Home blends style, comfort in autumn

Mary Carol Garrity
Tribune News Service

About 10 years ago, I asked my friend Lisa if she would do something huge for me. Could we feature her home in my book “Feather Your Nest”? Lisa is no stranger to crews invading her home, with cameras, tripods and big boxy lights. Her beautifully renovated historic colonial has been featured in lots of publications, has been used as the set for many advertising shoots and been on tours several times. I was giddy when she said yes.

Recently, I popped the question to Lisa again. I had heard through Anne, one of the designers at Nell Hill’s who worked with her on her home, that Lisa’s house was going to be featured for a fall homes tour to benefit the high school her girls attend. There is nothing like having your home on a tour to light a fire under you to make all those decorating changes you’ve been thinking about.

I knew Lisa’s home, which is always jaw-droppingly gorgeous, would look its very best for the tour. So, I asked, pretty please, could we sneak in the day before the tour and take photos for my blog? Always gracious, Lisa said yes again. To thank her, a few of the designers were very happy to help her get the house ready.

It was so fun to see how Lisa’s home has evolved over the past decade. Some of the design elements I was over the moon about in her home, like her enviable collection of dishes used in displays, are still the same. Others have changed a bit, evolving with the changing tastes and needs of this busy family of five. Like her lighting. Lisa said she thought her lamps looked a bit dated, with their slender bases and dark shades. So she came shopping at Nell Hill’s and found some interesting ceramic lamps with chunky bases and white boxy shades. It was amazing how just that little change gave her home a fresh, new feel.

While I love Lisa’s house all the time, her rich color palette and collection of accents look particularly amazing in the fall. She doesn’t go over the top when she decorates for fall, just adding a touch here and there to her existing displays. Her fountain, drained for the fall, looks perfect filled with fall gourds and mums.

Lisa is a skilled collector of beautiful things. She scouts antique stores and flea markets, looking for treasures, which she displays brilliantly throughout her home. At times, she will create thematic displays where she amasses a few similar items together, like her collection of Toby mugs in her kitchen. But usually, you’ll find the pieces subtly woven in through displays around her home. Lisa also is gifted at using natural elements in her decor.

I think Lisa is particularly gifted at designing custom bedding for her home. She fearlessly mixes patterns and colors, not shying from saturated hues. I’ll share more in a future blog about her daughters’ drop-dead-gorgeous bedrooms, so stay tuned. The main floor guest room has a soothing color palette of browns, gold, blues and cream. I want to curl up on this oh-so-inviting bed and never leave!

The guest room not only has wonderful views of the garden, it also has a door that leads out to the covered patio, where the family held Friday Night Fires when the girls were little, roasting s’mores. Lisa laughs that her three daughters, now all teens, “have better things to do on Friday night than hang out with us!” If you’ve had a teen, you can totally relate.

Lisa is my soul mate when it comes to creating tablescapes. Like me, she’s crazy about plaid, so she started her dining table display with a plaid throw, turned on the diagonal, as a table topper. She layered up, starting with a wicker charger, then stacking a mix of dishes in a palette of warm brown. Amber glasses are a perfect pick. And, a bouquet of fresh flowers finishes the look off with an exclamation point. Love!

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at nellhills.com.