the scrapbook: tidying up


I love a good party, but I like what comes after a party too—when quiet and stillness replace the laughter and long stories (in this case it was the 4th of July, which is huge around here and we are on the parade route so you can imagine…), and there is the putting away, the folding, and finding (a lost pink flip flop?). There is a different slant of light now and people have moved on—some just up the street or upstairs and some far and some even farther…a simple old chair with linens and scraps of fabric and favorite espadrilles underneath are what remain. Until next time…

a stroll thru Ladew Topiary Gardens

onthresholds_Ladew 1

I think strolling is good for the soul. As are gardens. At least they are good for my soul. There is something about the slow pace of moving through a garden and taking everything in that feels restorative and even a bit luxurious. It’s something akin to walking through museum galleries, only most gardens are outside which adds another dimension to the experience (bees, dragonflies, frogs, not to mention the weather). And—despite the fact that we might also be in a garden for educational or cultural reasons, gardens, in general, feel more relaxed.

We can take our shoes off and no one will mind. Read more

the scrapbook: Irish linen


Sybil Connolly (1921-1998) built one of the first Irish fashion houses with her exquisite ballroom dresses and skirts made of pleated handkerchief linen, which was hand-crafted in cottages along the Irish countryside. She became well known for her romantic style that reinterpreted traditional Irish textiles into haute couture for clients like Jacqueline Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor.

The first floor drawing room of her Georgian mansion in Dublin, 71 Merrion Square that she used as a boutique for fitting clients and for fashion shows, was also wallpapered in Irish pleated linen.

Connolly is one of the women featured in How They Decorated by P. Gaye Tapp (see previous post).

summer reading: very stylish women

onthresholds_how they decorated

“There are many celebrated women who lived with great style but are lost to pages of old magazines or books, waiting to be rediscovered,” writes P. Gaye Tapp in the first line of her newly released book How They Decorated: Inspiration from Great Women of the Twentieth Century. There is a lengthy history of interior designers looking back at their predecessors with respect and admiration—a nod to the past as a way of showing us what we can learn from this backwards glance. Gaye P. Tapp, interior designer, author, and blogger, joins this legacy with her book, which is well-researched and quite stylish itself with introductory essays, photographs (some that have not been published before), and charming illustrations of interiors, also an aspect of interior decorating with a long history (the cover is a Cecil Beaton drawing that sets the tone of the book perfectly). Read more

the scrapbook: a monochromatic moment

onthresholds_taupe at the Georges

While I have noticed recently that the decorating world seems to be having a maximalist, pattern-on-pattern moment, sometimes it is all about the hue and patina and texture, and a less-is-more kind of beauty that turns our heads. Here, on a long narrow covered porch, none of the elements are shouting for our attention. Instead the subtle gray-taupe of the painted brick, painted wood floor, stone table, architectural mirror, and tall silver lantern quietly make a statement. Even the pop of color from the pink hydrangea and the green palm in the simple square vase accent this vignette in a soothing, understated way.

lavender shortbread

onthresholds_lavender shortbread

My good friend gave me a plate of homemade lavender shortbread for my birthday, a thoughtful and surprisingly elegant gift, and something I had never had before.

Shortbread is actually a biscuit, which I love for its rustic simplicity (butter, sugar, and flour), and the fact that it isn’t sweet, sweet, only semi-sweet (perfect with coffee or tea). The addition of the lavender was entirely new to me; it gives the shortbread a slightly perfumed taste and (I think) a touch of refinement. Read more

the scrapbook: June

onthresholds_figs in white bowl

“The routine of our days had changed, and we were living outdoors. Getting dressed took thirty seconds. There were fresh figs and melons for breakfast, and errands were done early, before the warmth of the sun turned to heat in mid-morning. The flagstones around the pool were hot to touch, the water still cool enough to bring us up from the first dive with a gasp. We slipped into the habit of that sensible Mediterranean indulgence, the siesta.”

~ From “June” in A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

it’s porch season: seven inspiring porches

onthresholds_front porch Edgartown

Who doesn’t love a porch? Their long history dates back to ancient Greece and Rome—I suppose we needed a place to stop and catch our breath before crossing the threshold. Now, there are so many shapes and sizes (I don’t mean decks, which began to replace porches during the 70s and 80s, but honestly always seemed like an afterthought to me). The porches that I have in mind are the kind that correspond with the architecture of the house, blend in with the rhythm of the household, and more or less, steal our hearts.

Here are seven porches that caught our attention over the past year, and might inspire you as well. Read more

community gardening day at the Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens

onthresholds_old post card of conservatory

The Palm House at the Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens in Baltimore City sits just off Druid Hill Park Lane, not far from the Maryland Zoo (many people believe it to be the old Reptile House, which it is not and never was, but it is a very common mistake). It is, and always has been, a gorgeous Victorian glass house filled with tropical plants and palm trees that reach high toward the ceiling where you can see the sky. It opened to the public in 1888 and is still going strong today. Read more