Thursday, December 13, 2012
Last Saturday, my husband and I spent the afternoon in The Fan District, in Richmond, Virginia.
Richmond is only an hour from our house and we seem to find ourselves there more and more.
This visit was to go on the Holiday House Tour, put on by the Fan District Association.
It was a fantastic tour! We were able to tour 9 of the 10 homes on the list. While the tour went on for two days, we only had Saturday.
There was a lot of walking in between homes, so we got to see a lot of the neighborhood.
The Fan District is America's largest contiguous area of Victorian architecture.
We were completely smitten with it all!
I did bring my camera with me, but photos were not allowed inside the homes and photographing outside was difficult with the long lines and fast walking between homes.
I was so busy taking it all in (wanting to experience the area) that I ended up not pulling my camera out.
So, all these pictures are pulled from google image, with source links below.
I had to write about it, though. I've written about the fan before on my mini blog, Just Looking.
While I was curious about the holiday decor on the house tour, my husband and I were really there for research...
..asking the question, "Is a house in The Fan a contender for our next move?"
- not that a move is imminent, just exploring future possibilities when our children are all out in the world living their lives and making their own homes.
The pictures really don't need narrative. They speak for themselves.
We spent a lot of walking time on Hanover Avenue. The houses were so breathtaking in their architecture. All these homes were built in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
You can't find this level of architectural detail in a modern day neighborhood. It just went on and on and on.
I was running out of adjectives when talking with my husband about how much I loved this neighborhood!
One of the great things about the tour was the amount of tour guides both inside and outside at each home.
One of the comments that struck me was how the tour guides often talked about how a builder or an architect would get a row of lots, say 8 or 10 lots.
These builders would then basically built the same house, a spec house, with little variations maybe on the front porch roof line or right or left front door.
Same as today. But, not same as today... somehow, our new neighborhoods don't carry the perfectly scaled rooms and large, deep windows among many, many other glorious details.
I laughed wondering if folks buying these homes new, back in the day - complained about how these spec homes were just track homes - all the same.
Below is a great example of side by side houses, by the same builder or architect.
It was fun to look at a block of homes and see the stop and start point of "spec houses".
Another interesting fact about The Fan is that there are not a lot of restrictions. Check out these brightly painted houses below.
I don't think I would pick a purple-periwinkle to paint my row house, but there was something that worked about it.
The Fan feels very alive and cared for, without a restrictive association dictating which planters are allowed on your front porch.
This house below was actually on the tour. It's is a picture of the side of the house.
Many houses have the little courtyard in the back and a more, almost totally private, side area that can be accessed from the house and back courtyard.
My husband and I talked a lot about what would be on our "must have" list in a Fan House, like 2 car parking in the back.
This little side patio felt like a must to both of us.
A bit of holiday cheer along one of the street.
We are definitely fans of The Fan.
We'll be back to check out more homes over the next few years visiting for sale open houses here and there.
More research to come!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Today we said Au Revoir to all our French exchange students. Au Revoir literally translates to... 'until re-seeing'.
I've taken off the past two weeks and participated in several of the local field trips as a non-French speaking chaperone,
(although I did take French in high school and a bit in college... hundreds of years ago... only recalled about 20 words... not so helpful!)
Both of my own high school students and myself saw the charter bus off this morning before 7am. Everyone fought back tears as we said goodbye. We do hope that we will have a re-seeing. They and their teachers were such joy! They will all be greatly missed.
Last Friday, I accompanied the group to Monticello.
For those not familiar, it was the home of our third President, Thomas Jefferson. It's now a historical landmark.
Jefferson designed the house, the gardens, some of the furniture... pretty much the whole deal. Yes, he was a genius!
Our morning began in a foggy mist after a rainy night. It was tragic, because as you come up upon Monticello (Italian for 'little mountain') you are treated to the most amazing view of our mountains.
In fact, my kids' high school is named Monticello High School and is just a short 10 minute ride to Jefferson's Monticello.
We waited in the mist with our tour guide, Liz Marshall.
In fact, Liz's daughter recently graduated from Monticello High School and participated in this French student exchange.
Charlottesville is certainly a small town!
Photography is not allowed in the actual house. I was able to grab these few pictures outside, before the tour began.
I never pass up the chance to tour this amazing house. Every detail was thought out both in form and function. Every paint color had a purpose, depending on the temperature of the room. The triple sash windows are to die for. Jefferson's house had more glass than the average plantation home. On the north side, he even had double paned glass windows. Inside are fire side chairs he designed and several pieces were brought back from his many trips to France. He loved all things French and spoke French fluently, along with 6 other languages.
As the morning progressed, the fog lifted and by the time we were touring the outside of the house, the sky was clearing! It was a beautiful, October day and the leaves were pretty much at their peak. What a treat for our visitors!
I didn't have a chance to grab a really good picture of Monticello and thought I'd add one here.
Just down from the house is the vegetable garden. It's a sight to behold. It sits lower than the house plot, along a tree lined, wide path.. known as Mulberry Row.
Mulberry Row also contains the ruins from the many slave homes along the garden, reminding visitors that our history is not always to be celebrated, but always to remember.
We were finally able to see the full view on Jefferson's little mountain, just as we were about to walk the path to Jefferson's grave and back down the mountain to the visitor's center for lunch.
The view can take your breath away. I'm always amazed that this is just 10 minutes from my own backyard.
During last week, my copy of Gil Schafer's
The Great American House came to my door.
I had been reading it every night after each evening outing with our French guests.
While Monticello is celebrated on so many levels, this book celebrates the classical work of architect, Gil Schafer.
Jefferson was not one for the very ornate. He was helping to create a land of democracy, away from the monarchies of old Europe. Gil Schafer takes that American tradition and builds / remodels homes of our day, but with a substantial nod to our roots. I loved reading this book, pouring over the photographs, floorplans, and gardens... then finishing my week with a trip to one of the greatest American homes, Monticello.
And... to top it off... the honor of visiting Jefferson's Monticello with these amazing French young people.
Very fitting all around.
Until we meet again, my new friends!
Read about Gil Schafer's Great American Home here, in Architectural Digest.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Ever since I visited the Barn Sale at Ekster Antiques a few weekends ago, I can't stop thinking about white ironstone.
These pictures above and below are from Tone on Tone Antiques blog. They are very representative of how I see white ironstone. I'm definitely not a shabby chic fan, where white is layered and layered with lace and crystal. What I do love is the simplicity of tone and texture where ironstone is used as a silhouette.
Vintage and antique white ironstone can be found in tones of gray, white, cream, and taupe. It pairs so well with just about everything and has a wonderful feel of "come and sit for a while". There's nothing stuffy about it. It can be dressed up for a holiday dinner or brought out to the backyard for an outside summer lunch. Perfect!
I took this picture (below) of my kitchen cabinet this morning while putting this post together. I already own white dishes, picked up here on the cheap about 5 years ago when we were hosting Thanksgiving dinner for both sides of our family, seating about 28 family members. I bought two sets of dishes in order to have enough. Since then, I've used them everyday.
It's often mentioned in design magazines that some interior designers will ask to look through a client's clothes closet. It will tell the designer what colors a person is drawn to and comfortable with. Well... I guess the same could be said about kitchen cupboards. I guess I love white dishes!! But, it's the white ironstone... with its weighty feel, beautiful glaze, variety of tones, and versatility that has my attention.
I always seem to be drawn to white dishes. I had collected some white ironstone pieces on Ebay (before Etsy existed) years back. My love has been renewed.
I have kitchen plans to take out the microwave and wall cabinets. I'm planning to put in a hood and open shelving. The countertops will be changed out to either marble or a light/white granite. Until those plans go into motion, I'll be hunting white ironstone to display (and use!) on the open shelves to come.
My antique dresser that sits in a wall space between the living room and kitchen holds a white platter that has an antique ironstone feel (found at a discount shop years back).
Another white platter holds my bouquet of happy sunflowers atop my kitchen table.
Below are two ironstone tureens I picked up over the last few weeks. The first one is more modern looking and made in Belgium. The second one is an antique Semi-Porcelian piece made in Ohio in the late 1800's. I love the taupe color!!
In a few short hours, I'll be heading out to the Greenbrier Resort for the rest of the week. It's an annual event for my husband's work. Spouses are to attend the evening events. While other spouses / partners will be visiting the spa and other Greenbrier activities during the day... I'll be heading out to Lexington, Virginia to visit antique shops... shopping for my Etsy Store and hunting for white ironstone!
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