29 March 2013

The Cottage

 

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Bella Swan and Edward Cullen dance at their junior prom.

 

Now that the movie “The Twilight Saga:  Breaking Dawn Part 2” has just been released on DVD, I suspect this will absolutely be the very last time I ever blog about anything do with Twilight – the movies or the books  (I know, I know - so sad!!!)  

In case you don’t know anything about the Twilight vampire world (four books in all and five movies total) – it’s a sweet love story about a human teenaged girl named Bella and a 107 year old vampire male named Edward who is eternally frozen at the age he was turned – 17.   How would you like to be 17 years old for eternity????

In this final book and movies “Breaking Dawn,” Parts 1 and 2 – the couple marry, have a half breed daughter, and live happily ever after in eternity – forever.

 

 

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The wedding of 18 year old Isabella Marie Swan and Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, 107 years old.  The set was influenced by A Midsummer Night’s Dream with beautiful hanging flowers to keep the sunlight out of the ceremony – vampires can’t be in the direct sunlight, of course. 

 

 

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Bella’s dress was designed by Carolina Herrera – the lace was created especially  for the dress.   

 

With the progressively financial success of each movie, the budgets were increased and the sets got  more elaborate and detailed.  For the last two movies which were shot at the same time,  Architectural Digest showcased their sets HERE and HERE, along with the architecturally significant Brazilian beach house they rented to film the honeymoon in.

But, there was one particular movie set that all lovers of the books were anxiously waiting to see – the Honeymoon Cottage of Bella and Edward Cullen.   While the Cullen Coven all live together in a large house overlooking an Olympic Peninsula forest and river, the family thought the newlyweds needed their own private house to start off their married life.  Edward’s vampire “mother” Esme is also an interior decorator, so she took on this job herself.  As luck would have it (doesn’t it always happen that way in literature?)  on their large estate, there just happened to be a charming, abandoned stone cottage, over a 100 years old, which Esme renovated and furnished for the newlyweds and their half breed daughter, Renesmee. 

 

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The now vampire Bella and Edward and their half-vampire, half-human daughter Renesmee (don’t ask!!!!) 

  As for myself,  after reading about it in the book some years ago,  I have never forgotten the image in my mind of that old stone cottage – and here, read how Bella describes it in the book:

 

"I stared into the violet dark. There, nestled into a small clearing in the forest, was a tiny stone cottage, lavender gray in the light of the stars.  It belonged here so absolutely that it seemed as if it must have grown from the rock, a natural formation. Honeysuckle climbed up one wall like a lattice, winding all the way up and over the thick wooden shingles. Late summer roses bloomed in a handkerchief-sized garden under the dark, deep-set windows. There was a little path of flat stones, amethyst in the night that led up to the quaint arched wooden door.

“The cottage room was something from a fairy tale. The floor was a crazy quilt of smooth, flat stones. The low ceiling had long exposed beams that someone as tall as Jacob would surely knock his head on. The walls were warm wood in some places, stone mosaics in others. The beehive fireplace in the corner held the remains of a slow flickering fire. It was driftwood burning there-the low flames were blue and green from the salt.

“It was furnished in eclectic pieces, not one of them matching another, but harmonious just the same. One chair seemed vaguely medieval, while a low ottoman by the fire was more contemporary and the stocked book-shelf against the far window reminded me of movies set in Italy. Somehow each piece fit together with the others like a big three-dimensional puzzle. There were a few paintings on the walls that I recognized-some of my very favorites from the big house. Priceless originals, no doubt, but they seemed to belong here, too, like all the rest.

“It was a place where anyone could believe magic existed. A place where you just expected Snow White to walk right in with her apple in her hand, or a unicorn to stop and nibble at the rosebushes.   Edward has always thought that he belonged to the world of horror stories.  Of course, I’d known he was dead wrong.  It was obvious that he belonged here.  In a fairy tale….He carried me down a narrow stone hall with tiny arches in the ceiling, like it was our miniature castle.”

 

Well, no one ever claimed Stephenie Meyer was an award winning author, but after reading that description – can’t you just visualize a charming stone cottage with a stone floor, thick shingled roof and deep set windows filled with eclectic furniture that didn’t match? 

During the years from when the book was written to when the movie was finally released, many fans fantasized about what the honeymoon cottage would look like.   They posted their visions on online fan sites and even created it on Sims.

 

  This fan saw the stone cottage looking like this – but with a thatched roof, not shingles.  Of course she added a fancy sport car and Edward and Bella looking oh so cute.

 

 

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  This fan visualized this cottage with again, a thatched roof!  It does look like Snow White might here instead of a pack of vampires.

 

 

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This fan thought this is what the cottage might look like and it really is closer to the description with the shingle roof and stone fireplace.

 

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After the movie came out, this fan drew up a floor plan of the cottage on Sims.

 

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Another fan thought the main room would look like this – but this isn’t a beehive fireplace, as Stephenie Meyer wrote the cottage would have. 

 

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And this fan envisioned this as the stone cottage with the beamed ceiling and stone fireplace.  Still, no stone floor and no beehive fireplace. 

 

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Another fan thought this is what Renesmee’s bedroom would look like and it really does resemble this in the movie!   

 

Breaking Dawn Part I and Part II was filmed at the same time in three countries: Brazil, Canada and the United States.  Most of the interiors were filmed on a huge soundstage in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while exterior shots were filmed mostly in Canada.  For the honeymoon cottage, two houses were built.  The first house with its interior intact was built on the Baton Rouge soundstage and then, the second house – just for exterior shots only -  was rebuilt in Canada. 

Of course, over-eager fans were anxious to see the cottage while the movie was being filmed.  Fans would travel from all over the world to try to catch a glimpse of the movie while it was shot.  They would stake out the secret filming locations and then write about their adventures on web sites.  Since security was extra tight, nothing from the Baton Rouge soundstage was leaked.  BUT, a few lucky fans did find the cottage in Canada,  just sitting in the middle of the forest, off the highway.  The fandom erupted when finally, after all these years, we got our first glimpse of the stone cottage:

 

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The crew tried to the house behind netting so it wouldn’t be found by the snooping fans, but a few did locate it despite the tight security.  And here it – the famous shingled roof!

 

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In February, 2011,  major fan Mandy took a few pictures of the cottage that she discovered after following clues.  The producers tried to hide the cottage behind netting, but to no avail.  On the comment section on Mandy’s blog  – guess who left the first comment?  Yep, it was me.  I had a good laugh seeing that today and don’t even remember leaving her a comment!   But there is it:

 

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Well, this TRULY is embarrassing!!!!

 

Additionally on the comment section, there was a discussion about the beehive fireplace.   The pictures Mandy took were the first clue that the cottage wasn’t going to have Stephenie Meyer’s corner fireplace as she described it in the books – and the fans were disappointed.  Truthfully, I hate those kind of fireplaces, so I wasn’t at all upset to see it go.    To see more of Mandy’s pictures, go HERE.

 

To work us up into a frenzy about the opening of the movie, the studio finally released this official studio-produced photograph of the honeymoon stone cottage, which was published in a magazine before the movie came out:

 

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Shingled roof, deep windows – it certainly does look like “a natural formation, grown out of the rock.”   And it certainly does look magical, romantic and just like a fairy tale!  Certainly nothing scary about these vampires at all.   In the end, this pre released photograph barely whetted the desires to see more of the cottage.

 

(My twitter buddy Greg Tankersley, partner and chief architect at McAlpine Tankersley Architecture, just teased me on Twitter with this:) 

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Ok, ok, ok!   I agree the cottage DOES look like something kitschy artist Thomas Kinkaid would paint, but come on Greg!!  It’s so much cuter than that!!  I love you anyway!!!

 

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To design the cottage, the set production team started out with a sketch.  A low stone fence with a wooden gate surrounds the front, creating a courtyard.  The windows are mostly wood paned and there are bump outs on the front and the side. 

 

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Inside, they sketched a low, beamed ceiling with a large fireplace and wood store on one side, bookcase on the other.  One of the window bump outs is in the dining area, behind the sofa.  Sconces are drawn in, as is a leaded glass window.  The doors are wood with prominent old fashioned iron hinges.  The floor is drawn with wood planks – not stone.  So, from the beginning, there are major differences:  no stone beehive fireplace and no stone floors. 

 

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From the sketches, the set production team built a 3 d model – showing a bay window, lanterns, and attic windows.

 

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Next, two houses are built.  This one built on the Baton Rouge soundstage is to be used for interior shots only.   The façade house was sent up to Canada and is for exterior shots only.  The cottage was only built twice, while the main Cullen Coven house was built three times just for this movie alone!

 

 

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And finally, the soundstage house is completed.  A backdrop of forest can be see on the far right for views outside the fake windows.   Hard to imagine how much all this costs. 

 

 

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And meanwhile, the second house, the façade, in Canada goes up.   Here is just part of the house – showing the right side, which is identical to the front left side of the cottage.

 

 

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Workers put in the finishing touches.  You can see the low stone fence that encloses the front courtyard here and the lanterns,  Inside, you can see there is really nothing there – it’s just an empty facade.  All interior scenes were already filmed in Baton Rouge on the soundstage.  It’s such a shame that they couldn’t build a real house and then donate it to a needy family – instead of just tearing it all down.  What a waste!!

 

 

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And showing the back right side again, along with the front courtyard on the left.  You can see that no plants were added to this back side because nothing would be filmed on there.  Only the front courtyard got all the landscaping.

 

 

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A close up detail of the attic window set in stone, with the shingled roof.  Looks so real!

 

 

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And another area, with faux climbing roses added. 

 

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Filming begins.  After Bella becomes a vampire, the Cullens present her with a key for her birthday.  The Cullen sister Alice takes her outside the main house to the forest and to the 100 year old stone cottage which fits the key.  “Surprise!  Enjoy yourself”  Alice says as she leaves Edward and Bella to examine their new home.  Notice how charming the front door is with the paned window and iron hinges.  This is the only scene shot at the exterior house in Canada.   All that expense of building it just to show them walking into the house  – and the scene lasts only a minute or two.  Amazing.  Couldn’t they just have rented out an old cottage to film its exterior?  It would have been so much cheaper!!!!  Honestly, this scene lasts just a few minutes, at most!!

But, as director Bill Condon explained it – there was so much fan expectation of the cottage, that the studio didn’t want to get it wrong.  They knew this was the one set that the fans were invested in and so no expense was spared in creating this fantasy that people had been waiting to see all these years. 

 

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Walking to the house while the crew films it. 

 

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And a close up shot of the stone fence and the second front door – there are two identical doors.  I think most of the plants are fake.  This was shot in the dead of winter in Canada.  And while snooping at the location, Mandy had found containers labeled with different plants.

 

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Here, Mandy took a photo of this container labeled 15 dozen sprays of Ficus!  Everything in Hollywood is so fake.

 

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Close up of the cute front door – it was made to appear as if it was really a Dutch door.  Once the couple opens the door – all filming in Canada stops.   The interior scenes were already filmed months before in the second cottage on the soundstage in Baton Rouge!!

 

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And, here is the cottage – when the front door opens, the camera slowly pans around the large living room/dining room as Edward shows it off to his bride Bella.   This was intentional – the director wanted a slow reveal of the cottage’s rooms.   First,  off the front door, you see the living area and fireplace and towards the back is the dining room with the banquette set in the bay window.   The walls are a thick stucco, painted a warm ochre.  The ceilings are indeed low and beamed with heavy logs, but the floors are a rustic wood, not stone.  The furnishings are somewhat an eclectic mix of new and old, but mostly they are a sophisticated blend of traditional pieces with a contemporary edge – paired with lots of antique accessories.    My favorite part?   The wall of curtains with the brown textured blinds.  I love the way they included fabric panels at every window, instead of just on the left and right side!!!  Just exactly like I would have done it myself.

The production designer was Richard Sherman.

Set Decorator:   David Schlesinger

 

 

 

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Across from the camel back sofa are two red wing chairs with casters.   Of course, there is no beehive fireplace, but one with a wood mantel that matches the beams.  To the left is a large wood store and to the right is a bookcase.  Underneath is a thick textured rug.  There is a small leaded glass accent window above the wood store.  And on the mantel is a mix of contemporary art work and antique smalls.  Everything in the cottage is about texture and warmth, cozy and friendly. 

Many of the furnishings for the cottage and the other movie sets were bought in New Orleans and Baton Rouge antique stores.   In an interview, the production team said they bought furniture for the Breaking Dawn sets from Bush Antiques, Dodge-Field Antiques, Keil’s Antiques, Dunn & Sonnier, Maison Victoria and  Dixon Smith Interiors in Baton Rouge.  One source of several antiques for Renesmee’s room blogged about her merchandise that was used on the set.

The cottage was a huge hit with the crew.  When Twilight author and movie producer Stephenie Meyer first toured the interiors she was stunned at how much it matched her vision.  She fell in love with the set, as did most who worked on the production team and she started listing all the items she wanted after the set was dismantled – “I want this, I want that…”  Meyer was quoted as saying.  She said she was ready to just move into the cottage.  Producer Wyck Godfrey agreed.    Director Bill Condon said it was a sad day when the set was broken down because it was so beautiful – cozy, warm and inviting!

 

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The dining room has a long French styled wood table with two chairs on one side, and a U shaped banquette on the other.   Yellow linen cushions sit atop the wood banquette.  Notice the side door on the left with the iron hinges. 

 

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Another view of the dining area.  You can see where parts of the ceiling are exposed and left open for cameras and lights.

 

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I love the soft yellow linen cushions – with the flange edges.  The pillows are a mix of yellow and red.  And the curtains have a muted fern leaf pattern.   Love the detail of the window latches, so original looking!!  It’s amazing how much work went into the interiors when actually, this dining area is only seen for about 5 seconds in the movie!  That’s all! 

 

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And looking towards the other direction at a side table and antique chair in the corner.  Love the demijohn lamp.

 

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There are only three scenes shot inside the cottage.  The original visit which includes a tour and an afternoon of g-rated love making!  There is another scene where Bella puts her daughter to bed.  And the last scene is when Bella and Edward sit in the living room talking.  The lovemaking scene starts in the bedroom and ends up in the front of the fire.  At one point, the dining table was moved away from the dining room and the couple was shown in silhouette in front of the yellow curtains.  

Note:  While filming was still going on, someone in South America gained illegal access to the studio’s computers and stole raw film, which then appeared on the internet.  This image in front of the windows was one of those stolen scenes.   When I first saw this illegally obtained photo on the internet, showing the row of wood windows and curtains, I was so excited because the cottage looked so cute!!!  I didn’t even care about seeing the actors caught in an embrace – I only cared about those yellow curtains and wood windows!  The person who stole the photos?  She was sued by the studio.  I’m only assuming they got better security for their computers afterwards. 

 

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A shot of the fireplace with most of the furniture removed.  You can see the wood store and another cute wood planked door with iron hinges.

 

 

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Close up of the mantel with the antique clock and urns.  Love the lights above the art work.  Not sure who the artist is – anyone know?

 

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The new vampire Bella finds a clue in the book – The Merchant of Venice.   The ending of Breaking Dawn is an adaption of the famous Shakespeare play. 

 

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I love this vignette with the red tray and the antique bell on the wall.

 

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An antique chair holds a pile of books.   Wonder what happens to all these accessories?  Are they rented or bought?

 

 

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Love the copy of The Hobbit and there are two copies of “Hungry Monkey - .A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater.”   That must be a inside joke about the vampire family’s unusual eating habits.   Another inside joke “The Ignorance of Blood.”   There are two copies of the “The Turtle Catcher” a book about family secrets.   I wonder if all the books were specifically chosen with tongue in cheek?

 

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Close up of the wood mantel that matches the beamed ceiling.

 

 

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And the lovemaking continues in front of the fire.  I know it seems like a lot of sex, but there’s not – it lasts maybe a half minute and it’s just kissing, no nudity at all.  Stephenie Meyer is a devout Mormon and would never allow any of her movies to be rated R (is there even still an R rating?)  Breaking Dawn is rated PG-13.

 

 

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Behind the sofa you see this great vignette with a fabulous tall Herbier next to an antique clock.   And I love that framed print under the sconce. 

 

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Here they sit on the sofa with its contemporary camel back.  To the right is a stylized beehive lamp – finally!  A beehive lamp instead of a beehive fireplace?  Was that intentional?

 

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Another vignette with the beehive lamp and a contemporary print.  And more books.  Since vampires don’t sleep – they read a lot, amongst other things.

 

 

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Close of the framed print that I really love.

 

 

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Edward takes Bella on a tour of the cottage.  Here in a hallway – with the beamed ceiling and light fixtures -  at the end there is another small window seat.  Wish you could see more of it! 

 

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First, he shows her Renesmee’s room – close of the wonderful doors.  This room is different than the rest of the cottage – it’s colors are muted and cool blues.  The walls are papered in a ticking stripe.  There is even an old fashioned light switch installed.  How do they think of everything?

 

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Mom and Dad visiting the room for the first time.

 

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Antique iron sconces – and an assortment of toys and dolls. 

 

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Since Renesmee grows at an accelerated rate, her bedroom changes.  We see her crib this one time only on the tour.  The next time we see her room, she is too old for the crib.  Crystal sconces, antique mirror, and Swedish styled chest. 

 

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Antique chandelier with blue opaline drops – love!!!  Here – there is an antique French daybed.  This is one of the pieces bought in a New Orleans antique shop.  Shop owner Karina Gentinetta blogged about her experience HERE.  She writes that two years ago a set decorator came into her then New Orleans store looking for furniture for a top secret movie.   A few weeks later, they called back to finalize the sale.  Besides buying items from her shop, they also visited her home and shopped there too!!

 

This 19th century French day bed is the one used in Renesmee’s room.

 

So are these two vintage Swedish end tables.

 

From Karina’s house, they bought this side table for the nursery.

 

And this tiny lamp!   Be sure to read her charming story and also read the NY Times article about her New Orleans house – it’s so beautiful!

 

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The next time we see Renesmee’s room, she has grown older, so the daybed and crib are gone, replaced by this white bed.  You can see the two Swedish end tables.  Also the small side table is now on top of the Swedish chest to the right.  I love that they painted the dark beams in this room – white!

 

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Mom and half breed daughter.  Since Renesmee is half human, half vampire – she needs to sleep at night, not like her parents.  Closer view of the two Swedish end tables. 

 

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And the tiny lamp that was bought at the New Orleans shop sits atop the desk.

 

 

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I love this picture of sweet Bill Condon, the director, Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Foy who plays Renesmee.  The casting director searched for the perfect girl who would look like a combination of Edward and Bella.  While the search was going on, the fans all voted that this former Ralph Lauren model would be perfect for the role.  Finally it was announced that yes, Mackenzie had won the part over the 1,000s of others who auditioned.   They should have just listened to the fans to begin with.  In the end, it was a no brainer – the gorgeous child looks like she could be the child of Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. 

 

Mackenzie Foy aka Renesmee.  Gorgeous child – like Brooke Shields was.

 

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The next room Edward shows Bella is her new closet.  Bella hates any clothes but jeans and t-shirts, but Edward’s sister Alice is Miss Haute Couture dress designer.  Alice outfitted the closet with new clothes, shoes and purses – everything Bella could ever need, not that she cares.  The closet is so fabulous – open shelves hold the shoes.   The set decorater said that Bella's closet is fully stocked with the latest designer clothes.  A pair of antique French chairs are placed in here, along with a chandelier and rug.

 

 

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There’s another window seat with yellow linen pillows under the leaded window.  Even the closet has the antique beamed ceiling.

 

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Of course Bella hates all the clothes Alice bought for her, especially that dressy coat.  I just love all the nooks, like the window seats throughout the cottage – so cozy and warm looking.

 

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And all the shoes…

 

 

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And all the purses.

 

 

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The master bedroom is seen only once.  The room is so small, it’s really only a bed – a large white upholstered contemporary one – which the director said was exactly the point.  While Stephenie Meyer wrote that the bed had a gossamer canopy, this one didn’t. 

 

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Across from the bed is another fireplace with a wood mantel.  The door is same wood planks with iron hinges.   Here Bella glimpses the bed, which puzzles her – vampires don’t sleep, why does she need a bed, she asks Edward?

 

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And he explains, that the bed isn’t for sleeping!  Of course!  The director says that this was actor Rob Pattinson’s idea to kiss Kristen Stewart on the neck at this point.  He told the director that he was never able to kiss her on the neck before while she was still a human – her blood was too much of a temptation for the 107 year old vampire and he was always afraid he would kill her by accident.  But now, after Bella becomes a vampire, he is finally able to kiss her right at her pressure point on the neck.  Sooo romantic!  Ha!

 

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You are able to see the rest of the bedroom for a fleeting 1/2 second.  The wall of curtains and the antique screen in front of it - all that expense – for just 1/2 second.

 

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Here is a picture of the master bedroom.   The antique screen is wonderful – wish you could see more of it – and there’s another demijohn lamp and a wicker basket.  That looks like some kind of window kit in front of the fireplace?  Certainly it’s something for the crew and not in the movie.  Many more books and two photographs with lights sit on the mantel  -  they even added tiles around the fireplace – which are never seen in the movie – not even for 1/2 second or a 1/10 of a second. 

 

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And the only glimpse of the bed – with the cute toffee colored curtains and lamps. 

And that’s the cottage!  All the anticipation and longing to see the cottage and the time on screen spent there is just so fleeting.  Probably only 10 minutes total in the entire movie.   I really wish there were more scenes filmed there. 

I think it would be so much fun to be set decorator – only if the house is cute, like this, or one of Nancy Meyers houses like Something’s Gotta Give or It’s Complicated!  At least in those two movies, most of the action took place in those beautiful houses. 

There was one other new set in both Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 11.   Daughter Alice Cullen’s bedroom is first shown when Bella gets dressed for her wedding.  Alice is a kooky, petite, Haute Couture loving vampire – who also designs and sews clothes. 

 

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The first glimpse of her bedroom before the wedding – but what is that behind them on the wall?  It wasn’t easy to see in Breaking Dawn Part I, but in Part II we get a much better glimpse:

 

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In Breaking Dawn 2, we get a clearer view of this vignette.  It looks like paper dolls or cardboard dolls on pedestals tacked up on the wall.  No description of the dolls was given – but what a cute idea!   A giant pair of scissors lend a touch of folly.  Assorted antique accessories are placed on the chest which is covered with a scarf.  Somehow, though, the beautiful scene is ruined by the dirty nomad vampire Alistair! 

 

And if you saw the movie and was interested in the art work seen throughout the Cullen Coven house, it’s the work of Greg King, who blogs about HERE.

 

 

 

And so, from the first book, Twilight, published in 2005, until now, the last movie’s DVD release in 2013, it’s been 8 years and much happiness and tears, drama and anticipation and billions of dollars later.  I promise this is last time I’ll ever write about the series (unless they remake it!) but I just couldn’t pass up writing about the Honeymoon Cottage today.  As usual, the blog Hooked on Houses beat me to it when her own cottage story came out earlier this week, HERE.  I swear she beats me every time!!!

 

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And, the answer to your question – are the green-eyed beauties Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson a couple in real life?  Yes.  There are.  They’ve been together ever since Kristen turned 18 during the filming of the second movie.  They have never publically announced their relationship, preferring to keep it to themselves, but both have slipped up now and then in the press and have been got in a kiss or two during the past four years.  Despite Kristen having a very short lived but highly public fling with her Snow White director this summer, the couple managed to reconcile and are happily back together now - older, wiser, and more beautiful than ever.  Just don’t believe what you read in the tabloids!!  I have sources in Hollywood who have confirmed that they are together!  I swear!!!!

Now, someone should make a movie of THEIR story!! 

 

To read the Twilight Saga – buy all four book by clicking below:

 

Or just start with the first book.  Soooo good!

 

Finally, a happy and healthy Passover and Easter to all my readers!  Have a wonderful holiday weekend with your families and friends!!!