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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

xxx

Entertaining Home Style

Pamper Yourself with India Hicks

May 17, 2018

How do I begin to express my admiration for India Hicks?    I have known about her for years and, like many of us, have avidly followed her design and lifestyle trendsetting ideas.  I am a sun lover and have fantasized about building a house in the tropics for years.   So, naturally, I’ve gazed endlessly at India’s Bahamian paradise of a home and have applauded her for being brave enough to build a beautiful and rich life on a tiny island; it takes courage to step away from the familiar.   From my perspective, India is a leader in showing how to celebrate her beautiful, extended family while growing an extraordinary career, from design to health awareness, and all the while reminding us to enjoy fun and play every day.   She is cool, she is beautiful, she is inclusive, and always seems unselfconsciously and fully herself — it makes her very easy to respect and a fantastic role model for us, her audience, and, of course, for her children.

I was deeply honored to be asked both to speak about India and to test out some of the products from her lifestyle line.  While the first request was easy – I can speak endlessly about her — I must confess to an initial hesitancy about the second.  As someone trying to develop my own commercial point of view, or “brand”, I’ve made a study of people who have introduced and promoted products as part of supporting their “brands” and, too often, the products are subpar, thereby detracting from the strength of their vision.  Not surprisingly, I should not have doubted for a second. The quality, love and care that India has put into her line — each and every product — is phenomenal:  The scents are delicious, the jewelry is so well made (the weight of the gold charms is exactly as it should be, the flexible chain length ideal), and the handbags are simply exquisite.

 Golden Fan Earrings Coral 

Hook Flamingo Bracelet 

 Golden Fan Earrings Desert Pink

Essential Chain, Gold

India Hicks x Figue 

( The tunic SO comfortable and cute for day or night, only available until the end of June!)

India has brought her exacting sensibility and lack of compromise to her line and has created an original mix of beautiful, high-quality products.  For example, she collaborated with one of my favorite design brands, Figue, to make this tunic pictured on me here (and by the way I am not taking it off so be prepared to see a lot of it!).  Additionally,  I hadn’t been swayed to switch from my perfume of choice since I was eleven until I tried India’s “English Rose” scent — even Will adores it.  Speaking of scent, her scented candles are equally delicious and I love every combination she has put together.  And, for constant inspiration, I would always highly recommend all of her beautiful books, also available through the shop.

Eau De Parfum English Rose (DELICIOUS)

 India Hicks Island Style

  India Hicks A Slice of England

 Candle Casuarina (divine!)

India has an Ambassador program which enables the entrepreneurial woman to build her own lifestyle business (via India’s brand, collection, tools and support).    And, she has set a challenge of raising $100,000 for charity in 100 days.   Will and I will be hosting a “Get Together/Give Together” event in July at our house in Charleston where you can come to buy her lovely products, knowing that a percentage of the sale proceeds will be given to a charity of our choice.  How cool is that??

Thank you India Hicks for sponsoring this post!! Proud to be part of the tribe!

Entertaining Home Style

Collector’s Corner: Essential Placemats

May 14, 2018

I have been holding off on my favorite topics — sheets, plates, etc.  for France as I would love to be able to really explore my Grandmother’s collection when we arrive next week!!    Placemats might be mistaken for a mundane item but can be a great contributor to a lively table and are essentials in our house.   We mostly rely on our woven ones which are our “everyday”  of which we have 24 (here is an upgraded version, and some in blue) but have some special blue and white, and I love cork rectangular/square/circles too.  My mother sent me new fabulous ones for Mother’s day which I can’t wait to show you — going to reveal properly with a themed table soon 🙂

We have our everyday and then maybe five or six sets of special (maybe more now) placemats which are great additions for mixing up a tabletop.   A full collection for us is 12 (we have 24 of our everyday as mentioned above), and then we have lots of incomplete but totally functional sets of six or eight.  The cork placemats above are from pottery barn and are really fun — so easy to wipe down and fun for many occasions, I love collecting just six for smaller parties.   I also love these stars for the summer, and these for breakfast.   A full collection is 12-24 for me!  The Matouk placemats below are our most treasured and most special.  They are my favorite color and the most beautiful layered linen.  Definitely worth the splurge for special occasions, like the holidays!  As are these fun rounds in both gold and silver. 

I love the quilted texture of the round tropical above, and the bottom two are very smart and very reasonable — you won’t worry if your guests spill their red wine on them!   Here are two companies — India Amory and Pomegranate Inc.  — where I love to grab block print placemats from and are a little off the beaten path.

And for formal cork, I retreat to Scully & Scully for the best of the best.  What are your favorites?? xxx

Charleston Entertaining Home Style Tables

A Quick & Easy Table for Two

May 11, 2018

Ah we have had a crazy week of cramming in everything before I leave today for Massachusetts to shoot a quick wedding for Vogue.com !   We are trying to get all of our wedding work completed before we leave for France, a week from Monday.  Needless to say, we have been racing around and hardly making time for family this week.  We decided to have a quick impromptu dinner outside (out of the editing “cave” and into the light!) en famille before I head out.

Today it hit 90 degrees — quite a reminder that summer is nearly here/has arrived??  I’m definitely having that “what should I wear in this heat” moment and so have lined up all of my linen and cotton for this warmer weather.  Nothing beats a solid white tee shirt with a long skirt — timeless, classic, feminine.   This outfit reminds me of my mother in my childhood, which is a good thing!  Also fun to set out some of my favorite plates and new napkins for our dinner for two!   This tablecloth reminds me so much of France and made me feel even more excited, as if it were possible!

I hope that everyone has fun plans for the weekend — I will be reporting from the Berkshires, which are still chilly but breathtaking and I am excited!! Let me know if you have any recommendations!! xxx

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