Sunday, April 27, 2008

June is Bustin' Out All Over....

Our summer is kickin' off with a big bang -we've booked our second show!

We are happy to announce that retreat will be participating in the second annual Tumbleweed Cotillion , held in Reno, Nevada on June 28th, with a preview June 27th. Yes, we may just BE a bit crazy, booking a second show just two weeks after Farm Chicks. But our friend Tracey produces this show, and we are thrilled to be able to support her endeavours.
Appropriate for the show theme of 'Vintage French Market', our booth will be 'Rue de Retreat'. I'll let you imagine that for awhile....more info to come!

Greek Revival Pool House

One of my favorite secret past times is to peruse architectural design firms websites to see what interesting spaces they are creating. Here is a lovely Greek Revival Pool House designed by Crisp Architects in Millbrook, NY. All photos and information are from the Crisp Architects website.
This jewel box of a pool house serves as an entertainment area for the homeowner and her guests. The architect decided to highlight the Greek Revival details of the main house and to keep the structure as small as possible.

Although the square footage is not large, there is an abundance of classical detailing that gives the building stature and also makes the space comfortably approachable. The lovely design highlights the easy flow between the interior and exterior spaces when the multiple French doors are thrown open.

I love the use of bluestone both as a flooring material throughout the interior and as the material used for the adjacent terrace areas. A lovely entertaining space - perhaps one of my lucky readers have been invited to a party here?

Friday, April 18, 2008

May/June Victoria issue is in!

I'm heading over to Faded Elegance right now to put the new 2008 May/June issue of Victoria Magazine into our retreat booth. This is the fabulous annual 'Blue & White' issue, just in time for summer and filled with delightful ideas & inspiring photos. It's priced at $4.50 in our booth, which is .49 less than the newsstand, so get one while you can! Quantities are limited.

(There's a sneak peek of our coming-soon May setup in that photo, too....)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Beautiful Tables

With Spring on the way I was inspired to show you some lovely tablescapes from Sweden!

In all three photos I love the use of natural materials - breadsticks, rosemary, ferns. Also notice the use of white pebbles surrounding white pots with ferns and baby's breath- simple and classic and so easy!

Though not table settings, I just love these place card holders - what a terrific way to recycle and another reason to drink wine!
My best friend recently made these tomato and mozzarella appetizers for a party. They were a hit and so wonderfully displayed. Yummy!

What a simple and beautiful way to display a daisy! Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

'April Showers'

On Sunday afternoon, we cleared everything out of our booth at Faded Elegance. All that was left was the birch tree and the lamp - that baby was empty & forlorn! We laid a 'patio' of antique 1901 bricks, and then yesterday I went in and foofed it all up. I'm calling it 'April Showers'.

You'll find a sweet black metal bistro set (with two darling 30's folding chairs that already had the yellow gingham oilcloth on the seats - were they made for this setup or what?!), a black shelf that looks like a staircase, a black iron trellis and candle chandelier.

And then there's the clothesline hung with vintage aprons, napkins, and a few tatterered things I used to fill in with...' the oldest trick in the book' is what this display prop is called in the trade. But hey, if it works, use it!

I must say I have had my misgivings about this setup. It's decidedly vintage, kinda' kitschy, and not really Shabby Chic at all. However, when the muse strikes, one listens... and when you look at these absolutely adorable dishes, I bet you hear the muse whispering, too....

sigh. Aren't they just DARLING?! FOur different little couples pirouette and spin and twirl on each plate, saucer, cup, and creamer & sugar bowl. I just stopped in my tracks when I discovered them and simply HAD to buy them.

They languished under a layer of dust for heaven knows how long on a crammed shelf in a shop, until that moment I walked by and they sort of jumped up and down and screamed "Deb! Take us home!" And I did. I've been able to find out a little bit about them, and included that info on the rolled scroll in the creamer (said creamer is stamped and hand-numbered, BTW).

I hung a copy on the back wall of the booth, as well, so people could learn about the set's provenance before purchasing. The papers and tearsheets and snippets of things hung on the trellis came from my inspiration board, that I compiled while planning this display.

In this photo you can see some ribbons that hang down off of the candle chandelier...
I tied four vintage millinery flower pins with seam binding & ribbon, and dangled them from the black wirey loopy chandelier. I do wish it had ended up hung right over the table, but, hey, we do what we can!

More details (and we know it's all about the details, right?!) include all of the accoutrements needed for an April afternoon tea on the patio: hats, a diminutive wicker handbag, more vintage millinery pins, a silk scarf used as a tablecloth, and the set of sunny yellow daisy earrings shown below. There's even a set of bright yellow childrens' galoshes under the table - fill 'em up with real yellow tulips for a charming centerpiece for Mother's Day.

Great stuff & ideas to inspire you for spring birthdays, Mother's Day celebrations, and baby & bridal showers. (Speaking of inspiration, in just five short days, we'll be shopping the Rose Bowl Flea Market for treasures to share with you!)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

More Farm Chicks News

Serena emailed yesterday to let me know that our vendor bio page is up on their show website now. If you'd like to read a bit more about us and retreat, check it out at: You can also view bios for many of the other show participants, with links to their web sites. When you see how many creative people with a plethora of fabulous products will be at this show, well, you will want to be there!

I want to say thank you to Serena & Teri for doing such a stellar job of promoting each of the vendors participating in their show.... I can tell that this is not 'all about them' because they are so quick to pass the spotlight along. WOW! I can't wait to meet these two dynamos in person!

In related news, we headed up to the Skagit Valley Giant Garage Sale today, to unearth bargains and treasures. We did just that, filling half of our 24' trailer with items to be refurbed, restored, redesigned and reused in new ways for our Farm Chicks show booth. Lots of work ahead, but it's worth it to bring you the best of the best!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Swedish Kitchens from Kvänum Kok

I stumbled upon a wonderful Swedish kitchen cabinet manufacturer as I was searching relentlessly for inspiration for my own kitchen renovation. I fell in love with the photos. This wonderful company seems to compare to the quality and design of my favorite US cabinet maker, Christopher Peacock. The company name is Kvänum Kok and all photos are from their website. If we just look at the cabinets and countertops, this could be any off white cabinet/black countertop kitchen in America - and yet it has such a Swedish feel. Let's look at how they achieved this.

First, notice classic candle chandelier with greenery and the light floors (for a great post on light floors click on Things That Inspire blog on the left) Also the checked fabric slipcovers on the slat back chairs strengthen the Swedish feel. I love the slipcover tie detailing.
Two lovely Ivy topiaries on the window sill. These are classically Swedish and you can pick them up at Target or Walmart and put them into an ironstone pot.

The sheer printed roller shade drape is beautiful. Add the ironstone, fresh flowers in a pitcher and viola - Swedish Kitchen!

The next kitchen has Cross detailing on the transom part of the cabinet. I love this design because it add a lightness to the space, but keeps all the mess still hidden with in the cabinet. Notice the more contemporary light fixture hanging over the island. It adds an interesting contrast to the rustic fireplace.

Here is the kitchen from a different angle. It shows a traditional banquette. Notice the natural linen cushions and slipcovers - also hanging candle chandelier, sconces, ironstone and bead board. The deer head is certainly a conversation piece, though I hope venison is not on the menu!

Here are the same upper cabinets again, but shown now in full glass panels. Backsplash is bead board and counters are marble. Glass panel cabinets or closed panel cabinets - soapstone or marble. Which do you like? I am understandably torn!

Kvänum Kok has a lovely color palette of green grays and off whites. They also have showrooms in Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco. How lucky for all of us! Check out their website here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Color Red!

The color red, famous on Swedish Country exteriors also shows up again and again in Swedish interiors. It offers a fresh look when paired with white and is also used in simple florals, checked, and striped fabrics. It adds the punch to rooms which by nature tend to be subdued. Light colored floors and walls really reflect the light and adding the contrast of red allows a vibrancy to a room. Here are some great examples of using red.

These rooms were all designed by Katrin Cargill, famous interior and product designer. Katrin has written several books on Swedish decor and decorating. Notice that the fabrics have a larger scale print on a white background. Also notice her use of red checked fabrics. Here is a lovely room from House Beautiful. Classic red checked fabric on the Swedish bench and notice the red cross stitching on the muslin curtains - great detailing!
Finally, a simple, but classic, ironstone pitcher filled with tulips! Just a few examples to give you ideas on ways to punch it up with Red!