A Country Escape by Mario Buatta

It’s no secret that I am obsessed with Mario Buatta, and when I discover previously unseen work I get positively giddy. Surrounded by 16 acres of terraced Italianate gardens on the Connecticut River, “Blendon Hall” was designed in 1902 by Charles Adam Platt and named after a cottage in Newport, Rhode Island. One of the most renowned American architects of the 20th century, Platt was known for using nature as his guide to design, always letting landscape surroundings inspire his plans for the house and garden.

Lily and Bill O’Boyle had just purchased their New York City apartment when they found this Connecticut home, so Buatta was busy decorating both homes at the same time. Whenever he didn’t like something in the Manhattan home, he would laughingly say, “Take it to Connecticut!” So furniture from past houses ended up there along with treasured collections that were deemed “too country” for the city, Lily explained.

“We wanted it to have an English country house sensibility incorporating things we loved like chintzes, porcelain, books and art that would not only reflect our passions and interest but stand the test of time, children, and pets,” said Lily who is the author of several books on the Philippines. Comfortably English with a French sophistication and a definite Asian twist was the mandate.

This article originally ran in Lifestyle Asia with photography by Ava Pessina.

White-on-white striped wallpaper offsets flowered chintz upholstered furniture in the living room.
The front door (which is red, as recommended by a feng shui master) opens up to a spacious apricot colored foyer. A local artist painted the wooden floor with tromp-l’oeil marble.
The dining room
The color blue was an underlying theme not just in the home’s fabrics, paint, tiles, and decorative accessories, but also in the garden.
In contrast to the light filled, airy living room, the library with its dark mahogany paneling is a warm, cozy evening room that lends itself to lazy fireside chats and winter gatherings.

Image via Connecticut for Sale
A cotton print of blue cornflowers on the bed and on the walls reinforce the blue and white color scheme in the master bedroom.
The fabric was upholstered on the bedroom and sitting room walls, a treatment Lily had greatly admired in a dressing room at her favorite spa in France.
A guest room is upholstered in an Indian block print that is repeated on the headboard, bed skirt, and window shades. Shirred Swiss tambour curtains from a previous home were reused on the bed’s canopy to provide a soft touch.
D. Porthault linens provide the perfect complement.

The hallway features a mural of a trellised garden dripping with wisteria.
A statue presides over the garden planted with mostly blue flowering plants and New David climbing roses.
There is a sheltered cove teeming with wildlife at the bottom of the property.
A set of French doors open to a porticoed porch with stairs that lead down to a wisteria-covered arbor culminating in the pool house.
The colonial revival style house commands a long and comprehensive view of the Connecticut River and the surrounding countryside.

Buatta likes to say that houses aren’t done overnight. A house should be a continuing work in progress. It should “grow like a garden.” Purchased in 1986, Blendon Hall evolved with the O’Boyles – remaining faithful to Platt’s original design – until they listed the home in 2012… Click below to view a fabulous virtual tour!

To read this entire feature as it appeared in Lifestyle Asia click here. A huge thank you to photographer Ava Pessina who graciously provided the images. And if you would like to see the O’Boyles’ New York apartment, it is featured on pages 192 – 200 in Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration.


  1. Thank you. I really needed this deliciousness. In my mind, I’m sitting in that Chinoiserie slipcovered chair, next to a crackling fire, enjoying a good book. And that wonderful wisteria hall! Magical. Mario is the best. They must be sad to give it all up. I’m sure the kids will be sorry later that they didn’t hang on to such a beautiful place. There aren’t a lot of place quite this nice. It’s special.

  2. Such a wonderful place to live. There isn’t one part of the wall in the house look bored and dull. All the rooms is filled with colours and would never bore you at all! Right from the entryway, library, garden, the mural, hallway and everything. I like the spare bookshelf filled with blue decoratives and plates. Just awesome. I would live there my whole life:) Just wow!! Thanks for taking us to this tour 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing. It looks so “un-decorator-y” if that’s a word, like a real home where real people live. Marvelous use of colors and fabrics wow.

    also my favorite Brunschwig & Fils Le Lac fabric in the library


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