Thursday, July 23, 2009

Edith Wharton slept here, and wrote here, and bathed here...


Over the last few weeks I've been indulging in a pretty detailed series of posts on Edith Wharton's Berkshires home The Mount out in Lenox, MA. I've never spent so much time and thought on one property - ever. It's been a fascinating journey for me and I hope for you too!

We're ending up today with EW's most personal spaces - her boudoir, bedroom and bathroom. According to the tour information, her bedroom suite (on the second floor on the right, when facing the house from the rear) were the most significant rooms in this house filled with significance. Several of her books were written here and the design and decor epitomized her closely held precepts of interior design. Although her boudoir had a desk, she primarily did her writing in bed in the morning. The suite was the most private group of rooms in the house and servants could come and go from the various rooms without bothering her, regardless of which room she was occupying.

Here is a doctored floor plan - sorry it's a bit of a mess, but it's my recollection of the layout of the second floor, written over the Main Floor plan.


EW's Boudoir is an ornate jewel box of a room. The Boudoir is the room where she would have visited with close personal friends and handled the household business. Accordingly, the decorative detailing was quite high. Gorgeous, no? Ogden Codman, Jr. designed this space which included eight floral still-life paintings brought over from Milan. The original furnishings included a desk, a sofa, and a daybed, with toile curtains and upholstery. The original paint color has been restored and the room will eventually be re-decorated as it was in EW's time.





The cover of my edition of DoH, which was the first book assigned to us when I entered design school.EW's bathroom features wallpaper reproduced (by Scalamadré) from the original found in situ. Interestingly, EW was actually against the use of wallpaper as she felt it was unsanity and obscured architectural detail. And yet - wallpaper was used in both the bathroom and her bedroom. However, in keeping with her design theory, these two spaces - being private and not public - were very simply fitted.


Imagine, EW sitting in bed, in her bedclothes (aka jammies) with a lap desk and pen in hand - writing. I'm telling you, if she were here today, she'd be a blogger. Now, all I need is a secretary to pick up my pages as they float to the floor, and type them up for me! The bedroom wallpaper, which has also been reproduced from remnants found on site, is a soft felted paper. Note the complete difference in level of detailing between this room and her boudoir.

And the lovely lady herself. This is a photo I took of her photograph so much of the detail is lost. This dress and the jewels are every bit as stunning as the home itself. I hope you've enjoyed my visit to The Mount over these last few weeks. You can see all my posts here.



Click here to view a large scale slideshow of all my photos taken at The Mount.

A big thanks to the Edith Wharton folks for giving me a shoutout on their blog this week! I'm flattered by your kind words!

And finally, this special place is a true American treasure of both the decorative and literary arts. It's so important that the amazing restoration work being undertaken by the wonderful folks at EdithWharton.org continue. A year ago they were on the precipice of foreclosure. While the year was good to them, the difficult work of fund raising is never ending. Please consider making a donation in support. Thank you!

Today I am Hooked On Edith Wharton - join me at Julia from Hooked On Houses Friday Hooked on Party. What are you Hooked On?


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9 comments:

Julia said...

Lovely post. I like both rooms, love the colors. The more detailed room with the onlays and moldings is interesting to look at. The plainer bedroom feels very warm and welcoming.

La Maison Fou said...

Oh, thanks Linda this is wonderful. I always enjoy a personal & informative post. I have learned so much in the bloggin world! Have a lovely weekend!
Leslie

SamiG said...

Thank you for the lovely tour of the Mount. Edith Wharton has been a favorite of mine since I read "Ethan Frome" in high school. I only hope that the restoration continues to be properly funded and this wonderful piece of American literary history can continue being restored and maintained. Thank you again.

Samantha

Terry said...

Thanks for the floor plans. It really help me to understand what is going on.

sophiedahydesigns said...

Thank you! Thank you!!

J.Covington*Design said...

Fantastic post. That is an amazing place.

French furniture said...

All your posts on Edith Wharton are fantastic. You got me hooked!

Linda Merrill said...

Thanks so much everyone! I feel like I've just done a thesis - but have loved every minute! And, I neglected to mention that the are bringing in a new set of decorators - French this time - to re-do the rooms for next year. So, I may have to make another road trip next year!!

Patrice said...

Love the colors of her room. I noticed it always has a shade of color green. I am amazed with how beautiful her house is.

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