A Little Spring Masonry

Crumbling.  This place has a lot of exterior stairs and all of them are in very poor condition.

These are the stairs from the driveway to the back door and stoop.  We have the same set up on the right side of the garage which lead to the front door and stoop.


Both stoops are falling apart and after two winters in this house, we were not going to be able to squeak out a third.  It was time.


The crew arrived on Monday and it’s been a slow and dusty process.  Apparently the last masons to work on the brick and stone made quick and erroneous work of it.   Three years later it’s a mess and an unsafe mess.  We need these stairs firmed up.

Yesterday someone spent 8 hours chipping mortar from between bricks on the front stoop and removing cracked and damaged brick.  Tedious but rewarding work as today one row of bricks were set back into place and mortared correctly. The color is even a close match to the original on the house.  Something we appreciate fully because the last masons to touch the house did not even try to match mortar color when brick was repointed and it looks pretty awful.


The front stoop is going to get a bluestone cap and this set of stairs is going to be completely rebuilt.  Its wings are starting to drift away and the cracking is allowing water to seep in.  Not good.

More pictures to follow!


Nora Murphy’s Country Chic

Nora Murphy’s house struck a chord with me as my favorite kind of house is a fancy country house and that is precisely what hers is.

The path to the front door in full bloom.

Let’s step inside for a little tour.

Here is the foyer and what Nora calls her cabinet of curiosities.

I am guessing we are in the part of the house Nora refers to her as her gallery.  At this end of the house is one of my very favorite spaces, a small but utterly charming powder room.

I love bathroom sinks under windows.  The wall mounted shaving mirror is just perfect for checking teeth or makeup and really all that is needed.

And, let’s take a closer look at those walls.  The paint is combed through for just the right touch of interest.  And, the living finish on that brass faucet is just right.

Nora uses mostly white but also some soft gray-greens on her walls that pull in the outside.  And, on every table top there are beautiful clay-potted topiaries, mostly myrtle that add to the charm.  This is an Irish farmhouse table, once in her dining room, that now resides in the family room for projects and reading.

Nora has a prolific green thumb. Nora’s collection of watering cans aren’t just looking pretty, seems they are put to good use as well.

I am guessing this room is a breakfast room.  The light is beautiful and it looks as if Nora has a second cabinet of curiosities tucked into the corner.


And the room dressed up for spring!

The dining room!  Just stunning.

I am guessing this is the old dining room setup with the Irish farmhouse table that has since been relocated.

And, the kitchen.

More nooks and crannies of Nora’s house.  Simple, quiet and beautiful.

Check out her website.   Watch how her rooms evolve and change with each season – inspirational!

The Center Table

The kitchen island has achieved near sainthood status in this day and age.  Everyone wants an island. If you watch HGTV even for 5 minutes you will hear island, stainless steel and granite at least a dozen times. Well, everyone wants one . . . except for me.  And, I will explain why but first here are some pictures of island-free kitchens to whet your appetite.

Yes, yes, yes I understand why the island is a kitchen demi-god.  It is extra storage and extra counter space, often precious commodities in a kitchen.

I had an island once upon a time, one I chose.  It looked like this:

and this:

My kids miss the island.  But if you dig deeper they will tell you that they sometimes got to watch tv during their meals and really that is what they miss.  That was our one and only house with a tv in the kitchen. Occasionally we ate in the breakfast room pictured below but when you have island seating so close and so easy, the table stays very clean.  

But here’s why I didn’t like our island.  First off, our island was set up to seat 3 across and so it is counter seating and not conducive to conversation.  We have 4 in our family so typically I would take the extra stool we kept (out of sight) and sit on the drawer side of the island.  Not fun!

Most of the prep I did was on the perimeter counter space as I liked to keep the island clean for eating and homework.  My children were young at the time and I cannot tell you how many times my youngest fell off the stools and off the island (yes, he would climb onto it). Of course that would be an irrelevant issue now but sitting on a counter-height stool is never as comfortable as having two feet on the floor.

I personally like the look of a table in the center of the room.  To me, it is warmer and more inviting.  It invites you to sit down and stay awhile.  Also, it can be swapped out over the years to change the feel and aesthetic of the kitchen.

This kitchen by Jackye Lanham is probably my very favorite one.  Of course the architectural elements play a big role in why I like this kitchen but the table is perfect!  I would nix the low-hanging pendants as pretty as they are as my husband would hit his head on them every single time he excused himself from the table.  Otherwise this kitchen setup is pretty much perfect.

via House Beautiful

I know it’s wildly unpopular not to revere the center island.  But there, I said it – I don’t love them for how I want to live in my space.

Now to train my family to tuck in their chairs when finished at the table!