Friday, June 24, 2016

Moving On

It wasn’t a surprise when we moved in to the cottage that most of our furniture didn’t fit.  I expected challenges. Moving is a challenge, isn’t it?  Furniture that lives well in one home, may not work in the next.  Style, room sizes, walls and windows can all add up to your favorite chair being put up for adoption.

The cottage was built in 1894, a trendy new home with all the latest Victorian features.  Small rooms, one leading to the next, creating a quirky floor plan for today's living style. Built high off the ground allowing space beneath for vegetable storage, and shelter from the sun, and heat.  There is a fireplace chimney beneath our home, teasing that perhaps meals may have been prepared there. It certainly isn’t cold here! Beautiful, blue green bead board graces the “ceiling”.  Perhaps a favorite color of Emma Crooks, the widow who built our home for her two children and herself.

I think relocation may have been most difficult upon the movers.  Our movers and I became well acquainted during the loading.  They were fine, young men. Both students at UT, bright and muscle bound, exactly what I needed. Of course I fed them. It’s a Southern thing.  They both loved our Austin home.  

Image result for all my sons moving

When they arrived at the cottage upon the gulf coast, with no backyard, and stairs; lots and lots of stairs - they exited the truck and instantly displayed a look of fear! I greeted my perplexed young men warmly, offered the fellas coffee, and we took a walk about.  As we walked room to room there was silence.  Finally, one spoke “I get it”.  I believe the second young man felt we needed our head examined! We had traded a nearly half acre lot adjacent to the Hamilton Greenbelt, where you could leisurely stroll to Lake Travis. Filled with deer, fox, squirrels, owl and other wildlife the setting was picturesque.  Here we were; standing in the heat, the humidity, amidst palm trees and barley a patch of green - on an adventure.  Could the young man be correct? Nah.

When I move I use a color code system.  I assign each room a color, and print color squares on letter size paper for marking boxes.  As I pack each box I make a personal list of things packed away then add an appropriate color square to the top and one side.  For example; living room yellow, Kitchen blue, and garage red. I use letter size printer paper with a very large colored square for marking rooms in our next home. Upon arrival to our next home, I tape the letter sized paper with colored squares to the door frames of the appropriate rooms.  There’s no deciphering my writing, and not a single “Where does this go?”. The squares are bright, and the movers color match. I find it the best method of organization. Boxes land where I need them. I’m not shuffling boxes about, long after the muscles have gone!

My husband home offices, and he needs privacy for conference calls. The room that would make sense to be the living room, is going to be his home office.  It is large, has a great view and original pocket doors.   With that realization; living room furniture is on the move - to what should be the dining room?  Maybe? 

 There is space for the TV in an original built in. There are issues with this idea; the pass through bar into the kitchen has to go. Honestly, I think the entire wall needs to go.

The master bedroom, with a private bath is posing another challenge.  Our king size bed won't fit upon a wall.  Temporarily it is in front of the bay out. To open and close the blinds I can either stand on the bed, or slip behind the headboard. This isn't going to work. 

I'm a little stressed, and frustrated.  I think I'll paint! Paint, never fails to make me happy. It's the fastest and least expensive way to make a change. Walls, ceilings, cabinets. 

I think this grey is a little dark, and maybe a little sad for a home office.  The gold metallic on the picture mod needs to be changed.

Dark grey ceilings seemed like a good idea.  Now I'm uncertain.

I can't stop painting. OOOPS!  Not Jade, the puppy, she must have leaned against a door facing. She's less than thrilled.

I'll be offering things for adoption on Craig's List.  Decide on the grey ceilings and home office walls. Finish  at least a few paint projects. Move the furniture, again.  Maybe a little antiquing and resale shopping.  I'll be back soon  -


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What's In A Name?

Family and friends ask why The Grey Dove Cottage?    Galveston Island is home to many bird species, and a preserve.  Wetlands, beaches, grasslands and bays provide various habitats for numerous species; Cranes, Heron, Brown Pelican, Sea Gull, Woodpecker, Pigeon, and Dove are a few.  The island is a stop for many birds migrating back and forth from North America to South America.  The number of species is almost limitless. 

Sea Gulls

I am a bit of a bird lover.  I’ve never been birding, I am very interested in going.  From the cottage front porch Mr. GDC and I often observe various birds.  Morning and late afternoon; we feed the birds a bit of seed.  It’s become a ritual that we both enjoy.  Mornings he can view the birds outside his home office. Evening we watch from the porch; usually as he enjoys a glass of wine and I my coffee.

Rock Pigeon

Birds are funny, interesting, and constantly entertaining.  We have a male Rock Pigeon who is large and quite the bruiser.  He arrives and instantly moves everyone else from his way.  Recently we watched as he carried twigs to his lady beneath the eve of a neighbor’s home.  They were building their nest. The male shops for, and delivers the twigs. She is the nest architect.  Our garden is a treasure trove of twigs.  We watched as he rummaged through searching for just the right one, he would deliver his find to his love, then return; again and again, and again.

White Wing Dove

The white wing dove, despite their appearance, seem to be scrappers as well; often fussing with the other birds in an effort to reach the buffet. 

The sparrows, sweet tiny birds, sit perched upon the picket fence while the feeding frenzy takes place. Patient, they wait and watch, until most birds have returned to their favorite branch. Finally, they come down and search about the ground for seeds tossed off the tray.  The various species have their own community, and dare I say “pecking order”. 

Each day the flock visit for breakfast and dinner.  When searching for a blog name, it seemed only natural to “land” upon; The Grey Dove Cottage. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Our Austin Home

We lived in the Austin area 24 years; 11 of those years in Lakeway, upon the edge of Lake Travis.  We purchased a typical 1980's home, with three bedrooms, two baths and bonus room.  It began as an "Ugly Duckling"; with it's mix of brown brick and mauve pink mortar, paired with a rusty brown roof; seriously you can't make that combination up!  Punctuated with a dead tree in the front yard, our future home appeared defeated.

Sitting sadly upon the market two years waiting for us to come along -  A family desperate enough to snatch it up, then smart enough to hide from everyone they knew, until there was time enough for  curb appeal!  The first thing I did after unpacking boxes was to apply a bit of paint. Late one night, terrified, I mixed two part exterior white paint with one part water.  Under the cover of darkness I began to white wash the brick and mortar.  I imagined that if the white wash didn't work, I would somehow be able to remove the paint and no one would be wise to my mistake. How did I think  I would remove paint from brick?  
Luckily, the white wash was a lovely camouflage. It somehow covered enough of the brick, and mortar to neutralize the mismatched color scheme.  We removed the plastic window shutters and replaced them with "Z"  style cedar plank shutters. We chose to create a focal point on the garage by shuttering over the huge window, then hung a full sized iron footboard from brackets mounted upon the shutters, and finished off with large gate hinges. We added soft curving flower beds, tall shrubs for height and a Live Oak tree.

Varying height topiary shrubs, large clay planters filled with spiky Bulbine and French style lanterns create a welcoming entrance.

There was no foyer, there was a covered porch.  We chose to treat the porch as the foyer; dressing it with a wrought iron console table, and creating a vignette with an antique mirror, table lamp, St. Frances and twig and French paperback book filled urn. The urn was home to a House Wren each spring ,who would lay one or two eggs within the urn, nestled inside the ruffled pages. 

We removed the wooden front door and replaced it with a full lite wood trimmed door.  The door allowed full view to the porch foyer, marrying to two spaces seamlessly.

Mr. GDC rebuilt the stairs that lead to the upstairs bonus room.  We installed hand scrapped wood flooring and finished the stairs with a similar rustic finish. 

Originally the living room was carpeted and accented with a wall of oak paneling and pair of French doors exiting onto a very large patio. 

Painting the paneled wall and mantle the same color as the walls and ceiling, created visual space in the room and lightened the dark and dated space.  We continued the hand scrapped wood floors throughout the first floor to add a seamless transition from one room to the next.

I chose to surround the fireplace in timeless Carrera marble; using a slab for the hearth and small beveled edge Carrera subway tiles for the surround.  I faux finished the mantle; distressing it to give a bit of an aged patina and history to the space.

Neutral furnishings sitting upon a sea grass rug create a cozy conversation area.  A sofa table paired with a foot stool is used as a small desk space.

A vintage French Provencal dresser finished in dark espresso is flanked by antique armoire doors featuring French tapestry fragments.  Tall vintage candlesticks are wired and transformed into table lamps, crowned with simple white linen drum shades. A tall, carved mirror creates height and reflects light back into the room.  A replica Santos backed with a pedestal starburst mirror is the true focal point of the wall. 

Antique French tapestry fragments are affixed inside antique armoire doors. (the doors to the armoire used in boy's bedroom as a headboard.)

Looking the opposite direction toward the breakfast area.

The Kitchen was peach, with oak cabinetry stained in a honey color, the floors tiled in cream 8" ceramic, Jenaire appliances and 4" white porcelain tiles on the counters and backsplash.  I can almost hear a big hair band playing in the background!

We removed the bar at the right of the kitchen and installed upper cabinets upon a foundation to create a pet feeding center.  The upper cabinets are more narrow, and worked well as a coffee bar and pantry storage for regularly used items.  Chalkboards installed above the coffee bar keep scheduling and the grocery list in easy view.  Carrera counter tops paired with white subway backsplash, and white washed beams keep the kitchen bright. We wrapped the center island with bead board, painted it flat black and topped it off with butcher block.  New stainless steel appliances, and a custom finish upon the fridge completed the French country style. 

A crib repurposed as a settee creates a cozy space for morning coffee and reading the newspaper.

Breakfast room door leading out to the patio.

The dining room situation between the foyer and kitchen and open to the dining room is kept simple.  Tall mirrors flank the window to reflect light and create more visual space.  Sunburst mirrors layered over the tall mirrors create interest.  French chairs are paired with a vintage 1970's dining table finished with a pewter metallic paint base and stained top.  A large French style outdoor lantern and seagrass rug complete the look. 

A resin deer covered with a light layer of concrete adorns the dining table.

The master bedroom when we purchased; again painted in peach with the oak beams finished in honey. Wall to wall carpet upon the floor.  The room had French doors that opened onto the patio and a lovely view of the woods behind the house.

A bit of paint, drapes and wood floors made a huge transformation.

The Master bath had remained somewhat untouched since the 1980's.  A poured marble tub, his and hers closets, tiny shower and a long vanity with a poured marble top finished off the sapce.

We removed the tub, replaced the window with an acrylic shower friendly glass block style.  Full acrylic with a vinyl frame, it is designed for shower installation.  A large shower was created within the tub nice; Carrera mosaic floor, white subway surround, and a seamless shower guard.  We chose to hinge the shower guard so that the water could be easily turned on without stepping into the shower.

I refinished an vintage French provincial buffet to be used as a double vanity and paired it with square contemporary, porcelain vessel sinks.  I added tall narrow silver framed mirrors and customized lighting for a bit of sparkle and shine. 

We framed in a niche for towels and storage.

I chose 6" Carrera square tiles, laid in a broken joint design for the floor. New two panel doors painted black finished off the class French style.

Secondary bathroom; I used an antique vanity and under mount sink paired with a Carrera Marble top.  An outdoor wall sconce adds interest to the space.

Subway tumbled travertine marble floors paired with picture paneled walls provide a bit of history to the space.  The picture paneled walls also tie the secondary bathroom in to the living area, by repeating the same element.  Tub surround is classic white subway tile.

Boy's bedroom is styled by using an antique armoire for a headboard, providing storage while saving space.  The mix of antiques paired with contemporary bedding and stainless reading lamp keep the space feeling masculine and young.

A vintage china cabinet finished in a rustic grey faux finish provide needed clothes storage, and a lighted display for a Fedora hat collection.

A space saving stairwell leads up to the second floor bonus room from the foyer.

The bonus room is an attic conversion.  The gables create a unique bit of architecture.  A large dormer window creates a bump out along the left side of the room. A salvage dresser is converted as a media center.

The dormer bump out houses built-in cabinetry, under counter fridge and microwave. The area is floored in scrapped wood flooring. An upper cupboard used for storing dishes is painted in chalk paint creating a fun place for messages and notes.

Leather furniture is durable and masculine, perfect for a teen boy's room because with wear it has an aged patina.  An antique Queen Anne dining table paired with a vintage wooden desk chair create a cozy workspace for homework.

The home, nestled against the Hamilton Greenbelt awarded a beautiful view.

An extra large patio hosted many a morning cup of coffee and impromptu water balloon fights!

This home will remain special in our hearts; the place our son grew up, full of memories.
Life moves on; and so did we, to a new adventure in Galveston -