“Cultivate individuality.” – Alexandra Stoddard
Reading the title of this column you are most likely thinking; what is this woman talking about today? Stay with me and you may gain a new idea. Have you ever considered giving your home a name? I did, and the name is: “Maison De Jardin.” Translated, “The Garden House.”
I have long held the belief; a home should be named. A name given to a home adds character, gives it soul or as the French say, a bit of “je ne sais quoi,” meaning an intangible quality which makes something distinctive or attractive.
Names are not just given to historic homes or homes attached to acres of land. Names are also given to homes which are large or small, on any street, in any town, lake and beach houses, cabins and possibly your home. The following are a few names of homes I remember from my time spent in Mississippi: Magnolia House, Wisteria Cottage, Bird Song Cottage, and Iron Gate House. I especially remember the Iron Gate House as it had a magnificent ornate iron gate at the front. And, from our many years in Virginia, I remember names such as: The Roost, Tide’s In, Tall Pines, The Gull, Six Oaks, Azalea Woods, Pelican Watch and of course our home, Crabapple.
Crabapple is the name of a tiny community in rural, Greene County Pennsylvania where Mike’s family farm was located and where we both spent many happy days with his grandparents. Before the farm was sold, we dug two Crabapple trees from the farm and planted them on either side of our driveway in Virginia. Every time we pulled into our driveway and saw the Crabapple sign, a simple wooden sign with a red heart, we were reminded of special days. When we sold our home the new owners had a new sign made, but maintained the name Crabapple.
Now, about “Maison De Jardin.” We moved into our current home on a beautiful April day in 2005. Since that day, I had given much thought (9 years) regarding a name for our home, but the perfect name simply had not resonated with me. Mike and I had discussed the issue many times – no success. Then one day about two years ago he said to me, “Sandra, are you ever going to give this home a name?” I could tell by the tone of his voice he thought 9 years was long enough for me to have been thinking about the matter. A day or so after his question, I was in the garden working away and the name came to me, The Garden House. Perfect! And, I will do the plaque in French. And, you are thinking why French? Our home architecturally, is considered a French Georgian, our last name has roots in France and Belgium, and I love and have studied French garden and interior design. Our garden, in keeping with a French design, holds a small parterre – a garden within a garden. Mike loved the name, as well as my idea of doing the plaque in French. So, without wasting another moment, I quickly located a source from where to purchase the plaque and designed a lovely one, in French blue. The plaque would be placed on the front of the house, it is simple in design and bears the name “Maison De Jardin – circa 1939.” Additionally, I had a plaque made for the garden gate, “Le Jardin – est. 2005,” translated – “The Garden.”
Intrigued? I hope you are inspired. So often, the simple and small things we do can have the greatest impact toward making our homes really ours – unique. Homes reflect the love they are given. They greet us when we are tired, nourish our souls when we are sick and shelter us from the elements. They are the places we celebrate the special days of our lives with family and friends, and therefore create our special memories. They deserve a name. So, think of something with meaning, special only to you and your family. Give your home a name, add a bit of “je ne sais quoi.” Who knows, you may start something unique on your street and in your neighborhood. The “firsts” always begin somewhere. And, doesn’t everyone love “that certain something?”
See you soon,
- Surveys indicate homes with names have a higher value and sell easier (our home in VA sold in 18 days). Go to Danthoniadesigns.com for further reading. This web site also gives many ideas for home names.
- The Bee Cottage Story, by Frances Schultz – Frances Schultz is an interior designer, author of several books, former House Beautiful magazine columnist and for six years was on-air host of the award-winning cable television show “Southern Living Presents.” Her latest book, The Bee Cottage Story, released in July of 2015, is a book devoted to the many reasons she named her cottage and how she chose the name. A lovely and informative book.
- Source for plaques: Comforthouse.com – Reasonably priced, great product and excellent service.
- Local Craft Shows often have talented vendors who make signs and will personalize them for you.
- Many French homes have blue shutters, doors and kitchens. The French believe the color blue keeps away evil spirits.