When my daughter and I visited Boston this summer on an ancestry-inspired trip to learn about the places where my great-great-grandparents (and those before them) lived, we also took in some of the city’s historical and artistic attractions.
The courtyard garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum alone was worth the price of our tickets. I’ve always been attracted to Italian architecture and to the idea of an enclosed garden. Imagine being able to look out from any room in the house and see a sunlit green space! It’s magical.
Her garden is even more remarkable than I expected. To the untrained eye (mine), it’s a harmonious design tastefully studded with statues and other collectibles. And it has great light.
Critics point out that it’s singular in vision and design because it combines elements from many eras (Roman, Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance) in a way that’s congruous.
The rest of the museum is the same way: full of an eclectic array of art, arranged in a salon style in each room, along with decadent window and wall treatments, tapestries, and furniture. You can just picture the dignitaries, artists, writers, and academicians wandering the rooms in wonder.
Among the couches, chairs, and rugs, I noticed a pattern in her furniture buying habits: writing desks. They were sprinkled throughout the museum and made me realize, perhaps, why I liked this place so much. Her life was about beauty: artistic works, gardens, personal connections, and the handwritten word.
What a sense of camaraderie! These are all reasons I started my own business and the way I approach my life. I, too, collect art and value reading and writing. I love creating spaces where people gather easily, places that inspire conversation and reflection. And I love creating, along with Sarah, greeting cards to inspire these same things.
Even though we don’t have a courtyard at our house, our garden is central to our lives. The house, the gazebo, and our backyard studio enclose a garden of multi-level growing spaces; our living room, dining room, kitchen, and studio all have windows from which you can peer out onto the garden. We’ve created our own kind of magic here.
On the website for the Gardner Museum is a quote by architecture critic Robert Campbell: “...the Gardner is more remarkable than it looks at first,” he says. “This is a palace that has been turned inside out…The Gardner’s real facades are the four sides of the atrium…these mottled indoor facades are washed by sunlight that is modulated…in such a way that it often resembles light reflected off water, as it would be in Venice.”
I like to think of my garden, my home, and my business the same way. I’ve taken everything I’ve learned from a life of travel and artistry and gathered it all together in order to encourage connection between people, just like Isabella. My surroundings—and our products—softly reflect everything I hold dear, like Venice canals or the ocean at sunset.