Brittany Albert + John Gruen Tastemakers' Table | Warm colored handbuilt ceramics on a white shelf

Brittany Albert + John Gruen: Winter's End


Shown: Honeycomb Plates, Battuto Vase in Dune, Battuto Bud Vase in Dune

March 20, 2022

This has been a very long, cold winter, I think we can all agree. Now that we’re in the month of March, the hope of spring is tangible. Here in the northwest corner of Connecticut, we fluctuate between ice and mud in winter’s last ditch effort to bring us down. But oh winter…you just can’t. Because the small flashes of the new season pop out just in the nick of time. Like on an unusually warm day, you take a walk and spy the first flowers pushing their way up through the hard ground. Ah, relief.

I’d been hoping to have my friend and neighbor John Gruen photograph a Tastemakers’ Table story for quite a while. His work is featured in a host of magazines and books, and he even photographed a whole bunch of products for DBO Home—but I wanted to see what he would do without a client looking over his shoulder. He met stylist Brittany Albert on Instagram and took this as an opportunity to work together for the first time. John thought this would be the perfect project for their collaboration, and it was!

Brittany and John created tranquil vignettes to usher out the season and stir our imaginations to create the softness of spring at home using some of our favorite pieces and a sneak peek at our new seasonal colors.

This story embraces the beauty of the time between the paleness of winter and the color pop of spring.

Shown: Bare Bowls in Eggshell, Bare Plates in Snowflake, Bare Coupe in Snowflake, Bare Pedestal Vase in Eggshell, one of a kind vases.


I spoke with Brittany about the seasons and how she moves from one to the next.

First off…are you a winter person? If you are, what are your favorite parts of winter? If not and you’re like me, is there anything you do to help you get through the season with a smile on your face?

I love the beginning of winter and the first snow of the season is always magical. Winter also means ski season so I try to get to a ski mountain at some point which for me is the best way to enjoy the season!

 

The vignettes you created with John are reflective of the ending of winter...Do you have any rituals to make the transition from season to season? Do you change up your home’s styling with the seasons? What will you be doing in your home to welcome spring?

I try to make the house extra cozy in winter—always have a candle burning and we make a fire whenever we can! I fill vases around the house with dried flowers, which I'll switch out with flowers and greenery when they start growing again in spring. The first day when I can put fresh flowers in a vase by the kitchen window really signals the beginning of a new season.


Shown: Bare Pedestal Vase in Eggshell, Battuto Dessert Bowl in Dune, Artwork by Ronni Nicole


And John, what are your rituals to make the transition from season to season? What are you most looking forward to when spring comes?

Spring ritual, pretty utilitarian, raise the storms and lower the screen windows, start thinking of wearing something besides Blundstones which I’ve had on almost everyday since October, get the linen sheets out, enjoy the longer days and everything greening and blooming.

Shown: Battuto Cup in Dune, Bare Coupe in Dune, Bare Pitcher in Snowflake, One Of A Kind Vases, Pinch Bud Vases 


What tips would you offer someone when styling their home to create the comforting simplicity you created in your own home, and show in these images?

Calming colors like beiges and grays make a nice neutral base to build the room around, soft textural fabrics like Belgian linen, multiple lighting sources other than overhead lighting like table lamps and candles for warm and cozy atmosphere.



Shown: Pinch Bud Vase, Battuto Vase in Dune, One Of A Kind Vase 


You have two homes, one in Brooklyn and one in Connecticut, how did you approach styling in the city versus styling in the country?

I approached the styling of our house in Connecticut to really make it feel like a retreat from the city. Actually, a lot of the spaces that inspired me in styling this house were hotels that I’ve always wanted to stay at. Another thing that really inspired me for the Connecticut house were the local makers and antique shops in the area. Our favorite pieces were all found locally and really add to the sense of place. Brittany’s favorite shops are on our list too.

In Connecticut: Privet House, J. Seitz, Plain Goods, Milton Market and Housatonic Trading.

In New York: Finch Hudson, Montage Antiques, Red Chair on Warren, Quiet Botanist and Maple Lawn 1843. All the more reason to come to Litchfield County and the Hudson Valley this spring and summer!


The colors you chose for your home are so calming…what are your favorites?

Farrow & Ball Ammonite and De Nimes which we used in our house, and Railings on our front door.
 
John, what’s been inspiring you lately? I know Long Pond and Ruby (your lovely dog) are two of your muses…but what else has made you want to grab your camera and create?

I like photographing these places that I walk to with Ruby. She’s not only good about being in these photos and videos, but patient when she’s not the subject. It’s nice to become familiar with these spots and photograph the changes. It’s great always having a camera like the iPhone that is so capable and handy. I sometimes stop and shoot landscapes with my “real” camera, but the ability to just take this phone out of my pocket and get what I do is amazing to me. It’s opened up the possibilities and improved my eye being able to take pictures wherever I am, walking with Ruby or on the road traveling. 


Shown: Bare Bowls and Plate in Snowflake, Pinch Serving Bowl, Pinch Bud Vase, One Of A Kind Vase


You mixed our classic Honeycomb tableware with accents of our new seasonal spring color and beautiful pops of turquoise and rust. What will you be serving on those plates? Are you a small dinner party or cocktail soiree kind of person?

When the weather gets warmer, we love to have friends up from the city and eat outside on the patio. My husband is the chef between us, he’ll probably be serving roast chicken or something from the grill!

Brittany’s husband Sandy turns to Julia Child for his favorite roast chicken recipe. So we’re sharing that with you here via foodandwine.com.

 

Julia Child's Favorite Roast Chicken Recipe


Ingredients

 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter  
1/3 cup finely diced carrots 
1/3 cup finely diced onion 
1/3 cup finely diced celery 
1 teaspoon thyme, savory or mixed herbs, or 2 fresh thyme or savory sprigs 
One 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken 
Salt 
    Freshly ground pepper
    Parsley stems 
    Celery leaves 
    Six 1/8-inch-thick lemon slices 
    1/2 cup sliced onion 
    1/2 cup sliced carrots 
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
    3/4 cup chicken stock or broth

       

      Directions

      Step 1
      Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet. Add diced carrots, onion and celery and cook over moderate heat until softened. Stir in the herbs.

      Step 2
      Cut out and discard wishbone. Pull neck skin up over chicken breast and secure it to the back with a toothpick. Salt and pepper cavity and spoon in cooked vegetables, a handful of parsley stems and celery leaves and lemon slices. Massage chicken all over with 1 tablespoon butter, then truss it. Alternatively, tie drumstick ends together and tuck wings under body.

      Step 3
      Choose a flameproof roasting pan that is about 1 inch larger than the chicken and place a rack inside. Salt chicken all over and set it breast-side up on rack. (Thoroughly wash all surfaces and utensils that have been in contact with the raw chicken.)

      Step 4
      Roast chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, brush chicken with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter. Scatter sliced onion and carrot all around. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

      Step 5
      After 45 minutes, brush lemon juice over chicken. If necessary, add 1/2 cup of water to vegetables to prevent burning.

      Step 6
      After 60 minutes, baste chicken with pan juices. Test for doneness; drumsticks should move easily in their sockets; their flesh should feel somewhat soft. If not, continue roasting, basting and testing every 7 to 8 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees.

      Step 7
      Spear chicken through shoulders; lift to drain; if juices run clear yellow, chicken is done. Let chicken rest on a carving board for 15 minutes; discard string.

      Step 8
      Spoon all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the juices in the pan. Add the stock and boil until lightly syrupy, 5 minutes. Strain; you will have just enough to bathe each serving with a fragrant spoonful.

        Listen While You Cook - John's Playlist


         

        Find more playlists on Spotify ⟶ @dbohome

         

         

        ABOUT JOHN GRUEN
        A
        n interiors, still life, and travel photographer, John Gruen studied film during college in Washington DC, and photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. His work, featured in numerous books and magazines, is intimate, serene, and honest. He lives and works in Litchfield County, CT.
        www.johngruen.com | @johnrgruen

         

        ABOUT BRITTANY ALBERT
        After working in digital content and creative marketing roles for design and home brands like Anthropologie Home, Hauser & Wirth and DORÉ, Brittany now focuses on styling for interiors and still life photography. She is based in Brooklyn and Litchfield County, CT.
        brittanyalbert.com | @britt_albert

         


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