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Making a House a Home through Vintage Collections

Posted on March 17, 2014 by Rebecca | 0 comments

Many people ask me how to achieve a magazine look on a realistic budget in their homes. My answer is always the same: buy vintage and moderate antiques, and break all of the decorating rules you know!!  I am a firm believer that your home should be a reflection of who you and your family are and share what is important to you.  In our home, I tend to collect animal and sporting art.  I also cherish things that have been handed down from our families.  I know it isn't fun to polish silver and it takes an extra effort to set a table, but I think of that activity as an artistic endeavor that is an expression of whatever I'm feeling that day. Everything that you see in the picture of our dining room above is vintage, antique, hand-me-down or handmade.  The only thing I didn't make are these particular holiday crackers - although my daughter Lizzie and I have been known to make those as well!!  A home evolves as a collection evolves, one piece at a time.  As tempting as it is to buy everything at once from one catalog, that will not be a reflection of you and your family over time. The hunt is half the fun and provides you with the special memories when you look at your collections. Here are the rules I love to break when setting a table:

1. When you set a table - nothing has to match.  You may use different crystal, plates, flatware, candlesticks. I typically use 4-5 sets of things when I set a table and I never do it twice the same way. Pull out your grandmother's dishes; they are your heritage- just think of the stories they could tell!!

2. Flowers need not be elaborate.  In this tablescape, I picked fresh greens and added a small package of Trader Joe's roses. Use holiday picks or sparkles amongst your greens. For Easter, pick interesting branches from your yard, spray paint, and hang wonderful trinkets or eggs on them. You can use some floral oasis and put them in a wonderfully colored Easter basket.   

3. Use non-traditional items on your table.  Do you have a bunny collection somewhere? Tie bows around their necks and center them on your table amongst Easter grass and foil wrapped chocolate eggs. You could also put these trinkets in a small coffee cup for a little arrangement on the center of each person's plate.

4. Break the table linen tradition. I adore all of my vintage linens, yet I find that a burlap table runner or paper placemats makes things more casual when you're using Grandma's china. Wrap up napkins with twine and a piece of budding Forsythia. Add some kraft paper with an initial of the seat recipient on it. Or use vintage quilts on a table for Spring and Summer colors.


What are some of your favorite, no fail decorating tips that are outside the box? Be sure to visit our new Curated Vintage Finds Collection at RebeccaRayDesign.com/collections/curated.  I've been collecting one of a kind antiques for  the last few months so that you can get started on your on own collection and create special memories every time you walk through your home!!





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Gratitude Changes Everything

Posted on November 27, 2013 by Rebecca | 1 comment

This is a photo of our daughter Lizzie the moment after she and her pony Peppermint finished a perfect round. Her hug says it all, without words. During the Thanksgiving Holiday season, we are especially grateful for the bond that we share with all of our four-footed friends at Hemlock Lane Farm and the unparalleled joy and love they share with us. Animals are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.

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Thankful for Pilgrims and Pioneers

Posted on November 20, 2013 by Rebecca | 0 comments

Recently, with the storms roaring across the Midwest and North Coast, we suffered a two day power outage. Nothing compared to those who had total devastation from tornadoes, but enough to make me reflective of the tremendous fortitude of the forefathers and homesteaders of this country.  Now that we are on our farm, power outage has a whole new meaning - no well, no water, no flushing…you get the idea.  And, I might add, that when bad weather comes a' calling, there is an innate, sixth sense that all husbands possess, because, inevitably, they are on the way out of Dodge as these storms roll in. But, I digress.

When Lizzie was an infant, her pediatrician wisely advised us to read to her every night, even before she could comprehend the words. So to keep myself from going crazy on story books, I started reading her Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Over the last 10 years, Lizzie and I have spent many night sharing in the adventures, marvelous simplicity and joy of their journey across America.  I think it might have been the impetus to our recent mid-life purchase of our farm, Hemlock Lane at Valley High.  Lizzie is a confirmed prairie girl (as long as she can wear her Northface jacket and Uggs). Derek and I take great joy in having all of our animals on the property, under our watch. We love hitching those marvelous Percherons and imagining what it must have been like traveling across the United States in a covered wagon.

 However, when faced with challenges to maintain our home, property and animals this week, with no water and little daylight after work, I really reflected on how grueling an effort the Pilgrim's and Pioneer's efforts were. They simply wanted to live freely without persecution and own and farm their own land to make a better life for the next generation, but it wasn't easy.  When we recently took Lizzie to Jamestown, Virginia to see the first colony, we spent time on the boats that brought those first adventurers over to the States.

Personally, I only have a small near trans-Pacific crossing to relate to: Green with sea sickness, I nearly cast myself off a whale watching boat in San Francisco, 40 miles out in the middle of the Pacific (I'll save that story for another blog) but once I heard of the food chain in the water under us, I thought better of it.   You know - Great White Sharks, Killer Whales, etc… But can you imagine being stuffed on a wooden boat with no amenities, no fresh food and no idea how long you would have to endure the elements.  And, no, there certainly was no Coast Guard coming to rescue them when the going got tough. It wasn't much better when they arrived as they faced a long, cold winter, no ready shelter and then contracted illnesses in a weakened condition.

There hadn't been that much progress by the time Laura Ingalls Wilder's family set off from Wisconsin in search of farming country. No GPS to send those wagon trains over the mountain ranges.  No antibiotics when cholera and scarlet fever came knocking.  No way to take the chill off after battling a blizzard all day while trying to keep the farm animals safe or walk to school.  And no defense of the storms and plaques that wiped out more than one crop throughout the years.  Yet, they all persisted, with much joy and little complaints through the years as they paved the way for our modern America as we now know it. 

So, I know I grumbled as I was hauling gallon jugs out to all of the animals to keep them hydrated and I was cleaning stalls in the dark. Thankfully, Lizzie and I could take refuge with someone who did have power and we slept warmly, safe and sound.

As we rush through the hustle and bustle of the start of a new holiday season full of promise, magic and wonder - let's take a moment to remember those Pilgrims and Pioneers who had the courage, endurance and resilience to help carve out a democracy and modern world that we now enjoy.


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One Year Later at the Farm: Sneak Peeks of the Renovation!

Posted on July 02, 2013 by Rebecca | 0 comments

It's been almost a year since Derek, Lizzie and I uprooted ourselves to take an adventure buying a historical farm in the Chagrin Valley. We clearly have an unusual way to experience a midlife crisis, but at least we both had the same relative idea about what we were in search of!  As in any renovation, projects progress much slower than you anticipate and the time flies by, but despite blood, sweat and tears (many, many tears on my part!!) we wouldn't change a thing about our move. Even Lizzie is finally forgiving us for leaving our other home that we had already lovingly restored.  If you didn't see my blog about the move, here's a recap - it was one of our most popular entries (besides Tinsel, the Percheron)….

Rebecca Ray Design's Family is on an Extended Adventure Renovating a 1920s Ohio Farm!

Well - its is official! Derek and I now officially own a 35 acre farm in Chagrin Falls, Ohio!  We left our very beloved last home that we had poured our heart and soul into (see blog dated....) and we are starting over.  Lizzie, our daughter, did inform us early in the process that we had "ruined her life" by moving, but she might be have to admit that she is completely eating those words now that we have been in it for about 5 weeks. We have a historically significant home that was built by the architect who built the Cleveland Museum of Art and the very famous Westside Market. He Built it as his own home and then sold it in 1949 to the family that we bought it from. We feel truly privileged to be entrusted as the stewards of such a special place.  


So everyone keeps asking, what does it look like and what have you done?  Well - we have finally received approval for our barn to be built for our Percheron girls who are hitting their heads on the lightbulbs of the old barn.  We hope to break ground within the next few weeks. We've also come up with the most gorgeous preliminary house plans for a modest renovation that we will take place in the next few years. The addition will maintain the integrity of the historical house, just make it a little better for a modern family (air conditioning would be key here!). We are finding things on the property every day, and every season change is like getting a present from nature.  So without further adieu, here is a photo tour of one year's worth the work…

My trusty dogs welcome everyone at the end of the drive, where we have a pond and pretty bridge to drive over.


The view from the high point in the front pasture looking towards the front of the house…the yard is slowly taking shape and the grass that we are mowing is finally coming back...


The grapes had their spring pruning and are now loaded with fruit. I hope that this field will eventually become a hunt field for riding. And finally we unearthed the old orchard. We have peaches, pears and apples this year. The trees are loaded up!  Who is coming to help with canning week!?


The hedges are getting haircuts - we took about two feet off the tops. The Percheron girls (and Licorice) have all happily settled into their new pastures. We can see them grazing from the house. Also, we are putting in fences and more fences.  Every time we have a little extra in the budget (which is almost never by now!) up goes more fence. From the woods, you can see the dogs are out in their temporary paddock.


Kitchen renovation on a dime! Knowing that we have a major addition as soon as we save our pennies, we did a minor "refurbish on the kitchen". We added a new stone floor, painted the cabinets, put new hardware on them, and installed new appliances. After throwing in some can lighting, and new paint colors on the walls, our old farmhouse kitchen has a new life. Believe it or not, the stainless counters were there.  And we kept the great farm sink and faucet!



The powder room - how about that mini sink?!


Look how great the floors look - we haven't touched them yet - except for pulling up thousands of nails!!


We made a make-shift family room out of the old dining room, so that we had a sitting area just off the kitchen.


I'm beginning to find homes for all of my collections…I've actually found more storage space in the house than I thought that I would. New homes for all of my collections...kind of fun to create new vignettes. It's like a working studio !


In the living room, the fireplace tiles appear to be Rookwood Pottery.


I put old cabinets to new display use... This is in the corner of the dining room.


We been unburying and creating gardens for lots if flowers.  The original architect and owner of the house was a master gardener, so there are amazing plantings and trees that just need some attention... 


Along the path to some of the outbuildings, we've rebuilt the trellis and redone the plantings. Here is the climbing rose that we think is as old as the house, from 1924. We found this birdbath buried in the woods and resurrected it. The birds are quite happy.

We have a big painting job ahead of us!  But at least the buildings are all cleaned out and organized!

I will keep you updated on our progress so stayed tuned!

Best, Rebecca

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