Life By Design. Inside and Out. Fourth Edition.

This is the Fourth Edition in a series of creative perspectives about life and the design process from Garden Designer, Heather McLean and myself.  You can read Heather's blog here!

This summer I took a day to stop and be inspired in my own backyard.  Heather came to Boston and we had the opportunity to look at an historical home and garden together to create this edition of Life By Design.  Looking Back for wonderful Inspiration for Today! Join us for a little history tour ... and lots of classic design tips!

The Longfellow House, home to Henry and Frances Appleton Longfellow was built in 1759 and became home to the Longfellow's in 1843.  The house also served as General George Washington's headquarters during the Siege of Boston from July 1775 to April 1776. Pretty Fancy lineage!

For some reason, I was anticipating a far more austere interior.  What I was delighted to find was a beautiful mixture of styles that were the direct result of personal treasures, American colonial pieces that represent their love for the past, items brought in from world travel and interests, a huge influence of Japanese and Chinese style resulting from Charles' (their oldest son) twenty month travel in Asia.  He shipped over 20 crates of furniture and decorative items to their new home in Cambridge.  Wouldn't I have loved to be on the receiving end of those crates!!

The Collection. The Detail.  

Wallpaper.  Gallery Wall.  Altar Table.  This 'trend' is just as spot on today as it was in the 1800's! Wonderful staying power!

A beautiful Chinoiserie Corner ... Fauteuil chair, garden stool, and matching drapes.  

Crown moldings everywhere and in the non-minimalist style ... a little added punch for the cornice.  Crown. Metal. Fringe. Tassels.  Alrighty then!

A detail shot of the floral drapes in the French corner.  Braided trim ... with a beautiful wallpaper backdrop. I know, wallpaper comes and goes.  But overall, it is a trend that will never truly go out of style.

The curator didn't know who made the wallpaper, but I found it very fresh in its' old fashioned way.  Fun fact that the original chinoiserie wallpaper is still in tact underneath this one.  It dates back to the mid 18th Century.

One of the highlights of the house for me was this bamboo trim around the wall.  Brown grass wallpaper with a bamboo molding.  Fabulous!  Another interesting move in the house is that they ran out of library space for their books.  So several windows were turned into bookshelves.  While I am never one to forgo a natural light source, it worked in this house ... with window treatments and all!  Just shows what we'll do for a good collection!

A close up of more detail.  The mouldings were everywhere.  While in some cases this might be a little ostentatious ... it really didn't feel that way in this house.  The architecture is beautifully over the top, but the furnishings actually very simple which resulted in a restful balance.

Another detail ... in the bedrooms there were "indoor" shutters that had a spot to tuck away into the frame around the window seat.  I am a huge fan of the plantation shutter, but this may have trumped that love!  Try to ignore the black out shades put there now to preserve the colors and textures as much as possible!

And oh how I love a good lock!  Don't overlook your HARDWARE!  I want a door to be SOLID, the locks and knobs to have substance when you touch them.  Otherwise ... why have the door??? 

Thanks for stopping by to take an impromtu Design History Tour with me ... Nothing we do is really new, just a different spin. Taking from our past and making it relate to today's lifestyle.  I love being reminded of how our history is laced with beauty.  

Travel is one of the most inspirational things I can do to fire up my creativity and allow me to look at things differently.  But I try not to forget that there are many treasures right in my backyard!  

In the words of Longfellow ... 

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
    To stay at home is best. 

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
    To stay at home is best. 

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O'er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
    To stay at home is best. 

Pop over to Heather's blog and see what we found in the Garden here at the Longfellow House!