Charlottesville in this month's Elle Decor

A couple years ago, my mother came down from New Jersey and I took her on a whirl wind tour of Charlottesville. One of our stops was Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home on the outskirts of town. When I first started working at Mr. Jefferson's University (that's U.Va. to those who are reading from far away), I was a little surprised at the reverence for Jefferson. I sometimes wondered if they thought he was still living at Monticello and might stop by at any time to check in on things on Grounds. Over time, I grew to love the Jeffersonian tradition and realized that people here aren't blind to the man's faults (they probably know them better than the average American), but are proud to celebrate his accomplishments.

During the visit to Monticello with my mother, we got to chat with one of the guides about some of the ongoing research that was being done on the property. At the time, they were working on the dining room. They were certain that the paint color being used was incorrect and were working on recreating the color Jefferson used in the space.

Monticello's dining room the way we saw it

In this month's Elle Decor, I found out that the research panned out and the resulting work is beautiful! Check out these images from the Elle Decor website (there are many, many more photos than those that made it into the print edition).

Ralph Lauren funded the restoration and Charlotte Moss designed the space for the Elle Decor photo shoot.

Locals know that Jefferson loved to tinker, experiment, design, and invent. This golden yellow paint was new and extremely expensive at the probably appealed to the innovator in Jefferson.

Jefferson's finances weren't in the best order towards the end of his life. The fact that he bought this expensive paint (see the Elle Decor article for the cost information) made me chuckle. I guess he just couldn't resist this hot, new product despite the fact that he was in debt.

Stunning, isn't it? There is so much more to see at Monticello and if you've visited before, the ongoing research and restoration work ensures that you'll see new things on a return visit.

If you wind up paying us a visit, please let me know! I'd love to meet some blogger friends and introduce you to a few of the shops about which I've written in the past!


  1. I love Monticello! Especially the gardens. I think this restored color just fits. I remember walking thru and think "how Williamsburg-y" the place was color-wise, so to see this jolt of color is great!

  2. Absolutely stunning! I'm ashamed to admit I've lived in VA my whole life, but never visited Monticello. I really must go.

  3. The dining room is absolutely stunning now. I was a guide at Monticello when I was in undergrad and always felt that the blue walls in the room made it chilly and not at all friendly.

  4. Thank you for posting this. I am also a former Monticelllo tour guide, and this is the first time I have seen the dining room in yellow paint. I knew they were going to change the color, and I was unhappy about the change, but it is stunning. Now I have to go see it in person!

  5. This is the first I've heard of this. It is truly stunning! Thanks for posting (and for your insights on Mr. Jefferson). I can't wait to see that dining room in person.

  6. Wow, what a beautiful place!

  7. These photos are amazing. And I have to sadly say they are better than it was in person last week. In the pictures the room really does look absolutely stunning (and the color really is!) , but when you take the tour it isn't set up this way. The dining table is not in the middle of the room - obviously to accommodate visitors - and they have placed two sitting chairs in front of the fireplace that are the same "wedgewood" type blue that the room used to be. They look out of place in this now bright, stunning room. Don't get me wrong - it's still fabulous - as all of Monticello is - but I was kind of saddened by the choice after seeing how amazing it looked on-line.

  8. I just re-read what I wrote and hope it doesn't come off too negative -the place is AMAZING and I would HIGHLY recommend visiting. Jefferson was a phenomenal person with amazing design ability - and the people that work at Monticello - from the ticket person to the tour guides to the gardener and beyond are amazing.


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