willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Styling and Staging at Life’s Patina ~ Part One

What have we been doing since our Fall Barn Sale last month you ask?

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As we entered into the season of plentiful harvests, my pen sat silent as my mind delved into its most favorite place to dwell, that of creating themes and events that have meaning. (Okay, my mind likes to dwell in many creative places but this one really does take the cake). Using textures, colors, florals, hardscapes, linens and the mind, my senses come alive as I dig deeply to fit the meaning of the event into beauty to match the feeling of the day. I have never been one to hold something at my house that was not preceded with hours of painstaking thought and then action to instill that thought. Be it a birthday party, a festive or holiday gathering, a family affair, or a celebration of the season, from football parties to summer cookouts. I LOVE to entertain and always have! To entertain in the architectural aura of the barn at Life’s Patina has been the greatest blessing bestowed on a being such as me, who gets heady with sensory input, putting all the elements into play to create special and memorable gatherings.

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Even our vegetables and herbs get into the act of becoming an artistic centerpiece in the appetizer display 

We started our string of styling and staging events a week after our Fall sale with a rehearsal dinner that we held in the lower barn for a beautifully vibrant couple who was to be married the next day. We had began emptying out the lower barn and moving tables so that we could seat the 35 attendees of the dinner. I had worked with the mother of the groom over the course of several months to discuss all the elements and to make sure that their celebration was all that they expected it to be and then some. Barring the weather of an October monsoon and a deep chill, I think we accomplished our goal and it was a pleasure to witness the genuine deep rooted happiness and anticipation that the eve before a wedding brings.

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Our assemblage of every chair we had in the barn (and some that came from our house) coupled with every available table, created the bones for a decorative yet simple table scape.

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Immediately after the rehearsal dinner was held, we kicked it into high gear to empty out the rest of the barn so that we could host a wedding in the upper barn for a dear friend’s daughter in two weeks’ time.  As we were breaking down, we used an empty corner of the upper barn to mock up our room that we were creating for a charity event that we were asked to participate in, entitled, A Date with a Plate. I sketched out a very rough drawing after writing a paragraph for the program for the event about my inspiration for the room.


Below is the copy of the paragraph that the organizers of the event asked each participant to create. Can you see the inspiration?

Here at Life’s Patina we are inspired by the past. We incorporate architectural elements, vintage finds, luxe fabrics juxtaposed by burlap and silver sitting side by side time worn woods; each of these elements enhancing the presence of the other. In creating our “Room with a View” we tapped into all of those elements to create an elegant Fall dining tableau that has a story. A simple story that we often overlook,  of celebrating the beauty of life…past and present. We love stories, antique books and the written word at Life’s Patina. Our title is a play on words of the 1908 novel of the same name indeed highlighting a room with a view. In our room, the view is not to the outside world as in the novel but to the inside workings of the room. Using vintage picture frames, mirrors, gorgeous drapery and antique doors we create faux windows and entrances “into” the room, bringing the beauty to the interior, it’s inhabitants and their lives. Margaux St. Ledger of Fleur De Lis Floral Design took our view of the room and created the stunning florals that add to the story of… A Room With a View.

We moved out the contents needed to create our room into one Suburban, a pick up truck, and a small station wagon and recreated our “room” three days after the rehearsal dinner. Talk about a quick turn around! This could not have been accomplished without the hard work of my team, Ben, Maggie, Christopher and Chris Stoner. We hammered, nailed, wired and the like to create a free standing “wall” out of old doors. No small feat. My floral genius friend, Margaux from Fleur de Lis, completed our room by creating all of the crazy requests that I made.

“Can you please make a seat out of hydrangeas in one of my favorite stripped down chairs? “

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mock up in upper barn… pre hydrangeas



“How about creating a little arrangement of florals in this window frame that I would like to hang from these old iron brackets that I would like to mount from the doors?”

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pre-cleaned and pre- hung and flower adorned window frame

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Check!  After I lightly sanded and painted the doors in new blue paint to blend with the old blue shade
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“Pretty arrangements in silver tea servers?”

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Check!  I set the florals on top of a few pretty books placed atop a French oval mirror that was perched on a vintage satin lamp shade

“Wire battery operated candles from this hanging paper chandelier?”

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“Up light the collage I made from old manuscripts, postcards, ledgers and napkins?”

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“Any other florals you can whip up in our containers and vessels?”

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There is nothing she cannot do and combined with my peeps at Life’s Patina, we had a ball, creating our “Room With a View!”

A huge thank you to the committee women of the Date with a Plate event who invited us to participate. We are confident that lives will be changed by the money raised from the two day event for Project ALS at Penn Medicine.

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After we broke down our “room” and brought it back to our empty barn, it was time to transform it into a magical wedding space in 3 days time.

Up went the tent…and down came the rain. It was totally fine for the “know what they are doing” Party Center team put the tent up early…just in case.

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May I ask you to come back to see the transformation of the barn into the glorious wedding space that it became? There is much too much to share and to only give you a brief taste would be a disservice.

Until we meet again!


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