The Decoration of Houses (and gardens)

Edith Wharton is one of my favorite authors. I've read several of her books including The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, and The Buccaneers and for as long as I've known about Edith Wharton, I've wanted to visit her estate, The Mount. Yesterday, my boyfriend and I made an early start on a crisp fall Saturday to Lenox, Massachusetts in The Berkshires to take a guided tour of The Mount. The trip did not disappoint. We had an excellent tour guide named Anne and with a small group of other visitors had a two hour tour of the interior of the home. Photographs are allowed inside the house, although flash photography is not permitted inside.
The estate Edith Wharton built was certainly a triumph, but her greatest accomplishment was that although she had no formal education she is one of America's most celebrated authors. Her education came from her childhood governesses and her love of reading whatever she could find in the vast library of her childhood home. She then went on to write over 40 books, including The Decoration of Houses which she wrote with architect Ogen Codman, Jr. The book is credited with establishing interior design as a profession in the United States. Edith Wharton was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Price for The Age of Innocence, receive an honorary doctorate from Yale University, and was the first woman to receive full membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Edith Wharton was an incredibly inspiring woman. Imagine having a celebrated career based solely on an informal education and your passion for what comes naturally to you. Remarkable.
Much of the interior of the house is still unrenovated, but there is a lovely drawing room decorated by Charlotte Moss. I didn't take a photo because the room is a bit dark and flash photography is not permitted. The elegant pink dining room was decorated by Bunny Williams. What I found most beautiful in the dining room was this creamware tureen (part of a pair) on the sideboard. At least I believe it's creamware (obviously, this was not the place where one would pick up an item and turn it over a few times to check for marks!).

However, as equally impressive as the interior of the house are the formal gardens, inspired by the gardens of Italy. Although it's the middle of October, there were some hardy flowers still in bloom and the bubbling fountain reflected water the most lovely shade of green-blue.
This is a view of the fountain area from the steps of the house.

Here's a spot to sit and view the house....

Not the best photo, but this is one of the pergolas in the garden.....

There is a gift shop at The Mount with many of Edith Wharton's books for sale. I bought a copy of a recently published first edition of The Decoration of Houses and look forward to many hours of reading.

We arrived at The Mount a little early, so drove on to nearby Tanglewood first, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The grounds were open so we took a brisk walk. Here is a spectacular view from the lawn. The photo doesn't do it justice!
So, if you're ever in New England and you have an interest in interior design, literature and gardening, I highly recommend a visit to The Mount. It's open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, through November 1. For more details, visit the website here.


  1. Isn't it fabulous!! I was there in early July, so it was nice to see your pics and see how the gardens were different with fall foliage!

  2. Looks wonderful! If I lived in the neighbourhood, you would find me there a few times a year! Thank you for sharing!!

  3. deborah, how lovely! i need to add this to my "must see" list. thank you for sharing


  4. Loved this post Deborah! Being new to New England I will definitely put this on the 'to-do' list! Thank you!

  5. to see more pictures of The Mount! Read several of her novels, have the "Edith Wharton's Italian Gardens" which has many quotes from her interspersed with inspiring photos. Do need to read Decoration of Houses, thanks for the reminder. Merci. Trish


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