Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy 1 Month Anniversary!

Today was the one month anniversary of our owning Catty-Corner Cottage. Exactly a month ago today, we had our closing, received our keys, and started moving into our new home. Part of me is absolutely shocked that it has already been a month, and part of me is thrilled to have gotten so much done toward making it feel like a home to me in so short a time.

To celebrate our one month anniversary, we went with the traditional candlelit romance. Er...wait...that would actually be necessary candles because of a black out.

Yes, I woke up this morning, as Tom was leaving for work, to our first black out in the new house. An extremely severe straight-line wind came through as part of a torrential thunderstorm at 5:50 am, knocking out power to about 7,000 people in our city. I'm sure many of you remember our drama with our entry door-less garage. The power outage happened JUST as Tom had finished opening up the garage door to take his car out for work. Had he been a little slower getting ready, he would have been trapped at home and so would I. Had he been a little earlier, the door would have closed behind him and *I* would have been unable to get my car out for work. As it was, the garage door was wide open and un-closeable for part of the day until I returned home to check to see if power was restored during my lunch, but at least our cars were accessible.

Thankfully by the time I ran home during my lunch, the power had been restored to the house. So we survived our first black out. But we now have even more motivation to price the addition of an entry door on the garage. (There is an emergency pull to detach the garage door to open it manually, but if we can't even get in there to pull the does us no good)

It has definitely been a month of ups and downs, high and low points. There was our initial stressful experience of locking our cars into the garage and needing to break in, our bed frame not fitting up the stairs and having to sleep on our mattress on the living room floor for our first week, Tom's car breaking down, the bathroom drain dripping steadily, and trying to understand new household bills while wrapping up final payments on the old ones.... But there was also the warm joys of hanging pictures on the walls in just the right places and seeing them transform the space, driving to Columbus to pick up the perfect entryway bench, meeting the neighbors after baking a pie for each of them in my new kitchen with my mother's help, the triumphant victory of finally getting the bed into the actual bedroom thanks to my dad, Tom learning how to fix the drain with help from our friend Dave, and gaining a true affection for the character and quirks of this place we now call home.

Although we have had to face so many obstacles during our first month my boss started to tease me that the place should be called "Cursy-Corner Cottage," the truth is that our setbacks have all been relatively minor, and all of them have had relatively simple and inexpensive solutions. "Disasters" like dealing with a black out may be temporarily inconvenient, but when I look on our local newspaper website at pictures of a local house that was entirely destroyed by the same storm, I realize that I have no room to complain at for a few hours of flashlights and cold.

Catty-Corner Cottage is a beautiful lady. But like any new relationship, there is a "getting to know you" period that has its ups and downs. I have no doubt that this dame will show us mood swings in the future, but over time as we polish and scrub, adorn her and treat her with love, I have faith that she will return our affection with growing enthusiasm.

Here is to many more months, years, and decades in our little fairy tale.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Show and Tell Sunday II

Today was a gorgeous day outside, and we relished it here at Catty-Corner Cottage. Click all of the pictures to see them much larger.

We had a couple of visitors in our back yard. This beautiful cardinal was hopping around the tree...
While his lady was on the ground by the garage looking around.
The grove of trees from the bedroom door.
The gorgeous headpiece made for me by Linden Sidhe, displayed with the wedding day jewelry made for me by Parrish Relics.
I finally also got my shelf of Parrish Relics up on the wall in the bedroom as well.
Sometimes an artwork and a location meld so perfectly, it is as if they were made for each other. I was originally planning to paint another tree on this wall by the bedroom door, but when we were trying to figure out where to put this artwork of a woman on a hillside at night, Tom suggested we try it here. As soon as I held it up to the wall, I knew it was *perfect*. The frame of the picture picks up the light caramel tones in the room and the trees, and the dark night-time background brings in the dark tones of the rug and the bed linens. I was euphoric!
On the half wall by our bedroom closet, we put an art quilt my mom made me several years ago of a tree at night time.
Corvin approves of the trees.
The downstairs half bathroom has a theme now. The color scheme is tan and moss green, and the subject theme is J.W. Waterhouse art. In fact, I mischievously suggested I should make a sign for the back of the door that says "Waterhouse Water Closet." :)

I eventually hope to do a wallpaper stencil in here in a mossy jewel green color over the tan. The rug in here is new...we bought it today at Kohls!
The iron rack on the left is perfect for stocking a roll of toilet paper or two, and some books featuring Waterhouse's art.
Two Waterhouse artworks above the toilet.
A fresco of the Danaids above the towel rack.
Our beautiful front door. We're planning to either repaint this brown or a jewel green. Nothing wrong with red, it's just not our style.
I love the period details of our house front. The light is so beautiful, I love the shutter dogs on the corner of the (wood perhaps?) shutters, and look at that doorbell!!!

Home sweet home.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Little Light Reading

Today at the library where I work I was browsing through a book on decorating I had requested. The book itself, like so many that tout themselves as being romantic in style, was a little heavy on the fluffy linens and putti cherubs. But the subtitle of the book was an eyecatcher for me. In fact, when I read it, I thought "wow...that is a precise, concise description of what I hope to accomplish in our new home.

"Creating Fantasy, Intimacy, and Charm in the Home."

What a great summary of what my desired style is all about!

Anyway, being a library employee and owning a new home, it should come as no surprise to you that I've been checking out and reading interior and exterior design books left and right. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.

Of course there is the previously mentioned book about Magnolia Pearl, A Bit of Velvet and a Dash of Lace. Her interiors go aaaaall the way out there, but I love and admire her style for it.

Another favorite is a book called William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Home. The interiors in this book are truly inspirational. I just wish I could afford the Morris and Voysey print fabrics and wall coverings!

But one of my very favorite sources of inspiration is the design company known as Nell Hill's. Led by Mary Carol Garrity, the store, the books, and the blog are all major sources of inspiration for me. It all started with the book on Christmas decorating, Nell Hill's Christmas at Home. Her juxtaposition of formal with organic and quirky really inspired me. It was from her that I got the idea to take a statue and drape things on it, like Parrish Relics or headwreaths. She decorates her statuary for the holidays, and I just loved seeing how she brought the outdoors in while maintaining a real magic about it.

Other websites and books are geared to a hip and young generation who like a bit of quirk in their decorating, but I've seen very few that manage to still make it look so elegant, or give it such a look of historical context.

Mary Carol's dining room walls are painted a deep dark navy blue, and at Christmas she utilizes that to create tableaus on her table and buffets that resemble mysterious winter forest scenes.
All of the Nell Hill's books are inspirations to me, but I still find myself going back to the Christmas decor one. To me, it includes tips that anyone who wants to meld elegance and classical decor with a bit of whimsy and mystery can use.

A few more pictures from Mary Carol's Nell Hill's blog.

A guest room at the holidays:

Halloween Decor:

A Thanksgiving place setting.
Love the use of a mirror on the front door! (though with our lack of a front stoop roof, not a good idea to blind the cars going by with sun glare)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bits and Baubles

Random bits and baubles from our cottage days. Some days we get more done than others, but we keep on plugging along!

Tom's coworker and his wife collect Legos. They bought us these matching medieval Lego figure keychains. Love that the lady even has red hair!

Today I stopped by Hobby Lobby and picked up these three tiles for $.80 a piece. GCT: Grace, Corvin, and Tom!

Our friend Kirsty in England sent us a couple of wonderful tea towels from Emma Bridgewater. The full towel says "But even Domestic Goddesses and Kitchen Queens have to do the washing up sometimes." Love it!
Also at Hobby Lobby, I picked up a decanter. I use Witch Hazel as an astringent every night, but I hate displaying the bottle. Soooo....

Much prettier!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Paint Shop Pro is a New Homeowner's Friend

I've always been rather fond of using PaintShop Pro (an easier program to learn and use than Photoshop, at least for me) to alter photos and "try on" concepts and ideas. But never before have I found it so useful as I have in the last couple of months with our new home! Debating where to put an artwork or wall item? Try it out! Figuring out what color to paint your front door? Yay for PaintShop! Here are a few examples of the fun I've had using it.

The exterior of our house currently has decent curb appeal, but has potential to be so much more. Currently, the exterior looks like the above picture, but with PSP, I was able to play with the idea of adding shutters to the bay window, re-painting the door frame and front door, and adding window boxes, shrubs, and a porch railing. Now the only thing to do is to make this image the reality!

Another shot of the house with alterations made. This time I played around with the idea of adding a portico above the front porch too.

Oooh wouldn't an arbor look nice near the back entrance to the house?

I loved the suggestion to put a circular mirror between the trees on this wall instead of the wrought iron wall candelabra. So I played around with seeing how it would look.

And then I tried seeing how it would look to put the wall candelabra above the fireplace instead. Well we liked the look of this altered image so much, we went ahead and hung it as soon as I got home last night.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tree Bed

It all began with the bed Terri Windling shared in her blog about bedrooms and trees. The bed is made by Shawn Lovell Metalworks, and each one is an original work of art, with a price of $15,000 that doesn't exactly fit in the budget of a new home owner.

But I've gotten it stuck in my mind that the touch our bedroom needs is to finally purchase a bed frame for our queen bed. It doesn't necessarily have to be a tree bed, but now that the trees are painted on our wall, I can't help but dream of how beautiful such a thing would be.

So I set out to find a less lovely but more affordable equivalent, and found...
Nothing, really. :/

Anthropologie offers a less expensive option with this beautiful bed:

Less expensive than $15k, that is, but at $5,000, still more expensive than the car I drive!

I also found this lovely number:
From Gloverart, which has no price listed that I can find.

Finally I found another lovely bed, originally from a website called PBTeen. At $900 it is expensive, but at least it is relatively more affordable. appears they no longer make it. :(

So back to the drawing board I go. I know that, like so many things with this house, once I find the bed that is perfect for us, I'll know it!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trees in the Bedroom

Inspired by Terri Windling's amazing trees she painted in her little cozy British cottage, I've had plans to paint similar ghosted tree images on the wall of our bedroom. This weekend I set to work. So far I have painted three trees...they are more time-consuming than I expected! (Each tree took about an hour and a half to two hours to paint)

I'm currently debating whether or not I want to add more to our bedroom grove.

The corner in the daylight as of Saturday late afternoon.

The view from the open doorway to our upstairs bedroom. Today's addition...a larger tree in the corner by our bedroom door.
The current view from our bed:
I have a wrought iron wall chandelier I'm thinking of putting on the wall between the two trees (it would have to go over some of the branches) and eventually we want to get some sort of chair for the corner.
Probably I'd put it on the wall without the medallion and chains...just the line of candles. Good idea? Other thoughts?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bench in Place!

This morning, Tom and I drove to Columbus to pick up our mahogany bench we found on Craigslist. The sellers were an older couple who had an amazing array of antique furniture and collectibles in their house. The bench itself? Well, I was even more pleased with it in person than I had hoped I might be.

So of course I have to share pictures.

A couple of shots in the daytime, this one featuring the home's namesake curling his tail in an Art Nouveau flourish around the corner:
A shot of the bench in the daytime, showing some of the beautiful details on it. It was described in the posting as "heavy" mahogany, and it is indeed...a true heirloom piece.

The foyer at night. We put a beautiful William Morris tapestry above the bench. Eventually we might fill out this wall with more things as well.

Now the only ingredient we're missing in the foyer is a large mirror over the table. But otherwise, this room is done!