christmas ~ past and present

  I thought it would be fun to look back over the last three years and see how our cottage has evolved.  We moved in just two days before Christmas three years ago.    The above photo was taken before I even had a blog.   After 7 weeks of 18 hour days we moved in.  I cannot tell you how happy we were that day. 

The Dining Room. 

There is my Pendleton blanket faithfully doing duty as a tablecloth.
We were expecting a full house this day.

The Kitchen
This is the first picture taken of the completed kitchen.  I remember when Larry showed me it I cried because I thought it was so beautiful.  I especially loved the cabinetry because I thought each cabinet looked like a piece of furniture.
We had a full house of company and it was so much fun.

Let's move on to last year...

The Living Room Year #2
The room is now painted Simply White by Benjamin Moore.
 I also added a large mirror with small ironstone plates lining the sides.
Take note of that orchid in the corner.

The Dining Room
The highlight was this beautiful hydrangea that a co-worker had given me.
 It is now living happily in my garden.

The Kitchen 

The blue toile valances are gone and I replaced them with white cotton drapes.  I added the shelf above the stove but I never liked it there.

Okay, let's get to this year's decorating...Year #3

I apologize for the bad lighting but it was extremely bright today and I could not get the lighting right.
The small tree is a boxwood shrub that I'll put in my boxwood garden after Christmas.

The lighting here is a little better.  The main change in the living room is the addition of the mirror above the sofa.  I found the frame at a yard sale and had a piece of mirror cut to fit it.  The whole thing came to $60.  Unbelievable because the frame dates from the 1890's.

Detail of frame.

Pencil etching by my dear friend Sarah's talented husband, Ian.

The Dining Room
Remember the orchid I told you to take note of?  This is it and it's going to re-bloom.  This actually makes me feel like a real gardener.  I've never been able to get an orchid to re-bloom.   I followed the advice of my neighbor Terry, who happens to be the head gardener at Kimberly Crest Mansion.  Who am I to argue with the head gardener of a Historical Landmark?   He says the secret to getting orchids to re-bloom is for them to get ample morning sun.  So that's what I did and of course he was right.

Can you see those buds ready to bloom? 
It's the little things that really make my days.

vintage Christmas postcards that I've had for many years.

Patricia of pve design suggested turning your books around to get a pretty white vignette.
 i did and i love it.

The kitchen

This year we tiled behind the stove and added the bamboo shades.  I still cannot decide on a range hood.  I'm not even sure I want one at this point.  If you have ever worked in a restaurant and had to clean the hood you would understand my dread.

So that's it.  This Christmas I used fresh everything.  The poinsettias were gifts from neighbors and the wreaths were purchased from Trader Joes.   I just cut boxwood from the garden and stuck it here and there and the house smells heavenly.  Clean up will be easy.  The wreaths will go into the compost and the boxwood tree into the garden and the vintage postcards into a drawer. 

I'd like to take a moment to wish all my fellow bloggers and commenters a very Merry Christmas. 
I owe you all so much for your kind words and encouragement to keep my blog going. 
Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read what I write.
Merry Christmas from my house to yours.



  1. What a great idea for a post! I always enjoy seeing pictures of your home (new or old) so much. It's as charming and welcoming as ever!

  2. Dear Janet, beautiful frame, elegant, elegant dining room, such serenity! I am awash with wrapping paper, cards, envelopes and general chaos - how do you do it! Have spent a merry time wrestling with greenery for the Christmas wreath The wreath looks fine, but you should see the kitchen. When are you coming to cook and clean?

  3. Dear Janet, I ahve so enjoyed looking at and reading about the development of your house. And, how pretty it looks today. I love the way in which the antique and the contemporary are happily integrated into a beautiful whole. Stylish, yet relaxed and practical you must be delighted with all you have achieved.

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.

  4. Adore every single photo Janet. This beautiful home is YOU.
    Love and best wishes to you and yours for a truly happy Christmas! :)

  5. I love your looks so peaceful. And your kitchen is one of the nicest I've seen. Thank you for the tip about the orchids...I think I will need to move mine now :)

  6. Beautiful beautiful beautiful. I always love looking at pictures of your home. It is so lovely - all of it!
    I noticed about the tiling in the kitchen before I even read the description below the picture. It looks great.
    Elegant, sophisticated, simple and lovely.

  7. I really enjoyed this interesting to see your changes. Your home is simple and beautiful. Thanks for sharing, Linda

  8. mary grace - thank you so much sweetie.

    rosemary - when shall i book my flight. i dream of visiting your cottage one day.

    edith - thank you so v much for your kind observations.

    anne marie - thank you dearest.

    kerry - thank you and my orchids were half dead when i got the advice to move them and they are now thriving.

    carol - thank you so much!

    linda - thank you too.

  9. Your home just keeps getting better and better :).

  10. Hi Janet, it was such a treat to see how your home has evolved over the last few years. I love that you kept it simple yet elegant and used natural decorations that can be planted in the garden after the holidays. I can't believe how big your Orchid will be beautiful with all those blooms :o)Happy Holidays!!!!!

  11. Janet,
    Your place looks amazing! I think I need to take a lesson from you and get rid of my stuff. It looks easy to dust. You've got relatively few things but your home looks perfectly and elegantly furnished. Your little boxwood tree, a few wreaths and the poinsettias are just enough decoration. Love the cloches on your dining room cabinet.

    It's fun to see the progression over the past few years too.

  12. Dear Janet,
    I love the evolution of your cottage and it oozes elegance and charm.
    Your orchids are very healthy and lush looking and the silver ice bucket as a planter really looks luxe.
    I find such a sense of peace and tranquility when I see images of your home.
    Wishing you a wonderful festive season.


    P.S. I look forward to your posts and enjoy your blog so much...I am so grateful that I found it.

  13. Janet,
    Meeting true friends like you through our blogs has been the best experience for me. Your home and philosophy about living is as beautiful as you are. Your friendship is truly valuable to me ~
    I love seeing your home progression - and I have to say, I love year #3 the best! I could definately boot you out and move right in! There isn't anything I don't love about your home ~ the orchid is amazing. Good job!
    and what are you talking are a REAL gardener. :)
    Thanks for your friendship and everything you've done for me ~ happy holidays to you also.

    I still want that hutch in your dining room whenever you tire of it! :)

  14. daryl - thank you, you have been with me from the start so i really appreciate your comment.

    des - thank you, so kind of you. your home is beyond gorgeous, btw.

    steve - yes, you should take lessons from me! you know i kid. thank you v much for the compliments.

    leslie - thank you and your blog inspires me with every post too.

    sarah - you know i feel the same way about you. our friendship is priceless to me. xo

  15. I just love, love, love your home! It's so simple and elegant. I'd love to pare down to just what I love in my home, but my husband won't get rid of anything! How do you manage without lots of cupboards in your kitchen? Where do you store food, pots/pans, dishes, etc. Do you have a pantry? Could you do a post about your kitchen and where you store stuff? Thanks so much.

  16. Grand! Gotta love simplicity I do anyway.Excellent.

  17. My dear Janet, I love each and every detail at your home, then and now!!!! and it´s a great thing your orchids are reblooming...
    Miss Doris is adorable!!!
    (darling... our birthdays are coming fast, don´t you think so??)

  18. The Trader Joe's wreaths look just lovely - I saw them there and now really want to pick some up!

    As usual, it's lovely to take a tour through your house.

  19. What a lovely posting. All of your posts are inspiring. Seems to me you know what is truly important. Thanks for sharing.

  20. You have such a lovely home! Your changes through the years are subtle but so effective. Best Christmas wishes to you too!

  21. Janet - I love everything about your cottage and it was fun to see the changes you've made over the years. The mirror frame is beautiful and to think you found it at a yard sale. And how great that your orchid will rebloom. How do you like the Viking stove and did the stainless steel back splash come with it or did you have it made?

  22. Such a treat to see. Everything looks lovely!

  23. barbara - thank you. i have done a few posts on my kitchen but i have gotten a few emails with questions about it so i will do another post on it soon.

    comeca - thank you v much.

    maria cecilia - yes it is coming my fellow capricorn.

    julie - thank you and they smell so good.

    bonnie - thank you and i try.

    deb - thank you and best wishes to you too.

    deborah - thank you and the backspash is an option on the stove. i'm gonna do a detailed kitchen post soon.

    kayce - thank you.

  24. Oh so pretty Janet. I love the vintage cards too...the one we are sending out this year looks like one of those.
    The tiled wall looks amazing!

  25. Beautiful post and thank you for the over-the-years tour of your home. Merry Christmas Janet!

  26. Wow,looks beautiful.. guess you don't have to bring in a ragtag bunch of gypsies as I do every year to help.

    Simple does indeed equal elegance in your world.

    And I love to visit there.

    xo Jane

  27. Janet, we have so many common elements in our homes--white, wood floors, bamboo blinds, toile, plaid, painted striped porches. But you are inspiring me to be more edited. Somehow you've managed to pull off simple and yet stylishly pretty! Keep the pics coming--I love them!!! Allegra

  28. What an excellent and charming post--To pay respect to the past, to celebrate the present, and to eagerly await the future with a beautiful blooming orchid and a Christmas tree that will live on and on--Such a heart warming way to say Merry Christmas!
    -Suzanne in Illinois

  29. I loved getting to see how your cottage has evolved over the last three years. I love, love, love your kitchen....I love your whole house...but the kitchen really speaks to me. I can imagine you in there coming up with your little vegan specialties.

  30. You have made your home so lovely, Janet, and I really like the way that while the rooms are all different, they share a similar palette and feel, it must really 'flow' well, nothing jars, all looks calm! White walls, dark wood and floorboards - we share some combinations and I love them!

  31. Lovely, lovely photos of your lovely home! I've known for some time now that you and I have similar tastes in many areas, but when I saw the red pillows in the early photos of the couch I had to smile. I have the exact same pillows on my all-white bed, along with a throw with the same pattern (actually it is a tablecloth, but I use it as a throw on the bed!). Happy holidays to you and yours!

  32. londen - thank you so much.

    fiona - thank you and merry christmas to you.

    jane - no gypsies were involved sadly.

    allegra - thank you and i doubt you need to change a thing at your lovely home.

    suzanne - thank you dearest.

    nita - thanks and i do love my kitchen too.

    belinda - thank you, we share a lot of the same likes.

    karin - thank you. i love those pb pillows.

  33. I love seeing photos of your rooms from year to year. Love the addition of the tile behind the stove - I've been contemplating that myself.

    Oh that frame! My goodness, it it just knock 'em dead gorgeous!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Janet!


  34. Your cottage is so perfect and I never tire of looking at your pictures. Do you have a big hidden closet somewhere filled with excess stuff? As much as I've purged, my house doesn't have your 'minimalist with personality' look.
    Can't wait for your detailed kitchen post.

  35. Janet,

    What beautiful pictures. You have such a knack for decorating. You have inspired me!

    And a Merry Christmas to you too.

  36. dear janet,
    I've loved seeing this evolution of yours- you've come a long way baby! and I think you have "arrived"!!! Your home is absolutely lovely. It has a wonderful, gentle, soothing soul and that radiates in these photos. You and Larry should both be very proud of the home you have created.

    love, love the mirror in the antique frame- it makes the room! and I vote for no range hood. I think your kitchen is perfect the way it is now!

    xo and happy holidays to you and yours!

  37. that last photo is my favorite; love the editing, improvement to the kitchen. You certainly do have a good eye for style!

  38. claudia - thank you and the frame really is to die for.

    betty - no indoor closets or garage. a tiny basement that is quite full.

    julia - thank you v much.

    joan - thank you and i think it has taken 3 yrs to get to this point. i really think the place is us. thanks for your input on the range hood too, i agree.

    louise - thank you so much

  39. Hi Janet,

    Love your house, and especially your kitchen!!!

    I too have a thing for boxwood. A neighbor of mine has animal topiary boxwood but they take forever to grow and fill in.

    When we first bought our house we were pricing mirrors for our dining room and they were in the $600 range. We found a framing store and they made us one for $200.00. Yours is beautiful.


  40. Thanks for sharing you beautiful home with us.

  41. What a beautiful transition in your sweet home Janet. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!!
    Merry Christmas to you.

  42. OK, I just love everything. It looks very warm. I love that you have a boxwood for a christmas tree and will put it in your garden. The books turned around look good. And congratulations on the orchid, that's the kind of thing that makes me really happy too.

    Finally, i wanted to tell you that it was around this time last year that I found your blog. I'm so glad I did.

    Merry Christmas friend!

  43. Thank you Janet for your inspiration in the short time I have visited your blog via Small But Charming. Have a super Christmas and thank you for sharing the orchid tip on getting orchids to blossom again. love Pam

  44. Merry Christmas Janet.
    I really enjoyed seeing how your lovely home has changed over the last couple of years.
    There's nothing nicer than box in the house at this time of year. I'm going to cut some from my garden before it snows again later in the week.
    I'm so very glad that I discovered your blog this year. Amongst other things you've inspired me to pare down the amount of 'stuff' in the house.
    Jo from London

  45. Janet,

    Your home looks so just keeps getting better! I love that you added bamboo shades. It adds a nice layer of warmth. I immediately noticed the white subway tile behind the stove. Looks great. Love all the details, like the books in the hutch and all three wreaths are lovely. Have I missed a post on that framed chalkboard in the dining room? ...must go check on that. I have really enjoyed your blog and it has inspired in many ways. Thank you and Merry Christmas.


  46. You have the sweetest cottage! I love it, I really do! And I also love your simple Christmas decorating. It makes a bigger statement!

  47. Beautiful. And I think my favorites are the picture frame, and the tile behind the stove. xox.

  48. Dear Janet, So many lovely comments here, and I agree with them all. You've created a delightfully beautiful home. Hugs, Joyce

  49. So much fun seeing the transition. This is my first year in my white I will be sure to note the changes in the future.
    Mary Ann

  50. It all looks so beautiful, you have created a lovely and welcoming home, thanks for sharing with us.

    Merry christmas to you:)

  51. 50 comments as I post ... 50 COMMENTS!!!! So I will add the 51st! - Love the pics of your house - anytime.. past, present or future... your house is gorgeous Janet. xx

  52. linda - thanks and you're right about the price of mirrors. ballards wants around $400 for a similar new one.

    paige - thank you so much.

    t - thanks, have fun in ny.

    julie - thanks and i'm so glad we met too, as i'm looking at my bracelet.

    pam - thank you and glad you are a jane fan too. she is the best.

    jo - thank you and lucky you to be living in beautiful london.

    annie - thank you so much for your sweet observations. yes, there is a post on the chalkboards under my house label.

    emily - thank you dearest.

    lpc - thank you and i agree.

    joyce - thank you, i always love hearing from you.

    mary ann - thank you and that is a good idea.

    camilla - thank you love.

    sarah - thanks and merry christmas to you.

  53. Janet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your home is Perfection. I love everything. You are lucky. Love the reblooming orchid.

    Met Linda in Chile and her divine divine daughters. All lovely-wished you couldve been there too.xxxxxxxxxxxx

  54. Janet, your home is classic, elegant, polished, spare. Pure class, like you. It is just perfect. I want that mirror (remember me in your will, please) and I hate that you can grow boxwood there. Boxwood is a favorite thing of mine and it dies in 5 minutes here.
    I LOVE that living room photo. LOVE IT! Every note is perfect. You make me want to throw out all the shit I keep accumulating.

    xo Terri

  55. ff - thanks and i know you met linda in chile, i read your blog remember!

    terri - you are way too sweet and i will take note of the will. although i think sarah above is first in line.

  56. What a delightful post! Your beautiful cottage seems to have charmed most everyone, I look at it and sigh and feel inspired to simplify my own home. I love how your clean, uncluttered background lets each item shine on its own, the way that incredible mirror takes center stage. I've followed your blog since almost the very beginning and look forward to more great posts in 2011.

    Barbara F. in Northern California

  57. It is always a delight to so another's living space. Love the book idea. Helps to lessen a cluttered look when decorating for the holidays.

  58. Thanks for your post. This is my first visit. Your house is fantastic. I love white and I especially love your kitchen, it's fab. I am a Follower now. Happy Holidays.

  59. joyce - thank you. i had to remove your comment b/c when it got posted something screwed up with blogger. anyway i got it and again i thank you for always visiting and leaving me wonderful comments.

    barbara - thank you for being with me from the start. thank you for your kind comments and i'm glad you like the mirror. it really is v gorgeous in real life.

    bodeci - thank you and the books look good irl too.

    marian - thank you and happy holidays to you too. thanks for becoming a follower.

  60. Wow...your home is so very lovely!!!

  61. Thanks so much for sharing your home with us. It's simple, elegant and beautiful. Merry Christmas to you and yours.


  62. I love everything about your adorable home...especially the way you move and change as your heart desires, that's how a home should be always alive and moving! Thank you so much. Hope you had a great Christmas and have a peaceful pre-2011 week!



  63. Hi Janet,

    It is wonderful to see the evolution of your house. In all stages, it is the epitome of grace, simplicity and style. Thank you so much for sharing with us!


  64. I just emailed you, pleading for your interior paint color, then I read this page and found it: "Simply White." Which is what I already have on one room's walls, soon to be walls of my entire 1700 cottage! Great minds & great eyes, etc.!

    Finding your blog is a great new treat for 2012.

    Babette @
    The Accidental Dilettante (under construction)


kindness is never out of style.

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