Marvelous Architecture of Martha’s Vineyard

Ugggh.  I am so guilty and feel terrible that I haven’t created a blog post in such a long time!  Sorry!  It all started back in early June.  First my husband was surprised to find out that the Army was promoting him.  So planning for a ceremony and party occupied a bit of our free time, then on top of that excitement we decided to make an offer on a house we liked, which ultimately resulted in us having to get our house ready to put on the market, an offer from the military to move to Italy (which we ultimately turned down), and celebrating my son’s graduation from 8th grade, and both my husband and my birthdays within 2 days of each other…. June was a whirlwind and July hasn’t been much better.

Thankfully there was 4 days of respite amongst all of it.  My husband surprised me with a trip to Martha’s Vineyard for my 40th birthday!  I had never been there but had read several books that are set in the relaxed, upscale, posh island.  Besides spending some time lying on a beach I was most looking forward to perusing the streets taking in all the great shingle clad architecture.  Martha did not disappoint!  Architecture ogling started as soon as our little plane touched down.  The airport with its whitewalls natural wood shiplap ceiling, detailed beams complete with turnbuckles offered a worthy welcome to this picturesque little island.  Check out those beams!

I really expected to see more grand homes with lots of weathered gray cedar shake siding, and while those did exist I think some of the large compounds were tucked away in the meandering woods of the island so their residents can enjoy privacy.  I was so surprised to find lane upon lane of adorable little Victorians dripping in gingerbread details.  The first sample of vintage Victorian architecture was our little B&B, the Oak Bluffs Inn.  Painted in pretty pastel shades of blue, lavender and pink it was a quintessential Victorian with seashore inspired antiques decorating the inside.  Our little cottage was a separate building in the back yard and was simply appointed and perfect for relaxing.  Very private and no TV.

oak bluffs inn


oak bluff inn carriage house

A few blocks over the Victorian delight continued with tons of shaded streets lined with adorable doll house like seasonal residences.  The area known as the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA) is a community ripe with adorable Victorian homes in every color of the rainbow.



























And yes, the parks, beaches, and lighthouses were gorgeous and every meal we had was excellent – so many great restaurants to choose from.  I’d go back to Martha’s Vineyard in a heartbeat.  Alas a return trip will have to wait because, fingers crossed, if everything goes well in the next month or so we’ll be moving! Stay tuned!  In the meantime, amidst purging and packing I promise to be better about blogging regularly and will share some highlights and ideas from some of my recent clients and moving tips too!


Colonial Gems at Olde Bulltown Village

Over the holidays, we took a quick trip to Pennsylvania to visit my family, who live in suburban-rural Chester County.  It’s a gorgeous area that mixes areas that are clearly Philadelphia suburbia with shopping centers and typical communities of tract homes with regions of farmland and colonial homes that are several hundred years old.  I had mentioned the DIY Network show, Stone House Revival to my parents since it is often filmed in Chester County and neighboring Bucks County.  I love some of the old stone homes featured on this show that have large fireplaces, chunky wood beams, wide plank floors and weird little outbuildings like springhouses and icehouses.  Of course, most of these 200 year old relics need special workarounds for modern conveniences like large fridges, air conditioning, and dishwashers.  Turns out there is a place in Chester County where history-lovers can have the best of both worlds with old historic stone house looks with the convenience of modern amenities; it’s a community called Olde Bulltown Village.  The small community of homesites, several of which have already been built on is situated among the rolling hills of Chester County’s farms, woods and a manicured golf course.   The custom-built brand new homes are 18th Century Americana architecture with all the modern conveniences of this century.  We drove through the community and imagined what kind of “shop” we’d set up in Olde Bulltown.  My husband wants to build one that looks like the town pub on the outside but that serves as a home on the inside.  I’ll let the beauty of this community, built by Chester County’s Stoltzfus Enterprises Ltd. speak for itself in the pictures (more available at Olde Bulltown’s website, here).

This barn style home is hands down my favorite! I wish I could see the inside.  I’d love to know what the light situation is in there.


Just look at the view from this rustic beauty.  Not sure who the builder’s photog is but they do excellent work.  This could be a Christmas card.


Humongous fireplaces, chandeliers and ceilings… three of my favorite things.


Think stone, brick and siding can’t all go together on one house, guess again.  This is how to mix materials right.


Elegant, long chains draw your eye up right from the simple fixtures to the open ceiling.  Perhaps we could add a few huge turnbuckles in our pub ceiling 😉


This could be straight out of Willaimsburg.  I can picture a cute little Scottish Terrier hopping around inside the adorable picket fence.


Again more mixed materials just as they might have done hundreds of years ago, weathered wood,  brick and stone and traditionally painted trim, is perfect!

Classic Colonial Roudup

I may have mentioned before that I love a good low-country home, but unless you live on or near the Georgia, Florida, North or South Carolina coast, they may appear a bit out of place.  From here in Virginia up through New England Colonial architecture definitely rules the roost.  I saw a really cute colonial yesterday while casually house-hunting (I am a chronic real estate voyeur) and it got me thinking about good colonial architecture. There’s something about a REAL classic colonial that always feels perfect in the fall and winter, they are so welcoming and homey.  Now I’m neither a historian nor an architect, but this is my unofficial rundown of some of the gorgeous varieties of classic colonials that you’ll find here in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, US of A.

Some of the oldest homes you’ll find have the most simplistic First Period Colonial design, often with clapboard siding, a steep pitched roof, simple door and often unmatched or non-symmetrical windows – just perfect in their simplicity!


The Georgian Colonial is always symmetrical with larger windows, and a good bit of details in the ornate moldings and paneled doors. Clearly for the colonists that had coin.



The Federal Colonials are often grouped in with the Georgian as they have some fancy detailing, chimney symmetry, but often contain a third floor of windows that are smaller in scale and arched or gabled transoms to make the entryway even more ornate.



The Cape Cod is a type of typical colonial that is very popular and characteristically has a very steep roof, often adorned with dormers for added height as many are not a full 2 story house, the door is generally centered and balanced by symmetrical window placement.  In my opinion, the best Cape Cods are in New England and have cedar shake siding and a boldly painted door.



The Dutch Colonial is always easy to pick out among its colonial brethren.  It’s the one with a roof that looks like a barn!



My absolute favorite place to ogle colonial architecture is in the true land of the first settlers, Williamsburg, VA.  If you ever get a chance to visit, touristy stuff aside, its a great place to get ideas to for how to adorn your Colonial with shutters, greenery or fun color combinations.