Monday, April 7, 2008

Style Guide: A Grand Tradition

On their farm in rural Maryland, a couple commemorates America's birthday with an all-day celebration for family and friends.

The owners of this home are sentimental about their farm, and rightfully so. The husband grew up just down the road; these 140 rolling acres used to be his grandfather's dairy farm. But the house the couple lived in, family-built in the 1960's, was a far cry from the country style that they had embraced in recent years. "Our architectural midlife crisis took us from chrome and glass to auctions, flags, and Uncle Sams in just two years," laughs the wife, recalling the change.

Rather than move, they countrified their home by trundling in two 19th-century log houses. The larger one adjoins their 30-year-old home -- since redone to recall the look of an 1850's farmhouse -- and a smaller cabin stands by the pool, where their annual Fourth of July picnic begins.

Let's wander around this country compound, decorated especially for America's birthday.

Dining Area

At the dining table, a bountiful Independence Day feast is served on the wife's collection of Blue Willow china. The antique table is covered with a cheerful checked table cloth and laden with summer corn, tomatoes, and other picnic staples.

A flag holder from a country store sees new life as a bouyant centerpiece. The Star-Spangled Banner on the bench is stitched with the names of its makers.


This room looks just like a corner out of a 19th-century market, and the homeowners call it Brown's General Store in affectionate tribute to a lifelong friend of the husband. Nooks and crannies hold old-fashioned mugs, tins, and cans.

A window (not visible in photograph) drops down to create a pass-through so drinks and food can be served to friends outdoors. Cobbled together from various sources, the shelves, cubbies, drawers, and countertop look like one large piece of built-in furniture.

Guest Room

This guest room is referred to as the honeymoon suite, because a photograph of the wife's grandparents as bride and groom hangs on the wall. On another wall of the room hang photographs of the husband's grandparents in the early years of their marriage.

The lacy curtains, embroidered linens, and pristine 19th-century garments further enhance the ceremonial feeling. The rough textures of the log house contrast with the delicate white textiles of the room, and Winston the cat lazes on a pieced silk flag quilt.


Fluffy white towels and a cool tub of water beckon one to refresh and relax. A copper-lined dovetailed-pine tub from a Philadelphia hotel occupies the bath. On the wall is a framed Centennial banner and a blue and white jack, a flag flown from a ship usually used to indicate nationality.

Glimpsed through the doorway is the wife's 1907 Steiff bear on wheels, a Christmas gift from her husband.

Pool House Interior

A newspaper ad led the homeowners to a farm a mile away, where they bought this 1880 log cabin for $500 and relocated it next to the pool. Stripping the walls of brick, siding, plaster, and plywood revealed handsome log underpinnings.

Now it's the perfect place to enjoy some cool lemonade on the Fourth of July. Twin baldrics hang on the wall; these shiny sashes were worn by strutting politicians of yore.

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