Our mini-staycation And some design inspiration from McMenamin's Edgefield Manor

Cane and I are not big travelers. We both hate airports. We hate packing. We hate sitting still in small seats with nothing to do.

No travel this summer was no problem, as we wanted to dedicate ourselves to finishing (hah!) our two big on-going projects. If you’ve been following along with us this summer, you know that’s been a slog.

Last week we decided that as much as we hate traveling and want to finish, we really need a break (for just the two of us) before returning to work in two weeks.

So we took a little (as in, 1 day) staycation.

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We live less than 10 minutes from a great place that we visit often to indulge our appetites for food and drink and garden lust. Earlier this summer, peeking in at the spa area, we said something like,

“You know, we should just come here for a night so we can go in that soaking pool.”

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The more we thought about it, the better the whole idea sounded.

No big drive. No big packing. (And if we forgot something, it would only be minutes away). No boarding the dogs or arranging for dog sitters. (They can do an overnight on their own.)

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We are thinking right now that we are pretty damn smart–because it was awesome.

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We had the best time, it didn’t cost much, it was easy, and we got all kinds of great inspiration for home and garden projects we thought we’d share with all of you.

Welcome to Edgefield

Edgefield Manor is operated by the McMenamin brothers, who own a brewery and several other restaurant/hotels. They specialize in renovating old buildings and turning them into really cool places to drink beer (and other stuff), eat food, watch movies, and have a good time.

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Edgefield Manor was once the county poor farm for Multnomah County (in Oregon). It was built about 100 years ago, and it was a working farm for many decades. Later it transitioned into a home for elderly and disabled residents. It closed in 1982, was abandoned, and was purchased in 1990 by the McMenamin brothers.

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Inspiration#1: Maybe frame some meaningful old photos to hang on the walls?

Because it is almost literally in our backyard, we’ve never given much thought to it. We’ve been there so many times, yet we’ve never really seen it–until now, looking at it through a different lens.

Lots of cool places tucked in everywhere

First of all, the building exteriors are gorgeous and charming.

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Inspiration #2: Highlight with an unexpected color. Most signs use red and green–but this blue one stands out, in a good way.

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Inspiration #3: Graphic wall mural.

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Inspiration #4: Trim color schemes

Not all of the original buildings remain, but many do. They house several restaurants, cool and funky little bars, a movie theater (where you can order grown-up drinks and food and sit on couches and upholstered chairs), a pool hall,  artisan studios, banquet rooms, and hotel rooms.

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This tiny bar pays homage to the Dead. It seats maybe 15-20 people. There are several cozy little places like this on the grounds, some even smaller.

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One of two artisan studios housed on the grounds.

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And it is a working brewery. We like that this place is more than just a pretty face.

In the photos above you can see hints of the beautiful gardens. We’ve often gone to Edgefield on warm summer evenings just to stroll the paths with a glass of wine and admire the greenery (and all the treasures tucked into the gardens).

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Inspiration #5: Sculpture from plumbing parts.

Or to sit and plot which of their ideas we can steal for our own house/garden.

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Inspiration #6: Scalloped seat tops.

On our stay this week, we walked a bit further than we’ve done in the past and discovered a great vegetable garden. The food produced in it is used in the restaurants. After walking through it, I was all ready to sign on for planting a vegetable garden next spring.

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Inspiration #7: Simple signs.

Although we didn’t take much advantage of it, there’s also an outside concert area with free music throughout the summer. You can sit on the porch of the main house and listen to the music, or grab a picnic table up close.

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See that little red shed under the vines? Another charming little spot to have a drink. I think there are 4 seats in this one. (Isn’t that chimney top great?)

Lots of cool art

While the gardens are really striking, even more spectacular (to me) are the interiors of the buildings.

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During restoration, much of the structure was left intact. Artists were brought in to create murals and paintings and embellishments throughout the buildings. (These are in all McMenamin venues.)

You can view a whole gallery of creations you’ll find there, or you can just look at some of the images we captured:

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Many of the paintings–such as this one–were inspired by photographs of former residents.

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Detail from a larger painting. This fantastical scene is set in the Edgefield grounds–that red water tower is in the earlier photo of the brewery.

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I love the mix on the walls of modern paintings and photographs and news articles that tell the story of this place’s history.

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This is not a great shot, but this is my favorite of the old photos we saw. Love that lone woman with all those men. (Looks like she took no crap, doesn’t she?) There’s a story there. I had fun imagining what it might be.

Rooms are named for former residents. In ours the resident’s story was painted on the walls:

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I didn’t get a great picture of the room (the lighting was tricky and I was too impatient to get a good picture before we gunked the room up with our stuff), but this will give you some idea of what it looked like:

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There are a few suites with their own bathrooms, but most guests use common bathrooms located on each floor. I wasn’t crazy about this idea, but on our floor, there were 8 little separate bathrooms behind the door to the baths. They were really cute–and two had clawfoot tubs in them, but none of my pictures quite captured it. You’ll just have to imagine it (or visit yourself!)

Seeing with a different eye

On Tuesday morning, while Cane enjoyed sleeping in, I went walking with my camera.

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The night before, I had purposely left my camera in the room. Sometimes a camera can keep me from being fully present, and because we only had one night, I wanted to soak up every minute of our mini-cation.

What I found while touring about the grounds with a camera, though, are things I’d never noticed in nearly 20 years of visits to this place.

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Inspiration #8: Fabric lanterns over a patio area.

For example:  There are fences and railings all over the grounds, and most posts are topped with round balls. Almost every post topper is painted differently.

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They are all mini-works of art.

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Inspiration #9: Make a small architectural feature a canvas.

The thing I liked best:  Nothing is faux.

Things that look weathered are authentically weathered, whether it’s a door leading into the garden or an old bench on one of the sitting porches. And while there are plenty of decorative touches all over the place (obviously), functional things aren’t used as decor. They are used for what they are.

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Yes, it was only 60 degrees on my morning walk. Felt so good in the midst of our heat wave.

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Inspiration #10: Garden door.

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Speaking of sitting porches, there are wide-open, comfortable ones on three sides of the main building.

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After Cane woke up, we settled in with our coffee/tea on a sun-facing porch. We had the whole thing to ourselves (the beauty of staying over on a Monday night).

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Took this shot while Cane was sleeping. By the time we came to sit, no one else was here.

I love this kind of detail, which was everywhere I looked.

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When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere:

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Exposed pipes in the ceiling of the Black Rabbit restaurant.

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Inspiration #11: Work with less than wonderful features, rather than trying to hide them.

We really like that we can see so much of the structure’s origins. We like that so many of its functions are out in the open. We love the celebration of the buildings’ history. We think the whole place works so well because of the care and attention to detail. Everywhere I turned, I found some new, small, charming thing.

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Even the road signs were small works of art. Each one has a different design.

When I think about what we could see that we might apply to the making of our own home, that’s my biggest take-away–what a difference attention to small details can make.

The best part of our “trip”?

Hard to say what the best part of our staycation was. The convenience was awesome. We checked out at 11:54 and pulled into our driveway at 12:06. No joke.

We love the idea of supporting a local business, especially one that is about preserving, honoring, and celebrating the past.

We are so thankful that this amazing piece of history wasn’t demolished (the county had planned to do that in the mid-80s) and that it’s been so thoughtfully and carefully restored.

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We love that we were able to feel truly far from home without having to go far from home.

So often when I’ve traveled, I’ve returned home feeling so worn out I need a vacation from my vacation. Not this time. We both felt energized and renewed from our little get-away.

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That spa soaking tub that lured us in for an overnight stay? This photo only hints at how nice it was. We had a long soak at the end of our evening, and then we went back for another one after breakfast.

Which makes me think of a post I read recently at Small Notebook, in which Rachel shares Mary Poppins’s idea that “enough is as good as a feast.”

Our little mini-staycation was a feast, for sure.

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Inspiration #12: Take time to sit and just be, so that you can become inspired.

It was great to realize that we don’t need to spend tons of money and go long distances for many days to get everything we want from a vacation: cool things to look at/learn about, time together away from our day-to-day concerns, a little leisure, and a lot of inspiration for things we can do in that day-to-day world we’ll be returning to.

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Doesn’t this make you want to try growing vegetables?

But maybe the best thing is that we didn’t have enough time to do everything we wanted to do…

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We ate in a restaurant we’d never tried before, but we didn’t make it downstairs to the pool hall. Next time…

…which means we’ll have to go back again!

How about you?

Do you have some great local places you’d like to visit as a tourist? Ever taken a mini-cation? Get any inspiration for your home from this place? Please share…

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Disclaimer:  We weren’t compensated for this post and aren’t fishing for any. We just wanted to share our thoughts on vacations and our pics of these great spaces (much like our recent post about my grandma’s house). We thought you might find them as inspiring as we do.