rediscovering our favorite design books

For me, these days of sheltering-in-place have been both confusing and clarifying. I know I’m not alone in that feeling, and I also know that many of us have had the good fortune of rediscovering many things about the place we call home. I have found comfort in revisiting well-worn, well-loved design books full of beautiful homes and gardens. And I was curious about what books others return to for comfort and inspiration.

Continue reading “rediscovering our favorite design books”

Friday mood board 1.3.20

One might argue that elegant is not a word that would describe the world of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Their world is not one of refinement and luxury, rather their New England lifestyle of the late 19th Century leans toward the simple and pragmatic. Elegance, by the March sisters’ definition, is just out of reach (over at their aunt’s estate and right next door at Mr. Laurence’s). And yet, I would say that elegance does not have to be extravagant. There is elegance in simplicity. And while the March sisters may not have the financial means to live extravagantly, they most certainly have charm and wit and the aspiration to live a good and beautiful life, which is quite elegant to me.

This first Friday of the new year, we’re inspired by Greta Gerwig’s 2019 movie, and her lovely interpretation and aesthetic of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel. Scroll down for some images and some of our favorite sources for a modern Little Women look for home and garden and you!


Cabbages & Roses

Cabbages & Roses


Plain Goods 

Plain Goods


William Morris & Co.

Ruby Lane



Silk and Willow


Benjamin Moore Williamsburg Collection



We love Larger Cross for baskets and lots of other things

Silk and Willow

Harpers Bazaar UK


Ben Pentreath and William Morris & Co.


Benjamin Moore Williamsburg Collection

William Morris & Co.


Silk and Willow

Harpers Bazaar UK

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

Cheers and Happy Friday!

Holly & Brooke

into the garden: a book by artist Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff


Every now and then a book comes along that speaks to me in an unexpected way.  Into the Garden by artist Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff is just that kind of book. It’s a collection of paintings by one artist of gardens all over the world. This idea in and of itself is quite fascinating: an artist sits in gardens and paints his version of what he sees (and of course what he feels is there as well).


I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book like this. We have seen flowers and gardens painted by artists, but I’m not aware of an artist who deliberately set out to make a collection of garden paintings. As he explains it in the introduction, Christian came into the notion of painting gardens through his own garden in Hadlyme, Connecticut, and this passion grew from there to include gardens in places as far apart from one another and as diverse as Falls Village, Connecticut; East Hampton, New York; Sonoma, California; Nashville, Tennessee; Rocktail Bay, South Africa; Pic Paradis, St. Martin; and Lunuganga, Sri Lanka.


I was intrigued too by what the artist had to say about how he actually paints gardens (he sits for hours and often faces many obstacles) and what it has meant to him to do this kind of work.


The other thing about this book that caught me off guard a bit is the bold, abstract quality of the images (and that I was so enchanted by them). Van Gogh comes to mind. Most of the paintings are a saturation of vivid color with an abundance of purple in shades from lilac to aubergine. In contrast, some of the paintings are black outlined drawings that are predominately void of color. And there are large-scale flower paintings and drawings as well. (And it’s not exactly a coffee table book either because it is smaller and easier to hold in your hands, which I like a lot.)


Purple is not one of my favorite colors and I’m not always drawn to abstract art (though sometimes I am). Yet this book captured my imagination and I found myself quite absorbed in the journey. It’s completely different from gardens depicted in magazines that show us what they are actually like.  It’s something akin to how we feel when we look at interior paintings of rooms:  it’s more like dreaming.


A book like this brings forth so many questions about the connection between art and gardening, about creativity and design, about lightness and darkness, about the beauty of nature and the nature of beauty that I think wherever this book takes you, and how ever deep you go into the gardens, you are bound to enjoy wandering through its pages.



Monday inspiration: two new flower books

Annabell Hickson

Because one can never have too many flower books (or books at all really), I thought I’d have a look at two recently published books about flowers for your home. While they are both beautiful and inspirational, the authors have very different approaches to the art of floral design and decorating with flowers. I like them both, and depending on the person, they each would make a nice gift for a new bride or a graduate or a new homeowner or even a new mom or dad who don’t have time to arrange flowers but might love to have the book to look through while they catch their breath.

Living Floral: Entertaining and Decorating with Flowers by Margot Shaw


Margot Shaw, founder and editor-in-chief of Flower Magazine takes a traditional approach with her book Living Floral: Entertaining and Decorating with Flowers. She is passionate about all things floral and her book is a compilation of features from her magazine. Organized seasonally, she includes chapters about designers, artists, florists, and tastemakers, showing how they incorporate flowers in their homes and in their lives. Gorgeous photographs are accompanied by brief essays that end with each person’s “Picks for Living Floral” whether it be gardening, entertaining, arranging, or decorating. The final chapter is a “How-To” section by florist Mimi Brown with five lovely arrangements and a list of materials. There is a nice mix of styles here. This is a thoughtfully curated collection of ideas and inspiration for looking at and living life “through a botanical lens.”


A Tree in the House: Flowers for your home, special occasions and every day by Annabelle Hickson


Writer, photographer, self-taught floral arranger, and lover of wild and chaotic things that grow, Annabelle Hickson takes a more unconventional approach in her book A Tree in the House: Flowers for your home, special occasions and everyday , which focuses on creating what the author calls “living vignettes.” Hickson lives on a pecan farm in Australia with her family, and relies on the natural landscape that surrounds her for inspiration, as well as for materials for her “wild, asymmetrical, whimsical, and enormous whenever possible” creations. Beginning with the basics, in six chapters she shares how-to instructions, decorating suggestions, and her lively opinions about bringing flowers into your life. It’s beautifully written, and photographed by the author as well.




black Friday: 7 online shopping sources (so you can stay in bed)


It’s quite cold here and we are all stuffed and ready for a lazy day. If you are in the same mood, I’ve gathered some of my favorite online boutiques, where you are sure to find unique and thoughtful gifts for others or yourself that have the ECS vibe. Happy Friday, happy shopping! Continue reading “black Friday: 7 online shopping sources (so you can stay in bed)”