Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Pursuit of Beauty

Though it was ultimately wonderful, the weekend got off to a bit of a rough start. In the course of collecting these willow branches on Friday I slashed open a tire on Mr. H's car which I had driven down to Rhode Island the day before. Not my finest hour.

Thanks to AAA it was all handled quickly and without much trouble; the car was loaded onto the back of a truck and taken off for a complete set of new tires and I had a very short walk home. Later on the telephone I explained the scenario to a curious Mr. H - that I had seen the the abundant stand of willows earlier in the day when out with the dog...

How I imagined them arrayed in a recent acquisition...

That I later saw some for sale at a farm stand, but decided I'd be thrifty and go back to cut them myself...

And finally, the treacherous concrete curb of a storm drain hidden in the grass beside the road. Admittedly, it was enormously careless of me but Mr. H replied, "Well, I understand. You love beauty."

I can't deny it and I will no doubt find myself in trouble for it again.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pretty In Pink

As it was for many on the East coast, the long and cold winter here was a trial but the first signs of Spring are slowing showing up in Vermont. Of course, in northern New England we squeeze a fifth season in between Winter and Spring - that would be Mud Season. So while things outside are definitely not pretty, I'll tell you where they are - in the Main Street window of Simon Pearce's New Hampshire store where I have an installation on display for the month of April.

Using my favorite designs from the current collection at Simon Pearce and a few pieces from Henhurst's inventory, along with some newly purchased styling props, the setting invokes a Spring lunch party.

The seed of my inspiration was this charming glass bird. I imagined using a lot of them when I was conceptualizing the installation - I love the sense of whimsy they add.

Please stop by and see the store in person if you can! Simon Pearce at 15 South Main Street, Hanover, New Hampshire. Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Words To Decorate By

"...neutral rooms are not necessarily about the absence of color, they are simply a vehicle to showcase that which you find important or beautiful...even if just for a moment." - Thomas Pheasant in Thomas Pheasant: Simply Serene

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An English Manor in Virginia Hunt Country

Just as man cannot live by bread alone, yours truly cannot live by Holiday Inns alone so a stopover at Keswick Hall outside Charlottesville, Virginia was a welcome interlude during the nine-day road trip we took to tour colleges last month.

Nestled in the rolling landscape, the original Italianate-style villa on the property was built as a private home in the early 1900's. In the 1990's the building was expanded into the 48-room hotel it is today - the exterior remaining true to the existing architecture...

...but the interior is pure English country. Though the property has changed hands twice since its conversion, the interiors remain influenced by the original developer - Lord Bernard Ashley, widower of designer Laura Ashley. Our room could not have been more comfortable or elegantly appointed.

The serene, home-like atmosphere continues outside one's room.

All of Keswick Hall's public spaces are furnished like rooms in a gracious private house and each one has a working fireplace. During our late-winter trip there was a fire burning in every one.

Antiques, oriental rugs, portraits, and personal details feature throughout.

The sitting room in the 'Villa Crawford', the original portion of the building.

The hotel's excellent restaurant, Fossett's, features seasonal, regionally-inspired menus.

I love these light fixtures.

From the hotel's entrance, symmetrical wings are reached by two lantern lined halls. One wing is the original 'Villa Crawford.'

In every direction are views of the 600 acres that encompass the hotel property. Numerous outdoor activities are available to guests including golf, archery, fly fishing and the opportunity to walk with the hounds of the nearby Keswick Hunt.

Other amenities include three swimming pools, a fitness center and spa.

Charlottesville has a lot to offer visitors. For architecture and history buffs the surrounding area is dotted with the homes of three American presidents - Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, James Madison's Montpelier and James Monroe's Ash Lawn-Highland. Design aficionados will enjoy exploring the numerous antique shops in and around town. And any one of the local vineyards is worth a visit.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sophie's Room: The Reveal (or Worth The Wait!)

I am sure you were wondering if this day would ever come, but here we are at last...Sophie's redecorated bedroom is complete. Well, maybe 99.9% complete; the only thing that's missing would be hanging on the wall to the right of the window, but I am waiting for something perfect to present itself and I'll know it when I see it.

Delays are inevitable in any decorating project, and we certainly had a few, but it is worth taking extra time to insure you are getting everything right and good work can take time. Thanks again to Linda at Calling It Home for inviting me to participate in the One Room Challenge and thanks for following along!

To recap, above is the Schumacher wallpaper that was our jumping off point and on the bed below are the Chelsea Textiles pillows (originally in the living room) that were the inspiration for the color scheme.

And in case you need to be reminded of what it looked like when we started:

On either side of the bed are Sophie's original Simon Pearce lamps updated with new shades from Shades of Light (a great resource for lighting as well as lamp shades.) I like the fresh and modern feel the black paper shades give the lamps.

I am absolutely thrilled with how the custom bookcase turned out. Above is the Chelsea Textiles chest I had copied and below is the work of my genius cabinetmaker:

Sophie's new desk, also from Chelsea Textiles; the chair I found at Hedstrom & Judd in Hudson, New York.

And the Lee upholstered chair and ottoman - a birthday present to Sophie from Mr. H's mom. 

I was late getting on the flokati bandwagon, but I am now hooked and have them in every bedroom in various sizes. Nothing feels better underfoot, particularly when getting out of bed on a cold Vermont morning. I bought them all from Overstock.com.

My workroom did a beautiful job of making the bedding and the headboard. We had a few consultations on the dimensions and construction of the headboard and I could not be more pleased with the quality of their work; it fully exceeded my expectations.

A few friends were surprised that I would be redecorating Sophie's room for her when in a year and half she will be heading to off to college. My reasoning? I want her know this will always be 'her' room and be sure she always loves coming back to it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Longwood Gardens

It was not ideal that the start of our college tour of the mid-Atlantic coincided with the very worst winter weather the Eastern seaboard has seen in years, but over the weekend we spent a restorative day at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania's Brandywine Valley where, despite the blowing snow outside, the conservatory was in lush, full bloom.

Begun by Pierre S. du Pont in the 1920's, the conservatory at Longwood now encompasses four acres of diverse indoor gardens. Following are just a few...the East Conservatory where one enters the complex:

The Orangery:

The arid Silver Garden:

The tropical Cascade Room:

The Camellia House:

In the Estate Fruit House, a 1921 greenhouse, nectarines are espaliered with their branches in a fan shape - a method developed at Longwood to maximize production of du Pont's favorite fruit.

The garden is open year-round and periodically hosts special exhibits. On view until the end of March is 'Orchid Extravaganza' - 5000 orchids displayed in a variety of arrangements throughout the conservatory (And those are in addition to the extraordinary collection in the Orchid House.).

A visit to Longwood is a unique and transporting experience; I cannot recommend it highly enough. For more information visit Longwood Gardens.