You Are Cordially Invited
Episode Two: Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is the only privately owned palace in England and its private apartments have never before been shown on television. Blenheim was the birthplace of Winston Churchill. It is an important national monument in England and the home of the Twelfth Duke of Marlborough. Holly is joined by Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, a world-renowned interior designer, the author of twelve interior design books, and the proprietor of two interior design shops. Lady Henrietta's father was the Eleventh Duke of Marlborough and she spent time living at Blenheim when she was a child. Holly and Lady Henrietta discuss how, despite Blenheim's massive size, its interior design makes it feel warm and inviting.

Photos by Dean Greenblatt © 2017

You Are Cordially Invited
Episode One: Highclere Castle

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Highclere Castle is perhaps best known as the filming location of the television series Downton Abbey, though the castle is an architectural landmark in its own right. Highclere presides over more than 1,000 acres of manicured parkland designed by renowned landscape architect Capability Brown. Holly is joined by Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the Eighth Countess of Carnarvon, a best-selling author and a seasoned hostess. Holly and Lady Carnarvon explore the extensive grounds on horseback before returning to the castle for afternoon tea. This captivating episode focuses on the design of the castle and how it is used for entertaining. To view the Countess of Carnarvon's official website and to read her blog, click here: https://www.ladycarnarvon.com/.

Photos by Deb Key, Highclere Castle, and Alexandra Terhalle.

You Are Cordially Invited
Pilot Episode: Eyrie Knoll

The first episode of the new series You Are Cordially Invited takes host Holly Holden to Eyrie Knoll in West Hartford, Connecticut. The name Eyrie Knoll means "nest on a hill" and the 15,000 square-foot stone house is situated on a hill overlooking Hartford, Connecticut. The interiors of Eyrie Knoll represent classic interior design at its absolute finest. Though the rooms are expansive, the details of the home reveal an uncompromising and impeccable attention to detail. The house is owned by Dr. Paul and Mrs. Melinda Sullivan and they prove to be exceptional hosts as they welcome Holly and viewers alike. The Sullivans have collected a world renowned collection of artwork and their passion for their collection is evident throughout the segment. Of particular note is their collection of Du Paquier porcelain, which the Sullivan Foundation has documented extensively and has been on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art among other museums.

Holly uses the masterpiece living room at Eyrie Knoll to discuss the importance of symmetry in design, the creation of intimate seating areas, and the assembling of groups of objects, which she terms vignettes. At the end of the visit to Eyrie Knoll, Dr. Sullivan, an accomplished pianist, plays Bach while Mrs. Sullivan recalls the time they had Julia Child to dinner. Mrs. Sullivan also shares a few tips on successful entertaining.

In her final thoughts, Holly muses on the importance of passion in collecting and how it can become a rewarding lifelong pursuit. She closes the show by urging viewers to be inspired and design with passion.

Episode One is an exciting beginning to the series. The house, the owners, and the artwork provide an entertaining and educational experience. The episode was filmed on two consecutive days in May of 2015. It runs 28 minutes long and was recorded in 1080i.

Photos by Dean Greenblatt © 2015

Meet Your Host: Holly Holden

Holly Holden is on a mission: to teach others about the touches that make an interior elegant, comfortable, timeless, yet unpretentious. She instinctively knows how to crack the secret code of old-school interior design. Holly’s design talent was inherited from her parents. Her British father gave his tailored sensibilities, and her mother gave her a flair for entertaining.

Holly’s great grandparents met at the Emperor’s Ball in Vienna, Austria. Eventually, they moved to Tientsin, China, where they designed their home, Neibelheim, replete with a “gentleman’s” horse racecourse. The Empress Dowager of The Forbidden City appointed her great grandfather to be a high official of Customs; he opened trade for China with European countries.

Holly’s formative years were spent in Richmond, Virginia. Here, she attended an Episcopal girls school and graduated from Mt. Vernon College and, then, the University of Richmond School of Business. It was here that the gentility of Southern culture made an impression on her, which is clearly apparent in her work. Today, Holly lives in a historic Federal house, Fox Hall, c. 1803, in Farmington, Connecticut, with her husband, Stuart. They have three darling children and two precious grandchildren. They take pride that every item in their house has a story behind it. Holly excels at placing herself and her family in an elegant tapestry of lasting beauty. Their house is a vibrant venue for constant entertaining.

Holly serves on two prestigious museum boards, is a member of two Federated Garden Clubs, has been a Commissioner for twelve years on The Farmington Historic District Commission and is a Member of The Farmington Congregational Church, and a sustainer of The Junior League of Hartford. She also has served as the head designer for three historic Farmington renovations: The Porter Memorial, The Barney Library and The Farmington Country Club.

You Are Cordially Invited, A New Television Program

Who has not passed a grand house and wished they could be invited inside?

An illustrious invitation is something to anticipate, to savor, and to remember. The new television series You Are Cordially Invited extends an engraved invitation to viewers, welcoming them as guests in masterpiece houses containing distinguished collections of artwork. For thirty minutes viewers will explore these extraordinary houses first-hand, as they stroll the grounds, walk the halls, and sip champagne with the owners and experts.

But viewers will not be visiting these rarefied houses alone. Host Holly Holden is sure to become a new friend as she colorfully illuminates the most interesting aspects of each house. Drawing on over twenty-five years of experience as a professional designer of classic, high-end interiors, Holly is superbly qualified to describe what makes rooms successful and inviting. Selecting examples within each house, Holly demonstrates fundamental aspects of classic interior design while sharing her personal secrets for creating rooms of distinction. Additionally, she will interview the owners of the houses to learn their secrets for elegant entertaining and the faux pas to avoid.

Like a trip to the museum, the show endeavors to be a source of inspiration and education, transporting viewers to a world of stunning excellence and polite, dignified charm.