photo shoot at the retreat

Marian ParsonsMiss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Photography, Running a Business

Let me go back to the Lucketts Spring Market a couple of years ago.  Suzanne, the owner of The Old Lucketts Store and Design House, came and sat with me on a slow Sunday afternoon.  We were chatting about all of the business opportunities we’re working on and the things we’re dreaming about.  And she shared about a manor house she purchased and was renovating.

She told me, “The woodwork in this house is so beautiful, it’ll make you cry.  I just couldn’t pass it up.”

It would be a vacation rental, a venue for small weddings and events and a place for creative retreats.  And, it would be something that could be finished.  Suzanne has described the antiques/home decor business as an “ice sculpture.”  You find/finish pieces, put them together, they are sold, the room is picked over and emptied, and then you have to start over again.  Again and again.

So, fast forward to a meeting a few weeks ago.  Kriste and I were discussing shooting locations for the second MMSMP look book.  She mentioned a couple of local places and then she was about to talk about another, but she stopped herself.  She looked at me, bit her lip and decided to go for it.

“There is this one place…it might not be in our budget, but it’s gorgeous.  It’s a manor in Virginia with the most amazing woodwork…”

“Wait.  Show it to me.”

She pulled out her laptop and as soon as I saw the first picture, I knew it was Suzanne’s manor.

“Well, I happen to know the owner…”

And, on Tuesday, Kriste and I made the drive down to Bluemont, a van full of pieces painted in MMSMP, to take pictures for the look book.

the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed

Kriste said she had trouble sleeping the night before, because it was like Christmas.  I couldn’t wait to see the house, but I was nervous that my furniture pieces would look rinky-dink and out-of-place in such a grand location.

the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed

The manor house, known as The Retreat at Cool Springs, was built in 1799 and has a rich history, as you can imagine.  The thing that makes this house so special, as both Suzanne and Kriste said, is the woodwork.  It is breathtaking.

the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed

And, you can tell from the little bits of paint left in the grooves and grain that it was all once painted and someone carefully stripped it down.  I kept remarking to Kriste that I can’t imagine how long that must’ve taken.

the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed

Sooo…that dresser between the two chairs is one we brought to photograph.  I was so pleased that it didn’t look dinky or lame, as I feared.  It definitely rose to the occasion.

the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed

Shooting my pieces in a different environment was so awesome.  It’s easy to get in a rut in my own house and studio.  I go back to the things I like over and over, so getting away from the usual pushed me creatively.

the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed

Kriste and I had the manor to ourselves, so we played our music, snapped pictures, arranged flowers, scooted furniture and soaked the entire experience in.  It truly was a privilege to make that house our “office” for one day.

the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed the retreat at cool springs | miss mustard seed

I will share more about the manor, share some design takeaways I came home with and show some of the before pictures, but there was way too much to write and way too many pictures to show in one post.

The Retreat is located in Bluemont, VA, on the Potomac river, and it is available as a vacation rental.  You can see all of the details and book your stay HERE.

If you’re interested in using the retreat as a venue for a small wedding or event, you can check out their website at or send an e-mail to

If you just want to learn more, you can follow them here…

Facebook –
Instagram – #retreatatcoolspring
Website –

photo shoot at the retreat

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