Friday, December 28, 2007

Alexandra Stoddard - A Class Act

A couple of weeks ago I had the great pleasure of meeting design icon and prolific writer and philosopher Alexandra Stoddard. I had heard her speak in the early 80's when I was just beginning my design career and found her to be very refreshing and unpretentious which was not the norm for most designers I had met. Since then she has written 29 books and designed countless residences, and commercial properties. Recently she has relocated from New York City to her country home in Connecticut. The home is profiled in the December issue of Country Living Magazine.

She and her husband, the love of her life, are inseparable and do virtually everything together. He accompanied her on her trip to Las Vegas. I had the opportunity to give her a copy of my book and was so please when a couple of weeks later I received this lovely hand written note from her. ( She writes all of her books longhand on special paper!).

I thought this was such a classy thing to do for such an established and busy women. I think that in this age of electronic communication we can forget the power and emotion of real handwritten mail. How lovely it is to receive such a gift. I've been inspired and I am going to re- dedicate myself to sending notes.

This is the home that Mrs. Stoddard and her husband have restored. It is located in Stonington Village Connecticut at the Northern tip of the state. I adore her bedroom - It looks so sunny and warm.

The house is chock full of treasures and art which are a passion for the couple and every item has a story. Before they located to the home permanently, Alexandra and her husband would take some of their favorite paintings with them from the city to the country and back again. Mrs. Stoddard says she loves to be surrounded by her favorite things.

The house has a front and rear parlor which she has decorated by mirroring the furnishings in both rooms. Here you can see the matching love seats in a bright flowering chintz. Her passion for flowers is evident throughout the house and the garden.

She is the type of person who takes pleasure in every action in life as she writes about in her many books. I was so impressed with her attention to the little things. As she was signing books for her fans she wrote each comment thoughtfully in beautiful flowing script with a lovely pen and blotted each signature with tissue paper so it wouldn't bleed on to the facing page. She then included a small length of colorful ribbon in each book as a book mark.

I live my life in such a hurry - with little attention paid to the many tasks that I accomplish every day. I rush to get here or there. I am constantly in a race to meet deadlines and due dates. In 2008 I am going to try to slow down and take some time to smell the roses and pay attention to what I am doing so I can actually enjoy it.

Here's hoping you are enjoying the little things!

Happy New Year!


Teresa said...

Enjoyed visiting your blog. I met Alexandra Stoddard about 15 years ago when she visited Dayton Ohio for a Town Hall Lecture Series. She is such an amazing woman...I love all of her books, but my favorites are Living A Beautiful Life and Daring to Be Yourself. Have a great New Year!

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

I absolutely LOVE Alexandra Stoddard. She has been a mentor to me (through her books) for 20 years. Thanks so much for the inspiring post, lucky you to have met her and have a handwritten note from her.

Happy New Year, wishing you success and determination to slow down and enjoy your life in 2008! I share that aspiration.

Thanks for being an inspiration to me and so many others through sharing on your blog,


cotedetexas said...

What a lovely note! Obviously Stoddard saw something of value and import in you to take the time to send a two page letter. I'm not surprised, though, we've all seen the same class that comes out through your blog. You, my dear, are the class act! Your work ethic has been inspiration to me - your boundless energy and lust for life has been inspiring to see. Jackie - you are darling of all the design blogger authors and we're proud to claim you as our own! I hope 2008 is as great a year for you as 2007 has been and I'll be watching to see it all unfold.


blah said...

Dear Jackie - I'm all for long hand notes - being the rotten typist that I am :-)
And isn't it amazing how flowers can make such a difference to a room - especially in that parlour shot :-)

FrenchGardenHouse said...

What a wonderful post. What really spoke to me most (although I loved your meeting with A. Stoddard and her note to you!) was your last sentences...

"In 2008 I am going to try to slow down and take some time to smell the roses and pay attention to what I am doing so I can actually enjoy it." ~ I will join you. We are too busy. and there are lots of roses to smell, and people to love, and memories to make!
Happy new year! May yours be filled with joy, love, laughter and lots of beautiful roses.:)
xo Lidy

katiedid said...

You lucky lady! Alexandra Stoddard wrote one of the first design/lifestyle books I ever got. Great post!

P.S. I wanted to wish you the Happiest of New Years and look forward to visiting often in 2008!

I am not sure why your link did not come up on my list, but I am adding again to make sure it sticks this time!

All the best

Bayou Contessa said...

Jackie, I too am an admirer of Ms. Stoddard, she seems so gracious. What a lovely moment in life to receive such a warm personal note from her.
I'm completely with you on slowing down and actually relishing the living of life.
May you have many wonerful roses to smell in the new year.
Thank you for sharing with us in your delightful blog.

Anonymous said...

I am going out tomorrow and getting some flowers it is dark already at 4pm..NE!! that will be cherry Denise Massachusetts

Free Art Printables said...

What a beautiful house and so comfortable looking. Thanks for sharing. Hope you have a Happy New year!
Jen R

teaorwine said...

I actually met Ms. Stoddard as well in Alexandria, VA where she presented a slide show and discussed her work and theories. There, she showed us her Mrs. Brown's tables inspired by Mrs. Brown, her mentor. They were lovely and available at Levengers. Later while attempting to order a pair, I discovered that the tables had been removed from the Levengers' catalog. I inquired by way of her website as to where thay could be purchased. She sent me a handwritten reply explaining that they would soon be offered again by Levengers. A classy and special lady is Ms. Stoddard, with amazing attention to detail.


Unknown said...

Hi Jackie
What an amazing lady Ms Stoddard is and coincidently I picked this very book off my shelf to re-read for inspiration for 2008. One of my 2008 aspirations is to write more hand written notes. I am glad to see that Alexandra lives what she writes. How inspiring and refreshing. Wishing you all the very best for 2008!!


How wonderful! I totally agree with you. Handwritten notes make all the difference. I love finding a note in the mail. It's so rare that this happens, so when I do receive one, I never, ever forget that person!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful house Mrs. Stoddard has restored! She is really a class act & love her taste! She has a beautiful style.
Thanks for sharing the note with us!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Jackie!

Are you still planning to do "ask Jackie"?

Sue said...

Lovely tribute to Mrs. Stoddard. At one point we considered buying the house next to hers in Stonington but life took a different turn. Her book 'Living a Beautiful Life', that I first read years ago, put me on the path of smelling the roses, good luck with your endeavor to do the same.

Pigtown*Design said...

I have a number of her books. At the child welfare charity where I used to work, we had her as a speaker one year, and then Nina Campbell a couple of years later.

She's an incredible woman with lots of great ideas.

Anonymous said...

I came to know Alexandra Stoddard's work when I was in the hospital in 1997, recovering from a very dangerous blood clot. I was in ICU but they wheeled in a tv for me (I was there 12 days) and the only channel that would come in well was HGTV. I watched every show on there, from the insipid to the inspired. Homes across America was then being hosted by Alexandra. I mentioned her to a visitor friend, and then I was given all of her books to that point. I really liked that she attacked life, rather than living it. She's been a favorite, her inspiration books and her decor books. A particular favorite was Choosing Happiness. I therefore smile when I see anything about her and her husband Peter Megargee Brown. They are quite a couple. I had not known that they gave up the New York Apartment that had been Peter's. I don't blame them; their heart had been at the cottage for some time. She's a big favorite. Thanks for the post!