Southern Challenge: The Drawing Room

Drawing Room – Prior to Renovation.

Living in the city as I do, and not being a person that requires vast amounts of space, I haven’t had the experience of having dining rooms and libraries, living rooms, dens and offices. I usually just have one room that isn’t a bedroom, kitchen or bath, and has to serve all the purposes of a great house in one. This is not a complaint, just a statement of fact – in fact if I did have all those rooms, I don’t know which I’d choose to sit in, but being only one person, I suspect that I’d snuggle into the same old cozy corner, every night after a long day, and the only thought I would give to all those rooms would be, how ever am I going to keep them all clean.

Inspiration in the above photos for what could be a rich drawing room with beautiful bar. Note that these cabinets are painted in lacquer finish, which is a more time intensive process then using high gloss, but it does give it that glossy sheen. Left: House Beautiful – Benjamin Moore’s Summer Nights. Right: House Beautiful – Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue.

The French perfected the art of dining in the 18th century. They had loads of rules and books on etiquette that dictated the manner in which you were to entertain. The dining room brought all the guests together, but at dinner’s conclusion, the women typically retired to the Drawing Room, leaving the men at the table to drink and discuss politics. This withdrawing to another space provided for the relaxed continuation of the evening. These rooms were not necessarily less grand than the dining room, but they were populated with sofa’s and settees, comfortable chairs, game tables, tea service, tapestries and more. The dishes and detritus of the evening’s repast left behind.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s – Gentlemen’s Gray – to be applied to the walls and the woodwork – moldings and baseboard. Ceiling to be painted in Benjamin Moore’s Nickle. Middle: Jonathan Adler’s Rio Pendant – $386.40. Left: OKL . Madison Leather Club Chair. $899.

I like the idea of the Drawing Room. It feels fitting in a home, that at its heart, will be used for a good deal of entertaining. By defining the rooms which are open to the public, from those which are for family only, is important. The adjacency of the Drawing Room to the Dining, and Dining to Powder Room feels intentional, and I am certain the architect had this in mind when their sharp pencil hit the mylar to begin its design.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s Dark Harbor for walls. Molding and baseboard in Benjamin Moore’s Mineral Ice. Ceiling in Benjamin Moore’s Mineral Ice. Middle: Modern Metal Pendant in Polished Nickle $232. Left: Pottery Barn Irving Leather Arm chair with bronze nail heads. $919.

The other rooms have all been bright and welcoming, though I have balanced cool and warm tones as you move from one room to the next. This ensures the visitors maintain an internal harmony. Why? I’m not sure, we humans are very complex creatures. We like what we like, and I try not to buck mother nature on these issues. I must reserve all my energy after all to battle her and the clock.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s Forest Hills Green – for walls. Base and molding in Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. Ceiling in white. Middle: Carillon Pendant . Large $298. Left: West Elm . Mid Century Show Wood Leather Chair in Saddle $999.

I want this room to feel cozy, to wrap the guests in an experience. I want every surface to be in high gloss, but I will resist this temptation because the walls need to be in perfect – listen closely all you high gloss lovers – PERFECT condition. The mirror like finish will reflect every ding and dent and make someone like me, bananas. Use eggshell instead and reserve the high gloss for the woodwork. Here are my recommendations.

Gaining “Clare-ity”: Clare V. and the Collaboration Chain

Yesterday, I posted about Clare V. and her collaboration with The Inside.  Today I want to talk about her collaboration with Wallshoppe, an LA Based on-line wallpaper company.  I’m excited, fascinated, and daunted by all that these young ambitious designers do.  I wonder if they struggle, but eventually reach a tipping point where the opportunities flow, and one need only respond – YES – more than one says no?  Whatever their secret – they are leveraging the heck out of it, and borrowing – or associating – themselves with other like minded designers, to cross promote.

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Clare V. X Wallshoppe . Stipes Onyx . 27″ x 54″ Removable Lengths at $58.

I feel a little like Alice in Wonderland after having fallen down the rabbit hole.  The Everygirl took me to The Inside, the Inside took me to Clare V., Clare V. took me to Wallshoppe, Wallshoppe took me to Laurel + Wolf an Interior Design firm founded by Leura Fine, who is the brainchild behind Wallshoppe.  First she set out to democratize interior design, with her on-line consultancy – need help with a single room?  Multiple rooms, a whole house, and know that you want options – there are three different pricing packages to meet your needs, and designers that match with your style (they help you figure out exactly what that is – by the way), create a floor plan, interact with you about the selections, and they purchase the items you want and have them shipped to your home.  Floor plan in hand, and styling assistance a live chat away, you can be sitting pretty in your professionally designed living room in less than a month.  (Merchandise availability and lead time dependent). No wonder the venture capitalists went gaga for this gig.

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Nate Berkus  X Wallshoppe . Malibu Blue and White

Wallshoppe has done something really smart, a mon avis, as it relates to those more timid souls, afraid of making a mistake, and staring for the next 40 years at a pattern that makes them ask themselves – “what the hell was I thinking”? – They made it in both traditional rolls, and in removable, easy to install, coordinating patterns and colors.  If Farrow and Ball and Schumacher are boardroom and stilettos, Wallshoppe’s collaborations with Nate Berkus and Clare V. are flip flops and a day at the beach, or a walk barefoot in the grass.  They are easy, and cheery, playful, and whimsical, and they make me smile.

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Wallshoppe . Y Not – Pushpop

I do hope that Clare V. will not be offended that I plan to augment her design.  After all, it is inspired by HER design, that is making me want to change the paper.  Let me explain.  She has designed in collaboration – of course – this pale pink on white wallpaper – Liberez Les Sardines.  That’s French for “free the sardines”.  Maybe some of you are catching on to why I like her so much.  While she hails from Minnesota, she worked in France for a TV Station, married a Frenchmen, and her designs – with their signature stripes – are quintessentially – French!

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Clare V. X Wallshoppe . Sardines in Pink.  Just imagine it with that hot pink stripe, gold and green!

So I asked myself – where are those stripes when I want them?  Need them?  They are missing from the Liberez Les Sardines!  And I simply cannot have that, so I will be introducing them to the removable wall covering.  What’s the worst that could happen?  It wrinkles up?  So what – even without my neon pink stripe, my mossy or kelly green ( I haven’t decided yet), and metallic gold, it’s going to look fabulous inside the closet of the pink bedroom on the Cape.  Oh happy day.

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Nathan Turner X WS . Splattered in Watermelon

 

Cover Story: Wall Covering with a punch line

Paper is a definitive statement of BELIEF.  Like marriage or a tattoo you’re most likely vested in a positive outcome, if not why do it.  It’s hopeful.  It shouldn’t be entered into lightly without considerable forethought.  Most definitely not after cocktails with the gals.  One never wants to wake to a giant bird of paradise wallpaper covering said person’s formerly understated dining area.  A unicorn displaying its singular horn prominently between your shoulder blades….and above all else one, certainly does not want to awake to a beer can tab for a wedding band on one’s left hand.  That’s just wrong.  These types of ill-conceived, semi-permanent decisions are both expensive to undo, and can leave a mark just below the surface.

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Sarah Smyth installing my Farrow and Ball . Lotus Paper

Tattoo if that’s your thing.  Marriage – we all know the stats – still to say not to love just to save myself from the possibility of having to dissolve the glue that so steadfastly bonds me to a man, or the paper on the wall, as the case may be….unthinkable!

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Tools of the trade.

So wallpaper – I do.  I like to use it in small space, in surprising ways.  I like it to be the wow when you turn the corner, the unexpected when you open the closet, the delightful interlude when you escape to the Powder Room.  I want you to glance at the ceiling in contemplation, and be startled, to be inspired.

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Finished!

Wallpaper has an opinion.  It’s the exclamation point at the end of a sentence, it’s the final argument, it’s the punch line to a great joke.

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Clarence House . Tibet Tiger . closet installation.

Fear not you faint of heart design enthusiasts.  There is a way to make a quiet statement instead of one that’s bold.  Think – finding a covering with a base tone that matches your paint color and whose print is just a few shades darker – subtle but surprising nonetheless.

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Cole and Sons . Magnolia Lavendar…cover story for another project.

Unexpected, simple, moving, tells a story (yes, wallpaper can tell a story), or just plain beautiful.  These are the elements of memorability – stickiness – love, and I for one think you deserve to have an opinion, and deserve to be love for your fabulous self.

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2 Harvard Place . Charlestown . Cabinet interior papered in Cole and Sons Hexagon by David Hicks

Having my own series of “rules” I adhere to regarding paper, means that sometimes I find something I am really drawn to, and must carry a little folded sample around with me for years before I find just the right spot for it.  Doesn’t work in 3, maybe I’ll use it in 4.  Heart set on using it on the ceiling in 5 but it’s prickly nature pushes it away, perhaps it’ll work in 10.  Wallpaper can make the ordinary – extraordinary and cover all manner of flaws.

Find a great installer like mine, Sarah Smyth of John Smyth, LLC.  She is a true artist, and craftsperson, who is on the verge of retirement.  I have made her promise not to leave me until my quest is complete.  She’s agreed and I am grateful.