This is the month for celebration. There is, of course, the prospect of spring. It seems, no matter how cold or miserable the weather has been, the Daffodils never disappoint. How is this possible? A million Daffodils all discussing the matter underground and then, on cue, popping through the hard, muddy, wet earth in unison all over the island. Why is it we have become so cocky sure that they will arrive that the Chamber of Commerce has put a lot of stock into promoting this weekend? Every B&B and hotel room is filled, stores are stocked and decorated, restaurants use this as a target reopening date and most of all, in all good faith, the ferries are booked. Not only with visitors coming to the island but with antique cars coming from far and near to be in this most celebrated of parades. It’s enough to boggle the mind of the most skeptical among us. What if there’s a snowstorm? It’s possible. What if the daffodils just can’t struggle through the still frozen earth. Could happen. But it never has, so we collectively see the glass half full and plod along getting ready for the big event. Most of us are just happy to welcome spring – at last.
Daffodil weekend is coming but even more exciting, we are on our way
to spring.. While in Key West this winter we entertained a lot and we were entertained. It’s a social town and it’s fun to be able to eat outdoors. Even in the summer in Nantucket it is hardly ever warm enough to have dinner outside.
Entertaining begins with a beautifully set table. I love setting the table almost more than anything else having to do with having guests for a meal. How you set a table sets the mood. You might pick a color scheme, a season, a holiday, or a special occasion. Or, you might just be in the mood. Setting a table is a most satisfying creative endeavor. A beautifully set table, no matter how simple, makes guests feel special.
I put this in the category of dreaming of summer. I know. I’m rushing the season. But this is such a beautiful oasis in one of my favorite Key West homes that I have to share. And while the palm trees aren’t found in Nantucket this casual porch scene could be anywhere.
Bamboo furniture is hot again. I’m not sure if it ever went out of style but it’s sturdy but light, care free maintenance and good looking. It can be left outdoors and if you cover the cushions with Sunbrella or another weather resistant fabric its pretty durable for our weather.
The thing I like are the playful retro accessories. The homeowner collects early sand pails with delightful illustrations on them. She buys them on eBay. The old time radio is another artifact from the past, retrofitted to work.. Even the lamp made of bamboo spokes was an eBay find. I love a table lamp in an outdoor room. Turns it into a real living room feeling.
If you’ve ever read anything about Key West you know about the chickens! Yes they have a run of the place. One gets used to them crossing the road! They run around Blue Heaven, a touristy restaurant that thinks this is a cute public relations idea! It is not!!! But I like the chickens. Just not running under my feet, pecking away at crumbs dropped under the table on the restaurant patio. I do not go there. Once was enough. But chickens are part of the scenery here and their image is on EVERYTHING! There are paintings in galleries, statues of chickens for the garden, chickens on t-shirts and even chickens on a sponge! There was a chicken store with real chickens roaming about. They sold all kinds of tourist stuff with chicken images. It’s kind of like “when in Nantucket you buy Nantucket Reds” even if you never ever wear them once you are back in Omaha. I actually bought a cap one year with embroidered, “chicken girl” on the front.
One year the town hired a “chicken catcher” and paid $50. per chicken to take them to a “chicken farm.” That did not last long. The chickens multiply faster than the chicken catcher can catch them.
A tiny spike in the temperature and everyone starts thinking spring- or wishing for it by now.
It happens every year so you’d think we’d be use to it. But when that first daffodil pops up everyone goes a little crazy. You’d think we’d never seen one before. But let’s face it. The Daffodil Weekend is a fact of island life. It’s kind of a rite of passage here.
But right now I’m in Key West and thinking about orchids. In Key West the orchid is like the daffodils, hydrangeas and roses all wrapped into one. Orchids bloom here all year long and while the hibiscus and the bougainvillea are just as prominent they can’t rival the orchid in popularity. So if you’re having a bit of winter blahs consider an orchid to cheer up your home. It won’t last as long as down here but it will give you a pre-spring boost.
Orchids are interesting plants. Here in the south they root right on tree trunks and it isn’t unusual to pass house after house with orchids blooming on every tree in the yard. I love the colors, purple, pale yellow, and most of all white. The white orchid is my favorite. It’s so classy and elegant.
Last week I wrote about staging a home. The motivation for this might be a desire to rent or sell your home. Then again, it’s a fun winter project. We have no control over the weather. But we do have control over our nest. AND, changing your interior can give you a lift. Think spring! Yes it’s cold and snowy outside, but it can be spring inside.
I was helping a friend style a huge loft-like apartment for sale when I wrote my last blog “STAGING”. With very little money I was able to make this cold space look a bit lived in. The idea was simply to suggest how it might be used. So here’s what we did.
Holidays are my least favorite subject for a column. There’s not much that hasn’t already been written in past years and by everyone. When writing about home décor it’s hard to ignore the color associated with the holiday, My friend Patrick used to own an Irish bar. He embraces this as HIS day and we always make sure to celebrate him on March 17. Reminding him of the religious connotation or any mention of the early St. Patrick for which the holiday originated falls on deaf ears. He does the day proud with his shamrock suspenders and everything green.
Think Irish, think green. This particular shade of green comes from the green harp flag used by the Irish Catholic Confederation. The phrase “wearing of the green” comes from a song of the same name.
So, putting all the religious association aside and embracing it as a fun-loving day, it seems a good excuse to “go green” and really overdo it. Set a table in green and white. It’s the only thing I could to do without being a hypocrite and pretending to like the color and the whole idea of a day devoted to drinking green beer. Any holiday is a good excuse to set a table for friends of all persuasions.
Is your house new? Is it of no particular style? Want to give it some character? When I wrote my book, “Aged To Perfection” it was all about giving a new house character. But now it seems that any house, not just a brand new one can benefit from these ideas.
New houses usually have more space and features than older homes. But new houses often lack the character of an older home. Rooms in newer homes might not have any particular architectural details to make them interesting.
Think of your home as a blank canvas. It’s waiting for you to infuse it with “older home appeal.”. It’s with paint and a few interesting finds. Handcrafts and art can do the trick too. In Key West the houses ooze charm. Old houses in Nantucket feel like they’ve been lived in for a long time.
Wherever I am I start nesting and right now my home is in Key West. My neighborhood is like a mini Nantucket. I run into friends daily, from home and here. Key West is a similar community. Yesterday morning Steve and JoAnn Marcoux picked up their café con leche at the Cuban market on my corner and brought it over. The next day Liz Winship arrived on her bike, coffee in hand. If you read the travel section of the Sunday New York Times two weeks ago you saw an article about the coffee shops in Key West. Five Brothers is my neighborhood.. Steve and JoAnn get theirs at Olivia Street Market and Liz and Todd get theirs on their street at the Old Town Bakery. It would be great if we had a little market on every corner in Nantucket like here.
Socializing here is more casual than in Nantucket. The rule is, if the gate is open you can stop by uninvited. Terry Pommett called to say he had one foot out the door for the Philippines as fast as possible.
Key West is more crowded than in past winters and there is way more traffic. When I read the Key West Citizen I could almost believe it’s the Inky. Affordable housing is a BIG problem- a brutal situation for resort towns. Long time local Key West residents are selling their homes and moving to more affordable places. The quality of the town will ultimately change as it has on Nantucket. Gentrification in any cool place is inevitable.
Using a holiday as an excuse to make gifts is great. You already have a theme or color scheme. Since it’s Valentine’s Day this month think red and white and hearts. Think romantic! There are lots of projects that take very little material and cost . Best of all they are quick!. I’ve written many tips books. Depending on the times, some have addressed money issues and focused on projects that cost next to nothing. At other times “easy” was the focus like “Leslie Linsely’s Quick and Easy Decorating Tips”. At another time I wrote, “Leslie Linsley’s High Style Low Cost Decorating Ideas”. Everyone wanted, and maybe still do, a great look for little money. But right now everyone is time conscious. Saving time, instant gratification, but great results! Today in the New York Times I read that the high-powered business lunch in a fine restaurant is dead. No one wants to take the time. And after a two-hour lunch they have to devote twenty minutes to catching up on twitter and emails and such. Seems a lunch at the drugstore counter (ideally with your computer along) is the way to have it all: lunch and business on the go. Sure doesn’t beat a lovely, slow lunch at the Centre Street Bistro.
Crafting and quick gratification seem to be an oxymoron. However in the spirit of the current sentiment I’ll try to respond accordingly. The following projects were designed to be easy, quick, money-saving and satisfyingly good enough to give as a gift. Make something for yourself. These are good winter projects. These craft projects are good for any time of year. But, since it’s Valentine’s month why not make something red and white from the heart?