Over the Past Day or Two

I have moved, a lot.  And, one of the more difficult parts of moving for me is not the packing, unpacking but the months and sometimes years it takes until I am satisfied with a room.  Furniture works differently in different houses, so strange mixes serve as temporary fixes, walls are left bare and windows uncovered.  It is uncomfortable physically or aesthetically, and more often times both.

We moved in 11 months ago and just recently am I starting to feel like some of the rooms are coming together, and oddly it is not the furniture that has helped that but what I have hung on the walls.  Bare walls make me twitchy but I also want to be thoughtful about what I hang on them.


The other morning I went to an estate sale in Wilmington.  Regretfully I didn’t get there early enough as I saw several good pieces carried out the door by more aggressive sale goers.  But I did find three watercolors that hit the mark.  The colors and content are perfect.  They would have grouped well together but instead I split them up and pictured above is the smallest of the three now in our dining room.

The dining room is a soft, monochromatic room that took its cue from the rug.  I am debating whether to introduce a pattern or simply let the room be like this one by Phoebe Howard.

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Or this one by Kerry Joyce.

Back to Wilmington for a minute.  The estate sale was in a beautiful area of the city and the same area I took pictures of awhile back.  This house stopped me in my tracks.  The fall pumpkin, gourd, mum, cabbage display ran the entire width of the acre property.  IMG_1331


All the hardscaping at our house is done!  The belgian block lining the patio is from our country house.  The whole family helped move those from our last house to this one.

Those suckers are heavy!



An evergreen, probably a smaller holly will be planted in front of the meter and furnace pipes.  The beast will be fenced off and then the rest of the bed needs to be figured out.  Fortunately I have time.

This is the where the old met the new and the old bricks were relaid to accommodate the much wider step.


Here is the view as you walk up the steps from our courtyard garden.


And, a nighttime view.  My favorite part!  At 5:30 the lights switch on and it’s magical.  IMG_1303-2


A Book Wishlist

A girl can never have too many design and decorating books stacked up on a pretty round table.  In fact, I know my table needs more and here are some of the books I am considering.  Click on the book title under each jacket picture and it will direct you to Amazon to check out the reviews.

Southern Style Decorating – Andrea Fanning

I only know that I love Southern houses more than Northern and this book looks like it is filled with wonderful examples of that Southern aesthetic.


Mrs. Howard Room by Room: Phoebe Howard

Phoebe can do no wrong.  Her colors are my colors and her rooms don’t try too hard, instead they are soft and interesting and I would feel perfectly at ease in any of them.


Habitat – Lauren Liess

I have followed Lauren Liess’s blog since what seems like the beginning of time; back before she had four children and a dazzling design career.  She has a gift for putting together beautiful, elegantly earthy spaces on a real person’s budget.  In fact, some of her best creations include pieces pulled off the side of the road.


Modern Mix – Eddie Ross

Eddie Ross puts together a party table like no one else on this planet.  I flipped through this book quickly at Barnes and Noble today and it looks good, really good.  I turned the book over and there on the back is a picture of Jaithan Kochar, Eddie’s partner, in business and life.  And that nearly sealed the deal as I know Jaithan.  I spotted him at Starbucks in Glenn Mills in Pennsylvania about 3 years ago and we had a moment as I know I was the only person in that whole big, crowded shop who knew who he was and what a difference he has made in my table-setting life.

Carolyne Roehm at Home in the Garden

This is a page from Carolyne Roehm’s book.  Enough said.


Rooms for Living – Suzanne Rheinstein

And a wild card!  I don’t know much about this book except it may feature a living room that stood out to me in House Beautiful once upon a time.  And, quite honestly, I don’t need much more than that to be talked into buying a decorating book.

Last Bits of the Backyard Project

Really I should have walked up the flight off stairs to grab our camera, the nice camera that has been tucked away for the better part of a year but instead I took my twitchy, lemon of an iPhone outside to take some incredibly craptastic photographs of a rather fantastic transformation.

Today it rained which meant it was a quiet day, and I was able to spend a bit of time in the backyard acquainting myself with the space.  This is new space for us as first it was overgrown and not walkable and then it was semi-overgrown and barely walkable and finallly it was cleared and mud.  But now the sod is rooted and it’s a backyard.

First up, our Japanese Maple. This treasure is tucked into the corner of our backyard and was barely visible through the layers of thistle, poison ivy, weed trees and aggressively leggy rhodies.  This sits in the corner of our lower level of the yard.  It’s stunning and we really are lucky to have it.  When I first discovered the tree there there was a hole drilled into it and wire wrapped around one of its branches.  I followed the wire through the thick and discovered it was holding up part of the old fence.  Fortunately no damage to the tree and it has since been relieved of that duty. IMG_1298

The foundation of the lab was covered with ivy and piles of rotting wood. It’s pretty obvious now what part of the lab is the original garage.  The stone foundation on the left side is quite charming exposed. IMG_1297

And, a little teaser of the finished stone work.  The flagstone is down and the wall is capped.  Today the crew is out there working on the finishing details:  lighting, cobble trim and laying a bit of disturbed brick where the old meets the new. IMG_1295

The rain set us back a day but it also gave our new trees and grass a good, deep watering which is just want they needed after the warmer temperatures last week.


And, a picture of the upper patio area just as the house had been cleaned up to list.  The big cedar had to come down as it was growing right into the house and damaging the slate on the roof.  That was a gorgeous tree but mere inches off the foundation of the house.  Its roots wreaked havoc on the brick paths over the years. If you look to the left where there is a line of Pieris Japonica, that was the start of the backyard.  You could not tell how much property there was and because it was steep it was difficult to walk to even figure that out.  I do miss bits of the mature landscaping but we’ll get there and it will be beautiful again with shade cover and lots of green.  The shade is going to be our challenge!



On Furlow Gatewood

One of my very favorite books is about a man in his 90s who has spent much of his life restoring and decorating several houses on his family’s property in Americus, Georgia. When you see the pictures below, it will be no surprise that Furlow Gatewood was once in the business of antiques, but it may surprise you that he has had no formal design training. And, the reason I love his story is that nearly all the work on the buildings on the property were done with just a picture from a book or magazine and Furlow’s vision. Of course, he has a wonderful master carpenter and craftsman to expertly carry out this vision but all of it without elaborate architectural drawings.

One of the more striking features of the property is the allée of 26 Nikko blue hydrangeas in clay pots. And, if you ask Gatewood how he came up with these ideas, he will tell you there is never a formal plan. Things just happen but as we all know these kinds of things just don’t happen in everyone’s yards; Furlow has an incredible sense of proportion and is blessed with an exquisite eye when it comes to house and gardens!

This is Peacock Alley, the enchanting road onto Furlow’s compound.  There are 4 houses on the property and a barn as well as several outbuildings.  One more charming than the next.

And, the man of the hour.

And, though it’s a far cry from Peacock Alley, the backyard at ‘Hackberry Hill’ is starting to take its shape.  The flagstones are going down and different from the wall, this is the lightening-speed part of the project.  Most of what you see below was done in a day’s work.

The dirt you see surrounding the patio will be grassed over and softened with trees.  Meanwhile, I am on the hunt for an off-season deal on patio furniture.


Veranda magazine featured designer Mark Sikes’ patio in one of their issues and I fell in love.  The first picture is the more recent but I do love that original blue featured below.

This house is in the Hollywood Hills but evokes that Southern sensibility that I seem to love best.  Take note of the skirted table above as I am going to touch upon their resurgence and charm very soon.