an old piece of chintz from the 19th century-once a curtain,
along with a collection of terracotta figures
'What you see is the accumulation of a lifetime. Nothing was acquired for the rooms. Rather the rooms were acquired for the things. I am a very sentimental woman. I love presents and keep everything I get. The things bought as presents seldom end up by being given: if I like enough to buy it, I like it enough to keep it. It means double shopping. Objects become such a part of me that I would feel like a multiple amputee if I had to part with any of them. The way I have it figured I will part from them long before they part form me.'
Ivory Objects on an 18th century English lacquer desk in the living room
'There are many dear friends in my life who are professional and gifted decorators. I ask a lot of questions and usually get helpful and practical answers. I have always felt however, that friends are more valuable than decorations and I believe firmly in the rule that friends should not work for friends.'
Comfort reigns in the sun-filled living room. All the pictures in the room are needlepoint, except for the Tissot painting above the fireplace.
'So in great part I have done these rooms alone. There is no other stamp on them but my own. The mistakes and oddities are mine and I like them, warts and all. I have many self-imposed rules, which seem to work for me. Every key position in the room should have proper light to read or sew, a place to put a drink, an ashtray, or a book. There should always be something red in a room, be it merely a cushion, a bit of lacquer, or the whole room. And always something living-a dog, a cat, or flowers-as well as a burning fire or lighted candles.'
the Dining Room reflects a lived in English elegance
A brass tester bed has traveled across oceans,
the headboard is covered in an antique quilt
a Basket of Ribbons for her hair
"God blessed me with a happy spirit and many other gifts.
What I was not blessed with I went out and got.
Sometimes the price was too high,
but I've never been much of a bargain hunter."
from her memoir (1991)
Photographs by Francois Halard
Words in italics written by Nancy, Lady Keith-better known as SLIM.
House and Garden January 1987
in the NYTimes here