fashion, inspiration, interiors

American style icon: 50 years of Ralph Lauren

 

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When I think of elegant country style, Ralph Lauren is certainly a tastemaker who comes to mind: the rich hues, the plaids, the equestrian theme, the florals, the hunting dogs, the paneled walls, the Range Rovers, the casual layering, the blue and white stripes. Effortless chic. Unstudied elegance. Rugged and refined. Continue reading “American style icon: 50 years of Ralph Lauren”

art, books, inspiration, interiors

on my bookshelf: “Quiet Patterns”

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Bird and Pomegranate (William Morris)

Two things are happening in our homes these days: we are back in love with wallpaper (It seems we were afraid of it for a while) and we are taking a holistic approach to designing our houses and decorating our rooms. That is to say, we are interested in beauty and our overall well-being. Of course I couldn’t be more pleased. But honestly it is Abigail Edward’s newly published book Quiet Patterns: Gentle Designs for Interiors that really got my mind going on this matter. In it she argues (softly) that, when incorporated properly, pattern (many of which are derived from nature and childhood images reminding us of the countryside or secret garden or enchanted forest of our youth) has the power to transform a space and to soothe our weary modern souls. Continue reading “on my bookshelf: “Quiet Patterns””

antiques, gardens, inspiration, interiors, interview

Larger Cross: an interview with shop owner Alice Minnich

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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”

antiques, featured designer, gardens, inspiration, interiors

featured designer: Tricia Foley

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Tricia Foley is a woman ahead of her time. Long before the all-white, minimalist look we see everywhere on Instagram these days, author and stylist Tricia Foley captured our imaginations with her casual, chic country look. Her trademarks–all those shades of white, natural elements, textures, layers, and artful displays of treasured objects and collections—are commonplace now. But, there is only one Tricia Foley, and she is a designer whose work I return to often for inspiration. Continue reading “featured designer: Tricia Foley”

books, inspiration, interiors

on my bookshelf: “Farm from Home”

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I’ve said it often: You don’t need to live in the country or on a farm to embrace the elegant country style. But it sure doesn’t hurt when you actually do, and when the farm is in England in Cotswolds, the house is a quintessential English cottage, and your story is that you spent most of your adult life in the glamour of New York City but have taken to the countryside with your family and done it with impeccable style. Continue reading “on my bookshelf: “Farm from Home””

antiques, art, books, inspiration, interiors

on my book shelf: “Gracious Rooms”

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Barbara Westbrook’s rooms aren’t all in the country, but her way of decorating a house has roots in the countryside of Virginia, where her grandparents had a farmhouse that she loved and remembers fondly—and these memories infuse her work. I stumbled upon her book Gracious Rooms at my local library (I love when this happens, when I’m not looking for anything in particular, and something beautiful appears). I’m always on the lookout for unexpected ways that elegant country style is expressed. Continue reading “on my book shelf: “Gracious Rooms””

art, interiors

Edith Wharton’s elegant country style

ECS_The Mount_interior

It was in a country setting that Edith Wharton hit her stride. True, she was in a failing marriage and not yet a famous author, but it was at her country estate, which she called The Mount, where she met the love of her life and where she became, not just a writer, but a successful novelist. Somehow during these years (1903-1908) of glory and gloom, she was essentially building two houses: one real, The Mount, and one imagined, The House of Mirth.

 

ECS_The Mount

When she began designing, decorating, and landscaping The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts, she’d already co-authored a book, The Decoration of Houses (1897), about architecture and design with architect and friend Ogden Codman, Jr., so she knew exactly what she wanted (privacy, sweeping vistas, impressive gardens, European influences, and American touches, like green exterior shutters and green and white awnings).

She would not live there long, and she would have other homes, even another country home in France. Yet, one could argue that it was here where she began her singular and abiding devotion to creating—body and soul—a beautiful house and garden and a sense of place.

While living at The Mount, Wharton wrote: “Decidedly, I’m a better landscape gardener than novelist, and this place, every line of which is my own work, far surpasses The House of Mirth.”