Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Growing the Garden

My largest outdoor project was the central garden at Old Farm you see as you arrive, and on view from the kitchen windows and door. I hunted for design help on-line, and found an article by C. L. Fornari, an expert on Cape gardening.  She visits local homes to give scaled garden plans and advice when available. We were lucky to have her come to advise us on all of our old plantings and do a garden drawing in early May before I started removing things. It took me all summer to dig out a foot deep of mugwort weed roots and slowly put in selected plants - mostly on sale as fall approached.Christian and Leif helped pull weeds luckily and the two sculptures and planter in the garden are my husband’s contribution. 


Beginning to Dig...


I added some boxwoods upfront for winter structure and interest, worked around some existing lilies that showed up, and moved the herbs under the maple for more shade.

C.L.’s plan was drawn to scale in fifteen minutes and included seven group plantings, all low maintenance, high performing, and color balanced for all seasons - with options in most groups. Alex hoped for as many blue hydrangeas to be planted at Old Farm as possible, so I selected nine Endless Summer hydrangeas to encircle the red maple. Behind them are eleven large white balled Annabel hydrangeas. The existing back plantings are bi-colored Rose of Sharon; pink and white, so C.L. suggested some Festiva Maxima peonies up front, which are double white blooms with scarlet stripes in their centers. Summer Wine Physocarpus anchors the garden at its’ ends and echoes the color of the maple while contrasting beautifully with the Golden Magic Carpet Spirea and Winter Blooming Heath close by.

New House Numbers

While I accompanied my husband on business in Amsterdam, we walked the old streets to be inspired by the lovely painted doorways there. We decided to buy Holland paint for the doors (to be done this summer) at Old Farm and found brass numbers we bought for the house. Our first house guest to Old Farm had trouble finding it in the dark, so we also had a Cape-style house number plaque made at the Chatham Sign Shop which we mounted in front of the very old cedar in the circular drive. We have been collecting interesting shells and stones to fill in around the base of this tree too.

We have three Limelight Hydrangeas that flank the kitchen door (and house numbers) at Old Farm and seem to brush you off before you enter. I aggressively pruned these in the spring and never expected to see so many beautiful blooms which lasted the entire summer and then some. I also planted a row of eight little box woods across from them, to lead the way as well. 

 This old cedar appears to be original to Old Farm. It bears many berries which I hope to use some day...

Doing Up the Deck

My girlfriend from Nantucket visited me at Old Farm as our first winter was fading. She gave me a great piece of advice which was to power wash our moldy deck and chairs which looked very discouraging. I bought a power washer early that spring, to transform the deck and two chairs that came with it (I spray painted the iron table that also came with the house). It was such a success, that I bought some used outdoor teak furniture, which needed power washing and sanding, to complete our outdoor sitting spaces. The lime colored umbrella and striped chair cushions in the last photo, came from Pottery Barn.


After Power Washing

After Furnishing

Furnishing Around the Water Faucet

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Choosing Chairs and Colors

The most interesting chair to find was our bedroom fireside reading chair. My husband wanted one that was comfortable for anyone, while a focal point in the room. I found this one in a consignment shop in Pennsylvania – and searched for a sturdy upholstery fabric which was blue and white (my favorite colors together). The one I picked was on sale as a close-out at Jo Ann Fabrics, and I bought plenty of it to use throughout the room. It is reversible too, so I used the lighter side on the back of the chair and pillow - for contrast. The fabric pattern is an historic one made by Waverly, featuring twining oak leaves (which are easily found outside the bedroom windows, on an enormous old oak).

The frame of this chair was over a hundred years old and made of hand forged steel. It was the second chair of this type my upholsterer had ever seen and required 20 layers of hand stitching in some places. Body filler was added to parts of the wooden base in areas where it was worn away. The chair came home after stripping in order for my husband to paint the feet and base an ivory color before fabric was added back to it. The frame was so lovely, we felt lucky to live with it awhile to appreciate the handmade joints and curves, before it was all covered up again.

 The bedroom side chair I found in my local “Decorator’s Consignment Shop”. It is an early Danish pegged chair with a flat seat and curves I felt would be enhanced with a wash of Benjamin Moore "Decorator's White" paint. I made a seat cushion with drop sides which is a Scandinavian style.

This Italian designer desk chair was used once in a photo shoot and cost $60.00.

The kitchen chairs are sturdy old plank bottoms that easily fit around a table and are painted bright white.

The two side chairs I have upstairs are antique faux bamboo-style. They were on sale at our nearby flea market.  My husband painted the chairs a gloss black enamel and I painted the ball decorations on them yellow before adding 24 carat gold leaf as a highlight. They also lacked seats, so I had an upholsterer add a thick padded seat to them, covered in a heavy natural duct cloth. Then I ordered 2 yds. of Dupioni blue striped silk from an ebay seller to make the ruffled seat covers with wide ties from it.

 For the living room fireside chair I bought a second, similar, upholstered chair from the consignment shop. This one needed to be smaller, but still able to fit anyone. It also needed arms since the couch we found was a sectional which didn’t have any. This chair is a sturdy one now with new seat springs and was brought home for painted ivory legs too. The cotton fabric came from a Calico Corners sale. Both newly upholstered armchairs were sprayed with fabric protector since they are both all cotton.

The other living room chair is an antique wicker one that I found over twenty years ago and spray painted with mat black Rustoleum. The wicker chair below is in the upstairs loft and was stripped of paint. Both chairs have Sunbrella custom cushions.

 I've added small painted benches upstairs as well...

 Choosing a Couch...
All of my boys requested a sectional couch, which was a challenge to find - and fit, into a twelve foot square living room. This one Alex picked up (second hand) in Boston for us and has been a big hit since it is easy to nap on - for more than one of us at a time! 

Outdoor Seating...

Bill has made garden seats which look so natural in colors and the spaces we found for them at Old Farm.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Cold Closing....

The entire family moved in Christmas 2010, installing a wood stove in the kitchen fireplace the day we closed, and gutting the upstairs in a snowstorm which all continued into the New Year.

Before Gutting Room I

Before Gutting Room II

The Work

After removing the ceilings and insulation, we decided to leave the old roof rafters exposed and insulate the roof from the outside when it is replaced. We also discovered the original old wide riser wall boards hidden behind sheet rock in the smaller bedroom (Room II), which I stripped of it's orange wall paper, and we are now securing and painting. We plan to build similar riser walls in the large bedroom (Room I) using wide old boards we were lucky to find locally. The plaster lathe found in the end walls was hand made as well as the nails, so we have stored most of it.




After Gutting Room I

After Gutting Room II

Six Months…& Spring!

Here is Old Farm in the spring with one of my husband’s planters out front.  The white petunias in this urn bloomed with the original old white lilacs nearby. My husband, Bill, is a potter and a sculptor in his free time - which has lasted over 40 years. It has been a joy to place several of his pieces at Old Farm as we create spaces for them.