Capturing the Essence

I’ve been binge watching Downton Abbey lately.  While the tension between upstairs and downstairs is interesting, I really just watch for the flowers and architecture.

Some of my fondest memories are pouring through shelter magazines with my mother. Together we would go down the rabbit hole, thinking about what it would be like to live in an Irish Castle (the gardens would be spectacular) vs. a sleek penthouse in NYC (clean, modern and no clutter).  Those lazy Saturday mornings in her bed feasting on warm homemade doughnuts from the Soda Shoppe and black coffee for mom in a Styrofoam cup helped solidify my love of bloom and building.

When I first started thinking about creating Beaumont House Design, I knew I wanted to infuse a sense of time, place and history in everything I did.  The foundation of my vase and prop collection comes from inherited and found pieces.  Some of the pieces are real treasures, like the 18th century primitive pine cabinet, known as Miss Rose, won by my father in a poker game while others are thrift shop treasures picked up for a song.

In an effort to continually evolve and grow my brand, I gathered my tribe to create some beautiful images. My tribe is an amazing mix of talent.  Krysta Norman of Norman Photo and Paper and I met last year doing a wedding.  Her style and eye are incredible and I learn something from her every time we get together.

Cindy and Liz Miiller are the dynamic duo.  Cindy is planner and designer in her own right and her daughter is a hair and make up artist with a great sense of style as well.  My connection to Cindy and Liz goes way back – Cindy’s mother used to practice her dance moves perched on top of my father’s feet.

I knew I wanted to feature my flowers in a place that had a sense of history. Our 1960’s ranch wasn’t the answer.  Calling in a favor from a family friend, we spent the day on a farm that has been in production since the 1750’s.  Our yard adjoins the farm and I often see our red shouldered hawk couple hunting along our shared fence line.

The farm runs beef cattle and hairless sheep.  A few weeks before the shoot, we visited and spent time in the lamb nursery, conjuring up ways to get a few photos of newborn lambs with flower crowns.  That was not meant to be as Kelsie, the resident guard llama, was not too keen on letting us too close to her flock.

One of the lambs in the nursery.

One of the lambs in the nursery.

We decided to concentrate on three parts of the farm: the slave quarters, front porch of the main house and under the spectacular horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) in the front yard.  The slave quarters had recently undergone extensive preservation and stabilization and while the outside of the building looked new, the interiors hadn’t been touched in years.  Between the weathered walls and beautiful light, we made some magic!  I have decided that the slave quarters would make the perfect floral studio.  One day I will recreate this building!

Our home for most of the shoot, the recently preserved slave quarters.

Our home for most of the shoot, the recently preserved slave quarters.

Bouquet with hosta, astilbe, garden roses, stock, tulip, campanula and pea shoots resting against a 19th century cane chair.  Photo by Norman Photo and Paper.

Bouquet with hosta, astilbe, garden roses, stock, tulip, campanula and pea shoots resting against a 19th century cane chair.  Photo by Norman Photo and Paper.

This wedding dress was worn by both my mother and sister.  It was a thrill to take it out of the box before the shoot and remember my sister’s wedding day.  It was the first wedding I had ever been in.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper.

This wedding dress was worn by both my mother and sister.  It was a thrill to take it out of the box before the shoot and remember my sister’s wedding day.  It was the first wedding I had ever been in.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper.

The gorgeous light poured through the windows all afternoon.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper.

The gorgeous light poured through the windows all afternoon.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper.

The front porch had a beautiful marble table, perfect for a tea party.  With borrowed china and linens and my own family silver, we created a charming tablescape using thrift shop pitchers and locally grown bachelors buttons and ladies mantle.

The marble table on the front porch was in the inspiration for this table.  Cindy’s mother’s china with a forget-me-not pattern was perfect paired with the bachelor buttons and ladies mantle.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper

The marble table on the front porch was in the inspiration for this table.  Cindy’s mother’s china with a forget-me-not pattern was perfect paired with the bachelor buttons and ladies mantle.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper

For the main tablescape, I wanted to put together a table that was the essence of simple, elegant and just right for the setting.  I’ve spoken often on the blog about my love of trees and this horse chestnut is spectacular.

We set the locally made farm table up under the large tree branch and used a palette of cream, yellow, green and gold featuring locally grown poppies. Cindy’s vintage china and crystal combined with my mother’s circa 1950 Danish modern silver and made for a beautiful table.  We suspended an arbor of fern and foraged bush honeysuckle above the table, because every table needs greens hovering just above it.

The tapestry chairs are from my mother and the garden chairs were on loan from Hip and Humble in Berryville.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper.

The tapestry chairs are from my mother and the garden chairs were on loan from Hip and Humble in Berryville.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper.

The pea shoots were an added bonus.  My wonderful local flower farmer and I talked via phone earlier in the week about what was in bloom.  She mentioned the pea shoots as we were finishing up and I of course said yes.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper.

The pea shoots were an added bonus.  My wonderful local flower farmer and I talked via phone earlier in the week about what was in bloom.  She mentioned the pea shoots as we were finishing up and I of course said yes.  Photo:  Norman Photo and Paper.

After the shoot finished, the clouds cleared and the views across the valley to mountains opened up.  Not to let the table go unappreciated, we all enjoyed dinner and cigars under the tree until the light started to fade.

As I sat there, I could only imagine the generations before us who had gathered in that same spot.  To me, that is what Beaumont House is all about, sitting together under a magnificent tree after a long day, sharing stories and making memories. — XO, Julie