Staircases need never be boring. We are installing custom iron railings in this interior using antique game table legs as the posts which we set into custom bases. I saw these table legs at an auction down south and bought them on the spot not even knowing the application yet. Even thedsc065151 patina on these are spectacular next to the antique English pine collection in the home.

The iron work is lighter in feel than wood and allows a feel of expanded space in a smaller area. Once the rest of the pieces are welded into place, we will pick a finish. In this case, either black or midnight blue will do two things. First, it will seal the metal so it doesn’t rust at the welded sites. Secondly, the dark finish will be striking against the cream of the tumbled marble walls, even picking up on the dark colors of the oil paintings. 

There are so many collars, balusters, brackets and handrail details to choose from. All you need is a plan, the supplier, your stair codes and a good metal worker – or French Country Pine & Design!


january 2012

As this yearly cycle comes to an end and another begins, many of us will take the time to reflect on our habits, health and happiness;  perhaps scrawling off a list of resolutions to improve upon. May I suggest one? Learn to relish time in your own home. It’s that simple. Most of us spend a great deal of time and money honing its luring qualities but few of us really revel in it afterwards. Our rooms and our things only take on meaning and history through our LIVING indsc058461 and among them.

As an example, I recently read an article in the Milwaukee Journal about the emergence of tea rooms in our area and I admit that I felt equally excited and disheartened. My sorrow comes from the nudge that we must once again leave home, drive somewhere and stand in line in order to savor something  that could have become part of a revered ritual in our own homes. Haven’t we already seen this with our coffee houses? Have we lost the art of elegant social gatherings for coffee, tea and conversation? Have we relinquished the ritual of high tea and coffee klatches to historical BBC television programs? Why wouldn’t we have a pot of tea warming over a candle every night just for ourselves? Are we to become consumers of everything on the run and served in a disposable cup?

My spirits were lifted when I was staging a client’s home for Christmas and she offered me a drink. I asked for water and was delighted when she handed me my water in a Waterford  black cut crystal tumbler and then shared the merry history of it’s procurement.  This is the spirit! Get out the tea service you have tucked away in the butler’s pantry, pull out the collection of tea cups from your grandmother, use the wedding flutes that you haven’t seen in 30 years and heat up the finest pot of green sencha tea within the walls of your most sacred of places - home.

Let  this be the year that we learn to create and find repose in the place called home. It is only in this living that our house becomes a true home . And whether you share it with laughter or savor the tranquility alone, it can only add to your health and happiness in this new year.



For those of you that know me, I enjoy the outdoor rooms of my home as much as the inside; certainly more so in the summerstonelionheadmonths when this born and bred Texan can warm her bones.  As I write this, my vegetable garden is not yet blanketed in snow but rather layered in the washed out golds and coppers of Fall’s  confettied leaves. The pale, vertical stalks of brocolli still offer tiny, silvered florets for one last harvest while the whispy green ferns of the asparagus bed and yellowed vines of squash remain neatly edged in the royal purples of robust, round cabbages.  I know this landscape will soon leave behind these warm colors and take on the chiseled characteristics of an Ansel Adams still life.

What makes a garden hold its beauty when all the color has been removed is the architecture itself – the teasing of past perennials with a white dusting, the arch of an arbor, the invitational reminder of gates, patterns of picket fencing and lattice, softening evergreen boxwoods holding the curves in place, the courtly concrete sculptures left to critique winter’s  canvass.

Take the time to study your gardens now and note how and if your outdoor rooms still have the power to beckon and fascinate the eye. If not, we can change that come spring.




I recently had a client share with me his plans to build the most charming Cape Cod style chicken coop with crisp white siding, forged iron hinges and even a cupola. Of course I found myself pouring over my own collection of articles and books and longing for the same. How many of us daydream of a few chickens to bring some animation to the garden and hardscape? Quite a few, I suspect. Chickens connect us to the land and offer the sweetest displays of mothering.

If you are a gardener, a few bantams are the perfect recyclers. They eat leftovers, garden weeds, lawn mowings, slugs, snails and even mice. If you are of vegetarian persuasion, as I am, eggs offer a perfect protein source along with amino acids, minerals, vitamin A, B and D.  If you are of visual persuasion, as I am, you will love just looking at the shell variations from browns and blue-greens to olive.

I bought the plans for the same Cape Cod style coop as my friend and cannot wait to study them over the winter months. You can buy the plans, too, by visiting where they sell for $39.00. As for books, I like the one pictured called Keeping Chickens by Jeremy Hobson and Celia Lewis. I also love referencing MaryJane’s Lifebook For The Farmgirl In All Of Us by Mary Jane Butters which is where the spectacular fall shot came from.

Can’t have the real thing? We sell lovely, patinaed concrete hens, lambs & rabbits!



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