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before + after: “four oaks” on telegraph springs road

before + after:  “four oaks” on telegraph springs road
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

Telegraph Springs Road is a classic Virginia Country Byway following the roll of the land from Philomont to Purcellville. The graded gravel travel way is lined by three and four board fencing that enclose grand equestrian estates, small well maintained “Gentlemen” farms and a mix of modest to grand single-family homes. The house that stands closest to the roadway is, Four Oaks. It is so much more than just another address, this small well-lived in house was once home to a family of 14 and over the years the house had become a community eye-sore of epic proportions. Constructed in the early 1900’s as one of four “Farm-Hand Houses” to a nearby Quaker farm, Four Oaks had seen more than its share of life and through that life paid a heavy price. The once proud clapboard exterior was now clad in a sad dingy aluminum. The once stately standing seam metal roof had been replaced by tired asphalt shingles. The roof above the screened front porch was rotted through and in danger of collapse, as was the shed roof above the kitchen and enclosed rear porch. The state of the six-room, center-stair interior was in a word, shocking. In general, the house (and I use the term loosely) as well as the one-acre property on which it was sitting, was indeed a horrific mess. Yet, there was something about the place that screamed…SAVE ME! Somewhere, beneath a cocoon of grime, dust, decay and the over-growth was a diamond. A spectacular, multi-faceted butterfly waiting to be released.

Four Oaks before demo

…and so, just after the New Year 2013 the task of unraveling the cocoon began.

Now, taking a two-story; two-bedroom, one bath hovel and transforming it into a three-bedroom, two and a half bath jewel is without a doubt both an exciting and daunting prospect. Completing this metamorphosis without the benefit of being able to expand a tiny 590 square-foot foundation…a horse of another color.

I reminded myself that “Form Follows Function” as the pencil went to paper and a simple, efficient and very livable floor plan began to materialize.  Gone, the center stairway. Relocated to a corner wall, opening up the main living area and providing space beneath for a powder room. Across the entire back of the house a cooks kitchen complete with semi-custom cabinets, a 5 foot-wide aisle, custom mudroom closets and built-in banquette seating with lift-top storage.  To make the house live and feel larger, the ceilings on the upper level were vaulted to 9 feet. At the top of the new stairs, within the walls of the original structure, a slightly over-sized full bath and a pair of small yet comfortable bedrooms. Above the kitchen, the only option for additional square footage, a new and amazing master bedroom with a fabulous in-suite bath. I could go on…but I will save it for later in this post.

As you can see in the photo above on the surface, Four Oaks was indeed in deplorable condition. In the end, the sheer number of layers, may have been Four Oaks salvation. There were four layers of material covering the floors, essentially “protecting” the original Heart-Pine. The several disgusting layers of material on the walls, both interior and exterior, truly served to protect the underlying elements.

As originally constructed, the interior walls and ceilings were finished with tongue and groove Heart Pine installed on the horizontal. Talk about some serious lateral bracing! This method of construction kept the building square and level, helping the foundation resist the ravages of differential settlement. It was the very solid “bones” of this house: the stout foundation and intact balloon framing, that made this a restoration project instead of just another tear-down. I wish we had been able to restore and expose some of the original wall finish. I think it would have been a beautiful, warm and unexpected treat. Unfortunately, heart pine walls had not been treated kindly over the years, they were riddled with holes, nails and cut-outs, and so they were instead treated to new drywall and fresh paint.


From the start of the demolition through framing resurrection… the plan for the interior and exterior finishes of the project was dynamic. While the real nuts and bolts of the plan remained static, that is to say the kitchen remained the kitchen, the stairs would be relocated to the corner wall and the new master suite was going in above the kitchen. Dynamic were the elements and “opportunities” discovered or uncovered during the frame-up that could and would go on to become focal points. Constantly thinking and planning as the project evolved to ensure that no “stone” was left un-turned with regard to creating those much anticipated unexpected features. From preserving a rough sawed beam that frames and anchors the stairwell, or imagining old window framing (now interior walls) as shelves or wine racks, to salvaging flooring to be re-purposed as a back for a custom shelf unit or the rehabilitating of the shed over the cellar access.

Four Oaks after renovation

The true joy of this project was that it was always all about finishes and unexpected details. The exterior was to be as maintenance free as possible. Hardi-Plank with vinyl trim and new Lincoln Windows of full wood construction with a vinyl clad exterior colored to coordinate with the final trim color. Big, bold yet simple square edged trim. Including the water-table and freeze, give the house presence…a sense of place. The vertical break in the siding was planned and matches on both sides to give the finished structure a feeling that it had grown and evolved over decades not just over months. The porch roof line was changed from a “shed” to a “hip” giving the porch the stature it deserved, a fitting place to sit and enjoy to view of the Blue Ridge to the west . The new roof is anchored by tall square posts square trimmed with eased edges completing the classic look.

Four Oaks after renovation

Four Oaks Exterior #1

The solid wood entry doors are by Lemeaux; custom stained, finished with Sikken’s Window and Door (simply the BEST exterior finish ever!) and fitted with beautiful Oil-rubbed Bronze Hardware. The entire house was crowned with a new standing-seam painted steel roof, in Dark Bronze, by Piedmont Roofing of Middleburg, Virginia.  The ceiling above the porch is tongue and groove beaded Fir, left natural, and finished with Sikken’s Window and Door to allow the beautiful rich golds and reds of the Fir to show through. An unexpected detail: the small overhang above the back door was finished with same treatment as the front porch and was fitted with small recessed lights, down lighting the back stairs.

One of my pet projects was the shed that provides access to the cellar. It was literally falling off the house in January when we started. I painstakingly re-framed the tiny structure adding the shed roof and trimming it to match the house. I insulated and finished the interior. The roofers fitted the piece with a new painted steel roof and I built, stained and finished the door, from scratch, to mimic the other two exterior doors. The carriage lamp, matches the front door. It looks every bit the “big boy” entrance to what would make a very, very cool stone lined wine cellar!

Four Oaks Exterior #2

If the exterior is a reflection of my overall aesthetic then the interior is the embodiment. Boasting full six-inch baseboard with cap and shoe as well as full six-inch picture framed window and door trims. All of the interior doors are solid wood two-panel Shaker-style with substantial oil-rubbed bronze hardware. They really feel like a door when you close them. All of the bathrooms are fitted with electric radiant heated natural stone floors. The floor in the main room of the house is the original Heart Pine flooring and all the other floors in the house, with the exception of the bathrooms, are new Heart Pine. All of the floors were sanded and then hand-rubbed with a custom mixed stain before being finished with three coats of Tung Oil.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is a statement in simplicity. White cabinets, black granite and stainless steel. The white Shaker-style semi-custom cabinets with soft close drawers and doors are from Wolf Classic Kitchens and are made in the USA. I absolutely love these cabinets and have used them on several other jobs.

Four Oaks Kitchen #1

I’d like to think that the kitchen cooking and prep areas not only comfortable and well planned but that we were also able maximize use and storage in the entire space.  There is a “mud room” area with a custom built-in closet at the back door. The eat-in area features custom built-in banquette seating with piano hinged tops that lift for storage. Above the banquette, in what was once a window, a custom built-in wine  or spice rack. There was still a little room left so I designed and built a custom closet to hold a full-sized stacked washer and dryer.

Four Oaks Mud Room #1

The floor in the galley style kitchen was feeling a little long so I decided to break up the run of flooring by inlaying a slate-like tile in the travel way between the sink and range. The frame had to be perfectly square, the perfect length and width to complete the install without needing grout. I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then!

Four Oaks Kitchen #2

The Powder Room

The powder room is full of unexpected details. If the exquisite sink and faucet are not enough perhaps the extraordinary rusticated and heated slate floor is of your liking? Maybe it’s the wonderful oil-rubbed bronze light fixtures? For me, the CHERRY is the base that the sink sits upon! I shaped the front using a log salvaged from an 1850’s log home. The side pieces were salvaged from the cutoff of a rough sawed floor joist from this very house. The plugs I used to cover the screw fasteners were cut from salvaged Heart Pine flooring. I hand sanded the piece until it was smooth and splinter free and finished it with a hand-rubbed custom stain topped by Sikkens Window and Door.

Four Oaks Powder Room

The Living Room

The main room of the house is unbelievably warm and welcoming. The once rough and very scary floor is finished to perfection. The panelized wall that greets you when you walk through the front door was laid out to highlight art and conversation. The maple and wrought iron stair rail was designed and finished to illicit comments and thoughts of a bygone era. Again not wishing to let any space be wasted, I constructed a hidden door, on a piano hinge, in the paneled wall for access to storage under the stairs. One of my thoughts for this space, other than storage, was that with a slightly reconfigured door it would make and awesome dog house or playroom.

Four Oaks Living Room #1

Four Oaks Entrance

Four Oaks Living Room #2

The Stairwell

Oddly enough, the stairwell is one of the most interesting places in the house. Flooded by light from a window on the landing this space possesses four of my favorite unexpected features. The rough sawed beam above the window revealed itself during the framing of the new stairs. I protected it from the tradesmen, drywallers and painters until it was time to apply finish. I think it truly completes this space. Above the header at the start of the stairs I added the small display shelf…you know, it just seemed fitting. The custom built-in stepped book shelf, ROCKS! The taller area of the shelf is an old window location. I captured the adjacent area between two studs in the wall framing to give the shelf some life. In the back of the bookcase.. .the old flooring from the landing at the top of the stairs…I let nothing go to waste. Finally, for me it is the chandelier that finishes the space and really makes you stop and say, “WOW!”.

Four Oaks Hallway

Upstairs, in the original house you will find an over-sized full bath and two small bedrooms. While small, I again want to believe well planned and sized with both an empty-nester and a growing family in mind. Each room, with their interesting nine and one-half foot vaulted ceilings, are large enough to hold a queen-sized bed as in guest rooms for an empty-nester or a set of bunk beds in one and perhaps a loft bed with a desk beneath in the other for the growing family. The full bath is bright and airy even though there is no window. The bathroom door opening outwards was planned to provide the maximum amount of internal space in the room.

Four Oaks Hall Bath #1

Four Oaks Bath & Bedrooms

The Master Bedroom

The Master…ah yes, the Master Bedroom with its fabulous in-suite bath…this just might be my favorite room in the entire house and…the only room that did not exist in January. Where to begin…three windows letting in copious amounts of light and views of the magnificent trees. The room was sized to fit a king-sized bed placed against either of two walls depending on your feng shui consultant. Custom built-in closets a full nine feet tall…his and hers…designed and constructed with two purposes in mind: One…fit the overall aesthetic of the room and house. Two…provide separation/privacy for the in-suite bath. Sliding between the two custom closets is the final unexpected feature…an 8 foot tall paneled door rolling on barn door hardware (darn, Stephanie can’t find the picture of it)! BAM!

Four Oaks Master Bedroom #2

Four Oaks Master Bedroom #1

The Master Bathroom

The Master bathroom is a Travertine Marble clad oasis. The floor…heated Travertine. The shower…ah yes…the shower… Travertine Marble from floor to ceiling. A carefully planned mosaic pattern mimics a waterfall on the far wall before merging with the mosaic on the shower floor. In the end…it is hard to believe, even for me and I did it, that all this grandeur is shoehorned into a six and one-half foot by nine and one-half foot space!

Four Oaks Master Bath #1

For the record, this once old and ravaged home was an unbelievably comfortably place to work and it is now in a condition to last for generations. The neighbors and the neighborhood are amazing, welcoming and protective. Telegraph Springs Road: where residents stroll, walk their dogs and… yes, even ride their horses. These same neighbors greeted me daily, monitored my progress, thanked me for what we were doing and advised me that our work was a fitting tribute to the former owner… a much loved local fixture.

And so to you Four Oaks, I raise this glass! Live long and remain PROUD!

In closing, I must first thank my good friend Brice Leconte and his beautiful wife Stephanie. Brice purchased this property and funded the renovation. Without him this jewel may have ended up as just another pile of rubble at the landfill. Brice’s wife, Stephanie Leconte, is a gifted and talented interior designer with a bright future ahead of her. Stephanie chose all of the colors (interior and exterior), fixtures, tile and hardware throughout the house. She was also the sounding board for my design ideas. Additionally, I would like to thank my beautiful and patient wife Stephanie, as well as our children, Easton and Scarlett. My Stephanie helped me set and grout every single piece of tile and marble in this house. She was also with me, side-by-side, over several late nights hand rubbing the stain into the floors and mopping on the Tung Oil finish. Thanks also to our loving children who watched much of their first month of summer vacation from the inside of a house under construction. Finally, last but not least my gratitude to the new homeowner. This home was sold at the beginning of this month and the new owner, who from what I can tell, might just love this place as much as I do, was kind enough to grant me permission to release this post. Mazal Tov!


David Signature


before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 1 to 6

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 1 to 6
written by David, pictures by Stephanie

Day 1: Gentlemen…and Lady, start your Sawzalls and let the demolition begin.

Day 1

The dumpster arrived promptly at 1:00 pm and the demolition began promptly at 3:00 pm! Well, actually the part demo, part sleuthing began at 3:00 pm. We had been told that beneath all the layers, yes layers and there were three, there lived LOG! So, we began our quest, our search for the Holy Grail. With the first wall we hit pay dirt. LOGS! As we stripped away modern drywall, 1950’s era wood-grained corrugated cardboard paneling and 1880’s era horse-hair plaster on hand-split lathe, we were rewarded with the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow…an 1820’s log cabin. The logs where in great shape with most of the chinking and stone filler still firmly affixed. The fireplace and chimney unfortunately had suffered a worse fate. They must have collapsed at some point as the chimney had been reconstructed using cinder block and firebox bricked in solid. The good news is the fireplace can and will be saved. The day ended in a cloud of dust with the kitchen empty and the west wall of the cabin both upstairs and downstairs stripped down to log.

Day 2: Gentlemen…and Lady, start your Sawzalls and let REAL the demolition begin.

Day 2

Day 2 dawned with a crew of six (6), fit and ready to do battle.  I can not begin to describe the carnage, only to say that by the end of the day the dumpster was FULL! FULL! FULL!  As was a stake-side equipment trailer and the bed of a full-size Ram 2500 pick-up truck.  As for the house there were exposed logs throughout the first floor, exposed hand-hewed ceiling rafters and walls removed from the second floor of the cabin.  Time to let 200 years of dust settle and plan for Day 3.  We left the job looking a bit like zombies as our skin was ashen colored from all the mortar debris and we were shuffling about  from being tired and weary.

Day 3: What do you mean you can’t get me a new dumpster until noon!

Day 3

One lady down, the crew of 5 began the second day of all our assault (read: demolition) on the cabin at 0730. While waiting on the delivery of the new dumpster, stripping of the walls on the second floor of the cabin began in earnest. By the time the dumpster arrived the pile of rubble on the floor was 2 feet high and the dust so thick you couldn’t see the far side of the room. Additionally, the closet walls in the first floor bedroom where down as was most of the drywall in the kitchen and bedroom leaving another pile of shrapnel. After lunch we began loading the new dumpster and by the end of the day the second dumpster much like the first was FULL! FULL! FULL! Two dumpsters…2 days, now that’s some demo! The end of Day 3 yielded some excitement. After removing the parquet wood tile floor and luan backer that had been installed over the 1940’s era wood floor on the first floor of the cabin, we discovered the original hearth stone showing slight cracks but otherwise intact . In cleaning the stone we noticed that someone had etched, by hand, a date in the stone. I wonder what was significant about “dec. the 6 1927”?

Day 4: Pulling out the chinking and haul it in a bucket.

Day 4

With most of the heavy lifting out-of-the-way, we were down to the laborious task of chinking removal while waiting on the arrival of our first material order. The space between the logs had been “chinked” with flat field stones packed with a lime-mortar plaster scratch coat then finished with a lime-mortar plaster top coat. Due to the age and the state of the plaster chinking, re-pointing was out of the question so, out the plaster must come. The plaster has to be removed carefully as to not disturb the rubble filling, making it time-consuming as well as a labor intensive job. Day 4 also brought the plumber to remove all the existing piping as well as any remaining fixtures.

Day 5: To frame a crooked ceiling.

Day 5

With the ringing of my phone at 7:15 am, Day 5 was off and running. It was the lumber delivery driver wanting to know where to drop the framing material. Hot damn…to be honest, 4 days of demolition had me itching to build something. Before we begin, an item of note… apparently the folks of the 19th century where vertically challenged. The ceiling height upstairs was barely 6 feet and for me at 6′ – 7″ I’d had it with 4 days of banging my head on low hanging timber, it was time to raise the roof, so to speak, on the second floor. The cabin’s gable roof had been framed in the style typical of the early and mid 1800’s; semi-straight young pine trees skinned of bark set as the framer saw fit with 1″ x 4″ ridge pole on an 8:12 pitch. All of that crooked goodness made complete with the use of the second floor ceiling rafters as collar ties. My plan…leave the existing roof framing in place, install a new 2″ x 8″ ridge pole, sister new 2″ x 6″ rafters to the existing pole-rafters and install new collar ties 3 feet above the existing. Easy, right? Not so fast! No rhyme or reason to the spacing of the existing pole-rafters. Then, several of the pole-rafters on one side of the roof did not match the diameter the opposing pole-rafter on the other side, one rafter had rotted away and had been replaced by an out of twisted rough cut 2″ x 4″ and in several cases the rafter tails did not line up with the collar ties. A real nightmare. Needless to say, with lots of pushing, pulling, lifting and blocking, we managed to get all the new rafters and collar ties in place. Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention we lost about 5 lbs. each! It’s damn hot in a gable beneath the metal roof.

Day 6: Cutting collar ties and playing with logs.

Day 6 #1

Day 6 #2

We started Day 6 in a shed atop Mount Gilliad, just south of Leesburg, Virginia. We were there to pick out a log to be used as a post in the widened kitchen entrance. Once the perfect log, also from an 1800’s log cabin, had been selected, we headed to the cabin to let the fun begin. Arriving back at the cabin, time had come to cut the collar ties on the second floor and see if our new framing would hold as planned. Holding our collective breaths, I set the sawzall blade on top of the first rafter and pulled the trigger…seconds later, the blade had sliced clean through the 200 year-old rafter and nothing happened. The roof held (I knew it would, LOL) so we cut away the remaining 8 rafters.  We left the remaining rafter-tails long, out of the wall, as they will be boxed out during finishing and fitted with recessed lighting. Once the rafters were cut, it was time to go downstairs and play with logs and a chainsaw. The connection between the log cabin, the kitchen and bedroom, added to the house in the 1970’s, was the original cabin’s back door.   With an opening width of less than 3 feet and a height of just over 5 feet, it had to be adjusted…a lot, and in both directions. We were looking to get an opening of 6 feet wide and 7 feet tall.  To achieve an opening of those dimensions, it was going to need the removal of some existing logs and the addition of a log post. After marking the existing ceiling joists at the notch in the logs to assure that there was no movement, we began to disassemble the wall. After the first log was removed we were off to the races and in no time we had removed the wall and fashioned a post out of the reclaimed log. Just like that… POW! an opening 6 feet wide  and 7 feet tall really opening up the space. Day over…time to let the dust settle once again.

PlanetDwell ICON 300 res

We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on theChronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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before + after: village of woodgrove 1820’s log cabin

before + after: village of woodgrove 1820’s log cabin
written by Stephanie

Life for me has been a bit like the life of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Our world was calm and serene one moment and then a tornado hit and bam, it’s a whole new world. David and I have traveled the Yellow Brick Road for a year and a half now trying our best to reinvent ourselves and searching for the right path back to serenity. There have been plenty of flying monkeys along the way and they haven’t stopped us yet! So, join us on our quest through OZ. This next adventure is bound to be a good one and we invite you to follow us along the way.

Across the street in front of our log cabin home, sits a small house with layers of history swathed upon its walls. The home was one of the original houses constructed in the early 1800’s in the Village of Woodgrove, in western Loudoun County. Yes, before the W and OD Railway came and before the Town of Round Hill, Virginia was established in 1858, there was the Village of Woodgrove.  After the arrival of the railway line, which terminated in Round Hill, the Village of Woodgrove became part of the growing Town of Round Hill.  Sitting to the east and across Woodgrove Road from our home, is the original Manor House of Woodgrove built in 1735. We have yet to meet these neighbors and would welcome the opportunity to meet them and see their lovely historic home. (Hmmm, maybe I should send our daughter, Scarlett, that way next year to sell her Girl Scout cookies!)

Back to the topic at hand, we were fortunate enough to know the last home owner of the small home across the street, Mr. James Hough (pronounced Huff). In the Spring of 2012, we moved into our log cabin and within days Mr. Hough introduced himself and welcomed us to the community. At 86 years young he resided alone and was still out and about driving his car. He told us he had been born and raised in Loudoun County and has lived in his current home since the 1940’s. He was born in February of 1925 and sadly, passed this last winter in January. In talking with Mr. Hough’s son, Jim, when came to clear the house after his father’s death, we discovered that Jim intended to sell the house. David saw an opportunity to put together a deal that could benefit both Jim Hough and a buyer. Flash forward… good friends of ours decided the property was a wise investment and offered PlanetDwell the job of designing and renovating their new purchase! The renovation plans are HGTV worthy and I just don’t understand why they won’t return my calls! Seriously, David and I will be blogging along the way on this baby, and so it begins…


A tour of the Hough home prior to demo…


Woodgrove 1st Floor prior demo

Woodgrove 2nd Floor prior demo

Stay tuned for the big reveal in our next post!!  Just to wet your appetite, below are pictures of the latest renovation completed by PlanetDwell (blog posting to come).

We turned this…

Four Oaks before demo

into this…

Four Oaks after renovation

Four Oaks after renovation

 Follow us as we chronicle this next journey on the Yellow Brick Road.

new leather designs for spring…

new leather designs for spring…
by Stephanie

Whew…. it has been a whirlwind of activity at my design table.  I just wish I could clone myself to create a production line!  It’s finally done… the Spring 2013 Leather Jewelry and Accessories Line.  I have expanded my design process to include  a few necklaces, earrings, smartphone cases and card cases.  Please take a peek at my post to see what I have been doing.  You can always come back for a second look by visiting the PlanetDwell Lookbook Page on this blog. I have not listed pricing yet for the Spring Line.  I will be setting up an Etsy Shop where purchasing is readily available.  If you can’t wait for me to get the hamsters spinning their wheels in my computer, you can contact me directly for pricing and details.  Last but not least, I would like to thank my beautiful muse, Courtney for helping me photograph the new line!

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leather cuff design: check out the new designs to added to the PlanetDwell collection

leather cuff design:  check out the new designs to added to the PlanetDwell collection
written by Stephanie

Check out the new goodies added to the PlanetDwell Leather Cuff collection!

sugar skullmystic ink snap cuff

frolic true colorsicarus' wingthe huntresssaharamen's cap'n jackkid's cap'n jack

With over 20 designs to choose from, these one-of-a-kind leather cuffs are hand-made and hand-finished. Each cuff is individually stylized sporting reclaimed and salvaged leathers, denim, crystals, freshwater pearls, paint, ink, feathers or a combination of elements. Several designs are adorned with hand stitching that is painstakingly completed using waxed linen thread and embroidery thread in complimentary colors. The crystal and pearl embellishments are hand-stitched using silk beading thread for strength and durability. The standard cuff features dual snaps allowing for adjustments to fit most wrist sizes and the closure on the full wrap cuff is constructed of self-adjusting elastic cord. Many of the designs in the current selection of PlanetDwell Cuffs are proudly constructed of a cream-colored leather rescued from a 1970’s era Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. All PlanetDwell cuffs are created using some rescued and salvaged leathers, therefore colors and textures are subject to change based on availability. The Cap’n Jack Cuff is a featured unisex and kid’s.

PlanetDwell happily accepts payment through PayPal.  Upon your order request, we will invoice you directly through PayPal. Please use the form at the bottom of this post to contact PlanetDwell to inquire about ordering your own custom leather cuff.  This information can always be found in the menu selection “Leather Cuffs” on our blog.


leather cuff design: The PlanetDwell Lookbook

leather cuff design:  The PlanetDwell Lookbook
 written by Stephanie

Before Thanksgiving, I did a photo shoot of my leather cuff collection with my beautiful friend whose name is also Stephanie.  Stephanie looked great in the shoot and the cuffs were gorgeous on her.  (I will have to produce some leather earrings and necklaces so that we can see more of Stephanie’s lovely face and not just her wrists.  Hmmmm….  good idea!)  She layered my cuffs with her own collection of silver and Hermes bracelets.  Some of the cuffs were photographed on her collection of exquisite scarves from Paris, France.  I adored seeing the leather paired with the Parisian scarves!  The textures and colors were beautiful together.   We even talked her husband  into modeling the men’s Cap’n Jack cuff for me  (thank you Brice!).

So peeps,  take a look at the PlanetDwell Lookbook.  If you see something you like, go to the “Leather Cuff Design” page on the menu to inquire/order.

Stay posted, I will be posting a few new designs very soon!


PlanetDwell Lookbook


leather cuff design: introducing the planetdwell leather cuffs!

leather cuff design: introducing the planetdwell leather cuffs!

Finally! After months of labor disputes, plant closures and strikes, the elf (read: Stephanie) has finally cranked up production and is now working overtime. From her cramped work space in our tiny log cabin, working by candlelight and warmed by a wood stove, her fingers worn to the bone, persistence is finally paying off and The PlanetDwell Leather Cuffs are HERE! The first wave of PlanetDwell Leather Cuffs are being worn by discerning women everywhere…and by everywhere, we mean they can be found adorning many a well-clad wrist in and around the Washington DC Metro area (and that IS sort of like everywhere, right ladies?). The PlanetDwell Leather Cuffs are available for order so… RUN, don’t walk, to your computer and place your orders now! Remember to buy early and often! They are great for birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, Girls-Night-Out or whatever else you may feel the need to celebrate when it’s cold and snowy outside.

With over 20 designs to choose from, these one-of-a-kind leather cuffs are hand-made and hand-finished. Each cuff is individually stylized sporting reclaimed and salvaged leathers, denim, crystals, freshwater pearls, paint, ink, feathers or a combination of elements. Several designs are adorned with hand stitching that is painstakingly completed using waxed linen thread and embroidery thread in complimentary colors. The crystal and pearl embellishments are hand-stitched using silk beading thread for strength and durability. The standard cuff features dual snaps allowing for adjustments to fit most wrist sizes and the closure on the full wrap cuff is constructed of self-adjusting elastic cord. Many of the designs in the current selection of PlanetDwell Cuffs are proudly constructed of a cream-colored leather rescued from a 1970’s era Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. All PlanetDwell cuffs are created using some rescued and salvaged leathers, therefore colors and textures are subject to change based on availability. The Cap’n Jack Cuff is a featured unisex design and additional men’s styles are available upon request.

PlanetDwell happily accepts payment through PayPal.  Upon your order request, we will invoice you directly through PayPal. Please use the form at the bottom of this post to contact PlanetDwell to inquire about ordering your own custom leather cuff.  This information can always be found in the menu selection “Leather Cuffs” on our blog.

Wrap Leather Cuffs

2″ to 2.5″ at the widest point

Leather Band Cuffs 

1.75″ wide band with double snaps

Cap'N Jack

Medallion Leather Cuff

center portion is 2.25″ wide with 1.38″ wide bands

wing and prayer

2.25′” wide with double snaps


butler’s pantry: built-in family activity staging area

butler’s pantry: built-in family activity staging area
written by David

“The Cooke’s are an active family”. Good God, if you only knew what an understatement that actually is! Their four children, ranging in age from 6 to 11, are involved in every sport and activity known to kid-hood. It is truly amazing how they manage to schedule every hour of every day with out a catastrophic mishap, yet somehow they do. It is all mom Suzy, like the “Great and Powerful Oz”… “pay no attention to what’s behind the curtain”, working from her uber-organized post in the family’s butler pantry. Her makeshift setup of a waist-high shelf/desk with a curtained front to hide school back-packs, snacks and copious amounts of sports gear was functional but certainly not ideal. What she had in mind was a built-in, very specific and very exacting. A built-in that would utilize every inch of space that a 2 feet deep, 7 feet wide and 8 1/2 feet tall butler’s pantry wall could give. A built-in that could evolve as the children grew.

In the beginning…

the foundation…

As there will be no sitting down in this area, the “desktop” had to be at comfortable height to stand and work. Below the waist-high, two-feet wide desktop Suzy needed four “equally-sized” cubes (I know siblings and you can be sure that they will measure to see if one of the cubes is bigger.) with doors, a storage locker for sports bags, equipment and the like with a door, an open locker; with a file drawer and two open shelves and finally, anchoring one end a tall broom closet with a door and enough room for the vacuum cleaner and of course, brooms. Above it all and, across the entire wall, a cabinet with three doors for storage of bottled water, sports drinks and snacks. With regard to visual aesthetics, their home is a beautifully renovated 1900’s raised cottage-style farm-house so the finish needed to fit the style of the period. Too that end, we decided on Shaker-style cabinet doors with ” union jack” patterned punched tin inserts. The upper cabinets are hinged with three reclaimed, re-styled and very old wood sash windows. The cabinet frames, trim and sash windows are all painted gloss white and the lower cabinet doors are painted in a gloss green to match the existing paint on the walls of the butler’s pantry. The desk top and the work station surround, constructed of re-claimed barn wood, with the work surface finished with a thick coating of 2-part clear epoxy complete the functional yet eclectic look. Task lighting was added under the upper cabinets to illuminate the work surface and the interiors of the upper cabinets were fitted with puck lights that offer either spot- lighting for collectibles and items of interest or can simply be used as ambient lighting.

in the end…

In the end, the finished piece looks just like the sketch all be it with a couple of twists. It truly fits the space and the style of the house to a tee. I am always amazed how elegant and possibly even refined the very rough re-claimed wood can look and feel when paired crisp white trim, complementary paint colors and slick glossy surfaces.

powder room: an unexpected treat

powder room: an unexpected treat
written by David

Karen and Joe Durishin purchased their 1970’s era Reston, Virginia townhouse in the late 1990’s.  Over the years they have added unique and amazing touches to their super cool home with its modern floor plan and the awesome flying metal and wood stairs.  In fact, the only untouched original space on the main level was the powder room…and what a sight it was!

The room is large 3 feet by 8 feet and  the ceilings are a full 9 feet.  The funniest thing in the room, the existing toilet.  It was laughably miniature, bordering on child-sized. The vanity was not much better, a low pedestal-style sink that stood lonely and small at the opposite end of the room. On the floor, an uninspired crème marble tile with red veining.

Clearly time had come for a fresh new look.  Something more in-tune with the rest of the place, but…something seriously unexpected!  That something that makes you stop and say “WOW!” when you open the door.  Our vision, a Zen-like space with a built-in vanity featuring a log from an old log home and some reclaimed barn wood. The whole thing would be sanded smooth, stained very dark and finished with a thick shiny coat of lacquer.  The Homeowners where sceptical, but game.  So, the powder room was gutted!  Striped down to its bare bones of drywall and sub-floor, a veritable blank slate.

Off to Home Depot to shop.

After looking at some seriously expensive Special Order sinks the in-stock Kohler Archer® practically jumped off the shelf.  The Archer®, actually just the top of 2-part pedestal-style sink system, at only $115.00 was the perfect shape for the aesthetic we were trying to achieve.  Although not specifically designed for it the sink could be installed on a deck and the resulting low square profile would fit perfectly with the overall design.  For the faucet the Homeowner choose the very cool Moen “Banbury” in brushed nickel.

The floor absolutely had to make a statement so we suggested a large glazed porcelain tile “Onyx Sand” by MS International with a crossing border pattern of a “Montagna Belluno” Porcelain Mesh-Mounted Mosaic Tile by Marazzi Tile.  As a bit of serendipity we also used the Montagna Belluno Mosaic Tile coupled with a Natural Travertine Pencil Border to create a backsplash surround for the vanity top.  Finally, for a toilet, the Homeowner selected the Sterling Stinson® Elongated Toilet with Pro Force® Technology.  Not only is the Stinson a full-sized “throne” but it is also a full 2 inches taller than the standard.

With material shopping out-of-the-way it was time to transform the space.

So, what do you think?

sunroom: library built-in

sunroom: library built-in
written by David

There’s an old saying, “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure” and it was never more true than during the construction of this very unique sunroom library built-in.  The Homeowner’s wanted to remove a short section of hand rail that ran between two pilasters at the entrance to their sunroom and replace it with a “lawyer’s case” style built-in bookcase.  The built-in was to have glass doors on the sun room side and a simply finished recessed panel on the dining side.

After several sketches it was decided that the entire wall on both sides would be finished with recessed panels including the inside surrounds of both sunroom entrances and the surround above the built-in.

Enter a curb-side trash pile complete with an intact vintage Mission-Style  L. & J.G. Stickley Curio Cabinet.

The cabinet’s frame, top and doors are all solid wood.  The doors contained their original glass and ALL of the original hand-forged brass hardware; including hinges, pulls and locks, was still in place.  The veneer on the sides and back had started to de-laminate, but that didn’t matter as I planned to remove them before installing the cabinet into the space.  After looking the cabinet over and hearing how it would be included as an integral part of their built-in, the Homeowner’s readily agreed to the change.

The addition of an awesome antique cabinet resulted in several simply killer upgrades that truly completed the project.  First, the height of the cabinet left the resulting top at bar height… so, I cantilevered the top into the dining area creating a space just begging for some bar stools.  Then I trimmed the entire top with a wide band of custom-stained, to match the floors, oak that encloses a bar surface constructed of salvaged Ipe’ decking.  The entire top is finished with three (3) hand-rubbed coats of Minwax Tung Oil Finish .

Finally, I added three (3) low voltage dimmable puck lights in the recessed panels above the bar and another pair in the top of the cabinet.  The upper lights cast a dramatic glow across the bar top while the cabinet lights throw a soft wash of light across the floor in the sunroom.