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MARCH 2016

COUNTRY HOUSE

Seasons AT CON NECT ICUT COU NTRY HOU SE

SEASONS AT CONNECTICUT COUNTRY HOUSE

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Welcome Connecticut Country House is more than my magazine and my 1767 home – it’s a way of decorating, gardening, and entertaining that’s all about natural, effortless style. It’s how I live. It makes the most of what’s best right now. It’s simple and honest. A place where you’re always welcome, where tradition guides but never binds, and where life rolls with the rhythm of the seasons. Join me for a look at a year at Connecticut Country House. Sit with me in the Keeping Room by a winter fire. Clip spring’s first forsythia and take in the bounty of the Kitchen Garden in summer. Celebrate autumn at our last cookout of the year, and watch the Old House take on holiday sparkle for Christmas. There’s no place like Connecticut Country House. I hope you’ll stay a while. Love,

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Nora Murphy Founder and Editor in Chief

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Contents S E A S O N S AT C O N N E C T I C U T C O U N T R Y H O U S E

2 WELCOME

6 SPRING

New beginnings

82 SUMMER

G a r d e n s a n d g a th e r i n g s

146 AUTUMN

B o u n ti fu l a n d b e a u ti fu l

206 CHRISTMAS

All spruced up

226 WINTER

He a r th a n d h o s p i ta l i ty

Follow Nora Murphy Country House on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Please direct all inquiries to: contact@noramurphycountryhouse.com. © 2016 Nora Murphy Country House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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All design, photography, and copy on NoraMurphyCountryHouse.com, is original, produced year-round at Connecticut Country House and on location. Nora Murphy Founder and Editor in Chief Carol Hubner Art and Features Director Stephanie Fuda Web Producer Deborah Golden Copywriter Robyn Szarka Roos Content Producer Sister Linda Boccia Copy Editor Darryl Arbesman Duanne Simon Nora Murphy Contributing Photographers Aida Kiernan Styling Assistant

For more Connecticut Country House inspiration visit our website: NORAMURPHYCOUNTRYHOUSE.COM

& our blog: CONNECTICUTCOUNTRYHOUSE.COM

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A COUNTRY HOUSE

Sp ring IT’S A JOY TO SEE THE WORLD THROUGH FRESH SPRING EYES, AND A JOY TO START ALL THE PROJECTS THIS SEASON BRINGS. Everything is new and anything is possible when the ground is soft enough to till and the days are warm enough to move the potted plants back outside; when the flea markets open up and so do my roses; and I can’t wait to give Connecticut Country House a good once-over. Welcome, spring—it’s all hands on deck!

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AS T H E G ARDE N AWAK EN S ,

enjoy the show

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Brilliant yellow forsythia branches add wow anywhere, inside or out!

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Every Easter, I buy potted hyacinths to decorate with. When the flowers fade, into the perennial bed they go. It’s a great and simple way to grow the garden.

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Make a first impression that lasts. The slate path to our back door is lined in spring bloomers: azalea, viburnum, climbing hydrangea, lilacs—a delight of sight and scent.

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An armload of lilacs can perfume a room for days.

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Mock Orange (one of my very favorite flowering shrubs) has a short flowering time. To make the most of it, I’ll snip a big splashy bunch for the house. The look is dramatic, the scent is divine! 19


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We pull my big clay pots out of the barn and park them on the South Patio, where they’ll host a variety of plants and flowers through the next two seasons. First in? Early bloomers like these Johnny Jump Ups. 23


VINTAG E M E E T S N E W:

spring forward! 24


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Sweet and simple. Clear glassware, both old and new, makes for a fresh, light breakfast bar. SEASONS AT CONNECTICUT COUNTRY HOUSE

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My vintage hand-painted fish plates—each one unique—are the stars of this table, so a row of tulips, hyacinth and waxflower in a soft blush palette is the perfect complement.

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Cheerful, graphic vintage quilts (more fab flea market finds!) set the tone for a whimsical springtime table.

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New white dinnerware and flatware plus antique lusterware and Moss Rose plates combine shapes, textures, and designs for a mashup that’s charming in the most modern way. SEASONS AT CONNECTICUT COUNTRY HOUSE

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Everything old is new again. These new cotton kitchen towels with their appliquĂŠs, embroidery, pompoms, ruffles, and rickrack, were made to look like a treasure trove of vintage linens. 38


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OPEN T HE BEDROOM WIN DO WS AN D

lighten it up 40


Spring’s the perfect time to change out your bed’s wardrobe. Lighten the layers and the colors, and keep it simple!

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Quilts are a textile art with a long, rich history. And in any style or color, they’re also a simple way to add a touch of country elegance to a bed. 43


Delicate and pretty, this vintage, French-inspired, floral-and-stripe pattern style mixes beautifully with new bedding.

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All cotton all the time. When spring meets summer, I’ll pull out yet another layer to make this crisp palette even fresher.

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I’m ever on the lookout for shams with pretty handmade details. Pin-tucking, crocheted lace, ruffles with eyelet edges— they’re all from different places and times, but work together oh so well.

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For spring, our bed is all white cotton. It’s soft, fresh, and luxurious in the most unassuming way.

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I can’t wait until the rose beds are in full bloom so I can do this again: Fill up an old basket with big, blowsy blossoms and put it near an entryway for a wonderful wow! 56


FILL T H E H O U SE W I TH

beautiful blooms SEASONS AT CONNECTICUT COUNTRY HOUSE

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A variety of roses grow at Connecticut Country House; Fairies, Bonicas, and Edens are the most prolific. Cutting them for arrangements, as well as deadheading and feeding them in early spring and again in the summer, keeps them happy and blooming. 58


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Roses can look quite wild arranged with daisies, weigela, fuzzy deutzia, and lady’s mantle. 62


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T H E WA IT IS OVER AND T H E

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BE G I N S !


It’s the start of antiquing season—hooray! New England is full of unexpected finds and great deals. Let the hunt begin! 65


Early painted pieces are my ultimate weakness. To me, the mix of wonderful patinas and simple forms is what Country House decorating is all about. 66


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Vintage bed linens get a whole new raison d’etre at Connecticut Country House. I’m always picking them up with an eye to tablecloths, unique upholstery, and slipcovers.

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MAKE P LAN S AN D

dig in!

First things first: The secret to a successful garden is healthy soil. We start the season by turning the soil and adding “Black Gold”—the rich compost we make all year long using every scrap of organic material. 73


Sowing seeds indoors is the best way to get the kitchen garden going. For one thing, it means I can “garden” sooner. For another, it means my seedlings—like these baby basil plants—get a great start. 74


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Where your garden grows is as important as what’s in it. Our kitchen garden is close enough to the house to be convenient, but far enough away to feel peaceful.

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My heirloom tomatoes are ready to be planted in the late afternoon, well after the hot sun is off the garden.

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A COUNTRY HOUSE

Summer IT’S THE COOL FLAGSTONES OF THE PATIO AND SOFT GRASS BENEATH BARE FEET that keep us outside as the sun goes down. And even then, we’re in no rush to go in. We squeeze every drop out of a summer’s day by breaking out the citronella candles, whipping up another round of lemony iced tea, and taking a comfy seat round the patio table until it gets pretty late or a little too chilly (whichever comes first), and it’s time to go in and call it a day.

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L IV E IN THE

During summer, the line between indoors and outdoors disappears. If I could live outside in the summer, I would— especially on a glorious, blue-sky day like this one. And if that day happens to start with an intimate al fresco breakfast for two, well, so much the better. 84

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Tiny prints are big. This set of pretty Wedgwood Pompadour plates, a sweet little flea market find, says darling English cottage loud and clear (in a lovely accent, of course).

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Make the most of what you’ve got. Versatile canning jars filled with freshly-squeezed OJ add a hearty country touch to my breakfast table. Check flea markets for vintage wire jar caddies to serve in— they’re both practical and pretty.

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There’s strength in numbers. Bunches of farmstand sunflowers cut to different heights look terrific clustered in a variety of new and old white-ironstone containers and mismatched canning jars. 92


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T H E F RESHEST INGREDIE N T S FRO M

garden to table

There’s nothing quite like running your hands through rich, warm soil, loving the smell of it, watching the green world grow. Get your hands dirty—it’s good for you! 94


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A tasty staple: Lettuces are some of the first seedlings I plant in the kitchen garden every year— green and red leaf, mesclun, and bibb are musts—and we harvest them right through autumn.

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I love taking friends through the kitchen garden‌sampling is always encouraged!

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Summer is tomato time. I adore them. Just picked, still warm from the sun, sliced with a handful of fresh basil leaves, a splash of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt ‌ that’s my heaven. 103


This is what the good life tastes like. Harvest herbs and veggies daily to encourage continued growth— and enjoy!

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TH E

sea, sand & sky INSPIRE O U R SU M M E R DE CO RATI N G

I love the sea, and throughout Connecticut Country House there’s always a touch of it in play. What do you love? Whether you’re setting a table, dressing a bed, or styling a room, find the way to live from your heart. SEASONS AT CONNECTICUT COUNTRY HOUSE

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It just feels right to decorate with seasonal, simple, natural beauty. For me, in summer, that means clamshells and sea fans. I love coming up with new and unexpected ways to work my collections into a focal point.

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To create a summer attitude, pare back and honor simplicity.

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Summer entertaining should be a breeze. SeabagsÂŽ placemats, handcrafted in Maine from recycled sailcloth, bring that breezy feeling and set the tone for a lovely, lighthearted nautical table.

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I love a good scene stealer. A big cluster of oyster shells becomes a piece of sculpture and speaks volumes.

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Create a sense of place. Make a guest room happy, comfy, and soulful.

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A handcrafted quarterboard from Nantucket sets the South Patio’s POV. I always deck it out in vintage buntings (a Brimfield find) for the fourth of July.

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summertime living is easy A ND THE CONNECT ICU T CO U N T RY H O U SE

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Brightly colored zinnias divvied up among assorted vintage crockery (these are mustard crocks I’ve picked up over the years) say cheerful, casual summer is here.

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Spools of red, white, and blue grosgrain ribbon can make any summer meal feel like a celebration.

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Grill me anything and I’ll love it, especially if I get to serve it up with plenty of goodness fresh from the kitchen garden.

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Deliciously indulgent: Set up a bar right in the garden for before-dinner drinks and after-dinner treats. I use an old painted table that spends its summer moving between the patio, kitchen, and family room.

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Two picnic tables pushed together make one long banquet table (plus seating!), set simply with hand-loomed white tablecloths from The Vermont Country StoreŽ, topped with our zinnia crocks. The garden gates are open wide. All that’s left is to relish the moment.

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Holy Guacamole! Made with ripe avocados, bright red cherry tomatoes, a spicy jalapeno, red onion and fresh cilantro— nothing says summer like this tried and true crowd pleaser. Find the recipe at connecticutcountryhouse.com. 142


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Tonight, the best seats in the house are outside.

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A COUNTRY HOUSE

Autumn AS THE LEAVES CHANGE COLOR, AND THE AIR CRISPS, OUR INTERIORS (JUST LIKE OUR APPETITES) CRAVE A HEARTIER FARE ... telling us it’s time to roll with the rhythm of the changing seasons. Now, more than ever, it’s essential for all the attributes of our country house (casual, warm, laid back comfort) to kick in; the time for us to re-establish that easy-going attitude. It’s time to cozy-up!

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When you dress the front door for the season, you send passers-by on their way with a smile. (It’s true!) It’s also a wonderful way to create something special in your every day. 148


TIME TO USE

harvest hues

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Like a wonderful farm-to-table dinner, this kind of classic style is all about using the best ingredients you can. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just honest.

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There’s a special beauty in anything that’s been well loved for a long time.

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The perfect harvest. Rich natural colors, patterns, shapes, and textures all work together to create a warm, welcoming tone.

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Our happy place. Where the family gathers, where putting up your feet is encouraged, and where a big treenware bowl of apples is the fanciest thing in the room.

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the last cookout

LET’ S RE LISH

O F T H E Y EA R

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Every detail matters. The wine doesn’t just taste good, it also looks at home on our rustic bar. The baguette pail isn’t just practical on a table without much room, it’s also charming.

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What’s for dinner? On the menu are locally made pork and chicken sausages roasted with large sprigs of rosemary in an oversized skillet; savory skin-on potatoes with red onion, garlic, and smoked bacon; fresh crusty bread; and Jack’s homemade pickles!

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What’s an autumn party in New England without apple cider donuts? Stack them high on a cake stand for a pretty display. When it’s time to call it a night, I’ll send everyone off with a jar of my homemade Jack’s Pickles. 170


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LET’ S NOT SAY G O O D BYE . LE T ’ S J U ST S AY

goodnight garden SEASONS AT CONNECTICUT COUNTRY HOUSE

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Last call in the kitchen garden: Swiss chard and French green beans are my end-of-season heroes. SEASONS AT CONNECTICUT COUNTRY HOUSE

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Just as all the rest of the flowering perennials are fading, along comes this beauty in her full glory. The long, wispy stems with their pinkish-purple blossoms make a wonderful, wild-looking, billowy bouquet.

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The kitchen garden has been harvested; the perennial beds have been cleaned. The stakes have been pulled up and the tools, tables, and chairs have been put away in the Old Barn until spring. November’s coming—time to close up shop.

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H A L L O WEEN FOR ALL M E AN S

no tricks, just treats

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Halloween at Connecticut Country House isn’t a scary affair. We prefer good, old-fashioned whimsy! The door looks fab and is wonderfully simple: inexpensive faux crows, a wired garland of tissue paper leaves, and a giant twig cornucopia full of mini pumpkins.

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At sunset, it’s a Halloween Happy Hour on the West Patio. Cozy up with a wooly throw and pull your chair next to the hay-bale coffee table. The painted demilune from the dining room is our impromptu bar.

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An antique wood board atop a hay bale is up to serve. An assortment of sharp British cheeses, charcoal crackers, pretzels, and homemade chutneys make perfect sunset nibbles.

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A BO U N T IFU L AN D BE AU T I F U L

Thanksgiving SEASONS AT CONNECTICUT COUNTRY HOUSE

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Rich caramel and bittersweet are our colors at the table this year, with creamy white for contrast. When I “do up” a table with this much impact, I know in advance I’ll be serving from the kitchen!

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We snip wild bittersweet down the road to adorn the eighteenth-century reproduction, French camp chandelier in the dining room. The wines chill in an antique stoneware crock full of ice— that’s my kind of ice bucket.

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Turn off the lights, light the candles. Nothing sets an intimate mood faster.

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A COUNTRY HOUSE

Christmas WE CLIP THE GREENS, DECK THE HALLS, HANG THE BOUGHS, TRIM THE TREE, WRAP THE GIFTS, BAKE THE COOKIES, SEND THE INVITATIONS, PLAN THE MENUS, POUR THE DRINKS, SING THE SONGS— so much preparation and anticipation! ’Tis the season for entertaining at its finest. I love opening our home to friends and family this time of year. When we’re all together, it’s like the old house is giving us a big, warm, holiday hug.

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A CO U NTRY HOUSE FU LL O F

holiday spirit

All spruced up! Evergreens in all shapes and sizes bring color, texture, and a wonderful scent. Using a variety is an unexpected little touch that makes a big difference. 208


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The best of old and new. The antiques: Spode Tower china, grandpa’s silverware, monogrammed, fringed damask napkins, Tartanware napkin rings. The newbies: straw placemats, La Rochere bee glasses. How delicious!

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The gathering of the greens. With clippers in hand, I trim shrubs around the property (rhodies, holly, boxwood, cedar, white pine, and balsam) to wire up yards and yards of roping. 215


Decorating is love. Creating a beautiful gathering space for my family and friends lets me show them what they mean to me. 216


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There are always lots of details to tend to before the big day, like putting finishing touches on the tree and gathering special gifts to deliver.

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Gift wrapping never really stops, does it? And choosing a theme is a thoughtful process … I keep my eyes open for special papers and ribbons all year long. Sometimes I find the best things—and the most surprising inspirations—in the middle of summer. 224


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A COUNTRY HOUSE

Winter HONORS WHAT’S THERE WHEN NOTHING SEEMS TO BE—THE SOUND OF SNOWFALL, THE LANDSCAPE REVEALED WHEN THE GREEN HIBERNATES. I’ve come to love and appreciate these days of reflection. Something delicious is always simmering in the stockpot, maybe a soup or Murph’s killer chili. The fire in the Keeping Room (aka, our dining room) crackles, as it has since 1767, from fall to spring. And out come the tartans—the very heart of country house hospitality to me.

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BABY IT ’ S CO LD O U T S I D E. T IM E FO R S O M E

winter warmth

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After we’ve packed Christmas away, I’m drawn to the fresh, soothing clarity of winter whites. They make the rooms feel light, bright, and simplified. 231


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Under a blanket of snow, it’s easy to see the original structure— the eighteenth-century saltbox— front and center. It truly is Connecticut Country House’s heart and anchor.

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All are welcome here. Comfort food is a staple of Country House living, and our French farm table, which comfortably seats up to 12, lets us say without hesitation, Join us! SEASONS AT CONNECTICUT COUNTRY HOUSE

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There’s no better time of year to experiment with cookies, crisps, and other baked treats. 240


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Let it glow. More than 100 small, hand-cut mirrors set into this eighteenth-century reproduction sconce bounce candlelight around the room. I wonder if this helped to inspire the inventors of the disco ball!

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winter garden I T MAY BE COLD OUTSIDE , BU T A GA R DE NER’ S HEART BLO O M S ALL YE AR LO N G 244


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While springtime inspiration slowly fills my pin board, indoor gardening season is in full swing. Big batches of paperwhites will grow and bloom through March. 247


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Seed catalogs and gardening books help me dream up big plans for this year’s gardens. It always helps to start with a plan … then go with the flow.

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My vintage copper watering-can collection started quite simply with one small pitcher. As the indoor plants grew, so did the need for larger ones. I love the way they look, and I use them every day. 253


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sweet tartans

I’ V E G O T P LAID LO V E F O R THES E G RAN D SCO T T ISH PAT T E R N S

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A little over twenty years ago in London, I fell madly in love in an antiques shop on Portobello Road—and there was no turning back. The tartanware hunt is still a thrill! Every so often I find a unique little gem, like the heart pin cushion, and I know it’s meant to be mine.

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Winter dress-up. Wooly tartans make a cozy dinner even cozier, and the creamy white foundations make the colors stand out. 261


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A few years ago while combing the lots of the Brimfield Antiques Show, I hit the jackpot. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I had found the real thing: a glorious tartanware chest of drawers in original and absolutely beautiful condition. I was thrilled to come across such a piece of romantic Scottish history—a piece to top all other tartanware finds.

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This snug worktable (not my main one) is dressed in a Royal Stewart that hangs down to the floor, giving me extra storage below. In the winter, it’s a wonderfully cozy space.

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Fiona’s chair. My Cairn Terrier looks like a chubby little Toto and rules from this roost. It’s a soft, squooshy, warm and cozy spot for our soft, squooshy Miss Fi. Lucky girl! 271


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Country House style comes down to the details— all those thoughtful littles that add up to one, great, big! Come look around. You’ll find new pics and inspiration every day. And a thousand simple ways to reswizzle your POV. V I S I T U S AT

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“I think that to one in sympathy with nature, each season, in turn, seems the loveliest.� - Mark Twain

N O R A M U R P H Y C O U N T RY H O U S E . C O M

Nora Murphy Country House Seasons 2016  

Our fabulous new magazine is filled with 200+ pages of beautiful, original photography and smart decorating, gardening, and entertaining tip...

Nora Murphy Country House Seasons 2016  

Our fabulous new magazine is filled with 200+ pages of beautiful, original photography and smart decorating, gardening, and entertaining tip...