I’ve recently purchased Meryl Gordon’s book on the life of taste-maker Rachel (Bunny) Mellon and I’m looking forward to spend some time with it over the weekend. The late American heiress and wife of banker Paul Mellon has been long admired for her chic homes and gardens (the only aspect I’m really interested about in this book) so naturally her old Cape Cod residence came to my mind. I’ve seen tours of all of her homes, out of which her Cape Cod estate was among her favorites, so I wanted to revisit the estate as it looks today.

The sprawling property includes 24 acres of Cape Cod shoreline on a private peninsula where the couple often entertained family and friends –  Nöel Coward, Jack and Jackie Kennedy were frequent visitors. After Bunny’s death, the home was purchased by Bill and Bridget Koch and underwent a sensible transformation under the magic of Million Dollar Decorator Kathryn M. Ireland. A terrific designer whose bold approach to interiors and fabrics I admire!

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This post has been a long time coming… writing about other people’s beautiful homes has been a wonderful escape – it helped me take my mind off the fact that we’re still trying to figure out where we will live next year. Sometimes I feel like we’re nomads. During the last six years we moved so many times, to such different places that it’s hard for me to know where “home” is anymore. My husband is a Mathematical Physicist pursuing an academic career which means hunting for jobs every couple of years (before getting a tenure track at one of our targeted schools) and moving hasn’t always been easy. We both love to travel and have been living abroad most of our adult lives, but lately we crave a forever home, a forever town, a forever country more than anything else.

Growing up I used to spend hours watching the trains close to my grandma’s house and somehow I always knew I’d end up living in faraway places. My dream has come true and it was a fun. exciting, adventurous life for a really long time. But as we’re growing older, we feel like we’re in a different place and need stability to start growing deeper roots. Not just for us but for our little love bug too.

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{ Our cutie loves barbecues  🙂 }

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I am totally obsessed with this kitchen designed by Juan Carretero, published in last month’s House Beautiful! Isn’t it wonderful? And did you notice how so many designers and homeowners prefer marble and granite, although soapstone can be equally beautiful and so much easier to care for?

I’ve long thought that soapstone had a farmhouse-like feel that  cannot lend itself to a more traditional mood but I have recently changed my mind. Case in point, in this kitchen by Carretero, the soapstone island countertop is paired with a more elegant marble perimeter and antiqued brass cabinet jewels. This creates not only a dramatic contrast but a stunning display of stones, in such a chic way.

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Juan Carretero

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“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

I came across an old room designed by one of my favorites, Steven Gambrel, and it made me think…it’s casual, it’s quirky and it breaks all the rules I’ve learned in design school! It also works out beautifully, as if by  magic!!

When it comes to decorating our homes, I believe rules should be taken with a grain of salt, more like guidelines than can help us through the process than ideas set to stone. And have  you noticed how most of the spaces we love are highly personal and breaking quite a few of those set “rules”? I say we make our own rules as we go along, and our only guide should be “surround yourself with things you love”. Who cares if it’s not perfect? If YOU love it, it’s good enough.  I for one would love to curl up in this perfectly imperfect nook, with a roaring fire, watching the snow outside!

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Once upon a time botanical art was all the rage. In fact, Frenchman Jacques Le Moyne des Morgues was one of the first European artists to ever visit the New World with the distinct task of recording the flora and fauna he discovered along the way. His sketches may have had a tragic fate but his depictions of plants and wildlife along Southeast coast of North America are unmatched, both in beauty and historical value. It is about these that I’d like to tell you more about.

Botanical illustration has been around for millennia. Scientists used them as a way to record details of different plant species, frequently in beautiful watercolor/gouche paintings. Although these illustrations are scientifically accurate and have started as a study tool, they often carry an artistic component that is hard to deny. Their beauty has made them popular in home décor as a way to invoke the beauty of natural elements indoors. I love botanical prints and in this day and age you can find many different styles – black and white, minimal contours, colorful reproductions of famed botanical expeditions… But by far, some of the most valuable and among my favorite, are those created by Jacques Le Moyne and reproduced by Theodore de Bry. They are not only breathtaking in color and detail  but are also 500 years old!!! Who said age comes before beauty, when clearly they go hand in hand!

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