515 Madison Avenue

We were in hour five of six—cold and damp—muddy and rusty—hours of scouting the iron yard at our favorite location for Architectural Salvage. The confusion swirled amidst the chipped and bent iron rails as we attempted to reconstruct an image that existed only in our minds—creating a new puzzle, with no straight edges to start with. Frustration set in. We were on a mission to find 50 feet of Vintage Iron Fencing that could be adapted to recreate a banister on the upper balconies of The House at Rooster Ridge. We succeeded, but this not about that—

This little story is about what you might miss—the tale of reminding us to keep our eyes and our mind open—to all of the possibilities—yes, even when you are frustrated and freezing.

There is one heated room in the expansive warehouse of our go-to Architectural Salvage spot. Fortunately, you need to pass through it in order to use the facilities. Ahhhhhh…a break from the wind, the wet, the rusty, heavy, dirt encrusted, paint chipping, bent and crooked iron—adventure of it all!

As I walked through the (gloriously warm) building I became mindful—to stay open to the soft whispering of the heart aspect of the decorating style at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge. For me, the process is a soulful experience. I try to quiet my mind, stop thinking—figuring out—measuring—planning. And the method worked beautifully—as it usually does when I get out-of-the-way.

This is what I saw—a little corner peeking out—the last item in a mass of confusion leaning against a wall. Hidden from view and obscured by a depth of four feet of iron gates and window frames some with shards of broken glass snarling; “Keep Away!”

Refusing to be deterred—like a kid in a toy store—I raised my chapped, red, frozen hand (note to self; remember to bring gloves next time) and pointed at the little glimmer of brass and asked, “What’s that?” As my inquiry was “off-point” the question was met with, well, let’s just say, it was unenthusiastic.

And, yes, I really did want to find three guys to start moving the contraption which had been amassed by the myriad of debris (in my mind) that was blocking me from what I yearned to see. What I needed to see!

The Discovery! What is it? It says something!

Hidden behind the jumble of iron and glass we found a solid brass transom that once regally pronounced the address of 515 Madison Avenue in New York!

No longer attached to a building and without the traditional installed glass—it was simply put, a brass frame. It had all of the requirements; four sides, relatively flat with an opening in the middle…sounds like a frame to me!

The statement/question followed, “It’s gorgeous, but what would you do with it?”

Anything! My answer didn’t seem to be assisting me at arriving at the conclusion I was hoping for—time to think quickly—as sometimes partners need concrete answers. I’d put a gorgeous mirror in it with a 1′ inch bevel and hang it in the dining room!

At The Cottage at Rooster Ridge we attempt to allow ourselves—the privilege to forget what something is, or has been—and focus on the possibility of what it could be!

With heart, Art Lives!


A Newel Romance—Marry Me!

The renovation of The House at Rooster Ridge involved the replacement of the Newel Post, Handrail and Spindles of the curved Mahogany staircase in the entry foyer. The existing newel post hand been installed during the first renovation in the 1980’s, at the time the design de jour was contemporary. Gray (grey) was the new black and I embarrassingly remember the (at the time) the decidedly delicious accent color (colour) was—wait for it—marvelous mauuuuvve…eek!

C’mon admit it (quietly to yourself) we all followed the trend!

Due to the influence of the day, the scale of the existing Newel Post was meek, meager, sleek—contemporary—as possible as that is—in a Victorian Revival Farmhouse—

Sidebar; why do we attach proper names to design? To me, what’s in a name?—is the representation of limits, boundaries, rules…design prison!

We urge you—jailbreak!

Looking for Love in all of the Right Places—Architectural Salvage!

A Newel Romance—Seeking an impressive, grand and stately Newel Post. Prefer Mahogany with elegant turnings.

Nothing is perfect! The almost perfect Newel Post was a handsome catch—turned from a single piece of mahogany.

With an impressive and grand scale this Newel Post would serve as a wonderful salute to those entering the House at Rooster Ridge!

Unfortunately time had taken a toll on the top finial of the post.

Seeking a harmonious blend of style and character to become a lasting partner.

The solution? Marry Me! A second Newel Post was selected with the emphasis placed on the top finial.

A Newel Romance—Marry Me!

A perfect coupling!

The top finial of the second Newel Post was married to the base of the first Newel Post creating a marriage made in heaven!

In the world of design the possibilities are boundless when you take an artistic approach! The experience is enriched by refusing to be limited by what is only readily available and taking risks to follow your own vision!

By utilizing vintage pieces, the process of recycling and re-purposing naturally becomes the new black and is always—green!

Art Lives!


Architectural Salvage: Part One—Discovery

On Sunday it seemed as though there was a hint of Spring in the air—after all, the outdoor thermometer boasted a balmy 46 degrees! With the sun shining what followed next was (almost) predictable…the official Spring is in the air chant;

“Road Trip! Road Trip! Road Trip!”

Favorite type…Architectural Salvage!

“One man gathers what another man spills.”

                                                                         Lyrics by Robert Hunter

What may appear to be a vast wasteland of broken-down pieces haphazardly strewn in an iron yard—can become the seedlings of creativity, the birth of Re-Purposing and Recycling! What is more Spring-like than that?! (Okay, we admit it snowed while we were there…)

The Discovery—

One of the discoveries made on this Sunday; an intact and complete four-part capital.

From Wikipedia:

In architecture the capital (from the Latin caput, ‘head’) forms the topmost member of a column (or pilaster). It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column’s supporting surface

This is an example of what can become of a single section of a rusted and discarded capital.

This piece was sand-blasted and painted with metallic pewter, gold and copper paint. For this application, we chose not to treat the paint with an acid to create a patina. The options are endless—the possibilities for color, aging and the creation of a patina are limited only by your thoughts.

This singular section of an iron capital hangs as a piece of art in The House at Rooster Ridge. The beauty of the design creates a textural and dimensional masterpiece!

What will become of the four-part capital newly discovered—as well as the numerous items piled into the back of the car on the way back from—

“Road Trip! Road Trip! Road Trip!”

Stay tuned!

Art Lives!


Sometimes…it’s about the drama!

This is one of those times I absolutely wish I had an incredibly talented and professional photographer available to me—bringing with them their artistry, knowledge, experience—and, all of those great lights and cool lenses… to fully demonstrate—sometimes…it’s about the drama!

Exposing the peaked roof on the second floor of The House at Rooster Ridge created an architecturally dramatic essence from the naturally stunning angles, pitch and height of the space. The drama, in this case, was a good thing and we did what we could to embrace it, enhance it and build upon it.

The first item to be addressed were the two support beams which ran across the pitched ceiling. We relied upon the artistry of our wood craftsman who created panel insets on the beams and finished them with classic crown molding. The talented craftsmanship was further elaborated with the richness of Mahogany, our favorite wood.

To intensify the impact of the height of the ceiling, lighting was added along the top (inside) of the beams creating a glowing illumination.

In the same finishing style we built a mahogany triangle base, to suspend the majestic Americana Fan. We discovered this from one of our favorite resources, Barn Light Electric. As luck would have it, the blades were available in mahogany and we selected an Antique Brass finish. The impressive scale of this fan usually results in a sigh, as the span is an impressive six feet!

Another one of the beautifully dramatic elements is the 1930’s Antique Art Deco glass lamp which is gracefully suspended from the ceiling on long brass chains. The soft lavender—blue glass emits a sultry lilac light while simultaneously displaying a lovely contrast created from the etched white flowers when illuminated.

The acquisition of what we consider to be a piece of art is the pre-1900’s stained glass window. The glass brings continuous joy as we observe the variances of colors—depending on the light from outside.

Sometimes, it’s best not to “Save the drama for your Mama” and relish the drama created in the magnificence of design, color and varying elements!

Art Lives!


The Art of the Collection: Vintage Desk Bells

As all collections do—the gathering begins with one. Often unbeknownst to the person at the time, the item enters their life and for some unknown reason—gives birth—to the collection.

You attempt to deny the yearning—as you coyly place the item of your new found interest in the verrrrrrry back of the cabinet. Committing yourself to forget about it or quite simply to view the obtainment as a single, independent action—never to be repeated again.

And then there were two.

Rationalization follows. The pieces are vassssstly different—one evokes simplicity in clean lines set in brass. The other is a work of artistry—mother of pearl insets, ornate carved bronze, a delicately feminine design.

The questions begin…

“How may I announce my arrival at the front desk?”

How kind and welcoming to offer me a sweet! Your world begins to expand—a candy dish and desk bell combined? Who knew?

Someplace between the quantity of four or five, you sigh, as you softly say to yourself, “It looks as though we have begun a new collection.”

Your taste evolves as it travels with you as you embark upon the discovery of style, function, form, material and size.

Last Sunday while at an antique show I was party to a conversation with a seller advising a “beginner collector” the appropriate way to collect. They explained a collection should begin with a size and a style in mind and to only collect those pieces that fell within that description. The seller further explained, in proceeding in that manner, the collector would be assured that the gathering would display well.

I respectfully kept my opinion to myself. Upon reflection of the conversation (my personal curse) I realized—I believe the precise opposite of those instructions!

Collect what you love, what moves you—inspires you, causes you to wonder, dream or ponder!

Allow yourself the freedom to evolve in your collection! In doing this you will grant your collection it’s very own history and story line. When the collection began and with which piece. Where you were and what you were thinking at the time.

By including varying designs, scale and form into your collection an interesting and unique presentation will be created!

After all—collecting is about love!

Art Lives!


Illuminate with a Unique Pairing!

The farm table in The House at Rooster Ridge is richly illuminated with a trio of lights—creating a visually interesting balance to this long rectangular room! The two lights placed on the outside end of the trio are composed of a unique pairing—designed at Rooster Ridge!

We began with two vintage brass and copper ship lights. Commonly referred to as a “fox lights” these lights were positioned several feet above the working deck area and were only used during loading and unloading operations. The beauty of the beehive design, the rich color and sheen of the copper and brass is wonderful! The lights have a latched glass lens which once protected the internal electrical components from salt and sea creating an industrial feel.

Rather than hanging the “fox lights” directly to the ceiling by suspending them from a chain or a using a pole extension an unusual pairing was made with a Vintage Iron Pulley. A theme was loosely interpreted by connecting the two with heavy rope, a standard in the world of ships and remaining authentic to the original use of a pulley! A natural fit for a unique pairing!

With our ever present desire to remain vigilant to the attention to details two additional nuances were addressed. With a cheeky irony, the hooks attached to the ceiling to hold the lights are mermaid hooks! The other detail is the wire we used, we researched vintage style wiring and selected a gold cloth-covered braided wire. We agree with the adage; the whole is the sum of the parts, we believe it is the attention to the smallest of details that creates an overwhelming design.

At Rooster Ridge we make every attempt to illuminate life—shining the brightest light that we possibly can—on creativity and…

Art Lives!


Vintage Paper Cutters: Re-Purposed for Many Purposes! Part Three

Welcome to The Studio in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge!

The renovation of the 100 year old cottage was directed with the intention of creating this studio. We wanted to create a space where I could feel comfortable, inspired and safe to write, paint and create. The result was more powerful than we could have imagined—The Cottage at Rooster Ridge became more than just a space—the result became a way of creating, designing and being! The goal was met with success…within the comfort and safety of The Cottage at Rooster Ridge I was able to complete writing my first self-published book, Lessons from the Trumpet Vine as well as finish the twelve oil paintings which serve as the illustrations.

The Vintage Paper Cutter in the studio, brings us to our third and final (for now) paper cutter. This Vintage Paper Cutter is equipped with a 24″ roll of heavier weight recycled craft paper which is perfect for use in the art studio. The Vintage Paper Cutter has been bolted to the restaurant grade stainless steel work table for ease of use. In this venue the paper is used to cover work surfaces (tables, floors and walls at times!) The paper is also used for quick sketches of inspiration and to wrap, secure and transfer pieces of art.

As the paper is much heavier in weight we additionally have used the craft paper as a tablecloth on buffet tables and casual dining tables. On one event we purposely crunched the paper, then smoothed it back out. The result was a creative texture which added a visual interest!

The Vintage Paper Cutters at Rooster Ridge are a perfect example of the fun and functionality of renewing vintage pieces and incorporating them into everyday life. We find these relics of the past bring charm, history, function and inspiration to our lives!

Art Lives!