Archive for May, 2012

While most of us refer to it as ‘graduation’, schools always call the ceremony ‘commencement’.  And so it is.  The completion of an academic career must be the beginning of something else.  For my girls (who both graduate this weekend), it’s a bright new future:  graduate school, a career in the museum field.

For me it’s the commencement of another decorating project.  Because no matter what you’re commencing, you must live somewhere.  And that somewhere should be as comfortable and attractive as your vision and budget can make it.

And I must admit, I’ve really enjoyed the whole dorm decorating thing.  It would begin each August with major treks to their respective schools.

Yes, we filled the Suburban to the brim with every fall trip we made to the girls’ colleges.

Katherine, settling into her first dorm room

Embrace the dorm room and create the unique space that will become a sanctuary for your college student.  While all is pretty and comfortable, note the less-than-attractive necessities:  boxes of Raman noodle soup!

Sasha, her first day in college, ready for metriculation.

Somehow I don’t have pictures of Sasha’s dorm rooms over the years, but she did have them, and true to Sasha’s style, they were very different each year.

By senior year (this year for both girls, as Sasha went through in just 3 years), both girls enjoyed their best housing options.  Both had large, single rooms in vintage buildings.

Here’s a look:

I just LOVE Katherine’s senior dorm room! The floor-to-celiing window looks out over the historic front quad. The ceilings are about 12′ high. An exceptional space! Just right for her Bella Notte bedding and Chartreuse & co accessories.


Sasha’s senior year dorm room is in a mission-style house. She scored two windows and loads of square footage. The little sconces on the wall were original to the house. So cute.

And while I generally object to posters as a decorating tool, I had to admit that this one was pretty awesome. It was like she had a window looking out over Paris.
The comfy chair and ottoman didn’t hurt, either.

So now the rooms are being packed up.  This phase of our decorating lives has come to an end.  It’s been a blast, but I know it’s just the beginning of bigger and better things to come. . .  (I’ve already stashed some great finds for their new apartment!)

Thanks for reading,


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As this evening wanes, I find myself thinking about the mothers in my life and what they’ve given me. I realize that each one has touched my life in a unique way. Here’s just a little of it:

Sally Thomas, my mother, not only gave me life,  she gave me a zest for it. She was the whirlwind who was a constant in my life, who taught me that anything can be made beautiful with effort and thought. She’s also the amazing force who taught me how to transform any space from disaster to fantastic in record time. Any of you who’ve dropped by the barn on the Thursday before a sale know EXACTLY what I’m talking about!

She’s also the one who dragged my sisters and me through antique shops and decorator showrooms almost constantly. I knew Lee Joffa before I knew Disney. (My mother LOVES Lee Joffa, can’t stand Disney.)   She also taught me to treat everyone with respect and kindness.  And she really wishes that I’d learned more of her fashion sense than I have  . . .

My Grandmother Thomas, looking elegant into her 80s, wearing her pearls, as she did almost every day of her life.

Virginia Thomas, my paternal grandmother, in whose home I now live, taught me the joy of accomplishing something every day.  Every Sunday she prepared  a delicious meal on a table spread with polished silver, sparkling crystal, and fresh-cut flowers, while entertaining everyone and appearing not to be working at all.   She really didn’t know how not to be gracious.

I also attribute my love of driving and road trips to her. She would wake my sisters and me in the morning, with the picnic basket already full (right down to the red-checked table cloth), announcing that we were going on a drive. We’d pile into her car and take off at a roaring speed. We’d learn about fascinating historic sites, homes, and people, eat her superb Maryland fried chicken in some charming spot she’d picked for our picnic, and always return as the sun was setting.

I also learned from her that “The biggest room in the world is room for improvement.” And I have come to understand, as I’ve grown older, what she meant when she gave her highest compliment to a woman, “She never complains.” As a child I just didn’t get it. As a woman, I understand exactly what she meant.

My Grandmother Smith, who stood no more than 4’11”, had the most impeccable manners and taste of anyone I’ve ever known.

Jeannette Smith, my maternal grandmother, instilled in me the importance of being a lady. While she would be appalled by my daily attire of jeans and t-shirt (though she would never say so!), she did teach me the difference between a well-cut suit and a cheap one, the elegance of handmade Italian shoes, and the importance of quality over quantity.

And did I mention that she lived in NYC for much of my youth?  Staying with her and my Aunt Barbara during our frequent trips into The City were a high point of my young life. My love of exceptional retail experiences was formed under her tutelage.

Mother Crum, who intimidated me when I first met her, became one of my dearest friends. How many of you can say that of your mother-in-law?!

Mary Frances Crum, my mother-in-law, taught me how to gracefully let go of  mistakes and forge ahead to be the person you choose to be. She also taught me how short life is and to treasure every moment with those you love.

My mother, Sally Thomas, with my father, smiling her joyful smile.

Most of all, thank you to my dear mother, who put up with the worst of me in order to bring out the best in me.

Take a moment and think about what the mothers in your life have taught/given you.  I’d love to here about them!

Thanks for reading,

Virginia Jeannette Thomas Crum

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It’s raining today, and painting furniture is just not in the cards. So I came up to the house to do my price tags. This entry is evidence of two things:
1. my rather awesome procrastination skills, and
2. why half my stuff never gets priced.

That said, I really do have something worth telling you about, namely a few of my favorite things in the barn this month.

Typically, I like a cubby on top of a larger piece, giving height and bringing all the nooks up to eye level. But this cubby was placed on the floor, and before I knew what I was doing, I was filling it with plants, wood boxes, ironstone. It’s cubbies are deep and capacious, and I loved decorating its top as almost a mantlepiece. $179.



I just love vintage oil paintings. They not only have the beauty of age, but are the intimate perception of the artist. This little rural scene is lovely, peaceful. Not yet priced.


This radio flyer scooter sings of a time when children flew through their neighborhoods on such vehicles, carefree, without any notion of ‘virtual’ play. These toys are iconic, and now a charming piece of nostalgic sculpture (but I bet it still works just fine).  Not yet priced.


Detail of the shapely radio flyer wheels


I think it’s just part of my DNA that a comfortable, beautiful, upholstered chair is a must on any favorites list I may create. This pair is updated with burlap backing and nailhead trim.  $550, each.  $895, pair.


But I saved THE favorite for last. This spectacular, curvy day bed just about brought me to my knees. I’ve never seen one quite like it and CANNOT believe that Sue (of The Treasured Hunt) is going to part with it. Since this picture was taken she’s added a tufted, single, long seat cushion. Honestly, I haven’t gone back upstairs to look at it because I fear I just could not resist.  A steal at $1099.

So that’s my list. You can see over 100 pictures of what’s in the barn now on our website, but now you know what I have my eye on.

Thanks for reading,

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