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3. "Don't try to be anything you're not," says Kreis, who brushed off early suggestions that she outfit her dining-room staff in tuxedoes. "But be the very best you can, exactly where you are." She puts her favorite books on the shelves of the rooms, hunts down local artists and artisans for artwork and tableware, and picks wall coverings, furniture and fabrics one by one. "As you grow," she says, "the 'very best' changesbut at any point along the way it's my best and it's always a labor of love."
Pictured above, photographs of Blackberry Farm taken by Kreis sit on the desktop of the Hickory Chair secretary in one of the rooms. Its crisply contrasting palette of ivory, cream, and brown includes the rich tones of the antique heart-pine flooring. The vases are from Oly.