Over the weekend, we went to western Massachusetts to gather with family. We’re fairly wide-flung these days, so getting us all in one place always takes a bit of effort. But it makes for a great excuse for a vacation in a beautiful place that brims with music, theater, dance, art museums, hiking trails, delicious restaurants, and gracious homes.
Among which, Edith Wharton’s The Mount, the house she designed and had built to her specifications (following the design principles in the book she co-authored with her architect friend, Ogden Codman, Jr.).
Simplicity (keeping in mind that this is, of course, a mansion), open space, uncluttered rooms, symmetry, classically-inspired designs, influenced by nature. These were the principles by which she built the house.
To which I’d also add practicality: wide doorways; large, light-welcoming windows free from heavy drapery; rooms that open into each other and onto a central hallway to give easy access to each room (several architectural features, I now realize, that it shares with the great Brick Dwelling at the Hancock Shaker Village, located not far from The Mount).
She looked back to an aesthetic from an earlier time, but she looked forward for comfort and convenience. The house is equipped with an elevator, and electric call bells to summon the staff (simplicity is all well and good, but Edith wasn’t about to clean her own house or cook her own food).
I stood for a long time in her bedroom, staring at her bed, where it is said she did most of her writing (including the novel The House of Mirth), long hand, tossing finished pages onto the floor for her secretary to later collect and type up. And I thought about simplicity, and sunlight streaming through windows in a corner room, and words flowing onto leaves of white, fluttering down around her bed.
These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.