October 5, 2017

The Real Woodberry Way

I'm feeling sentimental today and thought I would share the origin of the name Woodberry Way.

When I decided to turn my hobby into a business over a year ago now, I quickly found that it's difficult to come up with an original name. There are many things to take into account- available web address, google search results, branding, etc. One of the ideas I had was the name The Red Posey, simply because I thought the imagery represented my style well. Unfortunately, a quick Google search yielded pictures of bloody zombie dolls! Definitely not the imagery I was going for. I kept running into problems like this, and finally decided that rather than using an abstract idea, it needed to be something personal and specific.

In thinking about the places and things that inspire me, I came quickly to the house where my mother grew up in London on Woodberry Way :) She and her 7 siblings (6 of them girls!) grew up here, and my grandparents are going on 55 years living in this house.

Built around 1910, my grandpa spent thousands of hours meticulously renovating every square inch of it. My grandma pours beauty into every space. I realize that for most people, it's just a regular, charming old house, but I'm sure you'll understand that for me as the granddaughter, it's magical.

Please indulge me in a few photos and stories if you're interested. Most of the photographs are taken from my talented photographer sister's site. The first house photo was taken by my cousin's wife Kelli LeBaron Leavitt, and a few are by my aunt Natalie. Here's a bit of my family history.

After looking at these photos all morning, I'm wondering if my love of red began right here with this front door? Growing up we didn't visit my grandparents often since they lived 5,000 miles away, but when we did go, we stayed for weeks at a time. Not surprisingly, my memories of these times don't have anything to do with the spectacular city that is London. I only remember happy, happy times in this little house. 

On visits as a child, my 5 sisters and I (yes, more girls!) would play in the long, narrow garden out back. At the end of it there was a shed turned playhouse. We would dress up and put on plays and bask in the beautiful English summer weather.  On one visit there was scaffolding all over the front of the house for some sort of renovation project. It was delightfully fun to climb, our own personal jungle gym. My grandparents' youngest daughter is just 4 years my senior and she was a ringleader for fun and games. Her bedroom was high on the 3rd floor of the house, with long windows at an angle with the roof.

I have pictures of me as a baby in this gold living room on my first Christmas. My most recent memories in this room were spent with my Grandma watching movies as she ironed. I think she must iron every single part of their wardrobes. It seems to me she even ironed the socks! I have a lot to learn from her in this way, I feel victorious if I even take a shower on time.

My grandmother is a delightful woman- always cheerful, always lovely. I remember her making all sorts of cozy food like homemade chocolate pudding, a creamy chicken dish, and different sorts of cakes. She has a beautiful singing voice and loves to sing, which we as children always found enchanting. When I was pregnant with my 3rd baby in 2015, my husband and I had the pleasure of visiting for a week. I was excited to explore the city with my husband, who had never been to Europe. Life had other plans for me though, and beginning the first day, I had contractions that kept me home and off my feet. While my husband played tourist and my Grandpa went to work, I was able to spend the days with my Grandma at home. I think if I hadn't been there, she would normally be helping my grandpa at the office, but I'm grateful that she stayed home with me. She's a relentlessly optimistic woman. She loves to listen to music as she does her chores, and doesn't go about her day looking grungy like I do, no matter how simple the day's activities. Heavens no! She is always well put together, and even made sure to put on jewelry and light candles before dinner. I aspire to make ordinary moments special as she does. Though, my mom told me once that I share many of her traits, and I was honored and delighted by that.

She and my Grandpa share a beautiful life-long love story. This past summer they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary! Their children threw quite a party, with 3 days of festivities from elaborate field games and obstacle races, to a formal dinner dance featuring a replica of the original cake, and speeches and songs. It was glorious, and so fun to learn more about their life together.

My grandpa has a larger than life personality. He does everything 115% (like my husband!) He's a fascinating, deeply knowledgeable person who always has something meaningful to say on every topic. He built a business from scratch importing high end cookware and did very well for his family. He just barely sold the company and retired at age 86. His zest for life is an inspiration to me, and honestly I can't keep up with him. Maybe it was the fact that I was 30 weeks pregnant when we visited last, but he was a party animal and I was exhausted, ha! On one of our last nights in London, he took us on an evening driving tour of the city. I thought we would drive for an hour or so and then get some dinner. Boy was I wrong. At 1:30 in the morning, he was still going strong showing us every beautiful and historically significant place in town. We loved every minute of it! He has always been endlessly dedicated to people in his community, bringing the homeless and forlorn into his home, employing those who needed work, befriending the friendless, and making a real difference in people's lives.

I feel blessed to call them family, and hope to create a life together with my husband and children as full and beautiful as they did. It's quite the lofty aspiration!

My favorite room is this green guest room. It has the most magical view of the garden. Here's a picture of me on our last visit there, as well as some others from that trip. I had my first experiences with Liberty of London fabrics, as well as a Cath Kidston store. Oh boy!! I also made this pillow for them as a gift on the trip.

Unfortunately there won't be another trip to this place as they are selling their house and moving to Canada to be closer to family. It breaks my heart to think that another family will probably rip out the curtains my grandma sewed, and make all sorts of other changes that take away from its charm. But I know it's the right thing for them, and am excited to see them more often hopefully. I hope that in naming my business after this wonderful place that I can honor the beauty, love and joy that it represents to me.  

I'll have to share with you some time about my other grandparents, who are equally wonderful in very different ways. They lived on a ranch in the southern United States. Unfortunately they have both passed, and though I have lots of childhood memories of them, I didn't ever get to spend one on one time with my grandma. It's a shame, because she was the avid quilter! I'm sure she and I will have much to discuss on this matter in the hereafter. Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me!


  1. Allison, what a beautiful tribute to your grandparents and their lovely home. I'll always think of London now whenever I see a post from Woodberry Way. Such a romantic sounding name. Love your photography too. :)

  2. Loved reading this, you have 2 very special people that mean the world to you, great memories and 60 years together oh my!Love those red doors!When you said Canada , now I am wondering where, I live in Canada lol, I enjoy following your blog Allison, love your sewing and your fabric selections are spot on! Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a lovely post today! I loved the pitures and I feel like I know your grandparents from reading this! You are blessed to have these wonderful memories and to be close to your grandparents. Thanks for the peek into your family!!!

  4. I So enjoyed reading this post, what a beautiful, charming home. Grandparents are such a wonderful gift in our lives. I’m from Canada so I’m sure they’ll love living here too, hopefully they’ll find as charming a house here too. Also, your work is beautiful, you are so talented.��

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your family story know I know where you get your beauty and talent from.

  6. What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing your family history and how you decided on your business name :)

  7. I really enjoyed reading about your grandparents, their lovely home, and how your business name came about. Such a lovely post.

  8. loved reading about your family and your love for them.

  9. Thank you for sharing your wonderful and magical story. You are blessed with such a loving family. I'm in love with that house!!!

  10. Such a beautiful home and happy memories! I loved reading this and seeing the photos!