If I were to admit there is a benefit to having the chicks at school in Virginia it would be that the travel between here and there has opened a whole new region of the country for me to explore. And when traveling there is nothing I enjoy more than ...

 

Nemours and more...



Nemours

If I were to admit there is a benefit to having the chicks at school in Virginia it would be that the travel between here and there has opened a whole new region of the country for me to explore. And when traveling there is nothing I enjoy more than touring historic houses so while Mother's Day weekend had me delivering a car to Williamsburg, I took advantage of an early start to seek one out in my usual half-way point near Wilmington, Delaware. On what was a stunning Spring afternoon I visited Nemours, the Beaux-Arts style estate designed by legendary New York architectural firm Carrère and Hastings for Alfred duPont in 1909.


The house remains furnished as it was when Mr. duPont's wife died and the property was transferred to a foundation and later opened to the public. The interiors showcase an eclectic collection of furniture and art, including some rare French 18th-century furniture, but the duPont's decorated with what appealed to them personally and not necessarily what was considered fashionable at the time. This is particularly evident in the bedrooms which feel very intimate for a house on this scale. Unfortunately, the light upstairs made it difficult to get good photos so I am only sharing the first floor rooms.



 


While the majority of the rooms on the first floor are grandly furnished, in the conservatory one can sense the personal touch of the occupants. It gives the impression of being the most enjoyed room in the house.


In a corner was this fascinating 'birdbath' which I wish I had asked about. The tour of the house is self-guided, which is my favorite way to view an historic house, but there are 'interpretive' staff members circulating. Next time I will seek one out.



Detail of the treillage in the conservatory:


The conservatory, to the right off the back of the house, faces a boxwood parterre.


From the front of the house begin the extraordinary gardens.


The gardens comprise the largest formal French garden in North America, including a vast reflecting pool and monumental fountains, and are surrounded by nearly 200 acres of woodlands, meadows, lawns, and ponds.




Built to memorialize Mr. duPont's great-grandfather and great-great grandfather, the Colonnade faces a maze garden in front and from the back is a view across one of the ponds to the 'Temple of Love' sheltering a stature of Diana.




I have really only touched on what there is to see both inside and outside the house in this post. For information on visiting Nemours see the estate website. The duPont family established a significant architectural and horticultural legacy in the region. Also worth the a visit if you are in the area are Winterthur and Longwood Gardens.
 

Whither Spring?

Arriving home to freezing rain in Boston that turned to snow as we crossed into New Hampshire (where there were actually plows deployed on the highway,) I'm feeling betrayed by Mother Nature and clinging to the memory of a week spent in Virginia's warm and verdant spring. Temperatures, and my spirits, continue to fall as I sort through my photos of enchanting Williamsburg. Here area few favorites, more can be found on Instagram.








     

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Decorating With Antiques

The start of this year has been the busiest in recent memory. In late winter, as I was finishing up two projects, I began two more and one of those lovely new clients, Alice, has paid me the highest compliment I can imagine. Regarding a piece of furniture she needs, she asked, "Can you just pick it out for me?" I've been waiting my whole career for someone to say that to me.

Alice has recently acquired a pretty house in a quiet, leafy neighborhood where she is starting over, so to speak, in the first house she is doing entirely on her own. She envisions a mostly neutral palette, along the lines of my former house which she saw in New England Home magazine, and hopes to achieve the feeling of a retreat with comfortable upholstery but one that inspires the imagination. How better to create that atmosphere than mixing in some well-chosen antiques?


Living where I do, with few decorating and design resources, I rely on the internet to keep me informed between trips to the Boston Design Center and I do much of my research and purchasing online. And while antique shops can be found throughout much of New England, the college town I call home does not host a single one so over the last year and a half the online marketplace The HighBoy has become my go-to source for interesting and affordable antiques and accessories.

A few of the items on my personal wish list: A pair of  Louis XVI Style Painted Armchairs, a set of  Pressed French Botanicals, and a Swedish Gustavian Sideboard
An internet search for antiques can yield a dizzying number of sites with varying degrees of functionality and ease of use. What I love about The HighBoy is how straightforward the website is; it is simple to search and makes it easy to find what you're looking for. They offer extensive options in a myriad of styles of furniture, art and decorative accessories. The founders of the site, who have a background selling in antiques, collaborate with select antique and fine art dealers across the country. They have established a selection of curated collections and made the experience of discovering and sourcing beautiful antiques available to everyone, regardless of one's location and budget.

So for Alice's new place we are beginning with a living room/study where she can work, have a glass of wine with a friend or stretch out and watch a movie. The three distinct areas in the long room will be defined by sisal rugs from Pottery Barn.


The pieces we are sourcing from The HighBoy will be the desk and side chairs and the pair of end tables next to the loveseats flanking the fireplace. Upholstered furniture will come from my long-time source, The Charles Stewart Company. Alice's taste leans toward the romantic; she likes a mix of French and English styles and has decided on pieces similar to the following:

In the living room/study: a French Carved Fruitwood Open Arm Fauteuil, a French Provincial Bureau Plat Writing Table, and a pair of Georgian Style Mahogany Pembroke Tables.
Next we will be looking for dining room chairs to complement a pretty table Alice already has, some pieces to complete a comfortable guest room and a few decorative accessories; Alice has begun her own wish list:

Additionally, The HighBoy publishes an excellent online magazine, The Weekly, which features articles on the history of different periods and styles in design combined with beautiful imagery. It is an excellent source of information and inspiration.

Spring, as it does in northern New England, has arrived all at once and we have had a stretch of beautiful days, warm enough to leave the windows open. It is the kind of weather that gives one a sense of well being. I hope you have same wherever you are and wish you a wonderful week ahead.
 

A More Than Happy New Year

While I'm glad 2015 is behind me, it certainly ended on a high note. In the Home & Garden section of Thursday's Washington Post, I was included in a list of six Instagram accounts to follow for 'home and design inspiration.' It was definitely a thrill to be recognized, but mostly satisfying as it was for doing something I enjoy. What could be better? With two new projects and some travel on the horizon, I am looking forward to the start of a another year of creative work, finding the inspiration that fuels it as I go, and sharing that with you. Thanks for following along and I hope that 2016 brings you fulfillment, serenity and happiness.

      
 

Still Giving Thanks

Just because I love this place, having the chicks at home, the light at this time of year and an open window on a nearly 60-degree day in November.




 
 
   

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