Finishing the Cottage – A Time for Details

The devil is in the details, as the saying goes and as a building project comes near its end, you realize just how many details there are yet to do.  We have had multiple setbacks while building our cottage and a global pandemic only added to the chaos.  But now, we are finally getting to those special details that really add character to a home.

Of course, my husband and I often differ on what those details should be.  He’s the contractor and builder, so by the time that we come to this stage, he’s been at a project for a good, long while.  At this point, he’s tired and just wants to get it done.  I, on the other hand, am chomping at the bit and anxious to put some of my own creativity into it all.  And so, we clash.  However, because of this being our 4th house we’ve built together and the fact that we are celebrating our 40th year of marriage this fall, he’s learned that he should probably just let me have my way.  If not, he knows that he will never, ever hear the end of it if he tries to go with his easier, cheaper way.  He also knows that all of his arguments and feeble excuses will just fall upon my deaf ears.

It’s a delicate dance that we do.  I now have him looking at wide, thick mouldings to go around the interior doors and windows.  They’re expensive and yeah, he complained, but I’m willing to compromise by going with the very nice, but considerably less expensive, cabinet pulls, so I think that all is good.  I’m also willing to paint the entire inside and outside of the house myself, along with my son-in-law, so long as we can go at our own pace, (slow,) and we don’t have to paint the very high, outside areas, such as the gables, (scared of heights.)  That saves us about $9 grand.  I think that my bargaining chips are piled high at this point.

My husband found an exceptional person to help me with the gardens.  This guy has been staying after hours to plant trees, shrubs, water the lawn and roses and keep watch over the job site at night.  He’s been amazing!  He doesn’t always know just what to do with the gardening chores at hand, but he’s a good learner and a very hard worker.  This season, he learned all about pruning roses, train espalier apple trees, and how to use different kinds of mulches.  At the moment, he’s working on a couple of circular, vegetable gardens…so unique and pretty!  So, when you walk, or drive by our cottage, please take a moment to admire his handiwork.

So…now we are near the end.  The painting, tile and cabinets will be done next month and after that, the house will be near completion.  However, the gardens will take a few, more years to mature.  It’s a slow, but most enjoyable process that probably will never end.  It just keeps going and gets better and better as time goes on.  I hope that our newest guests will come back again and again, to see how the garden as grown and matured.

It has taken us way too long to do this project, but it has all been with family input and cooperation.  I started this idea as a middle-aged woman and now I am looking forward to the possibility of receiving my first, social security check sometime soon.

:::sigh:::

And now you know why the place is called, “an old woman’s garden.”

Designing and Decorating the Boonville Cottage and Gardens

So…OK…we don’t even have our plans approved yet, but I’m already chomping at the bit and ready to sink my teeth into this new project.  After all, one can never start too early with creative endeavours… I’m so excited!

I’m really hoping that the entire, “Boonville Cottage,” project will reflect a sense of place and history.  Even though it is going to  be a new building, I want it to feel like it’s been there forever. It’s important that it has that, “Anderson Valley,” vibe, and not look like it came out of some showroom in NYC.  On top of everything else, it has to be welcoming.

I’ve decided to decorate the cottage in a similar way that my own home is done…simple, used, vintage items that have lots of soul and casual comfort.  Nothing too fancy, frivolous, nor overly trendy; just a, “feel-good,” kind of decorating.  I’ve been completely inspired by designer, Molly Hyde English’s style and her book, “Camps and Cottages.”  Her style is so similar to mine and I’ll love looking through her website and reading her newsletter for new ideas and products.

I already have several furniture pieces that I have in mind to use. They’ll all need refurbishing…that will keep me busy for awhile.  I’ll definitely be heading over to Miss Mustard Seed’s  for her wonderful milk paints and new ideas. I’d also really like to create my own fabrics for some of the upholstery projects.  Spoonflower is a fabulous resource for doing that. If I don’t have time for that, then it’s Brick House Fabrics for their amazing collection of traditional prints and yardage.

It’s also time to get out my paints and create some wall art.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done any serious painting.  My DIL is a very talented artist and I hope to get her involved in this project.  but, if her schedule doesn’t permit that, then I’ll have to wing it on my own.  The DH is willing to make me some custom, art frames out of old growth redwood and knotty madrone.  (He’s also willing to make a unique dining table for the cottage. Boy…am I’m a lucky girl!)

The gardens will be trickier.  It’s plants will need time to grow and mature, so the first year, or two, will look a little stark, I’m afraid.  I’m going to have to come up with some strategies for filling in the bare spots until the foundation plantings take over.  There’s nothing a few packets of flower seeds can’t solve.

Building a new garden can also be an expensive venture.  I’m hoping that I can clone as many hedge plants as possible over the next couple of months to save on plant costs. I’m always on the lookout for little snips and cuttings of plants as I walk my dog, “Lucy,” through town.  (I never take anything that is in their yard, only what is growing on the public parkway.)

I can also draw from my own collection of plants that have been lovingly passed down through the generations, such as a Clivia plant from my late mom’s house, giant callas from Gramma’s, scented geraniums from a friend’s yard and several plants that were gifts from my son and daughter.  All of these can be divided and multiplied to be used in the new place.  Spread, err…plant the love, I say.

As far as the roses go, I’m certainly not going to scrimp, or cut corners here.  They are the center pieces of the garden.  I will only order from a company that I trust to give me superior plants and that’s David Austin Roses. Over the years, I’ve tried several companies for ordering roses online for my own, personal residence I have to say, and David Austin is by far the best in their selection and quality of products and service.  Even today, as we approach the winter months, my David Austin roses are still lush, green and still blooming, while the other roses look tired, leafless and weak.  There’s just no comparison.

There will be other garden elements needed. I’ll be hunting for free compost, garden benches, birdbaths, etc.  You never know what we’ll find.  I’ll be making my own planters for the deck out of old, used redwood, downed logs, or possibly clay or cement.

All in all, I’ll have my hands full.  I love it all!  I just hope that my energy level can keep up with my imagination.  My fingers are crossed!

I’ve decided to add a new category in the index just for the Boonville cottage, which will be where I’ll be continuing the writings on this project, so please look for that when you revisit.

~ C