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Collecting Family Home

Quick Lessons from an English Countryside House

June 18, 2018

Some of you might have seen that we have popped over to England for a friend’s wedding.   We decided to make a week of it so that we could catch up with family (and better wifi!) and have been staying with my aunt in the countryside.    Her house has always been a favorite of mine, both cozy and pulled together, inviting and grown up.    Over the last twenty odd years they have made changes and additions, the latest being the expansion of the most beautiful rose garden as seen in the previous post.    I absolutely love this house, and without wishing to reveal too much of it for privacy’s sake, there are just a few “notes to self” which I have made as we continue to create our first home.

The house is filled with endless cozy layers and textures.   Rugs upon rugs, endless pillows and cashmere blankets, perfect to fight off winter cold (which can sneak into summertime here in England too).    The house is also filled with endless reading material:  books, magazines and the best coffee table books which I have been hungrily leafing through.   It really does make you want to grab a cup of tea and sink into one of the plush chairs for a good long read.

The center of a cozy English home is of course the kitchen.   This one is made particularly warm by an AGA, an oven which is always on.   It makes the floors toasty and delivers the most delicious dry heat.   The dogs curl up next to it for an afternoon nap and we have also dried clothes and other things on it.  One week living with one and Will and I are itching to get one of our own, although it is obviously not suitable for the Charleston heat!

The dogs.   How I miss having them!  We grew up with three and it has been so hard not to have one but, with all of our travel, it just isn’t fair right now.   Dogs are wonderful companions, make a house extra cozy and provide a rhythm to the day which I miss.

A place for everything.  Twenty years of living somewhere could create massive build up but my aunt has done such a phenomenal job of staying organized.   There is a place for every plate, spare lightbulb and pillow case.  It makes tidying easy and it is a pleasure to see everything stacked away in its place.

Deep bathtubs with lots of bubble bath options.   We take lots of baths in Charleston and are lucky to have pretty big tubs.  These are so beautiful and deep, our son has never enjoyed a bath so much (I think it feels more like a swim).  We’re struggling to pry him out of it at the end, even after it has run cold.

Last, an oasis outside.   English summers are short and spectacular.  The days are so long, and every bit of sunshine should be soaked up outside.

Collecting France Home

Collector’s Corner: The French Flea

June 11, 2018

We have visited the Jas des Roberts two weekends in a row now.    It’s an outdoor market in a bumpy field where vendors come with trucks full of goodies, from furniture to linens, china, crystal, silver, rugs and lots of obscure art.   It’s a hunt in the heat and a place for quick decisions (I had a stack of french yellow plates swiped from me in a moment of hesitation), and a trove for treasures like those that my grandmother collected for her French house.   I so wish that we could have gone together (my Grandmother and I) but instead I use what she has in her home as a guide and try to find similar pieces which make my heart sing.

After the Jas des Roberts, we headed to Aix-en-Provence for Vivre Coté Sud at the recommendation of Luxe Provence.   It was an open air market with lots of local purveyors but as we strolled through town on foot en route, we spied another Brocante in the center of town which was definitely a more polished version of ours near home….good to know if you’re visiting anytime soon, it’s on Sundays!

I have seen these sconces two weeks running and have been debating whether or not to grab them, I think it’s a yes!    I would love to find a way to make some of these treasures available to you at home, working on it…. xxx

Collecting France Home Personal

Collector’s Corner: Colorful Tablecloths & Napkins

May 28, 2018

I have been waiting to arrive here in France to my grandmother’s home to really roll up my sleeves and dig into this new series, Collector’s Corner.   My grandmother was the queen of collecting; she loved finding new treasures, especially china, glass and textiles.   I would love to go through her home and archive everything that is here to better understand the decisions she made in decorating this slice of heaven which still very much feels like “hers” even though she passed nearly ten years ago now (it still feels very recent).    One of my favorite memories from my childhood and our time here as a family was the breakfast table which was always set with a colorful local cloth and of course, plates and plates of croissants — we were always feeding a huge group.   As an adult, I realize the effort that goes into setting the table for a larger party for every meal, and so appreciate the standards she set.   A colorful cloth goes a long way in making the table feel special and complete, fun and not too formal.

“Gaga” (my grandmother’s nickname) had so many sets of napkins — usually 8 or 12, sometimes 24.    They are all neatly pressed in the drawer and ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice.     Many have wild patterns, and layering them is encouraged.   Who minds really about a pristine and neutral table when the joy of living here was to be surrounded by beauty and to have the most fun possible?

Although this breakfast table is a much smaller example of the ones our family sets, I couldn’t help but use the backdrop of her many potted roses which are in full bloom outside her bedroom.    I imagine her stepping out in a robe to read the paper in the sunshine with the background music of singing birds and cicadas.    I can’t wait to share more of her collections in the coming weeks… xxx !

Here are some of my favorite sites to start your collection today:

India Amory

Roberta Roller Rabbit

Pomegranate Inc


Collecting Home

4 Candles to Collect

May 7, 2018

Fragrance might not be the most obvious topic for Collector’s Corner but I do think it is one of the most important ways to make your home feel cozy and more like “you”.   Of course we are going to be covering the more obvious items that we collect, from linens to silver, but I think that scent is so personal and powerful that it shouldn’t be overlooked.  Smell is subliminally the first thing we register when we enter a space and, when linked to someone we love or even a place that we love, it provides instant comfort when we catch its scent.  Whenever I smell my late grandmother’s favorite scented candle, for example, I am instantly transported to her house and feel her around me.

My grandmother and mother always had beautiful candles burning in their houses, which not only made their houses feel welcoming but also became signature scents that family and friends associated with them. One of the more famous instances of this associative effect is, of course, the story of the Rigaud “Cypres” candle.   Rigaud was a little known candle company before Jacqueline Kennedy started burning the green “Cypres” candle in her houses, including the White House.  Thereafter, the association with her made it the most sought after scented candle on the market – probably even to this day.

Certainly, a favorite scented candle can become a personal connection between our homes and us, and some people even take traveller sizes of their favorite candles in order to feel “at home” wherever they are.   Whenever my mother visited me at University, she would bring me a beautiful candle for my room, which instantly transformed it from a dorm room to a haven.  I didn’t have much of a budget to indulge in such treats, but I made it a habit to smell scented candles wherever I found them and I developed a “nose” for the scents that I loved.  Knowing what smells made me feel calm, well, and even pampered, I was able to find candles affordable even for a college student!  I also noticed and loved how entering a scented room made my college guests feels welcome and special.

So, even thought I know that candles are transient items that we use and have to replace, they are powerful elements of memory, comfort, and feeling loved.  What better reason to develop your own scented oasis then, a simple gesture that wherever you are in the world, allows a scented breeze to bring a loved one to mind or takes you home?  Here are my favorites:

BAIES is a classic.  I love a rose scented candle.  Feu De Beaumont (jasmine) is INCREDIBLE and the highest quality on the market currently in my opinion, along with Fleur 09 which we are currently burning and enjoying immensely. xx 


Collecting Entertaining Home Tables

Collector’s Corner: Glassware Favorites

April 30, 2018

It’s no surprise that I love to set the table.   I often use the glasses from my grandmother’s house in England which are our everyday — she bought so many that we all have a set.   They are simple, thin-rimmed wine glasses with an elegant shape.   I haven’t been able to find a similar set, but I think that it’s easy to use the same principal of having your foundation glassware and then padding it with fun finds: colored glass, etched, and incomplete sets or specialty glasses found on your travels.

I seek out glasses which are non-fussy and not t00 precious but do have an eye for the delicate/feminine vs. the clunky goblet.   So many of my grandmother’s glasses in France look very special but are 90’s Anthropologie which are elevated by their setting and the plates/napkins/linens.  Indeed, glassware is important but should remain neutral enough that you can use it in a variety of circumstances and not feel that you need too many complete sets (unless you are a fanatic like me!).

I love champagne glasses and have a complete set (12) of #4 which is my favorite pattern from Williams-Sonoma and comes in every type of glass you might need, from martini to tumbler; I think that they are pretty and timeless and special without being so special (given that they are from a larger company) that you worry if one breaks — very replaceable!  I also love numbers 1 & 3 for special occasions and 2 is a classic — Simon Pearce is great!  Below I have some fun vintage (or similar style) colored and etched glass which I love to collect, even in small numbers. 


(1/2/3/4 (similar, better??)/5/6/7)

And last, some household classics.   Most of my collections are clear and blue — the terra cotta in the photograph below are from our trip to Cuba in 2012.  They are for a special after dinner drink which is made from honey, lemon, hot water and rum and knocked Will & I sideways in a memorable fashion so had to be collected even though I use them more often as little bud vases!

(etched glasses, blue glasses, blue tumbler, blue stems, moroccan tea glasses)


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