“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
Notebook, Oct. 10, 1842
Here it comes again! Fall is my favorite time of year for so many reasons: bonfires, mulled apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes–pumpkin spice everything, sweater weather, crisp and colorful leaves, a crisp coolness in the air, warm colors in the décor, and best of all it’s the prelude to the holiday season.
At the old farmhouse, I like to try to keep my décor in line with what might have been used by Mrs. Louise Adelaide “Lula” McCuiston in the late 19th Century. Of course, she didn’t have lighted leaf wreathes, spice-scented candles, or burlap pillows on the front porch, but she might have had pumpkins set out, lanterns on the porch, or even fall flowers placed out to brighten up the entryways.
I am not restoring my house in a completely “purist” form; that is, I am making a few adjustments to what was originally in the house (such as some paint colors) and some modern items are clearly used and visible (HVAC, electrical outlets, modern kitchen appliances, etc.). However, I want to go as closely as I can to visually bring my guests back to the late 19th Century and what would have been suitable for a middle class farming family in rural North Carolina. Seasonal flowers would have undoubtedly been used, so I like to use fresh or realistic-looking silk flowers. Things that occur in nature around my property, such as pine cones, seed pods, dried apples, and leaves are incorporated into potpourri (which was something Victorians loved). Everything else I try to have as natural-looking as possible. I don’t use anything with glitter or anything that doesn’t classify as non-classic, traditional décor in the historic part of the house in an effort to be respectful to the period.
I look forward to sharing with you the interior décor soon, but for now let’s take a look at the outside!
The front porch of the Circa 1884 McCuiston House is being decked out for the upcoming fall season. Cornstalks come straight from the garden as well as the two heirloom Connecticut field pumpkins. Ivy grows continually all year round in the front of the urns, adding consistent greenery to the large planters. Seasonal potted flowers are often snuggled in behind the ivy. The blue flagstone porch dates from the 1930s/1940s renovation by Mr. McCuiston’s daughter, Mrs. Lettie McCuiston Clinard. The pews are handmade and came from the Pine Mountain Baptist Campmeeting in Lenoir, North Carolina, which a pastor and his wife so kindly drove almost two hours to bring to me last Christmas. That meeting has always meant a lot to me since I first attended some years back, and I treasure having two of the pews on my porch.
I love the simplistic look of a few burlap pillows on a farmhouse porch. I purchased this one on Etsy from Next Door to Heaven. You can get one just like it here. Let them know you saw it on this blog!
This is one of my favorite Bible verses, so I was very happy to find a portion of it on a burlap pillow. God filters everything that comes into the life of His children, and because of that, if we have trusted in Him for salvation, we can know that we can give thanks in everything that comes in our lives because He is working it for good for us. If you would like to purchase this pillow, please visit The Sunny Hunny Bee over at Etsy! Let them know you saw it here at The McCuiston House blog!
As you can see, the kitchen stoop restoration isn’t quite complete yet–but soon! That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of having fall décor. The dried cornstalks and gourds came from my little garden, and early fall flowers sit perfectly inside the butter church. A 10-gallon crock keeps wet umbrellas contained, which comes in handy when it’s rainy like the day I took these pictures. A battery-operated outdoor candle adds a little light at night. Eventually I hope to replace the 1930s/1940s blue flagstone and brick floor with appropriate wood flooring, as well as switch out the metal storm door with a Victorian reproduction storm door with hidden dog door and interchangeable screen and Plexiglas insert.
Cornstalks and heirloom gourds came from my garden. The chalkboard, wreath stand, and candle lantern came from Hobby Lobby. My sweet friend over at Homestead Farmtiques found this lovely #10 Robinson-Ransbottom stoneware crock (ca. 1900-1940). Once it held pickles, but today it’s the place for wet umbrellas to be stored to keep the hardwood floors dry.
Isn’t this such a sweet little #3 Robinson-Ransbottom stoneware butter churn? (ca. 1900-1940) The medium-sized refill container pots from Lowes fits perfectly inside the top. I plan to change these early fall flowers out for mums in October.
The McCuiston House, autumn c. 1960
Time to get the pumpkin spice coffee creamer and make some molasses cookies! Yes, I have a Victorian recipe for that. Look for it being posted soon!