Monday, May 21, 2012

Books, Flowers, and Dinner

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
-- Virginia Woolf

The annual "...into the garden" Tour at Virginia Robinson Gardens was on Friday, May 18.  On that day each year the historic 1912 Virginia Robinson estate in Beverly Hills is opened to the public.  Each room in the house is decorated by talented Los Angeles florists and interior designers and the guests can see the entire house before exiting out onto the Great Lawn for a garden party and lavish lunch.   Each year the house is a wonder to behold.  As I walked through the rooms on Friday I had many favorites. The library was one of them.

I have always loved the idea of a turning a library into a dining room.  And this is exactly what designer Stephanie Grace and botanical illustrator Parnell Corder did.  What could be better than eating a delicious meal surrounded by beautiful books?  Great ideas, stories, and inspiration are all around you.  Conversation would be enhanced as your eyes wander around the room noticing titles and you discuss favorite books and writers with your dinner companions.

Food and books are complemented by fresh flowers and greenery.  What a visual feast!

I was enchanted by the botanical art work done by Parnell Corder that was displayed in the library.  I love the charming way he hung these paintings.  Here was another element that added to the overall effect of this room -- art and the unique way it was hung.  Just gorgeous!

The richness of the leather bound books and the color and freshness of the flowers was such a great combination

Parnell Corder next to one of his lovely botanical paintings

The room was overflowing with flowers

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever."
--  John Keats

Books and flowers, fine dining and art -- these are the elements that went into making this an enchanting room and an inspiration for everyone who saw it last Friday at Virginia Robinson Gardens.  Who says a room has to be used for just one thing?   The gardener and the book lover would feel equally at home having dinner in this exquisite library.

Library decorated by Stephanie Grace and Parnell Corder.  Flowers by Stephanie Grace and art work by Parnell Corder.


  1. So sorry I missed it this year. My parents home in Montecito has a combination library/dining room. It was built that way in 1900, and remains as it was. It is great to eat surrounded by books, it's a very cozy feeling.

  2. What a magical place!
    I love home and garden tours, they inspire me to be more creative.

    I'd love to know more about this home so I am off to google it!
    Happy week to you Sunday!

  3. Hi Sunday, I love the idea of using a library or study for a dining area. I've used my study which joins the living room for a small group. I have a library cabinet crammed with books, and it makes a great back drop for dinner. Of course nothing like this room, which is jaw dropping gorgeous. The centerpiece is going to have to be a must have for me now that I've seen this. It's just beautiful! I love the tall slender containers with all white flowers. I will have to start looking for containers now! I'm sure this must have been a very successful tour. What a great way to spend an afternoon.

    the French Hutch

  4. Every room should have books & flowers in them. I love reading about all the different places you visit in your part of the world.

  5. Wow! Totally enchanting. I love the books as a compliment to the flowers and food...or is it the other way around. Perfection!

  6. Sunday,

    What a treat! I feel as if I were walking along with you. This library is beautiful and you are right what a dream to turn your dining room into a library/dining room...great uses of space.

    I am looking forward to seeing more of your photos.

    Have a wonderful week, Elizabeth

  7. One day I hope I get to go to the Garden Tour!!! It looks like magic :)

  8. Sigh. The white flowers and moss. Such a magnificent table.
    My own dining room is lined with books and I love it!

  9. Beautiful. I, too, love dining in the library.
    Two years ago, I had a baby shower at our home for our younger daughter. We had forty people and I was determined to seat everyone at a table, even though I didn't have a big enough dining room. Aha! I managed to fit eight into the library/den and they didn't want to leave and have mentioned it again and again.
    How I wish I could have attended this tour, Sunday, and how wonderful to be able to do it vicariously through you.

  10. Wow! The photos look fantastic ! Thank you for the mention of me and Stephanie Grace Designs too!

  11. Everything looks absolutely beautiful. I would actually love to transform my formal dining room into a library. I agree with Joan, every room should have flowers and books. Thanks for sharing. Bonnie

  12. Sunday simply glorious; I adore the first image. The art, the flowers, stunning!

    Thought you would enjoy...Interview with Leslie of Segreto Finishes and her fabulous Book Giveaway!

    Art by Karena

  13. Books. Flowers. Food. Yum! My new dining room will be surrounded by books, a fireplace and views of our garden. Why did I take so long to do this? A glass of wine, a book at hand, lovely smells of dinner coming together. Sigh...

  14. You just can't beat white flowers and greenery. Those arrangements are stunning. Books, flowers, botanical prints. Perfect.

  15. 'A thing of beauty is a joy forever'. Every couple of months I listen to the soundtrack from 'Bright Star' and never fail to weep all the way to work!

    Your photos of the library and the table are absolutely gorgeous, Sunday! It must have been a wonderful event but I have to say that I would have spent more time than would have been polite browsing the shelves. Stunning!

  16. I have begun to look at your blog and really enjoy it. Love this house and the floral art on display and have looked at the link to last year's display, too. What I love most of all is the lightness of the decoration, the sheer prettiness of this house but without having ditsy feminine things everywhere. As Joan Hunter Dunn says, every room should have books and flowers, I couldn't have put it better myself. A room is dead without flowers. Books add charater and colour. I would also add that something in black, even a small thing, also sets everything off rather well, perhaps a black japanned tray, an embroidered cushions with a black background, something of that nature. Now I want Susznne Rheinstein's book At Home ... I realy should not have looked at the post for this house event last year!
    Margaret P