Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year, New Projects

Finishing my first major renovation project this year feels like a great accomplishment.  I'm thrilled that it's done but, at the same time, I'm a little sad it's over.  There was quite an adrenaline rush (or various combinations of sickness and excitement) in seeing my house stripped back to its 168-year-old core...

...and put back together. 

 I miss coming home to see progress being made.  I'm eager to see that progress continue on the inside but the renovation coffers are depleted for a little while.  

In the meantime, I have several projects I can work on.  

First, I need to finalize the plan for the new kitchen and the two bathrooms.  I have a sick feeling that I'm going to have to get another variance for the windows changes I want to make for the new kitchen layout.  

As I mentioned earlier, I want to redecorate the guest bedroom.  Future renovations will not involve this room at all so it's a good opportunity for me to work on establishing a new feel/mood for the inside that better fits the new exterior.

I'm envisioning something that's a little Ralph Lauren...

...a little European country...

...and a little junk shop.

Here are some of the things inspiring this look.  Remember my glazed wallpaper experiment?  I'm leaning toward glazing it in the same color as I've used in the living room but I'll try to leave more of the gray pattern showing through.  Many of you liked the gray glaze--as did I--but I think I want to keep the house light.  I may do a few accent walls in a darker gray.  

I found the ivory matelasse coverlet (with Grecian urns no less!) on a recent trip to Maine for 70 PERCENT OFF!  (That NEVER happens to me. )  The pillow sham with the gray stripe is Belgian linen from Restoration hardware.

I'll add to that some of the vintage things I love to collect, primarily wood and black metal.

I'm still trying to think of a creative way to display my collection of vintage show forms.

I would like to paint this old bow-front dresser that was left in the house... look something more like this Gustavian piece.

The dining room that's right next to the living room will also get a makeover.  I've never been happy with the modern dining room table in my old house.  It's too sleek and takes up too much room.

I recently found this chunky pedestal table base...

...and I'm going to pair it with this tabletop that will be wrapped in zinc.  It's going to be cut in two and put on an expanding frame so two leaves can be put in for larger dinners.

Remember these chairs I bought on ebay?  They turned out to be too small for the living room so I'm going to overhaul these to go with the new zinc-topped dining room table.  They're pretty scary right now but just a simple change in color...
...would really change their look.  Or I could..., I'm just kidding.

I'm thinking they'll be painted a dark gray or brownish gray...

...and upholstered to look more like this bed.

I just got these wingback chairs for the living room.  I find these so horrible they're almost wonderful,  if you know what I mean.  I think I'll leave the natural brown legs and then I'll have them recovered.  These might also work in the bedrooms as a nice comfortable place to sit and read before going to bed.

I like this windowpane fabric but I'm thinking I'd like them to be more masculine with perhaps a houndstooth or herringbone on the outside...
...with just linen on the back and seat.  

And in between all of that, I've got 10 windows that need to be painted on the inside.  Getting the windows painted actually is my first priority but I'll try to work in these other projects and keep you updated as progress is being made.


It's been almost a year since Trina from A Country Farmhouse encouraged me to start a blog.  I wasn't sure anyone would be interested but I particularly wanted to document my process of getting a variance in Cambridge, Massachusetts and going through a renovation in a congested urban area.  Along the way, I've found people were interested and I've been encouraged by those of you who are kind enough to leave (mostly) supportive comments.  I've "met" some wonderful, interesting and inspiring people around the world and I've gotten frequent e-mails from people who are renovating homes in the area or who grew up or lived in Cambridge.  

To all of you, I send out a thank you and a sincere wish for a happy, healthy New Year.


Monday, December 27, 2010


When blizzard warnings went up yesterday I thought it would fun to take a few before and after photos to show those of you who don't live in a Northeast city all the fun you're missing.

My side yard has about 30 inches of drifted snow.

I hope Sam doesn't need his tools until spring.

The side steps

To stay on top of the snow, I shoveled every two hours until 11:00 p.m. and then got up at 4:00 a.m. to dig out again, and then shoveled again at 6:00 before venturing off to work.

The back porch.

If you're fortunate, you have a driveway...

...because if you don't, you end up with this...

...or this.

Did you get snow?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

From my cottage to yours, may all the joys of the day be yours.

Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Christmas Tree of Memories

As you can see, I've added a few lights on the inside that add to the holiday look outside.  I put some white lights in the sidelights at the front door and a single candle in each of the upstairs windows.  I'd love to put one up in the attic but the attic freaks me out.  Maybe I'll try to work up the guts tomorrow.  As you can see I also have a tree.

I don't do a lot of decorating inside...

...but a little Currier and Ives print comes out... well as my collection of wooden Santas but a Christmas tree is the one thing I do faithfully. 

Growing up, picking out and decorating the Christmas tree is one of the few things that I can remember doing as a family.  My great uncle, Uncle Gus, had a small nursery with two or three greenhouses and about an acre of trees and evergreens.  All of us would go after church in early December to Uncle Gus' field to pick out and cut down the tree.  Even if the first tree we saw was great, we'd reject it so we could keep looking for the perfect one.  I miss those "real" trees that were never meticulously trimmed into perfect cones.   

Now that I live in the city, the closest thing I get to cutting down my own tree is driving 15 minutes to the country--okay, work with me here!--to Wilson Farms in Lexington, Mass.  

It's just a short ride but you really do feel like you're in the country.

The parking lot overlooks their greenhouses and this time of year there are poinsettias as far as you can see.  Uncle Gus would have loved to have seen this.

I can only imagine what this looks like from the farmhouses up on the hill.

They have wreaths in all shapes and sizes...


...traditional garland, swags...

...and even some unusual things I've never seen before like this red ruscus.

I picked my tree, which is trimmed perfectly into an unnatural form.  800 lights later, I'm ready to decorate.

I don't know if my mother had some incredible foresight or if she was just trying to get rid of junk in the house but at one point she split up all of the Christmas ornaments and presented me with a box on one of my vacations home.  Each year  at Christmas, I unwrap my treasures and I'm immediately connected to memories of Christmases past.  I love these mercury glass beads to start the tree trimming.

These little angels hung on fishing line over my mother's nativity.

These are from the year my mother wanted to have an all green and white tree.  I remember going to the store to buy a few boxes of these ornaments.  I was lucky enough to get a whole box of these.  The price on the box is marked 88 cents.

Some of these were on my grandmother's tree.

This ornament is one of the earliest ones I can remember.  I remember staring into this beautiful blue ball at Santa Claus and dreaming of what he might bring me that year.

This bird ornament is one of several we made as a craft project with my mother when we were kids.  A small nest is glued on a clothes pin and spray painted gold.  A few pearl "eggs" were glued in the nest and a red velvet cardinal was added.  I love these because they clip to a branch and look very natural sitting in the tree.

I bought a bunch of partridges last year to make a more of these but I never got around to it.  I was hoping to find a single tiny pear to put in each nest.

The clip-on candle holders were my great grandmother's from Germany.  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to know all of my grandparents and great grandparents.  I have a million questions I'd like to ask them today that I never would have thought of as a kid, but having that connection to three older generations of my family now gives me the interest in researching who they were and where they came from.

This is another one of my favorite ornaments even though it's from not so long ago.  It reminds me of a short time I lived in New York City.  I thought if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere.  And I couldn't.  I love New York but I couldn't live there.  I lived there for one Christmas season and I bought this ornament.  This ornament reminds me that  I should try to happy with what I have. 

This beaded bell was made by my grandmother.  She was very talented with this kind of thing.  She was always knitting, crocheting, beading, tatting something.  She taught me that hard work and patience pays off. 

Here's the cardinal clothespin ornament sitting among my other Christmas memories.  

The beaded star.

Seeing these ornaments each year helps keep fresh the memories of Christmas past and those loved ones who are no longer with us.

Although these ornaments don't have the same meaning to my friends, they always love to come over to sit in the light of the Christmas tree and become almost hypnotized by all of the ornaments.

Do you have ornaments that have been passed down through your family?  If not, I hope you'll consider starting this tradition so your children and grandchildren, decades from now, fondly remember you and the Christmases of their past.

Merry Christmas, everyone!