28 January 2012


Every year around this time I get a craving for spring that can only be sated by a visit to Longwood Gardens -- more specifically to the massive greenhouse that is home to an ever-changing array of tropical plants and orchids. The combination of humidity (even man-made) and layer-upon-layer of fragrances is intoxicating. Whatever my mood going in, I leave with a fresh perspective and a reminder that winter does not last forever. Perhaps because of this yearly pilgrimage, I've developed a taste for bringing botanical elements into the home. Old classroom posters, book plates, terrariums, forced bulbs -- all are welcome. I'm sure it's no accident that the Philadelphia Flower Show takes place in March. Just when we're all suffering from snow fatigue and our skin has turned green from hibernation, along comes an invasion from the natural world. This year, I'm not waiting for the flower show. I'm staging a mini invasion of my own at home.

Images: 1) Elle Decoration magazine, June 2011 Issue. 2 and 3) British Homes & Gardens magazine, November 2010 issue and November 2011 issue. 4) BBC Homes & Antiques magazine, November 2011 issue. 5 and 6) Vogue Living magazine, November/December 2011 issue. 7) Period Living magazine, July 2011 issue.

13 January 2012

Fireplace Mantels

In college, the choir that I belonged to spent every spring break touring one section of the country. We would perform in churches and then divide up into pairs to stay the night with the brave parishioners who were willing to host us. Some nights I stayed in suburban mansions and other nights the accommodations were a little less roomy (a trailer in Indianapolis comes to mind). The very first night on a tour of the Midwest my freshman year is the one I remember best. The house was average and the family was welcoming -- fixing hot cocoa and inviting us into the kitchen for conversation. That night, my friend was placed in a small guest room while I was put up on a mattress in the living room. I might have been disappointed if it weren't for the fact that the fireplace was lit and its warmth kept me company most of the night. Since then, the dream house in my mind has always included a working fireplace (though the house itself has morphed from a city loft to a lodge to a stone cottage throughout the years). Even when there is no possibility of setting a real fire, a mantel can add a focal point and architectural interest to an otherwise bland room. In the summer, it can house a giant bouquet of dried hydrangeas. In the winter, a mass of candles approximates the effect of a real fireplace. Fitting a mantel with an upholstered piece of plywood turns it into a headboard with a handy shelf for books. A mantel headboard gives new meaning to the idea of falling asleep in front of the fireplace.

Images: Vogue Living magazine, November/December 2011 issue. Period Living magazine, October 2010 issue. BBC Homes & Antiques magazine, September 2010 issue. Country Living magazine, British Edition, April 2011. Girl at HomePoetic Home.
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