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!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Peek at What's Blooming at Le Beau Paon...........

This spring and summer has definitely been a weird one for weather.... we had a very late spring that was very cold, then June came and it finally warmed up a little, but it rained and rained and rained and was gloomy, gloomy,gloomy......

July started off hot and dry....and has been just getting hotter and drier and more humid as the days pass. Suffice to say it hasn't been very helpful to my flower gardens this year and they've suffered. My beautiful pink and purple and white astilbe didn't even bloom this year!  I've been doing my best watering and fertilizing and I hope that next year things will be better. I also had some inexplicable perennial loss in one of my gardens in the front of the house. A number of my lady's mantle died over the winter and the one remaining plant in that particular garden started off okay this spring, but then also suddenly died in about mid-June.

But here's some pictures of my flowers that are actually doing well!

Coneflowers, bee balm and orange asclepsia (Butterfly Weed) in the sun garden are doing beautifully. I actually spotted a hummingbird over here the other day; the first one I've seen since we've lived here. I was thrilled! He/She didn't stay long, since I was standing right there and I think I surprised it....I'm tempted now to put out a hummingbird feeder and see if I can lure it back!

In the corner garden, I took this picture about a week or so ago; my Black Magic hollyhocks did not do as well this year as they did last year and are much shorter. We also had a day with high winds that forced me to tie up the hollyhock stalks.

This is a picture I took today, with my Green Envy coneflowers really blooming like crazy.

These coneflowers were new planted last year, so this is the first time I'm getting flowers. This variety is called Twilight and are from a group of culitvars called the Big Sky Series.

It will probably take another year for this one to get as tall and profuse as my other coneflower plants.

My Celtic Skies clematis is doing really well this year. I planted this one about two years ago, but it really didn't start taking off until this year. There are actually two different clematis on this trellis; the other is a very dark purple Jackmanni clematis, but it was a new planting this spring, so it hasn't established itself yet, so you can't see it behind the coneflowers.

I love the Green Envy coneflowers; when the petals first emerge from the cone, they are green, with just a hint of pink at the center. As the petals become more full, the blush of pink spreads until just the tips of the petals remain green, but they do retain their lovely green center cone.

I love this rusty cat with mouse garden stake. One of his legs got bent from a heavy winter snowfall. He got totally buried in a snowbank. I think it just adds to his charm.

I have some tall Phlox in this garden also, in white, which is just starting to bloom.

The weather didn't affect my hosta garden at all; they are all doing extremely well, even the newbies I planted last year ( which you can't actually see in this picture). This photo was taken about 2 weeks ago; all of these are blooming now.

My hydrangeas are also growing like weeds, to my delight. I have two on this side of the house (the other two are in front of the house and are equally doing great). I've been trying to get the one on the right, an Endless Summer hydrangea macrophylla, to have blue flowers, with no success. Despite adding aluminum sulfate to the soil here and some other products that are supposed to make hydrangeas blue, they are stubbornly pink.  The other hydrangea, on the left, is a lacecap hydrangea. This one I want to stay pink.

On the lacecap hydrangea, I love how the flowers start out lime green with a hint of pink, then become darker and darker pink.

With the two right next to each other, the branches sort of mingle and I get a pretty contrast of lacy blooms with big round ball-shaped blooms. If I could get the one to be blue, just think of how pretty it would look!
I don't have a recent picture of the two hydrangeas in front of the house, but I have slightly more success changing the color with those two. While I can't seem to get brilliant blue hues, they look more purple/lavender than pink and some of them could almost be called bluish.

I also thought I'd share this lovely bouquet of blooms, just because!. Erik and I recently attended two weddings and these were the centerpieces at one of the wedding receptions. The weddings were actually on the same day, so we had a busy day!

As a tablescaper, I had to take a picture of the tables as well!

Thanks for joining me! I'll be linking up with The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sunday!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tablescape Thursday: Bright Breakfast

Despite a busy holiday weekend, I found time to put together a fun little breakfast table.......

I thought it would be fun to use the primary colors found on this vintage tablecloth. I sort of "built" this table around the tablecloth and the yellow bucket of daisies and Kermit pom mums that I used as a centerpiece.

These are actually fresh flowers; about 2 weeks ago I went to a bridal shower luncheon and these buckets were centerpieces on the tables. After the shower, the hostess asked some of the guests if they wanted to take one home. I can't believe that after 2 weeks it still looks so fresh!

Another pedestal that matches some of the plates is perfect for holding a selection of pastries or scones.

I loved the mix of patterns, both fun and fancy..........

Each place setting gets an egg cup for a soft-boiled egg.

I love these vintage plates; they have no markings on them, so I have no idea the name or maker. I had found another whole set of these, including the dinner plates and a serving platter at an antique store, but foolishy didn't buy them then. I went back about 2 weeks later and of course they were gone. Now I know that when I see something that I love, I should just buy it right away!!!

When I saw this tablecloth, I knew I had to have it.

Bird's eye view

Thanks for joining me! I'll be linking up with Susan and Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vintage Voice: "Reading" My House

Back on June 28th, I did a rather loooong post about two books that I checked out of my local library, (HERE) that I was eagerly devouring, trying to learn more about Victorian Era decor, particularly what types of paint colors, carpeting, wall papers and window treatments would be 'appropriate' for my house.

While I don't intend to create  museum-quality rooms (I wish I could, but lack of that little thing called 'money', prevents it!) I do want to make it look "right", to the best of my ability, of course.

I used some of my newfound knowledge to attempt to "read" my house and try to get an idea of how the original owners might have decorated the house and try to decipher what the original woodwork looked like (before it was painted a million times) and verify what things are truly original, and what might have been added at a later date. I used mostly the information in Victorian Interior Decoration: American Interiors 1830-1900 because it used a large amount of contemporary information from the 'premier' decorators of the time.

All of our research points to a build date of 1886-1887 for our house. Encaustic tiles were becoming very popular for floors, but they were expensive because they were imported. By the 1870s and 1880s, domestic manufactories opened and made them more readily available. Critics of the time period recommended tiles for use on hearths and around chimney openings, in vestibules and bathrooms as floors, and as wainscoting in kitchens, conservatories, laundries and porches.
This is the tiled hearth around the fireplace in the entry hall. Significantly, the colors are a brownish copper, black,taupe and a gold-yellow color, leading me to believe the entry hall's original color scheme was similar. In the 1880s, the recommended, fashionable colors for use in an entry hall were "low yellow colors", with "cherry woodwork" and other colors like olive green, tan, dull purples, Pompeiian red, sunny greens, old gold and dull blues with woodwork in either oak or mahogany shades.

The fireplace mantel has matching tiles around the fireplace opening, including these pretty decorative ones in each corner.

The previous owners painted the entry hall this mustard/gold color, which is actually the 'right' color scheme for this room, although originally the entry hall was probably wallpapered. In the period between 1870-1890, it was then fashionable to have the "tripartite" wall. A tripartite wall consisted of a dado or wainscoting at the bottom of the wall, a cornice or frieze at the top, and a field in between dado and frieze. The most expensive way to achieve a tripartite wall was to use wood paneling for the wainscoting. A cheaper way was to use sets of wallpaper imitating dado, field and frieze, or to use Lincrusta or anaglypta for the dado. Most "principle" rooms in the house would have had a tripartite wall treatment.

Unfortunately, all the woodwork in our house has been painted; many, many times in some areas. Decorators of the time period from when our house was built recommended staining hardwood trim in some natural color, and to paint softwoods to correspond with the overall color scheme of the room. White paint was declared "objectionable" and by the 1880s it was not fashionable to have white painted woodwork at all, unless the color scheme of the room was predominately white. I have been long trying to determine if the woodwork in the entry hall was stained or painted. Here on our staircase, this newel post finial is showing a layer underneath the white paint. Numerous hands rubbing over this newel post over the years has rubbed off the white paint. Underneath is what appears to be a dark brown paint.

The woodwork was painted very sloppily and very quickly, apparently. In places like this, underneath the window stool of the little window on the stair landing, you can see that only one coat of white was applied and the brown is showing through.

This is the trim around one of the hall windows. This side actually faces a corner (I have the picture upside down actually), so it's not very visible unless you stick your head in the corner, but you can see how poorly some of the trim was painted. Again, a dark brown paint is visible (and some green from the walls; evidently the front hall was a dark, foresty green before it was painted gold).
We had started to wonder if the woodwork had been painted instead of stained. It was not uncommon in the 1880s for wood trim and doors to be painted. Recommended colors for the time were black, marroon, chocolate-brown,dull India red, bronze-green, orange-green and dark Antwerp blue. Usually, however, hardwoods were not painted.

Some of the woodwork was painted a light green color at one time, I do know that. On some of the hardware that I've stripped of paint I found, under the white paint, light green, beige and dark brown, in that order. I believe the light green was probably done in the 1940s or 1950s, however.

This decorative knob on the vestibule doors allows us to unlock the double doors. When the knob is pushed down, it pushes down a metal rod that is inside the door frame into a locking mechanism into the floor. I had used a little Goof Off here in this picture to see how well it took paint off hardware. I removed only the top layer of white paint, exposing the light green underneath.

Typically, the upstairs of the house would not have had expensive hardwood or parquet floors, especially in the home of middle-class or upper-middle class folk like the original owners of our house were. However, all the windows and doors have lovely trim, not as fancy as the downstairs trim, but still attractive. Like the downstairs, all the trim is painted white; except the door thresholds. They are pretty banged up, but have never been painted. I believe they are original to the house and are probably the original color too. Here is one of them leading to a spare bedroom.

The door threshhold to the linen closet. Also visible is the wide planking used for the floor of the closet. More than likely this was painted. This type of floor was common in closets, passages or halls; it was either painted or covered with oilcloth or ingrain, Venetian or list carpeting. I am doubtful that the upstairs of our house had hardwood floors, even in the bedrooms. Grass matting was still very popular in the 1880s and inexpensive and most often appeared in bedrooms, because it was considered more "hygenic". In one of the bedrooms that we don't use, I removed a section of the cheap carpeting previous owners put in, just to see what was underneath and the same wide board planking as in the linen closet (above) was underneath the padding, so I am fairly certain under all the carpeting upstairs is the same thing.

Another reason I don't think the woodwork was originally painted dark brown is because of this (above). On the inside of the linen closet you can see where they didn't bother to paint over the brown at all with white; yet the decorative metal hinges are completely covered with dark brown paint. I seriously doubt that the builders and painters in 1886 would have painted over the decorative hardware like this.

The  room that we refer to as a the 'parlour', but would have also been called a drawing room or sometimes a sitting room, depending on whether the house had another room whose use was strictly for entertaining or not, there is another decorative tile hearth. This one has a lovely border of mustardy/brown leaf tiles, and also colors in black, greenish-bronze and a dusky red/sangria color. I think there was carpeting over this at one time, as there are marks on the tiles that look like where carpet glue was applied. Even in the 1880s, light colors were most popular for formal drawing rooms, but home owners were encourged to take into account the size of the room and it's aspect when choosing colors. Light colors worked well in rooms that had little natural light; like peach, sea-water green,pale blue, ivory, gray, pale rose, apricot and pale lemon yellows, which also had a "rich effect" in the evenings when rooms were lit with gaslight.
However, other suggestions like metallic bronze or copper with pale-olive wallpaper with an India red frieze or rust and silver on a neutral ground were also popular.
A sunny room with a south facing aspect benefitted from richer colors; peacock-blue carpet, olive-green window shades and bronze-green woodwork could have lemon-yellow or old-gold walls and a frieze with bronze-green and dull peacock blue.

     My color choices in painting the drawing room are close enough to what was deemed appropriate for such a room in the 1880s. Unfortunately, the white woodwork, white cornice and white ceiling, would not be fashionable for that time period. If I use the colors of the tile of the hearth as a clue as to what colors they decorated with when the house was built, it appears likely they used a darker, richer color scheme in this room. The family that built our house was named Nelson. They were, for that time period, probably considered 'middle-aged', as they were in their forties then. They had one adult son, who lived with them even after he was married. He continued to live with them, with his wife and at least one daughter, until the late 1890s. The elder Nelson owned a very successful mercantile business; they were probably considered upper middle class and as was common for that time period and for their station, probably had at least two servants.

The fireplace mantel in the parlour, with it's marble tile surround, is very pretty, but I don't think it's entirely original, like the other two fireplaces in the house. I believe that parts of it are, but some of the decorative trims and the facing parts were added onto the original back at a later date, I think. I can tell because the quality of the wood is different. Those pieces also have only one layer of white paint, while the older parts clearly have much more paint layers.

The fireplace mantel in the living room (which in the 1880s was likely called a 'sitting room' and would have been used like a family room) is also original to the house, but it has a faux brick surround and hearth that is much more modern. I do know that this was not it's original color, however.

In all the tiny little cracks and crevices and nooks and crannies I can see the original stain, some of it crackled with age. Somebody went through the trouble of stripping this mantel and staining it a lighter color. The lighter color would not have been totally out of place in the 1880s; depending on the color scheme used in the room, a golden-oak stain might work better with some color schemes, although the lighter wood colors would become more popular during the 1890s and during the Craftsman period.

Many of the upstairs windows have several sets of these (of course, all heavily painted over). I had often wondered what they might have been for;  interior shutters was my first guess and I am probably correct. Interior shutters with movable louvers, sometimes called "rolling slats", were usually stained or painted to co-ordinate with the color scheme of the room. They were often designed to fold neatly into recesses in the window casing when not in use in some homes.

Thanks for joining me! I hope I might have inspired some of you to try and "read" your old house some time!