Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas at Welkinweir

On December 10th I joined with friends to tour the mansion at Welkinweir in all its Christmas finery. It was a beautiful clear evening and we were the first to arrive at 5:00 pm. Upon entering the main entrance I was impressed by the huge 2 story windows on either side of the fabulous front door…the expansive entryway with a stunning curved stairway to the second floor. There was a second story window opening to the foyer where, we learned, a massive pipe organ was housed. We were then directed to observe the huge opening in the ceiling as that was where the pipes where and the sound would resonate from. Unfortunately, they had problems and it was not operational that evening.
We then moved down three curved marble steps to the stunning living room with its original furnishings in tact and dressed with modest greenery. Chippendale style sofas, oriental rugs and occasional chairs, all beautifully aged. In front of us the outside wall looked out on the patio and in the distance the pond.
Our next room was to the right of the foyer and much more rustic and relaxed. One of my companions, a local historian, told us about how at one time it had been two rooms and where they took down the wall to make it one large room. This room had the rustic beams exposed and a massive stone fireplace surrounded with beautiful leather furnishings and huge oriental rugs. You can just imagine the gatherings in this room during its earlier days.
Our next venture was off to the left of the grand foyer to the formal dining room with it massive table to seat I think twenty. The centerpiece on this table was exquisite in its simplicity…a long scarf of greens with delicate crystal icicles and soft evergreen garlands on the huge window that again overlooked the patio and pond.

The entire tour time was short but worth the effort. The next time the mansion will be open, other than for private events, will be Mothers day for their annual Tea.

In closing, I wish you all a wonderful and warm Holiday Season.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas at Welkinweir

Well it is finally here...the Holiday open house at Welkinweir is this weekend..Friday evening, the 10Th from 5 until 7 and Saturday 11Th during the day. I have arranged a girls night out with my designer friends and we are all excited about seeing this gorgeous colonial mansion for the first time in all its holiday finery.
They are suggesting a S5.00 donation at the door...a small price to explore such beauty...
I hope you are all enjoying the holidays and that you will set aside time to enjoy all the finery of the area with you family and friends..
The best to you all....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tiffany Lamp exhibit at Reading Public Museum

Last week I had the pleasure to visit the Reading Public Museum for the first time. Upon entering I wondered what took me so long. This is an amazingly beautiful facility and right in our back yard. The building and its surrounding grounds are a true work of art. As you enter the exhibit on the third floor, the history of the the Louis C. Tiffany Company,his lamps and their creation is on a wonderful telecast in the lobby area. It was informative and well done...but nothing can prepare you for the breathtaking beauty and craftsmanship of these lamps. Many where quite large and special. I was surprised to learn that at a time in history when the average YEARLY house hold income was between $200.00 and $400 dollars, the smaller of these lamps was selling for over $300.00. They certainly where not for the common person. I can't even begin to imagine their value today. I wonder what will be our Tiffany lamps 150 years from now..
I loved this exhibit and hope you will can check out the website for more details.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New artisan shop in our area...

There is a fabulous new shop for those looking for unique hand crafted Objects of Art. Dancing Tree Creations opened about 4 weeks ago at 338 S. Ironstone Dr. in Boyertown. Owners Beth Rich and Lyn Carmella have done a fabulous job of collecting works of 45 artisans from across the nation and assembled them in one charming location. The shop is cozy and well lit with lots of windows. The art is refreshing and wonderful to behold, and very reasonably priced...beautiful candles, unusual soaps, music, paintings, pottery and stunning glass objects of art..I am a firm believer that homes need art to quiet the mind and delight the senses and this place has it all..I know I will be doing my Christmas shopping there. I hope you visit the website and then the shop. You will be very glad you did.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seasoned Citizens at Villa at Morlatton

I vowed I would write once a week...but the best laid plans...well you know...

I recently visited the Villa at Morlatton with a dear friend who is considering that life-style at this stage of her life...she is a very young and spirited 85..but she will soon be surrendering her drivers licence and thought this would be a wonderful alternative to her town home in Boyertown. She is a life long resident of Pottstown so the visit was fun for her as we ran into many of her old friends. It was clear to me that this was a great idea.

I have often driven past this facility, but had not given much thought to what was inside. So it was a pleasant surprise to learn of all the amenities this facilities offers their residents. The public areas where wonderfully designed and decorated with rich draperies and wonderful upholstered furniture everywhere..and the 2 story atrium in the lobby was bright and pleasant even on the stormy day when we visited.
It was obvious that their design goal was to provide warm and inviting surroundings that would encourage socializing. I noticed a large game room with wonderful tables and chairs for card games, a library stocked with books, a room for crafting and hobbies. The best surprise was the wonderful courtyards and formal gardens behind the building...water falls, ponds pergolas and very inviting.

Our trip was successful in that my friend has made a deposit on her new home. We are now working on what she will take to her new home and how we will design her new fabulous suite...she is so very excited about this move and I am pleased that there is such a wonderful place for our fabulous Seasoned Citizens

Monday, September 27, 2010

Post script..color and history..

Ah, the first rule of blogging...keep it simple and short...well my last blog had 3 distinct color thoughts..I was rambling..and apologize.

I had more time to research the Dewey Color System over the weekend. They have a wonderful web site where you can actually take a test. I was amazed by my personalized report after the short test. It was fun and so accurate, that I was a bit stunned for a minute. I recommend it.. if just for fun or perhaps if you are thinking of a change and willing to think out of the box. and you will see a link for the short test.

I think when doing this it would be wise to do it fast without to much thinking or rationalizing. Just click your selections and see what comes back.. Would love to hear back on what you think.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Color: Historic signs of improvement.

I recently stumbled upon a new color theory developed by Human Resource Managers. It was hailed as a new tool for matching personality type with job type. In their research, the authors of the Dewey Color System discovered that our personal color preferences seem to be a reliable indicator of personality as it relates to work style. Introverted or Outgoing. "Works better in structured environment or works best without supervision". All very fascinating.

I have know for years that we express how we feel about our lives with the colors we choose to surround ourselves with...Just look at the wardrobe of the corporate America with it somber "Power" suits and then look at the wardrobe of the artisans and gallery spirited and colorful..optimistic.

You can also trace the historic mood of the country with the colors of the time. The opulent Victorians could not get enough color on their homes. Then the Craftsmen movement that followed wanted only the true colors found in nature and much more understated..and of course there was the depression when survival trumped self expression..frugality is a dull grey palette.

So, I was thrilled the other day when browsing through new editions of my favorite home fashion magazines. A color we have not seen in the Home Furnishing and Fashion Palate for at least 5 years was Everywhere... It is the color of hope, security and prosperity.

The National Color Council has been responsible for the colors in our lives for many years. Their recommendations are put in motion several years in advance. They influence clothing, home furnishings, automotive and industrial manufactures and what is offered us. After the sudden crash of the financial system in 2007, we were stuck with the watery and light hearted hues projected during the 'feel good' Pre-crash days. And our "instant mood change" left us longing for solid, true and familiar colors. I observed that many people who where in a place to make purchases in the last 2 years, wanted the strong and solid colors, only to find many shades of beige, watery blues, dusty greens, and muted tones...and black.

The good news....The big new color is... Blue...wonderful, deep, rich Blue. From rich Azures and Lapis' to our favorite Navies...and lots of deep, saturated Forest Greens in all shades..Nothing muted or understated. These are the colors that make us feel good. Solid, Stable and Optimistic. Is this a sign that things are improving?...It works for me..but then I am a practitioner of positive thinking..

Monday, August 30, 2010

After Katrina

When I hear the name Katrina it is a painful reminder of the historic events of Labor day weekend 2005. I don't have a life experience to know the pain and suffering endured by the people of the lower 9Th on the days after the storm, but I can try to imagine.

So when my latest edition of O Magazine arrived with a story about Brad Pitt and his Make it Right Foundation, I hesitated a bit, not wanting to re-visit those emotions. But when I finally read the article and then checked the website, I was elated with what they are doing. . I was amazed by the beautiful structures and all the innovations built into these homes. The foundation is designing and building beautiful Eco sustainable homes that will eventually be available to build for $150,000. It is a working experiment of sorts, with talented Architects and Builders using new and better building products and systems. I loved Mr. Pitt's quote "We don't just want to make homes that are 'less bad'for the environment. We want them instead to have an environmental benefit."

These homes are esthetically pleasing in their modernness, produce their own electricity and have rain water storage systems to prevent runoff water. They also use carpets, paints and other finishing elements that are free of harmful chemicals. And you can see the happiness (and healthiness) of the new owners. But what is also important is the return of the vibrancy of these communities. These were working class neighborhoods with deep family roots. These folks owned their homes and cared for their neighbors and it was so nice to see the apparent pride and happiness return to people who suffered so much.

Right now the technology is only available for this project in New Orleans...Hopefully, someday soon, we will have homes like these in our little corner of the world. Thank you Mr. Pitt

Monday, August 23, 2010

Walking at Welkinweir

What a perfect day to explore the former estate of Everett and Grace Rodabaugh, the founders of the Green Valley Association. It was Monday and I was the only visitor this morning. The quiet woods and gardens were stunning with lush foliage and colorful perennials all set off with beautiful puffy white clouds the bright blue was a perfect late summer day...I was hoping to see the inside of the historic mansion but could only peek in the windows for a teaser glimpse at the past. It is only open to the public on Mothers day and for a holiday open house in Early December. I have already marked my calender for those dates and for a Fall visit to savor the autumn colors..

The 197 acre property is a mix of meadows, formal gardens, arboretum, pond, wetlands and water fall. Many of the trees and shrubs are labeled for your reference. The fabulous stone mansion is overlooking the large pond. A spectacular view to be savored in any season. Welkinweir is located on Prizer road off route 100 just south of the route 23 intersection. There are gentle hiking trails though out the property and many wonderful spots for a rustic picnic. Of course if you "pack it must pack it out," but so worth it..the property is well kept but not formally manicured as is Longwood Gardens.

This is a spot you will want to visit over and over again.. in spring,summer,fall and even is truly spectacular..take your camera and wear walking shoes and please make a cash donation for the upkeep. Now..go enjoy Mother Nature at her finest...for more information go to

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I have to appologize to all my reader...I got caught up in life and neglected to blog this week...I am getting the hang of this....One of my readers...Mogallant..suggested the Wilkinwier estatate/ that is where I am headed can find out more about it at know a bit about the history...but I will tell you more after my trip tomorrow...the weather is expected to be good and I will relish the free time to be be with you all soon..

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Its all about the details..

I recently had time to dine at 2 of the area's newer restaurants. I chose each one because I love the architectural detail and ambiance of each. I knew from previous visits to both that their food and ambiance was terrific..You see I don't go out just to eat. I am a good cook and can feed myself quit nicely at home. In my college days I worked for fine restaurants to support myself...and learned "customer service" from award winning restauranteurs....I dine out to enjoy the setting and experience with friends.

What struck me in both recent experiences, is that both owners had gone to great expense with the restoration of their buildings, the decor of their establishments and their hiring of fine chefs. What they neglected to look at, and address, was the people presenting their wonderful creations and how that effects the total experience..and in the hospitality business, as in retail or any other business, it is about people and grace and style. In both cases the wait person was not informed of menu items, or of the kitchens/managements style and not properly trained in the art or service..Not their fault...

I had brought friends ( i.e. new customers) to both restaurants...there is a saying in retail that for every unhappy customer..there will be ten people that they will tell...ten lost sales..

Being a business owner who frequently brings contractors into homes of clients to preform services...I am very sensetive to how my clients are subcontractors make my business, just like the wait staff can make or break a restuarant. If there is a problem, then it is my problem and I have not done my job. . and I have had my share of "problems." After years of experiance, I have learned that you have to invest time with all the people you have representing you company and that when you take the time to train and empower you employees to do their best..they love it and will make you proud.

My Point in all this is not to find fault with local business.. but to bring the Art of Design and Style to the forfront of all businesses. No matter what the product we sell ..if we are not putting our very best efforts forward in all aspects of our business..then we are wasting money and shortchanging the clients we want to keep.

After my second experiance..I emailed the management of one of the restaurants...I took the attitude that they where not aware and explained my experiance without judgement..and thankfully.. I recieved a wonderful email back thanking me. I am so pleased because I really like that place...and hope to return soon... knowing I will have a better experiance... I will now email the other restauranteur with my concerns ...I want to live in a town that has lots of really great places and people to experiance...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Your.. Design Blog....

Welcome to my first blog.

As you can see, this is going to be a community blog about all things Design...and Design IS history.... It is going to be particularly fun for me to explore the greater Pottstown area for all things pertaining to residential design (both historic and present). That is a huge "umbrella" description. So... I will be welcoming your suggestions with regard to what you would like to explore and discuss in this blog.

I am not from this area...I am from the Lakes Region of NH...where "On Golden Pond" was filmed...(and oldie with Henry and Jane Fonda and Katherine Hepburn)...Worth watching if you've not seen it..Or... as Robert Frost observed.. "where we have nine months of winter.. and three months of Damn poor sledding".

I am hoping that with my "fresh eyes" and curiosity... We will together discover your town/region in a different way...I find it to be quite beautiful and historic and worth talking about...even as it is in a period of economic transformation.. goal is that I spark some curiosity and interest in the Tri-County area and its design history... I hope that you will take a few minutes and tell me what you would like to explore ...Is there a local garden or favorite nostalgic spot that you would like to share with your neighbors?...or perhaps there is a wonderful building/home you would like to know more about?...Historic or otherwise... Someplace you might like me to research and share with you?...I have digital camera... and lots of knowledgeable friends... and a couple of hours a week for an adventure.

Or perhaps your interested in Interior Design trends and would like to know what the new color and style trends are?.. Or maybe you know of a wonderful crafts person or artisan you would like to bring to my attention..and have me interview and report on...I will happily receive all your ideas.

I am going to enjoy writing and researching on your behalf.. and I hope.. that with your in-put... this will be your "go-to blog" once a week for design inspiration..

Until next week...this is the Design Sleuth...