The work force.
I’ve never been eager to enter it. In college, I refused to balance the typical college-days waitressing job and opted instead for a work study program. There I was paid $5.15 an hour to sit in a small, rarely used computer lab and
ogle at pics of Legolas on the internet do my homework. This gig only afforded me ramen noodles and saltine crackers, but I enjoyed my freedom.
By junior year, however, I knew it was time to grow up and look for a job. So while stretched out in my 90-degree living room one summer afternoon (ramen and saltines-yes; running the A/C- no), I brainstormed job possibilities that were more to my taste. Let’s see…I enjoyed cleaning, cooking and working with smaller groups of people. A hotel perhaps? Or better yet, a bed and breakfast! A cozy, quiet B&B was just the place for me! So I opened the phone book and called the four bed and breakfasts in town. No luck on the first three, but on the final name, The Vintage House Bed & Breakfast, the owner said she was in recent need of a younger back to make the beds. A couple days later, I interviewed and was hired.
That was 13 years ago. In the years that followed, I studied in London and worked full-time jobs, but I always found my way back to Vintage House cleaning rooms and lending a hand to the owners who have since become dear friends. In 2013, Bob & Betty (the owners) decided to close their doors and as of this past month, they put their precious home on the market. Last week, I rushed to the open house to grab photos of all the elements that hold so many fond memories for me. Without further ado, here’s a tour of the 1927 home and former Vintage House Bed and Breakfast….
The Vintage House Bed & Breakfast
Let’s start this tour at a practical spot: the doors.
On the left is the more grand main entrance used by guests and college kids looking for jobs. On the right, however, is the door that friends, family and hired college kids use. 😉
Entering through the side entrance, this long church pew and grandfather clock bid a cozy greeting.
What say we climb the stairs to the guestrooms first?
Welcome to The Parramore Room!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cleaned this room. It received the most reservations out of all the 4 guestrooms because it was the only one with a king-sized bed in it (antique king-sized headboards are hard to find, after all). Eventually the original furniture was moved out once the B&B closed (see bottom right). Each room had an embroidered sign on the door with its name on it, a charming little detail I’ve been tempted to incorporate in my own house.
The next most popular room was The Maxwell Room:
One of my most favorite memories of this cosy-rosy room was tidying up while watching The Barefoot Contessa on the in-room television. The bright light through the sheers and the satisfying work were made complete by Ina’s recipes. I admit that the bedspread was a bit of a challenge to unfold, but I’ll miss tugging that delicate lace into place.
The neighboring room was The Pullman Suite, which was my favorite:
This room had the most amazing furniture including a Napoleonic Era bed and dresser. Sure, I always smacked my knee against the “hood ornament” on the foot board, but I loved that bed nonetheless.
The final room was The Vintage Room, my second favorite:
The Vintage had two twin beds covered in the most happy pink floral print you could ever wish for. Last year the owners swapped their bed for the twin beds, but this will always be the twin room to me. 🙂
Outside The Vintage and Parramore Room sat this antique desk and caterpillar book ends. If guests wanted hot drinks before breakfast, I would quietly bring them up and set them on a tray table by this desk.
Once the hot beverage table was all set up, I’d tiptoe down the stairs to make breakfast. A new runner was installed in the later years, but the stairs were originally covered in orange shag carpet.
It wasn’t often that I was in charge of the bed and breakfast. For the most part, Bob and Betty booked guests while they were in town, but they’d occasionally go on vacation in the summers and call on me to receive the guests.
I’d spend the night downstairs in the owner’s quarters where I would toss and turn, too excited to sleep. Then, at 6am, I’d finally give in and head to the kitchen to fuss over breakfast. I’d whip up crepes for the sole chance of getting to use the fragrant Mexican vanilla; other times I’d prepare from-scratch cinnamon rolls. I immersed myself into every detail, happy to have a place to play house.
The icing on the cake was setting the table in the dining room using antique china and silver and cloth napkins, all of which were neatly tucked away in the antique buffet table. Between each plate, Betty would place a paper plate or thin piece of cardboard to protect the china pattern. I loved these little tips she taught me!
My love for blue rooms really started here. The calming hue of the dining room and living room would help me slowly adjust to the early hour.
Good morning chandelier!
Good morning antique organ!
This instrument was always surrounded by hymn books and sheet music, but I never once heard anyone play it.
For some reason, I was always drawn to this Glen Campbell sheet music which was usually on display. I had no idea who Glen Campbell was or what songs he sang, but his face reminded me of those on the records my family owned when I was little.
On the afternoons I waited to receive guests, I’d lounge in the sun room/TV room and watch HGTV while sunlight filtered in through the happy, pink plantation shutters. House Hunters is the perfect program to watch in such a convivial space. The Matrix, on the other hand, is not. Hard to take Morpheus seriously when you’re sitting on wicker.
Next to the sunroom was Bob and Betty’s living quarters which included a large bedroom, office, spacious closet and full bathroom.
Needless to say, I was pleased to discover the large cat print above their bedroom mantle.
Beyond the hallway leading out of the owner’s quarters, is the bright red breakfast nook.
Aside from the color, I’ll forever remember this room by:
- The china cabinet that you had to brace with your shoulder to open the door. (bottom right)
- The closet containing the delicate, pink floral china set.
One time, while helping Betty hand-wash this china after a party, I asked her how old the set was. “Over 100 years old,” was her reply. I might have turned pale and handled each cup like it was a grenade after learning that.
The kitchen beyond the breakfast nook is modest; a small space tucked away like most kitchens were in the 1920s. It does, however, have a pantry and built-in spice cabinet which I foolishly forgot to take a picture of. That spice cabinet held the two smells I associate most with Vintage House: the fragrant Mexican vanilla and the bottle of candied ginger which I’d nibble a piece of on my overnight stays.
I did, however, remember to snap a photo of this:
In the 20’s, kitchen garbage was discarded by way of incinerator. Just open this hatch, drop in your scraps, and off they fall to the incinerator below. The incinerator has long since been removed but this snazzy hatch remains in the wall next to the oven. Betty has prepared so many delicious dishes in this kitchen, one I will share with you later this week! It was she who taught me to bake pumpkin bread in metal coffee cans.
Well, here we are in the entry way again which means it’s time to say goodbye. My hope is that someone will buy this wonderful historic home and keep it a bed and breakfast where they can pour as much love into the place as Bob and Betty did.
I’ll miss this home so much, but I have hope that I’ll be inside once more.
Who knows? Maybe even as your guest? 🙂