For more info on the 58th annual Trinity House Tour & Dried Flower Sale Oct. 19-20, sponsored by the Trinity Episcopal Church Women of the Parish, call 540-675-3716 or visit their Facebook page. Maps of the tour can be picked up, and dried flower arrangements are on display, at the church on tour days. Tea is served from 2 to 5 both days at Middleton Inn. Admission is $30 for all three houses, or $10 for one.
Say you’re an artist, like your mother before you, and you move to a new place. What comes first, the studio or the house? Well, the question was never really asked of Ruthie Windsor-Mann, but the question has been answered — since the artist’s studio is completely built, the house site is empty so far and the studio is doing double duty as both.
But Little Windbury — one of three houses on this year’s Trinity Dried Flower Sale and House Tour (see box) — is only a house temporarily.
Designed by Jay Monroe and built by Joe Keyser, this 840-square-foot one-room structure is a tribute to both good design and necessity. For now, it serves Windsor-Mann as her studio as well as her home, and works well as both. She promises to open her house to us when it is finally finished, and also let us see what the studio looks like when it is only a studio.
A storage shed set at right angles to the studio provides a nook for gardens and plantings. The front porch holds a collection of birdhouses, and the croquet mallets that are the symbol of Windsor- Mann’s favorite recreational activity (the temporary croquet court is to the north of the house).
The entrance is through elegant double doors painted a dark forest green, and accentuated with heavy iron knockers. As soon as one enters, the whole room is in view, but a wide hallway, with bookcases on one side, provides focus. It also contains an old American cherry secretary, a wall coat rack, display table and bookshelves.
The interior is lighted by large windows open to views of both the sunrise and sunset, as well as the changing face of the hayfields that surround it just off Tiger Valley Road in Washington. Although it is only one room, one cannot really take it in in one view because of the interesting placement of furnishings and their unique character. A fireplace and mantel provide a space for viewing the newest painting and comfortable upholstered seating, with colorful throws, pillows and rugs, delineates the living room area.
A small, round occasional table of her mother’s serves as a coffee table; an antique trestle table provides ample work and display space. In a corner, hidden behind a wide sideboard, is the bed, draped with antique quilts and pillows, and occasionally by one of Ruthie’s two cats. Over the bed is a series of sea paintings, inspired by the interplay of light and water. An old English oak pub table with hand-painted rush chairs is the dining room.
In another corner, a large easel and a set of almost dry oil paintings marks the studio section. Countless brushes are stored in unique vases and pots from all over the world, with paint and paper nearby. Books of all sorts on every subject, mementos of a life of travel and art work, and personal favorites, such as hand-painted backgrounds for toy soldiers of different ages and battles, add to the charm.
On the wall opposite the fireplace is a small kitchen, with a refrigerator “just large enough to hold a head of lettuce,” according to its owner. Open shelves, more paintings (this time of fruits and vegetables) and specialty kitchenware for small spaces help make up for the lack of space. Guests come in abundance, even if the dining room moves into the hallway.
Ruthie Windsor Mann, first a watercolorist, has exhibited work in juried shows all over the country. She prefers oils now, and visitors will see her work both in her home and studio, and with the dried flower arrangements in the parish hall of Trinity Church.