Several weeks ago I read an article in the Washington Post about an upcoming exhibit, Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post at her Hillwood Estate, which is located on the edge of Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C.
The article indicates the exhibit is to unfold as if we are invited guest to one of Merriweather-Post parties. So, when you walk through the mansion doors, you are immediately shown to the powder room before being shown into the French Drawing Room by a footman. This was a Louis XVI neoclassical room that had large hanging tapestries and furniture items of royal provenance, including a Marie Antoinette dressing table chair. The hallways to the drawing room had displays of Russian porcelain, which was a lifetime love of Merriweather-Post. If we were overnight guest there would have been a maid to unpack and iron our clothing, as well as chefs to prepare our meals. If we walked through the gardens we would see the grounds-keepers tending to and caring for the flora on the properties.
In a world where Merriweather-Post managed three homes artfully; summers at Camp Topridge in New York’s Adirondacks; winters at Mar-A-Largo in Palm Beach, FL; spring and fall in the neo-Georgian Hillwood mansion, which the article states was the home “dearest to her heart”, she was able to do it all through careful planning.
The curator of the exhibit, Estella Chung states that Merriweather-Post did not leave diaries or detailed journals of personal correspondence, but only schedules, seating charts and linen diaries recording the smallest details of “Living Artfully”.
[Turnip greens from Heath garden}
I started thinking we can all live luxuriously without having inherited an empire. With careful planning we too can have delicious food, fabulous art and well-tended gardens. What is the old saying “necessity is the mother of invention”?
During the average workweek my day starts at 5:00 am and I find that prepping foods the night before can speed up the cooking process when I get home in the evenings. For example, if you peel onions and garlic, wash celery stalks and then place them in zip-lock bags, you are that much closer to making a savory pot of chili. Adding a bit of ripe English Stilton or Brie cheese (from Trader Joes) to a platter along with either cheese-crackers or homemade cornbread, and you have a most satisfying meal.
Planning the weekend schedule, I have brothers who are amazing when it comes to helping with yard work. They help with pulling weeds, planting crops and flowers, as well as watering the gardens and lawn.
And finally, when it comes to precious art, nothing beats what we as a family have collected during our travels throughout the world or made with our own hands. But every now and then, we will head to the city to preview art from the various galleries or the Smithsonian.
So, if you are smart and manage your finances you too can live an extremely luxurious life, at much less the cost!!!