Sunday, February 5, 2012

Anita's French Castle-Cottage

Today's post is going to be a long one. I'm honored to share with you Rabbit Hill...the home of blogger Anita Rivera from Castles, Crowns & Cottages. I first because friends with Anita a couple of years ago when we started emailing back and forth. Her home immediately blew me away with its fairy tale charm, and I'm thrilled to be able to share it with you today!!

Anita, I believe you are a French teacher? How do the styles and stories of France influence your decorating style?

Yes I am a French teacher! The subtle colors and nuances in my opinion, of French design align with my pursuit of PEACE in my home. In contrast to IMITATION and common elements of décor (plastic, imitation and clutter), I look at how the French have used nature (flowers, wood, metal) to decorate their homes. Cottages of France, whether depicted in fairytales or in the French countryside, always include natural colors from animal life, garden harvest and the earth tones. I have also pulled ideas from the fairytales that include CASTLES. From Chenonceau to Versailles, I enjoy the subtle grays and black and white floors to GAUDY chandeliers. But in my home, I try to use a little bit of every thing within the scale of my home.

What are some of your favorite fairy tales, and how have they influenced your home?

Perrault's Cinderella, by far. I also have a lovely version of Snow White that is illustrated in almost a gothic style, but definitely has marks of French country cottage style. Wooden hearths, copper pots and beams.

What is the name of your house, and how was it named?

Our home is lovingly called Rabbit Hill because it sits on a slope in a Minneapolis neighborhood and because we have A LOT OF WILD RABBITS!

Can you tell us a little bit about what your house was like when you first moved in, and how it has changed since then?

This house has good bones. However, fifteen years ago, the curb appeal was nothing to write home about! It was a simple brick home with gastly white shutters and a storm door that did not enhance the "Chicago brick" of the house. We walked in and immediately saw the potential. Hard wood floors, original wood doors with glass door knobs and a coved ceiling in the kitchen and living room and a LOFT bedroom with wood beams and not to mention the price made the decision easy to make to purchase our first and probably, our only home.

My husband's love for Carmel-by-the-sea cottages and my eye for French detail, he TRANSFORMED this house. It took us 15 years, but we did ALL the work except the recent addition of a great room and a back office/bedroom. He built cedar wood shutters, a gate and two overhangs that are reminiscent of a Carmel cottage or a French cottage.

Do you have a personal space in your house devoted to creation or the creative outlet you prefer? Where is it?

ABSOLUTEMENT! My husband and I used to share the bedroom off to the living room. That was our office. However, now that he has a new office with the new construction, that once tight little office has become an open extension of our living room. Ruben opened up a 6 foot wide door for FRENCH DOORS that lead into my "harp studio" and where I sit and write my blog. I have a French settee and a faux marble fireplace and it is my inspirational spot.

Can you tell us a little bit about the outside of your home? I believe your house has won local landscaping awards. Do you enjoy gardening and working in your yard? What influenced its design?

Again, French design and mostly, the GARDENS OF MARQUEYSSAC in La Dordogne region of France. We have numerous boxwood bushes and we wanted a low maintenance garden that was LUSH. LUSH is the look we were looking for. However, one main motivator to improve our landscape was that Ruben fell many times and twisted his ankle, trying to mow that front hill! Ugly grass as well was another reason to do remedy this situation. We are however, not wealthy or willing to take out a loan to do what many people have done, and that is to have a retaining wall built. After a $15,000.00 estimate for such a wall was given to us, our problem-solving skills kicked in! We took on one side of the hill one year and took on the other side the following year and killed the grass and planted evergreens ourselves. Ruben built a small retaining wall on the bottom, near the sidewalk, to catch any mulch. This garden wins awards from the City of Minneapolis every year since. It has gotten to the point where I have nowhere to put our awards!

Are you ready for this? Here it is...Rabbit Hill!

A transitional shot of the front yard before the landscaping:

Anita's husband made the archway above the door, the shutters, and most everything you see on the outside of the house.
It's beautiful, isn't it? But it's even easier to appreciate it when you see this "before" picture:

Ready for another? Anita's back yard before:

And after:

Now let's head inside:

Here's a feature I especially like in Anita's front room. Her flat screen TV is mounted to the wall and hidden behind this "theater" curtain. The electronics are in the cabinet below:

Every view is just gorgeous!

Now let's transition to the dining room:

And on to the kitchen:

Look at the prisms on the ceiling!

Beautiful bathrooms:

Here's the one project/addition to the house that wasn't DIY....a recent addition of an office space.

I love the words on the archway:

Heading upstairs:

And Anita's cozy bedroom under the eaves:


  1. Oh Grace,

    This is so fantastic!!! I am only sorry that I could not find ONE picture in my files of the beautiful new room with vaulted ceilings and a chandelier! Our flat screen TV now is in that room with a new frame hiding it. The décor is light and it is so dreamy. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR FEATURING US HERE! I so love the name of your blog. Are you familiar with Pinterest? If you go to my blog, on my sidebar, there is a red button that says, "Follow me on Pinterest." I have a pinboard with only a few, but very cool pictures of cottages! The "dream home" section is my goal for the home. I am going lighter these days, but still with tapestries and a château feel.

    THANK YOU AGAIN and I am putting you on my blog roll; this is a FABULOUS BLOG! Anita

  2. I just HAD to come back. This is so kind and wonderful of you Grace! I will peruse more here to see how YOUR cottage is coming along! LOVE! Anita

  3. Grace dear,

    Do you have Skype? If so, let me know. We can Skype and I can give you a tour of our home and you can give me a tour, if you have a laptop!!! LOVED YOUR PRIOR POSTS! Anita

  4. Anita, I am on Pinterest, though I haven't done much there yet! I looked at your albums and they're lovely. My Pinterest is:

    As for Skype, I do have a laptop that could use it, but I've never used it before. I'll have to learn!!!

  5. OH GRACE, we should skype. Skype is FREE and easy! Google it and then join. It is SO EASY! Then I can give you a tour and you me. It is FUN! I have talked to blogger friends in Europe and have taken them on a tour!!!!! Anita

  6. It's been a while since I virtually toured Anita's house! Thanks for having me back!

  7. Love your blog, wonderful what was done to this little house!

  8. Thank you Sue! Anita did such an amazing job on it.

  9. I so love Anita and her loving heart. Her cottage is exactly what I would picture her living in. I want her sweet home for myself!!!! Anita has such a way of bringing out the best in each room of this beautiful home. Loved the feature on her today.

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