Sunday, August 21, 2011

La Petite Maison

In the far corner of my backyard I built, some years ago, a tiny garden shed.   Only about eight feet square, my newly-constructed shed incorporated some vintage elements into its design: the door (with its antique copper-finished knob & escutcheon) and windows came from a salvage yard; the old tin ceiling inside came from an antiques shop.  Even the flooring was re-purposed; brought home after being used in one of my window vignettes  from the Department Store where I work in Display.

My friend Kari, who has a perfectly magnificent garden she put in mostly all by herself, once had a visitor from France, who spent the greater part of a Summer at her house.  He created a make-shift office for himself in Kari's backyard shed, and referred to it as la petite maison, which sounds so much nicer than just plain old 'shed,' don't you think?  Oh, those French...

After Kari told me that story, my own La Petite Maison got its name and has never been called anything else, ever since.

From out-house to La Petite Maison: what a difference a century makes!

I think that La Petite Maison is built on the original site of my homes backyard out-house!  Yes, out-house.  My house, The Lilacs, was constructed in 1908 and lots of homes did not have indoor plumbing at that time.  La Petite Maison is probably not that much larger than the original privy it replaced.

The garage (to the left in the photo, above) was built in the 1980's and the siding already needs replacing.  (Actually, it needed replacing when the house was purchased in 1993.  "I just haven't gotten around to that, yet," as the Bouvier ladies say amidst the crumbling decay of Grey Gardens.  I plan on doing the job myself (eventually)! and am going to give it a 'board & baton' treatment as I did with La Petite Maison.  There's perfectly no reason why I couldn't do the job tomorrow, if only I had the money to do it!

Let's have a peek inside, shall we?

  The vintage copper-finished door knob and  escutcheon match the window box.

One of a pair of frogs on painted, wooden sconces flank the door.

Someday, I am going to redecorate the interior of La Petite Maison.  I say this absolutely every year and absolutely every year goes by without a change.  This year, the key to La Petite Maison was lost, with my bike locked inside from last Winter!  I just found a copy of the key a week ago!  You couldn't see a thing for the cobwebs...

La Petite Maison is enchanting, lit at night by candlelight.  At the right corner of the room you can see evidence of a near catastrophe! Oops!
The built-in bench is upholstered and is long enough to stretch out on and read the Sunday paper (or have a snooze)!  The decor is a little (OK a lot) tired, but it's hard having champagne taste on a beer budget...

I suppose if I wait long enough, this decor will someday come back into fashion, lol!

The antique, framed botanical prints are from a set of twelve I picked up when the Lingerie Department dressing rooms were remodeled at the Department Store where I work.

A zinc nut-cracker from Sur la Table guards a book.
 Grab a book and plop down on the bench.  Would you like an iced tea, or anything?

The perfect book to keep inside a little house!
Lot's of great  doll house inspiration in this book!

My cousin, Timothy, gave me this book & it's one of my favorites.
Sometimes when you're relaxing in La Petite Maison, Edie the Sheltie or her brother, Blackjack, will pop their head in for a visit.
My brother has his own special nick-name for La Petite Maison.  He refers to it as Martha Stewart's Jail Cell! But rest assured there are no bars on the windows!
Looking out the window from La Petite Maison to the so-called, 'big' house, 'The Lilacs.'  
La Petite Maison is not strictly a catch-all for all my throw-away tchotchkes.  On the contrary, it is also a working garden shed. And here is the evidence:

'Acorn Brackets' from Restoration Hardware hold garden implements.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to La Petite Maison!  It's not all that much larger than a doll house, so why not build one for yourself in your own backyard?

 You can just barely make out the verdigris-copper weather vane at the roof's apex against its backdrop of  black-walnut leaves.


I have had some difficulty in finding a suitable wallpaper for the Entrance Hall of Merriman Park.  My first choice, a scenic panorama of ancient ruins, does not quite fit the proportions of the room.  And my decision to add the double, Palladian stair on the back wall, behind the archway, has also confounded the use of this pattern.

A few months back I ordered what appeared (on-line) to be the perfect wall covering --a brocade-damask pattern in my favorite shade of terra-cotta --a color I love and which looks amazing as a background to gilt frames,  which I plan to use in abundance in this space.

Terra-cotta background  + gold picture frames = fabulous!

Unfortunately, when the paper arrived, the pattern was way too large --more  'Barbie doll scale' than the 1/12th scale that is Merriman Park!  I also noticed that this paper appeared to be a mere photo copy of an actual textile, and this got me to thinking...

Why not just shrink the pattern to fit on a color photocopy machine?

And that, is exactly what I did.  Or more accurately, what my long-suffering partner, Glen, did!  All I need to do now is get my hands on some decent, suitable paper on which to print my new wall covering, et voila!  Necessity is the mother of invention.

I also made a trip to the local dollhouse shop to pick up some more cornice so I'll be able to finally complete the chimney extensions.  And while there, I also grabbed some strip wood for the Entrance Hall wainscot.  Here I pieced a sample together  with my raised panels from Lawbre and a bit of gaffer's tape.  The woodwork will all be painted a bright cream and will really pop against the terra-cotta background.
The shrunken wall paper and wainscot mock-up.
    Not sure when I'll actually be getting around to these tasks...Merriman Park is, after all, my Winter project, and it's absolutely Paradise here in Minnesota right now, surprise, surprise!  It's actually perfect outside: sunny, warm (but not too warm), low humidity --it's what makes living up here bearable.

The patio we put in last Summer with my new pots planted last week & planted for Fall, already!
   Get out and enjoy the rest of Summer while you still can --and before it's too late!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jefferson Walnut Card Tables

One of a pair of my new Jefferson card tables, from the Monticello Collection (as are the chairs).

Not one but two of these card tables arrived the other day for the Entrance Hall of Merriman Park.  I love using pairs of things in my decorating schemes.  Even in my own 'real' house, glancing around the rooms, you will find pairs of demi-lune tables, pairs of sconces and pairs of candlesticks scattered here and there. 

Demi-lune tables flank the dining room window
One of the pair of demi-lune tables in the dining room, with its corresponding pair of (mismatched) busts.  I made a giant stamp to create the repeated, baroque  pattern on the back wall.
Sometimes, it doesn't even matter if the 'pairs' are an exact match.  A pair of mismatched chairs flanking the fireplace still looks balanced.
The oval mirror over the fireplace was my grandmother's --purchased almost a century ago from the Montgomery-Ward catalog!

Note the pair of candlesticks grouped side-by-side on the right side of the mantle: I once read in a decorating magazine that to do this was a huge no-no, but I think the set balances the grouping on the left side, don't you?  Also note the twin pair of light sconces, and the pair of lamps in the room's corners.  If you decorate in an 'eclectic' style, as I like to do, you'll find that a matching pair of anything will help unify things, and keep your setting from getting too busy.  That's my dearly-departed first Sheltie, Ella on the loveseat.  How we still miss her!
A pair of candlestick lamps flank the bar. Cocktails, anyone?
I am addicted to pairs and use them everywhere!  When selecting furniture for Merriman Park, I'll often pick up a set of two, just in can always store one of the pairs in your dollhouse attic if you can't find a spot for the complete set!  (And you might need the second piece if you decide someday to redecorate or rearrange your miniature rooms). Try using pairs of items --either in your dollhouse, or in your real home.