Georgian Style

I’ll preface this post by saying this has been one of Those Weeks for me. Hard to articulate precisely why – just has been. It’s one of those weeks when I am eternally grateful that I met and married Sally and that she is my business partner. As you have seen/read, she brings a very different and complimentary energy and perspective to the blog, as she does to our work. 

This past weekend Historic Salem hosted their annual Christmas in Salem House Tour. This year’s primary theme was the homes of architect William G. Rantoul. All clustered in the neighborhood of Salem’s most prominent and historical street, Chestnut Street. Local Salem resident and awesome blogger, Donna Seger reports further on the Rantoul homes in her delightful blog Streets of Salem.

Included in the tour was an antique colonial originally built for the Stone family, possibly as early as 1762.  Sally and I have done interiors work for the current family, off and on, over the past 5 years.  We volunteered to be house tour guides last Saturday. This tour is the major fund raiser for the year for Historic Salem, Inc.

It is unclear precisely when the home was actually built. There is a cornerstone in the basement dated 1762. The earliest written documentation dates back to 1831, while the historic plaque on the home’s exterior says 1820. At minimum, the home’s history has been varied and checkered, including a friendly ghost, Becky, who has been making regular appearances to the current home owners since they bought the house about 21 years ago. The home owners say that one morning they found the brass newel post finial on their front stair, obviously unscrewed by Becky during the night. No one had heard a thing.

Before the tour started on Saturday, I made a quick trip through the house and took a few snapshots of decorations in a few rooms.

This is the front foyer.  I’ve always loved the boldness of the wall paper Sally and the homeowner chose. Below the chair rail Sally proposed a brown fabric instead of paint. The entire house is furnished and styled in a way that reminds me of an English cottage. I love it’s quirkiness. (Sally designed the lamp shade – another passion of hers.)

My station was in the renovated attic. It had been gutted,  exposing the structural cross ties. The chimney and fireplace were re pointed and made functional again. The existing wide plank floor was repaired and refinished, new electrical installed and custom millwork was designed. Once again, Sally’s color engine was firing on all eight cylinders – creating a cozy intimate loft space. Virtually every visitor loved the deep red ceiling, commenting on how intimate, comfortable and cozy the room felt.

Here’s what the room looked like when we started construction… 


The existing fireplace…

Demolition around the exisiting fireplace and chimney during construction…


The day of the Christmas Tour… Note the salvaged beam used for the mantel shelf. All Christmas decorations were done by Elfworks, from Marblehead, MA.

 Overall view of the room…

Note the antique ladder beyond the fireplace.

Sally selected a different flannel pattern for each family member, and had a blanket  custom made for them to cozy up with.  Each blanket was edged in a color-coordinated ultrasuede. I’m told there’s frequent falling asleep in front of the TV…

 Hope you enjoyed the mini house tour!

Have a great day! 



Sally and I are proud to be featured on the delightful blog, Jennings and Gates. Jennings & Gates is an Interior and Landscape Design firm located in the Virginia horse country outside Washington, DC. Parker Jennings is a designer, landscape architect and antiques expert, and Nina Gates is a designer, artist and equestrian. They tell me they love painting, reading, being outdoors, horses, dogs, gardening, cooking, hanging out with friends and making each other (and Winston, their dog) laugh and smile.

Winston smiling…

You immediately feel Nina’s engaging personality, sense of style and humor as she posts blogs that run the gamut from collecting antiques, to creating a Federal style kitchen garden, to choosing a proper pair of riding boots, interspersed with daily life in the country- visits from the farrier, putting up hay, raising chickens, seasonal cooking, and entertaining.

Poplar Grove, one of their projects.

It is filled with beautiful colors and museum quality period furniture.


Love the soft grays – how they play off the yellow.


The kitchen garden. I can smell the fresh herbs!


Beautiful fall foliage on the dogwood. It must be spectacular in the spring with it’s branches weighed down with flowers.


Wonderful textures and tones of green and yellow. I can only imagine that there’s a little stone bench nearby.


I’d love to have room in our yard for a chicken house.

The landscape is so pastoral and restful and the home’s interior gracious and inviting – beautiful project, filled with love and attention to detail.

This week Nina did a fantastic and informative filled post about antiques. You can read it here.

Thank you again Nina!


When I get stuck and am looking for inspirational examples of 18th and 19th Century American interior architecture and decor I always end up turning the pages of Traditional American Rooms, by Brent Hull and Christine Franck.

The book is a celebration of Henry DuPont’s Winterthur. While many wealthy American were busy collecting European art and antiques, he chose to focus on collecting and furnishing his house with gorgeous antiques that were examples of the very best of early American style and craftsmanship. The story of Winterthur and its American Wing is beautifully summarized in the preface of the book.

Here are examples of some of my favorite rooms. I think the pictures speak for themselves, arranged them in order by date, illustrating the evolution of classical American traditional style through the eyes of Mr. DuPont.


 1733, Redbourne Parlor


 1740, Gidley Room


 1740,  Tappahonnock Room


 1760, Queene Anne Dining Room


 1762, Port Royal Room


 1790, Chestertown Room


 1802, Landcaster Room


 1806, Phyfe Room


 1812, Biltmore Drawing Room


My favorite is the 1844 Marlboro Room


I can squint my eyes and visualize this room with different curtains – linen to let the light in, and more relaxed furniture – sofas with  linen slip covers, reupholster the wing chairs I could move in tomorrow! Have to keep the rug, light fixtures – maybe not even electrify them- and paint! (I wish I could see more of the leather camel back settee.)

Love to know which room is your favorite…