Category Archives: Country

NAPA WALLEY RANCH

A cinder block fireplace, shag carpet, and “babyshit blue” colored walls were a few of the daunting details in the 1950s Napa Valley ranch house that Dione Carston and her husband, Ham, faced when they moved in several years ago. Dione, an avid equestrian and interior designer, stylist, and owner of Steed Fine Hoarding & Tack in St. Helena, has filled her own home with her far-flung collections and groupings of high and low objects, antiques, and flea finds.

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Above: The large wingback chair with elephant ears was from an estate sale; Dione recovered it in vintage Kubo cloth with hemp fringe and zebra print cow hide (a vintage bear throw is draped on top). On the wall are two museum-quality hippopotamus shields from the Arussi tribe in Africa.

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Above: The mahogany veneered paneled walls and lights are original to the house. Dione painted the “asylum pink” cinder block fireplace in Benjamin Moore Black Bean Soup.

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Above: Crystal decanters sourced at thrift stores sit atop an R & Y Augousti tray from Paris. The reproduction drop leaf table is a consignment shop find; the Swedish Demi Lune Chairs are from Restoration Hardware. On the wall is a collection of Ham’s oil paintings, an over-sized clock from Target, and a vintage stuffed pheasant.

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Above: Dione took the doors off the cupboards in the kitchen to create open shelving. The butcher block counter top came from Lumber Liquidators, with Ikea cabinets beneath (with rope for handles). The sink is also Ikea. The plate is a gift from a friend (for something similar, go to Vandalized Vintage by Trixie Delicious on Etsy), and the pendant lamp is an Alameda flea market find.

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Above: A collection of cleavers from a local flea market.

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Above: The side table in the bedroom was brought back from Mexico, while the chair is a consignment store score.

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Above: For Dione, “Bedrooms are for sleeping and loving—nothing else. They should be simple, serene and as restful as possible. No technology or televisions, just a place for the mind to rest.” She pulled out the inbuilt closet and placed a Moroccan carved headboard in its place; the walls are painted Benjamin Moore Linen White. Dione had the custom indigo dyed rabbit pellet bed spread made to order. The Philippine rosary is a thrift store find.

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Above: Dione had the shower curtain made from linen and leather remnants. On the floor is a durable coconut hair carpet (she copied the idea after spotting it in the lobby of a European hotel); she also has it on her kitchen floor.

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Above: An arrangement of dogwood branches on Dione’s dressing table. Dione, a onetime make up artist, is an avid horse rider. The blind is made from bamboo garden fencing that Dione cut to size and staple-gunned into the window frame. To wit, her collection of cowboy boots, which are reflected in the mirror (including Hermes boots found on eBay).

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Above: Dione hangs her necklaces from steel push pins.

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Above: “I put together a room like an outfit with layers of texture and color,” says Dione of her dressing room. The leather and steel body cast is a lamp and was a find from the Les Puces at Clignancourt in Paris. On the wall, is a bear with peacock boa and tiara for good measure with a vintage zebra rug on the floor.  On her taxidermy, Dione says, “! hate hunting and the killing of animals and only buy vintage taxidermy. I feel I am giving them a final resting place. It’s my bleeding heart part of me.”

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Above: On the porch off the kitchen is Dione’s “aviary real estate,” nests bought at Pier One that now house finches. The green table is an upside down cow’s watering trough. For shade, Dione installed a bamboo garden fence roof.

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Above: The entrance to the ranch house is nestled among a stand of trees; Dione also keeps stables for her horses.

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Above: The exterior of the nearby stables that Ham built for Dione’s two horses.

http://steedfinehoardingandtack.blogspot.it/

http://www.homedecorgroup.com/home-ideas/tough-glamor-at-home-with-a-napa-valley-designer/

http://laurejoliet.com/

http://www.remodelista.com/

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BOUGAINVILLEA HOUSE

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It looks like a slice of meringue cake with cream and strawberries.

A LITTLE COTTAGE

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A rustic little cottage painted out in white with gorgeous little touches of aqua-blue & duck-egg blue
… loving the vintage wood pieces and the fresh country appeal of this sweet cottage.
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SARATOGA SPRING

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This beautiful home in Saratoga Springs, New York has a gorgeous fresh look to it …
Scandinavian influences, lots of white and wood and styled in a really relaxed, livable way.
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UK FARMHOUSE

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This is a farmhouse in Mill Road, West Sussex. It is a beautiful photographic house inspiring lifestyle locations to the film/TV and photographic industry. Just look at the details: kitchen shelving made from reclaimed fence boards, cabinets worthy of the Dutch reclamation expert Piet Hein Eek, a bed canopy made from a length of vintage fabric. Lots of good ideas to steal.

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Above: Encaustic tiles set into a frame create an instant backsplash.

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Above: The kitchen cabinetry is made entirely from reclaimed wood.

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Above: A reclaimed wall light illuminates a corner of the kitchen.

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Above: In the bath, cabinetry from reclaimed wood contrasts with white-painted floors.

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Above: A handmade curtain obscures the under-sink storage area.

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Above: A length of fabric creates an instant bed canopy.

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Above: Wooden dowels suspended from the ceiling creates a frame for the canopy.

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Above: In a guest bedroom, a headboard is formed from reclaimed doors.

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http://www.lightlocations.com/

http://www.pietheineek.nl/en

 

A TASMANIAN COUNTRY HOME

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http://www.homelife.com.au/

THE POP UP HOUSE

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The Namib Desert. A four wheel drive, long dusty roads and our mobile home for the following fifteen days.

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The Duwisib Castle is a historical monument situated in the heart of our 6,000-hectare farmland built in 1909, by Baron Captain Heinrich Von Wolf. With scenic views and camel thorn trees, it is no wonder the Baron decided to build his fortress at this special location.

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Much of the raw materials used in the construction of the fort were imported from Germany. After landing at Lüderitz, the materials were transported by ox-wagon for over 600 mms through the Namib Desert. The castle consisting in 22 rooms.

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A frugal breakfast, early in the morning. Me and my husband were heading off on a self-drive camping adventure. We drove 4500 kilometers in two weeks. Our pop-up tent and the small camping table with the cotton checkered tablecloth, camp stove, plastic plates and cups. The caveat: just make sure you always stop and fill up whenever you can for fuel and drinking water because, once you leave the city, you leave the tarmac and you end up in the middle of a beautiful nowhere.

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Sossusvlei, Namibia’s famous highlight in the heart of the Namib Desert, is a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes. Some of the most spectacular hills of sand are, at a height of 300 m, the highest and largest sand dunes in the world.

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Wind continuously reshapes the patterns of the huge dunes of the Namib Desert. It timelessly forces the grains of sand on the flat windward slope upwards to the crest of the dune. Here they fall down in the wind shade. The leeward slope is therefore always considerably steeper than the windward side.  Below: it is me on the top of the “Dune 45” like a tightrope walker 300 meters high.

Below: at the top of the “Dune 45”, like a tightrope walker 300 meters high.

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Below: Sossusvlei Lodge. We just spent a night here. A real bed has been our reward after so much effort.

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Below: Welwitschia Mirabilis. Welwitschia was discovered by the Austrian botanist, explorer and medical doctor, Friedrich Welwitsch, in 1859 in the Namib Desert of southern Angola. This species is called “mirabilis”, which means marvellous in Latin. This plant can live up to 2,000 years.

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Below: a local market.

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After driving for three hours in the cocent sun, a short break was necessary with a good cold beer. A Tafel Beer of course. It is a fine quality, smooth tasting natural lager with a wholesome flavor and aroma, which makes it perfect for any occasion. This beer has its origins at Hansa Brewery in Swakopmund. Cheers then!!!!!

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In the vast arid space of Northern Namibia lies one of Southern Africa’s best loved wildlife sanctuaries: “Etosha National Park”. It is a unique place in Africa.

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Zebras and springboks are scattered across the endless horizon, while the few waterholes attract endangered black rhinoceros, lions, elephants, giraffes and a large number of antelopes.

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Etosha, meaning “place of dry water”, is enclosing a huge, flat calcrete depression (or pan) of about 5 000 km². The pan itself contains water only after very good rains and sometimes for only a few days each year, but it is enough to stimulate the growth of a blue-green algae which lures thousands of flamingos.

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A hippie family from Netherland we met in Etosha Park. They told us that they had gone through the whole African continent on this battered Peugeot. They had two small children with them. Crazy people!

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Below: my African kitchen. I’m preparing lunch with avocados and a fruit salad. Light and juicy, and simply fantastic. We had lots of boxes full of food. The ice box made up for my cutting table.

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Like two temporary nomads we celebrated the same ceremony every night:  we pop up our military tent. We used an iron ladder to reach the jeep’s roof. Our tent was like a tiny dot in the luxuriant nature. The green mosquito net was not enough to protect us from African biting insects. The bed inside was made of a thin mattress with two pillows and a light duvet. The floor was hard on my back and the space was quite small for two adults, but sleeping under a star canopy was making you forget all discomforts.

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On the way to Damaraland to find Namibia’s wildlife.

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Damaraland is the old apartheid name given to the region south of Kaokoland and north of the main road to Swakopmund.

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Above: Twyfelfontein Lodge.

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In front of a roaring fire with our local friend and guide, Silvio, who is now running a very cozy restaurant at the lighthouse in Swakopmund with his wife Esbi.

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Above: on our way to Skeleton Coast we had to cross a dry river bed. My husband had to lower the tyres’ pressure in order to float over the deep sand. Our reliable Toyota never let us down.

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The Sunday picnic with Silvio and Esbi on the coast.

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The Skeleton Coast is named after the beached whales and seal bones which covered the shore area when the whaling industry was still active. It generates its fair share of “human bones” too…

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Skeletal shipwrecks caused by rocks offshore in the fog. More than a thousand vessels can be found along the coast!

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Good morning Africa! Sand’s everywhere and, under the scorching sun, water becomes the most precious element. It seems you have never enough. Are we too spoiled by our so called civilization?