Saturday, June 18, 2011

Did I find my aesthetic?

I've tried for years to nail down my interior aesthetic. I know what I like for exteriors and need no help there - in fact, I wish I didn't have such a defined taste in that realm. But interiors!? I can't figure it out. I love prints, I love vintage/antique, I love industrial, I love natural fibers, I love color, I love traditional, I respect modern. Ugh - if I pursued all that...we'd have one garish looking house.

I've tried to take style quizzes on various websites. I've tried to nail down the colors that I'm most drawn to. But everything I try leaves me in the same place: a persistent state of indecision without ability to move forward with anything interior. I also have a difficult time buying furniture or decorative items, because I have a fear that anything I buy will look out of style in 2 years max. And so: our house is spartan. And the furniture that we do looking a little ragged.

But, in the June 2011 issue of House Beautiful, I turned to page 84 and almost felt something clicking into place. The next 8 pages revealed a home that I would love to visit...or LIVE IN. The gorgeous spread is called "Simplify It" and the genius design is by husband/wife team Jesse Carrier & Mara Miller. After reading a bit...I realized that they actually designed Anna Wintour's house. Wow. And the fact that she actually promotes their work...and had them design the lobby of the Vogue office? Amazing.

So anyway, the house - called Dove Meadow - is a 19th-century farmhouse in upstate New York. The furniture is all vintage or antique (probably muy expensivo) and they manage to use color, prints and natural fibers in this cohesive, unpretentious, clean, earthy way. I love this house. Also...they are innovative: The curtains in the office are my favorite - "handkerchief-style curtains" affixed with two simple hooks (LOVE):

And I'm absolutely using the same idea for kitchen bar stools, but we'll do navy blue instead of red:

Anyway - check out the whole spread on the Carrier and Company website...or take a look at House Beautiful. I think my plan is to rip out the pages of House Beautiful and carry them around in my journal so that when I'm out at flea markets and 'antique' shops - I can be reminded of how all the things I love CAN actually work together. This house is exactly what I want to achieve in our I just have to do it.

Taking it outside

This spring was the first spring in our new house. We moved in on March 1st with plenty of snow blanketing everything. Almost through April we were snowshoeing in the back woods, enjoying the white quiet of our woodsy, rural life with Porter bounding through 3 ft of snow. Since we found the house in January, we weren't quite sure what we'd discover under the snow. As much as I love snowshoeing, I was excited to see what would appear.  And I haven't been disappointed. Spring brought us a goshen stone patio in the backyard, beautiful stonework walls, a belgium block lined driveway and some pretty little flower beds.

Since the house had been vacant for 2 years, the flowerbeds (or shall I say weed-beds) needed some TLC. We weren't quite sure what we had, but knew for certain that we had some ornamental grasses and boxwood bushes (one of which got nailed pretty badly by the plow guy). I also knew that I had a lot of mulching and weeding to do. As a kid, I used to help my parents in the yard just about every weekend during growing season. I weeded, mulched, watered and whatever else they needed. During those years as I crawled through their gorgeous gardens, I think I absorbed a lot of information about gardening, or at least I hope I did. One lesson that I definitely learned: mulch works. It helps keep weeds at bay, it helps lock in moisture so your flowers don't get too thirsty between showers, and it just makes everything look nice.

So in early May I set out to tame the wildness of our neglected flower beds with weeding and mulching. I snapped a few pictures for your viewing pleasure: 

Here's a little post-weeding comparison: without mulch vs. with mulch. Check out that sorry excuse for a plant -he's not digging the sun that he gets in that spot and needs to be replaced with something more sun-tolerant. I'm thinking hydrangea.

Here's the front flower bed in May. The grasses back there don't get enough sun and will need to be moved. The middle boxwood is the one that had the run-in with a plow. It seems to be bouncing back a bit.

Love these low walls that we have. Our hostas are big and beautiful now - the landscaper or whoever put them in got placement right for those. They love the shadey, protected spot between our front porch and the enclosed breezeway. those walls. Ornamental grasses are looking better now as compared to this photo as well.

I've ALWAYS wanted to have hanging fuschia baskets...and now I do! Our front porch is perfectly shadey. We got these beauties at Stuart's Nursery in Turners Falls, MA, but inspiration was delivered by Riverside in Waterville, ME.

And here's the view of our backyard mountain in May! The mountain's trees have leafed out...and it looks lush and lovely.
Here's the bed in the back, next to the sunroom. It's going to be a great perennial bed once I get my act together and plant a few more things. I've already added some lupine, daisies, and bee balm. My zinnia seedlings are starting to sprout too (I should have put those in earlier!)

And while I've been working on the flower beds, Jon's been tackling our lawn (or more accurately, our expanse of weeds).  It's going to take years to get our lawn to be at least 50% grass. And that's Jon's department - I just supply the cold beer when he comes in from outside frustrated that his grass seed isn't growing...or after a downpour has washed all of his seed away.

Despite the lawn problems, our back patio is just lovely. The mosquitoes this year were a bit of a pain, but now...our afternoons out there are amazing. Margarita or beer + patio + great view + great company = heaven. Check it out (and please don't judge our patio furniture - there's a plan in the works): 

Happy Saturday! I hope you're outside in your yard...enjoying a lazy afternoon.