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Behind the Scenes: Decorating and Hosting with Perennial Stays

Come behind the scenes with us on our Fall 2023 photoshoot! We matched up our fall and holiday collections with two(!) gorgeous homes built in the 1700s in rural Pennsylvania and lovingly restored by fantastic hosts Leigh and Corey of Perennial Stays. Today on the blog we talk to Leigh about the homes and her experience decorating and hosting. 

*edited for brevity
Coral and Tusk runner and napkins in a cottage setting
Photo by Will Ellis

disttillery house Coral & Tusk photoshoot

Distillery House- Photo by Perennial Stays

General store exterior by perennial stays for coral & tusk photoshoot

General House- Photo by Perennial Stays

Coral & Tusk: How did you find the houses/ what drew you to them?

Perennial Stays: Corey is constantly perusing real estate for sale, and historic ones always draw our attention. He came across this one in the fall of 2021, and he and I both knew we wanted to see it as soon as possible.  Our realtor arranged a showing for us, and we knew that same day we were going to make an offer!  

I can still remember our first time stepping foot on the property. The two-story sunroom with woodstove is the first thing that sold me. The beautiful stone walls, wood beams, and historic details like original windows where you can see bubbles in the glass!  Modern home construction doesn't have that same charm and quality.  We also loved the grounds with mature perennial beds, and the stream that provides the water for the properties.

Sun room with Coral & Tusk mushroom throw pillows

  Photo by Will Ellis

C&T: How did you go about decorating these two beautiful, historical homes, and do you have a certain decor style or influence?

PS: I've been fortunate enough to learn a lot from my cousin (more like a sister) who is a full time interior designer based in Chicago. I've bounced so many ideas off of her, and she's helped me so much in getting where I am today!  This property is our 3rd AirBnB, and I've learned a lot along the way. We aren't just decorating a space, we are furnishing an entire home for our AirBnB guests so we need to think about function and guest experience as well.   

Since we focus on historic properties we wanted the furnishings and decor to stay true to that while also feeling fresh, modern, and cozy. You definitely won't find minimalism here! I love mixing in antiques and vintage items with a modern piece of art or light fixture. I also like to include lots of local items - maybe a vintage map or pennant or even a postcard like the ones I put in the glass coffee table.  

I get lots of inspiration from Pinterest, design books, or social media.  Some designers that I admire are Josh Young Design House, Jake Arnold, Shannon Claire Interiors, Amber Lewis, Lauren Liess.

Distillery living room from Coral & Tusk photoshoot

Photo by Perennial Stays

C&T: What’s the most important thing to make your guests feel comfortable? 

PS: I want guests to feel like they are staying in a boutique hotel but better.  So each bedroom is strategically furnished. My must-haves are:

-king size bed (when it fits)
-comfortable mattress, our guests constantly ask where we get our mattresses because they love them so much
-workstation / desk when possible
-nice bedding and pillows, we usually stick with white like a hotel


Other things to make our guests feel comfortable are the extra amenities like firewood and propane for the grill. We want their stay to be as smooth as possible, so tracking down firewood should be the least of their concerns. Finally, we have a phenomenal cleaning team that is as meticulous and detail-oriented as we are.  

Coral & Tusk pillows and quilt on bed
  Photo by Will Ellis

C&T: What is the best compliment/ review comment you've had after a stay?

PS: Seeing all the 5-star reviews is truly the best part of our business - we read and respond to each one of them. It's hard to pick the best one, but a recent one that made me smile is this:

"Even if you cannot cook or play the piano, this place makes you feel as though you could win a James Beard award and moonlight in the national symphony. Every inch has been carefully curated and designed, you can feel the love that was poured into making this place a perfect gem. 5 stars times infinity!!!" 

C&T: What is your favorite room/ space in each house?

PS: Distillery House - the kitchen. It had great bones to begin with (open beams, American chestnut floors, stone walls) but it got quite the transformation. It's the perfect entertaining space.  

Quail and feather Coral & Tusk tea towels hanging on kitchen drawers next to a viking stove with wooden bowl on the counter

  Photo by Will Ellis
kitchen for Coral & Tusk photoshoot
Photo by Perennial Stays

General Store - The living room also had an enormous transformation and needed a lot of work!  I love how it turned out - elegant but cozy.

Bar cart with Coral & Tusk Mushrooms and Ferns wine bag and fern tea towels

    Photo by Will Ellis

C&T: We absolutely love your book collection, can you recommend any must-have art or design books?

Coral and Tusk pillow on twin bed in cottage core room
 Photo by Will Ellis

PS: I love styling a room with a stack of hardcover books, and it's nice that guests can read and enjoy them too.  Some favorites:

- Damien Hirst:  Cherry Blossoms (stunning book, inside and out)

- John Derian Picture Book (quirky and unique)

- There and Back: Photographs from the Edge by Jimmy Chin 

- The Finer Things by Christiane Lemieux (I like how she speaks to timeless style and choosing quality pieces that outlast trends)

- Cabinet of Natural Curiosities by Albertus Seba (another beautiful coffee table book, and also makes a nice gift)

Anytime I go antiquing I hit the books first.  I've found tons of beautiful antique art books.  One of my favorite styling moments is in the Distillery House, there's a little stack of vintage books that I sorted in rainbow color order that I think is just charming! (shown in above image)