To me, decorating is about storytelling. And nothing tells a story better than a collection.  A collection immediately communicates who you are, and how you like to live.  It adds a lot of depth and interest to your environment, not to mention personality.  Here at Connecticut Country House we’re all about collecting, whether it’s antique painted furniture or brand new white porcelain plates, they all have a certain style in common but with very distinct features.

Many of the things we love to collect come from nature.  Love, love, love bringing the outdoors in. It adds such an earthiness and richness to any part of the house.  One of the things we love collecting the most is shells.  A collection that started so simply on a Nantucket beach by filling a small pail with scallop, oyster, and clam shells, has grown to include a group of larger scaled antique clam shells from the Pacific Ocean that we had found in our travels.

The beauty is not just in their sculptural forms, but in the endless decorating opportunities. I feel, as with most collections, the impact comes from grouping them together in one or just a few key areas. Much of the collection is primarily housed in two spots: a salmon painted 18th century corner cupboard that is chock full of nature’s curiosities, and the over mantle cupboards of the tiny parlor.

In addition, I’m constantly re-styling, and no matter what season, this collection brings an unexpected and understated elegance to the interiors. For example, in the bay window in the early summer, I love to incorporate a big freshly cut bouquet of creamy white peonies in with the three largest clam shells, and then for the rest of the summer the shells live there (with a fabulous southern exposure) in all their grandeur and purity.  At Christmastime, I adorn evergreen garlands with found mussel, clam, oyster, and scallop shells.  I hot glue a short piece of floral wire to the back side of each shell and tie them onto the garlands. This look simply and seamlessly incorporates the smaller shells of the collection into the Christmas and overall decor. In the winter I love mixing whites, so I tuck a few key pieces in with a small collection of creamware.  And in the spring I fill old tomato red maple syrup buckets to the brim with an assortment of shells that were hand collected over the many past summer vacations – great memories that make for good stories.


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