Delaware Home and Garden: Ellen Passman of Washington, D.C., renovates a Victorian house in Milton, Sussex County
A D.C. transplant rescues a Victorian in Milton.
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Ellen Passman was 11 years old when she was swept away by a performance of “Auntie Mame,” the story of a glamorous, eccentric, free spirit who introduced her young nephew to a madcap whirl of society, style and wit.
“It changed my life,” she recalls. “Who wouldn’t want to live like Auntie Mame?”
Passman has a name for that exuberant design sensibility. She calls it barefoot elegance.
“It’s kicking off your shoes, sitting on the floor and drinking Champagne out of Baccarat crystal glasses,” she says. “It’s feeling relaxed and casual, yet formal and special, at the
Barefoot elegance is a happy blend of accessible style and sophisticated, high-end niceties. It is the rustic patina of oak dining chairs and the opulent sheen of gilding on a marble-topped hunt board. Imagine the nubby threads of a well-traveled vintage carpet and the sparkle of family silver.
In Passman’s house, guests enjoy both the homey comfort of a cozy sofa and the upscale ambience of art and antiques. The good china comes out on a regular basis, not just holidays. Nothing is too precious or out of bounds.
“We enjoy living with our favorite things rather than hiding them away,” she says. “That way, we can appreciate them every day.” —Eileen Smith Dallabrida