In the last few days I have seen signs that Spring is on it’s way. The Crabapple Trees outside the wee-red TV house in the back yard have dropped their Winter berries and the Robin Red Breasts have arrived to gobble them up off the snow. Each morning I have been hearing little birds whistling out to find their mates. I have also heard reports that the Red Winged Blackbirds have arrived back in town too…The owl who says “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?” each Spring has returned to the back yard. While we await yet another snow storm, it’s clear these other indications from Mother Nature are a sure sign of warmer weather to come. It’s time to pack away all those pinecones I left scattered about in bowls a few months ago.You may be wondering: Where did ABCD go the last few weeks? Part of it is just me struggling through this incredibly long Winter, but a quick run down includes not only final decisions on cabinets and finishes for the #ABCDJewelBox, but also lots of i-dotting and T-crossing on the coop board apartment alteration application. I can’t wait to get this renovation going. Who knew it was going to take the remainder of Fall and all of Winter to put it into motion?We also enjoyed a beautiful 7th wedding anniversary trip to Blackberry Farm. I know, I know. Our frequent returns there are getting a little ridiculous! Last Spring I said “Why can’t every vacation be at Blackberry Farm?” and given our single-minded vacation planning over the last year, I must have really meant those words! We already have the Mister’s 40th birthday booked for October, so it looks like we’ve adopted the farm as our home away from home for the time being. One of the best aspects of the trip is that it is super easy to get to Tennessee from New York. The Knoxville airport is so quaint with it’s rocking chairs and limited number of gates. Not to mention they actually have nice TSA agents – I was like a deer in headlights when the security agent asked how I was and actually waited for my answer before she compared my ticket to my ID card. It’s a short sub-30 minute ride to and from the airport to the resort in Walland, TN. Easy breezy. Blackberry Farm has been voted “#1 hotel for food lovers in America.” They have been nominated (twice) and have won a James Beard award. The service is anticipatory of your needs and you get “as you wish” service when you make a request. Mix that in with the fact you can wear fitness gear to breakfast, hike for miles, and adventure or spa your way until the next meal - really, what could be better?I also had a few full days of holiday photo shoot prep here at The Country House. Shortly after the New England Home Magazine print article hit the news stands, Better Homes and Gardens expressed quite a bit of interest in our home. (A national publication with 37 million readers - how flattering/totally exciting/thrilling is that!?!) As it turns out, we’re doing not one, but two photo shoots with Better Homes and Gardens at The Country House over the next few months.We shot a Winter garden lighting and outdoor holiday spread at The Country House this past week. This one was a location photo shoot – meaning the story won’t say anything about ABCDdesign. I was however hired to assist in setting-up and styling the shoot, so I had a full week of amazing, but freezing cold, physically demanding work. (In six days of working outside on frozen snow, I only wiped out on the ice once. I consider that a win in my book, but I am currently nursing a stiff upper back as a result.)We were up before dawn to shoot the twinkling lights against the blue color snow as the sunrise crested the hill each morning. We made a fuss over the placement of the snow, tweaked the Christmas lights, and moved props from one place to the other until it was time to shoot again in the evening. There was even an entire day of video shot for the BHG iPad edition! It was completely incredible to meet and work with such a talented photographer (Matthew Benson from Stonegate Farm) and work again with the stylist (Karin Lidbeck Brent) while pretty making at the ABCD Homestead. Secretly I wish Matthew lived on-site and could help capture life’s beautiful moments that I snap for my blog. If anything, seeing his photographs made me realize that I should learn more about using my real camera properly. The photos from the shoot are dreamy. I can’t wait for you all to see them!The Winter location shoot will be out in time for the Holidays. The other spread will be an ABCD Interior Design feature that will be produced in May for the September issue. I’ll pass along more details about them as everything gets confirmed and goes to print. I am so thrilled that they liked our home well enough to include it in two issues!After our home’s debut in NE Home, I thought I’d do a series of posts that went further into The Country House interior design. (As a matter of fact I have a blog post started for just about every room!) Now that we have another interiors shoot coming, I am going to wait on that until after the BHG story runs in September. Not only will it be a different season, but after a year passing between shoots there are bound to be some changes that have happened at the house. I am sure I will style the flowers in a different way as well – it’ll be fun to see how it looks with a switch of accessories!In other news, change is afoot. Ever since we missed out on the barn to house renovation project, the Mr and I have been itching to do something different with ourselves. It feels like the week we made the offer on the barn house last Fall that we emotionally let go of ours. I am not exactly sure what we’ll do next, but I feel pretty strongly that “home” is not about the four walls that surround us. I know wherever we go that we will create a comfortable, inviting environment.I’ve said this all before, but at the end of the day I love the process of thinking about how to use our furnishings in a different space. There is such deep creativity that comes along with dreaming about how to display collections and furniture that I already own in a new and interesting way. I feed off of thinking about the relationships of pieces to one another and how they can clash or relate to one another in scale, texture, color or shape. It should go without saying that I love the act of making a new space my own. As a matter of fact, I already have certain furniture and art combinations percolating in my mind. In our next home I want to use the Irwin Feld Design black mohair vintage sofa (that we currently have in the library) next to the sleek modern black mirror sideboard (from the fireplace room) in a dark, handsome wood paneled and lacquered study. I want to take the tone-on-tone idea I have toyed with at The Country House one step further at least in a room or two.And in the new kitchen next to a cream color AGA cooker I want to hang the farm scene lithographs from the fireplace room. I’ll also take the custom vintage crewel fabric cushions from the same room and place them on the dining banquette in the kitchen. (I will get a dining banquette in our next home – I will insist upon it – ha!) I can see dropping orange as a neutral throughout the house – moving the blue and orange rug from the library area to a secondary bedroom – and see myself going more for that neutral white/latte/chocolate brown/grey/black color palette that I have always loved.I know that there is a lot more I could do with our current house. I never got around to wallpapering the laundry room/pantry area. I know it would be an incredible jewel box if I did. I have not switched out the drum pendants and sconces in the dining room yet. I am certain there is a far better choice out there. We didn’t build the master bedroom en-suite addition, a party barn, the bocce ball court or pool we were considering. These dreams for the property can be fulfilled by the next owner - if they so desire. I am totally good with that. I cant’s shake the feeling that my job here is done. It is time to move on before the black kitchen cabinets seem oh-so-2010. Images 6, 19, 20, 21 and 25 are Michael Partenio for the January February edition of New England Home Magazine, Connecticut, the cream color AGA cooker is here, and the rest are my own – either from my Panasonic Lumix or my iPhone.
Posted by Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo / Personal and Uncategorized