I’ll let you on a secret: I have a perfumed box filled with letters, notelets, invitations, and menus that I have collected and preserved lovingly over the years. What is unusual about that, you may ask? Don’t we all have a fondness for keeping keepsakes from our loved ones? Well, the fact is that what these kept mementos have in common isn’t that they were from people who have played a significant part in my life; no, the common denominator is that they are all either beautifully handwritten or printed specimens of correspondences embedded on exquisite stationery. You see, I have a rather strong penchant for heavily embossed, gilt-edged, carefully considered, personalized stationery.
It may seem odd for someone who is so deeply entrenched in the digital world of social media to wax lyrically about the benefits of paper goods and the tangible, strokable, physically present allure of print—but that is exactly what makes the receipt of a piece of correspondence in an envelope so luxurious. Luxurious when the quality of the card or paper is good, but also luxurious for the fact that in a world of texts and emails, it can often be considered an extravagance to find time to hand-write anything at all these days. The receipt of a letter indicates that we have been thought about for more than just a moment. We have played on someone’s mind, or our name has passed through someone’s lips—perhaps with fondness, and at least with intent and mindfulness. Even the act of opening an envelope, especially one that is hand-lined with colored tissue paper to match the ink color, can be a highly exciting and intimate ceremony.
What do I look for in my own stationery? I love it to be personalized in some way. I am a big fan of letterhead with my name and house name, but failing that, even a foil-blocked image of Hill House (or something that is personal to the writer) is perfect. I crave interesting details: Bevelled edges, gilding and painted borders all add a touch of glamor. If one really wants to go to town, then engraving or die-stamping from a personalized copper plate for a crest, logo or monogram makes for an exceptionally smart look.
Of course, the thickness and density of the paper matters. A much-coveted embossed formal invitation on thick card was nicknamed a “Stiffy” by the country-house set of old for a reason!
Once we have the weight and density sorted, what about the color? I have no strict rules on what constitutes to good taste in stationery—and nor should I. I am a firm believer that if you love it, then it is perfect for you! On that matter, I do believe that everyone has their own unique color palate whether they are aware of it or not – a color that defines us and our homes. It may be modern and bright or traditional and subtle, but there are colors that are threaded through our interior choices as well as our dress sense. Often it is a subconscious pull towards a particular hue—for me it is green—that we return to again and again. Study your walls, soft furnishings and the choices that you’ve made for your lampshades and linens. Then look in your wardrobe to discern whether there is a familiar pattern—you may be surprised. This repeated hue might possibly make a great base for your personalized stationery, or at least an accent that can be used as the tissue lining for your envelopes or edging for your card.
If adding color is not to your taste and you prefer to stick to plain white or ivory (or even classic grey or blue), have no fear, as gilded edging can be an elegant and supremely subtle way of enhancing stationery and without appearing too “flashy”—unless flashy is your personal preference, and then, of course, you must do your thing—and add a flourish of gold calligraphy to it at that!
However, beyond the classic plain paper lies an array of choices from handmade papers with pressed flowers, to marbling, to sprawling bespoke illustrations, patterns and personalized designs. Your stationery can be as unique and as exciting as you are—and I’m all for individuality.
Lastly, and depending on the recipient, I’m not averse to spritzing a bit of cologne on a completed notelet—after all, you want the memory of your sentiments to linger long after the words have been read.
Paula’s Favorite Sources for Custom Stationery
“I have personalized writing desk notelets from Papier which are both classic yet modern—a combination that I love, as I feel that life is too serious to to inject a bit of humor here and there!”
Smythson of Bond Street
“I purchase the most beautiful leather bound desk diaries from Smythson each year, but I also love them for their impeccable monogrammed stationery.”
The Wren Press
“I had my bespoke wedding stationery printed here and I love them for their traditional craftsmanship and classic aesthetic. They also hold Royal warrants from both The Queen and the Prince of Wales!”
Crane and Co.