Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Introducing Bella Rustica Cottage

At Christmas, I purchased what is fondly referred to as "The Pink House" on Saint Simons Island, GA.

For those who don't know, a year prior I transferred to this area with my federal agency to be an instructor at The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Southeast Coastal Georgia.  So, LABBIES California became LABBIES Georgia.  Saint Simons Island is the land of second homes for wealthy Floridians and Georgians so in the struggling economy, the vacation home is the first to go. As a result, the market in general was soft but this particular house had been unoccupied for almost 8 years.  It is located within 4 blocks of the Atlantic Ocean.

I bought it for 200K, filled with mold, open beam ceilings, lots of potential, and made it my own.  I decided on a coastal look with Italian attitude - diverso (different) for this area.  Most of the homes here are Coastal Cottage shingled or tabbied ( a concrete and oyster shell finish) but The Pink House was stucco, similar to my house in Coronado, CA.  As I continue to learn about this part of the United States, I have come to understand that pink stucco is very "Florida".

After removing the carport, I painted it Universal Khaki (Sherwin Williams) and exposed the terra cotta brick over the carriage garage doors. I worked within a budget which is honestly more fun than having carte blanche.  Because I have done it both ways I can say this.  For those of you who don't know me, my Life Philosophy is that Life is mostly Plan B.  Once you give in to this concept (a reality anyway, amici) Life becomes simply more fun and adventuress - like this re-model. For example, instead of marble countertops I did thick slabs of Live Oak from a local mill and I love it.  When my contractor said we could not do something I asked what we could do and then we went from there.  As a result, even I did not know what it would look like in the end.

To the left of the front door is an alcove (see below) where I leaned a hand-made chalkboard I'd made so people can leave messages for me. 

Because the lot is so long, I wanted to plant my organic raised beds in the front yard, similar to the Victory Gardens of World War II.  Aside from the herbs and vegetables in the raised beds, all additional plants are rosmarino (rosemary) and mexican sage.  Initially, I wanted to plant rows of lavender but it does not thrive in this climate.  

Herbs, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and yellow, orange, & red bell peppers are the bounty. I used crepe myrtle branches for rustica tomato trellises and they work perfectly.  

Melanzane (Eggplant) maturing.

Please come back for more photos of the cucina rustica replete with a 7-foot farm table, exposed brick, Live Oak slab counter tops, hand-painted cabinets, and travertine marble flooring ($1.88 a square foot on sale at Home Depot).