February 4, 2018

Hand Hewn Beams

Hello All!

How is winter going? Too quickly for me, yes, you read that right........that's what I get for my "I'll put that off for a winter project" mantra. Now I am overloaded and hoping I can get my butt in high gear before the madness that is Spring.

Still in "lounge" mode here, some of that time has been thinking about beams, specifically hand hewn 400+ year old beams from England. Even more specifically, when will mine arrive and what will I do with them?!?!
The options are endless, as you will see, But Let's step back a bit.....what am I talking about? 
Staying on in England with my bestie Sylvia, after our tour we antique…..pinch me! Near the very end, we went to visit the construction site her husband Joe was managing from design through construction.
There on the site was a stack of beams, 27 of them, irregularly shaped and roughly 12’ long, these are so hard to find!
The origin was the series of buildings, being sensitively restored for re-use into several townhouse-like homes. 
And yes, these beams had to come out, the originals being 
400+ years old, 

Give me hand hewn beams any day over diamonds! They could go on the same container as my antique finds, I said to myself……no problem
The history is vastly intriguing to me as I think, who carved these beams? How old were the trees that came down? 
We are talking Shakespeare's era!!
Below is a sample of hand hewn with the Mortise and Tenon technique. 
 An even older option was pegged mortise & tenon
A hand-hewn timber is a wooden marvel: the product of intensive labor and old-fashioned craftsmanship. Hand-hewn beams are a prized commodity among those who favor antique building materials, and the carpentry techniques used to create them are still in use among traditional builders today.

What is a hand-hewn timber? It’s any long piece of building material that has been transformed from round log to square timber using only hand-held tools. These timbers can then be sawed to different lengths and used as beams, joists, or trusses.
The less precise, the older they are.
 These have an inherent charm 
all their own
With renewed eyes, I am looking around my home for ideas
Deep in thought for ways to use them. If all my dreams were fulfilled,
 27 would not be enough!
But I know better........Mr 5th & State's "project" days are withering

An image from the Giannetti home, Patina Farm

I will choose my concepts sparingly, to guarantee them becoming reality
......wish me luck! 

First on the list is reverting one of the fireplaces to a beam surround

Yes, like this

Maybe with iron strapping?

Mad for this look, and many walls have been chosen....we'll see

What's not to love here? So you see, they are not just for ceilings
And they need not be in a rustic setting only. Loving contrasts, this really appeals to me, your thoughts?
CRAZY for this. Most of my homes ceilings are 7', after all it was built in 1865. With massively tall ceilings, these beams create an intimacy, a human scale to the room
The rest will go into my barn awaiting a client project, or for you! Need a beam, drop me a line

The England container is due to be opened & displayed

February 13th. Come on by, tea will be served 🇬🇧

As an aside……..
We are hosting a contest, shortly. A free exterior design, a facelift for your home. But......there is a caveat, only open to those that are serious about moving forward. Why? Looking for a before & after for my book  shhh! 
Could that be you?

Happy Super Bowl weekend!

December 19, 2017

Christmas House 2017

Welcome to the Geneva, Illinois House walk!
The Christmas event in town is a magical event....lighting of the grand tree, world's largest candy cane pull, live reindeer, roasting chestnuts and carolers. People that I met back at the shop came in from Connecticut, Louisiana and surrounding states, it is quite special.

The house walk encompasses 5 homes decorated by 5 businesses, this is ours 

Built in the early 1930's initially as a shop, Robins Book Store, along the scenic Fox River.
Notice the lines for entry

Look closely in the trees for lit hoops, more about those later

Come closer, a home with a front courtyard, a stone home at that...love!

An element I often add is sticks, yes, sticks.....creating interest where none exists. These are yellow twig dogwood and will read bright yellow all winter long, and if really lucky some will sprout and become a bush. You could also use red twig, preferring 'Cardinal' variety for it's color intensity

Like miniature stages waiting for their "star" the raised spaces under the windows were calling for adornment. These lightweight fiberglass containers suited perfectly

The rope theme carries on inside

Come In! We carry these vintage European baskets in all sizes. The smaller ones work as a door basket

We died over this home, plus the wonderful homeowners and their graciousness as we overtook

Welcome! Wanting to take advantage of the height and hoping to make an initial splash, we added the crossboards (stained 2 x 4's) then 3 wreaths hanging from thick rope. The center wreath has the battery operated tapers, working via remote

The surrounding beams are tucked with live greenery

The scale of this fireplace is enormous! The piece over the mantle was created by our brilliant Leslie and Gerrit; Leslie's husband made the crisscross trellis like panel, then her and Gerrit followed the pattern with faux greenery.
Inside the fireplace are large vintage French champagne shipping crates

The star is battery operated

We all decided we could move in without hesitation, wait it gets better!
 See the dining room, let's go......

That view.......it's the Fox River, ahhhhhh!

 Rustic + glamour. Note the gorgeous built in bookcase, we stylized with old Spanish wood periodical holders in homage to the homes origins

Let's follow the tour as the visitors did
I am crazy for these wreath holders, illuminated with the battery operated taper. And it's adjustable too. By the time I went to get one from my shop, SOLD OUT
The home office

Love this lamp and have used it for clients in several homes....makes a statement!
Sweet guest bedroom
To accommodate the tree we "Demi-luned" it, that is cut the whole back off
Loving good linens, especially Belgian linens, I recently added this line to the shop. Actually as I sit and write this, I have one of these throws on my lap, watching, again, 'The Holiday' Christmas movie


So.....the the idea must have begun in a bar....."Let's flock a roll of garland and wrap the tree!"
"Who else has done that?!"

"In purple, and then wrap lights around it!!!" Congratulating ourselves, the plan was put in action. Not looking ahead, we did not consider that every time it was moved a hair, less remained. So if you squint at the top left, viola, purple flocked garland!

Onwards thru the master bath

And out into the sunny laundry room. More vintage European baskets

"Who has stone walls in their laundry room?" I ask. I walk into mine sideways and quickly exit, dark & creepy. So, yes, I was gobsmacked 

This family remodeled the kitchen to great effect

 Look at that molding!

LOVE this! The homeowner is a cheese monger, I have this sudden urge to become one too. Anyways, this beauty is a cheese cake, a variety of cheese wheels which she set so gorgeously.

Peeking into the sunroom

All of the confectioneries are by our local gem
 ALL CHOCOLATE KITCHEN, including the sugar art below made by the renown Chef Roby

Look at all these goodies.....
And our final room, the sunroom

Look at that view!

The tree was adorned with 300 lights, and intentionally placed clusters of oversized ornaments
When I reached down to the bottom and noticed dead branches they were promptly cut off and added to the clusters....recycling!

My 1934 Ford again, sadly about the only time it is driven. Crikey, it's so hard and I used to have a truck drivers license.....long story

The plan started with securing vintage chandeliers from the trees, think that was in the bar too. Not to be, far too expensive, but a cool thought, right?
Then Leslie and Gerrit said Hoola Hoops, lit! 
We had to order 300 in November (need any? Cheap?) but Leslie put her magic to work. They were spray painted black then strung with lights. They actually twirled in any wind, an added bonus as we stood there like children in awe. Brilliant Leslie! And a massive note of thanks to Plandscape for the installation of those and all outdoor lighting
Thank you for coming and a Merry Christmas to all!


This was a big team effort, thank you to the following 

Homeowners.....Steve & Maureen & Sully 🐕

Our team......Leslie, Gerrit, Jayme, Keri, Kim

All Chocolate Kitchen.......confectionaries

Plandscape......exterior lighting extraordinaire

Photography......Nancy Villwock.....take a look at her Pet Portraits

Geneva Chamber of Commerce....whom this event is owed

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