Vintage Better Homes and Gardens chez La Jolie Grandmere

One of my absolute favorite things to do when I am in Newport is to rummage through the boxes and boxes and boxes of family goodies. Each time I go a surprise or two awaits. This time was no exception.

La Jolie Grandmere had the most spectacular taste and sense of style. Each and every one of her homes was photographed for well known magazines. I have known about ElleDecor, House & Garden, and Country Life. Those were her European homes. I was surprised to come across a booklet of pictures taken in the 1950s of one of her homes in Rochester, NY which was photographed for Better Homes and Gardens. I had never seen these photographs taken long before I was born and even though the pictures depict a home of a certain era, her style is undeniably hers.

I wish these were in color. My grandmother's homes were always so bright and colorful... whimsical, cheerful and gay... That was a word she loved to use. For her all things that denoted happiness were gay. You'll notice the pedestal sink. After my grandmother recovered from Polio (left paralyzed) she designed her homes to better suit her needs. Also, the counter tops she used regularly were built to a lower height so she could work independently and comfortably. (As a child, her South of France kitchen was perfect for me!) My grandmother used a lot of mirrors in her bathrooms. The wall next to the sink is mirrored. She did this in the South of France as well. I loved it. I would look in and wave... dozens of me would appear and wave back. As an only child (who wanted siblings) this thrilled me to no end! As a mother of three of my own I look at the mirrored counter-top and wonder what on earth she was thinking. My children, especially my youngest, like to keep me entertained in my bathroom as I'm doing my hair or washing my face or, on a very rare occasion, putting on make-up. I can only imagine the smudges from little fingers as he might peer at his counter-top reflection, making faces at himself! Though my mother and her brother, I am sure, were much better mannered than my Alexander!

This kitchen is very distinctive of her style despite the obvious 50s style influence. The chairs with cushions and caning... the table that she obviously cleverly created using brick as legs to match her walls... Ah I love nothing more than exposed brick in a home, especially in a kitchen. I recognize her wooden salad bowls and the oil painting of the melon that traveled to all of her kitchens and now rests comfortably on my mother's kitchen wall.

This was a guestroom. Like the others, the bedrooms all opened up to the outside. Most likely this room was orange or pink or some bright and cheerful color. The bed linens were most likely white and trimmed with color. (Another trait that would appear in all her European homes.) Here, my mother commented that the small wrought iron table and chairs were all painted a different color. The pole (a support?) was wrapped in whimsical stripes. She left no detail untouched. She was a huge fan of built-ins if you look just above the pillows and to each side of the bed. I must ask my mother, what was in them. I see no bedside table or lamp, and my grandmother, an avid reader and writer would not have left out those important objets! There was an intercom system next to the bed. My grandmother's homes were always state of the art. And, if you look in the reflection of the glass door, you'll see the image of the photographer!

I wish there were more photographs... I would love to find more!