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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Decorating editor Jeanie Sims invited author Kari Lee Townsend to guest blog today and tell us all about a very special Victorian house. Kari writes fun and exciting stories with mystical elements and quirky characters. Her latest book is TEMPEST IN THE TEA LEAVES: A Fortune Teller Mystery. You can learn more about Kari at her website  and also at the Mysteries and Margaritas group mystery blog  -- AP

Sunny’s Sanctuary

Hi there. My name is Kari Lee Townsend and I am the author of TEMPEST IN THE TEA LEAVES. I’m here today to tell you all about my friend, Sunshine Meadows. She’s a big city psychic who moves to the old-fashioned, quaint town of Divinity, NY to open her fortune-telling business in an ancient Victorian house, inheriting Morty, a strange cat residing within. Everyone thinks the house is haunted, but Sunny told me she suspects the haunting is more like a Morty temper tantrum. I was sort of freaked out, but I didn’t tell her. She asked me over for lunch, and I said yes. What a surprise I found when she gave me a tour of her house.

Sunny’s house comes fully furnished and decorated in the Victorian style. It has a huge, wrap-around porch with peeling antique white paint that’s somehow charming. The interior is decorated in the lavish, romantic, splendor of Queen Victoria herself. I’ve always loved that look.

The bathroom is upstairs and has these beautiful scrolls, florals, and sea figures hand painted on the sink and toilet. It’s so pretty, but I was a goner for the tub. The bathtub is free-standing with claw feet gilded in gold. I’ve always dreamed of having one of those. And then there’s a pedestal sink that sits in front of a huge gilded mirror with brass fixtures and gas lights on the sides. Heavy wood paneling covers the walls, and a shaving stand as well as small furniture occupies an adorable sitting area. If it were me, I’d spend loads of time in that bathroom.

Then she showed me her bedroom. The bedroom consists of a huge four poster, king sized bed. I’d have to run and jump just to climb on top. It’s pretty spectacular. I’m sure Sunny’s hunky detective, Mitch Stone, would love it…if he ever gets the chance to see it J Ornately carved chests and bureaus of dark wood hold Sunny’s clothes, as well as a closet, though Sunny isn’t vain or into material things, so they are mostly empty. She also has this really cool free standing screen to dress behind. I’m thinking about getting one of those myself.

Next she took me to the kitchen. The kitchen is on the main level with a root cellar below it. It has a formal dining room with a large, round, dark wood table with pedestals, as well as overstuffed chairs made of leather that are heavily upholstered, with uniquely shaped and curved backs. But Sunny prefers dining in the servants’ area of the main part of the kitchen with the long harvest table where meals were often prepared. I don’t blame her. It’s very cozy. There’s a fireplace, a scullery where dishes are washed and vegetables are cleaned, as well as a laundry room off to the side. And the pantry not only has dry goods, but also is where the silver, glassware and table linens are stored. I have to say I’m impressed. It’s all very neat and tidy. Then again, is that Morty’s doing? I’m not really sure. 

The entryway houses a heavy mirrored hat stand that leads into the living room, where oriental rugs cover the wood floors. Damasks, silks, and velvet fabrics drape everything, with all sorts of knickknacks littering the tops. Needlepoint pillows and chair seats are abundant, as well as layers of lace, tassels, and fringe. Thick cording holds back heavy drapes that frame these beautiful windows. Deep, rich colors of reds, golds, greens, and browns seem to be the theme. And I’ve never seen so many large vases with floral arrangements, plant stands, and potted palms. They are scattered about all over the place, along with plenty of Grecian busts and statues.

Excessive would be the word I’m thinking of, but that is in keeping with the authentic nature of that era. Sunny said she enjoys the Victorian look, but sometimes the clutter is overwhelming, and trying to keep it all clean is mind-boggling. I shudder just thinking about it. That’s why she is so grateful her sanctuary was left empty. Like a clean slate meant for her alone to put her stamp on. And that’s exactly what she does, I noticed, as we entered her fortune-telling room last.
She hung crystal beads in place of a door, which I have to admit is pretty cool. Then she painted the walls a soft, pale blue meant to relax the seeker while the seer—that would be her—reads her client’s fortune. New age music pours quietly out of speakers, a tropical fish tank bubbles away in one corner, and a fireplace pops and crackles in the other. Various green plants and herbs are scattered about tastefully. Even I can see that unlike the rest of her house, this room has a peaceful aura to it…and I’m not even psychic.

Constellations cover the ceiling in a dazzling imitation of the universe, and when she dims the lights, they glow. That’s her favorite part, she said, and I have to agree. Last but not least her fortune-telling supplies sit on shelves in the other corner, as well as candles and incense in all sorts of colors and scents. The old fashioned tea table in the center serves as the place where she does her readings, and this is the one area where she truly feels herself. I can tell. After an amazing reading (I’ll tell you about that some other time J ) I headed home, but I definitely plan to go back.

So tell me, do you have a special room that you love the most. A place you like to go to be alone and that just makes you feel good? Sunny and I both want to hear all about it J

Thanks for the wonderful tour, Kari! I love old Victorian homes. And TEMPEST IN THE TEA LEAVES sounds like a winner. -- AP


Liz V. said...

Sounds like a delightful house.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Thanks Liz...it truly was :-)