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Virginia Historic Homes & Gardens Week
May 09, 2014 in Historic Homes, Regional Style | one comment

I just returned from an annual ‘Ladies Trip’ with the Bosque Arts Center.  Every year or so our very organized leader creates a trip for 30 women to an area of the country to learn about historic homes, antiques, art and gardens.   This year’s trip was to the Virginia Historic Homes & Gardens Week.

The tour focused primarily on gardens, but you were also able to tour many of the home’s interiors.  Unfortunately, you could not take photos inside of any of the homes!  However, I have a lot of great exterior photos, some photos from the homes’ websites, and some lovely garden shots. 

Here are some of my favorites:

A very traditional home, except for the hot pink front door!

house with hot pink front door

hot pink door

Another traditional home.  This was my favorite on the inside.  The home had been updated with gray paint (Sherwin Williams, Worldly Gray), seagrass rugs and a blend of antiques and new pieces.  It reminded me of many Houston homes.


traditional home with porch and portico

This white brick home had my favorite patio pavers, bluestone.

bluestone pavers to traditional brick

This home looked like an English cottage nestled in the woods. The homeowners are true Anglophiles and the interior décor matches the exterior theme.

english cottage style home

Many of the homes were on the national historic register, including this one from poet Anne Spencer. 

anne spencer home

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Anne’s kitchen with red padded doors and poetry on the wall.  Her home and garden is filled with gifts from well-known artists and creative types.  The house also has a really vibrant use of color.  Each room is different, but there are a lot of bright pinks, blues, greens, reds and so on. Very colorful.

anne spencer kitchen

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As you can tell, the weather wasn’t the best, but this is the pergola in her back yard.  No stained wood for her!

anne stephens pergola

Also on the tour was the Tuckahoe Plantation, boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson.


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tuckahoeThere was a big crowd at this home and I had time to look up and notice the color of the roof on the front porch:

Tuckahoe, haint blue porch

This is an example of the Southern tradition of painting a porch ceiling “Haint Blue”.   We also saw this tradition when we visited the home of President James Monroe.  This is the original home: 

James Monroe's original home

A Victorian addition was connected to the original home at one point in time (shown below).  Despite the paint selection of mustard and brick, they also painted the ceiling blue.  The story goes that spirits of the dead can not cross a body of water, so therefore they can not cross past the blue ceiling.  James Monroe's home, haint blue porch

I think these days most Southerners just paint the porch ceiling blue to replicate the sky, but if there are added benefits, all the better, right?

Finally, one of our last stops on the trip was to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.  I had never been before, but had visited the University of Virginia and really admired Jefferson’s skill in architecture and use of symmetry.  The house was designed in a similar style. 


Again, we could not take photos of the interior, but I have inserted these photos from their website. 

The millwork detail is incredible, as are the windows and skylights. 

Dining room with adjacent tea room:


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Many of the rooms are octagon shaped and were inspired by the Italian Architect, Andrea Palladio.  The windows were a true extravagance for the time.  The middle window in this room has 3 sashes.  The bottom 2 lift up and one could walk out onto the patio as if it were a door.  


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Another interesting room was Jefferson’s bedroom.  It connects to his office (also an octagon).   The 3 openings above let light into his closet which is up a set of stairs.  He placed this bed into an alcove area to allow for more floor space. 


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I wanted to share these historical homes in case you have not had the opportunity to visit yourself.  We can always learn from the past, even if only to find out what to do differently in the future.  

I believe there is a lot to be learned from historical exterior and interior architecture in order to create beautiful homes that are timeless, classic and chic.  This trip was a great opportunity to reinforce that philosophy and add to my knowledge of Classicism in Architecture, which, in turn, will improve my ability to create better interiors for my clients!  Hopefully you’ve managed to pick up a couple of thoughtful ideas to make your home or designs better, as well.