Cordia’s legacy in our home

1930s couch and chair
1930s couch and chair

I haven’t shared much of our family history here, yet, as this blog is primarily about our actual house.  But, what is creating our house and making it a home is our roots, our ancestral history, the history of the time our home was built, and the history of each of our families. . .so I thought I’d start sharing a bit of those pieces, too.

When one purchases a large home, there is a daunting task of furnishing it.  We didn’t have much when we bought this place, as I have moved every 2 years for the past 18 years and Bill sold a lot of his pieces when he sold his last house.  So, we scraped together what we had, bought a couch and a table and that has been about it, oh, and started scouring antique malls.  Upstate NY has fabulous antique places.

c.1930s chair, upholstered on the back, too in the original fabric
c.1930s chair, upholstered on the back, too in the original fabric

However, I have been fortunate to have garnered some furniture that has been in my family for a century.  My mother’s godmother and my grandmother’s cousin, Cordia Grunewald had some wonderful pieces.  I remember seeing them in her apartment when we would visit for Thanksgiving years ago.  I remembering thinking how grand her bed was and how quaint the couch.  I was attracted to antiques as a young teen and chose them for my own bedroom when I had it redone in high school.  So, I had a natural inclination towards Cordia’s furniture when she moved into assisted living.  None of my mom’s 3 siblings or their children wanted the furniture, so I really scored!  I have attained the couch and chair as well as a large mirror for our living area.  For our bedroom, I was given a headboard, footboard and 2 dressers.  I’m not sure what type of wood this is, though.  Mahoghany maybe?

These pieces are circa 1903, from Cordia’s parents’ first bedroom.  Cordia always had a trunk at the base of her bed, so my father gave one to me that he found and lined with cedar.

Our bed set up on a queen size frame even though the original was full.
Our bed set up on a queen size frame even though the original was full.

The couch and living room chair are circa 1930’s from their living room and I cannot guess the date on the large mirror above our mantel, but it is plaster with gold guilding.  I feel so lucky to be enjoying these pieces as they fit beautifully into our home and still look grand.

Cordia, as most of my mother’s side, was of German heritage.  An only child, she went into the army and also became a teacher.  She traveled the world and knew the important tidbits to save, like special old coins and stamps.  She never married or had children of her own, so our family grew close to her, spending Christmas’s and many Thanksgivings together.  I think of her often as Will climbs on her couch and removes the heavy horsehair cushions.

Corida around the time of high school graduation, circa 1920.
Corida around the time of high school graduation, circa 1920.

I think she’d smile and giggle to see her family’s things enjoyed so much.  And I think she would be happy to know how much we are appreciating them.


Moved in

The master bedroom is complete and we moved in this weekend.  I have a touch up of stenciling to do, but other than that — it is a livable, decorated space.

Painted cornice and velvet curtains

You can see that we completed the paint job by painting in a cornice moulding around the top of the room in the trim color, leaving the lines crisp.  Without the furniture, it looks rather tailored and formal, unlike the frilly Victorian feel the room would have originally had, likely with flowered wallpaper.  So, the stenciling should help that feel quite a bit.  As I mentioned earlier, I may go ahead and stencil the whole room, but I’ll have to sit with that for a while before I take the leap.  Doing one wall is weeks worth of work.


The wood furniture is turn of the century, coming from my grandmother’s cousin’s parents, known in the family as Uncle Gus and Aunt Ella.  The bed, dresser and gentleman’s bureau were their personal bedroom furniture.  I am very lucky to have these pieces as they fit beautifully into our home and are in wonderful condition.

The  black and white upholstered chair was my Christmas gift from Bill.  I had wanted a nice glider or rocker for the baby’s arrival, but something that would endure many years and not look dated.  This is what I chose, a glider that is also a recliner.  Very comfy and a nice contrast to the solid gray walls.

Nursery Nook

The nook is also completely furnished with the baby’s goodies: crib, dresser and changing table.  We’ll plan to have the baby with us in the nook until his room is ready for moving in, likely at least five months.

Now that we’re all moved in, we’ll be taking a close look at our old bedroom, the octagon room, and deciding how to attack it next.  Eventually it will be the baby’s full time room, to be decorated in turquoise and chocolate with a Peter Rabbit theme.  (You can tell I’ve been ready to do this one a while.)  Pictures and process yet to come!

Stenciled wall behind the bed