arts & culture

{happy weekend + robbie burns day}


{happy weekend + robbie burns day}
Ever since coming across the image of the black and white tartan-covered staircase in Globe-Trotter‘s London shop (below), I’ve been completely won over by tartan/plaid flooring.

The drawing room of Rachel Riley’s home in Loire (above, from Vogue Living Houses Gardens People), while beautiful in its own right, owes its manor-born appeal to the little corner of red and turquoise plaid, the element that pulls everything together and gives the room a certain British refinement.

{happy weekend + robbie burns day}
{Beautiful black and white tartan broadloom at Globe-Trotter’s London shop}


{A Brief History of Robbie Burns}

Born in Alloway, Ayrshire, in 1759 to William Burness, a poor tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun, Robert Burns was the eldest of seven. He spent his youth working his father’s farm, but in spite of his poverty he was extremely well read, at the insistence of his father, who employed a tutor for Robert and his younger brother Gilbert.
At the age of 15, Robert was the principal worker on the farm, prompting him to begin writing, in an attempt to find “some kind of counterpoise for his circumstances.” It was at this tender age that Burns penned his first verse, “My Handsome Nell”, which was an ode to the other subjects that dominated his life, namely scotch and women.

When his father died in 1784, Robert and his brother became partners in the farm. However, Robert was more interested in the romantic nature of poetry than the arduous graft of ploughing and, having had some misadventures with the ladies (resulting in several illegitimate children, including twins to the woman who would become his wife, Jean Armour), he planned to escape to the safer, sunnier climes of the West Indies.

However, at the point of abandoning farming, his first collection, “Poems- Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect – Kilmarnock Edition” (a set of poems essentially based on a broken love affair), was published to much critical acclaim. This, together with pride of parenthood, made him stay in Scotland. He moved around the country, eventually arriving in Edinburgh, where he mingled in the illustrious circles of the artists and writers who were enthralled by the “Ploughman Poet.”

In a matter of weeks, he was transformed from a local hero to a national celebrity, fussed over by the Edinburgh literati of the day, and Jean Armour’s father allowed her to marry him, now that he was no longer a lowly wordsmith. Unfortunately, the trappings of fame did not bring fortune and he took up a job as an exciseman (tax collector) to supplement the meagre income. While collecting taxes, he continued to write, contributing songs to the likes of James Johnston’s “Scot’s Musical Museum” and George Thomson’s “Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs.” In all, more than 400 of Burns’ songs are still in existence.

{happy weekend + robbie burns day}
{Black tartan broadloom via Living etc.}

The last years of Burns’ life were devoted to penning great poetic masterpieces such as The Lea Rig, Tam O’Shanter and a Red, Red Rose. He died at the age of 37 of heart disease exacerbated by the hard manual work he undertook when he was young. His death occurred on the same day as his wife Jean gave birth to their last son, Maxwell.

On the day of his burial more than 10,000 people came to pay their respects, and his popularity has reached incredible heights since.

On the anniversary of his birth, Scots both at home and all over the world, celebrate Robert Burns with a supper, where they address the haggis, the ladies and whisky, a celebration befitting Scotland’s favourite son.

{happy weekend + robbie burns day}
{Preppy and perfect green and blue plaid flooring as seen in Domino’s December 2007 issue}

{credits:, Vogue Living Houses Gardens People, Domino Magazine}

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27 Notes
  • I absolutely LOVE plaid and tartain. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks, Ronda–there’s nothing wrong with a little pomp and circumstance!

  • Hello Bexy–thanks for the tag and for visiting.

    Melissa–looking forward to Inspiration Week!

  • Great post! Our neighbors hosted the Burns Supper this year, but we were away for the weekend. It is truly on of the highlights of living in Scotland…so much fun! I love all the pomp and circumstance!!

  • I LOVE that first photo the best of all!


  • i tag you
    i hope you don’t mind


  • Thanks, Joanna! And I agree about the Domino story, especially their more is more approach to tartan.

  • i loved that domino story. it was such great styling to combine all those plaids. thanks for the post!!

  • Thanks, Claudia!

  • pomegranate–thank you! I’m off to check out your post . . .

  • Oh my goodness, you were right! What a fabulous post you have here! I too have a huge weak spot for tartan and houndstooth! :-)

  • Cemaya, thought that might make you change your mind :)

    Felicity, thanks! I’ve been having trouble making my mind up with them, as I seem to have amassed quite a collection by now.

  • Hii! I you’re one of the winners in my “You Make My Day” Blog Awards. Check it out in my last post.

  • Felicity–that first photo is one of my favourites–and it’s only half of the room–the room in its entirity is pretty stunning. And as to why Robbie Burns Day is in my BlackBerry, well, you may or may not recall that P. is British . . .

  • Glamorous – I think you should do a post on all your headers!! Everyone of them is delicious!

  • Ohhh! Aristocratic modern edge! There we go I love that :) Thanks! And thank you for your post as well.

  • I love that first picture and I’m fascinated as to why Robbie Burns day is in your blackberry

  • Cemaya, thanks for visiting and I understand how you feel about plaid–I used to be the same, thinking it was rather old and stuffy, but I’ve recently been won over and see its aristocratic, modern edge.

  • I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with plaid. I’m of Scottish descent thus my family has a tartan which explains the love side but the hate is that I can’t resolve myself to enjoy it!

  • pomegranate, I’m certain I have some examples that would change your opinion about tartan on furniture or in the home!

  • carolina eclectic, that staircase was the first thing that made me rethink plaid–instead of looking old or stuffy, it looks fresh and modern, which was a great surprise.

  • I don’t like tartan on furniture or in homes but I’m amazed at how the turquoise carpet and the black plaid staircase look so good!

  • The staircase is amazing! Great info.

  • Thanks, Kate! Congratulations again your mention in The Post, and Happy Friday!

  • Don’t you just love that carpet!! Great post today!


  • Elegant, you do not know how great I think it is that you have a selection of tartan ties or that you know about Robbie Burns day! I’m certain your friend will be utterly charming at the dinner tonight.

  • Thanks TIG! I just dropped off a selection of tartan ties for a friend who will wear one to a Robbie Burns dinner tonight. I’ll forward him your timely and wonderful post so that he may be suitably prepared with excellent cocktail talk.

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