House Beautiful :Southern Elegance

An Estate with Gorgeous Southern Grace
As a fine-jewelry designer, Elizabeth Locke works on an exquisite but small scale. When faced with the prospect of redoing a vast Virginia estate, however, she didn’t miss a beat. The 100-acre farm and its Federal-style home, Clay Hill, was falling into ruin when Elizabeth first saw it in 1979. “There were 17 giant trees growing into the foundation! It was out of our price range, but I told my husband if we could only buy it, I’d camp there.”

A Federal-style pier table, sofa, and chairs flank the entrance (the seating all upholstered in a Scalamandré red silk). The pieces were designed with looks rather than comfort in mind; as Elizabeth says, “I dare anyone to sit in that sofa and watch a movie!”

Now that it’s filled with yellows (and blues to balance the palette), everyone flocks to the sitting room. Elizabeth often ends up here with a magazine when she has a window of time to herself.

The shelves are filled with 20th-century volumes inherited from John’s grandfather, a serious bibliophile. The spiral-stairs miniature was an architect’s model.

A table in the kitchen makes an easy perch for morning list making and organizing the day. Elizabeth often has company, though—as she says, “This is where everyone always hangs out.”

Furnished with pieces inherited from John’s grandmother’s Park Avenue apartment, the dining room is “quite formal,” Elizabeth says.

The ceiling of the master bedroom creates the atmosphere of an otherworldly Italian garden.


Meant for display, not work, the surface of an antique desk is filled with beloved family photographs. Elizabeth says, “I’ve always been more into style than comfort.”

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