It’s always worth our time to revisit a classic. And how refreshing, even now, so many years later, are Nancy’s rules. Nancy Lancaster (1897-1994) was born and raised in Virginia in a beautiful house called Mirador that she loved dearly and its Southern spirit stayed with her throughout her life. She married an Englishman (and then another one) and lived most of her life in England. Her story is one filled with large estates and meticulous, magical gardens, and yet, what she wanted most was to create places of “comfort and pleasing decay.” She thoroughly embraced the English country house and is credited (along with her business partner John Fowler) with creating the style of decorating that we think of today as English country. Continue reading “master class: Nancy Lancaster’s 7 rules of design (and why they still matter)”
I’m at a tag sale and there is a long, narrow Victorian daybed with a simple curved shape in a cherry wood stain with a blue ticking mattress. It’s clearly old but in good condition. The price is reasonable. I circle it and circle it again. A young couple is also beginning to circle it. It’s elegant, we say and we love it.
But I can’t think what to do with it, just now. Continue reading “daybed dreaming”
Alice Minnich left the big city life to return to the countryside and to her roots. And it seems she has never looked back. After many creative endeavors in New York City, including culinary school, freelance food styling, and working for interior designer Alex Papachristidis, Alice started her own business and is the sole proprietor of Larger Cross, a studio and online shop based in Oldwick, New Jersey. Alice and I are virtual friends (as much as I hate that saying, it’s true), and after admiring her style from afar (she makes a hand broom look chic), and watching her skillfully balance the entrepreneurial with the creative, I reached out to see if she would be willing to chat with me and my readers. I’m so glad she did. As she put it, we are kindred spirits, and I think you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. Continue reading “Larger Cross: an interview with shop owner Alice Minnich”
You already know about my love of interior vignettes (an art form open to everyone, one that resides in our humble homes, and one that can be permanent or fleeting). So, despite my affinity for things with a countryside vibe (more land than sea, I suppose), I am taken by some of the coral sculptures that have become popular accessories over the last few years. No longer a fad, they seem to be sticking around and can look quite elegant and timeless—giving a room a summery, seaside feel, but also as interesting objects reminding us of the sea throughout the year (because isn’t remembering what our “things” are really about?). Continue reading “seaside notes: 3 vignettes with coral”
Imagine a summer day long ago, make it the Victorian era, somewhere in the countryside, of course, when there was no such thing as air conditioning, but there were sleeping porches and mosquito nets and lavish meals starting with oysters served on beautiful plates. Continue reading “collecting: antique oyster plates”
It can be fancy or utilitarian or a little bit of both, but you can make a garden room (or garden nook) almost anywhere that leads from indoors to outdoors. Garden rooms have been around since the days of ancient Greece, and they come in all shapes and sizes (from the spacious garden rooms of grand country homes to small decks of city apartments). They are places for starting seeds, potting plants, storing tools, arranging flowers, keeping notes or a journal, sitting a spell, and above all, finding inspiration.
Why not make a mudroom more garden roomy, or a back hallway or a small porch? Continue reading “a garden room”
If you currently live an elegant country lifestyle or if you aspire to, and if you believe (like I do) that elegant country style is not only a way of life, but also a mindset, then I welcome you to my site!
With each post I’ll be exploring what elegant country style means to me and how many have achieved it (all over the world) through architecture, interior design, gardening, and even sartorial choices.
Here, is a Bunny Mellon vignette to start us off. Who better (in my opinion) to show us one way to achieve elegant country style than the woman who said to her interior decorators (Bruce Budd, John Fowler, and Billy Baldwin no less): “Make it look like we just brought it down from the attic.” She was the queen of understated and knew how to blend the rustic with the refined.
Here is a photograph of her desk in her home called Oak Spring in Virginia. Her signature elements were her topiaries (which she grew herself), handwoven baskets, rooms in shades of white, blue, cream, and yellow, Impressionist landscape paintings, and painted hardwood floors. Notice the antique boxes and Staffordshire porcelain tulips alongside her garden shears and a simple terra cotta pot. Quite lovely!