What’s in the Downton attic?

I don’t watch a lot of television, but one of my favorite programs is Downton Abbey. I seriously cannot get enough of it, and have watched the entire six-season run in its entirety from start to finish, several times over.  (I’m SO excited for the film to be released in September – the King and Queen are coming for a visit!)

Highclere Castle Downton Abbey | Vintage Floral Cottage

Of course most of the homes in the series are far too grand to be mimicked in my little vintage floral cottage, but there was a line in one episode that caught my attention regarding the furnishing of houses: the newly-widowed chauffer Tom Branson decides to remain at Downton while his daughter is young. He’s talking with the family about living in one of the cottages on the estate, and someone mentions that it will have no furniture once the current tenant leaves. Tom’s sister-in-law, the very grand and wealthy Lady Mary, says to him, “I’m sure we’ve got lots of things in the attics here.”

Tom and Sybbie, Downton Abbey | Vintage Floral Cottage

Well this remark got me wondering about just what “things” might be in the Downton attics: ornately carved furniture, large paintings of past Earls and their family members, giant tapestries, statuary, ancient Chinese vases and the like…? Apart from the fact that these would absolutely NOT be the furnishings that the Irish Socialist chauffer would choose for himself, the remark does give a clue about how a small cottage could realistically come to have some very grand furnishings: they could be hand-me-downs from the main house!

Now I’m not really one for ancient Chinese vases or (ug) giant tapestries. But I did think that perhaps statuary could be an element I might bring in to my little cottage. This piece from Downton, for example, appears in almost every episode because of its prime location on the grand staircase:

Downton staircase statue | Vintage Floral Cottage

Here’s a peek at my own statuesque acquisitions! This auction purchase featured in a recent blog post…

Auction statue | Vintage Floral Cottage

Then this smaller piece acquired at a thrift store:

Flower girl statue | Vintage Floral Cottage

Another auction score, this bust of someone I originally called Martha but am now calling Emma…

Emma bust | Vintage Floral Cottage

And finally, this heavy resin garden statue (about 18 inches tall) that I spray-painted shiny metallic gold before bringing it in to sit atop the barrister bookcase along with some English-themed memorabilia:

Gold statue | Vintage Floral Cottage

I also have a small room in my new home that might appear to be somewhat Downton-inspired, but in reality it’s a direction I was gravitating before I became so enthralled with aristocratic English interiors so I’m not quite inclined to give them all the credit. Now if I could just get the Queen to pay me a visit – oh the lovely chat we would have!

 

 

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Five things I always buy from a thrift store

I always buy these from a thrift store | Vintage Floral Cottage

Over my years of thrift and secondhand shopping, I’ve come to seek out certain things that I always look for and will almost always buy to enhance the cottage style I love to create! It might surprise you to know that clothing isn’t one of them… I do normally make a quick pass through the plus-size tops and pants, but since those items seem to be either in short supply or poor repair at the shops I visit, I hardly ever buy anything in that department.

My go-to categories revolve primarily around my home rather than myself. Here are the things I’ll almost certainly buy to achieve my “vintage floral cottage” style, if they are in good condition and the price is right:

Vintage china, especially Limoges and English transferware. This is my favorite category. I’ve found complete sets as well as stray pieces of some very beautiful vintage and antique patterns. Since very few people collect dinnerware that you can’t put into a microwave oven, it’s almost always really cheap.

Silk florals. I use a lot of silk flowers in my decorating, and I have found many, many wreaths, swags, and “stems” in beautiful condition that fit my style for very little money.

Silk flowers | Vintage Floral Cottage

Flat sheets and draperies. I often find stray flat sheets in very pretty floral patterns. I don’t worry about what size bed or window they’ll fit – they are a great way to get a large chunk of pretty fabric that can easily be repurposed.

Flat sheets | Vintage Floral Cottage

Folk art. Amateur paintings, pottery, needle work, and even hand-made wood items carry with them a story about a person trying to exhibit their creativity. I love furnishing my home with “other people’s art” (OPA).

Other People's Art (OPA) | Vintage Floral Cottage

A great bargain on something vintage, antique, or collectible. Having been in the antiques and collectibles trade for some time, I’ve developed a pretty good eye for items that I can potentially re-sell and how much I can likely get for them. If I see something that I think is an amazing bargain and I’m confident I can re-sell, I’ll buy it.

Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite things to look for when secondhand shopping?

 

 

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Springtime vignette with an English cottage garden feel

Well it seems that Spring has finally arrived, after a seemingly endless bitter cold spell from late January through the first of March. But now we are predicted to be in the 50’s and 60’s every day through the end of the month, so I don’t see much chance of Winter returning until much later this year.

I’ve been working on new vignettes around the house, including my Irish-themed tea table that I shared a few days ago, and this one on top of one of my china cabinets:

English garden vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

I love this arrangement because it has sort of an “English cottage garden” vibe to it with the statuary, rambling flowers, and small still-life paintings. It makes me think of the book Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – set during a time when noble-born English girls were taught to sketch and paint, and to speak French, and to flirt just enough to catch a noble husband.

I have several old chippy windows used as decor around the house; this one was a bargain for $2.50 at an area barn sale. The pip-berry wreath was a thrift store find.

English garden vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

The little paintings were a recent auction win. They are by a local artist named Nancy Semcoe Link, and I acquired about five of her pictures in the same lot. These two were both painted on the same canvas, and I separated them to give them the appearance of having been torn from a sketchbook.

English garden vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

The statue also came from that same auction. If you attend many auctions you know what “choice” means: you bid for the chance to select one item from a table at the winning bid price. I snatched up this sweet girl for a mere $3 – she’s anonymously recorded on my receipt as “Choice on table.”

English garden vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

The small photo is of my daughter, tucked into a resin frame of soft pink roses.

English garden vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

The silk flowers, purple charger, and Dresden dinner plate are thrift store and Ebay finds, featured in a recent Springtime tablescape.

English garden vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

The little clay bird figure came in a box lot at the afore-mentioned auction – I can’t believe he didn’t get broken.

English garden vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

Here’s a picture showing how this cabinet is situated in the room, set along the wall between a bedroom and bathroom.

English garden vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

I’m thinking about painting this cabinet a very light aqua. It is solid oak, but I don’t think it’s terribly old. The glass is curved but not wavy like very old glass. My friend Traci (who does beautiful painted furniture pieces) has painted a similar cabinet white, and there’s one painted white at the antique shop where I work that is used as a display piece – I think they both look wonderfully “shabby chic,” but Greg worries that it’s an antique and shouldn’t be painted. I just am not sure about its age. What do you think – to paint or not to paint?

English garden vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

English Cottage Garden Vignette | Vintage Floral Cottage

 

 

 

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Pot of Gold St. Patrick’s Day Tablescape

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? I have to admit that I usually don’t, even though I do have a partially Irish heritage. Still, it’s hard to resist a perfectly good tablescape theme. A friend who is a member of my Facebook group, Thrifty Tablescapers, shared her St. Pat’s table and she had used some of those plastic gold coins they sell at Dollar Tree – I thought they were cute and kind of fun, so I decided that I would try to set a somewhat elegant table using the theme, “Pot of Gold.”

Pot of Gold St. Patrick's Table 2019| Vintage Floral Cottage

My color scheme was green, gold, and ivory, and I knew I wanted to incorporate those coins. I decided that the “pot of gold” would be part of the centerpiece, and I used a gold-embellished crystal compote in an Early American Pattern Glass (EAPG) pattern called  King’s Crown Coin Dot. I used a small silk floral-and-pip-berry wreath to surround the compote, with a few additional silk blooms poked in and around.

Pot of Gold St. Patrick's Table 2019| Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patrick's Table 2019| Vintage Floral Cottage

I also had these really interesting metal bits (embellishments off a piece of furniture I think) that I felt had almost a Celtic vibe to them, so I included those as part of the centerpiece too.

Pot of Gold St. Patrick's Table 2019| Vintage Floral Cottage

I added a few other elements to extend the centerpiece out to the left and right: a pair of boy and girl busts sitting on top of Irish-themed stone coasters, gold candlesticks, and a pair of votives in matching crystal-and-gold EAPG toothpick holders. The gold shamrock paperweight adds some sparkle as well.

Pot of Gold St. Patrick's Table 2019| Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patrick's Table 2019| Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patrick's Table 2019| Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

The tablecloth is a drapery panel in a lovely champagne color. It adds a great deal of texture, too.

Pot of Gold St. Patrick's Table 2019| Vintage Floral Cottage

My plate stack includes three pieces: the top plate is green and gold transferware by Alfred Meakin of England called Roxbury and was also used in my red and green Christmas luncheon table last year. The center plate is marked Crown Potteries USA and has a pretty floral spray in the center as well as gold embellishments around the shoulder. The bottom plate has a beautiful wide gold shoulder and was used in a Christmas tablescape in 2017. It isn’t marked but the center floral design is identical to the one in the other plate so I’m surmising these are also by Crown.

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Hem-stitched napkins are by Pier 1. The green hue is very similar to that of the wreath used in the centerpiece. The thin gold band napkin rings remind me of wedding rings.

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Glassware is Cristal D’Arques “Longchamps” on the left, and EAPG King’s Crown Coin Dot on the right.

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Flatware is mismatched silver purchased at an antique fair last summer. I realized when photographing this table that the forks have a tiny letter “P” on the handles – I never noticed that they were monogrammed until now!

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Here are a few more views around the table –

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Here’s the put-away shot, with everything gathered up and ready to go back into the cupboards.

Pot of Gold St. Patricks Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

And here is an image suitable for Pinterest if you would like to pin this table for future ideas!

St Patrick's Table Pinterest Image | Vintage Floral Cottage

I’ll be sharing my “Pot of Gold” St. Patrick’s Day table over at Susan’s lovely blog, Between Naps on the Porch, for Tablescape Thursday! Hope you will click through for lots more inspiration!

 

 

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Springtime Irish tea table

I enjoy changing up the vignette on this table in my living room frequently. I used it just recently for a tablescape for two, but the fact is it’s not a very good table for eating because you can’t scoot the chairs up to it since the base prevents you from getting your knees and feet tucked in underneath.

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Still, it is a favorite piece – my grandparents restored it decades ago and it remained in their home throughout my childhood. I don’t know its true age but I have known it for my entire life as “Grandma’s table.” Here’s a photo of it I have shared before from my previous home, which shows its pretty details.

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

I decided to set out the few pieces of Irish-themed decor that I own… it’s not a big holiday for me but I do have a bit of Irish blood (actually Scots-Irish, according to my mother). I also confess I have been binge-watching Downton Abbey again and paying a bit more attention to the world history that gets shared in this program through the dialog and storylines. There are many layers to this show, and how actual historical events impact and motivate the characters – including Irish Socialist Tom Branson and his beloved Lady Sybil Crawley – is one of the reasons I find it so re-watchable.

But – surprise! – I digress.

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

My pretty “Grandma’s table” is still wearing its winter white tablecloth with the ball fringe, but that will be coming off soon in time for the arrival of Spring. I have set out a few lovely Irish-themed bone china pieces, including my Lefton creamer & sugar bowl and a pretty cup and saucer by the Irish pottery Arklow, all adorned with emerald green shamrocks.

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Another traditionally Irish motif is the lyre, and the cake stand which holds the sugar & creamer features this pretty raised pattern.

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

The cup and saucer are perched on a handmade wooden shamrock trivet. This piece was made by a young man who has a booth in the antique mall where I work (and also have a booth). I love the various distressed paint colors including the shimmery gold.

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

I popped a few fanciful Dollar Tree silk carnations into a deep green ruffled vase, displayed here with photos of my own sweet lass.

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

I’ve also set out my book of British and Irish castles. This book is absolutely gorgeous to browse through, and features stunning landscape photography from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Irish Tea Table | Vintage Floral Cottage

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Enjoy corned beef and cabbage? Have Irish heritage or perhaps a revolutionary chauffer in your family tree like the handsome Branson? Do tell!

 

 

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Posted in Adding Cottage Charm, Decorating | 2 Comments