If you are the reader of “shelter magazines” (Veranda, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, etc) as I am, you will have noticed that many of the stylish properties shown in those periodicals are located in north-west Connecticut. Litchfield County Connecticut, or the Litchfield Hills as it is also called, is a place where many people from New York City and Boston spend their weekends. The Litchfield area is also called, by some folk, the “Anti Hamptons”, as people who weekend there want a place away from the hustle-bustle of more populated areas, and look for a place to commune with nature and get away from it all. The Litchfield Hills are like no other, and one of its jewels is the hamlet of New Preston. New Preston, Ct is located at the crossroads of Routes 45 and 202, on the east side of Lake Waramaug.
New Preston has a grouping of stores where it is not just about fine products, but also about how perfectly everything is displayed. Recently my friend Marguerite and I took a day trip to the area. In this blog post I’m going to show you the stores and go over some of the principles of interior decorating at the same time; as each of the New Preston’s stores is a perfect visual, showing what good design is really all about.
Our first stop was at Pergola Home & Garden. Pergola is a store that caters to people who are decorating both the inside of their home and the grounds around it. The store has a wonderful selection of Asian pieces, as well as things that would look great in a contemporary city loft, a rustic country farm-house or converted barn. Many of the things displayed have a timeless quality and would work easily with transitional and modern furniture.
The above photo shows (click on photos to enlarge) one of the first displays you see after entering the store. Notice how the color bronze has been repeated many times in this corner of the room from the wall coloring, to the trim on the wood furniture, to the legs of the occasional tables, and as part of the color story of the different vessels displayed. Also look at how round shapes, in different sizes, repeat from the mirror on the wall, to the disc shapes on the front of the dresser/chest, and to the assortment of urns and pots of different size seen in the space. This display is really all about the use of round and square shapes. By repeating shapes and color, all of the different elements are united and work together as one.
Still looking at the photo, notice how the arrangement placed on the top of the chest, seen on the right, is made up of a grouping of things that are tall, medium height, low and flat of shape, with a large center element, leaning against the wall, as their center anchor.
To read more about arranging decorative accessories read my posts titled Arranging your Decorative Accessories (Knickknacks and Collectables) and A Bridge unites a Tablescapes and Wall Decor.
Looking at the next photo, you are seeing an arrangement of decorative home accessories that have a large center element (vase on stand with foliage) that is flanked by pairs of other elements along side of it. There are also smaller things scattered at the larger pieces bases for different element heights.
To learn more about making arrangements of decorative elements for you home read my post titled Arranging Decorative Accessories on a Sofa Table, Buffet, Sideboard or Credenza
The above photos show one more of the many groupings of decorative accessories that caught my eye for colors (green, cream, brown and bronze), repeated shapes of elements and heights of products, and a view of part of the second floor, with its different treasures.
Our second stop was J.Seitz & Co, where we meet the “Grande Dame” of New Preston shopkeepers, the very friendly Joanna Seitz.
J.Seitz & Co has an assortment of attractive elements for dressing both fashionable men and woman, along with their homes. Everything on view was beautifully laid out, the offerings are more unique than what you would find in urban malls, and everything for sale was of the moment, but not in a trendy way, which could quickly go out of style.
Besides beautiful clothing, J.Seitz & Co. has a really well put together collection of furniture and decorative home accessories that are unique, and eye-catching.
The above two photos show part of the furniture room seen on the lower level of the building. What I want you to look at is how the color blue (in both medium and dark tones) is repeated many times across the space, which unifies it. Look at how the blue appears as a stripe on pillows and throws. Notice how that same dark blue is part of the color story on an upholstered bench, a poof, and in the second photo, a sofa is upholstered in it. Interior decorating is all about moving color and pattern around a space to keep the eye moving from one spot to another.
Also observe in the photos how the different seating arrangements are laid out and how sofas are balanced by groups of chairs. Proper furniture placement is all about arranging sofas and chairs to promote good conversation. Also look at how end tables and lamps are combined. Notice how a large, visually weighty decorative accessory might be placed under a thin legged end table to counterbalance the heavy looking lamp placed above it.
To read more about arranging furniture read my posts Arranging Living Room Furniture, so Sofas talk to Chairs, like the Pros do, and Arranging furniture TWELVE different ways in the Same room.
To learn more about lighting read The Right height of Table Lamp for your End Table, Matching the Right shape End Table with a Table Lamp and Interior Decorating with Table Lamps.
Our last look at J. Seitz is of a furniture and accessory room located on the first floor. First of all notice how this room of neutrals is grounded by the dark color of the table and chairs, the dark bronze colors of many of the lamp bases, the chandelier and the color of the graphic of the planet. (Remember interior decorating is all about moving color, texture and pattern around a space).
Second look at how different textures of fabrics have been used. There are things that are made of fur, things adorned with sequins, and nubby textured elements.
Third notice how there are different shades of grays and creams in the room, not just one color.
To learn more about working with color and texture read my posts When decorating a Beige Room, think Tones, Texture and Sculptural Interest, and How to pick the Perfect Gray Paint..A Popular Color choice of the Moment.
Privet House is a repository of decorative home accessories and furniture that has been widely written about in decorating and style magazines. Privet House’s offerings seem to be culled from the four corners of the world, which makes the different rooms of the store a visual feast to the eye and it’s offerings are considered uber-chic and sophisticated. Privet House and its treasures was the inspiration for a collection of home decor products that were for-sale, nation wide, at Target stores a few years ago.
The above photos show the first room you see when entering the store and a detailed view of some of the offerings. The collections of decorative elements presented, I would say, are transitional, so they would work well in a rustic environment or in a very industrial looking city loft. When I look at the different baskets and other vessels, the words “primitive, tribal, and modern” come to mind; but for some reason I could also see some of the baskets and glass hurricane shades used in an 18th century house.
Privet House offers a nice selection of dishes, candles, flatware, glasses, towels and napkins, select cook books and other elements used for the presentation of food.
Once upstairs you are met with quite a visual surprise. You are now in a black room that is so alive and full of light. The space is soo chic and sophisticated, and is made up of an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories.
The first thing I want you to notice in this room is how the top edges of all the different art works and mirrors line up with each other as they are placed around the space. By doing that the eye moves across the space in one even sweep, not moving upwards or down.
Secondly look at the color story of the room. The colors used are black to gray, dark brown to rust and tan room, along with the white.
Third notice how texture comes into play in the space. Look at the woven straw hats seen on the end table in the first photo, and in the second photo you see a pair of large woven baskets on the left, and a woven seated chair in the foreground. Look at how different fabric textures are used in the room (fury, nubby, smooth, fluffy, etc). And you have paint surfaces that are from shiny/gloss to matte.
To learn more about hanging pictures read my posts Hanging Pictures around a Room, Picking and Hanging the Right size Picture or Mirror over a Fireplace, It’s Easy to make a Grouping of Pictures.
To learn about working with color in a room read my posts Pick (Use) Four colors when Decorating a Room. and Paint a room a Dark Color, then Add Light Accents.
Our last look at Privet House, even though there are other beautiful places to examine is of a seating arrangement that is in another upstairs space.
This room a perfect example of a room that would appeal to a person who likes change. First of all notice that the sofa, chairs, coffee table and even floor are all done in a neutral color.
Secondly look at how the black color of the frames of the wooden chairs are the inspiration pieces for the color of the dark accent wall, seen behind the sofa, and the color of the display cases seen above. The black also appears as part of the color-story for the rug, lantern on the coffee table and as the color of the side and end tables.
Third, look at how the color for the room is brought out by the quilts, throws and pillows placed on the sofas and chairs. Also look at how the same colors are found in the artworks hung over the sofa, and in the bottom photo you can see how all the different colors are found in the display of accessories.
If you build a room on neutrals as its base, you can change the feel/mood of the space easily by changing out your accessories.
New Preston Kitchen Goods has it all, everything that related to the preparation of food. A great place to wonder through if you are just starting to learn to cook or are a seasoned gourmet chef. The motto of New Preston Kitchen Goods is “If you can’t find it here, you really don’t need it in your kitchen”.
The store is filled with pots and pans, cookbooks, glassware, dishes, flatware, and serving pieces, etc. plus you can even buy Marty’s fresh eggs, laid by his own chickens.
To read two kitchen related articles that I’ve written look at my posts TWELVE Reasons to buy WHITE DISHES, and Forget the Sterling Silver or Silver-Plate, Buy 18/10 Polished Stainless Steel Flatware instead.
Sweets is a kaleidoscope of candy color, a feast to the eye, a must stop for the young and the young at heart who have a “Sweet Tooth”. The store has it all. You will find candies from around the world, and there are many childhood favorites, if you grew up in the 1950’s or 60’s. Do you remember Bonomo Turkish Taffy, Necco Wafers, SkyBar, PopRocks, Chuckles and Mallow Cups, well there all there!
DK Schulman Design is a store that specializes in fine stationary, personalized invitations, wedding related items, gift items, wrapping paper, select style related books, decorative home accessories, home fragrance and much more. The store is colorful and bright.
On the second floor of DK Schulman is a wonderful display of wrapping papers, seen above. The papers would make any gift stand out above the rest for presentation, but I think the papers would make the most beautiful art works. Just stick a sheet of wrapping paper (costing about $5. per sheet) in a frame, and you have instant wall decor. What a perfect pop of color for a kids room, a dorm room, or anyplace where you would want something fun to look at.
To learn more about working with different kinds of patterns read my posts Looking at Patterns used in Interior Decorating on Fabric, Drapes, Wallpaper and Carpeting, Interior Decorating..Looking at the Different Sizes of Patterns used on Wallpaper and Fabric, and Mixing and Matching Fabric and Wallpaper Patterns.
Plain Goods is a bit of Madison Ave in NYC or Newbury Street in Boston relocated to bucolic Litchfield County. The offerings would entice both the sophisticated urbanite or a country gentlewoman or gentleman.
Plain Goods has a beautifully assembled collection of fine leather accessories, cashmere and fine wool products, shirts and blouses, trousers and pants, scarves and coats for both women and men, as well as offerings of select women’s jewelry, pocketbooks and bags, pantry products, housewares, antique and vintage pieces, beauty products, and outfitting and gifts for babies and young children.
Dawn Hill Antiques specializes in 18th and 19th century painted Swedish furniture and accessories, along with fine French and English garden antiques and decorative items. The store showcases English transfer-ware, Frances Palmer ceramics, Diptyque home fragrances, and Nesti Dante soaps.
The above two photos show the first room you see when entering Dawn Hill with its ever so soft, pale blue walls and stunning treasures.
On the second floor of the Dawn Hill Antiques building is Upstairs Antiques which consists of Antique Wicker, Glenn Allard of Patina, John Peden and the Nemati Collection. The upper rooms are filled with gleaming brass and polished copper, a room showcasing gorgeous wicker furniture, and other spaces displaying different kinds of unique finds.
After examining and photographing Dawn Hill Antiques and Upstairs Antiques, we were off to lunch at Nine Main Cafe, which is right next door.
Nine Main Bakery and Deli has a nice selection of sandwiches, salads, soups of the day, baked goods, non-alcoholic drinks and also serves breakfast. Being that we were in New Preston, Marguerite and I both had, what else except, the New Preston Feast which is a sandwich with turkey, cranberry-beet & walnut relish, arugula and Arethusa Camembert on their own delicious house baked sourdough bread. We washed down the hefty sized yummy sandwiches with coffee.
Two of my posts that relate to dining…Al Fresco (Outdoor) Dining.. Two cafe/bistro-patio tables Equal one Picnic Table and Turn your Deck Planter into a Drink Station for your next Outdoor Event.
So there you have it, a quick peek at the stores in New Preston, Connecticut. If you are planning on possibly visiting the stores, think about combining your visit with something else in the area for that same day, as the shopping district is not that large.
You could (1) pair New Preston with a ride over to Litchfield, Ct which is just a short distance away and visit the stores on the Litchfield Green, and then head over to the Mecca to gardening, The White Flower Farm, or (2) pair New Preston with Washington Depot and Washington Ct, and visit that area’s “scattered” stores as you drive over to the Grace Mayflower Inn and Spa, as Marguerite and I did. While there you can stroll the beautiful property, see the ground floor rooms of the inn, visit its gift shop and have a drink on the deck that overlooks the Shakespeare Garden. (3) Visit New Preston and then drive over to Kent, Ct, and visit its boutiques, galleries, eateries, book store and antique stores on both north and south Main Street. Whatever one you choose, you will have a wonderful day, I’ve been to them all.