Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Little Bit Country

Country Living

I try not to look at magazines because they make me want to make over rooms.  I recently saw some images from Country Living and I was pleasnatly surprised.  It's nice to see them redefining "country."  It's much more fresh and modern.

I never thought I'd admit it but, as Marie Osmond said, "I'm a little bit country."  (And don't you dare say, Who is Marie Osmond?!)

Urban Cottage

When I first showed the guest room makeover, someone suggested I add a quilt to the bed.  It reminded me that I had a bunch of quilts stashed away in the basement and I thought I had the perfect one.

Several years ago, I saw a documentary on PBS about The Quilts of Gee's Bend, Alabama.  If you haven't seen it, you must!  These weren't your granny's calico-printed patterns.  They were beautiful abstract folk art created with whatever the women (and sometimes men!) had on hand and assembled using nothing other than their (great) intuition.

Quilt by Linda Pettway

This make-do quilt is constructed from old work clothes.  See the pockets?

Quilt by Minnie Sue Coleman

Some are intensely colored variations of traditional quilt designs.

Quilt by Mary Lee Bendolph

Others remind me of the abstract work from the mid-20th Century.  The interesting part of that is that many of these quilts predate the work of the abstract artists.

It was at this point I took an interest in quilts that broke the rules and I found many beautiful examples of quilts from the south, primarily East Texas, that were just beautiful works of folk art.  Many of these were made and packed away for special occasions so they're in immaculate condition.  This quilt above has been seen on the bed in guest room...

...and more recently almost cropped out of the photo of the upstairs landing where I've hung it over the banister.

The quilt on the guest room bed now (a variation of a diamonds and geese pattern) is one of my favorites.

When I was painting the little closet between the guest and middle bedrooms, I thought this would be the perfect place to display all of the quilts.

Here's a wider view of that closet and in to the middle bedroom which I've repainted. 

Quilts, wicker, cow print.  I guess you can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy.

I'm a little bit country.


  1. Your guest room is beautiful! At first glance, I thought that was another picture from Country Living! I went to a quilt exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum in NYC a few months ago and it made me want to start collecting! Your collection is one to envy!

  2. Hi Steve,

    I like how the quilt on the bed brings over the colors from the art on the wall behind it.
    The Gee's Bend exhibit I saw at the de Young museum in SF remains one of my favorites. They're stunning.
    So, I don't remember that star lantern in the bedroom redo! But it must have imprinted on my brain. I just ordered one!

  3. Hello!
    I love the cow print, but your quilt display is amazing! What a great use of a small space. I think the wall color is perfect too.

  4. i'm a little bit rock and roll myself.

    i'm not a huge quilt lover but i do like these abstract ones. i will check out the documentary.

  5. I have the book on the Gee's Bend quilts from an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. It's fascinating. Your narrow closet with shelves to display the quilts is a marvel. I wish I had one like that--my quilts are in a cupboard with doors and no way to display them, unless I put them out on the sofa or on the beds.
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. Ok Steve, I just short circuited my computer from the drool that has fallen from my mouth onto the keyboard after seeing your quilt closet. Stunning!! There really is something so comforting about a quilt.

  7. Is that the cow print from the kitchen? I'm a little bit Farmy. I definitely need a cow print. or a cow. some chickens and a few goats, more rabbits and three or four dogs. o. yeah. and a Hedge Fund to support them all. Sigh.

  8. Marie who???

    I've been so busy stripping off wallpaper I just saw your post. I love the new country too. How can anyone not love quilts? I just love how you displayed yours. I didn't know you had so many quilts. What else are you holding out on us!
    p.s. please excuse excessive use of the word 'love'.

  9. Uhhhhh....I have major quilt envy right now! I love have you have them stored all nice an neat.

  10. Quilts have a lot of stories to tell. Their historic significance makes an interesting anthropology study....the fabrics (reuse and recycling especially), the patterns...the process.

    I LOVE the way you stacked those in the closet....please don;t close that closet door.

  11. You just had all of those quilts hanging around......I have to say it.....hoarder...just a little though. And a neat one at that.

  12. I'm sure you'll find this hard to believe since I live in the country, but I don't own a quilt. Usually it's not my style, but you're making me rethink that position...And, those quilts displayed in the closet is pretty clever!

    Oh...please don't go to Marie...her hair extentions are just not age appropriate.

  13. holy crapola... you own all those quilts and you're just now realizing you're a "little bit country"?!!! I could have told you that around quilt 4!! :) Clever display!

  14. They do look so much like the paintings from Hans Hoffman and Mondrian. Love the bold color!
    xo E + J

  15. It could be worse, you could be " . . . a little bit rock & roll." LOL!!! Country Living isn't what it used to be! Did you see the Sarah Richardson feature article last month? Love her!

    So you had those quilts in the basement? Wow, I'm soooo jealous! I love the way you have them displayed!

    My husbands cousin made me a mini Gees Bend quilt. I'll have to post about it. It's beautiful!

  16. You have a lovely collection of quilts.

  17. Wow! That's quite a collection of quilts you have. I love them all stacked there in the closet...looks so great. Country Living has been the magazine that I have most consistently had a subscription to over the years. Country Home was really good for the last two years before its demise because they tried to really mix it up and do Modern Country. Now Country Living is doing that and I love it.

  18. You had all those quilts stashed in your basement! silly boy.
    That closet now looks like a piece of art. Definately worthy of a blip in country living magazine. :)

  19. You try to stay away from magazines and I should stay away from your BLOG! I really consider myself more Modern/Vintage/Industrial...and now I'll be searching for cool quilts and a dang cow painting!
    But first I have to finish wallpapering the inside of my closet! Grrrrrrrrrr
    :) - Cindi

  20. I bet those quilts are super soft. I've always admired them and had my eye on many when we've visit Lancaster, PA. How awesome that you've started your own collection.

  21. Wow, what a quilt collection! The time and thought that went into their making is so admirable. You're lucky to have them and I'm happy they are now displayed proudly!

    I saw an exhibit of the quilts and a great film in Austin with my dad. My dad had a tear in his eye after watching the film (he's such a softy!)

  22. Fabulous post! Can I just tell you that I wanted to marry Donny O when I was 5. I would rewrite the song but snobby, preppy doesn't rhyme with make- do hahahaha. I love my husband's taste, mostly.

  23. Your house belongs in a magazine.

    Every tine you do a post i want to tear all my walls down and start over.

    I hear it's getting chilly at night in your neck of the woods.

    Guess we'll need to use one of those beautiful quilts.

    xo Jane

  24. I think I like reading the comments almost as much as your posts. Anyway, are you kidding me with another great collection, you just happen to have?? Ugh! I would love to have your inventory! The closet of quilts looks amazing. Love it. I wish I could follow your lead about not looking at magazines, but in this business, that's just not possible. Another reason why I love looking at the pictures of your house. I'm a bit country, too, or maybe a lot, and I love the image you show of the fresh take on it. Country used to mean "cute." Thank heavens those days are behind us, and a little fresh and modern is now thrown in. It feels more "grown up."

  25. What an amazing collection of quilts! I am in love with the one on your guest bed. I was lucky enough to see Gee's Bend exhibit. I love the graphic element and dark colrs on so many older African American quilts. I also love old crazy quilts--some of them are so strange and interesting. I am going to the Shelburne Museum tomorrow and am looking forward to see their quilt collection.

  26. LOVE the closet shelving full of quilts! I have a friend who is a quilter and she does amazing stuff, too. Who knew quilts are actually an art form? Karin/

  27. Oh the first picture of your guest bedroom is wonderful. I love it!! It is perfect. Do not change one thing!!!!
    I too love quilts. They are warm and inviting ...probably the only abstract art form that can say it has those qualities.

  28. Hello, Steve, I thought I'd share a link to a brazilian folk painter called Galeno, whose work I was reminded of when seeing one of your lovely quilts:

    and another:


  29. Isabel,
    Yes! I love the first one in particular. Thank you for sharing!

  30. I think you've done a great job pulling the colors together in the room with the quilt. How fortunate that you just happen to have so many things that come in handy.

    Will you be keeping the star light fixture? The more you work on that room, the less it seems at home there.

  31. J.W.,
    Not sure. It definitely looks heavy in that photo. It's also deceivingly large because it's closer to the camera. In the end, I think I'd like the lighting and plumbing fixtures to be the modern elements in the house.

  32. I hate that song LOL but I LOVE that display of quilts in the hall!!!
    I have half a mind to now remove my hall closet door to reveal it's insides!

  33. My first decorating magazine (around age 13) was Country Living. I definitely have a little country in me, but luckily very little. haha. Just kidding. I always say I need two houses - an elegant traditional for the city and a modern country for the, um, country. I do like quilts and especially your collection. I never would have thunk it, but I can see it appeals to the abstract art collector in you. You are endlessly amusing.
    xo Terri

  34. Jesus, I thought you were joking about the cow print and then I saw it....!

    All joking aside, there is something very comforting about country - my grandparents' homes were both in the country and one was very country in decor - floral wallpaper, many old quilts, cows, wicker, you name it, oil cloth tablecloths, wood stove, red enamel pots, oil lamps, pressback chairs, beadboard, flowery curtains...even an old wringer washer. This is the aesthetic I grew up with and it always seems soothing.

    xo T.

  35. I'm a little bit Country, too, Steve! :) I love your collection, and your guest room! :)

    I started a new picture thing on the blog - I hope you can stop by to check it out! :)

  36. So you have a few quilts, do you!? I think you should rename yourself the Quiltmeister or a Quilty Cottage. What a bumper collection.
    Is that lovely cabinet to the right of the banister quilt painted in the arsenic paint colour you once mentioned. How did you get that finish? I want to do something similar with an old dark one I have here.

  37. Hi Steve, I was the one who suggested the quilt on the bed. Love the quilt you have chosen, it really matches the art work on the walls.

    I just love your quilt cupboard, oh it is gorgeous.

    Is the first picture a guest bedroom of yours? I thought it was from a magazine also until I read some of the comments. It is just really beautiful.

  38. Terri,
    Double comments! How lucky am I?

    I wish I could have done that surface on the cabinet. It's an antique but, you're right, the color is very close to the arsenic color. I've studied it and studied it trying to figure out how I could reproduce that beautiful patinaed surface.

    I thought it was you! Are you the Patricia that was buying a place in Cambridge? The first photo is from Country Living magazine. I was trying to highlight how a quilt can be used in a clean, modern interior.


  39. Sounds like I need to leave mine in a 19th century Mexican village for a while. That should do the trick. Thanks anyway! Those quilts almost warrant a glass door on the closet.

  40. I know what you mean about reading magazines! But unfortunately I am still addicted to reading certain ones. Love what you did with the quilts in the closet (that sounds like a book), very clever- I do not see a closet door - I hope you removed it! I have a quilt my great-grandmother made and cherish it dearly. I also love the amish quilts as they are in solid colors and quite graphic! Another great post! Always love reading your blog. - Lana

  41. Steve,
    Not the one buying in Cambridge.
    I am Patricia from Melbourne, Australia who suggested the quilt :))

    Re the top Country Living quilt,
    I made a similar quilt, a few years ago, modern in 'navy and camel' for youngest son for his flat. It looks great because he painted all his bedroom walls in a beautiful light navy blue.

    Just finished a navy quilt for my middle son who turns 40 in Oct. Today I put the label on in a beautiful natural linen with handstitched message. I can't wait to give him the quilt, but have to wait for Oct 12th Both boys quilts are modern and always hand quilted.

    I love the quilt you have put on your bed
    and that cupboard with all of those puffy quilts bulging out!!!!!

  42. Hello,
    This is my first visit to your blog and I love it!

  43. Hola Steve, I´m so happy to see all the great work you have done at home since my last visit, everything is just gorgous!!!

  44. Just drooled over you on Janet's blog, didn't appreciate you were a real live person with a real live blog.
    You've got a Dave Grohl thing going on.

    Don't worry - I'm 3500 miles away!

  45. I just looked at the new Pottery Barn catalog. One of the photographs reminded me of this post - quilt on the bed, also hanging on the wall behind...beautiful colors.

  46. I would like to say I'm a little bit Rock n Roll but naaa I'm a little bit country :)... your home is so well put together love the quilts especially over the banistairs.. and there is that lovely green chest again, love that x

  47. Oh my word my spelling and I can't even edit it,.. of course i meant banisters :) x

  48. Hi Steve, I love how the quilts look in the closet, it is artful! I also thought that the pic of the quilt over the banister rail was taken from a magazine~

  49. Hi Steve...I have a friend who bought an old glass front cupboard...popped out the glass and replaced it with chicken wire. She uses it to display her amazing (like yours) collection of quilts...stunning....Another fabulous post...k

  50. Love the country look and the colors and patterns your chose.

    'Please visit our new website'

  51. Do you have a pair? Of Cowboy boots I mean?!

    When you go country you gotta go all in!

    xo kelley

    PS love all of your past posts but I just now had some time to read them! So glad the big "I" was kind to you.

    By the way California just fell into the Pacific Ocean and no one seemed to notice...kidding!

  52. omg, I so love all your quilts!
    So beautiful the way you've displayed them.