The Country Mouse

Nothing says springtime like floral fabrics that cover sofas, chairs and windows. Chintz is a popular glazed floral fabric that has spanned centuries of use and popularity. The last time people rushed to fill their homes with it was in the 1980s. Laura Ashley and her husband Bernard were instrumental in bringing chintz to a world-wide audience through their stores. And let’s not forget the acclaimed decorator Mario Buatta who became the ‘Prince of Chintz’. Recently an uptick in interest for chintz and other flower-strewn fabrics showed up during the pandemic as people were locked in places filled with dismal gray and other neutral color schemes. So, this spring purchase a yard or two of chintz for pillows or redecorate the entire guest room in a bower of flower prints.

Where to look- Check eBay and 1st Dibs for vintage floral patterns. Companies like Lee Jofa, Brunschwig, Colefaz & Fowler, Scalamandre and Schumacher have wonderful classic prints available.

(Photo- Louis XV sofa c. 1770 from 1st Dibs)

The Country Mouse

In an effort to bring order out of chaos we added a mudrooom to our 1840s farmhouse. We provided space for coats and boots, but I also wanted to carve out a special spot for flower arranging and watering houseplants. So my husband built cabinet drawers to hold all my small garden supplies. Then we installed a zinc countertop that aged with use. I sewed a sink skirt out of two Crate & Barrel kitchen towels. An accessible basket underneath the sink held my collection of straw hats.

Comparable finds-

1. Fixture from Lighting New York. 2. Three antique dough boards from eBay are supported by narrow shelves. 3. Vintage birdcage from Cherish. 4. Mug tree from QVC. 5. Striped towels from Williams Sonoma. 6. & 7. Straw hat with ribbon, topiary and clay pot from Terrain.

Another view of the workspace for flowers and plants.

8. Classic broom from Amazon. 9. Antique blue stoneware bowl from eBay. 10. Pine knobs from Home Depot. 11. Paint on walls, cabinet and knobs is ‘Harwood Putty’ by Benjamin Moore.

(Interior photos- Martha Browne)

The Country Mouse

I’m always looking for fun, unusual containers in which to display my flowers. Consignment and antique shops have proven to be such great resources. I snatched this black hat off the shelf for $5. Later I set a bowl with water inside and arranged Chamomile willy-nilly.

Other containers I found- an antique wooden bowl with lavender (top left), an artist’s model clings to a single stem of hydrangea (top right), a tiny hand-painted cup with just enough room for a garden rose (bottom left) and a vintage Pyrex carafe to hold peonies.

(Photos- Martha Browne)

The Country Mouse

Go into the most scruffy, unkempt, impoverished manor house in any part of England, and you will find an abundance of cut flowers in almost every room. While mice eat the books and mushrooms grow out of the paintings, flowers- on the piano, in the window, on the sideboard- hold up their heads in defiance of fate.” – ‘ English Country’ by Caroline Seebohm & Christopher Simon Sykes, 1987.

This quote captures the enthusiastic embrace of flowers which comes with the warm weather. I don’t know about you but this spring couldn’t come fast enough. I’m planning to fill my clay pots with all kinds of herbs and bring in garden flowers to arrange around our new home. I hope you’ll find some spring inspiration in the pages of my latest issue of ‘The Country Mouse.’

(Photo- Martha Browne)

New Fashioned

On the surface a floral sofa and velvet ottoman can sound old fashioned but that can change by showcasing them against crisp white walls and an eye-popping green painted floor. It’s what I like to call new fashioned.

(Photo- William Abranowicz for AD Magazine)

Bedroom Library

It’s always fun to find new ways of storing books. As I was wandering around a friend’s place I couldn’t help but smile when I came across this display of books above the modern canopy bed.

(Photo- Martha Browne)

On My Re-Reading List

#37- Interior Design- ‘Upstate’ by Lisa Przystup, 2020.

“My husband and I spent eight years happily orbiting the universe of our Greenpoint railroad apartment, but then a strange (yet wholly expected) thing started to happen. With each clamorous trash pickup outside our window and every pointless 311 call I made to complain about the same minivan playing music at 3 a.m., the walls of our apartment began closing in and, like many before us, we looked to upstate New York…”

(Photo- Sarah Elliott)

Antiques- Make Do & Mend

Centuries ago mending old pottery was often a necessity. You just didn’t throw away something that could still be used. So the bowl or plate would be taken to a skilled person who would use metal staples to make the repairs.These imperfect pieces are now becoming very popular among collectors…myself included.

Note– Photo shows the front and back of repaired antique plate.

Related Nibs posts-

IDEA- Wall Of Plates

Fine Art Plates

Plate Collage

Place Setting #7

Saying Goodbye To Our Farmhouse

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan. Seven years ago I would never have imagined we’d sell our 19th century farmhouse and move away. But due to unforeseen circumstances my husband and I are leaving the southeast. What’s that old adage…when one door closes another one opens? So, we’re taking a deep breath and crossing the threshold of a new door.

(Instagram photos of our farmhouse- Martha Browne)