Thursday, April 19, 2018

Curbside Antiquing: A French Chair

 A very basic day began....
It was another cold day in Boston. 
And it was local trash pick up day so bags and boxes dotted the sidewalks.

Baby Reeve was in the backseat, and we were headed home from a trip to Lowes. 
We had picked up a toilet repair kit to fix a pesky commode. 
 While we were out, we hit Marshall's where we scored some puddle jumpers for Reeve. 
 Exactly what I was looking for, as I imagined her in these boots as my garden assistant
this spring and summer, if the weather ever obliges.
A perfect day in our boring but happy little world,
 when all of a sudden there it was.
I spotted something in a pile of trash on the drive home.
A glimpse of a rounded back French Chair with a painted frame.  
I was driving on the opposite side of the street so I couldn't just pull over easily.  
Instead I looked at it my rear view mirror, getting smaller and smaller.
I debated turning around and checking it out. 
 I told myself to keep going, we were almost home, and the chair 
was probably pretty ratty and falling apart.  
My sensible-self talked my Frenchy-antique-loving-self 
right out of investigating any further.

And I forgot about it....
until the next morning when I had to leave the house early,
 around 6 am to drive Mr. Maison Decor to a job site 
where he had left his truck the day before.
And then it hit me!! 
The trash trucks hadn't come!! 
And my Frenchy antique-loving-self got so excited!!

Because it was a holiday Monday, Patriots Day, 
all trash pickups were delayed one day.  
That meant just possibly, that the pretty French chair,
however ratty it may be, may likely still be sitting at the curb.
The stars were aligning!!
My sensible-self was no longer in the driver's seat.
I hoped it would be in great shape, a real antique, and one I could rehab.
A quintessential Louis XVI side chair, not unlike the chairs in Sharon Osbourne's home, above.
As we drove I  told hubs about the chair in the trash, 
and that I planned to circle back to see it it was there.
My plan was to do something with it, even if it was so ratty I couldn't use it indoors, I
would rip out the upholstery and stick a big pot of flowers
 in it and use it as a plant stand by the garden shed. 
Not sure if he was even listening to my plan....
 My gas tank was near empty, so I spent crucial minutes stopping for a fillup.
I was almost there....
as I turned onto the street, my heart sank when I saw
two trash trucks 
ahead of a line of cars on the very street where the chair was put out for pick up.
They finally pulled over to load trash and recyclables,
 so I sped by and raced to my destination.  
Past the the elementary school I drove where Piper
 and I have walked a million times...
I was almost there!
just around the the chair was still there?!!

Wouldn't someone have pulled it out already? 
 Shut up.  NO!! Think positive! Ok. 
Sitting up very proud and tall amongst the trash bags.  
 She was solid as a rock, and heavy too,
which meant she was an older chair.  
Her pale blue upholstery indicated she had lived a nice life
once upon a time, as did the gilding on her frame.  
 She is safe and sound now.
She plans to live Happily Ever After now, maybe even 
getting a turn in the pages of a French magazine. 
Curbside antiquing never felt so good.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Our Courtyard Wedding in Romantic Homes magazine and more French Chairs

 The May issue of Romantic Homes magazine is on the stands and inside you will find a nice little feature on the courtyard wedding we had last September.  The cheery yellow and white cover is hard to miss, so look for it in Barnes and Noble, grocery stores, Walmart and other places like that.
Look at those darling slipcovers on the chairs!! Lots of spring inspiration inside this issue,
as well our wedding feature.
 Here is a sneak peek, and it tells the story of how I conjured up the fairy tale theme with a French twist to guide the decorating angle of the wedding.  All the advice is applicable to throwing a party as well, so I hope you enjoy the narrative as well as the beautiful photos taken by Matthew Mead.
 Our wedding had guests arriving inside the home, and then ushered to the outdoor area where a tent stood waiting for the festivities, so both images inside and outside are part of the spread.
 Romantic Homes is my go to for French inspired romantic living ideas, 
and I am honored to be included.
As with any magazine feature, a lot of cuts must be made, yet some of my favorite images and elements were not shown. If you have read the article and would like to see more, this is for you!  It was hard to tell the relationship of each space to each other from the published photos, most likely due to our spaces being small and rather nook and crannyish. 
Here the tent looks up to the arbor where the wedding vows were performed.
 We used all the little garden spaces for different purposes, as you can see on the upper level where the bride and groom are chatting in front of the arbor, where they had exchanged wedding vows, with the Boston skyline in the background, while the musicians played in front of the garden shed.
The tent sat just below, beside the house in our small pea gravel courtyard.
 My favorite element in the wedding that didn't get mentioned was the live event artist.
Sheila Foley is one of the best in the business, and happens to live in the greater Boston area.
She came early and painted the background scene on her canvas, which was the interior of the tent leading to the cabbage garden and arbor where the vows were exchanged.  I love how she included the chandelier and tulle draped from the ceiling of the tent.  As the wedding progressed, Sheila added guests and the wedding couple into the painting, while we all ate, drank and made merry.

Before the festivities  I came out to see if everything was ready to go... Sheila is at her station with her art supplies and easel.  Because it had rained, we needed to set up a table umbrella to protect both artist and artwork!  
You can see the white picket fence beyond where the bride would emerge to climb the old stone steps to the grassy terrace to say her vows.  Sheila had the background ready for adding all the details, including champagne bottles, the french settee, floral arrangements and of course all the people!
This is a sneak peek collage of the painting progression so far!
I have been able to see bits of it on Sheila's Instagram account: @sfoleyeventpainter
I can't wait to reveal the entire painting and already imagine it in a fancy French gilded frame, hanging on our walls, reminding us all of that special day.
And one last garden element that was missing....
Our cabbage garden!
White Belgian mums and ornamental green and white cabbages planted in a formal layout. 
 The urns were filled with more cabbages and then roses in florist water vials 
were tucked in between the large cabbage leaves. 
Simple.  Elegant.  And very French.    
Speaking of French~ 
I had the good fortune to land a pair of plume back gilded chairs
in the Louis XVI style.  They are truly marvelous little chairs, all hand carved with gold leaf.
Destined for my bathroom for now.  I adore old and French, and these fit the bill.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

My Pastoral Landscapes

A pastoral landscape I painted is seen in this photograph featured in Romantic Country
magazine, Spring 2017 issue.  I don't think I have shared many of the paintings I created.
So lets have a look at them, shall we?
Pastoral landscape paintings are soothing and restful.  When I decorated
my home office I decided to paint some landscapes on the wall instead of 
hanging up artwork.  I framed them out with an exterior border so it looked
like a piece of artwork, and then I painted the interior area with various 
landscape scenes that conjured up the European countryside.
These were the first paintings I created and I absolutely loved them.
I made a mini movie in time lapse photography on how I created this painting,
and its on my Facebook page for those interested to see more of the process.
(Find my Facebook link on the sidebar of my blog)
They were such fun to create, so I ended up painting three for the walls in my office.
This was the staging area, where I covered the sideboard with a drop cloth and just added all the paint I owned.  I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to do these scenes, and lots of water and different size brushes to get the paint to flow.  I also used rags to create a mood on the borders.
Matthew Mead photographed the office for Where Women Create magazine in 2017.
You can see how the two landscapes anchor the back wall, creating a focal point behind my desk.
This was my favorite landscape painting.  I added a small building to the landscape,
trying to simulate a structure I saw at Versailles, in Marie Antoinette's Petite Trianon.
 Belvedere I believe it was called. Not exactly the same, but my interpretation.
These were all in the WWC magazine last year. 
Now this room has been repurposed as a guest bedroom.
  But I may be taking it back as my office this year as I miss the space.
This was a painting I did directly over another store bought painting, and it fit my living room so well.  One nice thing about painting pastorals is that they seem to fit any space, and you can add the colors that work well with your palette.  Imagine a pink sky if you had a lot of pink in your room. 
Here it is in progress, I start by doing the background with the horizon line separating the blue and the green. Then I build in the trees and highlight with light and dark shading. If I wanted to add some lilac or pink to the sky, you can imagine how different you can make the painting look just by doing that.
This large canvas was a fun painting project but a challenge.  I had to paint it outside.  Because it required so much paint, I used various paints, many of which were wall paints for the house.
Doing that also kept the colors within the palette I have going on in my home.
This huge canvas actually hides a door we don't use.
The room used to be so awkward, and this large painting served to make
 the room pretty and eliminate that door! Art with a purpose!
Most recently I painted a pastoral scene inside of my white piano. 
After painting the exterior to look like blue and white toile,
the idea came to me to put a landscape inside.
I have a feeling I will be painting more pastorals.  
You might want to give them a try yourself.
creating your own artwork is very satisfying. 
Look at how different the piano looks from plain white.
I even did a mini landscape on the music stand in the front of the piano!
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

An aged pastoral painting inside the piano and Reeve

My French Piano and a slice of life. 
 Last post I showed off how I painted the exterior of the piano with stamps and a pattern to give it a toile effect.  But I still was unsure how I wanted to finish the interior to give it even more of a French look.   I had a few days in a row off from watching baby Reeve, and I decided to tackle the piano.  The thought of putting a pastoral landscape for the interior came to me as I went to sleep that night, as often many creative ideas do.  The next morning I got up and took the piano lid off its hinges and started to paint a landscape similar to the few that I have been painting around our home.
This pastoral landscape, my largest, was painted on a big canvas.  
Searching for the landscapes that I have painted to show you, I realize I 
may not have posted on them at all, so look for that post shortly.
Back to the piano...
I unloaded the cans of Annie Sloan paint I had and started to paint a scene
 from my imagination.  After painting the landscape, I brushed white paint 
over the whole thing to give it a dreamy look.
The painting took me about four hours and I was thrilled with the results.
It was soft and elegant and old looking, something out of an old painting from
 the French countryside.  It is really pretty now that it is all finished! 
I wasn't sure if I should gild the edges, but for now I don't feel it....
and I always say: Doubt means Don't.  At least for now.
 My life is more balanced towards a family life these days, and when I get a chance
to do something creative its all the more enjoyable and special.
Reeve is nine months old and is such a JOY!
The weather has just started to creep into the fifties in Boston, and you can see the baby
carriage in the dining room all ready for afternoon walks with Piper.
 Piper and Reeve are such a great pair! 
 They both look forward to being together, and they are side by side most of the day. 
 Piper is so gentle, and its true that Goldens are great with kids!

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Monday, March 26, 2018

My Painted Toile Piano

Some of my most creative ideas come out of the blue like a thunderbolt,
like the random idea to paint my white piano with a toile pattern.
After watching some amazing makeovers using a stamp product line created by
Iron Orchid Designs, I was interested in trying it out, but wasn't sure where.
After repairing a leak in the ceiling and repainting the wall, I just thought to myself
I would use up more of the wall paint on the piano with the stamps from IOD.
 Stamping is a way to create a one of a kind personalized decor effect on
walls, furniture or fabrics.  I watched several of the videos from the IOD website
and found myself becoming so inspired to create something using a stamping method.
After purchasing two packages of different patterned stamps for IOD retailers (see below for links)
I created a toile pattern that fit the shape of the piano, kind of winging it as I went along.
 Because the paint is the color of the walls, the overall pattern is restful, instead
of busy.  I couldn't be happier with the result, and it only took me one day!
Mr. Maison Decor is away on a trip, wait til he gets back....
I actually don't think he will notice for a few weeks.  Then he will say
in a surprised voice, " When did you paint the piano!??"  
Our living room had been in disarray since the leaking ceiling, and tonight
he will get back and check the wall and ceiling that I finished up after his repairs.
And there will sit the Toile Piano, unnoticed.
But for me, she is a SUPERSTAR, and I am in LOVE with her!!
My son took a brief 15 second video of me applying one of the stamps
to the border of the piano.  Click the big arrow to watch.
Here is a photo showing the top a little bit better.
Is there a toile piano in your future?

Check out Iron Orchid Designs HERE
Retailers where I purchased my stamps:
Kathie Lee Jordan Designs (Canada) HERE
 Collette's Cottage (USA) HERE
Wall Paint used for Stamps: Ben Moore Woodlawn Blue
White Piano:  Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint

I used a combination of stamps from the Laurel package 
and the Pastoral Toile package, along with a large stamping block.
Due to the curved shape of the piano, I applied many of the stamps feehand,
and some of the prints were a bit muddy and not as clear.  But it didn't
effect the overall feeling, and after the paint dried, I sanded the entire paint job
with 220 grit paper to soften the overall look.  

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