Jo-Anne Coletti’s Project Refresh: Part 1

Follow along in this first of a six-part series as Jo-Anne Coletti takes us through every step of updating her historic 1820s home.

Jo-Anne's 1820's dream home features two beautiful horse barns like this one.
Jo-Anne’s 1820’s home features two beautiful horse barns like this one.

I have always been in awe of the beauty of older homes. With so much built-in character, they carry the fingerprints of a story from a long-ago era.

I bought my historic home in May 2004, and I remember the walk-through like it was yesterday. I sat at the top of the grand staircase, gazing out the wavy lead-glass window and thinking to myself, “Wow, here it is—my dream home.”

I’ve always been enamored with the idea of a stately white house with black shutters. An 1820s Federal Colonial house situated in the historical countryside of Marshfield, Massachusetts, this home had it all, including two horse barns, an English garden courtyard, five fireplaces, a secret stairway, wavy-glass windows, crown molding, authentic Indian shutters, a butler’s pantry and even a birthing room. It was like stepping back in time—and I was smitten at first sight.

The historic dream home had been painted by the previous owner and already looked fresh and inviting.
The historic home had been painted by the previous owner and already looked fresh and inviting.

There was just one problem: It was out of our price range. The realtor suggested we put a bid in anyway as the house was an estate (owned by the late radio talk show host, Jerry Williams) and had been on the market for over two years—they were anxious to sell! After many negotiations back and forth, we received the exciting news that they accepted our offer. We were now the proud owners of an antique house. We were thrilled, and excited to renovate!

For the exterior of their dream home, the couple simply painted the front door black and changed the landscaping to fit their taste.
For the exterior, the couple simply painted the front door black and changed the landscaping to fit their taste.

History

The original main house was built by Colonel Jesse Reed of Marshfield, the inventor of the first nail machine. The house was considered a mansion in its heyday (equipped with butler ring/buzzer push-buttons on the floors) and was the first house in America to be built using machine nails. Senator Daniel Webster, also from Marshfield, helped fund the home and donated two Tamarack-Larch trees for the front yard. In earlier years, one of the trees had been struck by lightning—not once but twice—in the exact same spot, yet the tree remains unaffected.

When the Jo-Anne and her husband Mark purchased their dream home, it was landscaped with overgrown shrubs and trees.
When they purchased the property, it was landscaped with overgrown shrubs and trees.
The couple decided to replace the shrubs with an assortment of flowery bushes.
The couple decided to replace the shrubs with an assortment of flowery bushes.

Curb appeal

The exterior looked beautiful as it was, freshly painted by the previous owner. All we did was paint the existing red door a classic black.

The grounds of the estate were overgrown with shrubs and small wild trees. Thankfully, we own a landscape company so we could save on materials and labor. My husband, Mark, got to work removing old shrubs and replacing them with flowery bushes in the front of the house.

Owning a landscape business helped Jo-Anne and her husband save on some costs of landscaping their dream home.
Owning a landscape business helped Jo-Anne and her husband save on some costs in the remodeling process.

The courtyard was a formal knot-style English garden consisting of a border of low box hedges, ivy and Lily of the Valley. We wanted to invite more color, so we added English roses and perennials. Varieties include agastachi, white and purple cone flowers, Black-eyed Susans, penstemon, Liatris, Russian sage, phylox paniculata, shasta daisy and bee balm.

The side yard is accented with annuals such as scavoila, millions of bells, blue salvia, wave petunia and knock-out roses in many shades of pink. Details like a water fountain, bird-bath and an iron chair were added as focal points.

Jo-Anne added details like this fountain as focal points of her dream home exterior.
Jo-Anne added details like this fountain as a focal point in the assortment of colorful garden plants.

Backyard

My husband is a mad scientist when it comes to trees, and he wants specimens of every variety. In my opinion, he is an expert on scale, color and contrast when designing a garden. Every plant, flower and tree is the star of the garden, while beautifully complementing its companions.

Trees bordering the landscape include Ginkgo biloba, Blue Atlas Cedar, many Japanese maples, Japanese umbrella-pine, dawn redwood, Cryptomeria, japonica, Monrovia’s Ruby Falls, redbud and Forest Pansy Redbud.

Jo-Anne's husband carefully designed the landscaping with scale, color and contrast in mind to complete their dream home.
Jo-Anne’s husband carefully designed the landscaping with scale, color and contrast in mind.

Anyone who owns an antique house can appreciate the nostalgic appeal, but also can understand the many challenges that go with owning a piece of history. In many ways, historic homes are a labor of love. Now, after 14 years, my husband and I have created a home that truly feels like a dream, and therse’s no other place I would rather be than living in this antique gem filled with character and history.

 

Historic homes come with challenges, but Jo-Anne feels they have created a special place in their historic dream home.
Historic homes come with challenges, but Jo-Anne feels that she and her husband they have created a special place in their historic dream home.

Stay tuned next month as we venture inside my antique home in the second segment of this six-part series, “Project Refresh.”



Courtney Allison’s Romantic Attic Renovation

Feminine florals and French accents create a charming space.

Courtney Allison's completed attic renovation

Attics are often overlooked and designated as a space for storage only, but you can transform your attic into a retreat full of charm and whimsy with just a few simple touches.

Our attic was once such a space. Back then it was nothing but a spot for wayward boxes. But with a bit of work and a touch of storybook magic, a charming spot for childhood relics and daydreaming was created.

"The narrow stairs are now covered in a simple white enamel paint that doesn’t mind a scuff or a bit of wear." - Courtney Allison #romantichomes

The narrow stairs are now covered in a simple white enamel paint that doesn’t mind a scuff or a bit of wear. During the warmer months, they’re dotted with books and jars of blooms. At the top of the stairs, a room with one-plank floors and walls and delicate French style sconces awaits.

An antique French daybed sits in the corner, along with baskets of fabrics just waiting to be reimagined and a childhood dollhouse being renovated bit by bit. The attic is much more than a spot for out-of-season décor and vintage dresses. It is a spot that invites quiet and serves as a getaway from the busyness of the house.

Here are a few elements that bring my attic to life.

An antique French daybed sits in the corner, along with baskets of fabrics just waiting to be reimagined and a childhood dollhouse being renovated bit by bit.

Darling Daybed

Covered in floral ticking stripes with a soft color palette and chippy painted finish, the antique daybed is a charming spot for a lazy afternoon. The muted color fits right in with the vintage style of the rest of the room, while adding that French charm I love.

The old teal velvet-covered chair was a thrift-store find years ago. A bit worn and faded, the velvet is not perfect and neither is the chipping gilded paint on the frame, but I love the simplicity of the style and that it is original. - Courtney Allison #romantichomes

Antique Chair 

The old teal velvet-covered chair was a thrift-store find years ago. A bit worn and faded, the velvet is not perfect and neither is the chipping gilded paint on the frame, but I love the simplicity of the style and that it is original.

Curvy and French, the sconces are a simple charming way to light the gabled eaves, and the chandelier light on the nightstand offers extra lighting for reading a book. - Courtney Allison #romantichomes

Romantic Lighting

Curvy and French, the sconces are a simple charming way to light the gabled eaves, and the chandelier light on the nightstand offers extra lighting for reading a book.

Courtney Allison is a blogger, editor for Romantic Homes Magazine and author of the book French Country Cottage. For more on Courtney, visit frenchcountrycottage.net.

 



Tips & Tricks for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Miss Mustard Seed proves that paint, patience and a little bit of elbow grease can transform a kitchen.

Miss Mustard Seed's Kitchen Eating Area
Rustic textures, white paint and antiques with plenty of patina combine for an airy farmhouse feel.

There are some rooms that need a total overhaul, because they are dated, damaged or downright ugly. There are other rooms that need a makeover simply because they don’t reflect the personality and style of the family dwelling there. Such was the case with this kitchen.

It had great bones, nice wood cabinets, upgraded counters and birch floors, but it needed an injection of charm and personality. And the most budget-friendly way to do that was paint.

The cabinets were primed and given a fresh coat of a custom-mixed white paint, which immediately freshened up the kitchen and gave it more of a cottage vibe. Swapping out the traditional-style nickel hardware with some reproduction glass pulls further customized the cabinets.

Miss Mustard Seed's Painted Kitchen Cabinets
Can’t find the perfect color from the fan deck of paint swatches? Miss Mustard Seed recommends mixing a custom color that suits your space and your taste.
Miss Mustard Seed's Painted Kitchen Cabinets
Several shades of white, such as the creamy hue on the walls and a crisp color on the cabinets and trim, give the kitchen dimension.

The entire look was finished off with antique accessories, like ironstone pitchers filled with wooden spoons, an old grocery scale and linen textiles. These were all relatively small changes that made a big difference in the overall look of this space.

Painting built-in cabinetry is one of the most economical ways to update your kitchen, but it can also be an intimidating step into do-it-yourself territory for a novice. Understandable, because it’s a big project that involves dismantling the busiest room in the house. There is plenty of photographic evidence, though, that proves painting cabinets is worth the time and the effort.

Miss Mustard Seed's Kitchen Island

Here are some tips to tackling the transformation:

  1. Those who are brand new to painting furniture and/or cabinetry should test the entire process from start to finish on one door. It’s a great exercise to learn what works and what doesn’t before diving into the entire project. This is also an important step when working with unfamiliar products.
  2. Paint the cabinets a section at a time. It’s easy to get carried away and remove all of those dated, builder-grade oak cabinet doors at one time, but having the entire kitchen ripped apart can add more pressure to the project. It can also cause an issue if space in the garage or work area is limited. You’d be amazed how much space cabinet doors can take up when they are laid out to dry! The project might take a little longer to complete, but there will be some semblance of order while the work is being carried out.
  3. Always take the time to properly prep and prime all surfaces. We want to get right to the fun stuff, right? Yes! But it’s not fun when the paint is bubbling up over greasy build-up or starts peeling just days after the cabinets are painted. Take the time to clean the cabinets with a grease cutting cleaner, sand them with 80-100 grit paper to rough up the surface, and prime them with a quality adhesion primer.
  4. Use quality paint and tools. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” definitely applies to paint! A quality paint will go on smoother, require fewer coats, will be more durable, and will level out to hide brush strokes and roller marks. It’s worth the splurge! While a paint sprayer isn’t a required tool, it makes the work go faster and the end result looks more professional. A project can be completed, though, with a well-made 2 ½” synthetic-bristled, angled sash brush and a small foam or microfiber roller made for painting trim.
  5. Give the cabinets time to cure properly before heavy use. It’s exciting to get those freshly-painted cabinet doors hung as soon as they are dry, and that can certainly be done, but be aware that almost all paints require 30 days to fully cure. During that time, the finish is more susceptible to gouges, scratches, and dings. Let your family know to treat the cabinets with care during that time or, if possible, just leave them to cure in an out-of-the-way place before putting them into daily use.

By putting some of these tips to use, your painted cabinets will look like they were done by a professional. Your wallet will definitely know the difference, though!

For more information on painting kitchen cabinets (and many other things), visit missmustardseed.com.



School Bus Boutique Gets a Romantic Renovation

Circa 1910 is a mobile jewelry shop that celebrates inner beauty.

 

Circa 1910 Mobile Jewelry Shop Marvin the Mini Bus
Enter the 1910 bus through an old farmhouse door with an antique doorknob that owner Kayla Derrick locks with a vintage skeleton key. The bus is affectionately named Melvin the Mini Bus. You can Follow Melvin’s adventures on Instagram @melvintheminibus

If you visit the small historic town of Beaufort, South Carolina, you may spot a charming, white-painted school bus parked outside a vintage market or festival. Beyond its front entrance with a refurbished farmhouse door, you’ll find a small shop on wheels, with jewelry on display that’s “heart- and hand-crafted” by circa1910 owner Kayla Derrick.

Kayla didn’t always sell her jewelry from the bus, but she felt the need to take her business on the road after not being able to afford a shop. “I also wanted to connect with my customers face to face,” says Kayla. That’s when she and her fiancé found an old school bus for sale. It was “a piece of junk with gum stuck to the floorboards” that broke down right after she bought it, but Kayla had a vision.

“We had to do it all on a budget,” Kayla says, so they poured their money and heart into the project. “All materials were vintage, antique, repurposed or found in trash piles. That’s what I do with my jewelry—I take dirty and broken vintage and antique pieces, like shoe clips, clean them up and combine them with gemstones to make new necklaces and earrings.”

Her business name refers to the year her grandmother was born. The month she got the bus her mother was diagnosed with cancer. “I saw her go through multiple surgeries. After seeing her crying in the mirror because she didn’t feel pretty, I knew I wanted to create jewelry that spoke to women … and jewelry is something that fits everyone. The idea is that you are beautiful the way you are.”

Kayla added wood-looking vinyl flooring, crown molding and 1870s porch posts with original chippy paint to give the bus character. A wall drying rack serves as a display shelf. She repurposed a vintage vanity and added crystal knobs. Her fiancé built a wood countertop, which she accented with tacks to look like tacked metal and acrylic paint to look like galvanized metal.

When Hurricane Matthew wrecked their town, they had to leave everything behind, including the bus. “When we got back, we don’t know how, but our yard had flooded but not our bus. I wanted to incorporate a memento, so I mounted some driftwood inside the bus as a reminder to always be thankful.”

Kayla DeVito is writer, photographer and sells circa1910 through Old Grace Gathering Co., a company dedicated to giving back to the community. See more on Facebook and Instagram.