A: architectural elements used in unexpected (but not cliched) ways


Another was Mrs. Burden, who had a big house on Long Island, where she had installed the old gates from Devonshire House that she bought when they tore it down. ~ Nancy Lancaster

Architectural elements—salvaged architectural pieces like old doors, windows, corbels, pediments, mantelpieces, columns, balusters, garden gates, fences, finials, and so on—used unconventionally in rooms is a popular thing right now. And using these historical building pieces as a statement or as understated accents is a smart way to give character to a newer space or to add even more depth and texture to an older one. It’s a way of repurposing that I think is a good one for many reasons, but mostly for how it gives beauty a second chance.

But the trick nowadays is to avoid the cliché (isn’t that always the trick?!), like barn doors used as a dining room table (once this was fresh, now it is feeling a bit passé).


Antique dealer, Furlow Gatewood, surprises with gothic elements artfully placed in an otherwise traditional setting. It works so well because he sticks with shades of white and gray so that what we notice most of all are the lines and the interesting juxtapositions that begin to appear as our eyes move around the room.


Darryl Carter has a knack for creating works of art out of salvaged pieces and giving them center stage in his chic, minimalist rooms. What I like about his out-of-context, slightly exaggerated use is how it makes us see something with fresh eyes and opens up possibilities, and of course good conversation.

And one can imagine the life these rustic barn doors had before being re-imagined as indoor shutters painted a gorgeous turquoise by designer Barbara Westbrook.

93b33865-697a-4f66-8ae0-5cb6ac56a443One more option, a slight twist on this theme, but one that must not be overlooked is incorporating nicely framed architectural drawings.

a7b140b0-68ef-437e-a5d5-eceaaf7d549cFor those of us creating rooms that we want to live in comfortably, adding architectural details can be elegant and chic if we keep this in mind: let them find you. When we go looking for these elements for a certain spot they feel forced. When we find them in our travels—near or far—they seem to belong wherever we put them.

(Note: This post is the first in a new series for 2019 titled “Elegant Country Style: The Country House Milieu from A to Z.” Hope you will enjoy following along!)

Happy Friday!

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