W&R on the road: New Jersey reunion

Last weekend was our annual OU “summer reunion,” an informal get-together with my nearest and dearest from grad school days. I’m happy to report that the troops had an absolute blast. This was the first time our little reunion was held in New Jersey, and I have to say that our hosts showed us an amazing time.

This was also our first visit to our hosts’ new home, which is so lovely that I just had to share some photos! The whole house feels so light, breezy, and comfortable. Truly spa-like.

Case in point: the sun room pictured below, one of my favorite rooms in the house. I’ve been dreaming a lot lately about creating my own outdoor room someday, and this one provided lots of inspiration! I love the cottage-y wicker chairs and the generously scaled daybed, which makes for a comfy spot for lounging or just enjoying some iced tea on a summer afternoon…

The white walls and ceiling fan (which has a bit of an island vibe, don’t you think?) make the room light and breezy, and the coral cushions and fun throw pillows add a bit of “pop,”  along with those amazing pink geraniums and pretty pink vinca. You can totally imagine living out here during the summer—reading, playing board games, watching the lightning bugs, or just hanging out.

This lovely indoor/outdoor space is located just off our hosts’ library, pictured below. In this day and age, you’ve got to love a room expressly dedicated to books!

The built-in cabinets that line the library’s back wall were created by a longtime friend with serious carpentry skills. The cream-colored camelback settee provides a quiet spot for reading that is gracious and comfortable, in equal parts. My photo doesn’t quite capture the detail of the settee’s upholstery—the raised geometric pattern adds interest as well as an appealing texture, and makes a more traditional piece feel modern and updated.

The room’s palette—a soothing mix of pistachio green, cream, and chocolate brown—was inspired by the fabric on this pair of tufted armchairs. So pretty and inviting!

While there is no lack of cozy places to perch in this library, it is also very practical: an armoire (not pictured) provides a place for a computer and workstation, which can simply be shut away when not in use. Isn’t it kind of nice to be able to hide away the technology sometimes, and instead just enjoy being surrounded by books? As one of our friends might say, “That’s so 19th century.” True. But I love it.

Next up on our little house tour is the dining room, painted a refreshing blue (paint is from Benjamin Moore, the Historical Color series). The more traditional dining table and chairs (from Ethan Allen) are juxtaposed with abstract framed prints on the wall. Classic meets modern. And the chandelier’s crystals catch the light in the evening, making for a little romance (not to mention good feng shui!).

One of my favorite elements of the dining room is this smoky mirror hanging above the buffet—my picture doesn’t do it justice, but this mirror really has the feel of an antique and adds a nice patina to the room. When we had dinner there in the evening (I’m still thinking about that delicious pork tenderloin and shrimp pasta!), the mirror reflected the light in a very soft, romantic way. It all felt very grown up—we truly were dining in style! Ah, the ambience…

While we really enjoyed the beautiful formal spaces in the house, it was also fun to just hang out and relax poolside. (With this heat wave we’ve been having, I have to confess that I’m pretty jealous of that beautiful pool right now!) Thankfully, we had amazing weather for our visit. It was really warm and sunny with the bluest skies I’ve ever seen, I think…

Here are some shots of some poolside cuties…

After a healthy dose of sunshine and lounging by the pool, next up on our Saturday adventure was the Alba Vineyard and Winery, which despite its Milford mailing address is rather confusingly located in Finesville. Our search was totally worth it though! Here’s a photo of the crew outside the entrance.

Near the vineyard’s entrance, they have a lovely outdoor seating area under a pergola (which I failed to get a photo of, sorry!), where you can enjoy some eats while you sip the wine. We, however, opted for an afternoon wine tasting instead. A few of our favorites (we came home with quite a few bottles!): The Chambourcin, a nice full-bodied red with Bing cherry overtones (really yummy); a crisp and refreshing Reisling; and some really fun dessert wines that we couldn’t resist—Dolcina (and iced wine with honey, pear, and apricot flavors) and Forbidden (sweet apples).

The wine tasting was a real treat, and everyone was feeling really good afterwards. Here is a photo of our lovely hosts with big smiles (and I think this was even taken pre-wine tasting, so the smiles only got bigger…)

After Alba, we decided to check out Frenchtown, a Delaware River town, where we caught the tail end of their Bastille Day celebration. Since the street fair was winding down by the time we arrived, we turned our attention to some serious window shopping instead.

Frenchtown has some charming little shops. We (well, I speak for the women of the group) loved the window display at Pardon My French, a home decor and boutique gift shop. Aren’t those paper lanterns cool? And zee pretty printed apron is très chic, non? (Sorry, troops. I took the French thing a little too far. Couldn’t be helped.)

Next up on our little window-shopping walk through Frenchtown was Two Buttons, a shop owned by best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert and her husband. (Who knew that Elizabeth Gilbert had decided to settle in New Jersey? I would have pegged her as choosing a more exotic locale, but after experiencing Frenchtown and all its charms, I can now understand why.) Two Buttons offers its customers exotic treasures from around the globe. Sadly, it wasn’t open when we happened to saunter by, but we were able to get a peek at the sculptures outside:

I’m normally not one for garden sculptures (well, the exception being, of course, mossy lion who met a sad end this winter, unfortunately—the cold literally cracked him). These sculptures, however, I found to be quite lovely. I think they would be very peaceful to contemplate in the garden.

Well, maybe not the Ganesha. I find elephants that look like they’re ready to charge at you ever-so-slightly less restful.

One of the things that I really appreciated about Frenchtown, and this area of New Jersey in general, was the natural beauty of the surroundings. I think I understand a little better now why New Jersey is known as the “Garden State.” Lovely.

I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of these hydrangeas that we spotted along our walk. They’re some of my favorite flowers. So summery.

Seeing all this coolness and beauty kind of inspires you to be like Elizabeth Gilbert and move to Frenchtown. Well, if one were moved to do so, one might consider this lovely gothic-style house currently for sale:

Here’s an interesting little factoid about Frenchtown that we learned during our visit: while it’s called Frenchtown, it was actually settled by the Dutch, not the French. Go figure! So while we were checking out the grounds of this lovely old home, in my mind I was creating this romantic little history about it, attributing the house’s provenance to a mythical Dutch settler whom I was calling Ebenezer Stuyvesant. (I know, sometime I can be a little eccentric.) Anyway, here’s a photo of Ebenezer’s secret garden, which I found to be quite atmospheric and romantic, in a mythical Dutch settler kind of way.

We capped off our tour of Frenchtown with a walk along the tow path that runs along the Delaware River. I couldn’t get over the quality of that early evening light—it was just so pretty. It was a perfect end to a really fun summer day.

 Here’s a parting shot of the group, some of my favorite people on the planet:

Thanks again to our gracious hosts for a fabulous weekend! It was so good to spend time together, friends.



The Writer

Writer & Residence blog. A blog dedicated to two of my favourite things, interior design, and writing.

  1. Thanks for sharing with us your hosts gracious, lovely home. I especially love seeing their little charming daughters-what great fun they must enjoy at poolside. I am most fascinated by the screened in room-such light and airy atmosphere in which to relax in warm months. Your hosts are to be congratulated. Beautiful visit with dear friends!

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