from the archives: Hillwood Estate and Garden

Since we can’t visit many of the public gardens and museums that we love, especially in springtime, I have reached back into the archives to a rainy spring Saturday a few years ago. Hillwood Estate and Gardens is not in the countryside, but in Washington D.C., however while you are there you feel miles away from city life.  I hope you enjoy…

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Friday mood board 1.3.20

One might argue that elegant is not a word that would describe the world of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Their world is not one of refinement and luxury, rather their New England lifestyle of the late 19th Century leans toward the simple and pragmatic. Elegance, by the March sisters’ definition, is just out of reach (over at their aunt’s estate and right next door at Mr. Laurence’s). And yet, I would say that elegance does not have to be extravagant. There is elegance in simplicity. And while the March sisters may not have the financial means to live extravagantly, they most certainly have charm and wit and the aspiration to live a good and beautiful life, which is quite elegant to me.

This first Friday of the new year, we’re inspired by Greta Gerwig’s 2019 movie, and her lovely interpretation and aesthetic of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel. Scroll down for some images and some of our favorite sources for a modern Little Women look for home and garden and you!


Cabbages & Roses

Cabbages & Roses


Plain Goods 

Plain Goods


William Morris & Co.

Ruby Lane



Silk and Willow


Benjamin Moore Williamsburg Collection



We love Larger Cross for baskets and lots of other things

Silk and Willow

Harpers Bazaar UK


Ben Pentreath and William Morris & Co.


Benjamin Moore Williamsburg Collection

William Morris & Co.


Silk and Willow

Harpers Bazaar UK

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

Cheers and Happy Friday!

Holly & Brooke

New Year’s Eve: 5 rooms to make you want to stay home

Let’s face it New Year’s Eve is the most glamorous and elegant of holidays. So the thought of staying home, even for us die-hard homebodies, can feel a bit deflating. On the other hand, there is the over-hype and the noise and crowds and the hangovers that can be avoided by choosing the less adventurous option. I like an early dinner (this year at my sister’s house) and a quiet night at home. I just read that Martha Stewart feels the same way and is usually asleep before midnight (of course she does eat caviar to give the night some sense of specialness and we would expect nothing less from her).

Suppose you opt for a night at home, a bit fancy but not fussy. Now imagine some of your favorite rooms where you could pass the hours away. Rooms do come and go for the most part. Some of your favorites might be long gone in reality but very much alive in your memory. Some are real and some are imagined. But that’s the beauty of this exercise and of New Year’s Eve: looking back and looking ahead.

Here are five rooms where I’d love to spend New Year’s Eve and what I like about them.


I’d never pass up the opportunity to linger in Nicky Haslam’s fabled Folly De Grandeur. Once a Tudor hunting lodge and once occupied by the iconic designer John Fowler, its rooms have recently been auctioned off, and so this enchanting country place has been on my mind. I love the playful elegance of this sitting room. It’s the perfect place to spend the night sitting by the fire, slipping out into the garden, sipping champagne, and thinking up New Year’s resolutions.



Nothing is better, in my mind, then a night spent in bed with books and magazines and maybe and ipad. Any bedroom fashioned by Cathy Kincaid will do: her cozy, sophisticated layers of patterns paired with the plumped pillows, skirted beds and beautifully draped windows. Some eggnog or hot chocolate on the nightstand.



I’ve been to Americus, Georgia where antique dealer Furlow Gatewood has his homes, and I’d love to spend New Year’s Eve in one of his rooms. The soft palette, charming vignettes, classic lines, and interesting antiques of this sitting room make it very inviting. I imagine a night of Southern hospitality and wit and charm. And just look at those French doors!


Okay, I might not spend the whole night here, but what a pretty bathroom by British designer Penny Morrison for a long soak with plenty of candles lit. This is in her country house in Wales, and I love the old-fashioned yet chic feel of it (and all of her bathrooms!). The Colefax & Fowler fabric on the curtains and pelmet elevate the mood don’t they? As does the pretty white linen draped on the table. Can’t you just smell the lavender bath oils?



Style icon and master gardener Bunny Mellon created this room in her country estate Oak Springs (which is still in operation today). It’s soothing and elegant and welcoming. Classic Bunny. Not to mention it is filled with books. I’d spend the night by the fire looking through her garden and horticulture books!

We stay at home to please ourselves, just as most of us make rooms to please ourselves. Perhaps this night in will give us time to reflect on our surroundings. And if nothing else, these five rooms might suggest one or two things that we can do to our own rooms to make them the ones we long for.

Cheers and Happy New Year!


the joy of gift wrapping

The Enchanted Home

I’m having my hair done (we are all wearing festive shiny silver foil on our heads), and the chatter is about holiday preparations (how far we are and what we love and do not love about this week before Christmas). Two young ladies get into a spirited discussion about gift wrapping. One is all for it and finds it therapeutic (not to mention that she is already finished). The other is less enthusiastic, hasn’t even started, and says her gifts are all going into gift bags.

My gifts last year in wrapping paper from The Enchanted Home and Hallmark

I sympathize with the gift bag lady and have been there myself. But I do love a beautifully wrapped gift, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like opening one? (And I can’t be the only one who loves watching an expert gift wrapper at one of the department stores and thinking that would not be a bad job at all).

Our mother was very particular about how we wrapped gifts, folded corners were inspected, tape had to be hidden, and bows tied neatly (I can tell you I did not appreciate this as a teenage, but I do now). And one of my fondest memories is wrapping presents as an adult on Christmas Eve with my grandfather after my children had gone to bed. He’d come to spend the night with us and he’d help with the wrapping while we had a glass of eggnog.


William Morris wrapping paper set

Hadley Court

Cavallini and Co. Christmas botanical

My French Country Home

Hadley Court


Hadley Court

Gold Toile by Hallmark

Craftberry Bush

Caspari Twelve Days of Christmas


John Derian

Hadley Court

Country Living

Country Living

Sweet Caroline Design


Liberty Londons

So at the salon we all agreed it is about enjoying the process and the finished product. It’s all very rewarding if you make time for it. Or even if it’s rushed. I love finding beautiful paper and ribbon and coming up with some unexpected finishing touch (just now my sister called in a gift-wrapping panic looking for ribbon!). I don’t have a gift wrapping station like I’ve seen or a whole gift wrapping room (goals!), but I’ve gotten better about buying paper as I see it and keeping a supply of nice ribbon and tags (and yes there are bags).


In the midst of the Christmas rush, here are some ideas for inspiration and some of our favorite sources. We wish you much joy in your wrapping and giving of gifts, and a Merry little Christmas!


Holly and Brooke

Christmas at Ladew Gardens: a country manor house drawing room

655A2FC3-E133-447B-9885-A9708C73590DThe manor house at Ladew Topiary Gardens was built in 1820 and purchased by Harvy Ladew (1887-1976) in 1929. For the rest of his life Mr. Ladew (as he is lovingly referred to by the staff at the Gardens) restored and decorated the house, while creating the exquisite gardens on the property. Both the house and gardens are open to the public  from April-October. The house is re-opened for its annual Christmas Open House with each room decorated by a designer or garden club. This year we took part in this special event and decorated the drawing room.


When decorating a historic house we think it is important to respect the style of the period and incorporate designs that enhance the original architecture rather than distract from it. For this large, centrally located drawing room, traditionally used for entertaining and socializing, we chose a neutral palette of whites, brown, and taupe to compliment the pale green chintz on the furniture and the dark cherry antiques.


Mixed evergreens served as the backdrop to the featured white flowers: magnolias, paper whites, and amaryllis. Blue and white decorative pieces were used as accents. We incorporated natural and garden elements with plaid and gingham ribbon, and hung handmade stockings in hunting scene toile as a nod to the equestrian lifestyle that Mr. Ladew lived and loved.




Mr. Ladew’s manor house is a place of tradition, character, and moxie: you feel this as you walk through the rooms that are just as he left them: thoughtfully decorated and collected. If the house is haunted, it is by ghosts of the creative spirits who passed through its rooms like interior designer Billy Baldwin and musician Cole Porter (who actually played the piano in the drawing room). And of course by Mr. Ladew himself, who certainly knew about the art of living well.


Thanks so much to all of you who attended the open house. We appreciate your support of  Ladew Topiary Gardens and ECS!

(* all photographs by Michael Sneeringer, Jr.)


Holly and Brooke