Welcome to Innisfree, My Cottage by the Lake

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When you have a crazy lifelong obsession with decorating, like I do, and you get to play with new styles, colors, patterns and decorating trends at work all day, like I do at Nell Hill’s, it’s hard to pick the one look for your home that’s your favorite. Maybe that’s why I tweak my home décor on a regular basis, especially when the seasons are changing. Right now, as the weather is getting cooler, I’m adding little touches here and there to make my cottage warm and snug.


In My Living Room, It’s all about the Plaid

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I am over the moon about all menswear fabrics. Show me a paisley, check or stripe, and my heart races. I love how these sophisticated, timeless patterns blend together to make a space rich, complex and unique. But my favorite fabric for fall and winter, hands down, is plaid. You’d think that after I’d been interned in Catholic school for years, dressed in that infamous plaid skirt uniform, every ounce of plaid passion would have been squeezed from my heart. But plaid and I, we married for life.

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As the weather gets colder, I swap out my summer pillows for fall pillows, with their heavier weights and richer colors. Every year I indulge myself in some new pillows just to keep things fresh.

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My new favorite, easy-as-pie trick to instantly warm up my décor is to poke in throw blankets. Especially when they are plaid! I always have at least one blanket on the arm of my sofa or tossed over the back of a chair. I keep a basket filled with throw blankets tucked under a table in the living room so I can pull one out to wrap up snug while I’m drinking my coffee every morning.

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This little wicker chair, with its front row view of our little lake, is one of my favorite places to sit on a chilly fall morning, wrapped up in a blanket, watching the sun rise, getting my mind and body ready for the day’s adventure.


My Dining Room is Set for Fun

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These days, Dan and I are a little less formal and a little more spontaneous when it comes to entertaining. I love to have friends over on a whim. To make instant dinner parties stress-free, I decided to come up with a tabletop design that I would keep in place all season. The place settings are at the ready, so all I have to do is swoop in after work and dish up the carryout!

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Instead of a tablecloth, which is harder to launder, I topped my table with two fabric runners, nestled under the place settings so I don’t need placemats.  (I adore this black and cream striped fabric so much I talked my sister Judy into covering her sofa in it.) My rule of thumb is to use only two runners on the table, then to put placemats under the table settings at the ends of the table.

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My centerpiece is about as easy as it gets: A potted plant I grabbed from the floral section of the grocery store flanked by two hurricane lamps from Nell Hill’s. For fun, I looped a fall ribbon through the stack of plates. The ticking napkins are really dish towels. I like their generous size and that they launder so well. When I change my table design for my holiday look, these cuties are going to replace the nasty, worn out dishtowels I’ve been using for way to long.


I can’t seem to ever set my table without using my simple white dishes. I’m caught up in their magnetic field, and I have been unable to extract myself because they are so darn fun and easy to decorate around. Everything looks great with them! I added some texture with my go-to wicker chargers and dotted in some color through these majolica dishes.


You know me: I can’t seem to have a dinner party without something crazy happening. A few days ago, I had a few girlfriends over for a quiet dinner when Couscous, one of our two cats (shown here, keeping the neighborhood squirrels in check from his throne in my bedroom), decided to liven things up.

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We had all the windows open to catch the fall breeze while we sat around the table, engrossed in conversation. Couscous, who was out prowling the neighborhood, decided he was coming inside. Instead of meowing at the door like a normal cat, he clawed his way up the arbor behind our house, then launched himself like a cannonball through the open window! Imagine our shock, as we’re chatting away, when suddenly a big fur ball comes flying through the open window and crashes on the floor with a thump! Scared us all to death, until we saw it was the crazy cat. Then we laughed so hard we cried!


The Outdoor Spaces are Dressed for Fall

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This is our second fall in our little lake cottage. But I wanted our garden to look full and mature, like it had been in place for decades. Since I don’t know the first thing about gardening, I hired Bill and Richard to come up with a landscaping plan. Some women overspend on clothing, shoes or jewelry. Me? I have sunk every dime of my little nest egg into paving stones, bushes and flowers. My wardrobe looks like hell, but my garden is magnificent!  In the photo above, Lyric is watching the world go by from the steps that lead to the lake, freshly landscaped this fall.


I love to spend time outdoors on crisp fall evenings. Most nights, Dan builds a fire and our neighbor wanders by with her dog Augie, Lyric’s best friend. While the dogs run around the lawn, we gather by the fire, wrapped up snug in blankets, unwinding after a long day at work, in our little cottage by the lake. Thanks for joining me at Innisfree, during this quiet respite before the hurly-burly fun of the holidays!

Next Week … If you’re like me, you often put off planning for holiday dinner guests until the last minute. I’ll have some fast and easy tips for making your Thanksgiving table so beautiful, it will look like you slaved for hours!