Friday, April 30, 2010

Irishopian Love

Photos:  Irishopian

I wasn't sure if my blog was the right place for this post, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought, hey this blog is about beautiful homes, beautiful places, so why not about beautiful people too?  Not runway model beautiful, but beauty that runs far deeper.  A beauty that is lasting, and one which leaves an indelible mark on this world.  And that is a beauty we can all appreciate!

I love the picture above, it's of a friend of mine and her adopted daughter Marin.  I met my friend Kristin a few years ago when I did a story about her beautiful home.  The moment I drove up the driveway to her house I knew the home would be beautiful and that I would enjoy seeing every square inch of it.  I hope to show you her home in an upcoming blog post...hint hint Kristin! ;-)

What I didn't know was that the occupants of that house would be far more beautiful than any of its contents.  When I did the interview, Kristin and her husband were the proud parents of 5 gorgeous children.  The love they had for their kids was evident in the way they lived, the home they had built, and how they spoke about each of their children.  

Kristin and I had an instant connection and we spent almost as much time discussing family and life as we did about her wonderful home!  She also excitedly told me about how they were hoping to adopt a sixth child, and that she was anxiously awaiting news about the the adoption.  

After I left her home I wondered to myself, "would I adopt a child in need if I were already the parent to 5 great kids?!"  But I knew in my heart that if anyone had plenty of love to spare for a child, it was Kristin and her family!  

We continued to stay in touch with one another after my visit, and even though months would sometimes pass before we would email or chat again, it was like we had never skipped a beat.  Six months or so passed before I got the news that Kristin and her family would indeed be adopting a child and that she would be from Ethiopia.  A beautiful girl named Marin!  

Kristin's husband is from Ireland and their darling little girl would forever be known as the Irishopian.  A wonderful blending of her heritage and the new family she would call her very own.

Since Marin's adoption, Kristin has made sure that her daughter has strong ties to her roots.  She networks with other adoptees and their families from Ethiopia and has even made a trip back to Ethopia to help ensure clean, safe drinking water is available to villagers.  Reading about her trip to help others halfway across the world was both moving and hugely inspirational!

So although I'm not one to get on a soapbox...well maybe a cool antique one that I could put in my laundry room...oops, sorry!...I wanted to give you a link to Kristin's blog where she shares the journey of her and her family's life with Marin and the plight of those in Ethiopia!

And besides being a great blog,  there is another reason why I want to share her blog with you!  Kristin and her family are once again trying to reach out to those less fortunate, and they are trying to adopt two more Ethiopian children, two boys age 8 and 10!!!  Crazy...maybe....Generous and better believe it!  Kristin now has a donation button on her blog to help raise the extra funds needed to bring these two orphans home.  Not the home they've known all their lives, but to a new home where they will be cherished for who they are and where they come from, and where love is overflowing!  So this post is my way of giving back to someone who gives so much, thank you Kristin!

To visit Kristin's blog, please click HERE!

Police, Peonies, and Patience

Sometimes in life there are events that are inexplicable.  Things that defy reason, understanding, and even explanation!

I personally love those times in life.  The times when you realize how tiny you are in this big universe of ours and that sometimes you just have to stop for a moment and take your finger off the tip of the world and realize that it won't go spinning out of control, but instead, it will continue to revolve with a calming rhythm.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I was at the grocery store, minding my own business, buying the "stuff" we all buy from week to week.  My cart was full of organic veggies and fruits, and I was placing my order at the deli counter when my phone rang.

It was a friend and real estate agent who had gone out to take photos of a rental property my siblings and I own in preparation for maybe selling it.  She told me that the back door of the house was wide open!  I knew this couldn't be true, the back door would never be left open for any reason unless someone was home, which they were not!

I immediately headed over to the house, cell phone in hand ready to dial 911 and call the police.  Mentally preparing to find the broken windows, and stolen property,  I then realized that I didn't have my set of keys to the property, and I had to phone my son to meet me since I had asked the agent to lock and close the door.

I got to the house in about 10 minutes time and either stupidly or bravely walked around to the back of the house and peered into the window.  Much to my relief everything was as it should be, nothing had been disturbed, and all was right with the world.  

Except for one thing...sitting on the kitchen table was a vase, and not just any vase but a pretty cut crystal vase.  Now that may not sound that exciting to you, but this wasn't any ordinary vase.  It was an exact match of two other vases I had just recently seen at the home of my mother's dear friend who is the florist who will be doing the flowers for the wedding of my friend J's daughter in just a few weeks.  

Ok, is this story still not sounding very exciting to you?!  Well, when I had visited the florist just a few days before, we had gone through all of her containers trying to find just the right vases to use for Katy's wedding.  She has lots of containers, but none were what we were looking for to create the romantic, vintage feel that the bride was hoping for.  We did find "2" tall vases that would work, but we needed 3 tall vases and 3 shorter vases.  There were plenty of short ones, and we were so disappointed that we couldn't find just 1 more tall one to match those other 2.

Are you with me here...the vase that was on the kitchen table was an EXACT match of those vases.  And I've never seen vases like them anywhere, I had no idea that it even existed until that very moment when I saw it through the window as I peered inside to make sure that no one had broken in to the house!  My heart went from racing at the thought of a breaking and entering to the thrill of finding a matching vase!  And the other really scary or exciting part was that there were also two smaller vases on that table, and those matched the smaller vases we had planned to use!

Now, if you knew my mother, you would know that she was pretty proud of herself for leading me to that vase.  Even though she's been gone from us for years, she was making sure that Katy had the "look" she wanted for her wedding, which is so like my mother!  And when I called to tell my friend J about my find, she said, "between your mother and my father (who is also deceased)...", meaning that both of our deceased parents had a hand in this miraculous little find.

You see, J's father was a police detective, and here's another little secret about me.  I'm what you might call a woman with badge envy.  Yup, I once applied to be a police officer in my younger years but then changed my mind.  But although I don't feel the need to carry a gun and flash a badge like I did when I was younger, I do have a propensity for all things police like!  So J's father knew that a breaking and entering would get me where I needed to be, that I wouldn't wait for the real police and would head straight for that back door.  And my mother knew that by placing that vase right where I could see it, that I would find the perfect vase for Katy's wedding!  

The vase was one of the things that we had pulled down from that house's attic just a week ago, but I never remember seeing it and none of us chose to take it home with us, when we had taken so many other things.  So there it sat, waiting to be discovered.

I'm sure you're wondering where peonies fit in to this story.  Well, Katy wants peonies at her wedding and if you've checked the price of peonies, even wholesale, lately you'll find that they are very expensive!  I have lots of them waiting to bloom in my front flower bed.  So Mom, and Mr. M, if you're listening....thanks for the vase, and could you see about timing these blooms perfectly for Katy's wedding please?!  Thanks xoxo!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Brooke Steuart - Beautiful Bedrooms and a Giveaway

The last few weeks I have taken you on a tour of the exterior spaces and living areas of designer Brooke Steuart's beautiful Delaware beach house (to see the outdoor spaces click HERE and to see the living spaces click HERE).  Now it's time to let you see where she and her family dream about their days in the surf and sun, by taking you to see her gorgeous bedrooms and bathrooms.  Once again I would like to thank Mike Busada, the talented owner of Mike B Photography, for the use of all of his wonderful photos!

Like the rest of Brooke's vacation home, the bedrooms are beautifully appointed with a bit of whimsy thrown in for good measure.  As with everything Brooke touches, there is always an element of the unexpected found in her designs and her beach house bedrooms are no exception!

An animal print rug, vintage poster, and contemporary console table may not scream "beach" house to the average person, but Brooke has a knack for combining the things she loves to create warm and welcoming spaces.  Black and white sailing prints hang in the hallway leading to the bedrooms, reminding visitors of the home's location, while tying in perfectly with the color scheme of the rug.

A romantic at heart, Brooke defies traditional beach house kitsch in this gorgeous guest room.  The Victorian hand painted bed, pale blue walls, crystal bedside lamps, and silk skirted side table create a fairytale like atmosphere for daughters and guests alike.

Colorful bedding. lots of pillows, and a fluffy white duvet add luxury to the room without being too fussy.

Hand painted furnishings and fresh flowers add a feminine touch.  And is there any better way to welcome your guests than with fresh flowers?!

If you thought Brooke was going to abandon her love of color in the bedrooms of her beach house, think again!  When asked how she feels about using strong colors Brooke says, "Don't be afraid to use beautiful colors!"  A belief that clearly shows in this gorgeous melon colored bedroom!  

Colorful accent pillows and artwork play nicely off of the rich deep wood tones of the furniture and lends a sophisticated tropical feel to the room!

The guest bath is another room where Brooke let her creative color juices flow.  The lime green walls, whimsical art glass light fixtures, and sleek glass enclosed shower get guests ready for a day of fun in the sun!

And because no home by the ocean would be complete without at least one beach inspired room, Brooke designed this colorful room with that in mind. 

Casual white painted furniture, beachy accents, and crisp colorful striped bedding create the perfect seaside abode.

Beautiful glass lamps provide extra reading light as well as a fun punch of color!

If bold colors aren't your thing, how about a touch of the exotic?!  Carved furniture, Asian accents, and touches of gold and red give this guest room a Balinese feel.

Guests will wonder if they've been transported to a far away land when they stay in this tranquil room!

"Make guests feel welcome by providing them with plush towels, fresh flowers, something to drink, and books or magazines in their room," suggests Brooke.

I've saved the best for last with the piece de resistance, the master bedroom suite! 

Brooke's master bedroom is a sophisticated blend of masculine and feminine elements with luscious chocolate brown walls, mirrored nightstands, and luxurious bedding.  Blue gray accents and nautical touches speak to the home's waterside location.

A fireplace adds to the romance of the space and provides warmth for those chilly early Spring and Fall evenings along the Delaware coast.

High end treatments continue in to the master bathroom, where a soothing color palette envelops you.  Natural woven baskets provide extra storage under the sink area and add texture and interest.

Beautiful glass mosaic tile in shades of turquoise and seafoam green, sparkling fixtures, and natural materials create a spa like retreat in the oversized shower and provide the Steuarts with the perfect spot to begin and end each day!

I hope you've enjoyed seeing Brooke Steuart's beautiful beach house, and to see more of her lovely vacation home you can click HERE!  

And to contact Brooke Steuart of Brooke Steuart Interiors click HERE to visit her website!

Now for the Giveaway!!!

And I have a special surprise for you, my bloggy friends!  Brooke was not only kind enough to let us visit her gorgeous beach house, but she's also provided me with a signed copy of the fabulous book entitled Waterside Cottages by Barbara Jacksier with photography by Dan Mayers to give to one of you!!!  Brooke's beach house was featured in this great book, and Waterside Cottages is even featured in the June issue of Romantic Homes Magazine!!!  This book is a must have for all you beach design and decor lovers like me!

Thank you again to Brooke Steuart for sending me this wonderful book to give to one lucky reader and to Mike B for your great photos!  

Here's how to enter for up to 3 chances to win Waterside Cottages by Barbara Jacksier!

1.  Become a Follower of Low Tide High Style and leave a comment letting me know that you are a follower.

2.  Leave me a separate comment letting me know which of Brooke's beautiful bedrooms you would want to spend a night in.

3.  Blog, tweet, or facebook about this great giveaway and come back to leave me a separate comment for a 3rd chance to win!!

The giveaway will be open until Midnight PST, Monday, May the 3rd.  So be sure to check back on Tuesday, May 4th to see if you're the lucky winner!  Good luck!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shop Til You Drop - Brambles

Last Friday I drove to northern Virginia to do some scouting shots of two homes for a magazine.  I was also lucky enough to visit a wonderful shop called Brambles located in Occoquan, Virginia.

The historic town of Occoquan is charming and dates back to the 1700s.  Situated along the Occoquan River, this bustling town is rich in history.  But today, instead of tobacco warehouses and cotton mills, you'll find wonderful specialty shops, antique stores, and great places to dine!  It's the perfect place to spend the afternoon browsing the eclectic mix of merchants and enjoying lunch or dinner.

Brambles is owned by Sharon and Dan Prophet.  The store is filled with what Sharon calls "Artful Necessities for the Home and Garden."  I love that phrase, and who doesn't need artful necessities to fill their home and garden?!  And Sharon doesn't just sell some of the items in her store, she also creates them!

The store is full of her wonderful artwork, such as the painted shutter pictured above.

And although Sharon also creates one of a kind pieces of hand painted furniture, she can't seem to keep them in the store!  They are sold just as quickly as she can make them!

Along with Sharon's own personal creations, Brambles has lots of other wonderful wares to offer. I love these fabric hearts made from vintage inspired fabrics and adorned with antique buttons and beautiful ribbon!

The store has a romantic European feel to it with something for everyone. This crystal candle chandelier would be perfect in a dining room, or can't you just picture it hanging from a rose covered arbor providing soft candlelight for dining al fresco?! 

Brambles also carries beautiful upholstered furniture, available in a wide variety of styles and fabric choices.

I fell in love with this beautiful blue and white chair the moment I saw it.  I think it would be a great comfy chair for curling up in to read a book or favorite magazine!

Upholstered pieces aren't all you'll find at Brambles, there is a wonderful assortment of wooden furniture for sale as well, such as the handsome farm table above!  You'll also find plenty of painted furnishings scattered throughout the shop!

And if you're in the market for accessories, you won't be disappointed! I think the label on this apothecary jar says it all!

You'll also find beautiful faux flowers, like these lovely tulips, at Brambles!  And this little trio of hand painted heart shaped boxes are the perfect way to say I love you to someone special!

These Kitras Art Glass ornaments are one of a kind works of art, each with it's own theme.  While I was photographing the shop a woman came in to purchase one as a wedding gift.  She said that she always buys one of these unique glass orbs to represent the season in which the couple marries.  What a great idea!

But Brambles doesn't just sell things to adorn your home and garden! You can also find plenty of beautiful things to adorn yourself with, like these beautiful handcrafted silk scarves and floral pins!  I love how Sharon has the pins displayed on an old wire dress chic!

This cameo brooch would add elegance to any outfit!

As though the jewelry wasn't pretty enough by itself, the way Sharon has it displayed makes it even more special.  I love the way she has some of the pieces tucked inside a vintage piece of luggage!

Everywhere you turn there is something special to look at! From the fragrant Rosy Rings candles, to the beautifully presented accessories!

Sharon and her husband Dan have an eye for exceptional pieces such as this gorgeous mirror.  The frame came from an old building in Belgium and they had mirrors cut to fit the frame!  I love this piece, and think it would make a statement in any style home!

I had a wonderful day meeting Sharon, she even took me out for a delicious lunch and to the home of one of her best customers where I got to see more of her beautiful hand painted pieces of furniture!

And I want to thank both Sharon and Dan for letting me photograph not only their store, but also their home!  *Fingers Crossed* you might just be seeing their lovely home, and the equally lovely home of her customer Lisa, in an upcoming issue of a magazine!  I'll let you know more about the magazine articles in the near future!

So if you're lucky enough to live near Occoquan, Virginia why not pop in to Brambles and have a look for yourself, and please tell Sharon and Dan that Kat from Low Tide High Style says hello?!  Or better yet, why not plan to take a trip to visit this historic town?!  And be sure to head in to nearby Washington D.C. to take in all of the wonderful sights the area has to offer!