I love HGTV! I'll never forget when I first stumbled upon it. I was mesmerized by all the different styles of homes across America and the world. I also learned many basic guidelines for renovating and decorating which paid off when we sold our Texas house. It sold in 24 hours for full asking price during the bottom of the market 7 years ago! Then we moved to Virginia where we walked through scores of homes that cost 4x more than our Texas house but offered far less quality. However, we had to pick one of them. So we did and I will share more fully in coming weeks about how we have been fixing up our house. I'll also dig through old photos of our Texas house and share about how we fixed that house up.
It really helps that my husband has a degree in building construction, and has a hobby as a cabinet maker. He's always asking me, "What can I build next? What would you like? What would you like to do to upgrade the house?" Actually I think it's just an excuse to take me on a date to Lowes. =)
Ever since the beginning of our marriage, we've had strong discussions on style. We were complete opposites. I liked simple. He liked extravagant. I liked Americana country. He liked Victorian. Opulent Victorian. Velvet drapes. Tassels dripping from the drapes. Heavily ornate furniture. In the meantime we had quite the eclectic look of whatever everyone had gifted us. We lived in apartments and then base housing for years. Then in 2000 we bought our first house in Texas. It was a simple cookie cutter newly built house. We intended it to be our forever house (and we still miss it). My husband encouraged me to figure out a style we could compromise on and replace all the eclectic stuff that we really weren't crazy about with something we actually liked.
That was about the time I discovered HGTV. I learned much from all the shows, especially Michael Payne's "Designing for the Sexes." My husband and I would watch that and agreed with everything he said. Hmmm, we were on to something here. I took all that information, along with learning the various styles from the other shows, and presented my ideas for design for our own home to my husband. French Country. He loved it! Happy marriage!
Why is French Country a great compromise for my Country Style and my husband's Victorian style? Well, the country in French Country, obviously appeals to my Country Style. The French flair of tassels, textures, and elegance appeals to my husband's Victorian Style. However it is far more refined than Victorian, that even though there are tassels, there aren't as many tassels. Whereas Victorian is rather over the top elegance, French Country is more refined elegance...which draws me in and I love it!
Now the only problem is that when looking at pictures of French style, my husband is even more drawn to French Provincial which is the over the top luxury. Think of the various King Louis' and the Palace of Versailles. I have to admit, I like French Provincial more than Victorian. However in our modest homes, to install marble floors throughout, huge crystal chandeliers in every room, silk drapes from ceiling to floor gathered and puddled on the floor en masse,...is a bit too large for our space not to mention far to large for our budget. Whenever I remind my husband of that he usually concedes and we are back on topic for French Country. Usually.
One of our favorite restaurants is Le Madelaine which is very rustic French Country.
The dark tile floors. The dark wooden beams. The dark stone fireplace. I love it there, but that is too dark for me. I need light. My husband loves dark.
These pictures were taken in October, on a chilly autumn evening which was the perfect setting for a cozy dinner. My husband chose beef bourguinon which I've had before. Delicious!
I had roasted chicken with caesar salad. Delicious!
For dessert my husband chose a Napoleon...
...and I chose Sacher Torte! Yum!
Whenever I leave I feel inspired to cook like this in a kitchen like this. Well, perhaps lighter than this, but French Country at least!
Anyway, many thanks to Michael Payne whom we met years ago at a Home and Garden Show in San Antonio, Texas. I bought his book and got his autograph and my family had quite the thrill meeting him in person. (No photos from that moment. That was in the day before blogs and smart phones.)
I'll be sharing various stuff I've learned as I share what we've been doing with our house. It's certainly a learning process and I've still made my share of mistakes, but we've been quite happy with many of the results. We've recently been doing some simple but badly needed upgrades so that is what inspired this overall post. Stay tuned!