I’ve had this glorious English estate on my mind for quite some time so I embarked on a virtual tour… One of the finest castles in the Lake District, Levens Hall dates back to the late 14th-century and has the oldest and most beautiful topiary garden in the world. Trims and hair cuts can take as “little” as six months but it is all worth it. Abstract geometric shapes, lavender, pansies and delphinium borders make these gardens an unforgettable experience, if only a virtual one. Come join me!


“The first dwelling at Levens was a medieval pele tower, built by the de Redman family of Yealand Redmayne. The Bellingham family, who were wealthy landowners, chose Levens as their main residence in the 1590s and incorporated the fortified tower into a gentleman’s residence. They employed local craftsmen to carve the oak panelling, incorporated elaborate Italian plasterwork, including Elizabeth the First’s coat of arms and stained glass – all of which can be seen today.

The historic house became the property of Colonel James Grahme in 1688 after his career at Court in the service of King James II. He brought with him a young French gardener, Guillaume Beaumont, a pupil of le Notre at Versailles, to plan a fashionable garden at Levens. This family home contains fine furniture, paintings, one of the best examples in Europe of Spanish leather wall coverings, the earliest English patchwork, Wellingtoniana, clocks and miniatures, and has become one of the finest stately homes in south Cumbria.”


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My Pinterest feed knows me so well! This past weekend I came across the prettiest farmhouse living room that Pinterest thought I might love and it gave me so much joy! When it comes to decor I like rooms that have rich layers of time-worn details and patina. There’s a fine line between shabby and chic but this room is both and so much more. It has beauty and charm in spades, but it also feels old and elegant – like a centuries-old English cottage filled with treasures. It took a little sleuthing to track down the details but I finally found its source. The property is in Hudson Valley, New York and is known locally as River House. It was published in 2015 in The World of Interiors and it belonged to antiques dealer Ron Sharkey, which explains all those pretty treasures. He has since sold the house and moved on to bigger and greater things (although judging by this room, I can’t imagine anything better) so I thought I’d share with you my findings. For a full tour on Zillow, see this link.

“c.1840 FARMHOUSE KNOWN AS RIVER HOUSE. This historic property sited on the banks of the Rondout in complete seclusion. Much sought after details include wide pine board floors and beamed ceilings. French doors lead to expansive blue stone patios and a setting that can only be described as magical. Glass enclosed and screen porch. Sweet outbuildings include a studio with gas hook up and electric.” – Zillow


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A few weeks ago I started a blog series on countertop materials and talked about marble and its pros and cons. Today, it’s time for another favorite – the butcher block. The butcher block, or butcher’s block, is a type of material engineered out of strips of wood laminated (glued) together to form large slabs. A popular trend in kitchen design, butcher blocks have been around for centuries and were used as a chopping surface in meat processing plants and most butcher shops.

There is something very beautiful about butcher block countertops. They feel warm and rustic, and are a great way to tone down the formality of more precious stones, like marble or granite when combined. This gorgeous kitchen below designed by Rita Konig is the perfect example. I tried to cover the island top and see if I like the kitchen just as much without it. The answer is no. The all-white walls and cabinets with the marble countertops look beautiful but slightly cold. How much better it is all warmed up with that vintage block?

Cafe Design | Butcher Block 8

Rita König 

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This home designed by Lee Ann Thornton and published in the new House Beautiful is the reason I love interior design!!! I am impressed and in awe of how an old Connecticut ranch that started out as a plain Jane with lots of drywall, small rooms, low ceilings and a quirky flow has morphed into such a beautiful home. Somehow Thornton has created many of my dream spaces – that sunroom is simply glorious, I would never leave that room!….the dining room is layered with beautiful patterns and feminine details I adore, the master bedroom is subtle and interesting while the master bath is crisp and edgy… I’m in love!


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Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a fun weekend.

While surfing the web the other day, I came across a lovely California abode on Traditional Home’s online edition and liked its cheerful appeal. The house is home to a young family with three children and has been built and decorated by architectural and interior designer Wendy Posard. The original structure was an 1890s Georgian Revival that Posard tore down and had rebuilt. The style and the old footprint were preserved, and most of the timber and moldings reused. The new structure has now a better interior flow and open sight lines throughout. Large windows, transoms, French and Dutch doors keep the rooms open to the gardens.

In terms of blending the old with the new, one of my favorite things about this house is that it meets the highest standards in the national green-building program. The construction has the environment in mind with a Platinum Level LEED (Leadership in  Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

As for the color scheme, a happy blue-white-and-lemon-yellow palette inspired by a china set the couple had bought from Italy injects a cheerful mood. The clients wanted a “wine-country-meets-the-beach” vibe and Posard delivered down to a T.

Cafe Design | Front Door

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