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!


Rose-Colored Glass

Seeing the world through rose-colored glass is more than a metaphor at Rooster Ridge. The serendipitous discovery of six, in tact, coordinating panes of circa 1900 stained glass alone is monumental—to our good fortune the glass panes magnificently portray  a garden lattice, designed with gorgeous climbing roses. The artistry and beauty of stained glass is unmistakable—the wonderful opportunity to incorporate a work of art such as this into our life—is nothing short of breathtaking.

Unless you are building a room or home with existing stained glass in mind or designing new stained glass panels to incorporate—the process of adapting existing panes to fit within your current window layout is the epitome of placing the proverbial cart before the horse! However, when you stumble upon a treasure such as this—the puzzle is worth the effort, time and expense. And, at moments—frustration and fear!

The largest of the six panes turned out to be almost a perfect fit for the large window in the entry foyer of The House at Rooster Ridge.

This glass is old—and has warped, becoming wavy and bowed adding to the character. Rather than attempting to install the fragile panes, we attached the vintage panels to the interior of the existing window frame. To create a finished product a secondary mahogany frame was built to encompass the stained glass.

Several reasons were factored into this approach—the panes are still able to be relocated should we ever choose to place them elsewhere. In addition the panes are very fragile and they are buffered from the outside elements by the existing window. The large stain glass pane is taller than the existing window and thus we needed to accept the imperfection of having the top horizontal frame of the exterior window visible. (Changing the size of the exterior window has been added to the wish list!) Sponsors anyone?

It is believed the six panels were in the outside wall of an arboretum in an old mansion in Pennsylvania. Two of the panes opened as french windows while the large center pane remained stationary. Following our philosophy of attempting to honor the original position of vintage pieces we utilized the two french window panes on two existing french doors.

The daily dining table is framed in this stained glass garden—and dining becomes an enriching experience. The amazing colors of the greens and reds are ever-changing with the nuance of light. The white trellis, when illuminated by sunlight creates a glowing milky luminosity.

Across the top is a horizontal transom decorated with a continuation of the traveling vines and flower buds yet to bloom.

The smallest two panels are one foot square transom window panes which needed a home—it was in their honor that two glass-pane french doors were installed. Working backwards, the transom was designed beginning with the stained glass panes. We located retro hardware of the original style transom window operating rods to complete the tribute to a vintage look.

At Rooster Ridge, just as all of humanity, we have struggles—yet we do focus on the opportunity to pause, reflect and try our best to see the world through rose-colored glass!

Symbolism Abounds!


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—Baby Edition!

Swoon & Gush

The days of having young children and babies as residents at Rooster Ridge are—well, let’s just say—Vintage!

However, this does not mean one should not be prepared—to welcome little ones with the same charming style afforded to our adult guests! Enter—the Dining-in-Style high chair! Swoon & Gush!

Without the appropriate babies immediately on hand, we could not completely justify the purchase of this beautiful solid wood Vintage high chair, however—my “antique mentor” aka Steven, has taught me many lessons with regard to making selections.

As a young grasshopper, I have willingly absorbed the lessons and moved past my days of the need to legitimize each purchase. Some of our most compelling additions have been obtained without a clue as to what would become of them! This is part of the adventure and the creative spirit which comes from Vintage Re-Purposing!

What we find to be more important than the precise historical information (unless you are planning a museum) is the pervasive and effervescent attitude of encouraging the following of ones heart! The most prominent lesson that I cherish is; “When you see it, buy it. There is no such thing as over-paying for something Vintage or an Antique—never too much, only too soon.”

The beauty of this high chair with its artistically curved graceful lines and the traditional cane seat and back was undeniable. As a bonus, the design included incredible industrial gearing and wheels—babies or not, this high chair was coming to Rooster Ridge!

In addition to beauty, the high chair has a wonderful mechanical function! By pulling the knob on the back, the legs begin their movement. The second position is a lower version of the high chair. This allows for various feeding heights with or without the tray, turning the high chair into an elevated small dining chair for a toddler.

You are not going to believe what this inventive design of yesteryear does next!

With the next pull of the knob the legs swing outward and ta-da a rocking chair!

Swoon & Gush! We did!

Since the purchase of this wonderful high chair we have in joyously hosted the marvelous Madeleine for luncheons and dinners! As good students—we are quite pleased that we followed our Vintage and Antique purchasing lessons!

If you love something, bring it to a place of love—your cottage!

Joy Surrounds!


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!