Welcome to Le Beau Paon Victorien! I'm so glad you stopped by!

Here you will find a variety of things that might interest you: food, books, house decor, crafty things, random thoughts, dishes, gardening and more!

Spend some time with us and happy reading!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Outdoor Wednesday: A Little Garden in Which to Walk...

"A little garden in which to walk, and immensity in which to dream. At one's feet that which can be cultivated and plucked; overhead that which one can study and meditate upon: some herbs on earth and all the stars in the sky."----Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
My coneflowers, monarda, gaillardia, salvia and campanula are still going strong, and will be blooming until autumn...but right now the show-stoppers of the perennial garden is my tall phlox. I have pink, purple and white varieties.

The white ones always bloom before the pink, but I usually do get a second blooming. In this picture the white is starting it's second flush of blooms.
Pink and green coleus carries through with my pink and green color scheme.
For added contrast and a punch of color, I planted dark red celosia in the beds that line the front walk.
Elsewhere in the garden, my hostas are blooming also, sending up shoots of delicate white flowers.
These hosta varieties are called "Frances Williams", "Gold Standard" and "So Sweet".  I also have two new small guys who were added to the hosta bed this year.
Here's one of them; even though he's small and new, he put up two of his own flowers. This hosta variety is called "Twilight".
To add some color and vertical interest to the hosta garden, a pot of red New Guinea impatiens and "Merlin's Magic" coleus sits on a small stand in the hosta bed.
In the back yard, white geraniums that I over-wintered are blooming, along with white euphorbia.

Thanks for taking a walk with me in the garden....

I'll be joining Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Know Your Terms

As a lover of all things Victorian and antique, I have also found it endlessly fascinating learning the correct terms for the various styles of furnishings and architectural details of buildings, especially those most often seen or used in historic homes. It is a passion not many share today. Few people have interest in learning correct spelling or grammar, much less learning the correct terms for old furniture and old buildings.

Like many people of the 18th and 19th century, who valued a person's accomplishments, even if only self-taught,  in such "polished" interests as art and architecture, I find a certain pride in the desire to learn and  knowing what I'm looking at and what it's called, enables me to have intelligent and delightful discussions with others "in the know" when visiting historic homes and antique stores, that gratifies my vanity as well as my appreciative eye.

So, I thought I'd share a few pictures of some examples right here at Le Beau Paon Victorien, with the correct term and brief explanation. I can only hope that you might find it as interesting as I do.

A staircase is often comprised of several parts, not counting the stair risers and stair treads. The handrail is obvious; the pieces that attach the handrail to the stair treads are called balusters. Often at the terminus of the handrail, is a newel post, often with a newel cap or newel finial. Here at Le Beau Paon, we have urn style finials. Other popular forms include simple round, egg, acorn, artichoke, or acanthus leaf styles.
All the newel posts on our staircase are finished off with urn style finials.
There is a myth that endures about the "mortgage button", usually made of ivory or mother-of-pearl, that was sometimes attached to a newel post or cap in 17th, 18th and some 19th century homes and was supposed to signify when the mortgage on the house was paid and the property had no liens on it. Many older homes do have them, but most historians agree that these buttons were just used to conceal the joinery. I have sometimes heard these buttons to be referred to as an "amity button" also and I have found several accounts say that it was to symbolize a state of harmony between the owner and builder, when the house was completed. I do recall an article in Victorian Homes magazine many years ago where a featured historic mansion had one, but they referred to it as a 'good luck button' and that it was to be rubbed with a finger as one descended the stairs each day to have good luck. I find these two latter explanations to be more fitting and possibly more accurate; 17th, 18th and 19th century homeowners didn't have mortgages and there weren't even really banks either during the 17th and 18th century. Mortgages as we known them, didn't even exist until 1934. However, if you find the idea of a "mortgage button" charming, to signify the mortgage of your home being paid in full, there are companies that make them today.
The trim that goes around door frames is referred to as the casing. At the top of a door casing, there may be more decorative trim, often called an architrave. We have fluted molding on our door casings, sometimes also called reeded molding, which are symmetrical casings that have lengthwise 'flutes'. At each corner, we also have rosettes, sometimes also called corner blocks. Rosettes are a decorative accessory and come in numerous sizes and styles. Our rosettes are quite large, and the style is often called a "bullet" or "bull's eye".
At the bottom of each door casing are plinth blocks. They are used where the door casing meets the baseboard, and are just another decorative element.
A small window like this located above a door is called a transom window. This one, though it was badly painted by the previous owners, is a three-paned transom and does not open. On the second floor, each of the bedroom doors has a single pane transom, with opening mechanisms to open them.
A chair rail has both a decorative and practical function. It is usually placed about 2 feet high on the wall, and is used to protect the wall from dents and scuffs from the backs of chairs. Sometimes wainscoting will be placed below the chair rail. A wainscot cap would be used to trim the top of the wainscoting; the wainscot cap would be very similar looking to a chair rail.
The baseboard, runs along the wall at the floor; it usually will be in harmony with the door and window casings to tie the room together. The baseboards at Le Beau Paon are pretty battered, but they have a strip of flutes or reeds in the center, to match the fluted molding of the door and window casings. The baseboard may also have a base cap and base shoe, as ours do. The base cap is mostly decorative, while the base shoe is used primarily in combination with a baseboard to conceal the variation between the flooring and the base.
The parlor at Le Beau Paon has crown molding. Other rooms probably had it too, but most of it was removed, unfortunately. Crown molding is placed along the wall at the ceiling, to provide a smooth transition from the wall to the ceiling. Crown molding build-ups, also known as 'stacking', combines one or more molding profiles for a distinctive look; our crown molding is very simple and painted white like the ceiling, so it doesn't stand out much. Underneath the crown molding, we have installed picture molding, which is also commonly  known as picture hanging rail; that is exactly what it's for. It's used to hang pictures from, instead of damaging fragile plaster by pounding nails into it.
Here you can see numerous elements together; the fluted molding on the door casing, rosette used as a corner block, picture hanging rail and crown molding.
We also have two sets of French doors. There used to be three sets, but one of the families that lived here either in the 1920s or 1940s removed one set and made an archway opening. French doors are sometimes called French windows. French doors are actually composed of a pair of full-height casement windows. A casement window is a window attached to it's frame by one or more hinges, on the side, and generally were opened inward, often with interor shutters. They were the most common style of window until the sash window was introduced.
The windows in our home also have casings of fluted molding. At the bottom of the windows is a decorative, horizontal trim piece (that sticks out like a little ledge) which is attached to the sill, which is called a stool. Most people refer to the stool as a window sill, but the correct term is stool. The sill is the horizontal member forming the bottom of the window frame and is most often in reference to an exterior piece; sometimes an exterior sill will be slightly slanted or tilted down, for rainwater to run off. In a brick or stone home, the exterior sill might be a row of decorative bricks, which is called a soldier's course. The interior portion of the sill is most often not visible if there is a stool and an apron. The apron is the flat trim piece placed horizontally just beneath the stool.
The windows in the downstairs of our home are sliding sash windows, which were operated by sash counter weights; heavy cast iron weights attached to a cotton cord and pulley system concealed within a groove alongside the window casing called  the weight port. These were used to counterbalance the weight of the sliding sash and thus hold the window in position at any height. Most of ours still work beautifully, although when previous owners painted the windows, they also painted over the cotton cord and pulleys, so a couple of them get sort of stuck and we have one upstairs which the cotton cord rotted and broke. Sash counterweights can still be purchased today, although many people with historic homes remove the cotton cords and replace with chains, which do not rot.  Our windows also have muntins which are what those thin strips of wood that make that pretty cross-hatch pattern on the window are called. Today, most people have a large single pane of  window glass and purchase muntins to go over the large single pane, if they want to duplicate that historic look. In the days when our home was built, the muntins held in individual panes of glass. When discussing windows like ours, they are usually referred to by their number of panes, as in '12 over 12' or in our case, we have 6 over 9 windows. This of course, refers to the number of panes on the top (6 ) and the number on the bottom (9).
Moving on to furniture, in our dining room we have this large china cabinet. Another word for a china cabinet is a vitrine. Some people call their china or curio cabinets a 'hutch'. A hutch is a similar piece of furniture, in that it typically holds dishes, glassware or other decorative items, but technically a hutch does not have doors and instead has open shelves, with usually some drawers beneath the open shelves. Another old word that is sometimes used for a china or curio cabinet is breakfront. This term was once used specifically to describe a type of Chippendale bookcase/curio cabinet with glass doors on the front that opened; but has since sometimes been used in reference to a china cabinet also, as a general term.
At the top of our cabinet is a decorative piece that could be described as a broken-arch pediment.  A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of a triangular section found above a horizontal structure. The broken-arch pediment has a gap in the center, or apex, of the pediment. It is a very popular  design element used in both buildings and furniture design. The curvilinear shape of this pediment is a variant of the broken-arch pediment, called a swan's neck pediment, being that it's curvy rather than straight.
The sideboard in our dining room (and also a table in the parlor) has ball and claw feet. This was an extremely popular design for furniture legs throughout the 18th century and 19th century revivals. A ball and claw foot motif depicts a bird's foot gripping a ball or egg shape.  Most ball and claw feet are seen on curvy, S-shaped legs called a cabriole leg, with a carved knee. A lion or shell motif was a very popular motif for the knee. The cabriole leg resembles the leg shape of a 4-footed hoofed animal, such as a goat. The etymology of this term specifically derives from the French word "cabrioler" which means to "leap, cavort,caper or prance", which goats do quite often.
The cabriole leg has a practical function as well; the balance it achieves makes it possible to support heavy case furniture on spindly legs.
Our dining room chairs have a cabriole leg, with carved knees. The feet on these are called pad feet, with a ball shaped foot on top of a flattened disk. There are many types of feet; scroll, bun, pad, club, trifid, oinion, splay, spade, arrow, slipper,cuffed....the list is endless!
Our dining room table has these two large pedestal style legs, with scrolled feet. They are decorated with acanthus; decorative wood carving based on the acanthus leaf, a thistle-like plant from the Mediterranean which, stylized, was used in many classical designs, including furniture. It was especially popular during the Empire period, on Chippendale furniture, as well as other revival style periods, like Greek Revival and Renaissance Revival.
This wooden carved panel on our settee' that connects the surface and legs of a table or chair is called the apron.
An ornamental motif, either of rounded oval or spherical shape is called a medallion. Both of my parlor chairs have a medallion on the oval backs.

And last, but certainly not least, we have the tester and half-tester; we aren't fortunate enough to have one here at Le Beau Paon, so I found some gorgeous photos online of an example of each. A tester is basically the same thing as a canopy.
In this beautiful bedroom, the bed at the left has a tester (which I believe the correct pronunciation
is TEE-ster, with a long eeee sound).  A tester is a canopy, which is most often over a bed, but can also be over a throne, tomb, or pulpit and is normally of carved  or cloth-draped wood.
And the half-tester, is half of a canopy. This gorgeous bed with half-tester and beautiful hangings is in one of the bedrooms of Villa Louis, a historic mansion in Prairie du Chien, WI. I visited there as a child with my parents, when I was 10 or 11, but I don't remember much about it. I would like to visit there again soon! This photo was taken by the Wisconsin Historical Soceity , who own and maintain the home, the grounds, outbuildings and the museums. You can take a peek at their website HERE to see more!

Thanks for stopping by!
I hope you enjoyed learning some new things along with me!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Faucet Project

Our kitchen is hideous.
I may have mentioned this before.

The Kohler porcelain fused over cast iron sink is the only thing about our kitchen that I like. Well, I also like the hardwood floor. But I really think the sink is dreamy.

Aren't the steel cabinets just lovely??? They make the loveliest squalling noise when they open too. Historic homes are awesome....but they can be frustrating too. There is no end to the projects and they are never easy fixes. If you have an old house, especially a grand old dame built in 1886 like ours, expect nothing to be easy when fixing or replacing. Any project that you expect to be relatively simple or not take long to do, will automatically be more expensive and take three times as long than you originally thought.

I spend a lot of time scrubbing my sink, with my old friend Bon Ami, because I like it to look sparkly clean. My mother always used Bon Ami to clean the sinks and tubs of our house when I was growing up and I use it too in my own house.  But, this post isn't about kitchen cleansers; it's about that ugly faucet that you can see in these photos. It was put in, no doubt, by the previous owners.....I say that because it's a really cheap and crappy one, which is generally how they did things in this house.  Any "improvements" that they made, we have pretty much ripped out and re-did.  The cheap and crappy faucet has also been broken for some time.
 I've had my eye on this faucet for the longest time at Home Depot. We finally bought it over the weekend and then Erik and his friend Chris worked on it last night. It's so beautiful! I am loving it.
Erik and his friend said "this will only take 20 minutes".....which are famous last words in the context of historic home projects. The 20 minute project took 4 hours and a trip to the hardware store. We knew we'd have to cut a notch in the stool under the window to accomodate this tall faucet and that actually didn't take long. I will be painting it obviously. Someday when we have enough $$ to re-do the kitchen, I want this lovely big window to stay, but the stool will probably come off anyway at that point.
What took the longest was making a hole for this guy.This faucet set came with a sprayer too and we only had 3 holes in the sink, not 4. It took over 2 hours for them to drill through the porcelain outer shell and the cast iron underneath. We also found a date on the bottom of the sink while drilling; 1947, made by Kohler Co, which is right here in Wisconsin. Then they discovered that the braided hose that came with it wasn't long enough, thus the trip to the hardware store. ;-)
But it all worked out in the end and now I have a pretty faucet that works!

Erik also found a few spare moments to put a new dimmer switch in the living room for me.

The one in the living room looked like this one in the dining room; an ugly putty color with a circular knob. The previous owners put these in too; obviously----you can see they didn't even bother to put both screws in and used old, ugly covers.
This is the new one! Yay, so cute! The old one's knob had broken.....so when we went dimmer switch shopping, I wanted this slide style, with an on/off switch. And we found the super cute crown molding styled cover plate which looks very nice with all the crown molding in the house!  Now we'll have to get another for the dining room!

Thanks for stopping by!

I will also be linking this to Metamorphsis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch!

Where I Blog

So this is a room that is never included on the "house tour" when people come to Le Beau Paon for the first time. This is where I blog and do all other manner of computer-ish things. (This also happens to be my new computer! wOot-wOOt!!!). This is my end of the desk. Our desk is sort of L shaped and tucked into a corner of our office, which is a bedroom that we decided was not going to be a bedroom. Erik sits at the other end of the L and in between us is a small area where the printer sits and where I have just enough space to write out checks and go through mail. There is also a large black metal filing cabinet at Erik's end, with a mail basket on top for all that pesky mail that we get. In addition to the desk and computers and filing cabinet, there is also a very small craft table that is behind me against the wall, next to my very messy craft closet. The craft table is also sort of a mess right now.

This is why I usually have no photos of this room or show it when I give the "house tour". It is the most un-Victorian looking room ever.

I don't think we could make it any less Victorian if we tried! LOL. There are three windows in this room, so it gets a fair amount of light, but the icky old cheap blinds that the previous owners were obsessed with and put on every single window in this house, are still up. There is also a really hideous ceiling fan on the ceiling. And vanilla beige wall to wall carpeting. Have I ever shared with you all my loathing of carpeting?? If not, then let me tell you again......I really, really hate carpeting.
My favorite part of this room is the teeny window that sits just behind my computer, almost in the corner. It has about a jillion layers of old paint on it (as you can see) so there's no way I will ever be able to get it open; in fact, I'm not even sure it was ever meant to open. Along the top and bottom of this window is a row of colored glass squares. This window is on the front of the house, so when I have the lights on up here and you stand down on the sidewalk, you can see the light shining prettily through the colored glass.
(You might also wonder what in the world I have on the window stool; the item on the left is my Hitler skunk; a bizarre painted figure that was apparently a popular souvenir during World War II, which was given to me by my grandfather, a WWII veteran. The other item is from when I was in dental assisting school and we had to make dozens of models for Dental Materials class. This was the only one I kept! You may have now guessed that what I do for a real job is that I work in a dental office as a dental assistant.)
Somehow our office has become a catch-all place for weird items that don't fit anywhere else in the house (decor-wise) but which I just don't want to give up. Like my pink polka-dotted dog, which I got free from Victoria's Secret for buying a truckload of panties. He's just so cute!
......And my framed movie posters. The Amadeus movie poster I have had since I was 16. It is one of my favorite movies. A video store in the town I grew up in (this was pre-Blockbuster and pre-Hollywood Video, back when there used to be independent video rental stores) used to sell the movie posters they got for display once they no longer needed them for display in the store. They sold them for $2 a piece and I snapped up this one. It hung in my room at home until I moved out and has been with me ever since. The Sleepy Hollow poster I got on eBay, because it's autographed by the cast members, (Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken, Michael Gambon and Miranda Richardson) and also Tim Burton, the director. Why do I have it? Well, I have been totally in love with Johnny Depp since I first saw him on 21 Jump Street back in the 1980s, I love Tim Burton's films, and I love the story of Sleepy Hollow, even though this movie version is quite different than the book.

Someday soon this room will get a make-over.....we have 5 bedrooms in this house and one of the rooms that has been sitting empty since we bought the house is slated to be turned into a "man cave" for my hubby; a place for his computer and bookshelves for all the billions of books we own. A couple of comfy chairs for reading; maybe a TV. We don't know how exactly we are going to decorate the man cave yet, but after that room is done, this room will be made into an office and craft room, but with a little more "girly" and Victorian look to it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Outdoor Wednesday: July Pool Party

A couple of weeks ago my brother was in from Los Angeles for a visit. He was in town until July 12th and on his last day  before heading back West, we had a nice pool party at my mom's house. I took some great pics of my niece and nephews enjoying  the pool. Both Erik and I also spent some time in the pool, as well as my sisters and brother, and brother-in-law. It was a beautiful day to spend by the pool.

We had a nice simple lunch of ham and hard rolls, fruit salad, potato salad and lemon bars for dessert.

My brother-in-law Mark with my niece J, and nephews C and G.
Their favorite part was standing on the edge of the pool and "jumping" in......with help of course!
G is only 2 and a half and obviously can't wait to be old enough to have swimming lessons!

My nephew B  has an infant floaty chair for the pool, but he was supposed to be napping.
G takes a break from the pool to have a juice box and lounge in his beach jacket.
J has decided to eat dessert first....lemon bars that she helped make. She loves to help in the kitchen with baking and cooking. She's a total girly girl!

Grandma and the grandkids all decided to sit on this bench to watch the rest of us play washers in the yard. Of course, when we tried to get a picture, everyone decided to fidget at once and not look at the camera...

Ok, this one was reasonably good...except J wouldn't stop playing with her pigtails! These are 5 of the 7 grandchildren.....I have a stepsister who lives in Minneapolis with her husband and they have two children also, a 2 yr old and a 4 month old. It's too bad they don't live nearby...it would have been great to get a picture of all 7 of them!
After everyone was pooped from swimming, it was time to ride bikes around Grandma's patio.....except for B, of course! It's tough to be the baby!
M is the oldest of the grandkids at 6. He loves his Spider-Man bike and rides it so much you can see that it's pretty banged up.
G and his sister, J, come speeding around the turn.....................Grandma managed to find a pink and purple girly bike at a rummage sale just for J.
J tells me that pink and purple are her favorite colors.

Thanks for joining me!
I will be linking up to A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday!