I hope you are having a wonderful summer!
It's been a beautiful summer here in New Hampshire, and I'm so happy to share the summer barn room with you.
I have a lot of new followers since I initially posted on the barn room several years ago, so I will "borrow" much of the commentary from that original post and add it here. For those of you who have followed for a while some of this commentary/stories will be a repeat; thank you for playing along!
This post doesn't contain all the commentary/stories since I used the commentary that fit the photos in this post. To read my initial post on the details of the barn room (dressed for fall and winter) HERE -it will give you all the stories on pieces and antiques in the room.
It might help to be reminded that I place my commentary for a photo above the photo, not below it.
I thought it might be helpful to start with some reference points for scale:
the room measures 23 x 27 feet and the ceiling is 12-1/2 feet in height;
the french doors measure almost 10 feet to the top of the header;
the height at the top of the mantel is 6-1/2 feet.
The barn room walls are covered in ship-lap random width pine boards. This room (including baseboards) is painted Benjamin Moore's Sea Haze 2137-50. When choosing the color for the barn room I tried really hard to not look at the color names. I can be easily swayed by a good name;) I kept coming back to one swatch, and after finally identifying it as Sea Haze I realized it is the next color on the wheel from Gray Owl which is in the adjacent kitchen. At that I knew it was the one! It is a blue/green/grey which changes throughout the day and also varies depending on the season. The ceilings are white washed pine boards.
The large piece of granite (finished size is 6.5 foot x 20 inch) that we used for our hearth stone was original to the barn and was removed during the making of the garage. The story of crafting of the 769-pound hearthstone is HERE.
The fireplace is stucco over brick and cinder block. You can see the process of it being built HERE.
I was asked what my inspiration for the fireplace was. I wanted the room to have an open, airy/light feel to it, like the old European country houses you see as opposed to it feeling lodge-like or barn-like (the rest of the barn is more "barn-like".) I didn't want to put in the massive stone fireplace one sees often in New England; while they can be beautiful I felt that in this room and the way it is entered it would take up all the energy of the space and draw all the attention. I wanted something lighter in look and feel, yet something that could hold it's own with all the other large elements of the room (i.e. the 9 foot french doors, the 11 foot barn door, etc.). Dan had always envisioned a stone fireplace, but after showing him some great photographs of stucco fireplaces he understood the direction I wanted to take the room. It didn't hurt that we went ahead and got a quote for a stone fireplace and it was between $50-$70k! We knew it was the right choice for this room when realizing that even if we had the budget (we didn't;) to put a stone fireplace in, we wouldn't!
Since the fireplace is in direct line of sight as you come down the stairs from the kitchen I designed the mantel to wrap the chimney (as opposed to only being on the face side), so that you saw that element of wood as you walk down the stairs. It also gave the chimney a bit more visual weight in the room. The mantel is a beam that was also original to the barn. Our lead carpenter did a masterful job of getting the old beam (that had aged with twists and turns over the century and a half since it was originally placed in the barn) to level.
The arch of the firebox was a very important detail for me. I find it is so interesting that depending on the angle of a particular arch it can read either contemporary, or old. I looked to the subtle arch in the living room fireplace and tried to mimic that for this space. The angle of the chimney was another extremely important element for me. One inch, one way or another, made the chimney "read" totally different.
An antique English dolly tub holds firewood. The antique iron poker (in the tub with the wood) is the only fireplace tool we use. Antique glazed terracotta corbel can stand the heat of the fire. Fireplace screen is vintage and the antique brass andirons are Federal in style.
The painting is by a listed, turn-of-the-century artist who retired to our small town. Our area in New Hampshire was (and is) very popular with artists because of its natural beauty and the amazing light we get. After randomly googling his name one day several years ago I found this painting in an auction from a museum in Wales which was decommissioning works bestowed to it. I loved the subject of the painting, the colors and I thought it would be perfect for the mantel. Thankfully we won the auction! The painting reminds me of places we have visited in Europe (where the artist often traveled to paint) and also of New Hampshire. The really special part of this story is that I know the house where the artist lived! My friend/neighbor lives in the house. I love the connection, and love the painting even more.
There are birds flying on the horizon in the painting and I love how the little bronze birds on the mantel look like they could have flown right off the canvas and landed in the barn room!
The bronze and crystal sconces are antiques. They were not electrified when I found them, so Dan wired them for electricity. I positioned them on the wall and our electrician rough-wired for the sconces, then the walls were entirely covered with the pine boards and painted. We took many measurements, but I was still nervous, when months later, he went to drill small holes (notice how narrow the back plates of the sconces are) through the wood and fish out the wiring. Our wonderful electrician made it look like a piece of cake and found both wires easily. It was a very good day!
The sconces (as does the chandelier) have real-wax candle covers. Close up photos HERE.
This antique herbarium is possibly my favorite of all our collections! (more on them further down this post)
Antique iron gates are from Argentina and were found at a local antiques shop several years before the barn renovation began. The gated doorway leads into the barn mud room.
After living in the room for several months I decided I wanted an old pharmacy lamp next to the sofa. If you have ever looked for an original, old one you know they are impossible to find. So, I began to look for new reproductions, but you know me;) I really wanted something old. Several months into my fruitless search (online, at antique shops, etc.) we woke up one weekend morning and Dan tells me he thinks we need to go antiquing as he has a feeling we are going to find something! Later that day "he" found this old, adjustable height brass pharmacy lamp at a shop in Rhode Island. When he found it it was reduced to its smallest height adjustment, about 3 feet. When I caught up to him he proudly showed me his find. I told him I loved it, but it was way too short;) He extended the arm of the lamp to its actual height and it was perfect! I was one very happy girl! It must have been fate as the patina of the lamp almost perfectly matches the coppery brown in the herbaria behind it. When we got it home and began to re-wire it we found a plate on the inside marking it as "Western Electric" brand, and after some research I found it to be approximately circa 1915, so it is now officially an "antique!"
The thick, textured jute rug measures 13 x 15' (which is an extremely difficult size to find at an affordable price point) and was a fabulous value from HERE. Though I had to wait several months while it was on back-order the rug is wonderful and was worth the wait! I love the texture that it provides the room. It is also very soft and comfortable to bare feet. To answer a question I receive all the time about the rug- it does not shed at all. BUT, the fringe on the end does shed (the fringe on my rug looks to be looped through, so if it bothered you it could be removed.)
The clamshell is real and measures 37" wide! It was sitting in the front yard of a 1950's ranch-style house in our neighborhood in Dallas. I would notice it every time I drove to the grocery store and coveted it for several years. One day I drove by and the house was for sale. I went home and wrote a letter to the homeowner asking if they would be interested in selling it. No response. I then noticed the house seemed to be vacant. At this point I start to panic! Several weeks went by with still no reply, so I called the agent listing the house. She told me the house was in probate and forwarded my interest in the clamshell to the trustee of the estate. Within hours I got a call from the man's secretary. She asked me what I would like to offer. I had no idea, but explained that several months before I had purchased a smaller one (the one on the shelves that Dan built in the master bath) and I paid $50 for it, so I offered $75 for this one (now, here you must understand I had never actually seen the piece up close, only from the street and had no idea of its condition or true size.) The offer was accepted! I then RAN to find Dan and told him we needed to go get the shell immediately before the man changed his mind! We drove to the house and it was then that I realized the shell was not just big, it was huge! It weighs a good 200+ pounds! Dan looks at me and tells me that there's no way I can help him pick it up. I'm wearing boots at the time that have a 2.5" heel- not the best heavy-lifting accessory;) I look at him with the determination of a woman facing losing her coveted object and say "Ohhh Yes I can! And hurry!" I was worried the neighbors would think we were stealing it and wanted to get out of there quick! Dan was shocked as I easily helped him load the shell into the back of our Yukon- it took up almost the entire width of the back, and unloaded it at our house. When we moved from Dallas a special crate was built to house the shell. When we moved into the farmhouse the crate remained in the basement until we moved into the barn room. We hired one of our young, strong carpenters to help us move into the room. He brought along an even younger high school football player- think big and muscular; this boy was a rock. And, you should have heard him huff and puff as they carried the shell up from the basement. Of course I had to mention how I had helped Dan move it wearing heels:)!
The floors are white pine and are 12" wide.
Antique painted-iron finial is from a building in downtown Portland, Oregon. Our neighborhood there (Eastmoreland) would have an annual yard sale; this was back in the early 90's when architectural antiques were just coming on the market and were very expensive. I asked the sweet, elderly lady how much the iron piece was and she told me "seven fifty." I said thank you and walked away not surprised by the expensive price. In telling Dan of the price I realized that maybe she didn't mean $750 as I had assumed, but seven dollars and 50 cents?? No, couldn't be. So, I asked again "Excuse me, how much did you say this was?" and sure enough this time she said "seven dollars and fifty cents!" She told us her husband used to work for the city and it was being thrown out during the renovation of an old building in downtown, so he brought it home. It sits on an antique wood base that we found in Montgomery, Alabama.
I adore this pair of lamps that we made from antique wooden balusters... a story about the them can be found HERE.
The table is vintage.
The huge basket, filled with magazines, was a roadside requisition rescued from a bulk-trash pile back in Dallas! People used to throw out the best things!
The 8' x 10' all-cotton (which was difficult to find) grey and white stripe Olin rug is from Crate and Barrel. I was so happy when it arrived and it was the perfect match to the striped linen pillows!
The original barn door used as art. The door is 11 feet tall by 11-1/2 feet wide. This is the door that Dan and I would slowly open and close (it's extremely heavy) when we would come over to see the house while we were trying to talk ourselves into buying it. The house was empty and visiting realtors would accidentally leave the barn to house door unlocked on occasion, and we would come inside and try to imagine what it would "feel" like to live here without anyone else around. We would come over during the day and late at night to see if the house felt safe and happy. It did! While we were renovating the room I planned to oil/wax the door, but after installation (here) I realized that all it needed was a good vacuuming and it was perfect in its rough-hewn condition.
The table under the barn door is an old iron work table base. The table is 8 feet in length. We added a slab of soapstone as its top. The large antique iron urn is from Jackson, Mississippi- which is where my late father was from; I like knowing that this urn was across town as my father was growing up. Collection of antique blue and white Chinese porcelain pieces (including the lamp) share the table corner. Antique rug sits in front of the work table.
A large brass tray, intricately etched, replaced the iron tray I used to have behind the antique winnowing basket that holds the bar.
Sofas are slipcovered in natural linen. Both sofas were custom, made in Dallas. The sofas were dissimilar and were in different rooms in that house. Covering them with the same slipcover design and fabric has brought them together here. I designed the slips to have box pleats and they were made "on site" by an amazing seamstress. It was wonderful to have her make them on-site as we could discuss every little nip and tuck along the way, getting each and every detail exactly as I envisioned
A while after we moved into the room I decided I wanted a table in front of the sofa facing the fireplace. I wanted/needed a place to stack magazines for reading, to set a drink, or just to prop your feet up on to watch a show. I envisioned a "pair" of something. I looked for months, finding some great options along the way, but not "the one." When I found these vintage iron nesting garden tables at an antique shop I thought they would be the perfect answer! I love the element of metal they provide in the room and how easy they are to move around (they have glides under their feet that easily slide across the thick weave of the rug); I loved that they weren't the same height which offered interest, and I also love that they are not solid- the pierced iron gives a nice pattern to the room and doesn't compete with the coffee table. They were covered in flaky rust when I found them and Dan wire brushed and oiled them into the beauties they are today!
Large antique Chinese brass bowl was purchased a good 25 years ago and has lived in all my houses, though it stayed in a cabinet during my "I hate brass" phase... thank goodness that phase is over!
I honestly don't think we could have found a more perfect antique coffee table for the room. The hand painted, marble topped Empire table is circa 19th century and is really a piece of art. The room and furnishings all have very simple lines, and I love how the table is ornate and commands the center of the room.
We found it at the dearly departed, fabulous Withington Antiques in York,Maine. Dan and I saw it at the same moment then looked at each other with the "that's the one" look! We were driving my car which couldn't accommodate the table, so we left it to pick up later. We came home and I measured the table size in the room and PANICKED. I thought it was going to be way too small. I drove myself crazy for weeks worrying about the table. But, once we walked it into the room it couldn't have been more perfect in size and scale and design! Closeup photographs of the table here.
I toyed with different ideas for a very long time on how I wanted the room to look and feel for spring and summer it all came together for me when I found a simple cotton grey striped pillow at Ikea, of all places! I love.... love stripes. They only had one small pillow, which I bought, and the reason for that was it had been discontinued and they weren't stocking it anymore, but someone must have returned one and they put it back on the floor. No matter. It became my jumping off point for the spring/summer design of the room.
While I love velvet and use it throughout the year in other rooms, the barn room was the one room in the farmhouse that they just didn't work when it came spring and summer. My goal was a calm, fresh, summery room that hinted of Maine and Cape Cod.
The large grey-stripe pillows are linen and I found the fabric at Zimman's in Lynn, MA, outside of Boston. It's a great shop and I have never seen so many bolts in one place- it is overwhelming. The two center euro pillow are an embroidered linen which I also found a Zimman's. (I do not have the names of either of these fabrics, sorry.) The pattern on the two accent pillow is a Liz Claiborne quilted cotton fabric (Annabelle Oasis) that I just happened to have a sample of in my stash and loved how it worked in the room. I learned how to sew a zipper for this project and made all the pillow covers myself:). They have a simple knife-edge, so once I mastered the zipper they weren't that difficult.
The original down-filled grey and white striped Ikea accent pillow sits on the sofa in front of the herbarium wall. I like the interest of the different scales of stripes in the room between the two pillow fabrics and the rug.
Antique iron martini table sits next to one of a pair of leather club chairs. I've seen lots of reproductions of this table, but was thrilled to find an original. It was completely covered in thick rust. Dan wire brushed (using a wire-wheel brush attachment on his drill) and oiled (3-in-1 oil and buff with paper towels) the table. Adore the pitted top! And yes, it has been known to host a dirty martini or two;) and an occasional glass of wine:) Patina on the leather chairs courtesy of Ella as they are a favorite of hers! I had purchased the fabric that I used for the pillow in this chair probably 10 years ago to make into a tablecloth, but never got around to it. After all the linen pillows were in place in the room I felt the room just needed one more pattern/color. I thought I was going to have to go on another manhunt for the perfect fabric, but happened to searched my stash one day and was so excited to find this fabric, which I have always loved and love how it plays with the Chinese blue and white ceramics in the room.
Besides the rug and the pillows, I also change out the accessories on this antique French wine table for the season. I use antique mercury glass candlesticks instead of the dark wood ones I use fall/winter. (The small mercury glass-like votive holders were from Pottery Barn several years ago.) I even change out the painting from the one that I use in the fall/winter. I use a "lighter" blue and white (actually blue and celedon) antique Chinese temple jar. The large demi-john lamp was found in Maine and has an antique brass finial we made from a grandfather's clock finial. The large (real ;) tree is a Bird of Paradise. Note the coco covering at the top of the basket. The plant sits in its original plastic pot that I purchased it in and I used this flat coco liner from Lowe's HERE to cover the pot, the dirt and the excess space between the pot and the basket. The liner comes with a slit from both sides to almost the center of the circle and I continue the cut to make it two pieces. I then cut a half circle out of the center of each piece to make it fit snugly around the plant stalk/stalks. I've also used these coco covers outside when placing a large boxwood into an antique dolly tub to hide the pot that the boxwood sits in. It's a great and inexpensive solution to hide the plastic pot. I simply move the coco liner to water the Bird of Paradise in place.
The real succulent was found at Red Onion in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A wonderful shop if you're in the area!
Small brass jardiniere is antique Russian brass. I have a collection of these around the house and the brass is so beautiful and well made. They are marked (stamped) on the bottom with a double headed eagle seal.
Herbarium (50 different specimens) is American and they were made by Lulu M. Cowan in 1894.
I bought the herbarium 9 years ago online. I was only able to view about 8 different examples in the collection, but I took a leap of faith that they would all be viable and was pleasantly pleased to have all but about 5 intact. In Dallas I could only hang 27 of them in our living room, so I was thrilled to finally have the whole collection displayed together. I chose to hang them in frameless frames, feeling that grouping that many "frames" together would distract from the effect of them as a whole. Thankfully, I framed them all at the same time years ago instead of only framing the ones I was able to use in Dallas. That made it so much easier when it came time to hang them here, and not to mention that the frames are no longer available! Each plant specimen is beautiful and special, and every single one is my favorite! Many still have faint colors from the original plant/flower.
The herbarium was expertly hung by Dan using a tape measure, laser level, a three-foot carpenter level, the "mark 1" eyeball (a military term) and countless trips up and down a ladder to get them just right. The laser level, measuring tape and carpenter level didn't always read the same at many checkpoints, but somehow he hung them all to specification and perfection! The hanging took two full days over Thanksgiving one year... I didn't watch; I was thankfully in the kitchen preparing the meal! When he had finished hanging the last one and had me come into the room, I cried. The house truly felt like "home" seeing the whole collection hanging in this room.
I don't think you've ever seen this view before of the stairs leading from the barn room into the kitchen. Barn half bath is through open doorway. In this photo you can see another antique Russian brass jardiniere holding an orchid on the Victorian table that sits next to the other leather club chair.
Thank you for visiting us and the summer barn room! Can I offer you a watermelon margarita, or a glass of wine while we sit and chat?!!
Wishing you a very Happy Summer! xxojoan
Again..... to see how the barn room looks in the fall and winter HERE