June 08: Design, living and trends for home and garden

June 08: Design, living and trends for home and garden


Pink: the new blue

Shoppers who recently said au revoir to the French antiques and homewares shop 2 French Hens at 100 South St. (a.k.a. the “pink building”) can soon say buongiorno to the Italian ceramics and farm tables shop Verity Blue. Mark Cave, who owns Verity Blue along with his wife, Victoria, tells us that Verity will decamp its current location at the Main Street Market in favor of the South Street digs on or before July 1 and that Milano, the couple’s espresso and gelato shop next door to Verity, likely will land there as well. The pink building will not actually be going blue as far as exterior paint goes, but Cave says he’ll improve exterior signage for the building’s somewhat confusing façade.

Mark Cave of Verity Blue.

Another Downtown shop that’s moving really far away—to virtual reality, in fact—is Penny Lane, which currently is located at 214 Ridge St. Owner Penny Latham has decided to “semi-retire” from the bricks and mortar manner of selling her antiques, art and unique gifts. She’s closing the shop for regular business effective June 1 and will instead offer her inventory online at pennylaneshops.com. Latham says she’ll also continue to market her own “altered and found object art” at two Virginia galleries: Willow Place in Richmond and Kilmarnock Antiques Gallery in Kilmarnock.

Finally, all the schmoozing with government dignitaries in Charlottesville’s French sister-city Besançon seems to have trickled down to the design business. This April, two Besançon-ians—Thierry Marquis and Laurent François—opened a branch of their France-based interior design firm at 1108 Little High St. and specialize (natch) in interiors with authentic French flare.—Katherine Ludwig

Five ways to use a blue Mason jar

One of our favorite find-it-in-every-junk-store items is the ubiquitous blue Mason jar. Sure, it’s a humble, mass-produced item, but that turquoise color dresses it up so nice, and looks as fresh today as it did when the jars were made (as far back as the mid-1800s). Here are five ways to put it to work in your rooms:

1. Fill with wine corks
2. Use as a vase for casual flowers like daisies or peonies
3. Make it into a soap dispenser by adding a pump
4. Use it to collect pennies
5. Put tealights inside to dress up your dining room

Treasure measure

This month’s surfer: Jose Giron of The Consignment House

What’s on his browser: worthpoint.com

What it is: A go-to site for info on antiques and collectibles. You can buy ‘em, sell ‘em, chat about ‘em, and just read about their history here. Oh yeah, and you can figure out how much they’re probably worth—as in, will that old perfume bottle in your attic bring a few hundred bucks, or enough for a cheap bottle of pinot?

Jose Giron

Why he likes it: Giron says he often turns to worthpoint’s research library in particular for object prices and descriptions. We also like the articles on specific topics, like antique coins or Marvel Comics.

On top of the world

Around this time last year, we decided to paint our roof. This was no idle project; the old roof, a standing-seam metal affair painted silver, was showing rust in many places and needed a layer of protection to keep it from a rapid decline. Serious business—and the job itself was, too.

Before we could even think about breaking out the brushes, we had to power-wash the roof. This, of course, meant renting a power washer, which in turn meant renting a big pickup truck to be able to drive the machine home. My husband ascended (fortunately, we got as hand-me-downs both a tall sliding ladder to get onto the roof and a “chicken ladder” for crawling up to the peak) and sprayed the whole thing down as I manned the kill switch on the washer. As it turned out, power washing took a whole Saturday, so it was Sunday before we could prime.

Roof paint is very thick, and our primer, like the top coat, was a nice dark red. Sunday, we climbed the ladders together and got started painting. We worked out a system where one person used a brush on the standing seams while the other rolled paint onto the flat “pans” between seams; we shared chicken ladder duties and did our best not to fall. Our house isn’t big, but this turned out to be about a nine-hour job, and the sun reflecting from the roof gave each of us a pretty sweet tan. It was a day worthy of several margaritas (when safely on terra firma, of course). A few weekends later, we climbed back up and put on the top coat.

Though we have plans to someday paint it yellow, our house is blue for the moment—with a red roof. Yeah, so it looks like a flag. You got a problem with that?—Spackled Egg

Rub-a-dub-dub, refinish your tub

Is your bath getting to look like the last place you should go to get clean, even when you just scrubbed it? Actually, it is possible to get it refinished. All tubs—acrylic, fiberglass and cast iron—can be refinished, at significantly less expense than installing a new one. Refinishing can be done on-site and a standard bathtub can be refinished and ready to use in 48 hours.

It is possible to D.I.Y. your own tub, but it’s an epic procedure. You’d first cover your entire bathroom, except for the tub, with plastic sheeting and masking tape, scrub and sand the tub ‘til it gleams and is smooth, then don a respirator mask and goggles to apply the mixed enamel with a roller. Most professionals say it’s extremely difficult to achieve a smooth finish with the roller, and the chemical isocyanate necessary to ensure decent, lasting results is slightly toxic and therefore tough for amateurs to acquire.

There is help for a spotty tub.

If you still desperately want to do it yourself, try armorpoxy.com for a complete kit. Otherwise, there are a number of professional refinishers locally. Try K&K Associates (977-8774) and they’ll refinish your tub for around $450 and provide a five-year guarantee.—Lily Robertson

“Our Realtor suggests we do some touch-up painting on the exterior and hang baskets of flowers on the porch. I am reminded of the saying ‘lipstick on a pig.’ We move our furniture away from the walls to make our rooms look bigger. We now have enormous rooms with furniture piled up in the center.”—from the essay “A Seller’s Notes,” by Chris Bachelder