Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Seasonal Switchover

For a lot of people, Reggie included, the advent of Labor Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.  It's when summer office hours draw to a close, beach houses are shuttered, and the new school year begins.  But even though Labor Day officially kicks off the new season, Reggie isn't quite ready to let go of summer activities altogether simply because the calendar says he should, and he enjoys spending several more lazy weekends lolling about Darlington's screened porch, along with engaging in other warm-weather diversions.

But by the time Columbus Day rolls around, it is difficult not to acknowledge that autumn has truly arrived.  And what a glorious autumn we have here in the Hudson River Valley, complete with cloudless, brilliant blue skies, riotously colored sugar maples, rows upon rows of pumpkins at roadside stands, and apples for the picking.  It's my favorite season of the year.

It's time to take this summer slipcover off!

With autumn's arrival comes the changing of Darlington House out of its warm-weather finery and into a wardrobe more suitable for the cooler months ahead.  And that almost always takes place over Columbus Day weekend.  For that is when we pack up the furniture from our screened porch (where we mostly live during the summer), carry the log baskets up from the cellar and stock them with logs, take down the fireboards, and remove the summer slipcovers from our upholstered furniture.

The same chair in its winter woolies

Columbus Day weekend is also when we start bringing our potted plants indoors to overwinter and when the polishing of our brass andirons and fire tools begins.  No, we don't do all of this ourselves, as we are fortunate to have help with these projects and chores, thank goodness.  Darlington is a veritable beehive of activity this weekend.

So long summer, and hello fall!

Photographs by Boy Fenwick


  1. Reggie,
    Both versions of that lovely chair are perfect for the seasons. The slipcover is done beautifully! Love the soft mossy shade on the winter chair.

    Art by Karena

  2. My favorite time of year too. Here at the lake we have an extra month to enjoy the outdoors so still leaving the deck chairs and bbq but have been through the same exercise as you last weekend, albeit without a staff! My mums are glorious, do you plant them at Darlington?

  3. Dear Reggie, I love the idea of changing the appearance of the house for winter and your chair in its wintry jacket looks perfect for those cosy nights by the fireside and toasted crumpets for tea.

    My grandmother used to have summer and winter curtains. Such a performance at the changeover with swathes of damask to contend with. Alas, standards have slipped in Maida Vale and the perpetual country house shabby chic look continues year round. In Budapest, however, there are the shutters to add that extra touch of being boarded up against the elements. And, with temperatures which dip to -20C, some barricade is necessary!

  4. this is my favorite time of year too. I want to get around to slipping at some point,though I hardly feel "settled" here. I love the mohair(?) what RD is the floor- a smart carpet-I love the way that looks- do tell. pgt

  5. perfect winter-ly slip cover. love the lavender piping on grey.

  6. And I thought that I was the only one left who still used slipcovers in the summer.

    Most of my living room furniture is covered in either green ultra suede (the good quality stuff feels great and is the ultimate in practicality- you can almost take a scrub brush to it- a must if you have deeply loved but not perfectly trained dogs),Leopard print velvet and a balck striped velvet. Too my mind it's all very cozy during the winter, but a tad heavy in the summer. So come mid-May, everything is covered in a tan and green striped cotton. Even the pillows have summer slip covers. I like them tailored as close as possible to the frame, unlike the English who typically do them a bit looser. But I have a tendency to rush the seasons, and off they come on the Monday of Labor Day week-end. I have been out of school for more years than I care to remember, but Labor Day still says "Back to school, fall has begun" to me.

  7. We dress differently with the seasons. So should our chairs! It looks so comfortable in its autumnal green frock.

  8. Sounds like a perfectly civilized way of living.
    The way it used to be and still can be if you desire!

  9. Karena: Thank you

    Lindaraxa: We do have mums at Darlington, and Reggie does rather approve of them, at least when they are in earthy, autumnal tones, and not garish, over-hybridized ones. I will be posting photos of them in my next "Urns of Darlington" essay . . .

    Edith Hope: Reggie draws the line at changing out his curtains, although Boy has been threatening to get summer ones made for our Snuggery.

    LA: Yes it is mohair on the chair, and a wonderful fabric to get cozy in. The carpet is one of Boy's triumphs: tightly woven velvet pile in two colors. It has a border in the same dark green as the chairs, and a warm chocolate brown body. He ordered it from Beauvais in New York, who did an ace job at installing it.

    Irina: Thank you for your comment. The colors in the photo only approximate what it really looks like. The fabric is a dark, mossy green mohair and the piping is a chocolate brown silk piping.

  10. Dear Reggie,

    I met my sister for coffee and some warm autumn sunshine. We both had to post some letters. Off we went to the post office and lo and behold it was closed due to Columbus Day! Then it dawned on me and I said "I should have remembered it's Columbus Day because Reggie is changing his slip covers this weekend! She smiled at me not needing an explanation. She already knows about you.

    Traditions are wonderful, aren't they?

  11. The key! I love key pattern with the striped summer cover. That is a stroke of genius. And the moss-green velvet invites one to have an afternoon with a good book. Oh...and the ebonized legs. A great detail.

  12. Magnus: Why is Reggie not surprised to learn that you, too, have summer slipcovers?

    Pamela and Mansions: Indeed!

    Janfaw: You and your sister both are clearly ladies of discrimination and taste. Reggie commends you.

    Voicetalk: It is the details that count, don't you think? Thank you.

  13. I adore both fabrics! What a well-dressed chair in all seasons!


  14. So the third person voice starts here? When you speak in the plural, shouldn't you say "they" rather than "we"?

  15. For the love... Thank you

    Anon 9:55: Reggie does not refer to one as "they," only "we" or "I."


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