Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lovely, Lovely Charleston

Since visiting this home last year during one of Charleston's home and garden tours, I have been dying to post about it but waited until it fit into my plan (even though it often seems there is no plan).  Posting about my favorite homes keeps their images available for me to easily revisit again just as I hope they do you.  Like the Wyeth homes, like Ina's home, like Meg Ryan's home, and like the Belgian homes yet to come, I fell in love with this one and am very excited to share it with you.

In one of my infamous "detours," I shared images with you from this year's tour of Savannah's homes and gardens, but the year before, while visiting my same dear friend, we visited Charleston's homes and gardens.  We always have such fun, but when we viewed this home, my visit was a complete success.  I went through the house twice, while my patient friend waited in the garden.  After I returned home, I called the Charleston garden club to inquire if they might share the owners' email with me because I had a question about her kitchen floor.  The member called the owner who does not email but instead gave me her telephone number.  I called, left a message, and expected to never hear from the owner again.  The next day, she called and we had a delightful conversation.  I explained how much I loved her home and mentioned the particular details that caught my eye and asked about her kitchen floor.

Enough of my blathering, let's look at the home which was written up in Charleston Magazine, a copy of which the owner so generously sent to me.  Talk about southern hospitality!

The owners standing in their front door.  As soon as I saw this entry, I knew I was in for something very special.

This is the foyer where the first docent greeted us and gave a history of the house.  I could have stood there forever; it was so blessedly cool and so very beautiful. (Note that some of my images are smaller and blurrier than others.  These are the ones I took directly from Charleston magazine's website.  The larger, clearer images came from the copy of the magazine that the owner sent to me.  I wanted you to see as much of this home as possible, even if slightly blurry.)

Then we turned to the right and entered the dining room.  The docent here explained that the owner is a Francophile and that the screen in front of the hearth was found in France, used there as a former balcony.  It was shipped home where it now rests in the owner's Charleston dining room.

More of the dining room and the wonderful armoire which I think is also French.  (Guess I should have posted sooner when it was still fresh in my mind.)

Buffet-scape.  Note the lampshades.

Leaving the dining room, through the foyer again and into the living room.  I never usually am a drapery fan, but these beige silk taffeta ones fit the rooms so perfectly.  The owner explained she never draped the upper windows because with these privacy was not an issue and she wanted the light.  Again, note the lampshades.

This room is a bit formal for me, but so, so beautiful.  The neutral colors are everything that I love.  The framed paintings across the room are visible in the mirror.

Coffee table details with a glimpse back into the foyer.

More coffee table detail.

View of the living room from the music room.

Detail of the small side table above.

Again, the antique paintings all in gold-leaf frames on living room wall opposite the sofa.

More complete view.  Love how symetrically the paintings and chairs are arranged.  I need more symmetry in my life.

Below is a blurry view (sorry) looking from the living room into the music room with its grand piano then a glimpse into the library.  The owner told me her husband bought the piano for her after she had survived a very serious illness.

Looking from the music room back toward living room.

Music room wall with more collected paintings before you step  into the kitchen.  This home has the prettiest pillows.

Better view of the piano and library.

The library with its chinoiserie screen over the sofa.  I absolutely loved this room.  Not one of today's  "great rooms" but instead a smallish room with a tiny flatscreen TV on a table to the right.  Very tasteful - as is the whole house.

Finally, a really clear image of this room with the music room's piano in the foreground.  The antique leather books and china on the shelves have been lovingly collected over the years.  Notice that the bookcases, designed by the owners, have the keystone at their top.  And the floors throughout the downstairs are marble, until we get to the kitchen.

This was the last room on the tour and it is a "kitchen I have loved" of course.  The brick floors, the huge Wolf range, the stainless refrigerator and freezer, the copper cookware, the wine cooler, the blue and white china, and the long windows (out of site behind the stools) - it all spoke to me.  I never wanted to leave the room and exit to the secret garden and courtyard.

Close-up of the china in the cupboard toward the rear of the room.

Close-up items atop the Wolf range.

The owner in her kitchen.  To my question.  I asked her how the brick floor was to clean.  What happened when you dropped an egg on it?  She was so informative and told me the floor had many coats of clear finish on it and also that she and her husband frequently dine out because Charleston has so many wonderful restaurants.  I've thought long and hard about a brick floor in my kitchen; the adjoining mudroom has one, but I feared brick in the kitchen might not be a good idea.  Now, I'm inspired.

This is the TV room upstairs.  It was not on the tour, but appeared in the magazine and its website.  The sofa and chairs all seem to be focused on the out-of-site TV.  The owner told me her upstairs rooms are of a more New England flavor with the Oriental rugs, shutters and antiques.

Remember my asking you to notice the lamp shades in the downstair rooms?  When I spoke with the homeowner, I asked was it on purpose that all her shades were black, and she said, "Yes.  It's my way of having a unifying stream of color though out the entire house."  Thought this was very interesting concept and noticed my own home has all black or cream-colored shades.  Been thinking of doing the same thing this creative woman did and changing to all black shades.

And lastly their courtyard and secret garden.  The windows on the left belong to the kitchen, the windows to the right are the library's.  And one of these very chairs is where I found my patient friend after my second go-through.  This house really was an inspiration and its owner could not have been more helpful.  As she said when she called me the second time, "We are new best friends now."  I love Charleston.

Thank you for hanging with me through this long and sometimes blurry journey.  I leave you with several delicious looking summer images for all you patience.



Next time, it's Kiawah Island.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Another One of My Detours

I know this post was promised to be all about southern decor, and I really do have that planned.  But then, last week a friend and I traveled to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, a destiny she had never been but one to which my husband and I had traveled often.  I have not been in ten years, but oh how I still love this area.  Hence, my detour today.  Bear with me.  (Hold this thought: Kennett Square is six hours south of where I live.)

Our first destination was Longwood Gardens.  Here Pierre DuPont left a legacy of inspiration for
garden lovers.  I remember my husband carefully leaning into garden beds to read the names of plants and trees we loved as I just as carefully recorded them.  Last week, I viewed the garden in rain and humidity and did not even take my notebook or phone/camera out of the car.  Wrestling umbrella, small purse and phone held no appeal for me, but here are a few pics from Longwood's website and googleimages.

I have always loved this structure near the pond in the west part of the garden.  Longwood is known for its magnificent fountains, but those do not appeal to me.  To me it is Longwood's quiet serenity that is most appealing, just like below.

This urn is one of my favorite water features.  The vessel continually overflows in its niche surrounded by annuals.  It is perfection.

Pierre du Pont first purchased the acres that make up Longwood in order to save the mature tulip trees which grew on the property.  He then enlarged the house (below) which he purchased with the land.  The French door-windows are able to descend below ground so that plants may be moved to and from the small house conservatory.  When my son was in school in DC, he would take the train to Media, Pa. and spend time with us at Longwood.  We would sit on the porch to the left of the conservatory, discuss family news, and really be miffed when anyone else sat on the porch - it felt like our porch for a little while.

The topiary garden behind the rose garden.  All my children used to pat the topiaries.  They have such tactile appeal - the shrubs, not my children. 

Another view of the topiary garden and a glimpse of a structure similar to the one in my first image.  DuPont  knew the power of repetition which gave continuity to his garden masterpiece.

My husband and I used to sit in these very chairs, rest and enjoy the tower garden.  They were missing this visit, but then they would have been rain-soaked anyway.

A first glimpse of the main conservatory DuPont built.  Always awe-inspiring.

Next conservatory.

After Longwood, we visited an antique shop, checked into our hotel, had dinner and planned our next day.  In the morning, we started with the Brandywine River Museum.  My friend knew little about the Wyeths and their school of painting, but by the end of our day, she was hooked.

One of the current exhibits features Jamie Wyeth and his paintings from Monhegan Island, Maine.
Monhegan is a definite destination-must for me this summer.  Like me on Pierre DuPont's porch, Jamie wished all other artists would leave Monhegan so it would be only his inspiration.

On one of my husband's and my visits to the Brandywine River Museum, we viewed NC Wyeth's home and studio.  I was thrilled with actually being in the same rooms where the Wyeth children opened Christmas gifts and ate dinner, to be in the same room where illustrations of Treasure Island  and Last of the Mohicans were created.  This time Andrew Wyeth's studio was open for view.  I'm not sure my friend was thrilled with the idea of viewing it, but she was by the time we left.

Above is an image of the studio from a portfolio of postcards I purchased.  We were not allowed to take any interior pictures, but we could take them outside.  Several of the following images are my pics.

Below is a close-up of the sign gleaned from my postcard portfolio.  I asked the docent if people actually tried to approach Wyeth this way.  She said they did.

Another of my pics.

The following images are from my postcards.  Andrew had given Jamie part of the studio.  Here we see sketches Jamie did of all the Kennedy men in preparation for his portrait of John as president.  In the mirror, which both Jamie and his father used as an aid to completing their work, we see the finished portrait of John, completed after his assassination.  I asked the docent (I was a busy little questioner but tried to limit them so as not to be an annoying member of our group.) why the Kennedys never commissioned Andrew to do the portrait.  She said it was because Andrew didn't take commissions - Andrew painted whatever Andrew wanted to paint.  So cool.

Below is a kas given to Andrew by their pediatrician.  She treated the Wyeth children and Andrew paid her with his paintings.  In return she gave him the kas which figured in many of his later paintings and is surrounded by familiar props used in his work.

This is Andrew's part of the studio.  Note the mirror here also.  The building was once used as an old school, and when the ceiling was repaired for the studio, it was repaired keeping the look of the old ceiling at Andrew's insistence.  It cost ten times more than it would have if just drywalled over.  So cool.  In the foreground is the palette Wyeth used to mix his temperas - a mixture of egg yolk and pigment which gave him the textures he was seeking.

And here are the pigment powders he purchased from all over the world.  (If you are interested in Wyeth homes in Brandywine country, do check out some of my earlier posts from last year.  I spent quite a few posts on Wyeth interiors, one of my first design loves because their rooms are so authentic and true.)

After the Brandywine Museum and the Wyeths in the morning, we moved onto Francis DuPont's Winterthur and his collections in the afternoon.

I had perviously been on several tours at Winterthur and knew the one with earlier antiques would really appeal to my early-antique-minded friend.  Well, it wasn't offered that day, but after talking to a woman at the welcoming center, she said she would she what she could do.  What she did was arrange a private tour just for the two of us.  So cool and so thoughtful.
The image below is a dresser that started Francis DuPont's fascination with American antiques.  Previous to this epiphany, he had collected antiques world-wide.

Again, no photos were allowed here, so this image of what we saw is from googleimages.

Ditto this.

And this.

Please note the beautiful highboy in this room.  If you recall from previous posts, I love highboys.  My single one is nothing as lovely as DuPont's myriad.

After Winterthur, we had a little time to kill before our dinner reservation.  I wanted to visit the garden center where my husband and I purchased two huge pots (I remember my son seeing them in the back of the car when we visited him in DC.  He laughingly commented there was no room for him.  There almost wasn't.), many plants, and three lighted grapevine spheres for the holidays.  Well, Styers is now "Terrain at Styers" and it is fabulous.  (Loi, I think you wrote a post on Terrain, but till this visit, I never connected it to the old Styers I knew.)  Loved this garden structure almost reminiscent of the one in Longwood.

Then we went inside.  My friend and I split into different directions.  When passing by each other, she commented, "I could do some serious damage in this place.  It's great."  I loved the funkiness of this container with water dripping into it from above.

Everything below caught my eye - the finish of the table with plants marching down the center and  the very Tolix-esque chairs surrounding it all.

And this.  The mirrors reflecting the lighting feature, those wicker chairs, the round table, the dresser with the black drawers and stained top.  Wrap it all up.  I'll take it.

Everything was displayed in a very cool way.

From orchids...

to the garden-tool wreath in a dining area...

to the ladies restroom.  Sorry, I had to take pics of it.  So cool and funky.

My tiny purchases from Terrain - no tables, or chairs, or highboys, but I like my linen bag of wonderfully fragrant something which now scents my car and bedroom (had to purchase two), a pot of succulents and cool stone candle holder.  I felt like a lucky woman.

After tearing ourselves away from Terrain, we dined at Dillworthtown Inn and talked about our visit.  Such a great time.

Not forgetting the supposed topic of my blog from which I stray constantly, I leave you with this image of a funky little kitchen as seen in Atlanta Home and Lifestyle.  I think I like it so much because of the pendants and the ladder.  If it's not antique, then it has to be cool and funky...or English, or spare, or neutral, or Saladino-esque, or Darryl Carter's work.  So, so conflicted!
Next time, no detour.  Back to my southern series. 

Bear with me - my detours, and my blatherings -