A Place to Call Home with Gil Schafer

Our country house is back on the market.  This is how I left it in the spring of 2012.  There have been quite a few changes since then.  Which I will detail in another post but first . . .

I have been thinking about that house lately and mostly because of the front entryway.  The front to back hallway was one of my favorite parts of the house.  The light, architectural features and unique floor sold me on the house back in 2006 when it was difficult to see much beyond the house’s poor condition.

Our oldest was barely three at the time and slipped down the wooden stairs shortly after moving in.  We installed a stair runner shortly thereafter, and it was one I never tired of.  So when it came time to choose a stair runner for our current house, I decided to go with something in the same family.

I am excited for the install as it will warm up our staircase and provide just that something special when you walk in through the front door.  The stairs are the first thing that catches your eye.

My old front hallway was also on my mind as you see this gentleman at the podium?  That is Gil Schafer.  Gil Schafer wrote one and now two of my very favorite books, and I have gleaned loads of inspiration over the years.  I remember opening his first book in a book store and turning to a page that looked remarkably similar to my country house.  

This was the picture.  I wish I had a picture of this vantage point looking from our old living room into the hallway but trust me it looks nearly identical.  The staircase detailing is precisely the same and look at the green tonal stripes.  The living room color, too!  Of course his country house is far magnificent than ours ever hoped to be but clearly I like what Gil likes and so when I heard he was the keynote speaker at the Delaware Antiques Show this year, I made a point to buy my tickets immediately.

Gil Schafer

Gil Schafer was an incredible speaker and he took us first through his story of houses -the family houses, landscapes and environments that shaped his aesthetic.  He eschewed the modern aesthetic that dominates architecture schools and stuck to what he knew and loved best:  traditional.  He said he found his niche in the Greek revival style but his new book clearly illustrates he does many styles well.

Schafer then walked us through a series of projects from his new book.  The slides were of the befores and afters and what struck me is how thoughtful he is about not just the house but the site and the eventual landscape that can transform a house into a home.  Schafer walked us through a Maine house he renovated for himself and it is clear from the interior pictures that he is just as talented in the decoration aspect as the architectural design aspect.  Schafer understands that a house is equal parts architecture, decoration and landscape and for this reason his projects are just a little more special than the rest.

I have written about Gil Schafer on this blog in the past and will likely again as clearly I am smitten!


A Whirlwind Month or Two

The past month or so has been a blur of back to school, sports, meetings and such.  Sophie kind of sums it up.

I am not sure she is growing.  I finally loosened her collar just a hair but I think she’s only about a pound more than her 7 lb homecoming five months ago.  Hmmmm.

These pictures are terrible even for my low standards, but if you look carefully can you see the brass gallerie shelving?  I fell in love but then started to question this devotion.  Would it be difficult getting dishes up and over the bar?  Would I hit the bar?  Would I chip the plates?  Would I be too lazy and just not use that shelving because the up and over would just be too much?

This screenshot is here because I think I am the last Instagram user on this Earth who does not know how to extract a picture from Instagram save screen-shotting it.

Last week, a friend and I took a detour from a planned excursion to stop off at an estate sale in Centerville, De.  Look at these salad plates.  I am still thankful I registered for white china all those years ago.

These plates were the least exciting thing at this estate sale though.  There was a man in the middle of the sale napping on the floor, a room filled with live birds and a woman in the basement of this house readying herself for surgery?  She was in scrubs – head to toe.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

Earlier in the week I finally made it to Longwood to see the new fountains.  I didn’t take a single picture of the fountains but I did take a picture of this simple arrangement of pots on steps.  I have been meaning to do the same on our front steps and just haven’t invested the time or money.


This fountain isn’t new but is in one of my favorite parts of the gardens.  I thought the grouping of mums en masse and in a single color was so pretty!

And pumpkins in forms.  Isn’t it wonderful to find something that looks festive and does not need watering?!

This is a setup picture of a fundraiser I help out with each year benefitting our local park.  Learned something after I accidentally tipped the vase of water over on the far upper right table.  Just throw polyester tablecloths into a high-heat dryer and no ironing necessary.


And, a look ahead to Christmas. This garland is beautiful!  And, the gas lantern is tempting me as well.  I am not a fan of our current over-the-door lighting situation.  Maybe I will figure out 2nd-story wreaths this year.


An Autumn Refresh

The cooler air has moved in at last and this past week I did a bit of outdoor refreshing.  Each year the stoop is a bit different only because I cannot remember what I have done from one year to the next.  I did a bit of shopping in Lancaster County this year and found such pretty pumpkins.  The cantaloupe and gray are my favorites.

The mums were enormous and almost too heavy to lift into the car. I probably should have chosen an orange or deep red but I couldn’t resist the pink for the back steps.

The Osage Orange tree in my neck of the woods outdid itself this year and dropped oranges galore.  Trip #1 and I came home with just enough to fill two planters.  Trip #2 tomorrow so I can fill two more planters near the side door and a couple of bowls for inside the house as well.

Stopped off at a garden shop this morning Home and Garden Culture that I have driven past for 10 years.  Not once did I ever stop in thinking it was all whirlygigs and garden flags.  Boy was I wrong.  The place is amazing.

These finial planter boxes are at the top of my list.  They would replace the get-the-job-done boxes I have presently holding the topiary.  These suckers weigh a ton as they are metal and cost a small fortune.  Too bad for me as the rest of the inventory was very reasonably priced and mostly on sale.

I thought this pair was simple and pretty. 

There was so much more but I ran out of time.  They have a great website though and I am about to dive into it as one can never have too many concrete garden pots/urns!

Two Seasons of Growth

This is a before of either side of our front door.  This is pre-porch reno, pre-door makeover and post-yew-stump removal.

We planted two boxwoods from our country house as well as a mature Limelight.  I filled in with spirea, weigela, hollies and some variegated dogwood.

And, two years later the foundation plantings have really taken off.  This is to the right of the door.  The porch windows have improved tenfold, and we planted a Ninebark tree to anchor the corner.  We also dug out stones and were able to continue the flagstone border.

And the left side of the front door.  That Limelight has grown just a little bit.

You can see the difference in this picture.  Everything has exploded!

We recently put in a double-layered hedge to start to build up some privacy in our side yard.  A row of Nellie R. Stevens hollies make up the inner layer.  These will get quite tall – 15 -20 feet and 10 feet wide.  They are fast growers like the outer layer of Limelight Hydrangeas.

I am hoping for dense Limelight hedge like this one:

Deborah Silver

Our Little Lime hedge on the porch side has grown quite a bit as well.  Here are the Little Limes last summer.  They are mixed in with Nandina (the tall shrubs) and a row of Chicagoland boxwood.

And here is the same row a year later.  It’s difficult to tease out in this picture but the Nandina have filled out considerably giving us some green and privacy during the winter as well.  In the winter you see the pretty porch detail but not so much in the summer!

The dogs enjoying some morning sunning.  This is a favorite spot.