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

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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Let's Get Personal

Because isn't that what makes for the best rooms in the world of interior design? I love sensing a person inhabiting a space in mind and spirit as well as body. To me, it is what makes a room interesting. And, you can learn a lot about a person that might otherwise go unspoken. So when the new year rolls around with its lists of 'what's in and what's out' and what 'trends' are predicted to surface in the months ahead, I read them once and never think of them again. Nothing interests me less.

Online earlier this week I came across a copy of the photo I posted of my recently 'refreshed' living room; someone commenting on it deplored how 'bare' the room was. That stung a little at first but after some reflection I realized that she was probably not considering the very personal nature of the decorating in my home. Her style is obviously quite different than mine and perhaps she can't relate to how I like to live. But there is very real story and history behind the development of my personal aesthetic and I am going to tell you one part of that story now.

So, getting personal...I went to boarding school in eighth grade at age thirteen. And once a year, for the next 12 years, I would pack up all my belongings and shortly thereafter unpack them into a new dorm room or sub-let or rental apartment until I met Mr. H and he made me want to put down roots.

Nevertheless, the impulse to remain unburdened of 'stuff' in the interest of mobility is as deeply ingrained in me as is the primal instinct of 'fight or flight.' So when you see photos of my personal spaces and perhaps find them a little spare, you will know it is because I am ready to fold up the tents at a moment's notice and move this caravan to greener pastures. But it doesn't mean I don't like to feather the nest like it is the very last one.

The previous photos are a few oldies but goodies from my Instagram feed - it's my current obsession - and they feature a few of my favorite things.

Now let's move on to the 'new' living room...

If you have been following along for a while now you know that my living room has long been a source of frustration. The shape of the room (skinny rectangle) and its position in the house (location of the front door and a staircase) made furnishing it a puzzle and it took a few rearrangements before it worked. In its first incarnation the room was somewhat formal as I was trying to use some inherited antiques. It never felt right, wasn't really comfortable and we hardly ever used it. I've since stored the antique sofa and worked in more comfortable seating, but I still wasn't loving it. What I needed to do was make the room more inviting so late last fall I embarked a mini-overhaul that I am thrilled with. What did it take? Simplifying and going with what felt right and nothing else. It is now my favorite room in the house.

I began by working in some colors I love right now. The pillows are made up in two fabrics, Rio Linen and Santa Ana, from a long-time favorite resource Calvin Fabrics.

And while I am cataloging my favorites, this is my current welt style of choice.

The curtains had originally been in the dining room; I moved them in here a while ago to make the room cozier but their pretty Scalamandre trim wasn't working with the new scheme so I had my drapery workroom remove it and replace it with this Greek key pattern, Dominique Linen Tape in Zinc, from F. Schumacher. (I saved the Scalamandre trim and reused it - I'll tell you about that next time.) And, yes, the linen sectional gets quite wrinkled during the dry winter months - we have forced hot air which also shrinks the linen curtains. Come summer's humid weather, they are puddling on the floor.

I also repainted the living room. It wasn't a dramatic change; I used the original color, Benjamin Moore's Muslin (OC-12,) but had it mixed at 50% of the tint. The room seems much lighter now. I also repainted the curtain hardware in the same color as the wall but in a semi-gloss finish and swapped out the large knob finials for smaller endcaps which feel more modern.

Lastly - and here is the thing that had bothered me most for the last 5 years - the original light fixtures I bought for the room and really did love (the Arrow Wall Sconces from Circa Lighting shown below) were positioned too high for the proportions of the room. Although Mr. H would argue to the death that they were fine, they never looked right to me. Conventional wisdom says sconces should be mounted 60" to 66" from the floor in a room with eight-foot ceilings but my mistake was having the electrician position the back plates of the fixtures 66" from the floor. I should have specified that the light bulbs be positioned at that point. Here is a photo to illustrate...

I tried to have the sconces lowered but there was not enough wire in the wall to do it without extensive work so I needed a fixture on which the light source was at the same level as the backplate. Going back to Circa, which I think has one of the very best selections of lighting in the market, I chose the Reed Double Sconce in oil rubbed bronze. I like having something dark as an anchor in a pale color scheme and the position of these is much better proportionally. (Just nod in agreement.)

I also took down the collection of etchings that I had hanging throughout the room and hung this painting by Vermont artist Glenn Suokko. Less is definitely more here. The room has a great feeling - casual but chic, inviting and conducive to relaxation (I have had more than a few naps on that sectional) - and that is exactly what I was going for.

Coming up...the dining room also gets a 'refresh.' And, big news, my One Room Challenge is finally ready for it's close up. Yes, at long last we will have 'the reveal.' Until then...xo