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Happy Friday! You won’t believe the treat I’ve got for you today!!!?My ever-growing love of gardens has led me to read a feature in House Beautiful several years ago about a mother & daughter enterprise called Hillbrook Collections. I was stunned at the time because their garden sheds were some of the most beautiful I’d ever seen. You see, Hillbrook Collections is for many garden lovers the answer to an unspoken prayer.?Run by Alison Carabasi, it is a family owned company that fills a gap in the market. They produce beautiful garden structures, inspired by classical architecture, that are tailored and handcrafted out of the finest woods by local Pennsylvania craftsmen.

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A couple of days ago I read a most interesting story. A few years back, a couple in Britain, Sarah and Andrew Howard, were looking to buy a property in the beautiful Cotswolds region. After months of searching in vain, they came across their dream home. The problem? Well, there were several. First, the home was not in their desired location. Second, it was in shambles. Although still retaining its original charm, the 18th-century Georgian manor was set to be soon dismantled.

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(The Old Manor, as the Howards found her)

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One of my favorite creatives to follow on Instagram is Atlanta-based tastemaker Danielle Rollins. She is a constant source of inspiration with everything she does – she’s an interior designer, lifestyle expert and, as of last year, she has her own fashion label. She’s talented, she’s beautiful, but most of all, she’s a survivor.?

I remember pouring over pages of her previous home, perfectly decorated by Miles Redd, and thinking how much I admired her tented breakfast room with its soft blue and white striped walls. Well, after a very public and trying divorce, Danielle found herself in search of new beginnings.?

“I had just gone through a divorce and lost just about everything”, says Rollins. When my book Soirée came out a few years ago, I was being asked to give talks on stylish entertaining, even though, at the time, I had moved out of my home and barely even had any paper plates! So,?I bought truly the ugliest house, but it was on a great street for a price I could afford,” she says. “I resolved to turn it into a showcase for everything I wanted to do.”

For that, she enlisted architect extraordinaire Bill Ingram and together they renovated the pedestrian Georgian home built in the 1970s, turning it into a dream home for Danielle, her parents and her three children.?

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A couple of weeks ago I started a series of blog posts about a small Cape Cod style cottage that is for sale in our neighborhood. You can read the first post sbo365 zenyHERE. We won’t be putting an offer on the house but we were seriously thinking about it at some point. To make sure we were prepared, I had a virtual makeover planned to see whether this home could fit our needs and style.

Today I’ll share some of my ideas for the exterior.??My starting point was a picture of a beautiful home in Lyme, Connecticut that I saved a long time ago for occasions just like this one. I think it’s made its way onto most of my wish-lists over the years because it scores so high on all aspects – architecture, scale, landscaping. The architecture is rooted in the American vernacular, which I adore, and the landscaping includes that ideal boxwood hedge and pickets the American dream is all about.

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While doing some research for Wednesday’s post, I came across some progress pictures that got me thinking. They are shared by Clayton Woodworks Carpentry of San Francisco and give us a glimpse into the great amount of work that goes into a project like this before we can admire the glossy shots published in our favorite magazines.

It’s easy to imagine that the business of interior design is a glamorous one, one that consists of endless shopping trips with clients, selecting colors and playing around with pretty fabrics. But the reality is very?different. While it’s true that the design process itself is fun and exciting, it is also true that it only represents a small fraction of the job. The rest is a delicate balancing act between many different trades and vendors, project managing and coordinating craftsmen and artisans, dealing with unexpected setbacks and deadlines, constant trouble shooting. And then there’s that budget.

And while architects and designers can create beautiful drawings and mood boards and interior plans for their clients, it takes a lot of hard work and skill to implement those creative ideas.?So this post is dedicated to all of those talented people behind the scenes, from vendors, contractors, paperhangers, seamstresses, and other artisans, and of course project managers, whose names often get forgotten (if ever mentioned) because they are the people that make any beautifully imagined home come to life!

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