As a child, I was a voracious reader. There was a time during elementary school I clearly remember checking out three books every other day from my school library. I would put a flashlight under my pillow so I could read at night when I was supposed to be sleeping. I simply loved books…and stories…and literature. I especially enjoyed mysteries, but I also relished history and biographies of people from all areas of life who accomplished great things.
In my teen years, I started reading authoress, Edith Wharton. Her more famous titles are “The House of Mirth” and “The Age of Innocence”, but her short stories are where I believe her true genius lies. Her tales focus on the privileged class of her era at the turn of the century, and are filled with humor and wit. But not only was she a talented writer, she was also one of the first recognized American female interior designers.
In 1902, she built The Mount, her home in Lenox, Massachusetts. She penned many novels there and fashioned the home and astoundingly beautiful gardens around her design philosophy, which she highlighted in her work, “The Decoration of Houses” in 1897.
Five years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Massachusetts, spending a day at The Mount. We still talk of the grounds and the home.
You could even pick apples nearby.
It was all very inspiring and yes, romantic even, but I can see how people shy away from translating grand homes of old into something of relevance today.
It is sort of like couture fashion…I’m a regular girl, so how does that apply to me? Why should I look at it, think about it, absorb it at all if it is unattainable for me?
I had a conversation with an acquaintance recently about this very subject. She said, “Yes, I think seeing these old homes is kind of cool, but I never really feel like I get anything out of it other than thinking ‘that’s neat’. I will never live in a home like that so I don’t get it really.”
I believe the answer is quite simple…you can be inspired by it. You can take a mix of materials or a fabric pattern or a color scheme from a grand old home where you live or a Downton Abbey episode and recreate it your way to fit in beautifully with your home’s aesthetic. I wonder sometimes if we are so concerned with trends (chevron now, nope now it is hexagons, triangles!) that the thought behind how our home comes together becomes skewed chasing after the here and now, and therefore, the design falls flat.
Below you see a photo of a structure that is quite lovely, you might think it looks like a quintessential country home. But it happens to be a barn on Edith Wharton’s property…A BARN. Perhaps this will inspire you to put some thought into that eyesore shed? or that falling down lean-to against your garage? (ahem, cough, I’m looking at myself)
Perhaps if we slowed down long enough to look at design that has stood the test of time, we could find in it a connection to the space we live in? Whether it be a rented space, a garage apartment, a starter home, a forever home, or an apartment, I wonder if finding a tie to the past that inspires us is the way to an authentic home.
There is a particular space at The Mount that has stuck with me since I first stepped into it. It is a rather grand hall, but the colors and trim work captivated me.
It is a gorgeous space, and I can close my eyes and still see every detail. The barrel ceiling and that gorgeous blue-green trim hue against the creamy ivory background is perfection.
So here I am dreaming of a space Edith Wharton dreamed up and created over a hundred years ago. No, I don’t have a grand hall in my home, nor will I ever, but I do have a space that is getting a makeover. A makeover inspired by this space – a grand hall in a grand home – translated to a small room in my old home.
Next post will showcase this previous mess of a room turning into one of the prettiest rooms in the house!
For more information on Edith Wharton and The Mount, check out this website. This is a must-stop-and-see if you get the chance! I would love to go back!
I wanted to take today and highlight the artists that contributed to the Gray & Gold Nursery. I think the art in that space really made it shine, it made it special. Each piece has meaning for the couple, for them as a family of three. The gold foil prints fit in this nursery perfectly, but I also loved the thought that they could be moved to different parts of the home later if desired. Plus they can grow up with their little boy. It was a win all around.
I’m so happy to be sharing more up close and personal photos of these artists’ work, and I hope you show them some love. These are all small business owners, and I so appreciate their love of their craft. The way these prints came packaged was beauty in itself!
Here they are…in alphabetical order. You should definitely explore these shops, I found a few things just while writing this post!
And also, I couldn’t finish this post without talking about Trang’s beautiful work on the Origami Mobile. I’m torn on baby mobiles because they are often too simple looking (and boring for baby), or they are reeeeeeally out there. I came up with the idea for the origami mobile because I thought the shapes would be intriguing for baby, the shadows the folds of the paper cast would be interesting, plus it would look simple and beautiful. Trang delivered truly lovely work, and her handcrafted animals from gold metallic paper fit this space to a tee. Find her work here.
It makes me really happy to showcase other women’s work – women who are entrepreneurial, creative, and smart. Women working hard to support themselves and their families and using their talent. A special thanks to these business owners who helped me with this project.
Thanks so much for the great comments on my DIY Acrylic Rod Update! I have loved getting photos of what you guys have done with the idea so keep them coming!
Curtains are an easy change usually, which is good for me because I like to change mine every few years. : ) Now there are some I will not change as often because the fabric is a one-of-a-kind, or it is some amazing pattern and was more expensive, etc. I also like to get creative when changing out curtains and will use them to make pillows or cover a small bench or chair, etc. In fact, that is exactly what I did for a client in her guest room. We covered a sad bench with two panels of gray velvet drapery I used to have in my office, and it turned out great! (see the post here) I mean, seriously, would you ever know those were curtains?
photo courtesy of Sabrina Gebhardt Photography
As I’m sure you have noticed, wide, horizontal-striped curtains with a bold color have been all the rage the past few years, although a stripe is classic and will probably never go out of style.
I have loved this look for years, but wanted something a little softer for my living room. Brightening this room up is something I have really worked on (through changing color palette – paint, trim, etc.) because even though it has two large and two small windows, it can feel rather dark. None of the windows have direct light as the front porch presides over the two large windows, and the porte cochere hovers over the two small windows.
When I spied this neutral wide striped fabric, I knew this was just what I wanted.
However, the fabric had been discontinued, so luckily, my friend and talented designer, Emily, helped me track it down! Thanks again, Emily!
I like drapery with pleating at the top because I think it helps the fabric hang better, but I wanted the pleats to be very very minimal. Pinch pleats can look very formal and sometimes a little severe to me. Since I have an old home, and this is our living room, I did not want it to feel overly formal as these rooms can project “stuffiness”. The slight pleats give it a more casual, livable vibe. I’m so happy with how they turned out.