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Archive for October, 2008

After living with our all-white walls and trim for nearly a year now, I think I have a much better idea of how to proceed. When I first called out for advice, I had only photos of empty or near-empty rooms. Every idea I received was exciting to contemplate -especially the really bold suggestions like celery green.

But over the summer, almost every person that walked through the door commented on how expansive and fresh the white was. Some even remarked that they really should take some of their own rooms back to white – that’s how well white suits this little cottage!  

With five large windows and two french doors opening off the main rooms, the white walls pleasantly meld outdoor space with indoors. In bright, warm weather the room is a cool, clean haven and on cold, wet days the warm wood floors, fireplace and some soft lighting are more than enough to make it cozy. I have to conclude that this space is meant to be white. Or more precisely, two whites!

So I went back to thinking about style guru Mary Emmerling’s advice for white on white paint. She talks about mixing – 50/50 – Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White and Linen White to get the perfect white paint. Or she suggests using both; putting the Decorator’s White on the walls and doing the trim with Linen White. Now I am just unimaginative enough to think that this must be a misprint: Surely the darker tone goes on the walls and the trim takes the ultra white?

Next I dug out my BM colour wheels. These make a great gift by the way. They come in a tidy holder with a shoulder strap and have been endlessly useful. Until today, that is, when I found no Linen White at all. There is a Natural Linen and there is a Linen Sand but each of these came down pretty firmly in the beige camp. At my local BM supplier, they typed Linen White into their computer and came up with a pre-2000 colour numbered 912.  Then they dug around in a dusty shoebox and presented me with a chip numbered 912. Ah-ha!  This is a white. Quite a pretty white. A soft, slightly yellowy-white that looks good with Decorator White. Is this what you were talking about Mary?  

Below is a detail of the room as it is today. It is, and will likely always be, a work in progress, but the colour scheme comes down to blue and white.  What do YOU think of Mary’s idea to do the trim – which in this case would include moldings, French doors, lots of multi-light wooden window casements, rough vertical and horizontal support beams, the fireplace and a chimney in the kitchen – in the darker of the two whites?  Am I the only one that finds this a bit counter-intuitive?

Keats View Fireplace

Keats View Fireplace

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The summer went so quickly that the bushy overgrown Delavay Tea Olive or Sweet Olive I promised to prune into shape just never got the attention it deserved. This weekend, better late than never, we finally waded into it, removing tons of dead thatch from under the canopy, as well as a bit of excessive new growth.  My research suggested that the optimal time for trimming was in summer, just after blooming, but that to do it now would not be too detrimental to the shrub. We may have fewer blossoms next year, but the job is done and we live with the fallout. I’m so thrilled with the result!  Now I think it needs spotlighting! The pictures tell the tale. 

Thatchy and overgrown Delavay Sweet Olive Shrub

Thatchy and overgrown Delavay Sweet Olive Shrub

Trimmed of dead branches and some overgrowth

Trimmed of dead branches and some overgrowth

Lighter and brighter canopy...

Lighter and brighter canopy...

And look how lovely it is in the rain!

And look how lovely it is in the rain!

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You could be forgiven for wondering where Jane Austen fits into this muddle. She has a prominent place in the subtitle but has gotten short shrift ever since I went to Mansfield Park when choosing a name for my blog. 

Jane is that dear, dear friend that I turn to for comfort. When I am sick in bed, I read Jane. When I am discouraged or depressed, I collapse on the sofa with something I shouldn’t eat and watch film adaptations of Jane.  Why, you ask? Because — disregarding petty details like poor sanitation and the fact that one could die from a minor infection — Jane’s world just seems so much sweeter!

But recently, I’ve been healthy and cheerful with the result that Jane hasn’t had much attention from me.  If you are disappointed, I recommend you check out some of the excellent blogs that really treat Jane right – like Austenprose or Jane Austen’s World. 

Today, however, I tip my hat to Jane by sharing with you, Gentle Reader, these charming and impeccably tasteful postcard coasters! And of course there is a story to go with them:

 

Jane would surely approve!

Jane would surely approve!

Way back in the early 90’s when Cottager and I were still sizing each other up as potential life partners, we embarked upon our first overseas bicycle tour; six weeks starting on the South Downs Way in England, then across the Channel to Normandy, on to the Loire Valley and then north, via Paris, to the Dutch border and back to London.

Along the way, we visited Jane Austen’s home at Chawton, Hampshire which is now a museum. We rolled up even before it was open. I recall that I was wicked – and probably gauche – ordering ‘cream tea’ for breakfast at a cafe directly across the road. And then, there I was, gazing upon the writing table where the very best novels ever published were composed. You may just have to take my word for it: The experience was exquisite!

More recently – a less happy moment – cleaning out my mother-in-law’s final home, we found these two coasters, purchased that day and still in their postcard mailers with a 2-part holiday update to Cottager’s mom, and dated August 31st, 1991.  Postcard coasters? I think they’re charming!

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