Monthly Archives: November 2007

Christmas Past, Christmas Present, But No Christmas Future For House and Garden Magazine

I was disappointed to hear that the magazine House and Garden will end with their December issue. After ten years of trying, the magazine suffered from lack of subscriptions and tough competition from rivals. Dominique Browning, who had worked as editor for those years, expressed a sad farewell. Here is a portion of her letter to subscribers.

A magazine is a reflection of all the people who put it out, and I like to think that ours expressed integrity, intelligence, beauty and above all else, a passion for houses, gardens, and the life that weaves its way through every nook and cranny. Good Bye.”

As my small tribute to a magazine I’ve enjoyed over the years, I decided to show pictures from two House and Garden magazines. One from Christmas past, 1972 and the other from Christmas present, 2007. Sadly, there will be no Christmas future for House and Garden.


Christmas 1972, House and Garden featured many handcrafts for decorating and gifts. The felt stockings (below) were a big hit in our family. My mother made each of us children one with our names. I still have mine.


For those of you who remember the store in New York City called Wolfman-Gold and Good Company will appreciate this. Before that store, Peri Wolfman experimented in her home with…


…needlepoint pillows and stockings which she sold in kits. I love all the red gingham in her livingroom…


bedroom, and bathroom.


House and Garden’s last issue takes us to the home of Aerin Lauder for Christmas 2007.


The Lauder’s dining room is set for a wonderful holiday meal. Thank you House and Garden for giving us a feast for the eyes every month!

StyleFile #8: New Direction for Knits

Knitting. The final frontier. This is the voyage of knitting designers. To seek out new directions, to boldly go where no knits have gone before.”

I couldn’t resist using the Star Trek theme words with my StyleFile on knits. It seemed appropriate for what I see happening. Designers are exploring new ways of knitting through texture, scale, drape, and proportions. Here are some examples that I admire.


Designer and book author of Loop-d-Loop, Teva Durham shows her gift in creating wonderful knits that she herself describes as “a sense of adventure and a bit of whimsy.”


Wenlan Chia’s designs are a great combination of cosy and sophisticated. Her book, Twinkles’ Big City Knits is inspirational.


There’s been an interest in knitting with oversized stitches like this Giles scarf.


Check the scale here in this original hand-knit mini dress by Sandra Backlund.


Designers, like Tom Scott, are playing with proportions. Here he has created an asymmetrical sweater with one sleeve.


Anthropologie plays with draping. Notice the sides are longer than both the front and back.


And what BIG buttons it has!


Knits are short…


…and long. I love the hood with this.

Update- The gray cardigan is by Alessandro Dell’Acqua from his Fall RTW 2007 Collection (See look #7) Photo- Marie Claire, December 2007.


A traditional fair isle design is made into a pinafore.

(Photos- Loop-d-Loop, Twinkles, Marie Claire, Fiber Arts, Vogue Knitting, Anthropologie, Free People)

StyleFile #7: Advent Calendars

The first known Advent Calendar done by hand dates from 1851. There were earlier styles like the Advent clock where small pictures hung on the wall, one for each day in December or the Advent candle where a candle is lit every day much like today’s Advent wreath. Here are just a few that you can make or purchase.


A simple calendar made by sewing small pockets for gifts and a sleeve for a wooden dowel. The ornaments hanging off the ends are fun.


Very similar to the one above it, Garnet Hill‘s calender has pockets too. However this one hangs from metal grommets.


The calendar is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art store. I love this one for the many years my mother and I would go to the museum together for my birthday which is around Christmas time. Thanks Mom!


Martha Stewart Kids Magazine had some wonderful do-it-yourself calendars. The small tree above has pouches made of fabric and tied with ribbon. The chest below is made up of numbered matchboxes.


Made of wood, the advent calendar from Pottery Barn Kids will last for many holidays to come.


I always wanted to visit the Westminster Abbey. This calendar from Bas Bleu is as close to it as I could get.


A great way to display antique ornaments by using tags and numbers on a linen-covered bulletin board.


Don’t forget to check Etsy for more crafty versions of the calendars. ( Although this one is sold out, there are others to choose from.)


Another example of using matchboxes, this time several glued together and covered with printed paper. The fun part- hanging them from wire above the fireplace mantle.


(Photos- Living Etc., Garnet Hill, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Martha Stewart Kids, Pottery Barn, Bas Bleu, Etsy)

StyleFile #6: A Wedding With Red

Atlanta interior designer Nancy Braithwaite is a master of details. All you have to do is look at the photographs of her daughter’s wedding. It was held at Braithwaite’s home using two tents- one in the front of the house for cocktails and dancing, and the other in the back for dinner. The master stroke though is Braithwaite’s use of red. “We have to have a color. I think color is a great ‘theme’.” Her daughter Kiery agreed and the two headed to Barney’s in New York where the color presented itself in a wonderful pair of red shoes. Touches of red are everywhere.


They are in flowers, sweaters, and even buttons down the bride’s dress. Red umbrellas are stored in large baskets for guests to use.


The bridal party cross a small bridge toward the Braithwaite home. More red in Kiery’s shawl, groomsmen ties and even in the strawberry drinks that are served.


Big and beautiful wreaths decorate garage doors…


…and in the dancing tent. Chandeliers are lit with red candles.


The theme continues in the dinner tent with red tulips, anemones, and more candles.


A sweet touch to add to any wedding are pictures of parents and grandparents at their weddings. The newlyweds are in the front photograph.


(All photos- Southern Accents)

StyleFile #5: Domino’s Monthly Quote


Domino Magazine packs a lot between its pages but what I found interesting was on the cover. Or more accurately the spine of the magazine.


Every month Domino prints a quote about design (home, fashion or garden) by a famous person. Some of my favorite quotes from past issues are below-

“Housekeeping ain’t no joke.”-Louisa May Alcott

“My tastes are simple; I am easily satisfied with the best.”-Winston Churchill

“People are usually happiest at home.”-William Shakespeare

“The best rooms also have something to say about the people who live in them.”-David Hicks.

“The home should be the treasure chest of living.”-Le Corbusier

“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on.”-Henry David Thoreau

“A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”-Walt Whitman

“But above all, try something.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”-William Morris

“The first rule of decorating is that you can break almost all the other rules.”-Billy Baldwin

(Photos-  Martha B.)

StyleFile #4: Entwined Root Furniture and Accessories

After doing a StyleFile on decorative log-piles, I felt this was a natural follow up post. I’ve seen a growing interest with entwined root furniture. Perhaps it’s the Green trend toward using natural items in our home. What ever the reason, I find these pieces of furniture, which are made from actual tree roots, intriguing. There’s something about the gnarled surface that begs to be touched. Any of the pieces would work in a traditional setting but it would really be fun to put them in a modern one- like having a great wood sculpture.


I love the idea of using an entwined root table in a bedroom. Leave it to Anthropologie to create this perfect mix.


The combination of chairs and the painting with the root table is done with aplomb.


This is a rustic barn renovated with a contemporary interior. The designers used pieces like the root table to make a connection back to the barn and it’s country setting.


This sun room was a great place to put a root chair from Spruce.


A natural root side table perfect for any room is offered by Garnet Hill.


Another wonderful example of a root table. Check the detail of it below.


Artists craft accessories as well as furniture from the discarded tree root.


These containers and trays are beautiful examples and less expensive than the large furniture pieces.



(Photos- Anthropologie, British House and Garden, House and Garden, Elle Decor, Viva Terra)


Nordstrom Window Installations

One of the most enjoyable parts of working for Nordstrom was doing the eight, large, outside windows. These were done by our team of five people each month. It started with brainstorming and picking an idea, and then implementing it. We would construct, paint, and/or sew props; or track down sources for props we couldn’t build, select correctly-posed mannequins, and choose the clothing, jewelery, and wig fashions. Then we’d spend four days installing. When finished, we would go outside to see how they looked. It was so worth the effort, even if it meant that in a few short weeks, they’d have be cleared out for the next installation, and we’d start the whole process again.


These windows may look like a simple installation, but they weren’t.


We had to be careful of the white seamless paper. If a chair, mannequin, or one of us ripped or stained the paper, we’d have to start over. We also wanted each window to have differently stacked chairs. This required some creative prop wiring.


Each window was a unique picture, so mannequin placement was important. Before unveiling the windows, we used lighting to accent the mannequins and props. To enhance the clothing colors we used lights with colored gels.

(Photos- Martha B.)

KidFile #1: A Walk in the Woods


My son Curt loves using our digital camera and like most children he finds it fun to take pictures and see the results instantly. He enjoys taking pictures of all kinds of things I would never think of- drain pipes, our neighbor’s brick wall, moss growing on the side of the garage, a fallen petal from the rose bush and a foot print left in the snow by our dog. One fall day he and I took a trip to Harriman State Park for a walk. I gave him the home school assignment of photographing our day. Here are some of his photographs along with his comments-


“I liked the light coming through the leaves.


So many tall trees.


One yellow leaf caught my attention.


A carpet of moss.


At the top of the mountain we could see everything.”

Encourage children to use your camera with supervision. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results. Also, the magazine Lens Work is wonderful even if your child is too young to understand everything in it. Curt loves the interviews with the professional photographers.

(All photos- Curtis B. age 9)

StyleFile #3: Quirky and Fun Wedding Bouquets

A visit to your local Whole Foods or a walk in the park can be the inspiration for some very different bouquets. Check the produce aisle for vegetables or fruits that you can use on their own or mixed in with your flowers. For example, full heads of cauliflower can make an unexpected bouquet. Look for names like- “Cheddar” which offers a yellow-orange colored head, “Graffiti” which is purple and “Amazing” or “Callisto” which are both white. Push a metal dowel into the back of the cauliflower head in order for your bridesmaids to hold it.


Other supermarket finds could include chives,


big, red, radishes,


or for something dramatic, a single stalk of artichoke.


A walk in the park, woods, or even your back yard can yield some unexpected bouquets. Try bundles of forsythia,


pussy willow,


or grasses.


These bouquets of grasses can simply be gathered together with more strands of grass, twine or ribbon.


Enjoy the search for something different like this beautiful combination of ferns and holly.


(Photos from Organic Gardening, House Beautiful, American Homestyle & Gardening, MS Living, Country Living Gardener, and J.Crew)

You Can Never Have Too Many Books!


I can’t imagine life without books. I remember when I was a teenager, I babysat for a family that had no books anywhere in the house-it didn’t feel like a home! I found out later they didn’t like to read. On the other hand our family had enough to start our own small town library. My parents both had books from their childhoods, their colleges, and their graduate schools. Then came thirty years worth of National Geographic and the books of three children. I’ve carried on the same tradition. My husband and I each came into our marriage with books and we’ve gotten many more. We’ve given our son books for birthdays, for Christmases and for the tooth fairy. This past summer we had to put a larger bookcase in his bedroom to accommodate them all. My husband and I designed bookcases for other parts of our home as well. In the attic we installed some under the eaves. We also built them in our living room and floor to ceiling shelves in our home office. What will happen when we run out of space in our bookshelves? I’m not sure. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.


The photograph above shows the shelves in our living room while it was under construction. These shelves are on both sides of the french doors to create an intimate place for reading and doing puzzles. We painted them and they now hold our collection of hardcover books. The library table is an Arts & Crafts antique from the Madison-Bouckville, N.Y. Antique Show held every August.


(Photos- Martha B.)