Fresh French Home

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

FFH Story: Day Dream Believer

Eiffel tower, PA flower show

I have always been a daydreamer. It is easy for me to visualize something in my mind's eye, from the details to to the full picture.  What you can picture in your mind is something that can become reality. I wrap my little prayers in pink bubbles, placing them there for safe keeping and they turn the sweetest pale pink. They move up through my mind and I imagine that little pink bubble holding my wishes and prayers as it floats to the sky, passing clouds, believing that each and every wish will come to pass.

little G and her bubble wishes

This brings me here, to Fresh French Home. My idea of creating a beautiful space to imagine and share inspirations, dream up new spaces, a place dedicated to inspired shopping and inspired living.  And it all started with a daydream. 

 Fresh French Home as officially been"pink bubbled"! Now, we wait for the little pink prayers to float back down and give us a good sprinkle.

Big news from France, my sister, Aidan will be contributing to Fresh French Home blog on Monday. She has a lovely blog of her own She and her family live in the Laungduec region in southern France. She has been sharing her life abroad on her blog for many years and she is a writer ta boot, just wait for her novel! 

aidan and me, circa 1978

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Atelier: A French Original, The Breton Stripe

Atelier: french, pronounced (A-tell-yay), artist's workshop or studio. My table at home and the coming shop for us to create, design and inspire!

When I begin a new project I organize it by a theme, a story I want to tell, visually. Keep this idea in mind when you are in a room or house re-do. What story do you want to tell, what theme do you want to convey? Every element of the design should be connected to that theme or story. It should all "marry", become whole and part of the story you are telling.

The Atelier: French Original, Nautical strtipe

The Atelier of Fresh French Home:
This week the Atelier is dedicated to a true French original, the Breton stripe. The stripe makes for very easy storytelling. Originally built for the French Navy, the stripe was first seen in 1858. The shirts made of thick cotton and wool had 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleons triumphs! In 1917 Coco Chanel visited the south of France, a bit later her new Spring line donned the Breton stripe. Thank you Coco!

Coco Chanel and her stripes, 1917

So, let's translate the popular stripe to home design. I personally love wearing stripes but I especially love them in interior design, even beyond the Breton, stripes have the ability to break up other patterns, add vertical interest and give your eyes a place to rest. Try including them in different widths, wide to narrow. Experiment with vertical and horizontal, use as a trim to "Frenchy" up a solid, mix with other patterns or let bold, wide stripes stand on their own.

my fabric choices for French Nautical

Tidied up for you are examples of what to use and how to use the nautical stripe to create a beautiful interior. All inspired by the sea, stripes and the original. I chose the classic navy and white color palette, in varying sized stripes and patterns mixed with classic green for a nod to this Springs "hot" color. There is a neutral version for those not quite ready to take the sea plunge into nautical. And you can always stripe it up with simple accents to get a little of the French seaside.

French Nautical fabric collage

French Nautical fabric, chair detail

Each of these chandeliers trends towards the nautical theme but each is a very different style.

Three mirrors each very different in style but each can stand on there own within the nautical theme.

Rug options that deliver texture, color and theme consistency through color or pattern.

Neutral options for a more subtle nautical palette. A little more reserved and softer. Use the stripes for large furniture pieces for most impact. Trim with the dots, small stripe and egg blues.

Quite lovely and what could be more French than the nautical stripe! Embrace it, even in small doses and don't forget to tell the story of your nautical, seaside Cote d' Azur.
I would love to know your seaside tale.

Coming Wednesday for FFH Story, my Summer daydream becoming a reality.

atelier enamel sign:
Lighting: round silver chandy:
blue crystal: 
brass chandy:
Mirrors: blue and silver: 
shell mirror:
gold wreath top:
Rugs: navy stripe: 
stripes 3 color ways:
sisal w/ navy trim:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

FFH Story: What Design Means to Me

This series of posts, FFH Story, will be dedicated to my thoughts on design, daydreams and what new, wonderful things are in the shop. A sneak peak of my newest finds and custom designs. And a place for continual updates on all things Fresh French Home! It will also be a continuing story of what I hope the shop will become, the sensibilities and character I want bring to FFH. 

Aesthetics (also spelled √¶sthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of artbeauty, and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty.[1][2] It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste.[3] More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as "critical reflection on art, culture and nature." (wikipedia)

I have always been the creative type and there have been times in my life that I got bogged down in something else, distracted and not truly myself. Every time this happens, without fail, I feel a little distant from myself. And I have learned I need to be creating something to feel truly happy. 

Creativity can come in many forms. I can feel content planning a new garden, choosing paint colors, designing a new kitchen or designing a new business. I write all this to tell you more of who I am and where I have started and why and what I want my shop, your shop to be. And I think it should all start with learning how to "see", developing an ability to look at things, color, shape, pattern and texture more keenly. 

In college I studied a number of subjects. My eventual degree was in Art education and I have enough hours in photography to consider it my minor. Art education is comprised of education principles and pedagogy classes and luckily for me numerous hours in fine arts. 

I think I really began to see things in a different way after my first photography course. The assignment; only take photographs of shadows with black and white film. I loved this assignment. And from that moment I never saw anything the same again. Something about the light against the dark, the contrast made everything standout. I would see shapes within shapes, textures and patterns more clear, relationships of space and size changed and so did I.

In Art history I visually dissected  paintings. Discovering shapes, color and pattern and their relationships to each other and the overall purpose of the painting. I studied aesthetic philosophy for the "Art" in my education degree. The point was to understand and have the tools to implement the ideas of aesthetics in the classroom. This changed me too. I grew to learn how to see the basic function and beauty in everyday objects, how to perceive and untangle the visual layers of design, paintings, pattern and shapes. 

And I believe all of this has lead me to here, creating Fresh French Home. My ideas of design rest here, in the idea of "seeing" more deeply, keenly. And the desire to marry function with beauty. The thought that your home should be functional, beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.

I will post more on aesthetics and ideas about learning to "see" in the coming weeks. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

La Jardin in February: Indoor Terrariums

I have daydreams about Spring and beautiful flowers and new buds forming on the trees and my roses, we have planted 20 here! Spring is my favorite season, maybe because it includes my birthday, wedding anniversary and Easter. Three of my favorite days of the year. Spring also brings gardening back to us. My Rock and I love to garden. Before little G was born we would spend almost every Saturday and Sunday in the yard building up our gardens. Every house we have lived in together, since 1998, has had new flower gardens built from scratch. We tilled the soil, raised beds, and picked all of our plants. This is what my Rock loves to do. And he is very good at it and knows the ins and outs of almost every tree, shrub and flower around. I love him for it. 

But, Winter is still here. A great way to bring the outdoors inside is using terrariums. Terrariums have a wonderful history and their height of popularity was the Victorian era. Terrariums came in so many styles, from simple lines to highly decorated in brass, filigree ironwork, and hand painting. Even today one can find terrariums in different styles, from homemade, glass bottles or elaborate structures to house plants.
For more history click below:

Victorian parlor room illustration 

Building an indoor terrarium of your own can be as simple or as complex as you wish. I have links posted below for instructions and a few tips of my own. 

Simple Terrarium:
1- choose your plants, ferns, mosses, orchids and herbs work well.
2- pick your terrarium, as simple as a glass cloche, glass house, covered cake plate or an elaborate antique.
3- water your plants, add soil if un-potting plants and your terrarium base will take the soil. or you can leave the plants in their original pots.
4- choose a bottom layer, if you wish. you can use moss, paper, ribbon, straw anything to make a little "nest" or leave simple and plain.
5- arrange your plants, consider spacing if using more than 1 plant. vary heights and colors.
6- cover and enjoy for months to come and show your children nature at work.


my simple terrarium, I added after Christmas. I missed the green of my tree!

The best plants for a terrarium are usually ones that enjoy high amounts of water and can tolerate being indoors. Ferns, mosses and herbs are all good candidates.
Below is a link for the best plants to create a terrarium

I added white violas to an antique wall basin in my guest bath.
the plants were placed in a cut sandwich bag for watering and then covered with moss.

And if you're missing something to house your terrarium, forget the cover and sneak in plants to unusual spaces. I love doing this. It is always a surprise for you and guests. It makes me smile to see violas in January  sitting inside my decorative birdcage or the antique basin shown above. And if it makes you smile, you should do it!
my violas in the birdcage. they smile back at me!

Also, a followup for 5 minute gardens from The Inspired Room. She has a great post on how simple, yet lovely indoor gardens can be.

FFH  will have gardening posts monthly. I will dedicate one Monday to my love of nature, flowers and digging around outside. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Vintage Valentines, Waving our Hearts

Momo Valentines, circa 1922!

In honor of Valentine's Day this week I thought I would dedicate a post to vintage valentines. Last year my mother-in-law gave me vintage Valentine's that had belonged to Momo, my husbands grandmother. They are quite cute. They were given to her when she was in the first grade, circa 1922! On the back of each one is a patient mothers handwriting: "To Auvaline".

Momo was a very sweet, strong lady. When I knew her she had the prettiest white hair, sharp wit and she adored my husband and because of that she adored me. I have heard stories over the years of her cleaning house in her high heels. Can you imagine cleaning, dusting and pushing around a 1950's vacum in 4" heels? She worked all of her life to make the life of those she loved better. I am so thankful she was a big part of my husbands life because I know she had something to do with the man he is today. And I thank her for that. I will keep her vintage valentines, tucked away somewhere safe, like all hearts should be, for our little G to have one day.
Auvaline Dawson at our wedding, 2002!

Momo valentone, circa 1922
We lost her in April, 2005. I do regret little G did not have the honor to know her and taste her meringue pies. Or hear her tell one of her tall tales. I think they would have adored each other , both bright, tough and sweet as plums. We miss you Momo, and that meringue. Happy Valentines Day, we wave our hearts to you.
Momo valentine, circa 1922

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Website is Here!

I have been quiet on my blog, been too busy making so many arrangements! The website is up and running. I still have pages, information and pictures to add but it is designed and it works! Please have a stop by and take a look

I have gotten back the pictures of my home and I am happy with them. The slideshow on the website is a small handful. I will be adding more after I build the pages. The blog is about to take a big turn, look for numerous posts throughout the weeks to come. I promise to have updates on the brick and mortar location very soon. I need it finalized for my own sanity! xoxo
Until Monday. . .