Friday, May 29, 2015

Nick's Notes 5.29.2015--This Old House


This Old House



I've always loved watching shows like "This Old House" and "If Walls Could Talk." Now we are living in one of those century-old homes with an amazing history that I've shared with you in the past. This is the third old home I've lived in. 

My first house I purchased was in Newport News, VA and was built in the 1920's. It was an old stucco duplex with a slate roof. The house was originally built as housing for the Newport News Shipyard. We renovated the house from top to bottom, and had a lot of fun in the process. 

Fast forward to the 1990s when we purchased a 1920 Spanish Revival house in Chicago, IL. Again, a stucco home with a clay barrel tiled roof. What is a Spanish-style house doing in Chicago? It had to do with an architect who went to the World's Fair in California and fell in love with the Spanish style architecture. There were two streets in Park Ridge, IL that had these lovely Spanish Revival
homes. Once again, we spent the time restoring this home with a 20 foot barrel vaulted ceiling and gray slate floors in the living room, and amazing details throughout the home.

Fast forward again to September 2014 when we purchased Abbington Green,
built in 1909 with Richard Sharp Smith as the Architect, one of the Architects from Biltmore Estate. The original charm of this home has been updated with all the modern conveniences you would expect in a AAA 4 Diamond Property. Twenty two years ago is when the major renovations took place to enlarge bedrooms and bathrooms. 

It has been an amazing seven months for us where we have spent time with our staff painting and updating each room and adding special touches to add to the beauty of our home. It starts with a great staff.....next Nick's Notes will actually be about each of the staff members backgrounds and thoughts.

I thought I would share with you some pictures and some of the details of what we have accomplished so far. 

Our biggest project was adding central air and heat into the main house so each guest now has their own temperature control in each of their rooms. Ductwork was added into the basement in order to cool and heat the main floor, and individual Mitsubishi Split Units were added into each guest room.

They are silent, energy efficient (which supports our Green Initiatives), individual controls to cool and heat to the desired temperature, and most importantly it does not block the windows and obstruct the beautiful view and sunlight. 

After the rooms were painted. we added carpet to the main stairs with brass rods and pineapple end caps and two new crystal chandeliers at the top and the bottom of the main staircase.



At the top of the stairs is the art gallery featuring the beautiful works of 8 local artists from the River Arts District. 

Our guests really enjoy the breakfast table place settings each morning. We love to change it up each morning with different chargers, linens, crystal and china.


I can't leave out the beautiful stain glass we've added into the living room. 
Two beautiful stain glass windows and four stain glass lamps warm the
living room during Social Hour.

Last but not least, our beautiful gardens have come alive. Steve with the help of friends and staff have transformed the gardens into a work of art. So many guests have commented and compared the gardens to the gardens at the Biltmore Estate.

"If Walls Could Talk" I believe they would be saying how they love the fact that we brought the house alive with freshness and rejuvenating charm. Guests feel very much at home here, and we love seeing them enjoy themselves at Abbington Green.

All the Best, Nick

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nick's Notes 5.15.2015--The Fountains of Abbington Green!


The Fountains of Abbington Green

The Gardens at Abbington Green are in full bloom and look amazing! 

Every guest comments on how beautiful they look. Steve is owning the project and working with two great friends, Ivy and Ken Olson, to bring back the Gardens at Abbington Green to their full beauty and potential. They are doing an amazing job. Steve even took two weeks vacation time from the post office and spent it in the garden every day. Here are a few photos to show you what I mean: 







I believe, a garden is not complete with out the magical sound of a fountain. We have 4 beautiful fountains at Abbington Green. Each of them in a separate garden and unique to the garden. They bring a peace and charm to the gardens and add to the History, Style and Romance of Abbington Green.



My favorite fountain, of the 4, is found in the front yard. We call it  Bailey's Fountain in honor of Bailey our St Bernard who passed away 4 years ago. Bailey was an amazing dog! 

We purchased her in Rockford, Illinois as a puppy. When all 7 St Bernard puppies came running to me she was the one that kept falling over and lagged behind the others.  When she finally got to me, she wanted to be hugged and we connected immediately. 

I wanted Bailey to be a show dog, and went to classes to get trained. In her first show she took 2nd place. A few months later, as Bailey kept growing, she developed a limp. Her joints in her left paw were not developing properly and we tried corrective surgery but it didn't work. She was able to move fine on her own, but would always have a limp. That didn't matter, we loved her..........unfortunately, she could not continue to be shown as a show dog. 

I started thinking about other ways Bailey and I could spend time together and do something good. I stumbled upon the Pet Therapy Program at the Broward Humane Society in Florida. I called and Bailey passed the test with flying colors and we began 10 years of Pet Therapy work together on Saturdays. 

That's what she was meant to do........She was so good with all the Cancer and Alzheimer Patients, and they loved seeing her come into their rooms. I could see how their eyes would light up and they would talk to her. Her height was perfect to the side of the bed as well as wheelchairs. 

As you all know, St Bernards drool, and I always had a  towel with me to wipe her mouth before she got close to a patient. One day one patient said to me, "It's okay honey, we drool too." When patients would get ill and some lapsed into comas, Bailey sensed it and would lay her head next to theirs and then look over at me. I would tell her, "It's okay, they know you're here to see them."

Bailey lived to be 12 years old and it was a sad day when I had to say my final Good Bye. One of the sweetest gifts I ever received was from my District Manager in New Jersey and her team of Store Managers. They purchased an actual Star that is now named Bailey's Star. I have a framed Certificate of the coordinates of the actual star that hangs in the entry way of Abbington Green. 
Even though our Bed and Breakfast is called Abbington Green, the name of our business is called Bailey's Star in honor of the best friend I ever had..............My Bailey!


All the best, Nick

Friday, May 1, 2015

Nick's Notes 5.1.2015--Thanks Mom.............and Dad too!


Thanks Mom.............and Dad too!

     

At Abbington Green bed and Breakfast Inn we decorate for each Holiday. For those of you that know me, I've always loved decorating for the Christmas Holiday and have won prizes for lights in our yard. Now I get to decorate for every Holiday which is even better.

Mother's Day is May 10th so the sleigh on the front porch is brightly decorated for Mother's Day as well as a few other areas in our home.

In the sleigh are photos of Steve's Mom and my Mom.

My Mom is in heaven now but I know she is always looking out for me.  Steve's Mom just turned 80, and still loves to garden in the yard. Happy Mother's Day to both our Moms and all the Moms reading this.

You've taught us right from wrong, kindness and generosity. You've helped shape us into who we are today. You've always supported our successes and showed us your love.

Most importantly Mom (and Dad), you told me to "Live My Dreams." And that's what I'm doing...............owning a Bed and Breakfast and loving every minute of it!

I know you're both looking down on me and smiling because you know I'm happy.

All the Best, Nick