Retreat Update

Last year around this time, I wrote about a 1799 manor house I was in the process of restoring, then as usual, the combo of me not being a great blogger and the insanity called my life got in the way and I never let you know how it ended up.




Well, it ended up pretty great. I officially started renting it out as a vacation rental and small wedding venue last spring. Since then we have hosted several weddings, family reunions,womens retreats, we have been photographed by countless wedding stylists,  we have been the site fun girlfriends getaways, and even on the cover of a European mystery novel! I am also excited to say it is being shown in the February issue of Washingtonian Magazine! That truly is an honor.




We’ve come a long way from an abandoned house!


To say it has been a learning experience would be an understatement, but all absolutely worth it. Nothing makes me happier than knowing this beautiful home, that had been left for so long is now filled with so many happy memories.


Here are a few pics, you can also check out or  #retreatatcoolspring on instagram to see a lot more photos, and check out February Washingtonian…WOW I cant believe I’m saying that!

The Retreat Open House

retreat 650x288 open house

It was the Saturday morning before Easter almost exactly one year ago I jumped out of bed on one of the first beautiful days of spring, grabbed my dogs and decided to explore the surroundings around my latest project, The Retreat at Cool Spring. We hadn’t started the restoration yet, as it was still pretty chilly, and there was no heat in the house. So really all I could do was wander around the area, and dream about how awesome it would be when the house was finally finished. What I discovered on that walk was so incredibly beautiful and inspiring, when I got home I called Amy and told my family, Easter dinner as we have known it, is about to change. Instead of our usual ham and scalloped potatoes around the dining table, we are all going on an adventure.

The Retreat overlooks an abandoned golf course on the Shenandoah River. There is five and a half miles of paved pathways going along the river and up the mountain where the golf carts used to drive. Along the path, there are streams that come down the mountain on their way to the river. If you go off the path, and follow the streams up the hill, you will almost certainly find beautiful rocky ravines and waterfalls. I found three of these on my adventure,

retreat lucketts waterfall

and decided we would put our  Easter dinner in backpacks…. with each of us carrying a course, and enjoy our good fortune amidst an amazing backdrop of nature.

We had our salad sitting on rocks in the middle of a waterfall, quiche, at the base of yet another waterfall, mimosas along the rivers edge in a forest carpeted in purple flowers, and finally strawberry shortcake on the steps of our crumbling, but amazing manor house.

This year, exactly one year later, I’m proud to announce the house is finished and we will be celebrating with an Open House on Saturday April 4th from 12pm-6pm. Bring your family, see the restoration and maybe even take a hike… I promise, you’ll love it!

Where: 1492 Parker Lane, Bluemont, Virginia
Take 7 west, past Bluemont and past the “Welcome to Clark County sign.” Take the next right on F709 (last right before bridge) and follow to the Retreat.

Also be sure to like our new Facebook page!

lucketts retreat front


The Manor – Upstairs Bedroom

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I’m still visiting my 91 year old dad in Florida.  We’ve been road trippin’, but I wanted to share one of the bedrooms we redid upstairs at The Retreat.

This bedroom is on the right when you walk up the main stairs.  I just loved the windows and window casings in this room.  The plaster needed some TLC…_MG_8254


This cute fireplace is tucked in the corner.  I love the sconce on the walls!_MG_8257

As I mentioned, one of my favorite parts about the bedroom is the windows!  We left the woodwork bare in this room, like we did in the rest of the house.  This bedroom gets to look out on the front lawn and you can see the golf course and the river in the distance.

photo manor before

Here is Little Amy looking out one of the bedroom windows in her wedding dress.  She was the first wedding at The Retreat last fall!




Here are a few views of the bedroom, furnished with Lucketts finds of course!




Wyatt created a Facebook page for The Retreat at Cool Spring.  Be sure to like my new page to keep updated with happenings and more pics as we continue to renovate & decorate!


The Manor – Entry

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I have a few posts that will be shorties because I’m packing my bags and going to visit my 91 year old dad in Florida for the next week. We are going for a fun Mr. Hares wild ride road trip. With no specific direction in mind we are going to drive around Florida for a week and see where the wind takes us……my dad is the bomb, so it should be a lot of fun.

So we have powered through a fantastic Groundhog Sale…Thank you everybody..we really appreciate it! And I was super happy it might have been the first year we didn’t have knee deep mud…so for me, that alone was a major win.

I want to share a few more before and afters-ish on the manor house as its a little tricky since  I’m really not finished. But its still great to see how far we’ve come…

So this is the foyer, with a spectacular carved front door, and incredible moldings on the window, this is a beautiful space. It worked out very well, in trying to stay true to the palette our Amy Howard Robins egg blue was almost an exact match for the paint that was already on the walls!

manor pic 1

manor pic 2

​and then with the magic of Henry, and the beautiful console I was able to score from Pete at our Spring Market, a beautiful transformation!

manor pic 3


The Library

lucketts manor retreat library 12The library at the retreat is one of the rooms that made me want to buy the house in the first place. Ten foot ceilings, incredible woodwork, which I understand from one of my neighbors was hand carved by Hessian soldiers, a fireplace and huge windows looking out on the river.

lucketts-manor-retreat-librWe had crumbling plaster, graffiti on the walls, paint on the floors, but overall not too bad. Of course that’s easy for me to say, Henry was the one who actually had to do it all.

lucketts-manor-retreat-4One of the valuable lessons I learned from this house, is that it is important to stay as true to the original material as possible. Typically when you have damaged walls nowadays, you patch them with drywall mud. But in this case the house was built with foot thick brick, then plaster. The material used for repairs needs to breathe and work along side the original. So we needed to find some old school plaster, which actually is not that easy to find any more. We also needed to find moisture permeable paint, because since the walls are basically solid brick, they wick up moisture from both the atmosphere, and the earth. The moisture needs to be able to escape the bricks or they will become powdery. So bottom line is you can’t use latex paint. Latex is pretty much just like putting a coat of plastic on there. So the bricks cant breath, moisture gets trapped ….bad things happen.


I didn’t know anything about any of this when we bought this place. I have never dealt with a building this old before, so yikes!


So here’s the funnyish part, so where do you buy moisture permeable paint? What does that look like? Well, back in the day they would have used lyme paint, and we could have done that today, except there are very few people who carry it, it’s a bit of a process to make it yourself, and it would have been tough to find it in any colors I would have wanted. So what else is moisture permeable? Milk paint is…and oh chalk paint is too. Where can I get enough of that?  Where can I get enough of that in a palette I like? How about Lucketts Store….Amy Howard Paint. Yep I painted most of this house in Amy Howard paint, and distressed some of the interior walls with the waxes. I haven’t told Amy Howard yet, but I’m sure she’ll get a kick out of it.

Here are some photos of the progress we’ve made, including shots from our local mystery novel photographer Stephan Carroll. See if you can tell which photos are his…



The Manor — The Kitchen

manor retreat lucketts kitchen before

Most of the rooms of the manor house are inspirational beyond words…. I just needed to nurture them back to their original glory….

The kitchen, not so much.

It is nine feet wide and 30 feet long. It came with a giant rusted out commercial oven, that I wished I could have brought back to life, but it was just too far gone…so it had to go.

lucketts manor retreat kitchen before

I really didn’t know what to do with this room, so my general policy when I’m stuck is to just do what I DO know. I knew the crazy green and blue paint had to go, like immediately. I couldn’t even think about anything else while looking at those colors. so we just peeled off the wallpaper, and rolled it with primer…I also knew for sure, nothing that was in there was staying, so its best to just get rid of it….there were 2 old refrigerators, a giant handmade (not in a good way) cabinet, the stove…and some other 1970’s cabinetry…….bye bye to all.

The next big issue with the kitchen is that it had been leaking in one of the windows, so we had a lot of drainage and wall repair…. over the years the house sat vacant, some awesome person thought it would be a great idea to steal the gutters….so sadly, lots of water was going where it wasnt supposed to for a long time.

I also knew for sure that this house really couldnt handle modern cabinetry…it just wouldnt fit in.  So I started buying up vintage furniture that I thought I could use as base pieces for cabinetry…

SONY DSCSONY DSCThere really is no choice for this kitchen other than being a galley format…with only nine feet in width, so it was a matter of finding the right pieces that would work together.

The kitchen is still a work in progress. Someday, I would love to replace the tile with an old school wood floor…we still need to box in the ducts with old barn wood, I think I might replace the long table with more cabinetry…SONY DSC

But it’s come a long way….and I’m happy the pieces I found really fit the house beautifully.



The Manor – Before and Afters

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I’m sorry I haven’t been better about keeping up with this blog…but I find I’m better at actually doing things than talking about them….

I think I’ve come up with a good idea that will help to keep me going..

I’m just going to go room by room every few days and show you the “before” and “after” and give an idea of what it took to get there. now the afters are not totally finished …but you’ll get to see how far we’ve come.

By the time we’ve gone through the whole house, I will be celebrating with an open house to invite everyone to see the final outcome.

The big question of course is what am I going to do with the house when it’s finished.
Beginning in April I will be featuring it on VRBO, (vacation rentals by owner) as a vacation rental, and I’m now working with the county to see about using it as a small wedding and event venue.

Down the road when my life calms down a bit, I dream of having “retreat” weekends  out there. which would mean a small group of 10-12 people would gather to have a learning experience, whether it be furniture painting, yoga, wine tasting, a book club, history enthusiasts …for the whole weekend…you would get to stay at the house, be fed delicious food, learn, be with fun like minded people…and have a fun relaxing learning blast…I love this idea, and look forward to developing it.

That’s it for now….tomorrow look forward to THE KITCHEN!

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Retreat…..getting started

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One of the interesting challenges of restoring the Retreat has been that everyone who saw it… loved it so much as it was, they wanted me to leave it.  The chipping paint the cracks in the plaster, and the scruffy floors. It was like a beautiful work of art… a photographer’s dream, a grand haunting beauty, a European villa left by its baroness……

lucketts retreat woman woodwork

I could see what they were saying, but I tend to try and ride the line between practicality and romanticism, and no one would want to stay there or be married there in that condition. It’s also important for the structure to not let it degrade too much. When plaster is cracking, it’s going to continue to crack until it starts to crumble. When you  repair the areas that must be fixed, the other rough areas start to look really bad.  So I decided to ease into the restoration.

I wanted to gently guide each room back to the condition I thought would reflect its original beauty, in an worn old world villa kind of way.  When we restored Lucketts, we never wanted it to look like a new store….we wanted it to be the old store that had been there for generations. Always always always keep the character intact. It makes me very sad and crazy when people buy beautiful old buildings, and tear out all of the beautiful old character, and make it into a new building……DON’T DO THAT! There are plenty of new buildings!

Any hoo it’s like when we talk about restoring furniture in our painting class…..look for good lines, it is just the finish that’s ugly, it’s really the same thing on old homes…look for beautiful moldings, high ceilings, and if your lucky, beautiful windows… that means all the good bones are there for you. And for me the Retreat was the best I had ever seen.

lucketts retreat woman front door

I started a Pinterest board “Retreat” to give myself a visualization of how I saw the house looking. This was really helpful in showing me how to incorporate a worn old world vibe into and elegant but comfortable home.

We have had several photo shoots at the house during its early phases…you’ll see why it’s a photographers dream…enjoy, and stayed tuned….

The photos in this post were taken by Stephen Carroll, whose photographs are used on the covers of mystery novels!

lucketts retreat wine Child with Doll in Empty old roomlucketts retreat woman stairs


Image Credits:  Stephen Carroll

The Retreat at Cool Spring

retreat cover

About a year and a half ago, my friend Claudia Reed grabbed me on Mothers Day morning……all she said was…”you’ve got to see this” …

Soooo exciting! I’m always game for a good adventure.

We turned down a narrow gravel road that paralleled the river, then came upon what appeared to be a golf course that had been left.

What the heck, it was so beautiful…then we came upon THIS! The most beautiful house I have ever seen! I seriously thought I was going to cry.

lucketts retreat 1bWe wandered around, and it was hard to wrap my head around…on one hand it was in surprisingly good shape…on the other hand it looked like an abandoned house, like no one had lived in it in a long long time. We tried our best to get in, but no luck.  It was for sale, but the price was way out of my league…

Oh well, it was a fun adventure.

Fast forward to the week before Christmas last year..  My app popped up on my computer late one night….the house had gone into a short sale……WHAAAAATTT!

The next day I grabbed our realtor friend Kathy Shipley, Claudia, and the gang from Lucketts.  ROAD TRIP!

Finally I got to see the inside of this incredible home.

lucketts retreat 4bIt did not disappoint.

lucketts retreat 2bThe woodwork was by far the most beautiful I had ever seen (I’m going to be saying that line a lot).

lucketts retreat 3bThe rooms were incredible, the setting was unreal.

lucketts retreat 5I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but the potential was so ridiculous I could absolutely not look away.

lucketts retreat 6I will be writing a series of posts about our journey restoring this magnificent home, its history and how we plan to use it.

lucketts retreat 7 lucketts retreat 8I waited til now to show you so you didn’t have to wait  a year to see how it turned out….

So stay tuned…  Lucketts just got even better!