Classic Design on Instagram with Holly Holden

I always love writing about my incredibly talented and inspirational friend, Holly Holden! Holly is an interior designer who in 1989 founded her design firm Holly Holden & Company, Ltd. on the premise that classic interior design transcends trends. In 2013 she published her first book, The Pretty and Proper Living Room in which she shares the secret code for creating old-school, classic interiors rooted firmly in English tradition. My copy, which I reviewed here, is dogeared and covered in notes from use! And earlier this year Holly began a YouTube channel, Classic Design Channel, where she provides an inside glimpse into her elegant world, sharing her tips and sources.

Holly’s videography became quickly in demand and she is now filming “You Are Cordially Invited,” a series for PBS! The first two episodes take us inside England’s Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed and Blenheim Palace, the family home of interior designer Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill. “You are Cordially Invited” will air on PBS in February 2018, but if you are in Connecticut, you can get a sneak peek via CPTV on November 6, from 9 -10pm and November 12, from 7-8pm (CPTV airs in Connecticut….and parts of MA and NYC). For previews, click here (Highclere Castle) and here (for Blenheim Palace)… I cannot wait!!

Holly also joined Instagram this year, and her daily inspiration is always a highlight of my day. Today I am sharing my favorite images from her account, all pretty, proper, elegant, and classic… Just like Holly herself! I particularly love the glimpses into her historic Connecticut home, Fox Hall, built in 1803.  And her tips, recipes, and words of wisdom are not to be missed! Below are some of my favorite images along with original captions from Holly.

“I was thrilled when my sweet neighbor discovered that I was entertaining thirty-three guests for dinner and thoughtfully brought me the last of the pink flowers from her garden! I assembled the lovely blooms in my mother’s silver vase and placed them in the living room.” ~Holly Holden ~ Photo: Deb Key
“On the chest in the foyer at Fox Hall, I placed a pink orchid in the center and popped a few tiny flowers from the garden into my lambie English spills!”~Holly Holden ~ Photo: Deb Key
“I can’t keep my hands off the pink roses!” ~Holly Holden
“Flowers make for stunning centerpieces. Remember to make the arrangements low enough so that all of the guests can see one another!” ~Holly Holden
“Springtime reminds me of pleasant dinner parties with pastel colored flowers. Elegant floral arrangements set a cheerful atmosphere for a memorable evening!” ~Holly Holden
“Peonies from my husband’s garden are at their best and grace my heart when arranged in this loving cup I inherited from my grandmother.” ~ Holly Holden
“A simple and delicious hors d’ oeuvre that I make are cheese filled dates. Remove the pit from the dates, slice in half, fill with Stilton blue cheese and warm just enough so the cheese is melted. Add a precious silver baby cup to your platter filled with delicate flowers and voila!”~Holly Holden ~ Photo: Deb Key
“Somehow, my cheese crispies hors d’oeuvres taste even better when my little mouse @herendusa hops onto the platter! Don’t tell anyone, but my secret recipe is on Classic Design Channel @youtube!” ~Holly Holden
“This lovely box of pink vintage guest hand linens, pristinely pressed, is a wonderful hostess gift I received! I look forward to setting them out in our powder room. It’s amusing to think of what the initials will represent! NCH… Nice Clean Hands? FOR… Foxtrot Or Rumba? This is what contributes to an inviting house- everything isn’t perfect or matching, but it’s filled with touches of love!” ~Holly Holden
“Our hunt room at Fox Hall is the venue for many happily heated family backgammon challenges, enhanced at night with port and brandy!” ~Holly Holden

“Several shapes and sizes of silver picture frames adorn the Steinway in my front hall. Each one tells a story, which gives me great pleasure each time I pass by and glance at the photographs! The pictures also give me the honor of introducing visiting guests to my family if they have never had the opportunity to meet before!” ~Holly Holden
“Pillows with personality! I am so lucky to have such an amazing mother-in-law… look at these two pillows she needlepointed! She has created a myriad of superb pieces and I have been the lucky recipient of many. Notice how she designed them to be placed within the silk and adorned with tassels!” ~Holly Holden
“Flowers are the perfect finishing touch to any room! In my latest YouTube video, I share some secrets and suggestions for incorporating flowers into interior design.” ~Holly Holden
“On a wall in my kitchen, I often admire this grouping of English watercolors. My mother-in-law introduced me to the ‘Henry the Pony’ series and purchased them on her various trips to London from the artist, W.R.A. Boland. In this group, I cut out the blue detail from a Brunschwig & Fils border wallpaper and applied it on top of the wallpaper in the kitchen to appear like trompe l’oeil!” ~Holly Holden
“I am able to smile each day as I look at my son in a sitting room near the kitchen at Fox Hall.” ~Holly Holden
“Soft morning sun shines through this side of the foyer at Fox Hall.” ~Holly Holden
“Spring makes me think of the tender green grass my horse loved so very much…he would trot over the fields to find the best possible patch to nibble on. Our collection of British sporting art reminds me of Spring riding in Virginia!” ~Holly Holden
“An essential part of timeless, classic interior design is story telling through decorative items. artifacts and photographs. The American serpentine front Chippendale chest in my living room at Fox Hall displays a medley of my family history!” ~Holly Holden
Holly says, “I love to have a tall, classic trumpet vase arrangement on the piano!” Photo: Deb Key
“Peonies- especially pink ones, are my most favorite flower! These came from our garden at Fox Hall. I hope it won’t be long before they bloom again,” said Holly. “I adore them!”
“My husband likes to surprise me with flowers quite often… I am very lucky! This past weekend he bought a dozen orchid plants at the Hartford Farmer’s Market. I love using my large rose medallion bowl so that I can fill it with as many plants as possible! I wad up tinfoil for support so that the orchids can stand up, and then I cover the group with dried moss. I also remove the plastic hair clips and replace them with sweet little ribbon bows in either green or white!” ~Holly Holden
“Blue hydrangeas from the garden are at home in my blue and yellow front hall!” ~Holly Holden
“Fuzzy sheep for Spring to greet my guests!???? As you can see up close, the ram really does have personality! And to accompany him, doesn’t the open-work Herend container look splendid? These Staffordshire critters are referred to as spill vases. In 1810 they were designed to hold twisted paper or wood shavings on a mantelpiece. The “spills” were ignited and used to carry a flame before matches were created. I must say that with the flowers adorning them in my home, they look precious anywhere…” ~Holly Holden
“Add a few blossoms to a silver baby cup, place on the sink in your powder room and you have just created the easiest arrangement ever!”~Holly Holden ~ Photo:Deb Key
“Tiebacks and tassels- elegant details that enhance curtain design.” ~Holly Holden
“It is always fun to change the flowers on my mantel with the seasons,” said Holly. “And remember, everything is better in pairs- symmetry is key in classic interiors!” Photo: Deb Key

Pretty and proper indeed! You can read more about Holly’s book, The Pretty and Proper Living Room, via my review here. I also wrote about her YouTube channel, Classic Design Channelhere. Please tune into CPTV and PBS, and for daily inspiration, you will want to follow Holly on Instagram @classicdesignchannel. Holly never ceases to amaze and inspire me with her exquisite and classic style. She demonstrates that it is chic and elegant to eschew trends and stay true to the classics, because as Holly says, “Classic design, like manners, never goes out of style.”


  1. Always an inspiration. It’s wonderful to see how much she used the lovely things that were handed down to her family. I can’t wait for the PBS show in 2018

  2. Wow, stunning every room and every decoration piece. Amazing designer. This is my style, elegant, and easy that makes people comfortable and happy.

  3. I was introduced to Holly Holden via a mutual friend and I have been a huge fan ever since. A transplant to Texas from Virginia, I miss all of the East Coast homes. I, too, often take Holly’s book with me when I go antiquing.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


related posts

the latest features

on our bookshelf

trending now

designer profiles

best sellers