Brave New Home

creating authenticity where it matters most

Tea with the Barefoot Contessa


tea cup jennifer and ina garten cook bookIf I could have lunch with any person it would probably be…Ina Garten.  Madeline Albright would be a great choice, too, but (and I’ve seen her give a talk in-person) I fear I’d clam up or say something daft so I’d go with the approachable Miss Garten (who was also involved in government at one point).

Although she’s mostly touted as being a food celebrity, she’s one of my home style icons.  Ironically, I don’t particularly like her decorating style.  Where she scores points in my book is in striking balance between elegance and casual comfort; she creates a casual and inviting environment with deliberateness.  And that is a style I can definitely agree with!

Reading the intro to her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa at Home, felt a lot like reading a magazine editorial in the pages of House Beautiful (where she’s actually been featured twice!).  Her ideas about home inspired me and had be nodding my head in agreement.  “A good home should gather you up in its arms like a warm cashmere blanket, soothe your hurt feelings, and prepare you to go back out into that big bad world tomorrow all ready to fight the dragons,” (Barefoot Contessa at Home).  She admits she didn’t  always know how to make a house a home and that it took years of experimentation.

After marrying Jeffrey Garten, a man she met in her high school years, she relocated to North Carolina where Jeffrey was stationed.  To occupy her time while her husband was away serving (I can relate to that!), Ina began dabbling in cooking and entertaining.  Ina continued her studies and climbing the proverbial ladder while following Jeffrey from town-to-town.  Ultimately, she landed a job as a nuclear energy analyst at the White House.

Upon spotting an ad for a speciality food store in Westhampton Beach, she left her job in DC and opened up her shop, the Barefoot Contessa.  The rest is history!

The Gartens own three residences, one in Paris, another in Manhattan and a third in East Hampton where her Food Network show, Barefoot Contessa, is filmed.  Here are a few of my favorite photos from her Manhattan residence:





And a few from her East Hampton residence:




So simple yet elegant, right?  I respect Ina’s authenticity, both in her home decor choices and in her life choices.  Many would consider a position at the White House to be the ultimate job but she abandoned that career track to follow a passion that allowed her to be creative (and wildly successful).  Her and Jeffrey really seem to support one another.  Aren’t they just too cute? 


Do you have a home style icon?  Can you relate to Ina’s style?

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Author: Jennifer @ Brave New Home

Hi! I'm Jennifer from Brave New Home ( I blog about overcoming fear and transforming a house into a home one DIY project at a time.

3 thoughts on “Tea with the Barefoot Contessa

  1. Wonderful post! I am a huge Ina fan and have several of her cookbooks. You are right! The intro and bits of info she provides takes her cook books to a new level. I like Barefoot In Paris because of all her Paris photos and I enjoy it when she shares her favorite kitchen picks. These photos of her homes are wonderful and I have not ever seen them!

  2. I’ve never thought about her outside of food. I find her recipes a bit intimidating but delicious. She definitely helps me cook outside my comfort zone. And I must say her homes are beautiful! I’d take any one of them off her hands if she finds 3 is just too many ;)

  3. I love Ina Garten! I know exactly what you mean, too. I don’t necessarily dig her decorating style for myself but I love her attitude about food and home. Her show on Food Network is one of my favorites and I always end-up watching her whenever we’re on vacation since we don’t have cable at home. She’s so soothing and makes you feel like you’re a welcome guest in her home, even if you’re watching it on TV. Whenever we have guests, I always try to incorporate an “Ina” attitude and make them feel welcome, comfortable and nourished.

    I’ll have to see if this book is at my library!

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