Making the Most of Snow Days

old windows

There is a flurry of activity as the new windows, roof, plumbing, electrical and heating systems are being installed at the Sherman House.  Each day a team of talented professionals help inch our rejuvenation project towards completion.  When you view some of the progress shots you can see we’ve come a long way since July.

original back




primed mantel

To make the most of these snowy days when we are hunkered down inside, we have focused our creative energies on creating a period room.  Not a Federal era room but rather an Arts and Crafts period room. Although we have tremendous admiration for the furniture, collectibles, and fine art that adorned Newport homes 200 years ago, we are not locked into that specific time period. We plan to imbue our 1811 home with items we’ve collected from many decorating periods.  And we are excited to transform a sunny sitting room into a space that recalls the charm of the Arts and Crafts era.

William Morris is our muse…..we are trying to follow his mantra, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”


William Morris Dragon and Peacock textile

As many of you know, the Arts and Crafts movement was popular in England, Europe and North America between 1880 and 1910, and in Japan during the 1920s. Furniture, textiles, paintings, pottery and metalwork fashioned during this period were greatly influenced by author John Ruskin, architect Augustus Pugin and artist William Morris and are defined by traditional craftsmanship and simple forms accented with medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration. The Industrial Revolution sparked the machine-made versus man-made debate and Arts and Crafts artisans advocated that man-made objects were always inherently better because they embodied the craftsman’s joy.

Here are some of the items that will define the decor of our period room:



After the original wide planked pine floors are refinished, we will anchor the sitting room with a vintage rug.  We found this beauty at the Goldon House Gallery in Savannah, Georgia.  We love Vincent Golshani’s enthusiasm and the rug’s vibrant hues.

Arm chair


This antique L.G. Stickely chair was purchased at an auction in Newport, RI.  The cushion will be reupholstered with cordovan leather to match the rug. We’ll create a cozy seating area beside the fireplace.



Art Pottery

We love collecting pottery by legendary artists Artus Van Briggle and his wife Anne Van Briggle in Colorado Springs, Colorado during the early 20th century.

While pursuing the elusive Van Briggle, we keep finding Hampshire Pottery among the glass cases in many antique malls.  Hampshire Pottery’s forms and matt blue and green glazes are not as sophisticated as Van Briggle, but the hues are lovely and the price points are perfect for entry level collectors.  James Scollay Taft established the Hampshire Pottery Company in a former clothespin factory in Keene, New Hampshire in 1871. Keene was ideally suited for pottery manufacturing because the soil yielded rich blue clay deposits and white silica. For 52 years the company produced a variety of wares including flower pots, vases, pitchers, fruit bowls and souvenirs. 1904 marked a pivotal year in the company’s history. Cadmon Robertson, Taft’s brother-in-law, joined the business and developed new patterns and introduced blue, green, red and brown matt glazes. Most of the pieces designed by Robertson are marked on the bottom with the letter M enclosed in a circle.  This mark was a tribute to his wife Emoretta, who worked in the factory’s showroom.  As hopeless romantics, we always look for pieces bearing the encircled M.


Wallace Nutting

We’re always looking for vintage hand-colored photographs by Wallace Nutting. He was a true renaissance man born in Rockbotton, Massachusetts in 1861.  He was a noted minister, photographer, artist, antiquarian, author, lecturer, and furniture maker. He photographed New England scenes and employed colorists to paint his photographs.


Authur Grinnell

We discovered this pyrography (wood-burning) frame by Arthur Grinnell at J. Austin Antiques in Amherst, Mass.  Grinnell lived in New Bedford, Mass. from 1854-1924 and created unique boxes and frames with multicolored stains and landscapes.

Gingko Leaf Lo-res

Cooper Lace Gingko Leaf

eastlake 1

Cooper Lace Eastlake

Pine Cone lr

Cooper Lace Pinecone

Cooper Lace

My friend Dan Cooper founded Cooper Lace in 2007.  His company is the largest North American resource for Scottish Cotton Lace Curtains in both Nottingham and Madras weaves. They offer exclusive historic lace curtain panels in the widest range of patterns including the Classical, Victorian, Craftsman, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern styles. Their lace panels provide beautiful privacy and allow sunlight to gently filter into your home.  Dan sent these samples for us to consider for the sitting room.  We love them all but we are leaning towards Eastlake.

Beat the Winter Doldrums

The winter months are the perfect time to wander through antiques malls and awaken the collector within.  Bundle up, venture outside, fire up your imagination, and start gathering extraordinary craftsmanship to grace your home.

Stay tuned to see how our period room turns out…..

To read more about Hampshire Pottery visit: