Loi! Wanted to inquire about your air conditioning unit. We are considering a mini-split for our cottage in Nantucket but I am so concerned about the aesthetic! Since I know you would be too, what brand/model did you select? Thank you!

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    1. Hi Betsy - We have a Mitsubishi electric mini split unit both in the potting shed and studio. So far so good. The one in the shed is placed high above the entry door.....it's discreet and quiet.
      Good luck

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  17. Replies
    1. Thank you so much!! Appreciate your visit and comment :)

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  18. Oh, magical every time I visit....dearest Loi, thank you so much for visiting my blog. It has been and it continues to be a marvelous experience following you and being inspired by not only your creativity but your kindness. WE LOVE YOU!

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  19. Loi,
    Thanks for the tour. What a wonderful potting shed. I love the idea of being able to putter around the space trimming and doting on the needs of plants!
    I look forward to the tour of the studio.
    Your and Tom's home and grounds are spectacular.
    Karen

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  20. Your cottage is so gorgeous and this is the crowning touch - amazing! Love that original architects sketch with the little 'pond' (I think?) and parterre!

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  21. The potting shed is beautiful, I think your topiaries are going to love their new home! The cabinet pulls and knobs are so unique. Could you share where you found them? Always a great day when there is a new blog post from Tone on Tone!

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  22. thanks for sharing your idea with us

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  23. LOVE EVERY DETAIL..........
    KEEP GOING!!!!!

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  24. Loi, I love your new potting shed! This beautiful space is perfect for your topiary, I am sure that they are very happy. Enjoy your new space, and your new office.

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  25. I just saw your article in "Country Living" magazine! Your "old car" intrigues me...what make & year is it...perhaps a 1937 relating to the license plate...NEAT!! We have a 1937 Jaguar Classic Collectible. franki

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  26. This is absolutely dreamy, Loi! Also - love the new look of the blog! xoxo

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  27. I love the stainless steel kitchen . Cheers for sharing this with us.

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  28. Very beautiful-I am stunned at these Myrtle topiaries-I’ve murdered many of them. Please do a post explaining your care for them, please!

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Many thanks for your visit! If you have a question, please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer. Loi