Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Country Life at Winterthur

Why do I love Winterthur? Perhaps it’s the extraordinary collection of American decorative arts housed in the stately Du Pont home. Maybe it’s the bucolic setting in the picturesque Delaware Brandywine Valley. Or, the specimen trees, shrubs and rare plants on the estate’s naturalistic landscape. I would say all of the above. 

Winterthur was the country home of Henry Francis Du Pont---industrialist, collector and horticulturalist. Unlike his contemporaries collecting European furnishings, Du Pont had a passion for furniture, antiques and decorative arts made or used in America. He furnished his 175 room home with the best of the best. Always with the intention of sharing his collections, he opened Winterthur to the public in 1951.

I love to visit this special home, museum, library, and horticultural gem. Winterthur, to me, is gracious country living in a magical setting. Enjoy these photos from my weekend trip.
The formal box scroll garden adorned with ornaments.
 The last few peony flowers in the walled peony garden. Sadly the peak was over, but still so beautiful.
 The stately conservatory fitted with bronze and glass windows and doors.
 A lattice pavilion with carved millstone as stoop.
 Lilies and ferns naturalizing in the woodlands.
 Elaborate terracing leads down to the formal reflecting (formerly swimming) pool.
 I love the steep land - looking back and up towards the house.
 A bronze sea horse.
 Potted plants on the upper loggia.
 An intricate fan light and elaborate moldings.
 Classical style furnishings with delicate fretwork.
    An impressive curved, floating staircase.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shopping at Terrain



I get really excited before a field trip up to Terrain in the Brandywine Valley of PA. GPS programmed, check. EZ Pass toll card, check. Station wagon readied, check. Let's go!

With 2 locations, Terrain is the super cool and uber stylish nursery with the most amazing selection of plants, ornaments, furniture, accessories, books, textiles, and everything fabulous for home and garden. The PA store is located on the grounds of a former nursery, Styers, and features a charming restaurant in the old greenhouse---make a reservation as it is popular. Oh, and BTW, Terrain is owned by Urban Outfitters / Anthroplogie. So, you know the displays are gonna be awesome!

Recently, I invited my friend, Elaine, to join me on a field trip up to Terrain.  We got there early so I could snap these photos:

 A fantastic offering of the latest books on gardening, design, cooking, living, etc.
 Terrariums were everywhere!
 
 This terrarium is made from a large vintage apothecary bottle.
 Gravel and rocks for your own terrariums.
 I love this olive tree!
European table top linens.
 Fine tools
 Topiary standard cranesbill geraniums in bloom.
 An awesome display of pots and containers!
 The restaurant / cafe in the old greenhouse serves organic cuisine.
 
 Our drinks were served in vintage canning jars - NICE!
 I saved my favorite for last: a summer cottage on the grounds. Notice the burlap curtains.

 Lovely displays inside the cottage.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Timeless Swedish Style

I am so grateful when clients ask for my assistance in furnishing and decorating their house. Imagine how thrilled I was when I had the opportunity to help my good friend and client, Linda, with another home. I had worked on the previous home, but what made the second experience so special and effortless were the following:

-We were able to reuse everything from the prior one. Curtains and hardware, furniture, rugs, etc. Nothing was wasted.  
-The familiarity and connection had already been established, allowing us to move rather quickly.
-The house, built in 1928, has the most amazing architecture, bones and timeless details.

As this home was previously published in the Washington Post and, featured also on Cote de Texas, I'd like to share some new photos I took recently. Enjoy this lovely home from my perspective.
 Hinson's aqua-blue seagrass wallpaper in the library. Notice the tall floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors.
 Antique French slipper chair is upholstered in Bennison's Christmas Roses. The antique bench with nailhead trim is from Belgium. A George Smith sofa in chocolate mohair velvet gives the room a luxurious, masculine touch, and the wool carpet with its trellis design hints at the garden just beyond the French doors. I converted an antique marble urn into a lamp. It sits on a Swedish pedestal table from Tone on Tone.
Pair of original windows with leaded diamond pattern in the renovated kitchen.
 
 Linda chose a classic look for the kitchen with white cabinetry accented with a farm sink and graceful gooseneck faucet. Notice the extra thick marble counter tops, which are very popular today.
We painted the kitchen floors in a checkerboard tone-on-tone gray.
Peonies from the cutting garden.
One of my favorite architectural elements in the house is the living room's stunning limestone mantel with a tapered chimney breast (not shown). It looks especially handsome with the English polished steel fixtures from the 19th century. The French Napoleon III clubchairs I found in Paris. Pillow fabric is Shalmaz from Sheila Coombes.
ABOVE: A sculptural Swedish Mora clock in the living room with beamed ceiling, arched doorway and French doors. 

BELOW: The sunroom is very Swedish inspired with its antique Gustavian settee and Rococo tea table, both from Tone on Tone.
There is new radiant heating under the limestone tiles, which are laid in the Versailles pattern. I adore the window's period brass hardware - so charming!
Antique French armchair / fauteuil in Chelsea Textiles small checks. The zinc rooster weathervane came from the family home.
An original forged and wrought iron gate.
I suggested a boxwood and gravel side garden when grass wouldn't grow there.
The landscape was designed by the late Michael Bartlett, a renowned landscape architect. There are numerous boxwood, trained ivy columns, climbing roses, peonies, hydrangeas, and stately old trees.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing more photos of this beautiful, timeless home. A very special thanks to Linda!
Cheers,
Loi

Friday, May 11, 2012

Once a Year!

Once a year, a certain wildling outside our kitchen window redeems itself with a spectacular show. We inherited this quite old and unruly shrub, and had planned to remove it after completion of the house renovation. The contractors even whacked it back severely. The whacking stopped one spring when I noticed an abundance of white flowers. White! Be still my heart! What have we done to this poor thing? Well, in our defense it does look rather pedestrian when not in bloom. After some research, I learned the shrub is a deutzia. For two weeks each spring, she becomes my dazzling deutzia!

In addition to the deutzia, these plants are blooming now.

 Ms. Deutzia in full bloom outside our gray kitchen
 I took this photo on a clear blue sky morning
 A portico bench in the potting area next to the deutzia
 
In front, white shrub roses are blooming
 These single white roses will bloom continuously from May to October
 American wisteria vines on the pergola terrace
 
 
 This is mischievous Mocha not wanting to come inside. You all met her brother Panda recently.
     Amsonia "Blue Ice" and alliums blooming in the blue garden