Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finding a New Writing Space in Our Joyful Cottage

Have I ever mentioned that we live in a small home? A very small home? I once thought we lived in a 620 sq ft home, but recently I found out it's actually 640 sq ft. So now we live in a bigger small home. But I digress.  

The photo above shows a portion of our living room. See that cute little blue chest under the window? I love that piece. Some day I'll share the story of how it came to be mine.

Right now the chest is holding a plethora of DVD's and old VHS tapes that we no longer watch since we signed up for Netflix. (Which I personally feel is an invention right up there with the microwave. . .I mean, come on, a bazillion movies to watch at the tip of your fingers for only $7.99 a month? Ingenious.)

When we first moved into our cottage almost 2 years ago, I had a writing area in the south side of the living room.

Notice the mish-mash of wood finishes in this photo? Ugh. But I knew it was temporary, because my wonderful husband planned on moving everything out.

And creating a more pleasing and useable space.

The last phase of our cottage remodel. We moved the door from the east wall to the south wall and installed all new windows. I'm very happy with the way it turned out. But I lost my writing space. I've been chewing on this one for months now. It's not like we have a spare bedroom or a basement I could use. Where was I going to find a space to work without pulling an RV into our driveway? 

And then I looked at the blue chest over by the charming red stove, and the great view, from the window, of our neighbor's horse corral and Lumpy Ridge in the distance.

On a whim I cleared the top and set up my laptop and larger monitor. 

So far so good. Everything fits. Just might work. 

I pulled out the top drawer and moved some things around and created a mock surface for my keyboard and mouse.

I pulled up a chair while holding my breath (which I wouldn't recommend you try). I sat down. 

Right height. My legs fit under the drawer. 

I typed a few lines. 

Yes. It will work. Eureka!

So now all I have to do is convert that top drawer to a pull out work surface and my beloved blue chest will live on with new purpose. (I can tell she's as excited as I am.)

To be continued. . .

Linking up with Friendship Friday

Monday, January 14, 2013

More French Cottages

"Kerascoet Cottage" photo by Nathalie: Some Rights Reserved.

I adore this French cottage. The thatched roof and the blue shutters set against the gray stone are so pretty. The little window box almost gets lost in the abundance of glorious flowers surrounding it. Ce gîte est magnifique! 

But let's not stop here. Join me for more French cottage love.

"Cottage Creeper" photo by Xerones:
Some Rights Reserved.
Creeper has nearly taken over this cottage in Pierrerue.

"Summer Cottage" photo by Eric Allix Rogers:
Some Rights Reserved.
A summer cottage in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur. Pas rustique?

"Postcards from Brittany 22 - Cottage" photo by Michael Foley Photography: Some Rights Reserved.
This thatched cottage of La Brière marsh shows off a cheery green door and window. If I didn't tell you it's in France, would you think it to be an Irish cottage?

"Postcards from Brittany 23 - thatch" photo by Michael Foley Photography:
Some Rights Reserved.
Beautiful Brittany thatched roof cottage. So much charm.

"Postcards from Brittany 20 - Thatched cottage, La Briere, France" photo by Michael Foley Photography:
Some Rights Reserved.

I've never seen a thatched roof cottage like this one. Stunning.

"DSC_9663c/Cabanon de provence avec son moulin à vent" photo by Koen:
Some Rights Reserved.
"Cabanon de provence avec son moulin à vent" translates to "Cottage of Provence with its windmill." In cottage language it translates to very picturesque.

"Cottage Exterior 1" photo by Lisa Larsson: Some Rights Reserved.

I admire the rustic simplicity of this Midi-Pyrenees cottage.

"IMG_5139" photo by Andrew Batram:
Some Rights Reserved.

A cottage on the outskirts of Montignac. (Excuse me while I go pack.)

"xti_9405" photo by Art History Images (Holly Hayes):

An enchanting cottage in North Burgundy. The little window with the flower pot is so sweet. Beautiful flowers flow like a waterfall on the stone wall.

"A Cottage in Burgundy" photo by Phillip Capper:
Some Rights Reserved.

I believe that's wisteria covering this Burgundy cottage. How long would it take to grow this mass of gorgeous blooms?

"Provins0006" photo by Becky Bielstein:
Some Rights Reserved.

This is nothing short of wonderful. The chocolate brown shutters are perfect for this cottage.

And, finally
"Cottage" photo by Ben Salter: .
Some Rights Reserved.
a completely different cottage style in the French Alps and equally charming.

So, were you able to choose a favorite cottage? Rustic, or refined? Thatched roof or tiled, metal, or shingled? Botanically unadorned, or glorious with flowers? I'd love to hear what you think.

Until next time, Adieu mes amis.

Linking to 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tour of Knockahopple Cottage

What happens when an Irish American visits his ancestral land and discovers an unoccupied cottage for sale in County Tipperary? Why, he buys the cottage, of course, lovingly renovates it and, serendipitously, it becomes an Irish guesthouse.

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Knockahopple Cottage and its owner Liam Hughes.

In the mid-1800's Liam's great grandfather came to America from Knockahopple, a townsland nestled in the beautiful Silvermines Mountains of County Tipperary. As a boy Liam often visited the area with his family. 

During a visit in 1989 Liam asked his cousin if there were any cottages for sale in the area. His cousin directed him to what is now called "Knockahopple Cottage."

The cottage had been vacant for some time and required a good deal of work to bring it to a livable condition. Major improvements included a new addition

and new floors in the original section of the cottage.

Liam maintained the integrity of the traditional cottage while performing the needed updates.

Liam's antique and reproduction lights rest with other decor, awaiting bedroom and sitting room completion.  

A working kitchen is accessed through a half door just off the cozy eating area.

An antique press houses the cottage dishware.

The remodeled sitting room is warm and inviting.

Liam's penchant for collecting antiques has added to the charm of Knockahopple.

Glorious flowers are seen throughout the cottage and grounds.

Stunning pink roses wind their way 'round the side of the cottage

and hug the quaint doorbell.

Is it a rainy day? A sunny day? It's both.

Irish Gorse in full bloom.

Knocakahopple's next door neighbors

Initially, the only guests Liam planned to host at Knockahopple Cottage were family and close friends. But then he received a phone call from a seventy-five-year-old woman in Indiana named Gaeney. She was planning a visit with her friend to Ireland in 1999 and, having heard of Knockahopple from a friend of Liam's mother, was interested in staying at the cottage.

Liam says, "We made the arrangements over the phone, but she was disheartened to learn that her age restricted her from renting a car in Ireland. That was when she asked if I would be interested in driving her and her friend to their destinations."

Liam agreed and worked out the details of the trip. When the two women arrived in Ireland, he drove them to Knockahopple Cottage and served them tea and scones. The next morning he served a full Irish breakfast, including fresh baked soda bread that he cooked over the open fire in the kitchen. "A secret I learned from my Irish cousin, Anna Mae," he says.

Twin Bedroom

During their two week stay at Knockahopple Cottage Liam  showed the ladies the Ireland most tourists don't see. Gaeney was so impressed with her stay that she urged Liam to "put his passion for showing off the real Ireland to work." 

Liam took her advice, and that's how Knockahopple Cottage and Tours came to be. Although his guesthouse business has grown, Liam intentionally keeps it small and personalized.

When he's not busy with Knockahopple guests, Liam pursues his other passion: designing and making shard jewelry.

1950s German Hohenzollern Pitcher Shard Necklace

An excerpt from Liam's Shard Jewelry website gives the background of his exquisite art:

"My shard jewelry finds its roots in the folk art known as Pique Assiette, French for 'stolen from the plate.' The art form was first recognized in Africa where pottery vessels were used to mark the graves of their previous owners. Later, the Victorians placed broken china on jars and vases to make memory jugs. Today, broken china continues to be recycled into tabletops, picture frames and a variety ofother items…all forms of Pique Assiette."

Contemporary Blue Damask Pin/Pendant

1950's Lefton Ring Dish Shard Necklace

The stunning collection includes pins, pendants, bracelets, drawer pulls, and wine stoppers. 

1870's Brown Transferware Pin/Pendant

1950's Roslyn Plate Shard Ring

Liam personally creates each piece himself. 

Birds and Berries Tea Mug Shard Pin/Pendant

He says, "Twice a year, I unveil my new collections at Spring and Winter Shows held every April and November. Meanwhile, I also sell my work at select craft shows, private home showings, and in my online store."

1900's Royal Buxton China Shard Pin/Pendant

I was surprised to find how reasonably priced these unique pieces are. You can see more of Liam's collection at

I hope you've enjoyed our peek into Knockahopple Cottage and Liam's shard jewelry. I want to thank Liam for allowing me the privilege of using his photos, and sharing his cottage life here at A Joyful Cottage.

At the end of this rainbow is a pot of gold known as Knockahopple Cottage.

For more information about Knockahopple Cottage, or to book a stay, visit Liam's website: