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Countertop Review

This time last year I was packing up our house to prepare for our down-to-the-studs renovation in our kitchen, family room, and master bath as well as the addition of a screened porch. The family room wasn't originally part of the plan, but that's a post for another time. The kitchen was where I really had to plan and scheme, and, yes even fret, to stay in our footprint and budget and to get the function and look I wanted. I love a challenge like this, though, so despite some occasional frustration with my client (aka me! ), I enjoyed the process. A key "want" of mine was honed marble countertops. There are dozens--maybe hundreds--of blog posts, articles, and showroom sites that compare various types of countertop materials and their pros and cons. I read most of them and took notes from a lot of them in the months leading up to our start date. One of the most helpful things was visiting a sweet friend's kitchen, where I was able to ask questions about cleaning, a

Act 1: The Charleston, or Comfortable Shoes Open the Gate to Happiness

Packing for a leisure trip is always a bit of trouble, isn’t it? Unless you have a rigid itinerary, it’s hard to know exactly what to bring and what to leave behind. I have fully embraced DaniBP’s “color story” philosophy for packing, but even with the simplicity that offers, there’s still margin for error.
And, for me, that error has most often been manifest in my shoe choices. This time, I got it right for both comfort and style. At least, I think I did. Steadfastly refusing to wear athletic shoes for non-athletic pursuits, I packed a pair of Tom’s espadrille-type shoes in a neutral color, a snappy navy-and-white striped pair of espadrilles, and a pair of pointed toe flats, just in case. In case of what, I’m not sure. At any rate, they looked cute and were good for a couple of miles of walking. And to see Charleston, one must walk. And walk.IMG_1298At times, you will walk on brick, as seen here on Church Street. IMG_0872 Later, you may find yourself walking on slate near the Battery.IMG_0875 The slate can be uneven.IMG_1224Old brick is practically guaranteed to trip you up if you’re wearing kitten heels or, heaven forbid, stilettos! IMG_1297The oldest manmade surface looks beautiful, with its multi-colored stones and time-worn texture, but cobblestones are tough on the feet.
So, if you’re planning a trip to Charleston, take my advice and pack several pairs of comfortable shoes. My secret tip, perfected in New York, is to switch heel heights throughout the day. I may start the day in a low heel, then, after several hours of walking, change to a flat, and then back to the low heel. I am convinced that this helps to alleviate some of the stress put on joints by hours of walking on hard surfaces. And, as we all know, comfortable feet open the gateway to happiness. Or something like that.
And speaking of gates, here are some of my favorite Charleston examples.IMG_0870
The Mister and I loved this Scottish admonition, found below a gate on one the Peninsula’s side streets. Can you figure it out? It’s quite clever, I think, and I’d love to replicate it for a garden gate. IMG_1286Boxwoods and creeping vines adorn many of the city’s wrought iron gates. IMG_0824 Our innkeeper, who was born and raised in Charleston, told us that she wanted to print a bumper sticker that states, Real Charlestonians don’t have Topiaries. Too funny.IMG_0826 I loved this gate, although I would have to paint that door, if it were my house.IMG_0839These gates welcome worshippers to the First Baptist Church of Charleston, a congregation that was formed in Kittery, Maine in 1682 and moved to the Holy City in 1696. The current sanctuary was designed by architect Robert Mills and was built in 1822.IMG_0841I loved the monograms, left over from a Saturday wedding, and I plan to borrow this idea when the time comes for Big, Middle or Little to tie the knot. IMG_0855Hydrangeas, ferns, ivies, and boxwoods form the backbone of many Charleston gardens, softening the structures and offering welcoming pockets of green throughout the city. IMG_0861This gate opened up to a wide yard, an uncommon feature for a downtown Charleston house. Of course, it’s painted the ubiquitous color known as Charleston Green. The legend goes that following the Civil War, or the Late Unpleasantness, if you prefer, that the federal government sent gallons of paint for Charlestonians to use to spruce up their devastated hometown. Supposedly, the paint was all black, and Charlestonians bucked at using the so-called Yankee paint. So they added yellow to create “Charleston Green.” Depending on the source, the recipe is either nine or 10 parts black to one part yellow for a true Charleston Green. Of course, nowadays Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams have their own formulas.  Either way, it’s an awfully good color against the red brick and white frame houses found in the city.IMG_0868More ferns, azaleas and myrtle fill this charming garden, and look at all that velvety moss.  IMG_1284 I love this classic gate, opening to a narrow garden shared by neighbors. So elegant.
Not so elegant, my feet.  Remember, pack comfortable shoes, but don’t forget the Band-Aids.
And now, for the riddle of the gate,
Be Ye Man or Be Ye Woman,
Be Ye Sune (Soon) or Be Ye Late,
Be Ye Guan (Going) or Be Ye Cumin (Coming),
Be Ye Sure to Shut This Gate. 
But you figured that out already, right?


  1. I did figure it out! (Must be the Scotish in me.) Sorry about your feet. With that much walking, you would need very well broken in shoes. Gorgeous streets and gates!

  2. Charlestonians also NEVER have a wreath on their door..only at Christmas!

  3. Memphian Neely Woodson Powell has moved to Charleston to sell comfortable, colorful inexpensive shoes to tourists at her shops called the Charleston-Savannah Shoe Company. You might take a look next time you visit. And her husband Biggs has an interior design shop next door.


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