Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zoffany Wallpaper


Ever since I saw a post on Willow Decor about adding patina to your walls, I've wanted to strip the paint off the curved base moldings on my steps, I hope they look like just this.  I'd also be happy to have this Zoffany wallpaper.  The pattern is called Gustavus which I found curious because I associate the laurel wreath pattern with Napoleon and neoclassical design.  But, it turns out, Gustav spent a great deal of time in France so Gustavian design is highly inspired by the french neoclassical movement.  Who knew?  I guess that's what you learn in design school. 

But I've also become infatuated with this wallpaper called Medevi.  When I did the facelift in my master bedroom, I chose a gray and white damask wallpaper which I love to this day. It's completely vinyl and was about $8 a roll which was my budget after just buying the house.  When I renovate the master bathroom, I also plan to gut the master bedroom so I can insulate all of the walls and above the ceiling and I'd love to upgrade to something nicer like this. 

I think many of these Zoffany wallpapers are perfect for an old house.   Can't you almost see Thomas Jefferson sitting on one of these chairs putting on his boots....or his wig.

Or Martha Washington soaking in this tub knowing that the British would soon be coming.

Zoffany wallpaper is apparently only to the trade but I did find it on Wallpaper Direct out of the UK.  Just don't buy it all up, okay?  I'm saving my pennies.

But I think the room would look more like this.

I'd probably pair it up with some great chests from Lone Ranger Antiques like these.  I guess I should be saving nickels.

Here are few other interesting wallpapers.  This one is called Facade.

This one is called Rome.  I think these really busy patterns are best used in small spaces where there's just a little bit of it.  I think a powder room that had cream or gray wainscotting on the bottom half would be a perfect place to use it.

This one is called Pillar.  It appears like the column bases and capitals come in different pieces which makes sense.  The fluted part of the column is then cut to fit your wall.  I think it would be fun to cut the columns out and just put them, say, flanking a doorway. 

Zoffany also has some great fabrics.  This is an ocelot print in cut velvet.  It would go great with your Mary McDonald leopard drapes, right?

It seems like wallpaper is making a huge comeback.  What are your thoughts on it?

Love it?

Hate it?

Would try it but you don't know how to hang it?

Love it but you don't want to take it down in a few years when you're tired of it?

Monday, August 29, 2011

All's Well

All is well at the Urban Cottage.  The storm is gone and the sun is shining.  It was a windy, rainy day with little more than a few extended, howling gusts that had me flinching...waiting for a crack of a limb, or crash of something but my house and big old tree fared well.  We're left with little more than limbs down in the streets and leaves everywhere. While hundreds of thousands were left without power around the state, I was able to iron my shirts for the week.  It's a good thing; some us called in "sick" because, without power, we can't do our hair.  

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.  Please divert those to the people who suffered real damage, especially the people from New Jersey up through Vermont (and others) who weren't so lucky. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011


The beautiful sunny morning didn't speak of the approaching hurricane.  It seems that we'll be spared the worst but we'll be on the windy side of the storm which means flying debris and possible downed trees and power outages.  I don't really have any hatches to batten but a few preparations seem logical like shopping for groceries and getting all the laundry done.

The back porch furniture is also getting rounded up.  The topiary that have made a happy home of the back porch for the summer are also coming in.  Winds of 50 to 70 miles an hour could surely send them flying.  

I love the green algae that's developed on the shaded pots.

The kitchen doors are all painted and the hardware is on.  Even though the other hardware in the kitchen is nickel, I chose the same bronze knobs that will eventually be used throughout the house.  These doors will eventually be used on the closet and bathroom upstairs.

Here's a picture of the old sliding doors before I did the most recent work to spruce up the kitchen.

I'm really happy I did this work.

The sun is gone and storm will be settling in overnight.  Bands of heavy rain are just beginning.  Water is already seeping in to the basement but I don't expect any major water problems.  I do worry about my big old tree though.

I hope everyone in Irene's path is and will be safe and well.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Zucchini Spaghetti

Check out this post for another version of zucchini "pasta." 

A few years ago a friend of mine decided she'd try a raw diet.  Whatever.  It seemed fine with me until I learned that every time she left home, she had to drag her cooler on wheels with her so she always had raw food to eat.  On one of her visits to Boston she came, cooler in tow, and proclaimed that I would eat raw for the weekend.  Resistance was futile.  Breakfast was a juice of kale, tomatoes, garlic, lemon and hot peppers that left me feeling nauseous.  She claimed it was a buzz from eating food that was "alive."  Okay.  But her dinner of zucchini "pasta" with a fresh sauce of tomatoes, onions, herbs, etc., even though it took two hours of chopping, was really quite delicious.  I recall wanting to go back a revisit this idea of zucchini pasta but I had forgotten about it until I recently saw a spiralizer.

I did a little bit of research and found several different versions.  Some of the metal ones are a few hundred dollars but after reading the reviews, I chose the $36 World Cuisine 48297-99 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer found here.  It arrived about a week ago and I really love it.  I've eaten zucchini "spaghetti" almost every day.  It's great raw or cooked.  My favorite is raw zucchini "pasta" salad with sliced sweet red peppers, carrots and scallions with a Thai peanut sauce.  I've sauteed it with onions and garlic as a side dish which is also very good.

Today I'm feeling lazy so I'm going to make quick zucchini "spaghetti" with bottled sauce.  Let me show you how it works.

The machine attaches to the counter with four suction cups.  It has three different cutting blades all of which attach right to the machine so there's no looking for the attachments.

I washed one zucchini, cut off both ends and loaded it into the machine.

Start cranking and the "spaghetti" just rolls out.

Ten seconds later the entire zucchini is done and ready to go into boiling water.  I chose to leave the skin on but if you peeled the zucchini, it would look almost exactly like real spaghetti. 

Cleanup is really pretty easy.  The blade pops out, the crank portion slides right off and machine itself just needs wiping off and rinsing.

I boiled the "pasta" for about two minutes in salted water and heated up some marinara in another pan.  In less than 15 minutes, I was eating a healthy, low-calorie, (and vegan!) dinner.  Boiling the water takes the most time.

I may tire of my new gadget but during this time of year with fresh vegetables readily available, I'm taking advantage or it.  And it's helping me eat a lot better.

Do you spiralize?  If so, what do you make?

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.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mary McDonald's Stuff

I was reading an interview of Mary McDonald by Raina Cox on Curbed National and learned that Mary was selling stuff from her own collection on One King's Lane.  On Million Dollar Decorators we saw Martyn Lawrence-Bullard and Kathryn Ireland go on shopping trips to London and Morocco to make selections for their own One King's Lane sale, but how fun that this selection of items comes from her own collection of furnishings.

Here are some my own picks from her sale:

Federal chest, $1389

Pair of tufted armchairs, $2749

Sleigh bed, $1499

19th C. whitewashed prayer chair, $979

19th Century American Walnut Occasional Table. $299

Many of the items are from her warehouse.  They may be items that were purchased for a client and just didn't work or plans were changed.  Others were from Mary's own home.

The leopard sofa seen in the lead photo...

...seen here in Mary's own library was for sale.

I love the collection of engravings on the leopard print wall.  Notice how the leopard print on the chair is perfectly aligned with the print on the wall.  It's almost invisible!

Even Mary's own drapes from the library were for sale for $399.

Detail of leopard drapes.

If you could have the drapes, what would you do with them?

Hang them as is?

Make a dress?

Upholster a chair?

Make a bunch of pillows and sell them on etsy?

They're tacky.  Throw them away?

Roll on them naked?

Let me know your ideas!!

The sale runs until Tuesday at 8:00 a.m.  Get your own piece of Mary McDonald while you can.