One of many lovely gifts that my husband gave me this Christmas is finally hanging up in it's rightful place. The above photo is not the best shot to show the rich texture of this lovely piece, but I wanted to share with you the type of museum quality artwork that we are trying to display in order to achieve the old world look. Oil paintings with this type of character are not easy or affordable to come by, but here at Castles Crowns and Cottages, we aim to create "the look" while staying within our budget. My husband surprised me this year however, during our famous holiday soiree, where just him and I stay tucked in to cook and eat a French dinner, watch movies all night and then wait like two little children for midnight to ring in the festivities. It's just us, and really life is short; why not spoil each other from time to time! This painting is one of two that we have ordered to be custom painted from an on-line company. You can ask them to paint anything, and they will do it. The prices are reasonable, well under five hundred dollars, and will vary according to the size. The frames are fun to hunt for; places where we find them range from famous chain craft stores to literally someone's trash. Really! In the next photo above, you will see the beautiful faux fireplace mantel in our loft bedroom that my husband crafted for me for our 25th wedding anniversary.
See the mirror that I set on the inside in order to catch the reflection of the dancing flicker lights? I found it one dark, early morning on someone's front yard's trash heap with a sign saying, "Free-take"! It is in perfect condition for being a vintage piece. Anyway, my oil painting above arrived in the mail, rolled up in a protective tube, and that is how I received it on Christmas Eve. We immediately went to the framing department of our local super craft store and had them frame the canvas. Within 10 days, it was ready. My husband is very talented and decided for our next painting, he would stretch the canvas on the frame himself. That could save us from $100-$150. Our latest find has been at the mega-mall, however. Unfortunately, like many establishments these days, one particular store is going out of business, so they are getting rid of everything at reasonable prices. The following photo (please click on it to see up close) shows a faux oil painting that we purchased for the frame only; when we order another custom painting, we will use only the frame of this piece. These styles of frames, if purchased at a frame shop are usually custom made and can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. This one cost $54. When we lived in Massachusetts years ago, we frequented a little book shop in Marblehead where we would walk out with vintage books, a-buck-a-bag treasures, or old children's books. One in particular book was loaded with a heap of old etchings of castles, fairies and other magical delights. We gingerly tore out the pictures from the books, and now have a file of images that we plan to frame. One of my favorite is the following fairy; her elegantly rumpled clothing and whispy locks whisper childhood fantasies of mysterious forests and woodland creatures. The added glitter that I applied gives a delicate sparkle by candlelight. About 95% of the artwork in our home has been put together by one of us. What is fun about the whole thing, is that no one else has the exact same artwork. We tweak what we find, or create it ourselves, and there is the satisfaction. The next image shows a small tapestry that I found at a fabric outlet in Salem, Mass. years ago. I sewed a boarder and hoops around it and ran a small iron curtain rod through it. My husband made the two tall birdhouses on either side and cut a little window out of the smaller one on the right. Every night I light up my display in order to enjoy the silhouette of these little dwellings, and with battery powered candles, I know I can dose off with no worries of real candles posing any threats. Even though I use this type of lighting, I do try to keep the look as authentic as I can by using materials such as
iron, wood, stone, crystal, velvet, copper and other classic materials. I stopped using plastic or what I would consider "modern" elements, because in order to get the look of an old European cottage, plastic or even bright colors just haven't worked for us. Muted colors and verdant scenes in paintings are really key in communicating this sense of charm, but whatever makes you happy and promotes a peaceful environment in your living space is really what you should follow.Well, it is time to shut off the lights here at the Little House on the Northeast Side of Town. Stay posted to see the development of our new bathroom and maybe, just maybe, my other Christmas surprise present will be here. Here is a hint: It is being built in Chicago at Lyon and Healy, and it makes an angelic sound. A la prochaine!