Happy New Year

Wishing our readers a happy New Year! Looking forward to sharing decorating ideas, design inspiration, and beautiful things in 2022…


from the archives: the ivy house


Designer Myra Hoefer’s gorgeous ivy covered cottage in Healdsburg, California was featured three times in House Beautiful Magazine. The final article was published in 2012, and I—because I wanted to be there, dining alfresco in the courtyard, then lounging in the tiny rooms—fell in love with it. My torn-out magazine pages stashed in a folder have been an inspirational touchstone for me on how to blend the simple with the refined, how to decorate small spaces, and how to create a look of graceful elegance throughout a home (not to mention the fact that I’ve been nagging my husband about growing ivy on the exterior of my office all these years and we are on our second attempt now I believe).

Though not exactly in the country, Myra’s look reflects the understated and timeless quality that we love here at Elegant Country Style. It’s a smart combination of Parisian (there is the sense of je ne sais quai about it—stylish without trying too hard) and West Coast chic. She has covered the walls in a soft lichen gray (custom mixed but reminding me of Farrow and Ball’s French Gray), kept the lines soft with curvy French antiques, accented with shades of white and gold, and texturized with velvet and silk. There is an undertone of green to all of it echoing the ivy.


The photo above is a master class on how to style a hutch: notice how the pitchers are lined up on the top, how similar pieces are grouped and stacked, and how there is the one unexpected element (the small gilt mirror tucked in the corner). Add the flowers and fruit just before company arrives!


I love the simple white cachepot with hydrangea and the plain linen table covering (let it stay wrinkled!).



This vignette illustrates how balance and symmetry can create a harmonious feeling in a space.


In this lovely courtyard area there is a sense of seclusion and serenity created by keeping the colors muted (grays and greens and whites). An antique garden orb on the table—oversized and fun—adds to the charm.


Myra Hoefer (who was said to be as enchanting as her rooms) has since passed away, but her daughters have carried on her legacy at Myra Hoefer Design.

May your Monday be brightened a bit by this weekly design inspiration…and thank you for stopping by ECS.



A: architectural elements used in unexpected (but not cliched) ways


Another was Mrs. Burden, who had a big house on Long Island, where she had installed the old gates from Devonshire House that she bought when they tore it down. ~ Nancy Lancaster

Architectural elements—salvaged architectural pieces like old doors, windows, corbels, pediments, mantelpieces, columns, balusters, garden gates, fences, finials, and so on—used unconventionally in rooms is a popular thing right now. And using these historical building pieces as a statement or as understated accents is a smart way to give character to a newer space or to add even more depth and texture to an older one. It’s a way of repurposing that I think is a good one for many reasons, but mostly for how it gives beauty a second chance.

But the trick nowadays is to avoid the cliché (isn’t that always the trick?!), like barn doors used as a dining room table (once this was fresh, now it is feeling a bit passé).


Antique dealer, Furlow Gatewood, surprises with gothic elements artfully placed in an otherwise traditional setting. It works so well because he sticks with shades of white and gray so that what we notice most of all are the lines and the interesting juxtapositions that begin to appear as our eyes move around the room.


Darryl Carter has a knack for creating works of art out of salvaged pieces and giving them center stage in his chic, minimalist rooms. What I like about his out-of-context, slightly exaggerated use is how it makes us see something with fresh eyes and opens up possibilities, and of course good conversation.

And one can imagine the life these rustic barn doors had before being re-imagined as indoor shutters painted a gorgeous turquoise by designer Barbara Westbrook.

93b33865-697a-4f66-8ae0-5cb6ac56a443One more option, a slight twist on this theme, but one that must not be overlooked is incorporating nicely framed architectural drawings.

a7b140b0-68ef-437e-a5d5-eceaaf7d549cFor those of us creating rooms that we want to live in comfortably, adding architectural details can be elegant and chic if we keep this in mind: let them find you. When we go looking for these elements for a certain spot they feel forced. When we find them in our travels—near or far—they seem to belong wherever we put them.

(Note: This post is the first in a new series for 2019 titled “Elegant Country Style: The Country House Milieu from A to Z.” Hope you will enjoy following along!)

Happy Friday!

wallpaper Wednesday


Catherine Rose Pink by Cabbages & Roses.  If you are not familiar with Cabbages & Roses, it is a brand that started as a small mail order business, grew into a shop in London, and now is returning to its roots as an online boutique and pop-up store.  Some say it is the British equivalent to Shabby Chic.  I do find similar qualities in both brands–both are soft, romantic, and down-to-earth (with a little whimsy sprinkled in).  And I can always find something in both that I’d easily bring into a room when it needs a bit of character and charm.  This wallpaper pattern, for example, is quite versatile. It can add a touch of old-fashioned coziness, as in the image above.  And it can also brighten and work nicely with a more minimalist style, like in the simple bedroom below.


Happy Wallpaper Wednesday!

from the archives: a country house at Christmas


Sometimes there is nothing better than to dig into my stash of old magazine clippings (I know you have them too). Why? Why do we have them? Why dig into them? For inspiration and escape, I suppose (and because aren’t we all a bit frazzled this time of year?).

In the 2015 issue of Veranda Magazine, floral designers Darroch and Michael Putnam of Putnam & Putnam worked their magic on an 18th century country house in Upstate New York. The house is colonial, and colonial homes were dim and utilitarian. What I like is how this styling adds some glamour and warmth, while still staying close enough to the roots of the house. And here’s what revisiting it got me thinking about…


Why not use a piece of gorgeous fabric as a tree skirt? (you might have one stashed away that you forgot about that would add the perfect finishing touch).


Using or adding non-traditional greens (like eucalyptus, thyme, olive, and bay leaves) softens the tone, and decorating around what is always there gives it a special dressed-up feel.


Two or three re-occuring elements (like citrus, white flowers, and soft, grayish foliage) can really pull rooms together beautifully.-


Old-fashioned holiday motifs (like pomanders and topiaries) never go out of style.


A focal point, like a fireplace, is the perfect place to strike a dramatic note (with extra full and drapey greens and unexpected flowers, like hydrangea and sweet peas).

And best of all, the dried orange slices (I had forgotten all about them).  So very easy (slice, spray cookie sheet, bake at 200 degrees for a few hours).  They make the house smell wonderful and they look very pretty on everything.

Happy Friday!