Garden treasures

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.  ~Mirabel Osler

Like most people who love to garden, I’ve been by frustrated by spring’s slow arrival in Michigan. Finally, the sun rose in a cloudless sky this morning, and it was all I could do to keep from running outdoors in my pajamas to start weeding. But the soil’s still muddy, so despite the glorious sunshine, I settled for a little “indoor gardening” today.

As luck would have it, I stumbled on another wonderful vintage bird vase at an antiques emporium in Berkley this afternoon. So, I clipped a few pansies from the pots on our porch, and rounded up a few wildflower blooms from the backyard. Viola — my little bird is perched in his own garden!

I’ve collected several vintage bird vases to decorate the house in the summer months, or to use as small centerpieces for dinner parties. I can usually find them for under $10 at garage sales and flea markets. In the photo taken in my garden room, you’ll see my new treasure along with a painted birdhouse I snapped up for a song today at the same antiques shop. Please click on the photo for a larger view. –CL

 

Decking the halls

“A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul.” — Phillip Moffitt

It’s always an honor to have your home featured in the “Homestyle” section of The Detroit News. Here’s a link to the article that runs this weekend, featuring our 1927 Tudor-revival home decorated for Christmas. Design writer Jeanine Matlow did a wonderful job telling our story. To see additional photos that didn’t appear in the article click here. From our house to yours, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! — CL

–Photo courtesy of The Detroit News

Halloween “Secrets”

Bring forth the raisins and the nuts-
Tonight All-Hallows’ Spectre struts
Along the moonlit way.”
~John Kendrick Bangs

Anyone who’s known me for a while knows that I’m crazy about Halloween. Like many Baby Boomers, I harbor a ridiculously fierce nostalgia for the holiday. What else would you expect from someone who counts watching The Addams Family on TV as a treasured childhood memory? Not surprisingly, there are few things I enjoy more than dressing up in a costume and handing out candy to the neighborhood kids.

For years, my husband Doug created an artful “Disney haunted house” landscape — replete with a cemetery and a mummy with glowing red eyes — at the entrance where the kids come to trick-or-treat. When our son Nate grew up and left for college, we toned it down a bit, but the neighbors were devastated the year we were out of town on Halloween and didn’t decorate. So we keep the tradition going as best we can.

Inside, I still dress the house with paper skeletons, pumpkins, and shiny black-feathered ravens. I own a small collection of vintage Halloween decorations, which I display on the living-room mantel in a nest of autumn leaves and a string of orange lights. Even when I’m not hosting a big Halloween bash, friends and neighbors like to stop by for a drink and a few ghost stories (or magic tricks) around the fireplace on Halloween night after the trick-or-treaters head home.

While I’ve never been a fan of blood-and-guts “slasher” films, I enjoy scary movies, especially in October. I prefer classic horror films, thrillers, and ghost stories — Psycho, Rebecca, Something Wicked This Way Comes, John Carpenter’s original Halloween, The Others, The Addams Family, The Haunting, The Shining, Practical Magic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Nightmare Before Christmas …. you get the idea.

This Sunday, October 24, happens to be our 30th wedding anniversary. After a celebration dinner, Doug and I will be glued to the TV set, watching the premiere of Secrets in the Walls, a Lifetime horror film in which we worked as background extras last fall. If our brief appearance didn’t land on the cutting room floor, you’ll catch a glimpse of us (as a nurse and a doctor) in the hospital scene. Starring Jeri Ryan, the production was filmed in Ferndale and metro-Detroit. It revisits a time-honored theme: a creepy old house haunted by a spirit that won’t let go. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!


Into white

Tables of paper wood, windows of light/ And everything emptying into White.” — Cat Stevens, “Into White”

The thing I love best about redecorating is that it inspires us to look at our old rooms in new ways. A “re-do” doesn’t necessarily require that we buy more furniture or knick-knacks — though paint, hardware, and elbow grease are typically involved. And while shelter magazines offer creative ideas (and jazzy new things to purchase), it still boils down to re-imagining what we already own.

In January, Doug and I finally decided to freshen up the master bedroom. We’d been living for several years with murky, sponge-painted walls and a dark rug in a busy Southwestern pattern. The room looked cluttered and weary — and it felt claustrophobic.

We needed to lighten things up. So we cleared out the space and hired a carpenter-friend to rebuild the old closet. Doug applied two different shades of white paint for the walls and trim. And while we prefer hardwood floors and area rugs in our home, the floor was in such bad shape — and cold during Michigan winters — that we made an exception and had pale taupe carpeting installed.

Taking advantage of the winter sales, I bought white linens in a variety of textures, and a simple, quilted white coverlet. We didn’t have to purchase any new furniture (our old pieces look nice against the white walls), but we added a new shabby-chic style chandelier from Lowe’s — a bargain at a little over $100. The project took longer than we’d hoped, due to a mix-up with carpeting measurements and an aggravating delay in the re-ordering process. But all said and done, Doug and I are pleased with the result.

Having spent the past year immersed in my widowed mother’s ongoing health crises — and trying to help her make sense of things — I didn’t realize how many key areas I’d neglected in my own home. Until recently, I was too tired (and uninspired) to make time to sort through it all. I’m slowly catching up now, one room at a time.

How good it feels to get my own life back in order now that spring is almost here. Our freshly decorated bedroom is a peaceful oasis in the midst of so many questions marks. — Cindy La Ferle