One of my favorite things to do in Chester County is attend a Life’s Patina event. Meg Veno and her team of designing women have an amazing eye and flair for putting things together.
When you walk into the big barn, you are always greeted immediately by a lovely tableau in the center. You move from space to space within the barn which is two levels and quite large and your imagination just goes wild!
There is so much to see so many great ideas and every nook and cranny is filled with something you either know you need, you didn’t realize you needed but want, or would make a perfect gift for someone special in your life.
Spring event which started today with the preview my friend Amy and I attended this morning, was just lovely. After a long winter to go through those big barn doors into the magical scenes which unfolded for us every step we took, made even a gray and rainy day sunny!
One of the things that COVID-19 has done is it has disrupted our every day lives and our routines.
My friend Amy and I have our “Fran days” named after her mom where we put everything aside and do something together and have lunch. A lot of times we schedule those days to support Meg Veno at her lovely Life’s Patina events. Until today, this was one of the things that COVID-19 had interrupted for us around here.
Amy and I have been friends since high school and we even grew up in the same neighborhood, so I feel really blessed to have her in my life all these years later. So when we heard that Life’s Patina was going to open by appointment for their Fall Barn Sale we decided to make our appointment and go. Our slot was today and it was just wonderful!
Sensory overload, so much to look at! Something for everyone! And how lucky were we to also have such a beautiful day to be there…and guests today also received an awesome goody bag!
It was so nice to see friends and acquaintances and to see what Meg and her team had done. I love the Life’s Patina Barn on Willowbrook Farm and actually the very first time I was in it was during it’s renovation that led to Life’s Patina.
Being at Life’s Patina today made this surreal life we have all been living seem a little more normal. I actually liked the feel of a smaller, more intimate shopping experience with less people. Everyone was socially distancing and everyone was wearing masks and there were hand sanitizer stations all over the place. They did a great job!
Enjoy my photos of the day and if you go you need an appointment it’s not just open as normal this year. A lot of the time slots are sold out, so check the calendar and stay tuned for other opportunities to visit Life’s Patina this fall. And you can also shop online!
On this day, for the first time I saw Willowbrook Farm, which most of you know as Life’s Patina. At this point in 2012, the barn where so many go to enjoy special events and charity shopping days was being restored. I had not even met Meg Veno yet.
I fell in love with this farm on that day many years ago.
The restoration and adaptive reuse of the barn and the restoration of the property is an amazing thing to behold. It’s just so beautiful.
The care, the love, the attention to detail. And I have loved all of my many subsequent visits ever since.
Meg is inspirational to me. She is endlessly creative and has an incredible eye. She is also one of the kindest people I have ever met.
I was going through old photos and came across these and thought I would share them.
Now Yellow Springs is one of my very favorite places and has been since I was much younger. I used to come to Yellow Springs with my parents. My father loved the village and we used to come for the art show and sale and the antiques show they used to host (which I always thought was fabulous by the way.)
I took these next two photos of the Jenny Lind House last May 2019. I was in the village for the Herb Society Plant Sale. It’s so wonderful to see the house come back to life!
Anyway, enjoy the photos and celebrate those who chose to restore and renovate and find an adaptive reuse for old structures. We need more of that around here!
Make sure you check out Life’s Patina on their website and Facebook page. They often have terrific events. And the bonus is you also get to see a property that’s a slice of heaven in Chester County!
This evening was an absolutely perfect night for one of the first fall events of the season! We attended the Fall Preview Party for Life’s Patina.
Meg Veno outdid herself as always! This evening’s charitable recipient was Cuddle My Kids , a local non-profit which provides in home no cost cancer support for families in and around Chester County. As a cancer survivor I deeply appreciate these smaller charities which work so hard to help families and give them a bit of a break.
All of these places have Facebook pages and they post new merchandise all of the time! You don’t need pricey replicas when you can buy the real deal antiques which are always better made. You can also still find these pieces at country estate sales and auctions. Or special shows and sales like the seasonal genius of Life’s Patina.
The sad thing is so many people are geared towards new reproductions that they completely don’t realize the real deal is available and affordable. Sometimes these dealers will have wiggle room in their pricing especially if you bundle a few items but please, be respectful. I have seen some truly rude hondlers out there and well, these folks aren’t running a charity, they are trying to make a living.
Other things that are showing up in the pages of Country Living this month as a trend are vintage dog portraits. I see them all of the time at Brandywine View Antiques and Brandywine River Antiques Market in particular.
Another trend is vintage and antique occasional tables. They are everywhere and at all price points. You can also score some fine ones at auctions at Pook and Pook as well as Converse Auctions and Wiederseim Auctions. Don’t be afraid of auctions or auction houses. Yes, a lot of the auctions are online these days but most of the auction houses will also have a preview day where you can go look at an item that you are interested in before you bid.
With the side table trends I am going to put in a plug for Eastlake side tables. I love them, and I have owned a few over the course of my adulthood.
Eastlake furniture belongs to the Victorian era but isn’t as over the top as other furniture of that era. The side tables are my favorite of the style although I also love Eastlake settees. I have seen Eastlake recently at the Smithfield Barn and also the Smithfield Barn’s floor at the Shoppes at Whitehorse Mill.
Other trends as per Country Living are vintage salt and pepper sets and vintage glassware. The Smithfield Barn in Downingtown is definitely your source for those items! The owner I swear has super powers on these items and other fab vintage things like vintage and antique linens to use with them. I know because I have some amazing vintage linens drying on a towel rack from them right now!
I love my vintage dishes and glasses. My every day dishes are vintage Fiestaware and my everyday glasses are vintage bar ware. I love my vintage and I use it. Most of the time it’s extremely durable too!
Another trend the magazine is covering is a return to some better simplicity in furniture. Specifically Shaker style. From boxes to benches to tables and chairs and dressers.
Traditional Shaker antiques can be very expensive but their design influences can be seen all over. Look for vintage and antique country furniture pieces that are sturdy and well made with simple lines. You can find these pieces all over for a steal because well, people are still stuck on the trend if they don’t want “brown wood”.
Shaker furniture is a distinctive style of furniture developed by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly known as Shakers, a religious sect that had guiding principles of simplicity, utility and honesty. Shaker beliefs were reflected in the well-made furniture of simple designs. There is a great essay on the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And as of 2017, according to Smithsonian Magazine there are only two Shakers left in the world.
Other trends that seem to be occurring that I don’t understand is buying reproduction grandfather clocks when so many go to auction every year and often do not get sold.
Of all the trends that seem to be cropping up everywhere I am heartened to see a return to loving wood furniture as in not everything I am seeing is covered with paint.
Painted furniture has a place, but the past few years it has been really upsetting to see the gorgeous pieces of wooden furniture and good wood like mahoganies and walnuts and fabulous maples being covered up with things like chalk paint. I have literally watched people destroy beautiful wood dining room tables by trying to paint them. I can see painting something that’s so beat up it’s just more cost effective, but to me there is nothing better than the soft sheen and warmth of wood’s natural beauty. And maintaining wood furniture is a little bit of elbow grease once in a while but it’s simple. My favorite thing to use is Howard’s Feed and Wax.
I love the thrill of the hunt of vintage and antiques. I have some things that I will always keep, and I have other things that I will love for a while and let go for something I like better. It makes it fun!
I love Christmas and was so excited when my friend Amy suggested we attend the Holiday Tea at Life’s Patina on Willowbrook Farm in Malvern. The tea was today and it was an amazing event! (In all fairness, EVERY Life’s Patina event is amazing!)
Mind you, my day did not have an auspicious start as I locked myself out of the house accidentally this morning dealing with pets. Not only did I lock myself out, but I was in my nightgown with wet hair. I had to march myself across the road to my neighbor’s to call my husband to get back into the house. (Have I mentioned I have awesome neighbors? I do! I am sure the sight of me in my nightgown has scarred them for life, but anyway.)
So after the trauma of locking myself out of our house in my nightgown, I managed to be ready in time to go to the tea.
I love the Life’s Patina events! The proprietress, Meg Veno, is an amazing woman. She has the biggest heart, is just so darn nice, and has an eye that gets me into trouble every time I attend a barn sale. Seriously, the woman has an amazing design aesthetic and is super creative and finds the perfect things. Her holiday events are among my favorites because, well, it’s no secret I love Christmas!
This morning when we walked into the holiday preview tea, it was sensory overload. The holidays were beautifully spilling out of every nook and cranny of the barn. This was a lovely and exclusive event complete with a delicious luncheon for all of us who subscribed. I especially liked the Quiche and the little smoked salmon sandwiches and the peach tea.
It was like a little bit of holiday magic in that barn today. People were happy. Holidays are festive times for friends and family, and this was a very nice reminder of times to come.
Another component to today was the charity Meg chose to receive a portion of the sales. She pays it forward in that way with her events.
Today’s charity recipient was the Women’s Resource Center of Wayne, PA. This non-profit has the mission to help women and girls successfully navigate life’s transitions and to inspire others to do the same. By providing resources, tools and support for today, we create hope for tomorrow. The Women’s Resource Center serves Southeastern, PA including Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, and Delaware counties.
Founded in 1975, the Women’s Resource Center began when five women placed an ad in The Suburban and Wayne Times calling for a meeting on women’s issues. Forty-five women attended the initial meeting, indicating a strong demand for an organization that was dedicated to the special needs of women. The original group established three goals that remain in place to this day:
1) To provide information and referral services to women & families;
2) To offer supportive programming and workshops; and
3) To maintain a physical location from which to serve the greater Philadelphia community.
This is a very worthy non-profit and I was happy to do my part and purchase some really fun things for the holidays. I will admit I bought some Christmas ornaments and the world’s funniest holiday cocktail napkins.
Also today was the unexpected surprise of running into old, familiar faces at the tea and shopping preview. I saw someone I basically had not seen in over five years. We were friends in another lifetime. It was nice to catch-up and meet her new friends.
I was truthfully amused by all of the Main Liners and city dwellers who made it out “to the country” to attend this preview. I hope they all saw and appreciated the fall splendor of Chester County today.
Willowbrook Farm is an absolutely magical property with majestic trees donned at present in fiery reds, oranges, and spectacular yellow. They have a huge Ginko tree which is captivating this time of year. You just do not see many Ginkos anymore and the only other ones of similar height and majesty are on the path leading to the Haverford College Nature Trail that runs behind the one side of Haverford Friends School.
You too can see the magic in store this season at Life’s Patina. There are holiday events coming up! Christmas magic doesn’t even begin to describe what is coming up.
Willowbrook Farm and Life’s Patina are located at 1750 N. Valley Rd
Malvern, 19355 BUT this is a private residence, NOT a store so you can’t just show up. The fabulous dairy barn full of magic is only opened to the public for special events. Feel free to follow them on Facebook .
Here is a sampling of the Christmas magic I found today at Life’s Patina which also included discovering Stony Hill Farm out of Pottstown:
A few years ago I was the lucky one who got to photograph the property Life’s Patina is on in Malvern. I photographed the property when it was on the house tour for Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust.
Tonight I got to see the barn renovation totally completed! So awesome!
I am here right now for the special event benefitting Home of the Sparrow! There is a special sale all weekend, check it out!