Rural Livin'

simple is good.

I came across this great before/after that I found to be inspiring. Architectural designer Nancy Fishelson reinvents a 1795 Connecticut house....





Soapstone-Mudroom-Sink-HTOURS0207-de Laundry-Blackboard-HTOURS0207-de 

  So many times I look through magazines and am mesmerized by the glamourous homes that are filled with fine fabrics and exquisite furnishings. Every square inch is decorated to the nines. I close the magazine and immediately start thinking of all the little things I'm missing in my home or my clients' homes.  I even go to the extent of making a list...

 Then I see an article like this and I'm reminded that the simple homes are very often the most beautiful. And the glam homes are probably over decorated. Then I immediately start thinking of all the things I need to get rid of... or give away.

Please excuse me while I go make a list...


If you feel inspired, comment below with 2 things you will get rid of and take to Good Will this weekend (or next). Purging!! That way you'll be committed to it if it's in writing. And if I ever walk in your house and see that clunky TV you promised to give away... well, I'll just have to rat you out on the blog. :)

 all images via country living


Tree Hugging Home

Recently I got an email from a good friend about a very interesting home featured in The New York Times this past week. Have you seen it?


Architect Roald Gunderson and his family (below)


Is it just me or does he look exactly like Liam Neeson

Anyway, this talented man has made a career out of working with trees.


He built his home and greenhouse using WHOLE trees for structure after many years of bending and pruning them...

“Curves are stronger than straight lines,” he explained. “A single arch supporting a roof can laterally brace the building in all directions.”

According to research by the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, run by the USDA, a whole, unmilled tree can support 50 percent more weight than the largest piece of lumber milled from the same tree....(What!?? Crazy.) So Mr. Gundersen uses small-diameter trees as rafters and framing in his airy structures, and big trees felled by wind, disease or insects as powerful columns and curving beams.


Love this room! And love this fact:

“For every ton of wood, a ton and a half of carbon dioxide is locked up,” he said, whereas producing a ton of steel releases two to five tons of carbon. So the more whole wood is used in place of steel, the less carbon is pumped into the air."


<Talk about a railing design>

“I’ve taken 20 trees per year off one acre, for 12 buildings,” Mr. Gundersen said. “You can never tell that we’ve taken out that much wood.”

After he built the house for his family he built this solar greenhouse for his wife with thick straw bale walls...

and to top THAT off: Ms. Baxter manages a community forest project modeled after a community-supported agriculture project, in which paying members harvest sustainable riches like mushrooms, firewood and watercress from these woods.

I wish I had time to manage a project that cool. 

And I wish I had a greenhouse like the one above to nurture a garden. But as I look at my DEAD herbs I think I should wait on that...

Garden rip

via wide open spaces

Back to the amazing tree house...


"In architecture, how materials come together and how they are connected is really the god in the details," Gundersen said. "The connection is where things will fall apart," he said, adding that the crook of a tree "has been time-tested by environmental conditions for 200 million years."


Driftless Farm Bookend Branching Columns_small_crop_001

If anything makes me want to GO GREENthis article does. I have a heart for trees and it has always made me sad when I see one go. :(

 Powerlines, shmowerlines.

 Instead of knocking down trees why not build a house with them or around them?


For the Whole Trees Architecture website click here.

Click here to read the full article by Anne Raver

Photos by Paul Kelley for The New York Times

rustic, elegant barstools

I love these barstools-

Barstools 2

Ahg barstools

What a great way to add elegance to a rustic setting. 

Speaking of rustic elegance... Neillie, a very talented event planner in Birmingham (with a wonderful blog- To the Gathering) did a special post about rustic, elegant weddings. She asked if she could use my wedding video in her post and ofcourse I was honored!! I also sent her a few more pictures from our wedding weekend. If you're planning a wedding or just like the term 'rustic elegance' check it out by clicking HERE

Barstool images from Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles

Industrial meets Old World meets...


I have a client that built a barn. 

The setting, structure and environment are perfect- but the inside is bare.. and needs some direction.

We're piecing it together with a few things in mind:

He wants it rustic but also a bit whimsical (so his wife and kids will actually come out there)-

Along the lines of industrial with a trace of old-world and, well... barn.

I've been looking at these pictures a lot for inspiration and thought I'd share:
The lines of that slipcovered side chair....***

***sidenote***You know when you're really hungry and you look through a cookbook-- and every single image jumps out at you like it's the first and last meal of your life--- Your mouth waters just by looking at it.? Well I experience the same type thing when looking through these pictures. It's hard to explain but in a weird way this chair makes my mouth water. 
<Don't judge me.>


One of my ALL TIME FAVORITE dining rooms.

<Kay Douglass- via House Beautiful>


<Designer Ginger Barber, via House Beautiful>

Coat rack
<Myra Hoefer, via House Beautiful>


<above 5- Bobby Mcalpine via his website>


<Ina's farmhouse- via House Beautiful>
<Thom Filicia, via Domino>
Steven gambrel
<Hattie Wolfe, House Beautiful>
Elle decor 1
<Elle Decor, Sept 2009>
Porch swing
<Bobby Mcalpine, House Beautiful>>

All of my projects are a creative outlet for me but this one in particular has my imagination on overdrive. (In a great way...)
I think it's because I love this mix of old world, industrial, rustic, whimsical-- it's soothing while at the same time   mysterious

And yes, I find it mouth-watering.

Rustic Elegance

One of my favorite things to do in life is 

fine dining with people that I love.


There's nothing better. In fact, I think heaven might be a lot like that. Where the dining table goes on and on and on and on...

When we were in North Carolina this past weekend my sweet Dad treated us to dinner at Artisanal- an absolute gem in the middle of Banner Elk, NC.

 where is that? Here.

 Bill Greene, owner and chef, started off at a very young age working at a country club in NC. He then went on to cook at some of the best restaurants in the country- including becoming the sous-chef for one of their 4 star restaurants, Le Cirque,in New York. But apparently the fast pace life didn't work for him because he soon returned to his hometown in Banner Elk- and now graces this tiny town with his amazing culinary skills. 
His precious wife, Anita, runs the show.

<flatware wallpaper by anthropologie>

(+1= reasons to visit Artisanal)

Picture 9

“This place is amazing”. There is no other word to describe the beauty of the setting and the barn like building, but inside is warmth and elegance. We call it Rustic Elegance”. -Anita Greene

I was going to say that I cannot even begin to describe what is was like pulling up to the restaurant but Anita just said it for me... Trust us- it's perfect. The exterior is dramatic with its dark stain and rustic roof yet it gracefully blends into the setting.  +1

Picture 3

And the interior... +1

Where SCALE is everything.

Picture 11

the wine cellar below- amazing. +1

Picture 2

<all images above from artisinal website>

I pulled my camera out to take a few pics of my own but immediately felt like the paparazzi. That combined with my mouth hanging open for 4 hours straight are reasons for dismissal in my opinion. But they let me stay+1... and devour my food. +1


 OTTN: the driftwood horse sculpture... absolutely stunning. +1 Their 'horse theme' is repeated throughout but not overdone in the slightest bit.

***I'd like to state here that the food here is out of this world+1.... the calamari is the best I've ever had. It's not fried but yet it's not raw either-- again, unexplainable. +1


The outdoor dining porch sits beside a quiet stream.+1 We sat at the far table in the back- and let me tell you: a peaceful stream + self-induced food comatose = Night night Rachel.

One reason I loved it is because of the fabulous, carefully selected decor+1 <I can't find the name of the designer for Artisanal but as soon as I find out I will let you know. Whoever you are- I'm very impressed.>

Some items I spotted (or "look alikes"):

Picture 12Hickorychair


Solaria chandelier Picture 14

(1) Lee barstools sat at the bar.

(2) Hickory Chair Gunnison leather chair

(4) My dad, Hoyt and a great looking sofa from I-don't-know-where

(3) Solaria rope chandelier

(4) Lee Grand Lounger chair

I told Anita as I left- "Even your toilet paper holders are impeccable." +1

< they are old horseshoes nailed flat against the wall and carefully bent to hold TP- nothing else to it >

If you'd like to take your spouse or significant other on a romantic getaway for a weekend I highly recommend staying at:

Eseeola Lodge in Linville, NC


and treating yourself to Artisanal for a little taste of heaven.

Picture 6

I just gave you 10+ reasons!!! That's why.


p.s. If anyone in my family is reading this I promise I'll stop talking raving about Artisanal. I admit- I've gone a little overboard and probably embarrassed you in front of the staff. It's only because I think it's amazing... best restaurant I've ever been to... aaaaaand I'm doing it again. 

Used to be a Barn...

I love barns. 
I realize this is a broad statement but I do- I. love. barns. 

The classic shape, the roughness of the outside and the mystery of the inside...There is something about a barn that just gets to me.
So you can imagine how I feel about barns that double as homes. 

This is one of my all time favorites- A Dungan Nequette masterpiece right outside of B'ham...
such a great railing design- and it wouldn't look half as cool without that photograph there...
the softness of those drapes against the rustic walls... (sigh)
The swing just makes this house. (Not to mention those cute girls)

Has a Swiss Family Robinson feel to it...



Some other homes barns I like:




images via desire to inspire

Blackburn architects

Blackburn 67_BankBarn-large6

Blackburn Architects



images via Martha Stewart Living

I'm leaving again this weekend- (I know, I can't sit still.) Our annual end-of-the-summer vacation... making our way up the blue ridge mountains to our family house in Linville, North Carolina. As we get closer to Linville we always take the back, scenic way- winding through the curvy mountain roads. And every year I pass this barn with a big sign attached to it:

Yes lord

It makes me happy

And it also makes me laugh because I imagine a big, southern woman shakin her head-- "mmmm... Yes Lawd... Yes!!" 

Can't you hear her?

I have always been guilty of leaving doors open with my mom calling after me: "Were you raised in a barn??!"

Hmmmm...I'd like to think I was raised in this one.