Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Regal Queen

Don't forget my free gift drawing. Only three days left to enter! Go to for details.
Of all the Victorian house styles, Queen Anne is the most elaborate and the most eccentric. The style is often called romantic and feminine, yet it is the product of a most unromantic era -- the machine age.

Virginia and Lee McAlester, authors of A Field Guide to American Houses, identify four types of detailing found on Queen Anne homes.
Spindled - This is the style we most frequently think of when we hear the term "Queen Anne." These are "gingerbread" houses with delicate turned porch posts and lacy, ornamental spindles.
Free Classic - Instead of delicate turned spindles, these homes have classical columns, often raised on brick or stone piers. Like the Colonial Revival houses that would soon become fashionable, Free Classic Queen Anne homes may have
Palladian windows and dentil moldings.
Half-Timbered - Like the early Tudor style houses, these Queen Annes have decorative
half-timbering in the gables. Porch posts are often thick.
Patterned Masonry - Most frequently found in the city, these Queen Annes have brick, stone, or terra-cotta walls. The masonry may be beautifully patterned, but there are few decorative details in wood.

A list like this can be deceptive. Queen Anne architecture is not an orderly or easily classified. Bay windows, balconies, stained glass, turrets, porches, brackets and an abundance of decorative details combine in unexpected ways.

Even the history of the style is bewildering. These homes were built during the age of Queen Victoria. So, why are they called Queen Anne? Popular during the time of Britain's Queen Victoria, Queen Anne architecture has little to do with the 18th century Queen Anne. Moreover, the exuberant style bears little resemblance to the formal architecture which was popular during her time. Rather, British architects borrowed ideas from the earlier Medieval era.
In the United States, Queen Anne houses became lofty, fanciful, showy, exuberant expressions of the machine age.
Excerpts from

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Baby Girl's Birthday

I know that I said we would talk about architecture this week and I promised to relay some information about Queen Anne homes, BUT I feel a little sidetracked this morning and want to share something else.

Yesterday was my only daughter's birthday. For HER birthday she brought ME this doll! I gave her a plant.

Now, she's not only beautiful, she is huge! She stands a little over three feet tall! AND she looks amazingly just like my daughter, Tammy!

Her beautiful dress and hat have such great detail. The dress itself is gold brocade with three kinds of lace trim. The underskirt is a soft organdy print in gold and cream over satin. The really amazing thing about this doll is, it's an umbrella! Yup, the skirt opens just like an umbrella.

I've got to find a special place for her. Right now she is sitting on the coffee table in the living room...right in front of hubby's spot on the couch. He's not happy with that, but I love going by and seeing her there. Just for a couple more days. You know how it is.

Did I mention she is porcelain? Her hat has a white feathered crown and her hair is in long spiral curls.

Isn't her face just beautiful?

How lucky am I?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Romantic Architecture

I thought we'd talk a little about Architecture this week. I've been fascinated by the subject for as long as I can remember; sketching homes since I was a child of about 10 or 11. Detailed floor plans began to enter my mind at about 14 or 15 years of age and I was determined to make a career from this interest in some way. Life did not work out quite the way I'd planned and motherhood took a front seat to other dreams, but did not diminish my quest for learning everything I could about Romantic Victorian dwellings, inside and out.

I quote from one of my favorite authors on the subject, Rickard Bailey......

Few periods of architecture have received as much attention and spawned as many devotees as the 70 years from 1840 to 1919 known as the Victorian Era. Named after Queen Victoria, who enjoyed an uncommonly long reign (1837 - 1901), this period captures the imagination of so many people because so much seemed to change and blossom over its duration. Even though the architecture of the time had its antecedents in the Gothic Revival that began a few years earlier, it is the Victorian Era that most people embrace because it epitomizes what had been lacking or stale in architecture for hundreds of years: liveliness, whimsy and, above all, freedom of expression.

Like most movements that develop and evolve over a broad expanse of time, no single individual or event seemed to drive the Victorian Revolution. Rather, a series of stirrings, ideas and concepts - aided by technology - pushed the movement from one stage to another until it reached a grand climax near the end of the century.

The Victorian Era had a long, full flower of nearly 70 years. The emotional appeal of this family of fanciful, delicate, decorative architectural styles was so strong that it took the harsh realities of a World War and the nihilism of the 1920s to dispel it. Yet, the romance of the era never really died. Whenever society has too much of modern technology, warfare or rampant commercialism, it inevitably recycles itself back to an era that is quieter, softer and more romantic.

Grand Victorian Style is, after all, one of those rare pleasures that must be experienced more with the heart than with the intellect - to be viewed and appreciated without regard to cost, reason or rationale. Victorians exist simply to be admired and loved - one of the last, great romantic adventures in Architecture!

Tomorrow we will take an in-depth look at the Queen Anne Style homes of the High Victorian favorite.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

June's Free Gift

I'm sorry I've not been here for awhile. I've been terribly busy trying to get our church newsletter out. Now I'm back in blogland and can post a few more goodies for you.

It's not too late to sign up for Aunt May's Cottage free June gift. You don't even have to pay for shipping! Visit my website and just sign my guestbook.

Because this is "brides" month, for the June gift, I've chosen this sweet little pillow cover made from a brand new bride's dress. It's base is in heavier weight white bridal satin. The bodice back with organza ribbon laces is the star feature. There are rows of beaded lace with sequins, and pearls all hand sewn on this beauty. It is edged in white, rice beads and lace. More details on my website under This Month's Gift.

Can't you just picture this on your bed, chair or chaise? Appropriate for Cottage, Romantic, Victorian, Chic or Paris Apt. decorating, this pillow cover will fit a standard 14 X 14 inch pillow insert. Just look at the detail on this cutie!

Decorated pillows were such a necessity in our Victorian decorating. They would traditionally showcase the needlework of the lady of the house. Some were souvenirs of the homeowner's travels and would be a great source of conversation.

Women were taught various kinds of needlework from the time they were little girls of about five or six. In that time of social position awareness, another measure of status would be the needlework skills of wives and daughters. Those skills were not only a measure of status, but a reason for ladies to gather and gossip, a mainstay of the day. Because there were no TVs, radios, movies, computers or other means of entertainment, time was spent learning and perfecting needlework crafts handed down from their ancestors or brought over from Europe.

For people of the middle-classes, needlework was a necessity. Those children, both boys and girls, would be taught by their mother or grandmother the most intricate crafts. Once perfected, they had a trade and a way of making a living. Dressmakers and tailors were much in demand as many of the higher social classes were relying on foreign trade for clothing.

If you ever have questions about the Victorian era, please use the comment section here and I will try to find an answer for you if it's not already somewhere in my limited brain cells.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Victorian Bedroom

When we think of Victorian decorating, we automatically think of the parlor, then the bedroom. The Victorian style of dressing a bedroom has never gone out of style. Think of a bed (antique or not) dressed in layers of bedclothes, piled high with pillows, add a doll, bear or tea tray and there you have it. Wash out the colors and you have the Romantic style of today.

While we have the advantage of many colors, patterns and embellishments in sheets and pillowcases, the Victorians used exclusively white linens. In the 19th century, white was a symbol of prosperity as keeping them clean would require hiring servants to wash them by hand. Lace, embroidery and monograms would decorate them heavily.The actual clothes of the Victorian bed depends upon the exact era you wish to duplicate.

In fashion, the opulence of the early part of the century (Rococo) swayed in the direction of a more sleek, pared down look (Eastlake), then back to unrestrained abundance during Queen Victoria's reign. All of these designs would be appropriate for the era between 1840 and 1910.

If the period you are trying to create is the early Rococo era (1850-1860) you would have lots of S and C curves and there would be scores of pillows and shams in lace, ruffles and embroidery. Your bed would be piled high with coverlets, quilts and throws in addition to the pillows with lots of embellishments (medallions). Your frames and metalwork would be in gold or a mica gloss.

Moving to the Eastlake period (1870-1880), your bed would wear only a spread over a dust ruffle and the necessary sleeping pillows. Curtains would hang on a simple wooden or metal rod, unswagged and unadorned. Think of the Seaside Cottage look of today only unpainted.

The colors of the Victorian period ranged from the jewel tones like ruby reds, royal purples and golden yellows of the 1860's to the lighter tones (but not pastel) of the same colors later in the century.

For this look, it is important not to hide the headboard. Piles and piles of pillows are fine for beds with high headboards as they still show off all of the wonderful carving of the bedstead. Because Victorian mattresses were about half the thickness of today's, and box springs were unheard of, our naked beds tend to be much thicker than the bed of yesterday. If you have a slightly lower headboard because of that, use a canopy or some fabric decorating element (swag, curtain or picture with swag) to create height above the bed.

Many of today’s bedcovers come in a complete package in coordinating designs. This makes our decorating easier than in Victorian times. Don't be afraid to mix and match bed-in-a-bag packages, designers, or add and change with items of your own.

Finally, don't skimp on fabric! Remember the Victorians were all about opulence, abundance and elaborateness. Your window curtains and bed-curtains should be very wide (lined if possible) and puddle on the floor. This means they should be at least an extra foot long and edged in some type of fringe, ruffling or pleating. Draperies should be multi-layered with as little as three layers up to six layers of fabrics. Use lots of elaborate tassels or medallions to tie back the drapes, bed-curtains and just to hang on that bedroom slipper chair or bedpost.

Pictures should be in abundance and hung from cord, ribbon or tassels. If you are lucky enough to have a picture rail, use it. If not, shelves, dressers and end tables should be loaded with photos as well as the walls.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Thoughts on Our Cars

Today, I thought I'd post one of the articles from my new web site. These articles will be tips on Victorian, Cottage or Romantic decorating from my over 30 years of research on the subject.

Of course, some will just be thoughts of mine as is this one...

DON'T FORGET YOUR CAR! Many of us spend several hours a day in our automobiles. Why not make it as comforting as home? On that long ride to and from work or to visit relatives or friends, wouldn't it be nice to have that same warmth and serenity you enjoy when you are in your own living room or parlor?

Here are ten ways to do that.....Look at the backseat of your car. Doesn't it look like a couch? Why not treat it as one!

1) Put pretty throw pillows in your passenger and/or back seat.

2) Place a great looking fringed throw on the seat.

3) Set some decorated boxes on the floor to organize those nasty piles of papers, mail or trash.

4) A small pretty basket could hold some magazines to read while you are waiting for the kids after their soccer game.

5) Use one of my sachets for aroma control instead of those ugly car fresheners. Lavender will envelope your new sanctuary with only a hint of warm sunshine releasing that soothing fragrance.

6) Try a pretty lace doily over the back of your seat or peeking out from under your sun visor.

7) Hang a string of pearls, glass beads or chandelier prisms on your rearview mirror for continued sparkle and whimsy.

8) Place your favorite (unbreakable) collectibles in your back window. Change them out with the seasons or your mood.

9) How about a stained glass sun catcher hung on your side window.

10) Use small, floral rugs on the floor of your car, especially in the back seat.

Let your vehicle also reflect the romantic you! Just take a few of your favorite items from your home and put them in your car to make it more YOU.

For some wonderful items to accomplish this look , visit my website at

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Come have tea with me!

Aunt May's Cottage Website is up and running! Go visit for the most amazing Victorian and Cottage decorating items on the web. Reasonable prices, too.

Check out photos of the 1848 farmhouse and gardens in the Gallery.

Learn about Victorian decorating in the Articles. I also give tips for use and some Victorian history in the listings.

Sign my guestbook for a free give-a-way gift in celebration of our opening. It will be a goodie made with my own hands using the highest quality items available.

Watch this site for a photo of the gift next week.

I'm off to list more items. I hope to have 150 by the end of next week!

I promise you won't be dissapointed! Let me know what you think in the comments here.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Inside the Cottage

As promised, here are photos of the inside of Aunt May's Cottage. This room is an actual store! These are the items for sale in my soon to be complete Web Site. I have many more items in the workroom that will NOT be shown on here until I get it cleaned up and presentable.

This room was not in as bad shape as the kitchen area was. In here, all we had to do was get rid of years worth of bugs, mice and cobwebs. Then scrub the walls and ceiling with bleach to get rid of the mold, patch and plaster a few large holes made by raccoons and squirrels, prime (always use a really good primer!) and paint. The color is a very pale sage green mixed by my local hardware store from my favorite spring suit. We added trim (there was none) and scrubbed the fireplace with a solvent made for that purpose. The floors are original wide plank rough-sawn oak. They have never been polished or sanded and I kind of like them that way for now.

I've put a lace curtain over the fireplace box for the summer, just as the Victorians would have done. The fire box is HUGE as I believe it was intended for cooking. It has an arm that swivels over the fire to put a soup pot or kettle upon.

In the third photo you will see one of my prized possessions. I found this post office box piece at an antique store up in Allegan, MI and I had to have it! She had a price tag on it that said $500.00. It was worth that as it has solid brass doors on it, but I had set my limit for that day at $300.00. I asked her what her rock bottom price was. Guess what she said.....$200.00!! I made a great deal that day. The unit weighs a ton and I need three men and a boy to help move it, but it was well worth the price. Last year while at a local antique shop, I saw the small drawers advertised as paperweights....for $65.00 each! Whoa!

This is the main dining/living room, I believe. It is about 20 feet square with a door to the kitchen and another door to the other big room that I use for my workroom. That room still needs LOTS of work! If you would like photos before I start "fixing" it up, let me know in the comments section and I will show you the before (now).

By the way, the French Provincial dining room set with the hutch, six chairs and table with three leaves is a Thomasville. I bought it at Restore in South Bend for $400.00. It's in great shape and also has a matching end table they threw in.

For those of you not familiar with Restores, they are an outlet for Habitat for Humanities. Because their homes must be modernized for today's living, those older homes that are remodeled for Habitat will take the old items and give them to Restore that in turn sell those items for cash to help with the cost of building and remodeling Habitat homes. They have great claw foot tubs, old sinks, solid wood cabinets, furniture and old lighting. Area contractors and businesses also donate items (great tax write-off). Look for one in your area. I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

That's probably enough photos for today. Next time I will get in photos of the finished kitchen. I have to go take them as I can't seem to locate any. Perhaps I've not taken them because it's not really finished.