Our Dower House Tour

When we moved into the Dower House at the beginning of December we only had a few pieces of furniture. We didn’t know what kind of space we would find when we went house hunting in England. I lived in England as a child and I saw the challenges of fitting large pieces of furniture into old English houses. Most of our furniture is Texas sized or giant French antiques, a good problem to have, but a problem if you want to get settled into a new home in a new country. I knew that I could shop here in England for new and vintage pieces to put in our home. I also left most of our decorating pieces in storage, it is a great idea when you want to do more shopping, but it makes for a pretty boring house for the first couple of months. Now that we are getting settled and our house is feeling more like home I thought I would share some of my favorite spaces with you.

Welcome, this is our front door. Just before we left Texas I had a conversation with a friend about door knockers. She had seen one in an antique store and was interested in finding one. When I walked up to this door and saw the door knocker it seemed like a sign that we were in the right place.

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Our living room. The rug is a giant I found at the Sunbury Antique Market. I also found the blue velvet chairs, the mirror, the tv stand and the hamper there. The embroidered pillows are from T.K. Maxx and the blue velvet pillows and the burgundy fuzzy pillows are from Laura Ashley. We brought the books and the tv with us, but everything else on the shelves has been purchased here in England or on my trip to France.

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I call this little seat my coffee couch. It is in our craft room, just off the kitchen. IN the morning I drink my coffee here and during the day this little couch gets lots of love. We have bookshelves here and I love that the kids have a cozy place to sit down with a book. The plaid is a local vintage find and the cactus pillow is a recent find from T.K. Maxx.  I had a pheasant pillow here, but for spring I wanted to lighten things up.

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Master Bedroom

Our bed is one of the few pieces we brought with us from Texas. I found this red toile bedding at the Antique Gallery in Houston and I love it. We were really lucky to find a house that this bedding goes so well with. The night stand is a recent find from Sunbury. img_2701

My clock collection makes me happy. img_2707

Our daughter’s room is coming together with her antique metal day bed. There is still some work to be done in here, but it is finally coming together. She loves it and that makes me happy. img_2998

We have 3 boys and they all share a room. Our boys are all close in age, but have a variety of interests. I am trying to keep their room simple so that they can keep it clean, a mom can dream right? I found this giant sign from near by Lego Land and I knew it would be the perfect piece of ‘art’ for their room. The Minecraft inspired lamp shades are from a store called Next here in the UK. img_3048

Here are the beds for the boys. I ordered these from wayfair.co.uk. The beds have a vintage look that I love. The bedding is all from T.K. Maxx. The initial pillows were purchased from Land of Nod years ago. I love the mismatched bedding with a coordinated feeling. The dressers are both from Ikea and I hope that they are the last pieces of Ikea furniture that I ever assemble.

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This is the view from the third floor down to the second floor. I love the attention to the detail in our home. The house was renovated in 2000, but everything had to adhere to a strict historical standard. The light fixtures and crown molding in this house are some of my absolute favorite features.

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I hope you enjoyed this little tour through our Dower House here in England.

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Smile For the Camera!

I joked when I was pregnant with Malachi that we were having a fourth child because of pinterest. I didn’t realize what an impression this comment left on Katie Donnelly until she brought it up laughing last weekend. We were finishing up a fun morning of coffee, photography and vintage treasure hunting in Paris.

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I was 7 months pregnant when we moved from Oslo, Norway to Paris, France. Addison was 6, Bennett was 4 and Garrett was 2 1/2 and we were moving again after just 9 months of Oslo winter. I really really wanted to have maternity photos done for our fourth and final baby. I had never had maternity photos done, and I wanted to have pictures like those I kept seeing on Pinterest. When we landed in Paris we stayed in an apartment I found on AirBNB. I sat down one sweltering August day and googled ‘English Speaking Photographers in Paris”. A few names popped up and I scrolled through a few websites full of happy families. I found myself looking at a young smiling face and an enthusiastic website with gorgeous family photos.

I emailed Katie and we settled on a plan. A family maternity session at the base of the Eiffel Tower. I got a hair cut, procured outfits for the five of us, including a new shirt for my growing bump. We were mid move and working with limited wardrobe options, but I managed to find clothes and shoes that were photo shoot appropriate for all of us.

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It was a gorgeous August day when we met Katie, a young New Yorker, and her boyfriend, a tall frenchman, just at the base of the Eiffel Tower. I don’t know if Katie was ready for all the energy and excitement that is the Hilton Family, but she was so gracious and professional and fun. My kids had a blast, which was a first at a family photo shoot.

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As I got closer to delivering Malachi I again contacted Katie about a newborn photo shoot. I mean, if I was going Pinterest crazy I might as well go all out. Katie and I planned for her to come to our house just outside the Paris city limits about 10 days after Malachi was born. Malachi, my sweet baby number 4, was an exciting delivery, deciding to be my first that needed to be induced and weighing in at 9 lbs. 10 oz, more than 2 pounds bigger than any of my other children. He was such a chunk! Katie captured our sweet final baby in his earliest days and I am so thankful for her patience and talent in getting those photos.

A about a year later it was time for us to meet up with our favorite family photographer for a Parisian family photo shoot. The photo shoot was scheduled for early May and I anticipated a lovely early morning shoot.

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I had the perfect dress I had been saving for Addison, a linen smocked dress from Janie and Jack that I had gotten on clearance before we left Texas. The boys were going to wear white shirts and khaki pants. I had a few accessories for the boys to differentiate their looks, suspenders, a news boy cap, a sweater vest. I wore a white dress that I only wear when I am not spending time with children or eating. Before we left for the photo shoot I realized it was a little bit colder than I had expected, but I already had coordinating outfits for 6 people. Do you know how hard it is to find coordinating outfits for 6 people? So we went with what we had. I had Addie put on a pair of leggings underneath her dress and we both grabbed cardigans. Out the door we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg.

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Katie met us with a smile and a chuckle as everyone was shivering already. I swear I didn’t feel the cold, but that might have just been my stubborn streak and my desire for what I knew would be magical family photos if we could just endure the chill. We got whistled at a few times for walking on the grass, but we ended the whole ordeal with hot chocolate in one of the tres chic little cafes in the garden.

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A year later we were starting to prepare for our move back to the US, repatriation. It was so difficult to think about leaving Paris, we had grown as a family (literally when we welcomed Malachi), we had traveled, we had fallen in love with our new home and leaving just seemed hard. A photo shoot seems like a small thing, but don’t under estimate the ability of a picture to bring back amazing feelings.

We decided on Montmartre, Sacre Coeur to be exact. We woke up early, got everyone ready and headed into the city. We found parking on the street, a miracle in itself, and met Katie at the bottom of the steps, near the carousel. You would probably see pictures of my kids on the carousel if it had been open. Thankfully there were not many people there yet. Katie was able to work her magic and we have some magical pictures of our kids, being kids in a place they loved that just happens to be pretty well known.

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If you have ever come to see me at a show then you have probably seen one of Katie’s amazing photos. I keep a picture of the kids in my booth to remind me of our adventures and to convince people that I do have 4 children.

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Katie and I have kept in touch over the last couple of years and when we ended up back on the proper side of the Atlantic I had an idea. How fun would it be to have a photo shoot done at my favorite market in Paris. I started planning a quick weekend get away. I am fortunate that my husband values my opportunities to get away by myself and have adventures. That is how I found myself in Paris on a frigid Saturday morning treasure hunting with my friend Katie. The Porte de Vanves is my favorite market in Paris and having that as the backdrop to my photos is even more special. Not only did Katie and I have so much fun, but now I have photos to remember this time. Some of the treasures in the photos I bought, some I didn’t, Katie even found a few treasures of her own.  The stories and the experiences will always be mine. I will be sharing more about my shopping trip, but here is a peek into some of our adventures.

I am already scheming about our next family photo shoot and how much fun it is going to be. I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane and I am thankful again for all of these memories that we have captured.

All images thanks to Katie Donnelly Photography.

https://www.katiedonnellyphotography.com

 

Round Top is Coming

Last fall I was so happy to be a dealer at Marburger Farm in Round Top, Texas. We found out at the end of that show that we would be making the move to London. I put all of my treasures in storage not sure when I would see them again.

I am very happy to say that I will be flying back to Texas and setting up again at Marburger Farm. I will be in Tent A again at Ac8. The show is open from March 28-April 1 and they are celebrating 20 years of treasures with some fun events.

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Here is a peak from my set up last fall. I will have a new selection of treasures from my travels, all of them with a history and usually an adventure with them.

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I will be bringing a few treasures back with me from my most recent adventures. This was my haul from a weekend in Paris. I have also found some amazing pieces here in England.

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Brocante Treasures was formed while I lived in France, grew in Texas and now is evolving in England. I love French treasures, but I really love history. All of my pieces have a story and I love to find the story behind each piece.

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I am really excited about heading back to Texas and seeing friends and customers at the show. If you make it to Round Top be sure you stop by. I there is anything that you would like me to look for in the next couple of weeks be sure to send me a note. I will be doing a bit more treasure hunting before I head back to Texas.

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Be sure to follow my adventures @BrocanteTreasures on instagram. I will be previewing some of the treasures I am bringing in the next couple of weeks.

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Battle of Hastings and Rye Adventure

As we have settled into our new home here in England we have found a new routine. On any day off that we do not have a birthday party or play date Jon and I find a place we would like to visit. Usually this means that I find a store or market I would like to visit and then I look for a place of historic significance that Jon would enjoy. I okay the plan with Jon, work out a plan.

This morning we were on the road and everyone was ready for a good time!

Depending on how far we are driving we stop for coffee at a service station. I have learned to pack a bag FULL of snacks and it saves us a small fortune on these days out.

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Today we drove about 2 hours to the Battle of Hastings. This is the battle that happened in 1066 between William the Conqueror and King Harald. The Battle Abbey site is an English Heritage site, since we are members we knew that our entry would be free. The audio guides were also included. We weren’t sure what to expect for the grounds, but we were ready to explore.

The battlefield was very well marked  and we were so lucky to have a gorgeous day.

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The audio guides kept the kid’s full attention. I am so thankful that they are able to use and appreciate these guides. They do such a great job and taking in information and helping them understand what happened.dsc_0259

Did I mention that we basically had the place to ourselves? So many times we have to fight crowds to see what we want to see, but today we were able to wander and listen to the stories and take it all in.

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Jon led the boys on a charge up the hill as we continued wandering around the site. I love how much they all love history. Just look at that view!

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And then look up. These are the ruins of the abbey that were built on the site of the battle. I never take blue skies for granted here. Just a few hours later we were dodging rain drops .dsc_0298

Gorgeous.

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At the Battle of Hastings there is a great playground, that I didn’t get a picture of. The kids wanted to play on the playground so Jon stayed with them while I made a mad dash through the town. I visited little shops, found a few treasures and bought sandwiches for lunch. After we left Hastings we drove to Rye. We were able to eat our lunch on the way. That might not seem like a huge detail, but feeding a family of 6 for less than 20 pounds and with no melt downs is a major win in my day.

We decided to visit Rye after I read an article about the city in Reclaim magazine.

In Rye we climbed to the top of the church. It was not a great day at this point, but it was still beautiful. Seeing all of the bells on the way up was very interesting too.

 

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The view from the top of the church in Rye.

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Addie with her purchase from the Tiny Book Store.img_2532

Our afternoon snack was YUM!img_2545

A double rainbow on the way out of town.img_2558

There is just so much history every where you go here! We love it. img_2556

This former prison is a very interesting place to visit.img_2566

This door. img_2562

Here are my treasures from the Battle of Hastings and Rye. I love my treasure hunting adventures with my family. img_2560

The Lower Field

Our house that we are renting here in England is on a large piece of property. I love taking walks and exploring our little slice of heaven. I took this panoramic shot of the lower field a couple of weeks ago. We have only lived here in the fall and winter and I think this place is just gorgeous. The frost on the field the morning this photo was taken was breath taking. I will say that as the wildflowers start to bloom I can’t wait to see what spring and summer are going to look like here.

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Warwick Castle

Since my last post we have moved into our rental home here in England. We are still getting settled and I am not quite ready to do a tour of the house. The antique markets here are done until after Christmas so I am at a stopping point for the holidays.

For now I am going to share today’s adventure. I love looking at pinterest for travel ideas. There was a list of Chateaux near Paris that was great for us to use as a guide. Today we used this list as our guide. We decided on Warwick Castle, loaded up the car and 1 hour and 20 minutes later we were parking.

The walk from the parking lot to the entrance was a bit long, and the littlest legs couldn’t keep up with our enthusiasm. I am happy to say we didn’t bring a stroller on this adventure and what a liberating feeling.

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The crowds were fairly small today and we were able to enjoy many gorgeous views of the castle and grounds.

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A trip down to the river was my favorite place.

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This little bridge was something magical.

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Inside the Great Hall I was of course drawn to the examples of china from the castle.

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The Great Hall was going to be closed for a wedding in the afternoon. How gorgeous is this setting?!

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Such a special place with so much history.

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Shortly after I took this picture our littlest man held his arms up and I carried him up the next flight of stairs. Wow, he is getting big.

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Stained glass always gets me. I love these pops of color from inside the castle. img_1328

My crazy crew! I love exploring with them.

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The peacocks were fun to see around the castle grounds and we made our way to the peacock garden at the end of our visit.

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Bennett was having a nice little visit with a peacock. dsc_0830

It was interesting to see how the peacock knew he was safe behind the fence.

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A castle peaking out from the trees is so fun.

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The trebuchet was great for the kids to see as they learn more about history and battles.

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This is my super handsome husband in his element. He loves history and castles and spending time with his family. I am so thankful for him and the adventures we get to have together.

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The sunset was amazing and I was thankful to be able to capture some of the beauty.

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I hope you enjoyed this peak into today’s adventure. Our life is never boring and I love sharing all the fun we have.

Historical House Hunting in England

Last week we were able to go look at houses to find a place to live for the next couple of years. We had looked online and communicated with our agent about what we were hoping to find.  We had narrowed down our list and our agent had 10 showings lined up. She picked us up and loaded all 6 of us into her car. It was a very full day and many of the houses were a blur by the end of the day. I was trying to take pictures to share and to remember. I am sharing a few of our favorites that we will NOT be living in. Just a note that all of our house hunting was coordinated through a corporate relocation company and they have been a huge help.

The first house we looked at was The Cottage. It was one of the first properties I found online when we started looking. It was built in 1490! You read that right. This house is older than pretty much anything in the US. This house has 4 bedrooms and a huge yard. It had character for days and I loved it. It was a fantastic way to start off our house hunting. My Harry Potter obsessed daughter was in love with this property.

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This was the main reception room, look at the size of the fireplace! Also of note, how low the ceilings were. dsc_0034

The old well that was in the backyard. So much charm!

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All of the bedrooms had closets, not always a given in Europe. These closets were not standard by any means, but they would have worked nicely. The cabinet on the right holds a washer and dryer.

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Here is the garden, Malachi was having fun exploring.

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Every turn had something special, but we still had 9 more houses to see, so I snapped this last photo of the garden and set off for the car.

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This is the garage for the cottage, you had to enter through the neighbor’s drive way. It was a bit odd, but lots of great storage space.dsc_0053

The next house dated back to 1750. The house had a unique layout, but had been updated very well over the years.

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We ended up calling this house the chandelier house, can you guess why?

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This was the sink in the large and functional laundry room.

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Here is the kitchen, very nice, with an extra oven in the dining room. It sounds a little odd, but it worked.

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I love the interesting details that we found in these old houses. These light switches were in the master bedroom. dsc_0067

Of all the newer homes this one was one of my favorites. Unfortunately it was right on a busy and loud road.

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This house looked old, but was actually a newer build. There were some really neat features to this house, but for some reason it just didn’t feel right.dsc_0102

This house was a very new building built in a Tudor style. The craftsmanship was amazing and the attention to detail was remarkable. Again it was on a very buy road and had a very small backyard.  But look at those beams and that chandelier!dsc_0153

This was another very nice house, a more recent build with historic touches. Look at that yard, with a playhouse! The kitchen in this house was brand new, had never been cooked in. It was a very nice house for sure. In the US one of the first things you can find out about a house is what year it was built. For the historic homes I knew the age, but when I asked about the rest of the houses none of the agents had any idea. It is funny how I am used to having that piece of information, it tells you a lot about a house and what you can expect.

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We had a lot of really great choices as you can see here. Viewing The Cottage was kind of like going to a museum.  We had a great day with our agent and we were able to get a feel for the area that we will be living in. The day was quite an adventure with this whole crew, but I did bring snacks which always helps.  I hope you enjoyed this virtual house hunting trip with me.

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By the end of the day our choice was obvious. I will be sharing more about our home, if you want to see some sneak peeks visit my Instagram @brocantetreasures.

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