Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Be an opener of doors." Emerson

Ever since we have started designing the house, I have been obsessed with front doors, or La Porte d'Entree in french. For some reason, this has become a focal point for me, and I am determined to find the perfect one for our home.

Whenever we have traveled in France, I have marveled at the beauty of doors , whether on extravagant chateaux in the countryside, or simple cafes or shops in Paris. They all seem to have a richness...whether by color or detail.

If you follow the tenants of feng shui, then you know that the front door is the "mouth of the chi" in your home, or in other words, where the energy flows in. Accordingly, you should use this door frequently to let the good energy flow in.

The color of the doors makes a huge impact. Red is supposed to bring in high energy. It also carries a lot of symbolism, from a sign of a safe house during slavery days, to other religious connotations.

I've followed the building process of Vicki Archer at her home in Provence ( and I love the doors on the cover of her book:
I even like the "pop" of these yellow doors...
I pointed out this lovely purple door to Tony the other day, but he quickly vetoed the idea....but I still think it might be a possibility. Think of this door with a field of lavender surrounding...
I'll keep searching for the perfect door. It has to be substantial, rich in color and welcoming...any ideas? Let me know..

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.: Cicero

Mornings like this , I start imagining what the property will look like this time next year. I dream about gardens, flowers, vines, olive trees...I don't yet know what will work and what won't work, but I plan on having fun figuring it out.

At our previous home, Tony built a beautiful garden and waterfall:

There are two ponds on the farm. Both were in sad shape when we first bought the property, but after being dug out and maintained (and a lot of rain!), they are both looking great. I look forward to gathering ideas for the landscaping. I am thinking more towards English gardens and Provencial fields....lavender, lavender lavender....

Throw in an a few olive trees....

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Filled with the patina of a bygone era"

I've been pouring over magazines, examining the exteriors of homes that I  love. We are trying to decide on textures and architectural  touches to include on our home. I'm drawn to a Mediterranean exterior, with stucco and stone.  Tony is more traditional, favoring brick and stone. He also likes wrap around porches and columns. I am not opposed to either of these, but as I said, there will be compromises to make.

The one little touch I am really pushing for is a bit of copper in different areas on the roof. I have always loved the look of this, and how the patina ages to a kind of verdigris over time.

After a little research, I think I can convince Tony that the added expense is off-set by the advantages...durability, waterproof, fire-proof...all sorts of good things to be said about copper roofing. But I'll admit that I just love the look of it.

I guess it is no surprise that one of my favorite anniversary gifts from Tony was this Tiffany rubedo bangle:

I guess some things translate from fashion to home design. I'm not sure if it is the color or the texture that I like...but I hope we can incorporate it somehow.

By the way, the title from today's post is a quote from one of my favorite movies A Good was phrase used to describe a house instead of saying "shabby". It's all in the presentation, isn't it?...

Until tomorrow...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Things Change

I think the most interesting thing for me about meeting with an architect for the first time is really taking a look at how you live and use space. In our previous home, we moved in with an infant, a middle-schooler, and high-schooler. We added another infant a few years later, which coincided with losing the high-schooler to college. When we first looked at buying that house, my priorities were: 1)schools 2) number of bedrooms (to accommodate children and out-of-town guests) 3) yard, for kids to play in 4) privacy...for two older girls 5) playroom, for toddlers.

Fast-forward about 7or 8 years, when we moved into our present house, the priorities had changed. The two older girls were gone...and the younger 2 were 6 and 8. School was still a priority, but we did not need as many bedrooms, and we definitely did not need a playroom.

As we plan for this house, our needs have again changed. With a 13 and 15 year old, the bedroom spaces themselves are important. With 5 grandchildren, the guest space is important. Looking down the road a few years, Tony and I are also more in tune to how we will enjoy our home. A master bedroom and bathroom take on a new importance to us. The kitchen continues to be our gathering spot, but with a large family, we can see how the dining room might take on a greater importance. And the land...we can both see so much potential there.

This time around, it feels good to take our time and think out our needs. This week, I'll focus on the space that is important to each of us. Until tomorrow...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

And The Winner Is...

In honor of the Oscars tonight, I was thinking today about homes in movies that made an impact on me. I talked about Something's Gotta Give the other day. It obviously made a huge impression on Tony and me...enough that he drew our house plans based around that "house".

Meryl Streep's home in It's Complicated was also a winner, especially the kitchen.

It was warm and welcoming, and it gave every scene that was filmed in it a cozy feel. Of course, it too was a stage...but a lovely one.

I also loved the house in The Good Year with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard. It may not be one that I would choose to design a house around, but the exterior and grounds were so pretty.

But I think one that had the biggest influence on me was the house in Under The Tuscan Sun. Not so much because of the house itself, but because of the journey that it took the author on throughout the movie. The remodeling was in fact a metaphor for her life...of putting herself back together. Her relationships with the workers, and her participation in the process was so endearing.

I guess I hope that our building process will be similar. Not that I will be plastering walls or putting down floors, but I already feel a sense of involvement  through meeting with the architect and pouring over the plans with Tony. I want to pay attention to details and enjoy the adventure of it.

One of my favorite poems, Road to Ithaca, talks about enjoying the journey and not worrying about the goal: "When you start your journey...pray that the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge...To arrive is your ultimate goal. but do not hurry the voyage at all..." I hope I can keep this in mind during all of the challenges that are sure to come. I hope I can look forward to the completion of the house, but also enjoy each step along the way....

Until tomorrow...(and enjoy the Oscars!)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Details

Rainy Saturday mornings are for daydreaming, aren't they? Continuing with yesterday's theme, I'm searching for images that I want my home-to-be to invoke. From actual rooms, to travel experiences, it's all fair game when it comes to planning a home.

The soft, gray peaceful kitchen, the exposed beams, the little nook...and a lovely view. This is my "before"....I'm hoping to love my "after" just as much.

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's All About Compromise

The next step in the process was to meet with the architect. Tony had done an amazing job drawing out the plans, but it was time to learn about roof lines and elevations...all of the things that don't sound very interesting, but have to be dealt with before moving forward. Our architect Don is a kindly, creative fellow who listens, takes notes and makes changes.

The challenge at this point is to take Tony's ideas and my ideas...and then let Don tell us if they will or won't work. Tony has always been a "bigger is better" kind of guy. I like small and cozy. Tony sees the big picture, I like to focus on details. Most of the time, we are a good compliment to each other. But in trying to figure out what to incorporate into a "dream house", I've found the best way is to each make a collection of pictures and ideas. Then we compare and contrast...see what the similarities are ...and go from there. I had always imagined a kitchen with exposed wood beams. Tony finds this claustrophobic and depressing. He likes a dining room that calls for a round table. I wanted to use my long, rectangular farmhouse table in the dining room. So you get the's all about prioritizing likes and dislikes.

When I first met Tony, he was remodeling his home, and he had a folder where he would put ideas and pictures that appealed to him. I loved this because I did the same thing. I always have several folders going...home, fashion, children, name it, I've got an idea folder for it. (This was before Pinterest and Houzz came along and made it easy!) I think at this point I will take Tony's tear outs and my tear outs and make a story board.  As a buyer, I use to be very involved in merchandising my shops. I would always make a story board to inspire and remind.

So in the next few weeks, I will be looking for anything that inspires...color, pattern, shape, feeling. And I'll encourage Tony to do the same. And the kids, too. Because after all, it will able a home for all of us. Often times, I find a picture that appeals to me for no apparent reason other than the feeling it gives me. I'll continue to post pictures of the farm "pre-house", and also random pictures that inspire me. Isn't that what building a home is all about? Creating an environment that makes your family feel good...Until tomorrow...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Something's Gotta Give

When we first started talking about building a house on the farm, Tony began drawing out some plans incorporating ideas that we both liked. A major influence on these plans was the beautiful house shown in the movie Something's Gotta Give. We had watched the movie dozens of times and admired the exterior and interior. Tony did some research and found out that the exterior was a real house in the Hamptons. The interiors were a set, so Tony went about trying to draw it out as best he could.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In the Beginning...

Over the last few years, we started referring to the property as "the farm". There  are no farm animals, but there is a quaint red barn where the previous owners kept horses. Next door is a tree farm, which is not only lovely to look at, but also adds to the peaceful feeling that I get when I'm out there. Any doubts I have about our upcoming experience always fly out the window when I am actually there. There is a sense of peace and calm, and I look forward to waking up to that one day.

There are two ponds on the property. Initially, we thought we would focus on the one behind the red barn. It has a small dock, and the kids spent the summer in a paddle boat exploring in it. But after a bit of a drought, that pond has all but dried up. So our focus has become the bigger pond at the front of the property. Our driveway will wrap around this pond, so Tony decided to have it dug out and designed so that it will stay full. You can see the before and after. It was amazing to see it look like just a small bit of water one day, and then almost a small lake after a few rains. The kids even put the paddle boat in this past weekend to inaugurate it...

I haven't given a lot of thought to what it might look like when it is finished, but maybe Monet's pond at Giverny? On Golden Pond? I'll keep you posted....until tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

P.S. Post

A big thank you to Debby Steele, the wonderfully creative lady who helped me design this site. I could not have done it without her, and I am so grateful for her kindness and guidance. Please go to and meet Debby. Whether you are thinking of starting your own blog, or you just want to follow her beautiful pages and inspiring life, you will be glad you did. Thanks Deb xoxox.


Day 1...The Journey Begins

When  I was in college, I had a poster on my wall that read "Today is the first day of the rest of your life". Well, today sort of feels like that for me. I am so excited to begin this new blog, sharing the adventure of building our new home.

My husband, Tony and I, after years of thinking about it, are about to break ground on our new home. We began our married life as "city folks" in Atlanta, Ga., in a lovely starter home that Tony had basically remodeled on his own. Fast forward a couple of years, and it became too small for our family, including my two daughters Rachel and Kelly, our newborn Matthew, and our doberman, Bella. So off we moved to the suburbs in Buford, Ga. , where we spent the next few years. But after adding baby Gabrielle, and seeing Rachel and Kelly off to college, we decided to move even further out into the country, to the small town of Bogart, which is just minutes from the University of Georgia.

We found a lovely home, but in our heart of hearts, it was not our "dream home", whatever that term means. Tony had always dreamt of living on a lot of land, a farm of sorts, and I had always wanted to create a home that felt like..."us". After a few years, we found the perfect spot, bought the land...and waited. This year, we decided the time is right. Our two oldest have blessed us with 4 beautiful grand kids, and our two youngest are 13 and 15, still young enough to enjoy the house and land. And we are ready...

I hope you will join us on this journey. Having never done this before from "the ground up", I look forward to sharing information, ideas... and all of the trials and tribulations that are sure to come. I also hope to get feedback from all of you, because I know that inspiration comes from so many different places.

I love all things french, all things fashion, and all things art and decor, so I am sure these things will find their way into my posts each day...

I look forward to sharing this with off we go...until tomorrow...


Friday, February 8, 2013

Welcome to the Test Post

This is a test post to see photo and text alignment for Building la Maison. Thank you for visiting!