Saturday, July 23, 2016

Casa Kirkpatrick - interiors chez La Contessa



Do you remember what it was like to discover the imaginary landscape of books in your childhood? The ones that marked you? To understand that somewhere between the author's words and your imagination, an entire universe could enfold?

I would close my eyes and try to conjure the wisps of snow and taste of Turkish Delight in Narnia or the newsboy cries and horse-hoof clops of Dickens' London. Crouched amidst my dirty clothes in the oak closet of our Victorian house, I knew, I knew that those vistas were the key to a world far bigger than what my little mind with an open heart could fathom. That time travel and possibly even magic just might exist. Perpetually hungry, I would feast on each word until I could picture every detail and not a solitary crumb remained behind.

Fast forward many years and adventures in the real world to this past May. Despite numerous novels consumed, for various reasons, my vision had shrank to almost not knowing...that is until a truly wonderful friend invited me to be a guest in her home. 

Those of you who have been reading here for nearly any length of time (for which I thank you with all of my heart) are aware of Elizabeth, aka La Contessa. Some of you might even refer to her as "All Caps Contessa" for her tendency to exclaim rather than calmly state the obvious. She has long since been something of a Fairy Godmother figure for me (this despite that our ages are not so very far apart), having first sent me as a nearly beribboned present to the amazing Ellie O'Connell Decret (who has since become a dear friend) and then tempting me Westward in order that we could finally meet in person after nearly seven years of correspondence. Her timing was impeccable. She knew that she was needed.

And perhaps, she had an inkling of the delight that would wash over me from the very first instant that I stepped inside the home that she shares with the Italian (more about him soon) and a menagerie of animals. The charm spell was immediate and permanently cast. I clapped my hands in delight for the décoration that had been lovingly set over the 22 years after the couple had bought and renovated the house perched over a rose-filled ravine. The Italian set the brick floors by hand to remind La Contessa of one of her favorite castellos in the Italy where they had lived together while their boys were small things. The many years of having her own antique shop, the Hen House, brought about the arrival of myriad objets, such as a sleigh in the center of the living room, which made sense to her as well as to me. 

"So, what do you want to do today?" she would ask, as I would stretch sleepily after a night of deep dreaming. Sheepishly I would always reply, "Can we just stay here?" and often she would accommodate my wish, as a good hostess tends to do. For I could and did spend days exploring in the miniature and relaxing in the grandeur. Transformed, I was Alice and had found a Wonderland.


















Our mutual friend Ellie was in my thoughts constantly, for I knew that she would be as fascinated as I was. And so I picked up my camera for the first time in months so that I could share this novel landscape with her, far away on the other side of two oceans...and with you too. The allure of such enchantment is irresistible to all but the unwisely hardened, non?

Like Winston, their beloved Corgi, I find myself perched and waiting for a return - mine - to Casa Kirkpatrick. I have a wishing feeling it will happen but until then I can summon it in my mind just as I did while savoring the tales of my youth.



Today is Elizabeth's birthday. I spoke to her this morning as she was setting up a table under the enormous bronze chandelier in the garden for this evening's festivities. She sounded happy and relaxed as she does more often than not. How I wish that I was there to join the celebration...but from a far I raise a glass of virtual Prosecco to you, my beautiful friend.

Félicitations et Joyeux Anniversaire! 
Tanti baci,
Heather 

I actually also did a post for her birthday last year, she deserves no less.
And she is also the only person who I have ever asked to write a guest post for Lost in Arles.
Lastly, chez elle she currently has up a wonderful story about how she met her Husband - thanks to the House of Gucci - in 1984. 

****

PS. As she is one of the most generous people that I have ever met, I don't think that La Contessa would mind if I add a word on "her" birthday post to thank all of you. So please know that your incredible responses to my previous post touched me deeply and yet did not surprise me in the least. You are a wonderful group of people and I am very fortunate to be able to welcome you here.

54 comments:

  1. I am in awe of the photos of that marvelous home! WOW! Thanks for sharing.
    Best & Bisous,
    Michelle from Simply Santa Barbara

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    1. You are so welcome, Michelle. Countdown six days and counting until Ellie returns to California! ;)

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  2. Like the cave of Ali Baba from 1001 Nights! Amazing Contessa! Amazing all three women in my bloglife!

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  3. You had me at Narnia. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELIZABETH!!!!

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    1. M E R C I..........................next year will YOU SING FOR ME??!!!!!XX

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  4. What a dream palace! She lives up to her moniker as a contessa. And this, after the fantastic tale of how she met The Italian.

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    1. Isn't it perfect? She told it to me while I was out visiting and I swooned!

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  5. GOOD GRIEF!
    AFTER spending MY DAY with a lovely FRIEND and then having FAMILY for DINNER at CASA KIRKPATRICK last night outside under the BIG bronze chandelier I too had to pinch myself!!!For I was transported to another time and place.The WEATHER was PERFECT.............all through the evening when I finally sat down to look at my phone and read YOUR BEAUTIFUL TAKE on MY ABODE!!!!Your photos took MY BREATH away.............IS THAT REALLY MY ABODE?Do I live in THIS?I guess I DO!!!It may NOT work for SOME but I have been a COLLECTOR of things, older things for YEARS all MY LIFE REALLY!And I just ADORE TO LOOK AT THEM....................Now DUST does comes too frequently to VISIT also, but I have come to terms with THAT!
    HEATHER,YOU fill MY HEART with YOUR GIFT TO ME!!!!
    MERCI........BELLA DONNA IN GAMBA!
    XOXOXO

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  6. Oh you did it. You captured the magic that is Casa Kirpatrick. Beautiful shots of a beautiful home and beautiful woman. Happy Birthday dearest Contessa. She's truly the fairy godmother we all wished for. Dressed to the nines and beyond. Lucky you!

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    1. Definitely Lucky Me. And I am jealous to know that you two are spending the day together!

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  7. What a wonderful dedication to Contessa. This home is made from a special woman for a special woman and shows her personality (so far I am allowed to form my opinion) and.... I LOVE IT

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    1. Yes, R you are allowed! And you are right on target too.

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  8. Such a beautiful post Heather! The Contessa's home is indeed wonderful (I have visited!) and you have captured it! I love the color of the light in the photos - late afternoon perhaps? Truly a sumptuous meal for the eyes! Bellisimo!

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    1. Mais oui, Shireen. Exactly. Late afternoon. :) I have some more coming up from the same time of the day, different part of the house. There is no way I could only do ONE post!

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  9. What a treasure chest of a special woman's lovelies!! Wonderful photos and a great tribute to La Contessa on her birthday! She and her home have truly piqued my interest-through your writing and your photos. I've always loved reading her comments -so alive!! Happy Birthday La Contessa!

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    1. THANK YOU!!!!IT was a BEAUTIFUL DAY and NIGHT...........JUDI of Little House!!!XX

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  10. It's wonderful to have a caring Fairy Godmother. Happy Birthday La Contessa.

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  11. Ahhhh! Beautiful photos of a beautiful home! You've captured the magic allure perfectly; it reminds me a little of the house in Mason but on steroids - non? I know this trip was soothing for you; I'm so grateful to her for having you out. Happy Happy Birthday, Elizabeth! p.s. the last photo with the Corgi looks like a painting! I love it!

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    1. HELLO DEAR SISTER...............I THANK YOU!MY WINSTON was with me all night!Even until the candles stopped in the garden at 11:30 PM!HE LOVES ME NO END as he was resting on the tissue paper on top of the gravel from all the lovely gifts!XX

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  12. A lovely post Heather, love your tribute to Contessa who is extraordinary, talented and very creative. Love her style and her collection of antiques. Casa Kirkpatrick is magical.

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    1. YOU MADAME have an OPEN invitation!
      XX

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  13. Happy birthday to Contessa...what a lovely, joyful, magical home you have!! Beautifully photographed Heather :) x

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    1. IT is a COLLECTION of OBJECTS............that have SPOKEN to me!
      THANK YOU!!!
      XX

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  14. All I can say is to quote Liberace, and possibly Mae West: Too much of a good thing is wonderful! Meant in the best sense and as the highest possible compliment. I too love "stuff" and am definitely not a minimalist! How do those people manage with just one bowl in their salon? E is a magical woman and her house the lair of a magician. I am inspired to continue shopping.
    bonnie in provence

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    1. GO BONNIE GO!!!!
      THINK Of ME and that will allow you to KEEP on shopping as I canNOT get there your hometown too often!!!!!!!I have heard WONDERFUL things about YOU from our DEAR friend HERE!I sat NEXT to LIBERACE on AIR CALIFORNIA when I was maybe 8!Perhaps I picked up on HIS esthetics? HE DID HAVE JOY FOR LIFE!He drew me a piano with CANDELABRA with HIS NAME...................I MUST GO FIND THAT!THANK YOU!LOVE YOUR COMMENT!XX

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  15. I adore these pictures of her house and it is soon her! Love it.

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    1. BIG HUG across the POND!!!!!!!!!THANK YOU!
      XX

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  16. Fantastic home, I could get lost there exploring for hours. And what an incredible friend, the truest definition of the word, I would love to meet her, she sounds so utterly delightful. Xxx

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    1. Well, I would LOVE to meet YOU too and your chickens and CHILDREN!XX

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  17. Thank you Heather for the perfect tribute to a wonderful lady. In my dreams I wander around her abode and
    explore to my hearts content. What a wonderful tease.

    Ali

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    1. It is a dreamland, Ali. Even in the midst of day!
      xo

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  18. I had no doubt that our Contessa lives in a lost magical abode. And she has a knack for putting them together and making everything look absolutely gorgeous. We visited a castle during our recent trip to England and I kept thinking of how she would love all the lovely things on display. I need to write about it soon and share some photos.

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    1. Please do Loree! I saw bits and pieces on instagram but would love more. And what is so wonderful about her house is that every piece looks like it is EXACTLY where it belongs!

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  19. Volare. Domenico Modugno. Auguri La Contessa di Bellezza. Viva Italia.

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    1. Perfetto, Daniel.

      Of course as my Mother is from Martin's Ferry, Ohio I have to choose the Dean Martin version. Scusa!

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    2. Allora. Okay. Mi fai ridere Heather.

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  20. Heather, thanks for the peek.
    And who wouldn't want that sleigh in their living room?
    Happy belated Birthday Elizabeth.
    Bernadette

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    1. Exactly? It is far lovelier than what I was able to capture.

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  21. I could move right in, it's all I love. yvonne.

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    1. It is a real delight, Yvonne. It truly is...

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  22. What a lovely story, and a fascinating abode.

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  23. Mark Olmsted sent me your link because I was looking for some thoughtful blogs to read, having just returned to blogging after a long leave. You use just the right words.

    I do not think I would ever have wanted to leave her home. I'm afraid to start reading her--oh, envy & all :0.

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    1. Hello there Mary and welcome! Thank you for your kind words (and to Mark for making the recommendation). There are nothing but truly lovely people here, as you will see.

      And I would say that one can't be too jealous of Elizabeth (a sneaky devil, jealousy, I agree) because she is so generous in her spirit and she is so completely aware of her good fortune and owns her happiness completely. Something that I wish to strive for and do!

      With my very Best to you,
      Heather

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  24. Your photographs of her house are soooo different than her photographs of her house! It looks so different than how I imagined it! I'm sure this was fun for her to see through your eyes. A wonderland indeed!

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    1. I know! That is why I wanted to take so many photos (and there are more to come) because - and Elizabeth knows how much I love her but photopgraphy is not at its best for showing off the house. Selfies? Yes but the house is more beautiful than we normally get to see.

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  25. Heather, Elizabeth's house is a magical wonderland! I cannot even imagine all of the stories of each piece that she has lovingly collected. You are a dear friend to a very special lady! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I did ask for some of the stories behind everything but I could have spent days! Because each story was just as interesting as the piece itself.

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  26. She is a true artiste is she not? And what a wonderful treat that you were her guest. So so happy for both of you...the only thing missing was ME !!! Sending love, my darling friend.....

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  27. What a wonderful tribute!! I loved all the pictures and look forward to more! The gardens alone are so beautiful. I can't believe it's all been done in 22 years...
    everything is gorgeous.

    p.s. I hope Ellie has made it back home to SB safe and sound...
    She is one tough amazing woman.

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