I get all goosey when I think of fall, with its dazzling display of colors, exhilarating cool days and, of course, fabulous food, from apple pie to turkey dinner. One of my favorite times to entertain is in the fall, maybe because it gives me an excuse to dress my dining table in the beauty of the season. Whether you like your tabletops simple and understated, or over the top, here are four ingredients that will help you give a standing ovation to autumn:  (more…)


My mother Mary Lou, sage philosopher that she is, used to say, “The only difference between a good dinner party and a bad one is three cocktails!” Thankfully, Mom is a good cook (a gene she did not pass down to me), so no one needed a gin and tonic just to get through her dinner parties. While I won’t deny that I love a good cocktail at a party, I am even more drawn in by my hosts’ beautifully styled bars. Here are a few tips on making your drink service inviting:  (more…)

According to the calendar, we are in the Dog Days of Summer, those sizzling hot weeks when summer gives us her last, and best, punch. But at Nell Hill’s, we’re so crazy about dogs that it’s kind of Dog Days here all year round. Most of us who work at Nell Hill’s have dogs of our own that we spoil rotten, but I’d wager none is more spoiled than Lyric, our Golden.

Lyric is head over paws in love with Dan, and he with her. She is velcroed to his side and goes with him everywhere. When he heads to work at the Nell Hill’s home office in Atchison, she rides shotgun and expects to be petted the entire way. The hair-covered passenger seat is living proof that she gets her way!

If you share your home and heart with pets, why not celebrate your furry friends in your décor? It’s one of the ways we create singular spaces that reflect our lives and pay tribute to the things we hold dear.  Here are a few ways you can add a dash of puppy love to your home: (more…)

August: Dining Out, Lake Style

Since our cottage is so snug, Dan and I created several outdoor spaces at Innisfree where we could spend time relaxing or entertaining.  (more…)

Have you ever suffered from art-hanging paralysis? Frozen by a nagging fear that if you try to hang your lovely pieces of art, it will look bad, or wrong? You’re not alone. For some reason, many of us are afraid to take hammer and nail in hand and get going on those big, empty walls. To my husband’s dismay, I have the opposite problem. I just start pounding. If I don’t like what I see, I pull out the nail and pound away in a new place. (For that reason, I usually wait until he leaves to hang my artwork – it’s easier on his nerves!)

Hanging art doesn’t have to be hard or intimidating. I asked Dillon, who designs and installs all the artwork displays at Nell Hill’s, to share his secrets for creating gorgeous galleries on your walls. Here are his top 5 tips:  (more…)

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I’m not one to live in the past, but oh my do I love lots of old things. I have peppered my home with collections of vintage treasures, family heirlooms and a few antiques because they fill my heart and just make me happy. The secret to decorating effectively with old things, I’ve found, is to use them sparingly and to mix them with fresh, new pieces so your interior doesn’t feel stale or stuffy. Here are seven of my favorite old things to have in my home:  (more…)


Beautiful wood furniture is an essential ingredient of a well-decorated home. But for too long, the old rules of how to decorate with wood pieces have hampered our creativity when we are curating our living spaces. Ask any of the nuns who had the misfortune of teaching me in high school: I love to break rules. So in celebration of our huge Wood Furniture Sale (July 15-August 15, all the wood furniture at Nell Hill’s is 20% off!), here are three long-held maxims we can tell goodbye:  (more…)

A New Kind of Open House

When we lived in our historic Greek Revival home in Atchison, I loved to have seasonal open houses, welcoming guests to tour my home and garden. Nell Hill’s visitors have told us they miss the home tours and have asked if we will do them again at my new cottage on the lake.

Since my little nugget of a house is suited more for intimate gatherings, and my new neighbors would begin to hate us if we held an event of this kind in our sleepy community, I’m going to invite you into my home in a new way.

Once a month, join me in my cozy cottage, to linger for a while as we talk about decorating, entertaining, life. I’ve named this special feature “Welcome to Innisfree: My Cottage on the Lake,” after our home, which we call Innisfree, inspired by Dan’s favorite poem by W. B. Yeats, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.”  I hope you will join me, and share our quiet life on the pond in the coming year.  (more…)

A favorite part of my job at Nell Hill’s is helping customers turn their houses into homes, truly unique dwellings that reflect their personality. So when Ann arrived at Nell Hill’s scouting for furnishings and inspiration to put her stamp on the historic home she and husband Wally had just bought, we were excited to help. I want to invite you into Ann and Wally’s beautiful library because it is a great illustration of a Nell Hill’s credo: Make your interior design personal. Here’s how these homeowners did just that, and the results are stunning. Come on in … (more…)

Every gourmet needs a groupie, someone who will give their culinary masterpieces the adulation they deserve, who will oohh and ahhh their way through each delicious mouthful.

My friend Cheryl is my Top Chef, and while we were together in Provence, France, she lovingly prepared for us cuisine so marvelous it would bring tears to my eyes. As we spent many hours dining together, I learned that a wonderful meal isn’t just about well-prepared food. It’s also about the experience.  So, I asked Cheryl to share with you her secrets for turning a meal into a moment to treasure:   (more…)