Monday, December 16, 2013

Fairy Tale Houses

I spent some time recently in my home town of Westfield, New Jersey....

I wandered around the streets and neighborhoods of my childhood, 
my mind flooded with memories of growing up there, 
of the friends and families I had known 
and the places that had made marks on my memory.

On one walk with my sweet sister in law, Maureen, 
I am sure I embarrassed her by insisting we stop so I could photograph this house....
Call me snoopy, but it had sold recently and it was vacant 
and I just couldn't resist the chance to look at it more closely.

It's the Wychwood Gate House.
Everyone from Westfield knows this house.
I never really knew anything about it growing up there.
It always seemed so mysterious and enchanted.

It's set way back from the road, in a very wooded spot.
It was built as part of a very swanky development in the twenties-
"Oh, they live in Wychwood..." 

So exclusive that they need a Gate House with a towering gate 

and a giant key

It's hard to get the scale of this house across through photographs.
It's so tall and dramatic and intricate.
And Maureen was waiting patiently for me to get the heck out of her neighbors yard...

The texture and the detail are amazing.

I love the leaded glass and the copper finials.

The treatment of the overhangs is very dramatic and enchanting.
Love the color of the mullions.

This is the dining room nook... 
Looks like something straight out of an English village.

This door leads into the kitchen.
(I know this from snooping at one of the websites that had the home listed. 
There is a link at the end of this post)

In this photo, you can almost get a feel for the height of the house.  
I wonder how the views are from those uppermost windows...  
I bet you can see New York City.

The main Gate House has a companion gate house, in miniature, 
on the opposite side of the road, with it's own gate.

Look at the amazing brick work there.  

And this window and terrace...

I would have loved to snoop around a bit more in this yard, but this home is occupied, 
and I didn't want Maureen to have to explain anything to her neighbors about me...

The details of the Gate House everywhere are wonderful 
but homes like this need constant care.  
As I peeked into the windows, I thought the new owners would have their hands full 
if they wanted to bring it up to today's standards...

Astonishingly, as I was doing a bit of Google research 
to share with you about this house,
I discovered that it burned the week after I was there!!!
They say it can be saved, and I truly hope so.

You can read more about the Wychwood Gatehouse from a Real Estate Listing here.
This amazing website has beautiful interior and exterior photos 
and floor plans and maps. 
Just Wow.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Mother's House, Revisited

Dear Friends,
My Mom passed away on Sunday, November 24th, 2013
after a long battle with dementia.

I am re-posting this
because I think it's a nice way to remember her
and how beautiful she truly was.
And to help explain where I've been for the past month...

So here goes.

(Originally posted in July, 2012)

I am going home soon, to New Jersey, to visit my Mom.
I hope she still remembers me.

She has dementia now
her world has been made very small by her disease.  

But once upon a time,
it was full of style and color and whimsy.

It's what I try to remember about her.

Let me show you.

Mom's house, on an early fall day. 
Kind of understated and elegant on the outside.

 Come inside, though, and see what she was really into...

Mom's house was always a riot of color and fabric and collections.

 The turquoise floral print was her inspiration for the entire first floor.

She used Cranberry glass used as an accent everywhere.

She collected Edna Hibbel prints.

 I think she really liked the breezy, free and colorful style of her work.

And she displayed things with a whimsical touch.

She collected crystal and silver and anything else she liked.
The dining room was her showcase.
She painted it red way before it was trendy.
And yes, the hallway is pink...
I loved that crystal chandelier, but she loved the one in the dining room more. 
It was a family heirloom and she treasured it.

Interesting silver pieces - chocolate pots, teapots, serving pieces galore.

She liked a little drama.

 and a lot of stuff...

 Maybe a little too much stuff...
but always interesting and beautiful.

And in the kitchen, she felt even freer to display things she thought were "Kind of Fun"...
Ice cream cones and Scotties and clowns and lobsters and more.
We spent a lot of time at this table, plotting our adventures together.
I really miss going home to visit her here.

 This is my favorite picture of her.  
She was still well and stylish and I wanted that necklace sooo much.  
She took me to the shop where she got it, but alas, they had no more.  

Never mind.  I have it now.  

I wear it often, especially when I am going someplace I know she would have enjoyed.  
It's kind of like bringing her with me. 

I wish.

Rest in Peace, Mom.
I love you.

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