4 Mother’s Day tables during quarantine (using what we have)

For most of us, this Mother’s Day will be unlike any other we have ever celebrated. We won’t be doing the things that we usually do, like traveling, visiting, gathering, or entertaining. In the world of social distancing our tables are smaller and less crowded, but they can still be pretty.

So, the four of us—two sisters (Holly and Brooke), our aunt (Barbara) and our cousin (Kirsten), decided to set our tables for Mother’s Day anyway, using what we have around the house and in our yards.  Along with the photos, each of us has written a short note about our tables.

Continue reading “4 Mother’s Day tables during quarantine (using what we have)”

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!



Friday mood board 5.31.19




So I’m in the throes of a master bedroom makeover which is long overdue (let me just say that I’m using the term “master” rather lightly here because our room is only slightly bigger than the others, has no en suite or walk-in closet. Its best features are a French door that leads out to a roof deck which we thought we would spend hours on but have found that we do not, original honey colored hardwood floors, and a pretty casement window that looks over the front walkway).


I knew I wanted an upholstered headboard and fell in love with this vibrant Richmond Green fabric from Ballard Design, so that fabric was the starting point. I’ve had a bed skirt made in the same fabric. At first I thought I’d accent with black (black check mainly), but quickly decided that I liked it with a touch of blue, like the photograph of the grape hyacinth and ferns that my husband took in our backyard (so many different kinds of things influence a mood board and thus a room). As an accent fabric that incorporates this touch of blue, I am on the hunt for this Colefax and Fowler print (hard to find here), but may substitute with a Manor House by P. Kaufman. As another nice compliment fabric, one that keeps everything down to earth, I’m using a basic green ticking.


Instead of drapes, I put up white linen soft Roman shades (here I was inspired by the lovely vignette and aesthetic of Giannetti Home in the lead photograph above). In keeping with this lighter look, I hope to update the furniture with some antique Swedish pieces, an armoire and dresser. I’m accenting with blue and white chinoiserie, gold elements, and vintage Florentine pieces, like the elegant stacking tables above.  I knew I wanted pastoral paintings framed in gold, and when I found this gorgeous image of a French country village painted in 1878 by Camille Pissarro, I love how it really pulls everything together—the palette and the mood that I want to create in this room.


As we know, mood boards are a starting point, a checkpoint, and should be changing as we move thru the creative process. I’d love to hear how you use mood boards in your creative life!


Holly (Brooke is off working in the real world for a bit!)

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.