October 10, 2011

Warming Up With Tartan

Designer Alessandra Branca used a tartan fabric upholstered on the bias for this chair in a library/dining room.

Tartan is as classic a warm-up as hot cocoa. Every fall it reappears in clothing catalogues, interior design magazines and takes a whirl around the blogosphere. To me, it's a welcome sight every time. Like an old friend showing up on my doorstep, tartan always makes me smile. Used for interiors, clothing, celebrations and even on the dog, it adds an element of coziness to every setting it graces.
The history of tartan is full of interesting tales of its origins, entitlements, the outlaw and relegalization of its use in Scotland, and technicalities about what is actually tartan and what are plaid look-alikes. I have yet to completely decipher between which historical tales are legendary and which are true and what "tartan" patterns technically qualify as tartan. Maybe one of my UK friends will sort me out on the subject, but for now I am applying a broad brush to the use of tartan: use it how you like and where you like because tartan is adaptable to numerous settings and styles. From glamorous to rustic, tartan can fit right in. And while the look and feel of wool tartan provides a cool weather warm-up, many tartan patterns are just as fitting year-round.

Another view of the library/dining room with tartan drapery by Branca.

A tartan patterned silk fabric covers a side table to fabulous effect. design: Branca

In the living room of Ralph Lauren's Bedford, NY home, tartan is used as accents in throws and pillows. Image via Architectural Digest.

Ralph Lauren's Bedford, NY study combines velvet draperies, leather upholstery & paisley with tartan.

Another gorgeous room by the talented Alessandra Branca.

via Martha Stewart

image via HERE

designer Charles Faudree from his book Country French Living 

Scalamandre's 'Highland Fling' is a happy marriage between tartan and paisley.

A swatch of tartan (upper left) mingles happily with other fabrics on Alessandra Branca's inspiration board.

And last but not least, here's a recipe full of flavors of the season. It's simple but delicious, given to me by a friend after I had it at a luncheon that she catered. The recipe was originally found in a cookbook compiled by a group of writers and artists and published in the 1940's. Give it a try and enjoy!

                                                                   Martha Stewart photo

Butternut Squash in Cream and Cinnamon
1 large butternut squash (at least 2 pounds)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of heavy cream
1. Cut the squash into quarters, remove the seeds and peel the skin (a sharp vegetable peeler is the best tool). Grate the squash through the coarse holes of the grating blade of a food processor (or hand grater).
2. Spread half of the grated squash over the bottom of a shallow 1/2 or 1 quart baking dish, sprinkle salt over lightly, then top with half the cinnamon. Repeat with the rest. (I sometimes sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar over the squash as well, but this is my addition and purely optional.)
3. Pour the cream over slowly, letting it seep down.
4. Bake, covered loosely with foil in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until squash is very tender.

Happy Fall!



  1. What a cozy look for fall! Hi Keri, thanks so much for popping by yesterday and for following along. It was fun to see your comment! Have a lovely, week, Jeanne.


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