Over the weekend we stopped by the Newport Flower Show at the breathtaking turn-of-the-century Rosecliff Mansion, which, like many of the historic Newport mansions, has been carefully preserved and is open for visitors to gawk at how the glitterati of the Industrial Revolution once summered. While our personal style (and our wallet) doesn't exactly allow us to take a page directly from the décor of railroad and silver barons, there's an opulent audacity of design that we can't help but find inspiring...
During our visit, most of the furniture had been moved out, but that made architectural details like the killer tromp l'oeil cloud ceiling in the ballroom stand out all the more. We also loved the separate feminine and masculine rooms — one pink-wallpapered, bright and filled with framed portraits; the other dark, wood-paneled and hung with hunting scenes. The house and grounds with their sprawling ocean views are modeled after a garden retreat for French kings, but shockingly the palatial estate was once considered only a "summer cottage" by its residents.
For hours and admission information, visit the Newport Preservation Society. The mansions are all pretty much within walking distance of each other and Newport can get a little overrun with tourists at the height of the summer, so if you plan to visit, we recommend taking public transportation and hoofing it or better yet, renting a bike.
(Images: Sarah Rainwater)