from the archives: a New England cape cod decorated by Kathryn M. Ireland (5 ideas to borrow)


These are days, these late days of September, of hanging on and letting go. And I think that’s what we do frequently in our homes: we hold on, we let go, we try something new. With this in mind, I’m revisiting a home featured in House Beautiful Magazine (2016) that I think captures this time of year and this spirit. It is a classic Cape Cod once owned by Bunny Mellon that was redecorated by West Coast designer Kathryn Ireland. So East meets West and old meets new.


It’s essentially a summer house but there are tiny hints of fall throughout. I can imagine being here (or someplace like this) in late September when we are clinging to the warm, carefree days of summer yet welcoming the coolness and colors and new slant of light that are beginning to be part of our days.


I especially admire how the coastal environment is reflected in soft shades of blues, grays, and greens, with natural elements like grainy wood and wicker (this is a refreshing change from the nautical look that we have come to expect in a house like this).


Simple window treatments—roman shades, long sheer curtains, and classic white shutters—allow the natural light in and do not compete with the water views.

Ireland has honored the past by keeping some original and antique pieces that belonged to Bunny Mellon, but she has mixed in her own lively, smart patterns and soft comfortable furniture for modern living.


The flowers are simple and seasonal.



Attention has been paid to details, like tasseled trim on curtains, pretty fabric draped on tables, and mosquito nets and coronets over beds.



What inspires me the most about this project is how Ireland has given New England understatement just a touch of flair and drama by boldly blending patterns and including her signature “pop” of red into its rooms.


Well, I think that’s six ideas to borrow, but who’s counting….

Happy Friday! Cheers to the weekend!


(* All photographs by James Merrell for House Beautiful Magazine)

orchestrating elegance: an interview with interior designer Lindsay Wasserman


Lindsay Wasserman is the principal interior designer of her firm LMW Decor in Austin, Texas, where she lives with her family in an old Victorian house that she is decorating, and where she has discovered a new love for gardening (more on that below and here ) With her background in art history and experience as a floral designer as well, I knew we were kindred spirits. Her Instagram gallery is stylishly curated with exquisite traditional interiors that have a touch of old world romance, rooms that inspire and influence her own style and design work. Aside from all the things we both love—old houses, gardens, old world romance, beautiful spaces—I was impressed by her down-to-earth design philosophy:  “good design is accessible to everyone and I love helping clients make their dreams a reality.” (and I love what she has to say about lighting too.)


ECS: What 5 everyday objects would you use to create a “signature still life” that shows your style? 

Lindsay: My everyday objects would have to include something blue and white, a beautiful oil painting, a vase of hydrangeas, an orchid and a lovely candle.

ECS: Tell us about your 1892 Victorian house.

Lindsay: We bought our lovely house 3.5 years ago. It was a house we had greatly admired for years and I never, ever, thought I would actually live in it one day. It already had most of the systems updated so we actually got to focus on the fun cosmetic stuff. This was a first for us because in all of our other homes we have had to replace HVAC, plumbing, foundation and electrical. The irony is that this is the oldest house we’ve owned but it needed the least amount of structural work! It has been a great joy to finally focus my energy on the part of the house people actually see!

In addition to painting and decorating the inside I have discovered a new passion for gardening. The original garden was wild and overgrown and definitely not my style but I knew next to nothing about planning or maintaining garden. So for the first two years I did nothing. I left everything untouched until I realized it was ok to make changes and give gardening a try. And I am so glad I did! I have found a new outlet for decorating- only this time it was the outside. I love nothing more than to be in the garden pruning the roses, watering the hydrangeas and listening to the bees and butterflies. It is truly peaceful…

 ECS: Which designer (dead or alive) would you most like to decorate a room for you personally?  Why? 

Lindsay: That is a tough one. There are so many designers whose work I greatly admire- Robert Kime, Mark D. Sikes, Ashley Whittaker, Mario Buatta, Steven Gambrel, Alex Papachristidis, Leta Austin Foster, Melissa Wyndham, Ben Pentreath, John Fowler, Sibyl Colefax, Alexa Hampton, George Stacey, Ken Fulk, Mary McDonald, Penny Morrison- the list goes on and on. I suppose I would pick based on the location- for a hip city space I would probably choose Miles Redd because he pushes boundaries with colors in ways that continually surprise and delight. For my country dwelling it would be Penny Morrison for her unique mix of colors and patterns and sense of romance.

ECS:  How do you see design being accessible to everyone?

Lindsay: Design has changed so much with access to Pinterest and Instagram. Great design is literally at our fingertips and while this does make it more accessible I think it can be overwhelming and intimidating. That said, with websites like Etsy, Chairish, Craigslist and eBay, you can furnish your house for a song. I happen to prefer a more feminine and elegant style in my own home and friends and clients are shocked to learn that a large portion of the pieces I purchase come from Craigslist and consignment shops. With some bargaining skills and a little savvy you can have champagne taste without a champagne budget!

ECS: What does elegance look like to you?   

Lindsay: I think elegance involves restraint (which I don’t always have).   It’s knowing when and where to hold back. Pieces don’t have to be expensive but they do have to have great lines. I always encourage clients to splurge on one or two good antique items to ground the space. Fabrics are also key-using quality fabrics makes all the difference and can really elevate a space, even if it’s just the throw pillows or some fabulous window treatments.

Lighting is another often neglected part of design. I am a fan of antique or reproduction lights and try to limit the overhead lighting to a chandelier. Elegant rooms rely on soft and  soothing light, which means a mix of sconces, as well as floor and table lamps to    cast the room in a soft glow rather than a harsh overhead glare. And dimmers are  always a must! Lastly, I think the most elegant rooms are those that look  effortlessly put together. Much like pairing a beautiful dress with the right hair, makeup and jewelry, an elegant room should be orchestrated in much the same manner- the sum of all the parts of a room should be cohesive and serene.


Thank you Lindsay!

















in memoriam: William Yeoward (1957-2019)



One of the things that I admired about British interior designer and artist William Yeoward (from afar) was his love of stories and words and how he used them to navigate and clarify the world of interiors. Especially in his book, Blue and White and Other Stories: a personal journey.


Take this sentence: “There’s a whole world of blue: wild, primitive woad; reliable, safe, peacekeeping navy; the washed-out, barely-there of sky after rain; electric-buzzy, attention grabbing neon; Yves Klein’s trademark that’s a work of art in its own right; grey blues that politely cause no offence and deep dark indigos you could almost drown in.”


That was everything to me. As a writer exploring the topic of design, he was one of the first voices that spoke to me, one that I truly heard and that helped me find a way in.




And consider this sentiment: “So in the end there can be no right or wrong, but what remains is the imperative to express yourself through your surroundings. That’s what gives a home its soul.”


You can read a fine tribute from those who knew him well here.


house tour: English shabby chic by Max Rollitt


Max Rollitt was trained as a cabinetmaker then went into selling antiques (in a shop he inherited from his mother and has apparently truly made his own). Now he decorates interiors as well. I don’t remember exactly when I came across Rollitt’s work; all I know is that I liked it a lot. For one thing—he puts a smile on your face. His Instagram is often funny and his rooms, for all their beauty, don’t take themselves too seriously.

In an ivy covered old Hampshire vicarage featured in House & Garden UK, we can see the hallmarks of his style that I find so interesting and fresh and full of charm.


Here’s what I think is worth noting about Max Rollitt’s approach to design:

Color: Color is used everywhere, rich and unexpected colors (that I myself would never think to incorporate) in drapes and on furniture and on walls. But the rooms are not saturated—the colors are given room to breathe and be noticed when placed against natural materials and the rougher edges of old houses.


Floors and walls: Here, floors are wide planked wood from Victorian potteries, left natural or painted a glossy white. There are sisal rugs and antique oriental rugs layered throughout. Walls are painted in lovely natural colors, like the dining room in Light Blue by Farrow and Ball or wallpapered in Lewis and Wood patterns that work so well to compliment the essence of the house and property.


Quirkiness: Why not dress a Romanesque bust with a black top hat? The British have this kind of humor that we just can’t pull off over here (when we try we just seem silly). There’s a lighthearted and joyful feeling that transcends the walls and fills the space that I love.


Lived in and loved not decorated: There is attention to details that “make the house not just decorated but lived in and loved.” Rollitt achieves this with layers and a blending of materials and periods and style, accessorizing with interesting collected items (he includes high-end antique pieces but is not opposed to reproductions if done right), and a respect for the past that embraces imperfection combined with modern day comfort.


Attitude: It seems to me that a Max Rollitt room is about confidence and fun and taking some risks to get the mix right. And when the mix is right, it’s elegant and very lovely.

Hope you are inspired on this rainy Monday…Cheers!

(All photographs by Mel Yates published in House & Garden UK).



featured designer: what I learned about enduring Southern style from Eric Ross


Interior designer Eric Ross grew up in a small town in Kentucky where her spent a lot of his time riding his bike around and looking at houses and imagining their interiors (he especially liked riding at twilight when he could catch glimpses of the inside). Even at a very young age, he noticed things. He paid attention to details. He thought about how to set tables and arrange furniture in rooms. He wondered about chandeliers and the size of a foyer. He began to give decorating advice about things like candles and colors, things that most young boys don’t care about at all. It seems he was honing his craft and developing his sense of style.



In his recently published book Enduring Southern Homes, Ross explains his professional approach to creating the style that he grew to love, one that he describes as traditional and timeless, rooms with a sense of permanence: “I want them to ground you.” His book features thirteen homes he has decorated, including his own in Nashville, and includes note worthy tips at the end of each section.



Indeed his rooms are elegant and classic, but they are also more than that. To me, an Eric Ross room is rich and textured and inviting. They are a smart and thoughtful blend of old and new, masculine and feminine. He does grand very well (heightening entryways and including glamorous touches). He also does casual quite well (an unbuttoned chic). And what I especially admire is how Ross takes risks (interior doors painted British racing green) and ups the ante (large scale patterns and bright colors) when appropriate . His rooms don’t scream, they entice and enchant.


Here are just a few of the things that I learned about creating an enduring Southern style:

  • Listen to your house. The architecture of a house and its rooms will tell you how to properly arrange the furniture.
  • Use pairs of things to create a sense of symmetry and balance and calm.
  • If you use only one antique element, make it an antique rug. They add instant character, warmth, and are extremely durable since they’ve already been trampled on for years.
  • Don’t shy away from color or pattern; both are very much a part of the Southern vernacular. When incorporating them, keep the big picture in mind: your rooms should be in conversation with one another.
  • Entrance foyers are an introduction to the rest of the house and should hint at what is to come.
  • Lastly (and my personal favorite), always, always have a small bar tray or cart set up in the living room where visitors can see it when they enter the house. It is an instant sign to sit down and chat for a while.


Enduring Southern Homes is an elaboration on these and other elements of design, and Mr. Ross is selling signed copies on his website (a great idea for a Mother’s Day gift). And while you are there, be sure to take a look at his blog, which is full of his lively opinions on things like trends and colors and so on.