Friday, January 28, 2011


                      Authentically French..............     This photo was taken back in the Fall
                 before the snow fell.  The owner of this home is a friend.  I asked her if I could do a story on her wonderful home and she said she would love it.  Would I mind waiting until she got home from Naples??????       We are about six weeks away and counting and I can't wait.    You are going to love it!

Her home is so authentically French and her collections are wonderful.  She too is a
designer and has been such an inspiration to me.   All of her landscaping is natural.  Wild flowers and praire grasses of all kinds...............Her accessories indoor and outdoor all vintage or antique.  Susie buys nothing new.

Prairie grasses surround her property landscaping a backyard man-made pond, birdhouses that reach for the sky and seating areas to ponder...............

               This is the inside courtyard with two wonderful lambs greeting you upon arrival.

                                                We shall return...................

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BRIMFIELD ON CLARK...................

The keyword for this wonderful shop in Chicago is NOSTALGIA.  When I first had the pleasure to visit, I was stunned by the creativity of its owner and how she came to be.
The minute I walked through the door I knew I was on to something very special.  There wasn't a corner in this shop that did not beckon.  It was filled with all of the imaginable nostalgic elements that could ever be gathered.   Someone had really hit a specialized niche that I had never seen....................ever!  Plaids were everywhere and vintage fabrics that had once been curtains were now pillows.  Vintage glasses on silver trays, baskets filled with unpolished silver and a rifle box loaded with aluminum serving pieces from the 50's. 


Vintage plaids had gone wild with covered lampshades of
every size and shape

                                               A  painted brass lamp from the 60's with out a scratch


             One of a pair of reupholstered vintage chairs coordinated with black linen.

 Vintage furniture had been recovered in plaids, plaids and more plaids of every conceivable color and vintage.  Tabletops were filled with depression glass that sat on wooden vents from the turn of the century,  filled with votive lights that only twinkled and added to the ambiance. Then there was the formerly crushed velvet French Provincial sofa adjusting to its new duds which just happen to be a plaid of sorts.   Warehouse stools and the milking stool that was only a memory from those days on the farm covered in one of those vintage plaids.......... 

                                                Aluminum Ware from the 50's

                                             AND THEN

                    the wall of vintage plaid blankets displayed in the antique pine wall cabinet
                    all in color coordinated niches..................



                                  PINKS AND ORANGES


                                                    AND BLUES

It was with out a doubt, a feast for the senses and a walk back into time, a time that was all too familiar to me.  The 50's, 60's and 70's became more and more reminiscent as I viewed all of the many items that just seemed to go on and on.

                Swiss Army blanket pillows.......................A bachelor had actually had his dining room chairs
                upholstered with 8 Swiss Army blankets using the cross as the center of the back of the chair!
                They had just been picked up, but they had to have been stunning!

                                                   Anyone for a game of checkers?

A one-of-a-kind "quilt" fashioned from
ski hats


Old champagne bottles and glasses displayed with old books

A successful hunting trip

Does anyone need a thermos?



Vintage leather cowboy boots


Skates, blankets and a thermos or two more

One of Julie's front windows


                                            Before plastic water bottles were delivered
                                                                 for dispensers

*Just a little note to consider....after attending a forcasting event
for color and patterns for 2012, it was noted that toward the
end of this year, plaids will be making a come back in
the world of design as will small prints.

If you enjoyed Brimfield, you can visit in person if you happen
to share the Chicago turf at
5219 N. Clark Street


visit her website at  and tell her
that Always Robins Egg Blue sent you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

CHATEAU DOORS FROM BRUGES.....................

                 The hand carved flowers and leaves that were hidden beneath layers of paint.

While our addition was being built,  I was in Belgium (didn't know you yet, Greet), buying for the store and looking for special objects that would make our 'new' home even more special.  While shopping in Bruges, in  a warehouse filled with gates, armoires, chests, chairs, doors, wooden boxes and chippy painted stuff that words cannot explain, I came across two sets of these doors that had come from a French chateau.  They spoke to me!!

 They showed years of usage (note the three different keyholes ), but what I couldn't see was the great patina (and carved flowers with leaves) that was hidden beneath the layers of paint.  I had the doors sandblasted before I had them shipped to the USA.  Shocked when they arrived, were the carved flowers on the upper door that was undetectable when purchased, because of all the thick paint build up over 100 years.  

I knew that  one pair of these doors was going to go into our home, to be installed on either side of the 16 foot palladium window.    I wanted no drapes at this window and  I felt these doors were the answer.  TA DA!!! They worked beautifully. 

Not only did it serve the purpose of a drape, but it was a unique way to create a window treatment.  It also visually widened the window, making it look twice the size that it really is.  What fun it is to wonder whose keys opened these doors and what wonderful French families closed these doors every night to the outside elements.  Master craftsmanship is an art itself and the carvings on these doors and the breakfast table "legs" only added to the harmony of the old and the new.  (so sorry about the quality of this picture)

These were purchased right out of the office of the gentleman who owned this
grand Belgium warehouse in the Flemish region of the country.  He was using
these to support his desk top.  I bought my own glass when they arrived.


More close up detail of our breakfast table and the hand carving
done so many years

Hats off to you Greet and your wonderful country to which I
have some ownership.   To those of you who have never visited
where you will be treated and influenced the Belgium way

Thursday, January 13, 2011

SHELF LIFE............

                                                           LIFE ON A SHELF......

Shelf life is defined as the length of time that perishable items are given before they are considered unsuitable for sale, use, or consumption.   I would like to define SHELF LIFE as a refreshing of the "same old" look day after day, week after week and sometimes year after year!  Especially at this time of the new year, we are reorganizing or just plan getting organized!  I have been having so much fun after returning home from holiday travel, refreshing and redoing.  Many thanks for your patience.

Many of you have seen this kitchen 'shot' for the details.....

                       When I selected my cabinetry, I knew I wanted a few cabinets with
                        paned glass doors.................I also knew that it meant keeping those shelves
                        clean and interesting.   


I do love the influence of a French kitchen with open shelving. 
This area over my cooking area is the closest thing I could come to that
concept.  The rack against the wall was purchased at Marche Opus.  Its
original use was a coat rack in a restaurant in some obscure village in the
south of France according to the dealer.

This little guy use to be on a shelf in my office and has now taken up residence on top of the bar area
of our great room.  This French pigeon is actually a decoy and an antique from one of the French markets.  He was a gift from one of my dearest lifetime friends, Vernie who is also a designer.

These are actually the shelves from my antique secretary.  I find if you create an area for collectibles instead of having every table filled with the ETCETERAS of our lives, there is order  when gathered together.

I have a extensive collection of cake plates that use to be on a French bakers rack in my dining room. A few
years ago, I decided it was just too much to have all of them on display I have put some away, left some out and gathered a part of the collection on top of this armoire.  The armoire is filled with my collection of cookbooks and easily accessible to my kitchen workspace.


                                         The cookbook filled armoire.................

This corner cabinet is in our guest powder room.  I gathered all of the silver from
that small Christmas tree that was on the counter in my kitchen, cleaned all of the baby
cups, rattles, etc. until all shined and into this little cabinet they went.  I love the look
of all the silver together.  The miniature black and white plates on the lower shelf are
transferware pieces that are over 100 years old.  They are of French origin.  The hand carved
balsam angel will stay out all year.  I love her and hated to put her away.


This is the desk in my office.  I am going to be painting this room
but, I have decided to redo bookshelves and desk top in my mission
to refresh SHELF LIFE.................


I decided that I didn't want the flowers on my desk and needed something other than flowers so I chose the footed urn with the fern and love its presence on my desk which is so clean!! Just give me a day with a design
project and I promise it will change......................and FAST!

The plate on the of my favorite sayings,
"Remember... Ginger Rogers did everything
Fred Astaire did...but she did it backwards
and in high heels."  As for the little female figure,
purchased by my dad and my little girl......they went
shopping and bought this for me when our son was born.

A little reminder when things get so complicated or deadlines are due.

When our little grand daughter comes to stay, she has her own room.
The Paddington Bear bookend belongs to her mother (my daughter)......just
can't give it up!

While Victorian furniture is not my style, I love the richness that this shelf provides
in the master bathroom.

This wine hod from Burgundy hangs on the wall over the hot tub in the Master Bath.
It is made of zinc and its purpose originally was to carry the picked grapes on the harvesters
back.   Can't imagine as it is very heavy.  I found this in the Cotswold's, but it originated in France.

Stopped by my daughter's and she had just finished organizing her shelves according to color.  I
loved it!  She has an Etsy site called Livingston and Porter.  You must visit it.  She does all of the
canvas' by hand.  She has been collecting quotes for a long time.  She will even do a custom quote which
can be personalized.

Her gathering spot for purchased items she will sell on her Etsy website.  These are items
purchased at estate sales which she is also a part of. 

                           Some of her favorite things............................

More of Holly's favorite things.....................

This shelf or surface as it would be,  is a French woman's bedside table.  This was hidden in a corner
of my kitchen and I decided that it could hide no more.  It is made of Zinc and I found it on a hook in the rafters of a Renaissance building covered with moss so thick I thought the roof might cave in! A
couple of books is all I felt was needed.  Not to be over-accessorized. 

On the hearth is set my little iron cricket symbolizing GOOD LUCK.

What is on our shelves reflects who we are and what we have lived.  In this day of
less is more..............hmmmmmm.  To put all of our things away, is to put life ON HOLD.
Knowing how to display our treasures, those things important to us, helps us to relive why we
are in possession of those things dear to us in the first place.   After all, memories are
all about our past, sometimes making us smile or laugh and even sometimes making us
cry.....but, memories are who we are and a life shared within the walls of our homes
on our shelves or surfaces is so fulfilling.

 It is good to be back, the promise of another year to inspire and be inspired.  I hope the surfaces
that have been refreshed have been an inspiration to you and will inspire you to change your
SHELF LIFE...................