The Small & Precious Space—Beneath the Stairs

Several years ago, the opportunity arrived to purchase the little house and grounds which intersected the L-shaped property of what is now known as, The House at Rooster Ridge. After the purchase we eagerly began to discover what would lead us to the renovation of this over-100-year-old building. Our first indication of the potential for this little structure was hidden behind a tiny door. Under the carpeted and narrow staircase which led to the second floor was a sheet rock wall and in it a small painted door, approximately 18″ tall by 15″ wide. As we peered behind the door, we found the first clue to the depth of the possibility of how amazingly quaint this little structure could become!

When the little door was opened we found a small space which had previously been used as a storage area for a vacuum cleaner. With flashlights in our hands the initial discovery was made—and the rest, as they say, is history! The floor of this tiny space was dusty and dingy—and constructed of very worn wide plank flooring. Peering inside and now with the assistance of light fully illuminating the floor we realized, what we were seeing between the several small separations between the planks, which lay side-by-side, was the stone-walled basement. This meant only one thing to us—as self-proclaimed-forensic-building-historians—that we were looking at the original flooring of this building!

The first action we took (excitedly, hurriedly) was to rip out the door and sheet rock wall which had been built to create this storage space. As the sheet rock was removed we also made our second wonderful discovery—the staircase was solid old wood. As we continued our inspection and through the enthusiastic discussions which followed, we came to understand that this wide plank floor ran beneath the existing and relatively new strip-oak flooring. This was the moment when we fully realized the little treasure we had found! And to think this precious gem was sitting right next door for—oh, over a hundred years!

One of the design themes at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge is the intention to create vignettes, small illustrated stories which are told in a visual language. The small and precious space, beneath the stairs in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge, is one of those tales.

Due to the small stature of this space the inspiration for this design-story unfolded as I pondered who would comfortably fill this space. I allowed my thoughts to meander, to carry me loftily to a lovely vision and as I did so, I imagined a young child sitting in this little room beneath the stairs. I watched an imagined tea-party with a brown furry bear and later, a quiet and special space to look upon a picture book.

And so it became, The Small & Precious Space—Beneath the Stairs. A table was added and upon it was placed a charming rooster lamp—complete with an amusing fabric shade depicting roosters and farm scenes and finished with a cheerful red pom-pom trim. The underside of the stairs were exposed by removing the angled wall—adding interesting geometric shapes and dimension then painted a warm vintage barn red.

A shelf followed—the top could hold little books and the shelf was adorned with wooden pegs to hang a little sweater or bag. During a recent antique excursion a French Iron Painters’ Chair was found and brought to The Cottage at Rooster Ridge adding the finishing touch. On the shelf hangs a Vintage Wreath Form, which was used to create fresh wreaths of greens and flowers, now the form awaits—to be filled at a moments notice should an announcement of a tea-party occur!

The Small & Precious Space—Beneath the Stairs came to be—as structured thoughts were invited to float away—leaving a small and precious space—within our thoughts, for a day-dream vision to arrive. We offer to you the same invitation, let go of what it is you actually see and welcome the ability to dream and design in your cottage!

Symbolism Abounds!


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!


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!


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!


The Sign Says…

We love signs, all kinds of signs…homemade, neon, vintage and new retro signs. Signs can say so much, evoke a mood, make a statement, add humor and in doing so add to the personality of a home or a place of business.

At a casual party or a get-together with friends, quick and easy signs create a theme and serve a function.

Often when the host and/or hostess are busy tending to guests a well placed sign can answer a simple question regarding what is being served or the kind of ingredients used, in that way, always tending to their guests.

“How do you like your coffee?” signs.

This vintage Kendall Motor Oil sign hangs in the kitchen of the House at Rooster Ridge.

The new retro Washroom sign points guests to the right direction when required!

We love the sentiment of the Gather sign (Sundance Catalog) while the subtle color-on-color positioning of the Eat subliminally makes a suggestion to those who enter the kitchen. (Wall color: Benjamin Moore-Raisin Torte)

This antique glass Exit sign was spotted lying on a shelf in a NYC store, purchased years ago—finally our vision of having it lit and installed has come to fruition with the renovation. A brass ring was forged to hold the glass to enable mounting to the wall. A small light fixture was in-wall mounted to create an authentic exit sign! Perhaps this should be illuminated as a cue for guests to depart…it’s late and so many dishes to do…

Guests in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge are greeted by a welcoming sign— Hotel.

The “boys” bathroom in The House at Rooster Ridge has an appropriate race theme in honor of our resident race car driver!

The pendant which serves as general lighting to the bathroom has a wonderful vintage look! (Magnolia Pendant in Historic Nickel – Barn Light Electric)

When in doubt at Rooster Ridge, we encourage you to Read the Signs! Add some signage to your own cottage and let the reading begin!


Birds in a Crate—Flock on a Gate

While wandering through the iron yard of one of our favorite architectural salvage spots a disheveled black plastic crate resting on the back half of packed shelf—seemed to chirp—drawing attention to the contents. Climbing ensued. It was not unlike climbing a tree in order to reach a distant limb to obtain the full-view-vantage-point that was desired. While peering inside the curious crate a nest of sorts was discovered—for a flock of iron birds. Although the iron bird sculptures had been haphazardly piled into the crate and allowed to rust which resulted in some of the bases becoming detached—the beautiful and artistic design could not be obscured.

Reaching into the nest resulted in the discovery of two different designs; one bird looking intently forward and the other downward as if in search for a fallen berry or seed. The intricate details of the wing and tail feathers and of their lovely perch base was not diminished in the least by their current condition. Having no idea what the outcome would be—bringing them to The Cottage at Rooster Ridge seemed a natural fit—crate and all they came!

Behold the wonders of elbow grease, steel wool, copper paint and—love—of all things artistic! The copper paint which was used to paint the birds is an actual metal paint which contains copper. When the paint is left unsealed the exposure to the elements allows for a rich patina to evolve. Over time, there will be hints of the classic blue-green patina which develops in aged copper—or if one wishes, an aging solution can be added to speed up the process.

The birds in a crate have found many uses and nests—for one holiday they were incorporated into the table setting—as a line of birds paraded down the center of the table assisting in the creation of a festive mood! Additionally, the birds have been included in natural mantle displays encompassing leaves, twigs, pine cones and candles. Two of the birds currently enjoy being perched in one of the window sills of the cottage. It is rumored that one, due to its adoration by a guest was allowed to fly out-of-state and now acts as a paper weight and a sweet reminder of The Cottage at Rooster Ridge.

As we are fortunate to have many—a crate full—five now permanently flock on the front mahogany gate which is built into the rock wall which runs along the front property line of Rooster Ridge. Plans are in place for seven birds to be installed on the top of the upper balcony porch posts on The House at Rooster Ridge as the renovation develops.

At The Cottage at Rooster Ridge we have found that with the right eye, some effort and love of all things artistic—Art Lives!


Cottage Jewelry

Towards the end of the renovation of the 100 year old Cottage at Rooster Ridge the time came to begin the selection of door hardware. All of the interior doors had been strenuously sanded, puttied and carefully stained a rich mahogany. They were now ready to become doorways to enter and exit—they only lacked the “goods” to be able to return to their functionality and purpose. Leafing through catalogs, visiting stores and referring to magazines had informed us of many of the options and choices available to us for new hardware. On one of our ventures to Pennsylvania in the never-ending-excursion to locate a yet-to-be-discovered-treasure we came upon an antique vendor whose collection included glass cabinets filled with doorknobs. Each knob had a beautiful and unique design—within those designs, many depicted a wonderful tribute to the kind of doorway they had once opened.

Cottage Jewelry

After gazing in wonderment while simultaneously imagining all of the different hands that had once reached out to these different doorways we made our first purchases, in what would become one of our favorite collections. In the weeks that followed, in my continued search and study of antique doorknobs I was made aware of an entire world of doorknob collecting. Which, up to that point in time had been thoroughly overlooked by me—either through the circumstances of the era of my birth or my failure to notice these gems. I made a silent promise to myself to remain more alert of the incredible details that existed around me.

In my research I learned that in years-gone-by, the required time was honored, as well as the desire existed—to bring art to the aspect of ones work. The craftsman, was also an artisan and what followed was nothing short of magnificent. Miniature sculptures had been created—set in brass and bronze and therefore were able to withstand the rigors of time. Glass had been blown, cut or molded into gorgeous works of art. As the glass aged, and based upon the chemical make-up, new colors emerged—clear glass had transformed to lavender.

Once I began my quest, and my newly found desire to become (admittedly, minimally) educated I discovered an incredible verbal reference to the hardware, especially to the door knobs of yesteryear. These entryways, greetings and welcomes were referred to by collectors as the jewelry of the house.

I found this to a be a compelling description and it further opened my eyes to possibilities— as a new way of perceiving hardware. I was able to connect to it as well. (I am not above loving a classic strand of pearls or a contemporary piece of human art!) I knew from experience that the right piece of jewelry had the capacity to transform and to enlighten. Jewelry had the power to set a mood and announce it to whomever chose to glance your way. Whether you were male or female—the timepiece you chose to wear or not wear, the cufflinks or bracelet at your wrists, or the ring—and which finger it was upon…spoke.

My understanding and knowledge in the specifics—especially in the mechanics of the actual functioning of doorknobs needed some education. I found that between yesterday (maybe 75-years-worth of yesterdays) and today the spindles, set-screws, strike-plates and rosettes had evolved. Enter the solution—an amazingly wonderful find and an absolute pleasure to work with—Old Rose Hardware. Web Wilson assisted us by making the required adaptations to our doorknobs as well as providing us with spindles, rosettes and strike-plates. If you are interested in traveling on this incredibly fascinating and historical journey there are many resources available for antique doorknobs and Old Rose Hardware is your expert.

With my new found awareness in place and my just-enough-to-get -the-job-done education I set about the business of setting the stage—creating one of the many invitations to The Cottage at Rooster Ridge. A wonderful welcome to those who came to visit. A greeting to the jewels of my life; friends, family and visitors who brought with them the sparkle of reflective glass and the richness of everlasting metal. All of which came complete with their very own unique and cherished patina!

Cottage Jewelry