Country Houses, Nora Murphy Style, Are Celebrated In Vendome Press Release

Published: October 12, 2018 at 08:00 am


“A country house doesn’t look any one way,” Nora Murphy writes in an opening paragraph of Nora Murphy’s Country House Style: Making Your Home A Country House. The 208-page hardcover book, filled with solid advice and sumptuous photographs, is Ms Murphy’s first.

It is the newest part of a universe filled with country homes and their embellishments that the Newtown resident has been building since departing Ethan Allen as executive vice president of style and advertising.

Published by The Vendome Press, Nora Murphy’s Country House Style is the latest career step by Ms Murphy, who already runs a very popular and award-winning blog and website (noramurphycountryhouse.com), publishes an e-magazine, has a strong social media presence, and has regular appearances on television and print media.

When she launched Nora Murphy Country House in 2011, the interior designer began going what so many others wish to do: she took an idea she was already passionate about and turned it into a lucrative career.

Walking into the southern Newtown home Ms Murphy shares with her husband and their son, in fact, is just like walking into the pages of the beautiful book she is celebrating this season. So many familiar items line the fireplace mantel, are tucked onto a shelf, or have a home inside a glass jar on the low table in front of the oh-so-comfortable slipcovered couch.

All of the aforementioned are also pictured in the opening chapter of her book, and each creates a welcoming area for family and friends.

“A lot of my readers asked for a book,” she said, speaking of Nora Murphy Country House, the e-magazine that has been published through her website since 2013. “The magazine is digital, but people still want to hold something.”

The book, released in September, is in part the author’s response to those requests. Seated on the couch in the living room of her — naturally — beautiful home, Ms Murphy recently talked about her book and those who shared her dream.

“I’ve always felt that interior design is not just for the wealthy,” she said. A graduate of the interior design program at FIT, her home is comfortable and obviously lived in, and while there is a sense that some money has been spent over the years, it isn’t an overwhelming feeling.

Ms Murphy’s book explores six forms of a country house, beginning with her own.

She and her husband live in a 1767 saltbox that has been added onto many times, including in 2006, when the Murphys repurposed a large chicken coop from Massachusetts and turned it into their master suite.

“The 1857 structure was a mess, but I saw beautiful possibilities in its elegant bones, huge windows, and charming cupola” after finding it online, Ms Murphy shares in the chapter about her home. “Moving the coop from Massachusetts and renovating it was one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever taken on.”

Ms Murphy has long seen possibilities where others do not, especially with flowers and plants. 

“You can get a bunch of flowers, and it looks like nothing. But buy a plant and the scale is good,” she said recently.

One of her rules of thumb is to pot up small plants into a larger container or a basket and initially put them indoors.

“People don’t think to bring in outside potted plants,” she said. 

“When the blooms start to fade,” she said, smiling, “then they go into the garden.

“That’s the best way to grow your garden,” she concluded. Pages of photos within the chapter devoted to the home show just that practice, year-round.

A Variety Of Country Homes 

It was at the suggestion of Vendome Executive Publisher Mark Magowan, said Ms Murphy, that the original idea of focusing a book on the Murphy home was expanded to include the five additional dwellings. Friends, contemporaries, and former co-workers all accepted the invitation to be profiled in Nora Murphy’s Country House Style (a sixth was originally onboard, Ms Murphy explained, but scheduling conflicts forced the first person to accept the author’s invitation to drop out of this project).

As a result, readers are also granted tours of a country house in the mountains of upstate Vermont, a country house near the New Hampshire coastline, a country house just outside Boston, a country house in a Midwestern village, and a country house in the woods of upstate New York.

“I wanted to cast a wide net,” said Ms Murphy. “I wanted people to open the book and relate to one of the homes.”

Each home has its own devoted chapter. Each opens with a two-page collage that incorporates elements from the homeowners who opened their residences with Ms Murphy for her project.

Chapters then continue with an introduction of the owner and their style, followed by page after page of full color photos on the heavy stock that feels so good as each page is turned.

While each homeowner featured in her book has a distinct style, Ms Murphy said there are common threads that she likes to call country home style: “Living with the things you love, comfort, and the extension of the outside into your home.”

DuAnne Simon was the lead photographer for the project. Additional photos by Darryl Arbesman (and a few from the author and her son) finish the book, offering glorious views into private homes.

Ms Murphy also worked with Deborah Golden to write part of the book.

“She gets me; she gets my voice,” Ms Murphy said. “It was a wonderful collaboration. We worked very hard, even making sure every caption was a hard working caption.

Knowing that authors and publishers often use captions to simply describe what readers are viewing, Ms Murphy and Ms Golden raised their bar.

“I’m really hoping people will find value” in every caption, she said.

The Introduction to Nora Murphy’s Country House Style lays out what the author says are the universal elements of country house style: creating a place where everyone is always welcome, where tradition is honored by changing it up, where comfort is always in style, where there is always room for favorite things, where there is always a reason to celebrate, and where home extends well beyond the walls of the dwelling.

“Imagine an atmosphere of warmth and welcome, both down to earth and elegant,” she writes. “It rolls with the rhythm of the seasons. It has an easy grace, and it’s surprisingly simple to switch on. It makes you feel happy and creative, content and refreshed, surrounded by beauty, loved, and most important, at home — no matter where you live. That’s country house style. That’s the feeling I wish for you.”

Nora Murphy has author programs scheduled on Saturday, October 20, from 1 to 3 pm, at Modern Thrift, 3565 Whitney Avenue in Hamden; and will be featured on Friday, November 2, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at Queen Street Gifts, 3 Queen Street in Newtown.

She will also be at Fairfield County Antique & Design Center, 19 Willard Road in Norwalk, on Thursday, November 8, from 6 to 9 pm; The Hickory Stick Bookshop, 2 Green Hill Road in Washington Depot, on Saturday, November 10, from 3 to 5 pm; and Lillian August, 195 Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich (as part of Greenwich Design Days), Saturday, November 17, from 4:30 until 7:30. Visit her website for additional dates.

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