Sunday, July 30, 2017

Maine Blooms and a Garden Tour

Happy summer, friends! 

Can we chat gardens? For many of us, this time of year is about sitting back and enjoying summer's abundant blooms such as crape myrtles, daylilies, hydrangeas, etc. Yes, there's weeding plus watering, but most of the season's chores are done.

Until recently, I thought that the South, with its long growing season and warm temps, had an enviable advantage over the North when it came to flower power. I'm not entirely sure after spending much of July in Maine.

While in the process of designing perennial beds for our new property in Castine, I toured the gardens of friends to see what thrived in our coastal region. I noticed that the flowers throughout town bloomed beautifully with the most brilliant colors. Overall the plants looked healthy and happy; they didn't appear stressed. There were very few signs of insect damage. None of the peonies had any powdery mildew, which consistently plaques the ones in Maryland.

Speaking of peonies, they were flowering in July. Yes, JULY! Talk about a late season. I guess there are pros and cons everywhere. So, the northern climate means less disease, fewer bugs, healthier plants with more vibrant blooms but, alas, a shorter season.

Let's take a look:      
Peonies in July? Another reason to 💕 Maine. These beauties, cut fresh from the beds of our good friends, Carmen and Bill, graced our kitchen for over a week.  
And check out these pots on our new granite stoop - nonstop action! Doesn't Mocha look teeny compared to them? BTW, we just had the front door painted an apple green with a super high gloss sheen. I love how fresh and summery it looks. 
Thanks to friends Amy and Linda, Tom and I were able to tour the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden on Mount Desert Island. This private garden is open one day a week to the public from mid July - early September with reservations in advance. Book early as slots fill up quickly.

Created by famed landscape architect Beatrix Ferrand and Mrs. Rockefeller between 1926-1930, this is a fantasy of Oriental and English ideals. Picture pristine woodlands dotted with zen-like Asian statuary surrounding an English-style flower garden with a grand lawn in the center. What you have is an oasis of cool and calm engulfing an explosion of color - pure genius and drama!

Let's take a walk . . .
. . . through Maine woodlands carpeted by velvety moss.
Not one pine needle was out of place. A crack in the verdant forest floor reveals the tiniest babbling brook.
Through the moon gate framed by stately ostrich ferns, pops of color draw the eyes into the walled garden.
Welcome to a world of lavish English-style borders complete with perfectly groomed gravel walks, all surrounding a sunken great lawn. This is paradise in Maine!   
Aren't these delphiniums divine? I had serious envy. Clearly flowers are made for Maine.
One last stop in the oval garden for a bit of shade. The carved limestone Pagoda is Chinese from the Tang Dynasty. Hello, froggies in the reflecting pool.
Truly a garden worth visiting again and again. See more photos on my INSTAGRAM.
Cheers,
Loi

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer House Tour

Hello, there - Remember me? It's been too long!

Tom and I are 95% finished with our renovation here in Maryland. We're almost done in Maine, too. The pace of the last ten months has been fast and furious.

Let's back up to September 2016. We sold our historic house in Castine, Maine (the one with the hydrangea hedge), and began gutting another property in the same town - a circa 1863 cottage by the sea. In December, we acquired a Cotswold-style stucco cottage in Maryland, and immediately started renovating it. Yes, we were crazy enough to renovate two houses at the same time! In February of 2017, our brick Tudor went on the market and sold - see my post here. Then this spring we moved into the Cotswold cottage despite not having a kitchen. Tom did set up a make-do kitchenette in a spare bathroom. Picture a microwave over a mini fridge located inside the shower stall along with a hotplate next to the sink. Not pretty! Thank goodness we finally have a working kitchen today (minus the dishwasher). And over Memorial Day weekend, Tom and I moved furniture up to Castine. Whew! That's it, NO more moves for us!!

Now you are all caught up. I'm excited to share peeks of both homes just in time for a summer house tour organized by a group of talented Instagram / blog friends. 

For those visiting via my friend Lizbeth at Home and Fabulous, welcome! Liz has such a chic style - please check out her blog if you aren't familiar with it. 

Let's tour our new homes. 
At our Cotswold-style cottage, we upgraded the electrical service as well as replaced all of the light fixtures inside and out. A pair of Suffork copper lanterns from Circa Lighting flank the French doors leading to a walled courtyard. The lanterns illuminate the courtyard beautifully - just in time for outdoor summer entertaining. 

Inside, I also sourced this McCarren globe fixture from Circa for the foyer. By the way, this Swedish Mora clock has been in four of our homes - it's one of my favorite pieces. A summer arrangement of hydrangeas, spiraeas, and ferns fresh from our garden adds seasonal color.  
A view from above of our striking wrought iron staircase. Notice the seahorses adorning the railing - so unexpected and whimsical! I'd like to thank Carpet Creations (in Rockville, Maryland) for their excellent fabrication and installation of both stair and hall runners. They always do wonderful work.
It's been ten years since I last purchased kitchen utensils and small appliances. These new white ones, from Williams Sonoma, look especially stylish in a Crate and Barrel marble wine cooler, which complements the counters. And I just couldn't resist this aqua mixer - a fun splash of summer, don't you think? 
Here is our new kitchen. Once again, I selected classic Shaker-style recessed cabinet doors. The doors as well as drawers are inset (as opposed to overlay). Notice the arched vent hood. Normally I wouldn't have chosen an arch, but want to reference the many architectural arches in our home. Counter tops are white Carrara marble with a honed finish. The 4" x 8" white subway tiles add texture plus sheen.   
A festive arrangement of patriotic flags in a white ironstone pitcher all ready for the FOURTH!
More kitchen photos to come.

Now a sneak peek of our little cottage in Castine. I quickly snapped these photos with a rather old iPhone while we were moving in prior to styling or accessorizing.
ABOVE: A view of the harbor shortly after sunrise. More boats will soon be moored here.

BELOW: This gallery wall features part of my collection of vintage seascapes, many found locally in Maine. I'm looking forward to accessorizing the console table.   
That's it for this time. Hope you've enjoyed seeing our new homes....check back for updates.

Now please pop over to Maison de Cinq, my friend Sheila's blog to enjoy her summer tour. I can't wait for you to see Sheila's lovely home.

For more summer decor inspiration, check out all of these fabulous tours:

Happy Happy Nester
Styled With Lace
Crazy Chic Design
2 Ladies and a Chair
Lindsay Hill Interiors
Citrine Living
Home and Fabulous
Tone on Tone (that's me)
Maison de Cinq
The Design Twins
I Don't Know How She Does It
Meme Hill
Designs by Laila

HAPPY SUMMER! 
Loi 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring at Our Cottage

Spring has sprung in DC, AGAIN! After being teased repeatedly by Mother Nature, it finally feels like spring is here to stay. Tom and I couldn't be more thrilled!

The gardens at our cottage are brimming with fresh growth. Every day brings new discoveries. From muscaris to scillas, there are thousands of bulbs blooming. Yes, thousands! The show started with snowdrops and crocuses on the big lawn, and now, daffies and hyacinths in the borders are doing their things. We are grateful to the previous owners who planted profusely and passionately.

I've been a busy bee marking everything as there are plans to redesign, regroup and refresh the gardens. So much for downsizing and simplifying. Actually I told Tom that this property will be lower maintenance, and I intend to keep my promise. Please remind me as you know how I am easily tempted by those manicured gardens - ok? 😉

More to come. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek....
Well, March certainly is living up to its reputation of "in like a lion and out like a lamb." Just a couple weeks ago, snow blanketed our Tudor, and spring seemed so distant (with much concern for the fate of the cherry blossoms). BTW, we are spending our last days at the Tudor before moving to the cottage soon.

Today, the snow is gone, and good news: the cherry blossoms made it through just fine. Here is one starting to bloom in front of our new home.
Built in 1928, the original stucco was deteriorating. Tom and I decided it was time to restucco, and hired Robey, Inc to do the work. They have patiently and meticulously worked with us to restucco both the house and garage. We're so pleased with everything including the texture plus color - a neutral greige. I look forward to sharing closeups of the final work.  
Throughout the property, I've staked and marked various flowering bulbs. There are many, many clumps of Tete-a-Tete daffodils, which are usually the earliest daffies to bloom.
I am 90% sure the beauties above are Pink Charm daffodils.
Also blooming now are pink, white and purple hyacinths. They are incredibly fragrant.
I couldn't resist picking a few generous bunches to enjoy inside in our freshly painted entry mudroom. The arched window with leaded glass is one of my favorite features.
H a p p y  S p r i n g !
Loi

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Mantel Refresh

I have terrific news to share: our Tudor is under contract! Yay! A solid offer, from a lovely young family, came in a day before the scheduled open houses, and we accepted it. Tom and I along with our wonderful agent, Mary Lynn White, all decided to cancel both open houses. I apologize if that caused an inconvenience or disappointment to anyone. 

Many thanks to those that left good wishes - I received your comments, emails plus messages with much gratitude. I'll keep you posted on our move.

In the meantime, let's revisit a serene and sophisticated home that I decorated and recently refreshed. It belongs to Susan and Greg, special friends and longtime clients. I had the pleasure of featuring this project back in 2012. Take a look here - go ahead.

Now compare that to today: 
Gone are those bright gold silk curtains (which were installed by the previous owner, and conveyed with the house). Per my advice, Susan replaced them with cream linen panels that complement the quiet beauty of the palette of warm neutrals accented by Swedish blues and grays. 

Speaking of Swedish, there are a number of furnishings from my shop throughout this home. But I didn't want the decor to scream antique Swedish showroom, so I layered in plenty of upholstered seating for comfort, English and French furnishings for variety, and one-of-a-kind accessories for originality.
Many of the pieces I actually repurposed from early architectural elements. The iron grate in the coffee table that's in front of a Swedish settee came from a Parisian balcony. The zinc fragment on the mantel was once part of a door lintel; it's the latest Tone on Tone acquisition that inspired my restyling of the mantelscape.
Here is the new mantelscape incorporating my zinc fragment plus sentimental items including family silver and the sublime drawings of acclaimed artist and dear friend Jill Bateman. Jill is also a good friend and client of mine. I'm grateful to her for bringing Susan and me together. BTW, the dramatic seaside painting (shown in fourth photo from top) is another work by Jill.
Let's take a quick peek into the dining room where two more items were repurposed from architectural elements. I found both the zinc window dormer, known as oeil-de-boeuf, and wrought iron balcony guard in Paris. Together they make a striking statement as well as a fun topic of conversation. And how cool to have the zinc pieces in the living and dining rooms speak to each other.
In addition to the beautiful art, Susan is a passionate collector of mercury glass and ironstone china. Here is part of her collection catching the morning light in one corner of the living room. The French cabinet and mirror are from Tone on Tone.
Thanks very much to Susan and Greg for inviting us back into their elegant home. I love the updates!
xoxo
Loi
PS - For more, please follow along on my INSTAGRAM.