Friday mood board: 5 things to elevate your Thanksgiving table

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the thought of Thanksgiving, all the food shopping, the meal preparation, the cooking itself, and the presentation (not to mention the cleaning up!). But if we really think about it Thanksgiving is just about gathering together, enjoying comfort food, and counting our blessings. And it has managed, somehow, to be a more subdued affair than other holidays.  The best part for me is sitting down to a pretty table that someone has dressed up for the occasion.  I love the moment when all the hustle and bustle has stopped, chairs are pulled up, candles are lit, and we are all seated, looking across the table at one another taking it all in. 

Continue reading “Friday mood board: 5 things to elevate your Thanksgiving table”

Friday mood board 1.24.20

Sometimes we create in order to find something that we are searching for. This mood board is inspired by a color—hyacinth blue—that I have heard of but that I cannot exactly pin down. The hyacinth flower, a spring blooming bulb with a strong fragrance, comes in a range of colors and a variety of blues. The blues go from deep blue (close to purple) to light blue (close to periwinkle). I believe the color referred to as hyacinth blue is a lighter shade like the color in the Vermeer painting. In my quest for the true hyacinth blue I have gathered images of the various hues and other things that it brings to mind, like hyacinth vases and porcelain bulb bowls, Dutch interiors, and soothing patterns in this shade. If I’m not mistaken, my grandmother once had a bedroom in hyacinth blue, or something very close. Perhaps I am remembering that and the coming of spring.

Scalamandre Chi’En Dragon Hyacinth Blue


Savannah Skirted Ottoman One King’s Lane

Girl In Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Antique Porcelain Bulb Bowl


Stroheim Biron Strie Check in Hyacinth Blue

Hyacinth vases and jars

House & Garden UK


Graham & Brown Fresco wallpaper Hyacinth Blue



Cheers and happy Friday!


antiquing (and other things) in Annapolis

1D114624-33B5-4965-9BFA-93A447F74416This weekend the weather was perfect, blue skies and low humidity, so we took a little jaunt down to Annapolis to take in the summer sights and do some shopping. It has been too long since we paid a visit to this lovely historic town, and it was nice to revisit some favorite shops and discover some new ones. Maryland Avenue, directly off the rotunda around the State Capital, is a quaint street with some of our favorite haunts. 1DC57626-E8C1-4712-868D-549A1D7CDAE81890BCC1-E32C-4FA8-9149-E8694B6366DBAt Evergreen Antiques and True Vintage you will find reasonably priced vintage and antique pieces. Proprietor Joanna Young has a great eye for the eclectic and elegant. She’s got the best selection of vintage clothing that I’ve seen in a while (I bought a yellow silk beaded shift dress right off the mannequin when I walked in). There is also a nice selection of artwork—interesting mid-century paintings and sketches with a Bloomsbury, Bo Ho feel to them.EB344734-68D5-44A3-AD5E-DB12180C299BF059625B-F196-4426-8652-198A97801A06629852D2-ED54-4B41-84B6-8B53D5C08B6DBlue Crab Antiques is an old-school shop brimming over with wonderful collectors’ items—mostly maritime themed pieces, but other beautiful decorative objects as well. There is an impressive collection of Wedgewood US Naval Academy Plates and stunning oyster plates for the serious collector.AC82E37A-CB5C-49EE-A079-8605765A73EF75408979-48BA-4675-8285-F6F8225B585396DD6CCB-869C-400A-89A1-F21B4F5D620A418A65BB-EB1D-4D93-A1C2-3038AF4820FDDBD34AE4-98D2-4E81-BCD6-C02D68D10401If you love used bookstores with volumes stacked everywhere and a shopkeeper who knows exactly where every book you ask for is located, then The Annapolis Bookstore is for you. It was certainly my kind of place! (I found a copy of Colefax & Fowler by Chester Jones for a steal and an MKF Fisher that I haven’t read and… you get the picture…)DDAB35FF-6DAA-4897-AAA5-25D9DE1AEE22996191DD-43FB-4BCB-BC64-8DA7351F5853B5244A1A-5858-464E-8C54-D8ACAE0F114C50B77D95-FD71-4EEE-9FBD-06095C43AD36Natalie Silitch’s shop has what I would call a Parisian coastal feel to it. There are striking pieces—like a black chinoisserie table, French tole trays and tables, botanical book pages (perfect for framing), herbarium pages (already framed), Florentine tables, coral pieces, and a gathering of charming small original paintings scattered around (perfect for vignettes and bookshelves and a great way to start collecting art for your home).  The main attraction is Natalie herself, an artist who creates and sells her whimsical folk art pieces.  1A6AAA78-8277-4480-8F87-A0F96C3CD124A15858E6-5DD3-4D22-93D0-FBA0B421DD142F7B58D1-5802-4A5A-A73D-9457DBEE82C1There are two wonderful shops for home interiors on Maryland Avenue as well. Be sure to stop in Peake House, which has two floors of beautiful and sophisticated pieces for a traditional look, and Be Home Annapolis, which has a lively and smart collection of home and gift items.

Of course there is much to see in Annapolis down closer to the docks and along the other side streets, which we walk just to look at the old narrow houses and be inspired by their beauty and their history. We ran into a bridal party rushing for photographs (the bride’s attendants wore a perfect colonial blue color and I couldn’t help sympathizing with the floral designer who worried that the bouquets were wilting!).D3D9C366-1C48-4E57-A45A-BE9B09EDB728


(All photographs by Michael Sneeringer, Jr @elsneero)

the art of the monogram (some basics and some inspiration)


Chessie Breen

Milestones call for monograms. Don’t you think?

As we are in the midst of wedding and graduation season with lots of showers and parties and receptions to attend (not to mention Father’s Day gatherings), I thought it would be a good time to talk about monograms. I love the fact that monograms are an old-fashioned kind of gesture and a timeless detail that can make all the difference. They make a gift even more thoughtful, and though they might make us think of our grandmothers, they are also a way to make a room look fresh, personal, and interesting.

But—there are so many choices. So where does one start?


Here are 5 basic things to consider:

  1. Decide on the basic style (classic, modern, masculine, feminine, etc.)
  2. Think about placement (middle, corners, front, back, etc.)
  3. Choose a thread color (bright, bold, soft, understated, etc.)
  4. Determine number and order (a helpful initial etiquette guide from Southern Living Magazine here.)
  5. Find out if the seller provides in-house monogramming or look for a skilled embroiderer.

I’ve gathered some images and ideas of monogrammed items for the home. And my sister-in-law, who is a very talented seamstress, recommends thinking outside the box by adding monograms to ordinary things like kitchen towels and handkerchiefs

Cathy Kincaid

While it might seem like there is a lot going on in the lead photograph, I think the monograms actually work as a calming feature as your eyes come to rest on them. And it’s such an enchanting mix of a plain double initial on the small romantic velvet pillow and a more whimsical triple initial on the other two larger pillows.

Interior designer, Cathy Kincaid often includes monograms in her rooms of many layers and patterns—again there is a sense of grounding that happens with the initials as accessories within these charmingly busy spaces.

Cathy Kincaid

James T. Farmer

James T. Farmer III, another designer fond of the monogram, shows how three patterns and one monogram style can pull things together in a bedroom and look very chic.

Version 2

A large, bold, and bright monogram in a child’s room adds a bit of sophistication. And I like that the style of this monogram is not overly childish, but something they could have forever (besides it’s never too early to start; I wish I had done more of this for my children).


I like how this casual, simple, and masculine monogram elevates this slipcovered headboard with side ties just a touch. Very handsome.

Leontine Linens

Jane Scott Hodges, founder of Leontine Linens and author of Linens: For Every Room and Occasion, has basically written the book on this topic. Or re-written I should say. Her approach is to create linens based on the past tradition but with a modern sensibility. Both her website and book are wonderful sources.

Leontine Lines

Table linens can be antique (in which case the monograms will already be there and even if it’s not yours, that is part of the charm), casual (like the buffalo check square napkin by James Farmer), fancy, or very simple.

House Beautiful

Notice how designers create table linens that pick up on patterns and colors and even the mood of the china itself.

Leontine Linens


James T. Farmer



Beautifully monogramed linens in the loo!



Last but not least, the slip covered dining room or occasional chair is always a nice statement for a room. I’m fond of the tone on tone look and the traditional three letter initial. But look how a simple one letter initial in pretty scrolled script dresses up an otherwise plain chair.


Barbara Westbook



To think of monograms as stuffy and old-fashioned (or, even, ironically trendy) is to underestimate their timeless ability to convey a lasting sense of art and craft and identity and beauty. They might just be the perfect touch you are looking for!



revisiting a classic lake house on Memorial Day


It’s the middle of the long Memorial Day weekend that kicks off the unofficial start to summer, and after a cookout, sitting on the screen porch we slip naturally into one of our favorite debates: beach house or lake house? It’s gotten me thinking about a classic lake house that I revisit often in A Place to Call Home: Tradition, Style, and Memory in the New American House by Gil Schafer III. (so you might have guessed which side of the debate I am on).


The home is designed and decorated by Schafer and situated in Lake Placid, New York. It is a stunning blend of casual Adirondack camp aesthetic and formal elegance. The brown shingle siding, bright white trim, and green roof work together harmoniously to create what Schafer calls “a balance between Colonial Revival and Arts and Crafts” styles, and this balancing act happens almost effortlessly elsewhere: the formal columns along the more relaxed open porches, potted boxwoods alongside breezy hydrangea, and so on.




Inside, French doors, transom lights, and wide doorways allow natural light and lake views to become an integral (and I suspect, magical) part of the whole house experience.


Warm colors, dark wood and painted wood floors, antique pieces, checks, florals, and stripes add charm and character that evoke feelings of both an English and American country home.




And when it comes to the debate—beach house or lake house? Well, I say lake and he says beach. So for now, this revisiting (and moment of reverie) is just what I need!

Cheers and Happy Memorial Day!

Holly07666047-7C99-45FC-8401-D093DE009FC9(photos from G.P. Schafer Architects and Architectural Digest