Is Your Home Your Castle? My brush with Alexandra Stoddard.

Boston, Massachusetts – mid-1990s

While out sightseeing, Renaissance Man and I came upon a quaint little discount bookstore. Never ones to pass up a bookstore — especially a discount bookstore — we went inside and took a mini vacation. For us, there’s something very relaxing about browsing in a bookstore …

I was greatly in need of a vacation! To give you some background, I was coming to the end of my interior design studies, graduating the next year (finally!), and older than my fellow students. My two daughters were in elementary school, so obviously I’d long ago “set up housekeeping.” I had definite ideas–and dreams–about what I wanted in a home, and I was looking forward to the day when my time would not be spent juggling family AND the time-consuming projects my degree required … when I could spend more time making our house into the home I saw in my mind.  For obvious reasons, one particular book caught my eye. Creating A Beautiful Home by Alexandra Stoddard.

As I opened it, I was surprised to see this…

The book was signed with what I now know to be her “signature” pink fountain pen. (Yes, fountain pen. Do you remember what those are?) I’ll admit that at the time I don’t think I’d ever heard of Alexandra Stoddard. I think she may have been on cable television, but I had neither cable nor time to watch it! But the book jacket was beautiful and drew me in … and the book was signed in an intriguing pink ink … And besides, what interior design student wouldn’t fall for the “live and love your home” sentiment?

I began reading the book that very day, quickly swept into its pages by Stoddard’s heartfelt writing…by her encouragement…by the sense of seeing my dreams for my home just waiting to come true. With each page, I realized that though she and I were miles apart in age, experience, and financial wherewithal, we were kindred spirits in many of our thoughts about “home.” She had succeeded in putting into words much of my personal design philosophy–something I had not yet taken the time to do.

I have since read several other of Ms. Stoddard’s books. They’ve all embued tradition, elegance, and gracious living. Family, flowers, entertaining, handwritten letters and thank you notes–they’re all part of who she is. I love that! While I’m the first to admit that the number of my own handwritten letters has dwindled through the years, I still love the feel of “just the right pen” as it flows across a beautiful paper.  I do think we stand to lose one of the best parts of ourselves–and our society–if we give up the gracious elements so long considered to be integral to our culture. Do you agree or disagree?  Do you successfully balance the convenience of email and online relationships with handwritten sentiments and face-to-face conversations…or do you even desire to?

It seems to me that Alexandra Stoddard aspires to create her personal world in such a way as to never imagine wanting to live anywhere else. There’s something to be said for that, I think. If we are “happy in our own skin,” as the saying goes, it stands to reason that our contentment will overflow to our homes…our relationships…our choices. That our priorities will be right. While I’ll be honest and tell you that I personally believe Stoddard’s Zen-based approach to life misses the mark, I do applaud her desire to create a home environment that functions well and provides a place of “rest for the weary” for its inhabitants. Isn’t that really what we all want–at the end of the day?

I’m linking up with Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound. If you like PINK, it’s the place to be! Guess what color Alexandra Stoddard’s website is?


  1. I had the opportunity to meet Alexandra Stoddard twice; once at a very small booksigning in a very small town. I’m sure she was wondering how she ended up there, but she was absolutely delightful. She spoke to the group gathered–probably about 30 of us for at least half an hour. Then she took questions, and finally signed her books, taking time to speak to everyone. I still love her books and every couple of years or so, I re-read them and try to answer all the questions she poses to help you define your style. It’s a fun exercise.

  2. love the front cover; if it is anything like the inside ~ I would love it. Just a traditional type girl myself.

  3. Susan, I love her books! I just mentioned her to someone today (I think it was Jo) where she talks about creating rituals that work. I adore her writing. How wonderful that you have an autographed copy!


    Sheila 🙂

  4. I have read this book. She has a lot of good advice. Neat find!

  5. Looks like a book I would like.Happy PS Laura

  6. I have this book too and love it! She is such an elegant writer and person. Great post!
    Happy Pink Saturday!

  7. I think you stumbled upon something very special. Happy Pink Saturday, Char

  8. Hi Susan,
    what a nice find. The pictures look great.
    Greetings, Johanna

  9. Hi Susan, I appreciate your story and thank you for sharing this book with us. I love reading stuff like this and your interpretation and what you got out of it. Personally I think you should write a book! Terri

  10. What a great find. Hope you had a Happy Pink Saturday.

  11. I will have to google her because I’m unfamiliar. I’m descended from some Massachusetts Stoddards. Hmmm… maybe we’re related!

    I think the book is grand even if I don’t know who she is. I’m just a pink lover.

  12. That looks like a wonderful book, I will have to keep my eye out for her books. Enjoy.
    Happy PS

  13. Isn’t it funny how inspiration can come from even the most smallest of things?! Thanks for dropping by my blog. If you will excuse me, I need to check out your blog:)