Farmhouse Decor

Screened Porch Sensation

Everyone I know that has a screened in porch adores them for sitting in the early mornings and at twilight sipping their favorite beverage of the moment. Gentle breezes and comfortable furniture combine for a relaxing place to curl up and read a book in a bug free environment. You just can't beat them during the hot days of Summer.

I decided to showcase my sister in law, Laurie Kessler's screened in porch to extole the virtues of screened in porches. Laurie's screened in haven has a East/West exposure providing shaded areas at any time of the day - there's always a comfortable place to relax.

Laurie has brilliantly combined new with vintage pieces making the setting very relaxing and intriguing to the eye. Everywhere you look you see comfortable wicker furniture, distressed tables, and potted plants in vintage containers like galvanized buckets, enamelware colanders, etc. What makes this look work is the glossy white paint. The stark white paint provides a clean and fresh background to the screened in porch and is soothing to the senses and has a calming effect.

Whimsy is added here and there so the feel of the room is not too stark with small twig stars over the screened doors and a tinkling wind chime overhead.

Laurie designed the screened in porch and her husband, Bob built her a dream room complete with tongue and groove ceiling. It's a great partnership project that showcases both of their talents in design and construction.

Ceiling fans whirring above provide a constant movement of air making this screened in porch a great place for Sunday afternoon naps on the couch. Laurie and her husband, Bob have decided to move to a larger home with acreage but, I assure you a screened in porch is currently being designed for their new home only this time I think it may be even larger.....

At night, the small fairy lights and candles transform the room into a more private romantic affair. The perfect way to end the day after a great meal shared at the small table.

Upholstery With Vintage Grainsacks

Don't you just go gaga over vintage grain sacks?  No?  I just can't understand that, because I adore them and look for them wherever I go when I am out and about.  Hard to find, even harder to find without holes and stains.

My son Chris and I went to pick up a sweet little dresser that I had purchased earlier in the week and the owner, Corey encouraged us to go upstairs to see the new things he had brought in since my last visit and we found these great industrial looking stools.  Chris had been looking for a stool to play his guitar and I wanted to make a footstool out of mine.

Chris' stool had this great white vinyl covering and chrome legs - no improvements needed there.  Mine however, had burnt orance upholstery that was...kind of gross and the legs were a bit rusty.  Hated the orange upholstery, but loved the patina on the legs.

Once I got my little beauty home, it was time to match it to a grain sack.  The one that seemed to fit had one quarter size hold and two smaller worn places.  I rummaged through my thread stash and found some vintage ivory button thread to mend the holes before attaching them to the stool.  I knew that I wanted to patch the holes using an old method of placing running stiches close together in a criss cross fashion with a patch piece on the underside of the sack.  I didn't want to match the sack exactly I wanted my repairs to be visible adding a bit of character to the piece.

Dan supplied the electric staple gun which was fun to use and made the job easy.  It was a basic job of stapling opposing sides pulling the fabric tight as you go, then adding filler staples to hold the whole thing in place.  I think this little stool may have been an office chair in a former life due to the shape but I couldn't see where the top would have attached.  But, I think it makes a nifty foot stool.

Other really great grain sack foot stools...

Miss Mustard Seed - etsy

Spring Is In Bloom On the Prairie

A few years ago I purchased a white lilac bush and the second year I had lovely white lilac blossoms.  The third year my white lilac blossoms were lavender and pale pink.  At first I was disappointed, but then the fragrance and pale hues of pink and lavender won me over.  Lilacs are just my favorite heirloom flowering shrubs.  I have a bouquet next to my chair as I write this blog to you tonite.  The fragrance is heavenly.

Lilac are super easy to grow, will tolerate less than perfect soil and require full sun for maximum bloom.  Plant them under a bedroom window for fragrance at night.  The blooms are short lived, but spectacular and worth making room for them in the garden.

Being a farmgirl I adore vintage chick feeders and the one in this photo is my favorite.  It is a small feeder only 8 inches in length, but isn't it sweet?  I keep it on a shelf in my kitchen and tuck special cards, candy, and photos in it throughout the year.  Today, the little feeder is holding a French enamel house sign.

The chicks in the photo are made of concrete that I picked up on one of my junking jaunts and they sit on the shelf with the chick feeder in the kitchen.

The feeder and the chicks remain on the shelf year around but everything else changes around them as the seasons pass.

A chair at the farm with the sweetest embroidered garden pillow featuring a wheelbarrow filled with flowers.  I think the umbrella is a sweet touch.  I was amazed when I walked into the shop picked up the pillow and the owner told me that the pillow was $5.00 if I wanted it.  Sold.  I guess it was just my lucky day.

The blue tones in the pillow match perfectly with my chair that I sit in to enjoy my morning coffee when I am at the farm.  Simple pleasures...

My apple tree is in bloom and the fragrance, well smells like apples.  Dan pruned a few of the taller branches for me that I couldn't reach when I was pruning the trees earlier this year and I brought them into the house for a bouquet for the coffee table.  They look so perfect in a vintage white enamelware bucket.

Who can resist vintage calico aprons hanging on a rooster hook in the kitchen?  I think they brighten the kitchen and add alot of charm.  The best part is that they are so fun to wear when baking cookies with the kids.

I have planted my Zinnia beds again, weeded my flower beds...again, pruned my fruit trees, purchased my seeds for the vegetable garden, added three truck loads of compost to the veggie garden, and have already started dreaming about all the lovely blossoms to come in the months ahead.  Dan is dreaming of juicy red tomatoes.

How does your garden grow?  Are you a flower gardener, veggie gardener, tree and shrub enthusiast or do you just enjoy your neighbors blossoms and produce?

Deer Antlers and Vintage Blue Bottles

One of my favorite rooms at the farm is an upstairs nook with a comfortable chair for reading.  I found this great white deer skull with antlers at a flea market and knew it would be perfect for the wall above my white cupboard where I keep some of my favorite books.

On top of the cupboard are vintage glass bottles in varying shades of blue that look beautiful on top of the white cupboard under the deer antlers.  I can't keep from picking them up when I find them in antique and flea markets - I just think they are beautiful.

I had lunch with one of my pals, Marcy today at a new eatery called BRGR Kitchen.  They have a salad called the Al Greens with cranberries, red onions, cucumber, grilled chicken and a great sweet poppyseed dressing.  Delicious.  It is across the street from the Mission Road Antique Mall were Macy has a booth called the Black Curio.  We dropped a few things off at her booth and I went to find the tiny dice that I had seen there.  I think they will find there way into some new jewelry I have been designing.

The deer skull and antlers have been an ongoing conversation I have been having with my husband.  I think it is beautiful and I just love the way it looks in the reading nook.  Dan has a different opinion, he thinks it is a little creepy.  I guess it's just the science geek coming out in me...I love fossils and natural elements.

Marcy and I have decided to share a challenge called "Up to No Good" where we go into one of our favorite junking shops, make our selections and then put together a mixed media piece using only what we found, paint, and wire, screws, etc. to join the pieces together that represents our theme of - Up to No Good.

We had alot of fun browsing and putting together our elements for the mixed media work we would put together.

After our junking jaunt, Marcy and I went down to the Hobbs Building in the West Bottoms of Kansas City to see studio space she is considering for her sculpture work.  It looks like the perfect space for her.

We then stopped in for a late afternoon cocktail at a local eatery in the West Bottoms.  I had an Elderflower Spritzer - it was elderflower liqueur, pinot grigio wine and spicy ginger ale.  Delicious and very refreshing.

We had a fun afternoon together in spite of the high temperatures in the 100s we are experiencing here in the Kansas City area.

Tonight, we went to our favorite BBQ restaurant - Oklahoma Joe's.  They have this fantastic sandwich call the Chicken Z Man, and it is delicious.  A smoked chicken breast, two onion rings, mozarella cheese, mayo, and BBQ sauce on a toasted bun.  It's heaven on earth.

Lady Liberty and Chippy Mary

In honor of the upcoming Fourth of July, Lady Liberty is gracing my kitchen window sill.  I fell in love with her as soon as I found her mellowed vintage glass form in one of my favorite junking shops.  I love the color of the vintage glass as the sunlight streams through my window in the afternoon on a sunny afternoon.

 I like to put vintage bottles, especially cobalt blue glass bottles with a tiny pink blossom from the garden tucked inside the neck of the bottle.  I also put vintage ink wells and apothecary bottles usually in sets of three - the number of instant collections.  Three of anything...makes a nice statement.

The hydrangeas are lovely this year at the farm and I enjoy a huge bouquet each time we visit.  Just before we pack up to leave I hang them to dry in a closet for dried floral arrangements this Fall.  My favorite color of dried hydrangeas are the pale green of the blossoms just before they are in full bloom.

Yes, that's Angus snoozing in one of his favorite places - this time on an ottoman in the sun.

After months of searching I finally found a vintage light fixture that I love for the sitting area just outside the kitchen.  I fell for the glass flowers and large globe that is 18" in diameter.  It took four hands to install this heavy fixture.  Tall husband flexed his handyman muscles putting this vintage fixture together.  The search continues for wall scones that will match the fixture.  I would like white metal and clear glass scones for the space.

This is my Chippy Mary, she watches over my kitchen.  Doesn't she have a lovely patina from years of wear outside in the weather.  She is 28 inches tall and stands atop a matching concrete base with the same patina as the statue.

I don't know what plant this dried specimen is, but I pulled it from my garden last fall and saved it because it has the sweetest bell shaped dried flowers all over it's stems.  I thought the bells would be perfect to cover in PMC (Precious Metal Clay) paste for earrings.  In the meantime, I wound wire around the base of the stem and it adorns my wall above Chippy Mary.

This is the fireplace at the farm that I am trying to learn to love, and it's a struggle for me.  It's just too big, dark and heavy for my personal style, but I am trying... I filled a flat basket with seashells for the Summer.  Finger starfish, barnicles, clams, sand dollars, conchs and various other shells from my collection.

So much better than an empty hearth.

We harvested new red potatoes, a few onions and sugar snap peas from the garden and enjoyed them for our dinner.  Delicious.  The sweet peas were so crisp and sweet in our salad. Yum.

I have been busy preparing for another show this Thursday at a lovely farm of a friend of mine.  I'll share some of my finished pieces and some of the antiques I'll be taking along with you soon.  It's always a mad rush the week before the show.  There are so many new things I want to put together for my shows, I never get them all finished.  But, I keep trying.

What delicious produce have you found in your garden and local Farmer's Market?

Winter Decorating Ideas - Featuring Laurie Kessler
Simple, clean, elegant, unpretentious - words to define Winter decorating in the eyes of Laurie Kessler, my sweet sister in law. Laurie's style is strongly influenced by visits to her grandparent's farm as a girl with bits of vintage farm bits here and there, like the galvanized chick feeder filled with silver mercury glass and green glass balls on the top of the custom china cabinet built for her by her husband, Bobby.

Laurie credits her mother in law, Karen Kessler who influenced her to leave some of the Holiday decorations up through the Winter months for interest and to extend the Season into the Spring. Bits of evergreen, decorative pine trees, mercury glass and lots of pine cones and holly look lovely and keep the house smelling of pine and cedar.
Frosted pine cones fill a vintage handcrafted grain scoop in the screened porch is so charming on a primitive table next to a living evergreen potted in a galvanized metal bucket.
In the bath hanging above the porcelain tub is a primitive scale from a former grocery store for weighing fruits and vegetables. The scale has a new purpose holding mercury glass and clear glass balls. The scale is paired with a salvaged wooden screen hung on the wall for added texture and interest.
At the end of a hallway family photos in simple floating frames arranged above a vintage wooden stool with a plant potted in a vintage tin kitchen pot adds a focal point at the end of the hall. The photos are arranged outside Laurie's office so that she is greeted and encouraged by her great grandparents and other family members as she enters the office to begin her workday.
Another primitive stool serves as another plant stand for a pine tree with tiny decorations adorning the branches in the bedroom which casts a mirror image in shadow on the wall from the afternoon sun streaming through the windows.
This galvanized metal wreath looks great throughout the year hanging in the guest bath. Tinsel and glass ornament containing a tiny woven bird in copper sitting on a twig branch inside a clear glass ball by Julie Pishny looks so sweet hanging from the wreath.
Vintage McCoy pottery deer surrounded by tinsel pairs so well with vintage crochet doily, vintage colander filled with mercury glass balls on a round table in the living room.
Sunlight streaming through South windows makes the nook off the kitchen so inviting at any time of day. The perfect place to sip a cup of tea and watch the birds visiting the garden just outside the windows.
Angel cookie cutters paired with Laurie's collection of ironstone glassware tucked into a china cabinet. Another creative way to enjoy personal collections throughout the year. Laurie has been collecting angels for years receiving them from family, friends, co-workers, and picking up one of a kind, handcrafted angels at fairs and in her travels.
An array of vintage glass jars filled with local grains from the region and flower seeds from her garden in an assortment of sizes and shapes fill another shelf just above the angels and ironstone on the shelf below.
Vintage ironstone vessels hold a tiny frazier fir tree, mercury glass ornaments, and a few pine branches float on shelves of white.
Tinsel trees and one tiny reindeer on the kitchen counter reflect the icy days of Winter. Vintage coffee jars hold coffee and sugar in the background.
Vintage white lard can holds amaryllis, pine cones and tiny bird's nests on the island counter top. A tiny potted rosemary plant in terra cotta complete the arrangement.

I hope this blog inspires you to bring seasonal Winter elements into your home to enjoy until Spring arrives. There's something about the color of green and the sparkle of silver, paired with white that satisfies the soul during the short days of Winter. Blessings.....

Kitchen Cabinetry Faux Finish
This is the kitchen at the farm with honey oak cabinetry, woodwork and floors with dated wallpaper from the 80s. We removed the soffits above the kitchen cabinetry, replaced the oval flourescent light above the bar and removed all the wallpaper.
Another view of the kitchen with mold growing on the front side of the island that you can see if you look closely - this house definitely had it's problems.Today the main level of the house has been painted in a soft gray and the honey oak woodwork has been converted to a shade of white. The kitchen cabinetry has been painted black and distressed with a hand rubbed finish. Now the floor seems to give the room warmth balancing the cool shades of gray and black.

This is the livingroom area with huge stone fireplace. You can't really see the floral wallpaper in this photo but, trust me it's there. We stripped the wallpaper, skim coated the walls and painted them in a soft gray.
We replaced the victorian style ceiling fan with a darker more modern version and added dark leather couches to balance the fireplace in the room. That's Molly, my Jack Russell terrier perched on the back of the couch in the center of the photo.

This is one of my prized furniture pieces that Martin Towe built for me for the informal dining area out of cypress salvaged from a 100 year old farm fence. It still scents the room with a fragrant pine smell after almost three years.
A wine rack will be installed under the cabinet on the left side where the basket now sits. The other side will remain open.
Doesn't my china look wonderful in this cabinet? All I need is more ironstone pieces - some platters, etc. in the area where the ironstone pitcher with flowers is sitting.
The next project will be upstairs bedrooms that still need wallpaper stripped. Ugggh... our winter project.

Swedish Design

Swedish Design is simple, fresh, clean and elegant. Being a librofile (addicted to books!) I make regular purchases at Borders, Barnes & Noble and Half Price Books. My latest addition to my collection of design books is Swedish Interiors by Rhonda Eleish & Edie Van Breems. I have browsed and swooned over this large hardback coffee table edition again and again and again.

Swedish interiors are a more sophisticated and cleaner than the faded creams of "shabby chic" or the vintage french pallette. Rooms appear crisp, cool and clean. Almost youthful in appearance.
Many furniture pieces are lightly painted with muted blues and greys.

Often you will find a splash of bright punch of red in accessories or fabric.
The Swedish Mora Clock from the late 1700's.

Having a large collection of botanical prints, I was immediately attracted to this dresser. Wouldn't it be a fun decoupage project?

The muted pallette relaxes the eye and makes the room appear larger.

Vintage Bottle Chandelier
I thought the crystal chandelier in the dining room was boring so I decided to create a vintage bottle chandelier. I had been collecting some old bottles in shades of brown, cobalt blue and various clear bottles.

I wired up the bottles and replaced crystals with vintage bottles for a ver interesting effect. The boring crystal chandelier took on new life with the colorful bottles dangles in the sunlight. I just need a few more cobalt blue bottles to finish the chandelier.

The chandelier looks great during the day and at night as well. It fulfills my need to take something I love like old bottles and use them in a new way. I like to live with my collections and it is always a challenge to find new ways to do that. I have another chandelier in the house over the stairs that I need to find a method of transforming into something interesting. I am still working on that one. But, this one I love.

Fall Decorating - Featuring Laurie Kessler

Beautiful pumpkins - can you ever get enough of that fabulous color??? LOVE THEM!

My wonderful sister-in-law, Laurie hosted Thanksgiving this year at her lovely home. I love going to Laurie's house because her decorating style is a treat for the eyes. Simple, clean, designs are a treat with a surprise waiting around each corner of the house and her immaculate garden.

These pumpkins were lined up on a primitive green wooden bench with vintage galvanized watering cans with bittersweet and milo tucked into the openings at the top.
A potted pine in a vintage galvanized bucket that was used for nipple feeding calves. The nipple was attached where the black lid is located on the bottom front of the bucket. We used these as kids on the farm to feed small calves. They usually rooted the bucket out of our hands or would slosh the contents all over us. It was a sticky mess. We started feeding them through a wire fence to keep them from bumping into us.
Laurie found this fantastic bird house at the Lenexa Handcrafters Show made by a carpenter that lives near Kansas City. I especially love the galvanized metal chick feeder tray that is suspended below for seed.
Vintage slate chalkboard proclaims - THE EARTH IS THE LORD'S AND EVERYTHING IN IT. A vintage bird cage stand holds a wire egg basket with a candle inside.
A small green shelf holds Laurie's collection of vintage gardening tools and children's blocks spell out Laurie's favorite pastime.
What a perfect bar set up on the screened porch. A zinc top table with bottles of wine. The enamelware containers hold Laurie's birdseed for her many feeders.
Bittersweet against a vintage persimmon colored shutter on the front porch welcomes guests.
Grapevine star is perfect above the shutter. Laurie has one on each side of the window on the entry porch to her home.
A lovely statuary cat for the garden that is usually surrounded by flowers during the growing season is flanked by pumpkins making the statuary piece seem like a black cat.
Vintage wire basket holds a small birdhouse, Indian corn, pumpkins, catalpa tree seed pods and a bit of straw. Laurie changes out the contents seasonally.

I wish I could share the inside of Laurie's home that is filled with wonderful antiques, vintage pieces, prints, vintage garden items and so much more. It's against a pallet of white with punctuations of green - fresh, peaceful and calming.

Kitchen Rennovation Ideas

Whenever I design a new space - I look for inspiration and often find it on the Country Living website. My cabinetry at the farm was honey oak which Martin Towe refinished to a antiqued black finish that I love.

I also love the wooden pot rack over the island. I won't have room for one of those at the farm, but I do love it.

I like the idea of combining the black cabinetry with the vintage glass front cabinet - so much so that I will be removing a section of the cabinetry at the farm and hanging a French inspired camel top glass front cabinet for my china pieces in its place.
This is the section of cabinetry to be removed so that the new cabinet can go in its place. This cabinet is visible from the front entry so I think it will make a nice focal point to pull the eye forward into the house.
This is similar to the type of china cabinet I have in mind for the space. If I cannot find one, I know that Martin can build one for me, but hopefully I can find one to refinish in a light oak color or whitewash.

This will be my color palette for the kitchen at the farm. Black cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, mushroom tinted walls, and slate tile backsplash. The countertops will also be a neutral in a slate tone formica top. I like the durability of the formica top and it can be changed out easily if I ever want to change the appearance of the kitchen a very little cost.My cooktop in in the island so I will need a vent hood, additional lighting and possible a pot rack. The island is approximately 10' in length and about 3' in width. A range vent will break up the space and add another interesting focal point to the kitchen.
This is the shape of vent hood I am thinking of for the island. I would like to fabricate my own design using hammered and etched metal. The ceilings are only 8 feet high so it would not be a large piece to fabricate. I will leave the lights out of the vent hood and place them on either side instead to showcase the hammered and etched metal.

I would also love to have this arts and crafts style clock in my kitchen area. I can fabricate the clock face and Martin can build the clock from Black Walnut. Isnt' is gorgeous?

Chris is a tall guy at 6'2", but the stilts really speed the mudding process up with no ladders or scaffold to deal with and he is so proficient with mudding the walls that they hardly need any sanding at all which is such a plus when you are pushing the schedule to get the renovation complete.
Here's hubby, Dan looking at all of the wires he will have to relocate that were hidden in the soffit - oops I didn't count on that little wrinkle when I insisted they be removed.
There is a pantry in between the cabinets (in the photo above). The door to the pantry is small at only 24" in width. I had considered using a vintage door with a glass window, but 24" is really small and a door that size with a glass window has proven difficult to find. A couple of different options would be a screen door, but again finding a vintage door in 24" will be difficult.
A door like this could be fabricated, but too expensive. So, I may have to settle for a small door with a chalk board like the one below. I like this idea, but would really like to find a door that lets the light from the pantry shine into the kitchen.
The soffits are gone and the sheet rock is up and mudded - this was a time consuming project due to relocating the wiring and moving the can lights toward the middle of the room. I am so happy with the results and like the open feel of the kitchen now that the soffits gone.

A few other ideas I really like and will try to find a place for in the house....

I like the look of the old general store shadow boxes on the wall. I have loads of small items that I have collected over the years and this shadow box cabinet would be perfect to display them.
This kitchen has the feel of the mud room I would like to have in the galley style room between the house and the garage. I have an old vintage sink and the cabinets would be nice to store odds and ends. I also want a crystal chandelier in the space - which I already have on hand. It's a nice dicotomy - a chandelier in a mudroom.
I also love these primitive looking lights over this table. They remind me of galvanized metal funnels - wouldn't they make great lights? Maybe in a bathroom over the sink......

I love this house so much... I have shared photos of my sister-in-law's home over the years in this blog and now it is for sale. Bobby and Laurie are moving into a larger home with acreage. I will miss this home as much as I am sure they will. It was their first house after getting married and they have been busy embellishing it ever since with the addition of a screened in porch, wainscoating, built in shelves, china cabinets, etc.

City Farmhouse Simplicity featuring Laurie Kessler

Look at this perfect kitchen in white, Corian dove grey island counter and warm hardwood floors. The window over the sink has a view into the gorgeous screened in porch area.

The house features a formal dining room, but this area between the living room and the kitchen is roomy and perfect for less formal dining. The cabinetry on the right with glass doors is perfect to showcase your collections.

The living room features a wood burning fireplace and wonderful southern exposure windows that houseplants just love. The house has two living areas on the main floor.

The outside of the home is a typical surburban home in dove grey that is beautifully landscaped with evergreens, perennials and various shrubs and trees.
A huge screened in porch is perfect for entertaining and enjoying night breezes by candlelight. I wrote a blog about this screened in porch earlier this year.

The master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling and arched doorway into the master bath area.

The master bath has a vaulted ceiling and a sunny window over the tub that floods the area with natural light.
Another view of the master bedroom with more sunny southern exposure windows and a fabulous recessed architectural ceiling.
One of the four bedrooms has a lovely half moon window and vaulted ceiling.