Sunday, February 27, 2011


With the winter dragging on, it feels like spring will never arrive.   Last Saturday our snow was finally gone and I could see the grass.  The following day, we got  hit with 9" of snow, and it is snowing again as I write this blog. Ugh...    At this time of year, I'm always feeling the need for flowers and plants to bridge the gap of all the decorations from the holidays to the days when we look out our windows and finally see signs of spring.

One of my favorite flowers is white tulips.  Since these flowers are available year round and are inexpensive, they have become a staple in our home.   Since I have a great appreciation for nature, displaying flowers with all their natural beauty is gratifying.   By adding the tulips to our entrance, I hope to provide a refreshing homey feel that will remind us that spring is around the corner. While others enjoy a mix of flowers with many colors,  I favor simple arrangements, plants or ferns.  To extend their life, I often move cut flowers to the cool garage in the evening.

On a recent antique venture this week, I picked up this fabulous piece of redware.   As you can see, it makes a great vase and the rich dark brown glaze looks amazing against the green color of the tulip leaves.   Any time I am out antiquing, I always have an eye out for dark brown jugs, white pottery, baskets or just a simple glass jar to add to my collection of items for a flower display.  I find that small details like fresh flowers and a candle can make a home more inviting.

Since I was shooting these photos in my entrance, I thought I would show you around.  After all, our entrance is a very important part of our home.

In the photo above, is an early 20th C Continental candelabra.  When we moved to Michigan, I had participated in an antique show as a dealer.  During setup, I toured the other stalls and spotted a dealer unpacking this candelabra so I immediately snatched it.

Do you remember the first day you walked into your current home while you were on a house search?  While I was ready to buy what is now our home just based on it's curb appeal, stepping into the entrance definitely sealed the deal.  It's like spotting an amazing antique item you love ONLY 100 TIMES BETTER.   My husband had to just about drag me back to the states from England, but having the opportunity to live in a home that I truly loved, made the experience much easier.

Upon entering, you notice the paneled wall behind the 19th C. French server.   Displayed on the server is a pair of vintage Italian candlesticks converted to lamps and the candelabra mentioned above.  Between the candelabra and the lamp on the right is a sphere that is from the 1950's.

 Last year, I purchased this old trencher that came from a Hungarian farm.  The handles have a great shape, and I just love how the white paint has mellowed and worn with use over the years.


This old home has such great bones.  As you can see in this photo, the newel posts and wood balusters are substantial and beautifully carved and turned.  Seldom do you see balusters this heavy and thick.  It is definitely one of my favorite features of this home.  

Notice the wonderful old hardware on the door and the lead glass windows which are all original.

This image was shot from the dining room  looking back through the entrance towards our family room.

This is a handblown 19th century bell jar light fixture with a pumpkin globe in a beautiful pale peach color that I picked up while living in England.  

As you can see, our home has really been the perfect canvas for my love for antiques and design.   While we have moved or changed houses six times, I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to find a home that I love and appreciate as much as I have this one.   This experience has been a real privilege in so many ways.  

While many people prefer new homes, I have a great appreciation for all of the quality details and charm of an old home.   If you live in an old home, or have an appreciation for them, what are the features that you like?  I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Since our kitchen is my favorite room in the house, truly the heart of our home, I thought I would share it with you.  As I have mentioned before, we purchased a Connecticut style stone and white painted brick farmhouse about nine years ago.  The previous owner had lived here for 26 years and had put tremendous amount of time, energy, and passion to make renovations and add on to the original house so that it appeared that it was all original. We were very fortunate because we had little to do other than remove wallpaper and change light fixtures.   If we were not moving and I were to design this room right now, I would select different style cabinet doors, different hardware and countertops.  But with that said, I love my white kitchen, its charm, display cabinets, space and how it overlooks the breakfast room with all of it's beautiful Marvin divided light windows and French doors.    I will show you around. 

The kitchen sink sits in the center of these hanging glass cabinets and looks over the breakfast room and our garden.  These glass display cabinets are wonderful to store all of my antique glass plates, and other antique clear glass pieces I have collected over the years.    While we have under counter lights, you can see I have a small antique Italian gilt lamp on the left of the counter.  If you don't have a lamp in your kitchen, I suggest you get one.  The lighting really adds to the atmosphere in the room.

Along with the small lamp, is an antique glass jar with home made granola (that my husband insists is on hand at all times), along with five of my antique pepper mills.

This photo shows another wall of glass display cabinets only these were original to the house and I love that the previous owner kept them.   I am very fortunate that this home has so many display areas as I do not like clutter and these display areas provide me a space to show off my collections without our home appearing cluttered. In addition to the cabinets, the countertop is also original.  It is cherry and has a wonderful warm color.

So, what do I display in those cabinets?   Some of my antique baskets, bowls, jugs, ironstone, and a wonderful art deco German canister set as you can see in this photo.

One of the nicest features about this kitchen is it has an opening to other areas of the house on all four corners.  What I love about this - is no horrible corner cabinets that are impossible to work with.  As you can see, there is a small desk to the right.   We purchased this wonderful antique desk organizer on a trip to Nantucket and it worked perfectly in this space.

 You can see how it gets challenging to take photos when the light starts to come in.  If anyone has some good tips on how to deal with this, I would love to hear from you.

As you know, I love baskets.   This is one of my favorites - an English cutlery basket which has a wood base which works perfectly for storing, oils, vinegar, salad dressings, etc.

 I couldn't resist sharing a photo of this little guy with so much character and great expression.   He is actually a corkscrew and often is displayed on the shelf with all my antique pepper mills.  I tell my husband this little guy is the boss of all the pepper mills.  My husband replies "I would like to be the boss of something!"  Hmmm .... I don't think so.

This coffee and tea bar area has always been a popular spot in the kitchen with our three girls, my husband and I.   This corner has a wonderful window and a small brass sink.  To the right of this area is an opening into our family room which is two steps down.  When we purchased our house, this area was enclosed and there was a pantry in this space.  We opened this up and not only did it improve the  traffic pattern, but when I'm standing at the sink I can look into the family room to a wood burning fire.

 While we were living in England, I purchased Emma Bridgewater's Toast & Marmalade pottery which is displayed on the bottom two shelves.  We are also fond of Anthropoligy's white mugs with initials which are stored on the top shelf.

This is one of my favorite antiques.  I was so excited when I found this antique hand blown glass confectionary shop jar that has a footed copper base.  With pieces like this I'm always paranoid that they are going to break, but I want to leave them out on the counter so we can enjoy seeing it.  

This is another view from our kitchen sink overlooking the breakfast room.

This breakfast room is usually a favorite for anyone who visits.   This bay shaped area is very charming with its authentic divided light windows and two sets of French doors.  While I prefer a wood burning fireplace, I must admit it is nice to have a fire at the push of a button.   As you can see to the right of the fireplace, there are two curved steps down into this area.  This is one of our favorite features in our home as several rooms are done this way with a step or two down.  I can't explain it, but it just feels more like a separate room.

While I would like to replace the country French chairs with upholstered chairs, I have decided to wait until we move.  As you can see, there is too much brown wood furniture in our home.   While I have enjoyed having a chandelier that holds a plant, I have been looking for a replacement when I am out antique shopping. There are so many wonderful antique chandeliers - its just finding the right one for your space.

 Did you notice our golden retriever, Riley, laying in front of the fireplace.  You would think that a dog with a fur coat would not want to lay near a fireplace.  Our dog gets as close as she can to any fireplace she possibly can.  If I am sitting on the floor next to the fireplace, she will squeeze between me and the fire screen.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.  This is a shelf on the wall in the breakfast room (opposite wall to the fireplace) that holds some of my beloved pepper mill collection.  As you can see, this kitchen and breakfast area is really the heart of our home.  The room was well designed, has so much charm and it will definitely be hard to replace when we move someday.    I hope you enjoyed the tour.

Kitchens and the eating area are the most important spaces for me when we search for a home.    Do you love your kitchen?  What are your favorite features in your kitchen?   I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

If I Could Start All Over Again, I would stop by Jane Moore Interiors in Houston

Do you ever look through a magazine and fall in love with a home, it's style and decorating?   We have lived in Michigan for nine years now and plan to move to Houston someday.  Unfortunately, the housing market in Michigan has been hit really hard with the auto industry so we have decided to wait until it improves before we list our home.  We live in a beautiful old farmhouse, truly my dream house, that I'm not willing to give up in this market.   While I'm sure my husband will not agree (we all know how that goes), I think that we need to change out some of our furniture as different homes and climates dictate how we decorate.  "If I could only start all over again, how would I decorate my home?"  While I love the rich, beautiful patina of my English and French antiques, I also find myself being very drawn to the
Swedish/French country style with its soft muted colors and unpretentious, rustic feel.  Below are some images of rooms designed by Jane Moore.    There is lots of light and every room is so beautiful and inviting.

All images by Peter Vitale Photography, Veranda

The images below are from the March 2008 issue of Veranda.   Jane helped her daughter, Shannon and her husband, Andrew decorate their home in Dallas.   

Below are some images from Jane Moore Interiors in Houston.  I thought since I was stopping by, I would pick out a few items I would like.  

Jane Moore Interiors, Houston
Swedish Corner Cabinet
Swedish Carved Buffet
Round Metal Table
18th Century Buffet

I think my beautiful French Trumeau mirror would look fabulous with these pieces, don't you?  Do you ever flip through the pages of a magazine,  fall in love with a home, and wish you could start decorating your home all over again?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"What Happens When I Find Something I Absolutely Love?"

Recently, I showed you the fabulous antique lantern I found at a local antique shop.   I had asked the question "What happens when I find something that I absolutely love?"  Am I content for awhile, or do I feel obsessed to continue the hunt to find what other treasures are out there just waiting to be discovered.
What do I do?  I have a filing pile 7" high, and projects all over the house waiting to be started or finished.   So what do I do????   I'm feeling guilty, BUT I also feel obsessed.   So I get in my car and drive to my favorite local antique center, and guess what?   I found this fabulous mirror.    I loved the carving, the shape, the soft grey color of the background and the gilt that had mellowed with age.  The mirror was bevelled and original.  The tag said "Awesome Mirror from the Dodge Mansion Ca, 1790".    Should I buy it?  Do I need a mirror?  Where am I going to put it?  What will my husband say?    

I have to leave the store as I am running late for a doctor appointment so I quickly take a few photos with my Iphone.  After the appointment, I decide to stop at another huge antique center, and picked up nothing but two old shells.  I drive home still thinking about the mirror.   As soon as I get home, I immediately look on the internet to do some research.   OMG, I found that these mirrors range in price from $2,000 - $20,000.  I couldn't believe it.   The mirror I saw was in amazing condition for its age with no repairs that I could spot, original bevelled mirror, good quality carving, beautiful overall design, and provenance.    I am so excited I can hardly stand it.  I immediately text the images of my great find to a few friends of mine that antique shop with me.  Then, I tell my husband about this incredible find and that not only do I LOVE the mirror, IT'S A GREAT INVESTMENT!    I get my computer and show him about ten other antique trumeau mirrors for sale to prove that this was mirror was really a steal.  
It is now 9 pm, and I had left the store at noon.  What if someone else spotted it and bought it already?  Maybe it has sold?   I can hardly sleep as I am so excited about the mirror and worried that it could possibly be gone as I did not put a "HOLD" on it.   While the center doesn't open until 11 am, I call at 9 am, 9:30, 10:00, and at 10:20 a sales person answers the phone.  I ask her if she can check to see if the mirror is still there and put a "HOLD" on it for me.   I describe the location of where I spotted it.  She puts me on hold while she looks for the mirror.  She gets back on the phone and tells me that she can't find it.   UGH!!!!   Then I ask her to look again and give her more details on where it is located and guess what?   It was still there.   Well, then comes the big question, "What is the best price?"  She said that this dealer discounts 20% on any items over $100.   That's it - IT WAS MINE.....    I asked her to put a "HOLD" sign on it, and I would be there when the store opened at 11 am, to buy it.  What do you think?  Isn't this an amazing treasure?
In my research, I learned that trumeau mirrors originated in France in the 18th century and were intended to hang on a wall between windows as a decorative element and to bring more light into the room.  There wasn't electricity back then so this would be helpful in extending the hours of daylight.   Most were painted, and the upper portion would have a relief carved design or a painting.  As with most antiques, the price depends on the age, size, style and condition.

I really wanted to talk to the dealer to get more information on the mirror.  The label said that it was from the Dodge Mansion.  Meadow Brook Hall is often referred to as the Dodge Mansion and I wanted to know if this was where the mirror came from.  Unfortunately, he was not available so I will try and catch up with him sometime in the future.  In the meantime, here is a photo of Meadow Brook Hall which is often referred to as the Dodge Mansion.
The information below was taken from the Meadow Brook Hall - Dodge Mansion web site.

One of America's greatest estate homes, an icon of the automotive aristocracy, and the home of the founders of Oakland University
Meadow Brook Hall is the historic home of one the automotive aristocracy's most remarkable women, Matilda Dodge Wilson, her second husband Alfred Wilson, a lumber broker and their four children, Frances and Danny Dodge, and Richard and Barbara Wilson. It exists as an indirect product of the achievements and good fortune of her first husband, automotive pioneer John F. Dodge, co-founder of Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company who quickly prospered in the burgeoning auto industry before his tragic death in 1920, leaving Matilda one of the world's wealthiest women. This fortune not only built one of America's finest residences and country estates, it also supported numerous Detroit charities and organizations, and made possible the founding of Oakland University.
Meadow Brook Hall was built during the country place era, a time when wealthy American industrialists pursued rural life in settings of great beauty. It represents one of the finest examples of Tudor-revival architecture in America and is especially renowned for it superb craftsmanship, architectural detailing and grand scale of 88,000 square feet. Inspired by the country manor homes in England, it was designed and built by the Detroit architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls between 1926 and1929, at a cost of nearly $4 million.
Carefully preserved with original family furnishings and art, the 110-room mansion is elaborately detailed with carved wood and stone, ornate plaster ceilings, Tiffany stained glass, custom made hardware, and filled with fine and decorative art. Although the interiors reflect various historic styles, the house is equipped with every "modern" amenity appropriate to the active lifestyle of the Wilson's and their children.
Meadow Brook Hall was built on the 320-acre farm estate John and Matilda Dodge had purchased years earlier as weekend country retreat. The Wilson's expanded the estate to include 1,500 acres and several residences. For the Dodge and Wilson families, the farm estate provided a splendid setting for recreational activities and pastimes such as equestrian sports, motoring, and gardening and developed into one of the finest agricultural complexes, producing the finest lines of pedigree livestock.

Are you an "Antiqueaholic"?  I'm sure there have to be others out there like me.    How do we cure this addiction?  Do we really want a cure?  I would love to hear your stories, and about your favorite finds.  Please post a comment so I can prove to my husband that I'm not the only "Antiqueaholic".