So ready (this is why I get no work done):
12 Hayforks Hanging
11 Plates Displaying
10 Pots with Spotting
9 Buckets Standing
8 Cans a Watering
7 Dogs from England
6 Quail Escaping
5 GOLDEN THINGS
4 Little Jars
3 French Hens
2 Red Mailboxes
A Long Print of Old London!
So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and best wishes to all this holiday season!
Nearly Thanksgiving and we have finally finished unloading all of our fall shipments.If you haven't got a table for the holidays yet, don't despair! We have everything in stock from the totally now raw wood trestle tables (ours arehardwood and naturally resistant to stains) to traditional country French cabriole leg tables to a brand new transitional design in a dark ebony stain we developed in Hungary. And we always have the classic English pine farmhouse tables in stock in a variety of sizes.
But let's get beyond tables and think holiday. We have a number of antique and vintage items that will make thoughtful, interesting and hopefully treasured gifts to be passed down for a few more generations at least. We've got a collection of wooden farm buckets and containers that are simply stunning and crying out for an arrangement of evergreens. Same goes for the large assortment of vintage pickling jars we bought in Hungary which would make fabulous vases or be simply beautiful filled with pine cones or sea shells or branches. Or think about giftinga vintage wooden dough bowl perfect for holding fruit or magazinesor one of our over sized maps of England, Ireland, & Italy...
Other meaningful gift ideas from British Cottge would have to includeour wide selection of antique majolica plates, beautiful handpainted Chinese porcelain lamps, blue & white China from England and our whimsical collection of ceramic hens and guinea fowl from France. Some of these itmes are available on shop.britishcottage.com but really you should come in for the best selection. And remember to takesome time to have a cup of tea and count your lucky stars...they're out theresomewhere!
What an amazing summer we had. Usually one of the advantages of owning a smallish business is that you get to wear many hats. Keith is totally in charge of the warehouse and distribution side of things, which really means he personally makes all our deliveries in the tri-state area. Mostly I'm happy to leave him to it as I do not enjoy anything that even remotely involves heavy lifting, but this year I tagged along on the trips to Bennington, Vermont, Camden, Maine, East Hampton, Montauk and Block Island. What a treat! What beautiful homes!
But now it is time to get serious. Fortunately decorating has never been easier. When I was furnishing my first house we were living in England. Laura Ashley was all the rage and a room wasn't considered habitable unless there was a plaid, a stripe and three different size printed fabrics in the room. Probably half of you are too young to remember Mario Buatta aka the prince of chintz, but in the States, his rooms were the gold standard, riotous combinations of color and pattern. Curtains had to hang to the floor requiring yards and yards of material and then of course you needed a seamstress to swag and jabot, and the whole thing cost the earth and was nearly impossible to accomplish without a trust fund and/or professional help.
Now, a neutral wall color takes the place of wallpaper and classic linen (or cotton)slipcovers in pale colors continue the soft palatte. I have to admit I still love curtains, but not fussy, blowsy concoctions,just simple panels in a solid color that function as a fabric frame to outline your windows. Affordable seagrass carpets the floor and then comes the fun part: finding a cool coffee table, hopefully a large, wooden organic presence that puts some architecture into your space, then add a coordinating table or cupboard to anchor the tv and voila! Your living room is livable.
The dining room, bedrooms, all should continue the flow. Finally, when you cannot stand one more second of neutrality, make something pop. Add coral cushions to the couch, a large painting over the mantle, or plunk a beautiful blue and white Chinese porcelain lamp on a side table. Easy does it. One pink thing will make a neutral room pink; same goes for yellow, just try it if you don't believe me. But trust me, you can do this at home by yourself.
Don't make the RH mistake and go all gray and gloomy; that look makes me want to jump off a cliff. Rooms should be happy; just stay on the top side of your paint chips and you won't be sorry. Whether you're into the taupes, the butters, the blues or the greens avoid the jewel tone versions and you will have enough color. If you have to express your inner Picasso do it in the powder room, a confined space where, if you must, let color and pattern run riot.
And I'm not saying you have to do any of this. If you are comfortable with wallpaper, love chintz, and couldn't live without an oriental carpet or two by all means don't. But if you are like the many people who come into the store who saythey are clueless about decorating and just wish someone else would do their house over for them then this is the way to get the job done. Trust me. Decorating has never been this easy!
We've had quite the busy spring. Besides our normal seven days a week retail, we had a trip to England where we bought everything from a 9' pine table in original paint to a dozen grape picking baskets. Then we had a new shipment of antique and reproduction pine arrive from Hungary so we have been just a loading and unloading fast and furious.
Still we were willing and able when we got the call from the showhouse ladies asking if we would furnish the greenhouse being used for their admissions area. For those of you not in the know the showhouse is in Navesink at a house called Holly Hill and it finishes June 11 so if you're going get moving. Anyway I think we really lucked out. The house is beautiful, of course, but the grounds are stunning. The property is high on a hill over-looking the Navesink River and reminds me mostly of being back in Hampshire in England: rolling hills, mature trees, stone walls and long views. So schlepping more furniture was a small price to pay for the chance to hang out on a multi-million dollar bluff.
And really in my next life I am going to be a landscape designer. Look how this group of plants:
Gets turned into this:So of course I had to try it at home--actually in this--case the store:
Okay maybe not the same but you get the idea. I will take this photo again without the weed in the spirea and more of the stones showing.
Almost Spring 2011!
I can't wait...everytime I step outside the days feel a little warmer, the sun seems to shine a little brighter;I can't believe it is almost spring; it can't get here soon enough. I do not remember a longer, colder, duller winter in my life...Fortunately there were a few highlights to help dispel the glooming.
First was The New York International Gift Show in late January. A to-the-trade only show designed to spotlight the latest(or greatest, I guess)in home furnishings and accessories, we were pleased to exhibit our wares to a national audience. As many of you know we have been building our own line of furniture for years. Using pine from a managed forest in Scandinavia and working with a small manufacturer in Hungary, we've been able to produce furniture that is attractive, affordable and sustainable. At the show we featured our farmhouse tables and used our television breakfront as a backdrop and then glammed up our booth with fabulous antiques and one-of-a-kind accessories we bought in England.
About 35,000 people attend over the course of five days and you basically have three seconds to catch their attention. And we must have because we practically sold out the first day! With buyers from stores as big as Bergdorfs, as far away as the Dominican Republic and so diverse you now can find British Cottage products in Bozeman, Beverly Hills, and Isleboro, a small island just south of Bar Harbor, Maine we were very pleased with the results. Now we are in the planning stages for the summer show in August so if you would like an advance preview, just stop by the store.
The other big news is February marked the 25th anniversary of British Cottage. I'm not sure what the exact day was but we opened up our first store at 125 West Front Street in Red Bank in February, 1986. Somehow we will have to figure out how to celebrate the occasion--I mean it's not as big as the royal wedding but still clearly up there. Maybe we can figure out how to coordinate the two.
So beware the Ides of March, have a happy St. Patrick's Day, and keep checking this page for the Official British Cottage 25th Anniversary Celebration and the Unofficial Royal Wedding Extravaganza...
Tricia & Keith
As we are continually reinventing ourselves here in British Cottageland we thought it might be a good idea to let you all know what we have been up to and at the same time spread some holiday cheer. Although some people dread them, we adore a nice, newsy seasonal update and if we can motivate you to put down that egg nog and come and see us, more the better.
As we come to the close of 2010, we're mostly just happy to still be in business. Between the recession, the demise of small business banking, and then the internet, independently owned stores like ours have taken a beating. However it would have been much worse without the support of our fabulous vendors. Our European pine range is simply the best and then we started working with another company that provides us with a line of French country furniture in darker woods. Bench-made copies of actual antiques these pieces work for those who want a slightly more formal look without the headaches--and price tags--that come with owning an actual antique.
And then this month we introduced a collection of create-your-own upholstered couches and chairs. Made in America, with hardwood frames and lifetime warranties, these pieces can be ordered in a wide variety of fabrics and are competitively priced. We love them because they can come slipcovered so when the fabric wears out or seems dated, voila, you just order a new one. Let's face it, it may be the neutral look now, but, hey, who knows? In ten years it could all be about chintz.
Another area we have been dabbling in is vintage maps and prints. This spring we met an English map collector/printmaker who enlarges antique maps, applies them to a canvas backing and then sells them to fabulous English stores like Harrods and now British Cottage. We stock everything from a 60" wide map of Paris c. 1844 to a captivating mid-century Ireland to a variety of 17th and 18th century plans of London. (We know the dreaded RH is stocking large maps too, but ours are not mass-produced and cost a lot less to boot.)
So we wish you a happy Hanukkah, a most Merry Christmas, and of of course peace on Earth and good will to all. We feel we've been very, very lucky to be in thisbusiness, and to have met so many wonderful people, and we thank you for your support over the years. Believe it or not, in early February we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of our Red Bank store. Clearly time does fly...
Here's to a fabulous New Year!
Tricia & Keith