Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's Coming...or How Shabby is Chic?

Yes, Spring is coming. We've had a week of remarkably warm, sunny weather. The snow has melted and the creeks are high. Oh yes, in New England we call them rivers and brooks and rivulets. And rushing water is everywhere. I love the sound of the small river that runs by my "house"! The beavers have made a bit of a dam, so the water is falling from it making that wonderful water white noise that calms the spirits. I have a very rustique wooden settee down there, so I can sit and meditate by the water.  Now that the snow is melting from the adjoining woods, I can walk the plank over the rivulet into the woods and lay in the hammock I hung between two trees.

In April and May all seems possible! The things I will grow! The flowers and herbs! Tomatoes and Swiss chard! My 'plot' is half barrels and large plastic tubs. Big pots and a perennial bed on the retaining wall by the edge of the drive. The rest of the yard is paved or a rough rugged lawn. By mid- June the woods fill with sticker bushes and goldenrod, and the blackflies come and hang in clouds around your face and bite your ankles. A screen porch would be nice...

I don't live in a house. It's a ramshackle old building (below on the left) that used to be a hardware/lumber store. The old lumber mill is a museum across the street (right). Our building is an old post and beam structure with some of the old stone foundation still standing on one side. Snakes and salamanders are apt to show up in the basement to surprise us at any given time. My apartment is in the back of the building, overlooking the woods and river. My brother and his son and daughter live in the front and upstairs. The walls are a combination of exposed beams, rough paneling, planks and rough drywall. I've painted some walls and covered others with sheeting. I have 5 windows in all.  On a sunny day, the living room is bathed in light till late afternoon, when the shed area roof shades it, keeping it cool in the summer.

The floors are a joke! They are mostly painted plywood, wavy, up and down over the main beams, higher by the walls. The kitchen is ramped up about 4 inches higher than the rest. Some of the kitchen has old asphalt tiles, other had spray paint spatter finishes of different colors- there was even a section of sticky black tarpaper! I've put a subfloor over that and vinyl roll remnants. At least it is washable now! Other rooms have area rugs. I warn people not to trip on them when they walk through. I always wanted to live somewhere funky, and I got it.

Last Spring, I cleaned out an area of the building I call a shed room. It is uninsulated and has a garage door like a loading dock. I covered the opening with 3 screen doors from Home Depot. I now can open up the garage door and make it a screen porch! I hung sheer curtains over the screens to billow in the breezes. I brought in my twig settee, opened an old army cot for a daybed. I decided on sea-glass colors--I covered cushions and pillows with green, turquoise and blue pillowcases that I can wash when they need it. I covered the walls with white sheets, hung swag lamps and potted plants. Made a very rustique coffeetable from an old barn door, and bought some cheap art to go with a couple of nicer paintings I hung on the walls. I even brought in a table that I can craft on, when I'm not reading or snoozing the evenings away. Folding screens hide the storage and workshop area.

Right outside is a small "patio" where I grow my flowers and vegetables along with a fountain I found at Home Goods.  It's so nice in my shed room, that I spend every evening there when it's warm enough. That whole project probably cost $300 including the cheap screen doors, pillowcases, sheets, art and fountain. Now I have a 3 season room that, when the garage door is open, brings light and fresh air into the rest of the house. The cats are content to spend all their time in there watching the birds and chipmunks play.

How shabby is chic? I can make any space not only liveable, but comfortable and even charming without spending money. I grew up in the house that Dad built and didn't move out till I was 21. I don't know how many times I redecorated that bedroom! Then I lived in so many apartments that I couldn't count them. I can remember at least 35! I lived here in Western Massachusetts till I was 24, moved to Denver and then a log house in the mountains for a while, came back here 20 years later and settled into this place about 10 years ago. I've decorated and cutened up every apartment I had with whatever I could get. Some people might cringe at my "house" but shabby is chic here. I have everything I need and all the space I could want. When I entertain, people "love what I've done with the place."

My favorite place to shop for shabby chic is the side of the road! In the Spring, people start putting things outside with free signs on them. Or they have yard sales and whatever is left is free. Goodwill doesn't drive up here to pick things up, but someone will probably want what you leave! I have found a computer desk, a microwave, many chairs, a retro dinette set, dishes, silverware and countless other thingies on the side of the road. Trisha and I love to go to the yard sales too. I usually set a limit of $5 or $10 for the day and see what treasures I can find. What I don't want goes on the side of the road for free!

Meanwhile, I'm thinking photography classes are in order!


  1. You know?--I think this sound so peaceful and homey. I am always in the best mood when I sit by babbling water, whether its a fountain or a stream!) YAY for the beavers! Their hardwork will make a great lazy summer day for you!
    I love your optimism- some people would throw in the towel coming across the challenges an old home presents. I just love their character. You have to give me some tips on your container gardens!! I would love to plant a veggie garden this year, but haven't the first clue on where to begin!

  2. It sounds delightful, Sherry!

    When we first moved up to the mountains, I spent some time watching the chickadees, and I thought to myself "they have everything they need". Shelter, food, water, companionship. That's when I first truly started seeing that I too have everything I need. All the rest is just feathers and fluff. :)

    Wishing you a lovely Sunday!

  3. What's the phrase - Motherhood is the necessity of invention? You have invented a wonderful space. It looks so soothing and calming and relaxing. Your home sounds very intriguing.

  4. Beautiful post and I so agree with you on everything. I too do not really have a garden, although I call it that all the time. I have a few bushes that line two patios or terraces, a few flower beds and a lot of potted plants.;)
    I think your *house* sounds extremely intriguing to me.
    LOVE all the pictures.;)

  5. I came back to see your photographs, Sherry! It's even better than I imagined! Like you, I love robin's egg blue, and your hammock location is (as angel voices lift up in harmony) heavenly!
    Thanks for letting me know that you posted the pics - I'm wishing so much that I lived near by - I think we'd have so much fun visiting and playing with art together!

  6. Sherry, What a beautiful blog. I sense that you really 'get' what life is truly all about!I think if we lived near one another we would be best of friends. You seem to enjoy all of the same things I do. Keep sharing. We are inspired! KarenLynn

  7. Sherry,
    I can't wait to hear about your plans for your Colorado trip! There are so many beautiful places to visit. Please blog about it when you can. Will you be kayaking?

  8. Love that you live in an old lumber store...and that you love it with wonky floors and all.

  9. Ah Sherry..What a lovely post! I'm in love with your private space. You've done quite a handsome job on making it cozy and delightful. Makes me want to put something like that together for myself.

    Blessings, Love and Thursday Sunshine, Terri

  10. Wow Sherry! Thanks so much for sharing your home with us! The idea of living in an old lumber store sounds fun and oh, the potential to create something fun and wonderful - just like you've done.

    One of "her" weaknesses was/is redecorating and decorating. And yes, shabby is in!! I'm glad to see that we are in good company!

    BTW - love your new background, Karen did a beautiful job!

    Have a great weekend!

    Romeo and "her"

  11. Sherry,
    Before I come to visit you I go get a drink & settle in becuase I can't just up in, look at a couple of pretty pictures and move on. There's always real 'content' in your posts. A story, information, you let people know you. I love it so. Brilliant how you made over a shed into a zen all season room. Lisa

  12. Thank you all for the nice wonderfully supportive comments! So nice to hear from you all-Romeo, I thank you for noticing my background, etc. I admire Karen's designs and may get her to help me out! She didn't do this one, though I borrowed her email button. Check out her new design service! She has something for everyone!

  13. That is one very cool place you have there, Sherry. Happy Palm Sunday and Pink Saturday :D

  14. Sherry, you're cute. I love that! Best place for shabby chic: the side of the road! LOL!


  15. Perfect--your house by the side of the road. Can't wait to explore your blog, especially your collaging.


  16. It's perfect! Cozy comfy, just my kind of place. And that hammock, yeah, that's where I'd be this summer with a big ol' glass of tea and a book and a look of threat to anybody who would dare to even think of bothering me. I love it all!

  17. I'm thinking maybe you can GIVE photography classes.

    I love "road-side shopping", too. About six years ago our refrigerator died and we bought a brand-new one.

    I kept taking pictures of the whole thing and my husband of ten years asked why I was so excited.

    I told him I had never had a brand-new appliance before!

    I think you are doing amazing are the ultimate "green" gal. Maybe you should send some articles of your how-to's into Mother Earth News and magazines like that!

  18. I've discovered just about anything can be an adventure instead of a challenge, if you look at it from the right perspective.

    What an enchanting and fascinating home you must have.

  19. Sherry,

    What a beautiful place you created! I was captivated by all you wrote describing what you've done to the home you've created in your "not a house."

    Hope you're having a great weekend and some nice weather. Suddenly its warm down here in the south--in the 80s.



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