Black Forest Design

201011_freiburgForestIn Germany, in the town of Baden-Wurtenburg is a wooded mountain range commonly known as The Black Forest. The name derived from the dense growth of conifer trees that grew in the forest, therefore blocking most of the sunlight from entering.

thOver the years, the locals have come to be famous for their wood carving abilities. These wood carvings are now a very popular source of souvenirs for tourists, the most famous of all being Cuckoo Clocks.

DSC00370The above clock was purchased at an auction. I was amazed at the detail work. The antlers are carved from ivory;

DSC00371as are the numbers and hands on the clock

DSC00381With Black Forest carving, several motifs are commonly used. Bears, Deer, Edelweiss leaves, branches, and Hunting and Game motifs as seen on the bottom of the clock.


Because our weekend escape is a log cabin, it was very fitting to incorporate a lot of Black Forest pieces when planning the decor. I wanted to have more of a “Swiss Chalet” feel, so it was while doing my research that I discovered the beauty of these pieces.

black_forest_germanyThis is a very typical building style for the region as this version of a Black Forest Cabin built with logs and a thatched roof.

So charming!

800px-Vogtsbauernhof_kleinIn my search for pieces to use, I realized how very expensive they are and rightfully so. Such works of art take a lot of time to craft. To achieve such detail while carving takes a lot of time.

The carving is not just limited to small pieces. Entire rooms have been created by craftsmen including the walls, ceilings, chandeliers and furnishings. A beautiful example is the Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube (German for Black Forest), where there is a seven month wait for a reservation.

Although-there-is-a-more-modern-looking-section-there-also-intricate-wood-carvings-and-panelling-in-the-restaurant.Stateside, in Miami, is the Cruz Building, which hosts large events and conventions. One area of the building is also done in the Black Forest Style. The hand carving in both places is simply stunning!

38My cabin pales in comparison to the work shown here, but in my travels I have managed to find my own little treasures. All may not be true or authentic Black Forest pieces, but to achieve the look can be affordable. So many home catalogs now sell reproduction pieces and the cost can be kept down because they are made from molds and synthetics instead of hand carved wood. A fun example is this bench, a birthday gift to me from my husband. Two bears hold the seat and to see it in person, one would never know it’s not wood.

DSC00367Over this bench I hung a mirror, which is also made from a composite. Birds and leaves adorn the edges, and it too looks just like wood. (The reflection in the mirror is the front Dutch door and it’s original strap hinges, purchased at a salvage yard.)

DSC00368This charming clock was found at a junk store and was very inexpensive. I loved the fact that someone’s elderly relative had lovingly carved it and even managed to find the metal deer statue attached to the top.

DSC00363This particular clock was a gift to me from my mother in law. I love how simple it is and of course because it has horses. She knows me well!

I have surrounded it with a bunch of real ancestors.

DSC00365This bookcase is a fine example of a furniture piece from the region. Again, the carving is so meticulously done and photos don’t do it justice. I just love all the oak leaves and acorns.

Black_forest_arms_cabinet_01Another collection that was started by accident was picture frames that incorporated the Edelweiss leaves. These are very common, easy to find and not expensive.

DSC00372As you can see, they don’t even have to hold a picture. Hanging them empty works just as well.

Old needlepoint House Blessings are fun to hunt for.


Detail of the frames..

DSC00376This piece I found in a little antique store. I assume it was meant to house a clock, but I plan to hang a pocket watch in it.

DSC00377In the same shop was this sweet match holder that hangs over my oven.

DSC00366A moose head towel holder is made from metal

DSC00380For my mantel, I used leftover wood from the house and attached pre-carved moldings. Aged metal strap hinges on the corners gave me the look of a true hand carved piece.

DSC00383For my husband, I found this real carved wood humidor. The detail is incredible including the brass hardware.

DSC00378Of course, what sold me was the detail on the top!

DSC00379In my research, I happened to come across a photo of what may have been then inspiration for this carving.

In the Black Forest area of Germany are horses that are native to the area. They are appropriately named the “Black Forest Horse” or “Pferdeschitte”

They are mostly black with the flaxen mane and tail as shown in this photo.

743px-Schwarzwaelder-hengstAs always, I seem to be able to sneak my horse passion into whatever I write about!


Think Modular

With the state of the housing market today, it is difficult for people to obtain financing for a new home. Bargains are out there to be had, but unfortunately with a lot of concerns and hidden costs. Whether it is a short sale, foreclosure or simply abandoned, the buyer has to worry about extra fees such as liens, unpaid taxes or the cost of renovations.

There is a very cost effective alternative available to almost anyone..

Modular Homes!

Below is an example of what is being produced in factories now.

pontevedraThe modular home industry has come a very long way compared to 20 or 30 years ago. When people would hear “modular” their first thought would be a trailer. Not anymore! This home has also been manufactured by a modular company.

slider-hp-1Trailers are definitely an affordable option for people who want to have the advantage of ownership , however good location is not always an option. Modular homes are the same concept as trailers, however there are so many options available. Would you ever guess that this home was made in a factory?luxury homeOr this one?

modular-log-homes-0Modulars no longer are limited to the stereotypical “box”. Many levels, dormers, turrets, balconies and wrap around porches are some of the many options offered to prospective buyers.

modular-home-designsAs you can also see, the designs are beautifully executed and are not limited to vinyl siding. Traditional, contemporary, country; even logs are some of the architectural styles that can be built.Green Modular Home by Deltec Green TeamRound, square, rectangular, “A frame”….If you can think of it there is a company that can manufacture it.

Beautiful-Prefab-Modular-House-Design-in-South-AfricaA great advantage to purchasing modular is that location is not an issue. If you can purchase property that is build-able by having access to all necessary utilities, then the rest is fairly simple.Highland-winterEach manufacturer is different in the styles, details and finishes that they offer, so researching is very important. You will need to make a lot of decisions. How many bedrooms and baths? How much square footage? Outside finish?silo-home-1Modular home builders are setting up factories everywhere, so finding one that fit your needs should be easy. Become familiar with the different ways they operate. ASK QUESTIONS!!! Once you have an idea of what you are looking for, the company takes it from there.

Usually, the company will give you a price for the entire home, as finished. Financially, what will be an extra cost will be all the prep work on the property you purchase. Excavation, foundation and utility hookups are some of those things. But don’t panic! A lot of the companies are able to assist you with those phases, also.

The point is, in the long run, going Modular can be a much more cost effective way to go. And you also end up with a brand new house instead of a fixer upper.

modular-shelter-Barn-with-PoolModular homes are literally manufactured in warehouses. The house is made into sections, and each section is finished almost completely including windows, cabinets, and flooring.

SmartHomeDepending on the style of the house determines how much is done before delivery.

modular-home-factory-700When the indoor construction is completed, the structure gets delivered to the site in sections.uc1513The pieces are attached to the foundation in a specific order.

SPCA-buildingAnd in no time at all, the house takes shape, as shown by this A frame.

img_1430And by this Colonial 3 car garage with dormers

SAMSUNG The interiors can vary just as much as the exterior. Again, depending on the manufacturer, you are able to pick from their specific inventory of finished products. These include cabinets, tile, carpet, vanities, faucets etc. For extra charges, you can upgrade just as if you were to build in a sub-division.texas-kitchen-073Depending on your budget, things can elaborate, 4AFC6C6F-F6B3-B1B6-3A89599C1580B274or they can be simple.

Chadwick-8-1024x682Once everything is finished, it is hard to tell the difference between a manufactured home versus a custom made.

The following photos are all examples of modular interiors.2009-09-modular-homes-interior-design-koby-Cottage-picturesBluffton014-1024x755Chadwick-7-1024x682doubleeagle-int1PVODNIKR1interiorforhomesIn Poland, there is a very famous modular home. It was built by philanthropist Daniel Czapiewski as a statement of the former communist rule in Poland and its impact on the people of Poland. This house is located in the town of Szymbark. This house is a gathering for tourists to see the unique shape of this house, and certainly not conventional!

Modular-Home-in-Polandia-3How fun would it be to build this and actually be able to live in it?


Reflection; How Time Flies!

Today, as I was preparing to write a new post, I downloaded about twenty photos. I just deleted them all.

Here’s why…

I was going to write about ALL WHITE kitchens and how to make them dramatic and effective, yet kid friendly. I took out photos to use from our very first home as examples, but something happened.

I was brought back to 1981. My husband and I were getting married in November of that year and we were fortunate enough to be buying a home.

001This was our purchase. An older bungalow style house that was well loved and lived in by one family for many years. The owners were older and did not want the burden of upkeep anymore, so they asked if we would be interested in buying it.

We jumped at the chance as we were young and energetic. We both knew that with a lot of dedication and hard work, the house could be brought back to life and would get us started with making our very own happy memories.

The first thing we tackled was the kitchen..002 or lack of?????

The cabinets were made from scraps of wood and had to be shimmied open and closed. We had a Frigidaire that had a handle like a slot machine. I used a hammer and knife to defrost the freezer. The linoleum floor speaks for itself. The single ceiling fixture was my only lighting. The radiator was a microwave stand. The oven looked new but did not work. The walls were plaster with true paper, not vinyl, glued onto them.

We proudly would have people over to show our off new home. Everyone’s expression would always be the same look as if they felt sorry for us. But we knew better. We knew that we would prevail in this new project!

The “Snowball” began!!

We ripped out walls.

003The phone setup really made me smile.

We knocked the cabinets away from the walls. We pulled up those floor tiles.


We scraped off the wallpaper with single edge razors and chipped off the tile below it.

010We plastered where there were holes.012We took out the old wood windows. Too many layers of old paint prevented them from opening.


And still with all the work we had ahead of us…

009We felt as if we owned the Taj Mahal; Our very own little 1/3 acre of Real Estate that was completely ours!  Little by little, things started to fall into place. We purchased things as we could afford them. We fed a lot of friends and family in exchange for their help. We ate a lot of pizza and Chinese food when there were no appliances available. We had some very late nights of scraping, installing, painting and sanding. Our weekends were not for relaxing. Saturday mornings into Sunday nights were spent on our labor of love.

Eventually all of our hard work had paid off. We now were the proud owners of a brand new kitchen where we could cook real food and have running water. We even had a table and chairs to sit down to instead of using empty spackle buckets.

004I take full responsibility for the decor! It was the 80’s and was the decade of hearts, wreaths, ducks and “Welcome Friends” signs. Thank goodness my taste has changed!

005I made the curtains, hung all the wallpaper and even made the stained glass fixture over the table. I was so proud of our new kitchen, that I sent “before” and “after” pictures to Family Circle magazine. To my surprise, they called me and said they would like to do an article for an upcoming issue and we set a date to do so.

When the day came, the house was filled with photographers, lighting specialist, stylists and journalists. It was so much fun to see them take a carload of accessories and make my kitchen worthy of the pages of a magazine. I did not know when the article would be published. It felt like forever. While food shopping one day, right in front of me in the magazine stand was a front page photo of my kitchen.

007I bought every issue they had.

006I actually got teary eyed today as I went through all this memorabilia. My husband and I have really come a long way. Thirty two years later, and three house later, we are now in the midst of building a new home.

Two children have been born and raised and are now on their own. We will build fewer rooms, less stairs and much more room to entertain.


The new place is already proving to be quite a challenge, but for completely different reasons than the first house. We still have the determination we had back then. We know it will get done and be just like we imagined. However…

The one thing that is different this time is that now we can afford to pay someone else to do it!