Once Upon a Spindle—Chapter 2

We would be remiss if we did not share the original tale of Once Upon a Spindle and the first Vintage Spindles which were brought to Rooster Ridge with love and with the intention of Re-Purposing. The Cottage at Rooster Ridge is a 100 year old building, which means the requirement to have a handrail was not in place when this “not-to-code” steep and narrow staircase was built! One of the many joys of grandfathering! The charming staircase is made of beautifully aged wood. When viewing an individual step at eye level, you are able to see the dips on the left and the right of each stair, which have been created by footfalls through the years—resonating history! This staircase was one of the first discoveries that was made during the renovation of the cottage—we removed the carpeting which was on the staircase and the subsequent layer after layer of thick aged paint.

After the renovation was complete the staircase began getting more and more use and it became apparent that a handrail would come in handy. The Art and Writing Studio is upstairs in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge, often canvases and art supplies are being carried up and down, a place to pause on this steep stairway with a solid grip-hold would come in handy!

l found it a difficult to imagine an ordinary handrail in this little artistic building and not very creative! With the freedom granted from grandfathering, the question became, “Why does a handrail have to be a single piece of…anything? Why couldn’t it be several things?”

This became the first new use and Re-Purposing of the Vintage Spindles we had fallen in love with! It seemed logical— as the spindles had once served a purpose in a staircase in a vertical position—why not turn them on their sides and enable them to be Re-Purposed into a horizontal staircase-handrail!

This became a perfect solution for this narrow staircase with it’s “non-code” angles and turns as well as being creative, artistic and unique!

These are the steps (pun intended) we took—the spindles were sanded, stained and the ends were rounded to remove the square ends. The idea to use different styles of  spindles furthered the unique appearance and interest! As they were also made of different woods the color varied as well as the patterns.

We found Vintage handrail supports to attach the spindle-handrails. The finishing touch was a decorative end-piece—which in actuality is a stationery accessory which we had on hand!

Re-Purposing. Thinking as artistically and creatively as possible is our goal and motto at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge. Removing the limits of what something once was and allowing the freedom for it to become.

Art Lives!

Once Upon a Spindle—

Once upon a time these spindles were the miniature support beams of staircase banisters. I imagine, a time in the past, little children wearing pajamas had placed their cheeks against some of these spindles—as they held on with pudgy toddler fingers—peeking between the spindles—hoping to remain undetected to those below.

The staircase they belonged to—was perhaps, once the centerpiece of a home—whether that staircase swept gracefully upstairs in a formal entry foyer or was hidden behind the kitchen as a creaky, steep back-staircase, which was climbed laboriously after a long day of work. Or—were some of these—the spindles which stood like soldiers standing guard in a row upon a porch? Having once served such worthy purposes in the past, these spindles were now only dusty relics. I suppose, some believe, there is only value in these spindles if the goal is to create a new (vintage) staircase. This was not what I saw—or felt—when I discovered them!

It was a little unnerving—I found them on a “second floor” which had been created by the suspension of steel grates from—somewhere!  I was uncertain if the room was being supported from below—or hanging from the ceiling? The certainties were, that in this created second floor of this cold and damp warehouse, the conditions were dusty and dark. The grate floor was transparent between the mesh openings which added suspense to the encounter, as a sense of falling occurred as I looked down to the floor below. There were hundreds and hundreds of spindles stacked upon—more stacks— and the abundant overflow had been vertically piled into buckets. Sharp, bent and rusty nails protruded in haphazard patterns—each spindle needed to be handled with respect to avoid injury.

As I pulled the first wooden spindle out of the heavy stack— there was the thrill of discovery—in my mind’s eye—within each spindle I saw a unique wooden sculpture.

Carved pieces of art—with history—each one with turnings, soft curves, or small consecutive rolls which created a pinstripe appearance—there were angles and geometric shapes. I wondered what the intent had been of each design what had been the inspiration behind them? This treasure trove was rich with a variety of aged woods; pine, elm, oak and mahogany. Some of the spindles had been painted at various periods of their lives—now the paint was chipped, sun-baked or peeling. The classic-porch-white had now turned to vanilla with age, rich barn red, classic greens and both merry and mellow yellows lay on top of one another. A rainbow of spindles.

Our selection was made—we chose varied shapes, heights and colors. I had a vision, an idea—and now it was time for our expert at Rooster Ridge to magically make it happen! (Magic translates into painstaking hard work, patience and a never-give-up attitude!) I am grateful that creative ideas are often my genre—however, most often, the execution of the idea is not done by me. Okay—fine, rarely done by me. The designs and creations at Rooster Ridge are brought to fruition with the patience and tenacity of Steven. We’re a good team.

First the spindles were sanded, not completely cleanly, as the remnants of the paint and bruises of the wear are what we believe creates the interesting surface patina. Steven hung them in The Barn at Rooster Ridge for a clear coat—it made for an interesting display, as they were suspended from beams on hot-pink nylon cord. A table saw came next as a base was created from a vintage board—a new piece of wood would lack the coordination of character so vintage was obtained! Structurally, the base needed to be heavy enough to be able to support the tall spindles to prevent them from toppling over. The next step was to make wooden pegs and affix them to the bottom of each spindle—while coordinating holes were drilled into the bases. The fun part of the idea was to have the spindles be removable and interchangeable—enabling the ability to make different arrangements.

We made three sizes of bases; a 5-spindle, a 3-spindle and a single-spindle base!

There are so many ways of using these custom vintage spindle-candelabras—the ideas and thoughts are dizzying! We are looking forward to lining them up on a buffet table, down the center of a dining table or placed on an end table or coffee table. The mantle also serves as a lovely home!

At Rooster Ridge we love design, vintage style and unique ways of creating and Re-Purposing—always attempting to bring art into our lives!

Art Lives!

Comforting Copper

There is something comforting about copper—especially Vintage Copper.

There are many precious metals which have survived the wear and tear of a life lived—each holding a unique history within each mar, dent and scratch. At Rooster Ridge we feel, copper, more-so than other metals, exudes comfort.

The warm signature colors of the varied shades of peaches and oranges that depict copper are so comforting—and perhaps that is the reason so many soothing amenities of warmth have been offered in the solace of copper.

At Rooster Ridge we display Vintage Copper pieces as well as utilize them in our every day life. The placement of Vintage Copper containers—teapots, pots, kettles and carriage warmers mirror the warmth of homeyness in each of their metallic reflections.

In addition to placed pieces, we have also incorporated copper into the lighting as well as other utilitarian objects…more on those at a later date!

The utilitarian effectiveness of copper allows for functional use indoors as well as outdoors! The exterior of Rooster Ridge additionally heralds copper as the signature metal in skylights, gutters, light fixtures, flashing and weather vanes!

At The Cottage at Rooster Ridge spring is near! Soon we will be moving outdoors to share with you our outdoor copper!

We hope we have inspired you to invite the cozy warmth of copper into your cottage!

Art Lives!

Vintage Tin—Re-Colored—Beautifully!

This is Vintage Tin Art! These magnificent patterns have been enhanced with the application of new paint and colors!

At The Cottage at Rooster Ridge we are fans! The options are endless—the mixing of patterns, colors, sizes—and the multitude of choices of how to display—independently or with the creation of interesting groupings are endless!

Texture, Pattern, Color and Varied Sizes–Vintage Tin Art has it all!

The texture is vibrant with the combination of the dimensional pressed patterns of the tin and the surface texture created by peeling and cracking of the original paint. The aging of each tin creates an original work, as no two are alike!

The possibilities are endless—using the same pattern in various colors, intermixing patters of the same color—we get dizzy just thinking of all the ways these pieces can be used.

The plan at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge is to have the Vintage Tin art go down the entire stairway of The Cottage! Time to discover more!

We are considering making one-of-a-kind sets available for purchase—any interest? We have many ideas and color combinations in mind! Contact us!

Vintage Tin—in the original historic form or Vintage Tin Art—which has been recently enhanced—is nothing short of artwork!

Art Lives!

Vintage Tin—Re-Purposed—Beautifully!

Some Vintage Tin comes complete with a story, a history—shared and cherished from seller to buyer. While other pieces of Vintage Tin may arrive at your door anonymously, with only your imagination to fill in the blanks—see tomorrow’s post. Whatever the pedigree—Vintage Tin always brings—beauty!

This Vintage Tin has a story—or so we were told—we discovered this Vintage Tin in Northwest Arkansas. The seller had traveled to Texas for the dismantling of a theater and the subsequent purchase of the tin paneled ceiling. The varied history is evident of having lived, if nothing else, a colorful life. The layered story can be read in the rich original patina of greys; charcoal, heather and graphite. In addition to the greys, there are pinks and greens creating a multi-colored visual feast! One cannot help but wonder—had the green paint been applied over the dull grey after the war in the 1940’s? And, had the pink paint then been layered on top of the green in the 1950’s? Or—so we were told—one can only imagine!

We purchased four panels measuring 24″ x 48″, one a 24″ square center medallion and 28 linear feet of crown molding with absolutely no idea what would become of it! Since the purchase in 2008—we have dragged it out a few times, arranging the puzzle pieces onto the floor in various locations in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge as well as the House at Rooster Ridge, only to re-pack it all and lug it back into the attic for storage—the inconvenient old-house attic which is accessed only by pulling down a trap-door-staircase. Maybe this purchase wasn’t the best choice—were the friends and family who asked with confused looks on their faces, “But…you don’t know where it will fit and you bought it anyway?”

Our answer, “Nope.”

That is until we began the recent renovation of The House at Rooster Ridge. With all of our creative design mojo in full swing we were now able to revisit the Vintage Tin with fresh eyes—allowing for the expansion of thought.  Previously our consideration for the Re-Purpose of the tin panels had been stuck in the purpose the various pieces had served in the past. Letting go of that—our horizontal thoughts (ceiling) were transformed into vertical design opportunities! The “grouping” of tin panels were ultimately installed in three different locations—no longer belabored by viewing them as a single entity but rather— individual elements of design.

This new approach enabled the Vintage Tin to become transformed into architectural details for multiple applications. Using two of the panels as an accent feature on the surround of the built-in kitchen desk created a unique space—differentiating the area from the back splash of the kitchen counter-top areas. The kitchen back splash is also tin—a faux finished new copper tin—more about that in another post!

The second highlighted area was also in the kitchen—we had a wood panel built around the tin to creating a frame for the tin accent panel! The colors of the greens and greys work beautifully with the green wall ovens and black stove top.

The crown molding was installed in the downstairs powder bath located next to the kitchen allowing what I refer to as memory design  coordination (okay, I made that up—but still!)  Our mind remembers and holds onto aspects of design features, details or color-ways and as you travel to the next room there is an unconscious connection of the two—creating a harmony from room to room. That’s what I call—memory design coordination! Let’s see if it trends! LOL!

The center medallion was placed in the center of the painted white ceiling and trimmed in mahogany as was the crown molding. The contrast of the white ceiling with the two Vintage Tin treatments creates a dynamic impact.

The purchase of the the Vintage Tin—from Texas via Arkansas—in 2008 has now come full circle becoming one of the prominent vintage features of the renovation of The House at Rooster Ridge.

Following your heart—what speaks to you—telling you a story or a whisper of history enriches our lives! Free yourself from knowing the when, where or how!

If you love the art of something—have faith—a place within your cottage will become, home!

Art Lives!

The Art of Dining—Chairs!

Ten Dining Room Chairs—One Fabric?

The same color and pattern for ALL 10 ??? — Borrrrrrring!

Ten different fabrics? Toooooo many!

Five varied fabrics—JUST RIGHT!

We have found at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge that mixing  patterns creates visual interest and seemingly energetic movement. By building upon a common thread (pun intended) colors and patterns are easily combined in new and unusual ways! This kind of freestyle decorating adds whimsy, character and personality to your decor! You also are encouraged to take minimal risks as you say yes to the fabric you love—with bees on it or Faberge´-like eggs! One yard of upholstery fabric is usually sufficient for two chairs—why not?

With our anthem of—attention to detail—using multiple fabrics will work beautifully by looking for the commonality of the fabrics; the five fabrics chosen for this installation have two primary aspects in common.

The Color Connection; Each fabric has a similar warm-golden-yellow element within the pattern of the design. In addition each fabric has the same amount or sheen, creating a coordination in the level of formality.

The Hand Connection; The hand of fabric refers to the way a textile feels in the hand. All five fabrics have the same smooth hand and the weight of the fabrics are the same.

These two subtle similarities create sub-categories of coordination, the results— multiple fabrics working beautifully in conjunction with one another. We also love each of these fabrics independently—each is a remarkable design statement alone. Together—pure design bliss!

In the decor of Rooster Ridge, variations of the color red is one of the hallmark colors in our design scheme. With that in mind, two different fabrics with red grounds were selected.

A lovely warm-gold-yellow is another one of the primary colors used within the color scheme of Rooster Ridge. We were very fortunate to find a rich gold fabric with a rooster motif!

A gorgeous green fabric  (with gold bees) was also included in the five, the color works beautifully with the traditional, historic green that is used as an accent color. Historic green is painted on the inset of panel moldings and on one fireplace mantle. Additionally, deep green is introduced through the use of Verde marble on the five fireplace hearths.

Another assistance in coordinating multiple fabrics is to use one pattern in more than one color variation. This approach assists in creating a cohesive blend of the different elements. The golden-yellow rooster fabric had a second color-way on a black ground. The eye naturally connects the two as the patterns of the prints are the same.

The addition of the black fabric works beautifully also as accent chairs in the family room. The retro wooden blinds with exposed hardware are accented with black ribbon. Due to the use of the industrial pieces throughout the house black is an additional secondary accent color.

Depending on the number of diners, the mood and theme of the table can also be altered by choosing certain chairs. A holiday dinner for six could consist of four red and two green chairs. A spring buffet for four might consist of two gold and two green chairs. The combinations and theme inspired arrangements are endless! And of course—there are often requests from guests to sit in a particular chair, as a favorite fabric is declared!

By using five fabrics—there are two chairs in each fabric, the chairs naturally fall into matched pairs which can be used in other rooms—especially for entertaining!

Fabrics and textiles are another form of art—expand the palette in your cottage—introduce artistic touches with soft goods; upholstery, window treatments, pillows and table linens all become canvases for art!

Art Lives!

Love of—Ephemera

From Wikipedia:

Ephemera are transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day.

And yet, for some wonderful reason—these paper treasures lasted!
Art Lives!

Ephemera can be anything—postcards, labels, magazines, theater tickets—according to the Ephemera Society (yes, there actually is a society!) there are over 500 categories of collecting.

Similar to most collectibles—the range of expense, sophistication and knowledge is vast. Often the high end of a hobby or interest is the only version we are easily exposed to. Unfortunately, that glimpse can be the cause of a door closing, rather than the wonderment of a door opening! Often an interested person may feel that collecting is “out of their league financially” or that the required education of the topic is lacking.


Collect pieces that move you—your collection does not have to become a significant or important item in a famous auction to have value—the value is in the joy you experience in looking, selecting and cherishing each piece and your collection!

The history lesson which is often accidentally stumbled upon, as was the case in the purchase of The Decoration Day Greeting postcard (pictured above) can inspire us, while connecting us to the past—assisting us to be mindful of the lives and the events that have come before us.

Hoping to achieve inspiration for designing an invitation to our Memorial Day—Parade-Viewing—Breakfast (the name is a mouthful) I discovered the postcard for Decoration Day Greetings. I came to learn, prior to the holiday becoming Memorial Day, the original name was Decoration Day, as this was a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. The artwork of this postcard is so beautifully touching—I love the American flag dress the artist created and the sorrowful expression on the woman’s face. The background is a lovely landscape depicted in soft blues and greens. Printed on the gravestone in gold metallic ink is the year 1860 as the year of death. Indeed, I was inspired.

Dated May 28, 1909 and stamped with a one cent stamp, the poem reads;

Though more than forty years ago,

in Freedom’s cause he fell,

While facing furious, Gallant foe,

He is remembered well.

The Collection of Vintage Postcards at Rooster Ridge is small and has only just begun.  I found this new-Vintage-style postcard rack and it sits at the top of the stairs in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge. Our collection of Vintage Postcards is inexpensive—purposely—to encourage holding, picking up, exploring and touching—admiring, dreaming and reading. The dated and handwritten messages on the cards from the original sender are a peek into bygone days. The addresses are interesting and often contain minimal information, studying the postcards is similar to a film set in a specific time period—these period pieces are a mere snapshot!

The inscription of one card dated 1910 reads;


Received the socks this morning. Thanks immensely. They are fine for the purpose.


Another dated 1909 reads;


Dear Friend,

Please excuse me for not writing sooner but mamma and paw both working every day and don’t have much time. We will write a long letter later. Your friend, Maude Mitten


The Campbell’s Tomato Soup Advertisement is from The Ladies Home Journal dated October 1926. With the significance of the historic soup kitchens just a few years later, there is subtle irony in the wording which proclaims;


12 cents a can

Advertisements and labels from boxes and cans are often—simply put—beautiful art—which can become unique pieces to be framed and used in decorating.

Join us as we delight in the beauty, the history and exploration of the

Love of—Ephemera!

Art Lives!