England’s earls and ladies inhabit a world we can only imagine as it is revealed to us on our television screens. But what we can relate to is how important home and tradition are to the inhabitants of Downton Abbey, the captivating PBS series. Perhaps it has inspired us to practice the art of gracious living, to appreciate the legacy of good enduring design and to add a touch of elegance to our own homes. Here are some ways to enjoy grace on a royal scale.
- Corner wedge tufted chair: This unique seating from Bradington- Young is all the more elegant for its tufted velvet-soft leather upholstery. Mahogany legs make it even more formal. Perch to read the morning paper or sit as you dip into a genuine leather-bound book of the works of William Shakespeare complete with gilt-edged pages.
- Grand Scale Trestle Table: At Downton Abbey, servants are continually bustling about the “mile-long” table. However, when you set this commodious table, you can do it in a manner any butler would take pride in. Such a table is an investment in family dining traditions, as well as a meeting place for all manner of projects. This is what separates today from the drama and illusion of TV–the reality of how much we can truly enjoy our homes and family and friends. But beloved things can transport us to the specialness of home, such as this elegant Wedgwood floral bouquet teacup with gold accents or Waterford’s Lismore cobalt pitcher.
- Master/Mistress Chairs: The earl and the lady take their places at meals in Downton Abbey in beautifully upholstered armchairs—and so can you. With majestic fabric the, Sommersbey arm chairs also have a hand waxed cherry finish, the touch of caring from generation to generation.
What fun to have a Downton Abbey breakfast with food displayed along the top of an English-style buffet like the Grandover dining room furniture buffet. For extra space, there is a drop-front drawer as well as swing-out drawers and adjustable shelving. The linens of the house will have most appropriate storage behind beautiful burl-fronted doors.
To make a breakfast buffet in Downton Abbey style, visit the recipe file at Essentially England. Their mulled wine recipe is sure to make a snowy afternoon warm and cozy:
- 3 tbsp loose-leaf tea (or six teabags)
- 1 litre of boiling water
- 1 whole orange
- 2-3 cloves
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 bottle of red wine
- sugar to taste
- lemon slices to serve
The most important thing to remember about mulled wine is that it must not boil! Otherwise you lose all the warming effects of the wine and most of the flavor. The second most important thing is not to use an aluminum pan. Go for stainless steel or something non-stick.
Cut the orange in thick slices and place in the pan.
Add the cinnamon stick, cloves and tea.
Add the water and bring to the boil. You want the spiced tea to be very strong.
When it’s at that stage, turn the heat down and add the wine. Stir and add sugar to taste. Just heat it enough for the sugar to dissolve.
Serve with sliced lemon and mince pies.
- King-Size Four-Poster Bed: Definitely upstairs, carved delicate spires adorn this bed in a Dune and Beach finish from the Sanctuary collection with the unique feature of having a reversible headboard: one side is wood and the other a padded linen. Linens from Nancy Koltes will also make the bed a very personal choice in a calm and serene space. Nancy creates her linens with the loving attention to detail that was the hallmark of the Edwardian Age.
- Primrose Hill dresser: Lady’s maids and butlers tend to the residents of Downton Abbey with great care. And there was a place for everything and everything in its place. (You might recall the “tragedy” of a misplaced shirt in one episode.) “A place for everything” is what this eight-drawer bedroom furniture dresser offers today’s home. Shelves are adjustable and there are mirrors behind each door to check that wisp of hair or tie knot as one leaves the privacy of the bedroom ready to meet the world rested and refreshed. We may be on our own in the 21st century, but we can still have a nice legacy from the past in the usefulness and design of our furnishings.
- Chelsea Accent Armchair: Befitting a bedchamber, this traditional chair surprises with artistic patterned linen upholstery. No matter how much we are captivated by the past, we feel completely free to add the look of today. It makes for a harmonious and pleasing blend.
- Sum: When the credits begin to roll across the screen, we know we have to leave Downton Abbey for another week or even another season. Knowing that we can’t go to such a time past, we can enjoy the legacy of good enduring design and a way of life that reminds us to pause from time to time to enjoy the truly finer things in our lives. These include such times as a ramble with the dog or tea with a cherished aunt. There always seems to be time for such moments on Downton Abbey. When all is said and done at the Abbey, it is the people both upstairs and downstairs who matter most. Kind, wise people are never out of date.