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.

H. Able to do it all

I don’t know what got me to thinking about Hable Construction exactly. I was thinking about Earth Day which is today of course, and that got me to thinking about sustainable fabrics, and patterns whose inspiration was derived from nature, and there I was, back in Nolita – NYC at the turn of the century. This one of course, I’m not that old!

California Beach Bungalow – design: Krista Ewart – Featured in House Beautiful. Note the fabric on the sofa – Hable . Note the pillows: Bead . Hable.

There was a little shop that I would visit on Elizabeth Street, whenever I was in the city. The bright patterns, a crafty re-imagining of the mundane or tattered, a wicker lamp turned into a front stage stunner, a wall, neatly lined with colorful canvas storage totes – hip before they were mainstream, or an old broken down chaise converted into an enviable place to lounge and recover from the stress of daily life — even if it is self-inflicted, as it so often is in my case, I support my own need to recover in a happy place.

Hable Construction Storage Baskets . $95.00 – Canvas Bead.

Lordly, lord I can’t wait until this renovation is complete. Which of course got me to thinking about the custom banquet I want to set prominently against the pale gray painted brick wall. That’s in Benjamin Moore’s Ice Cubed Silver in case you were wondering, and it’s dreamily calming. I’ve selected a rug that makes me smile, as much for its name: Carnival, as for it’s wonderfully unrestrained use of color. They’re all in there, giving me the freedom I so rarely have, and desire – to use whatever color I want – dare I say – throw many into the mix.

Custom Art Work . Blue Swatch . $620.

A banquet, I think, requires a fabric that is on the tougher side – all that sliding in and out of tight spaces (and trust me when I tell you, it’s a squeeze), can be hard on a fabric. It’s got to have a little metal, and canvas does. Naturally, (wink, wink) that led me to Hable Construction. A tough sounding company, whose name was derived from the founders Great-Grandfather’s Texas Road Construction Company. I can’t tell you how much I love that! Back to their roots, paving their own business road in textiles, flooring, and custom art work, these two sisters, Katherine Hable Sweeney, and Susan Hable Smith, are cool, talented, and apparently uninhibited in their reach.

Combining their talents – art, and marketing, they’ve made, and shared, their talents, and I cannot wait to make them part of my home.

Two Types of Wood…the kitchen countertop

As L. Francis Herresmhoff used to say:  “to most people, particularly the ladies, there are two types of wood.  One is stained red and called mahogany, and the other is not stained red, and is not called mahogany.”  This quote makes me laugh for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that L. Francis, was often spot on the money.

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Big impact.

The reason I got to thinking about old L. has its roots in my perpetual state of unrest.  I feel like I’ve been in No. 4 for longer than all my other properties – of course that isn’t true, but it feels like a life sentence in inertia.  If you can bear with the drama for one more moment, I hope you will understand that I don’t like to be caged and the capital gains regulations have me hemmed in!  Alas, a few more months and I will be able to put it on the market, and I’ll be back to ranting about some other thing like a plumber not showing up, or the property of a lifetime not presenting itself to me.  The first will most certainly happen, the second is likely never too.

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“Woodn’t this counter work for you?”

The thing of it is, with the Manse complete, I’m feeling a little lost for a design project.  I am working on the yard, and don’t get me wrong, there are many rewards associated with working outdoors, and designing a landscape plan, but it’s not the same as an interior.  So, enter stage left – Francis.  That guy put the bright work in mahogany.  He could make it shine like nobodies business, and it made me think – who needs stone, or granite or quartz, marble for a kitchen counter top?  I know he wouldn’t have approved of plastic laminate, after all he did refer to fiberglass hulls as “frozen snot”, so there you go – why not mahogany?

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Mirrors are magic.  Making small spaces feel expansive.

I saw a picture of a wet bar – that’s a rich person’s equivalent of a 500SF room for shoes.  This one was just a little bit of thing though, and that appealed to me.  It was about the size of small closet, it’s back mirrored to make it look larger and a little mysterious.  It’s cabinets done in a high gloss royal blue, and its counter….a beautiful red stained wood…wood that looked suspiciously like, well you know.  It was varnished until the light reflected off of it like a diamond on the hand of an heiress.  Brilliant.

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Creativity has no bounds.  Check out those doors.

Since most of my kitchens are about the size of a closet, I thought to myself, why not?  Shouldn’t I have all the glamour of a wet bar in my next little apartment.  Don’t answer – I’m doing it.

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The mirrors have it.  Reflections of….

Freeze Frame: heART stopping collections

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Just the way I style . single pieces that match the decor.

For the longest time I owned very little art that could be considered worthy of collection.  Some of my very first pieces, a pair of black and white photos I took on a barge trip down the Canal du Midi in France, a small original abstract painted in oil by a friend, I took care in framing.  I made these disparate pieces come together by using the same thick mat, its bevel at a sharp angle to draw the eye in, and the use of matching black frames.  I still love these pieces, but they often end up stowed in the back of a closet in their moving boxes.  Why?  My own inability to combine them with newer works of art I have collected along the way.

Living in the South End allows my voyeuristic tendencies to be satisfied without the police getting involved.  As I wonder the streets at night, homes are lit and visual access abounds.  There is one home on the corner of Union Park and Tremont that has a wall of artwork that leaves bare only small pockets of space between pieces.  When I dine at Aquitaine I can see it’s not a single wall, it’s a least two, I suspect the whole room is littered with artwork.  This displays a fearlessness that I do not possess, but admire.

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OKL . The use of architectural moldings to frame pictures within frames.

I dated a guy recently that subscribed to the same aesthetic philosophy – every square inch was spoken for with his photographs and rock band posters.  While the remainder of his place could have used a redesign, he got the art work right, well at least that which he hung on his wall.  I was the most precious piece of art he was likely to come across, and his curatorial instincts passed right over this little gem.  A story for another time.

OKL . left: artwork hung on walls  and rested on furniture.  Right:  black frames pull together different media.

As a flipper I often draw inspiration from a new single piece of artwork.  I want this piece to take center stage, but I don’t want to make all my other artwork feel unloved.  It got me thinking about what the experts would do.  I offer up this advice to you all, but respectfully ask you to forgive me for not deploying all the techniques.   I need to protect my investment and spare myself a hole filling expedition prior to handing over the keys.

OKL . Left the use of gold frames and similar color ways tie these pieces together. Right:  Keeping it simple, matching hues.

Grouping Art:  thematic art (nature, seascapes, portraits, etc. can be the theme that ties a display together)  similar colors, the same or similar media – oil, watercolor, black and white photography, magazine covers, etc.) can help pull together pieces that otherwise don’t have a direct relationship.

Framing:  in matching or complimentary frames, pieces that otherwise have no apparent relationship look like two peas in a pod, likewise, bringing a color palette together through the use of matting works nicely, using wall moldings to act as a frame for several pieces can bring them together in a non-traditional way, and bring organization within those borders.

Scale:  While everything need not be the same size, if that is your visual preference, mat and frame smaller pieces to match larger, hanging a smaller piece of artwork directly next to a larger one, and at eye level can invite the viewer in for a closer look.

Layering and Stacking:  hang it on the wall or not.  Desks, bureaus, mantels, counters and other surfaces offer opportunities to display art, playing with scale and size, largest pieces in the back, smallest toward the front, ensures all will be seen.

House Beautiful . Left:  Boldly using wall space – black and gold frames tie pieces together, but it looks professionally hung.  Right:  Birds and butterflies tie this rooms art together, while the black painted wall acts as one large mat.

I am not at that stage in my life where I would consider hiring an Art Consultant.  Maybe when my quest is complete.  Having said that, I call on my artist friend, John Vinton from whom I have purchased a number of abstract seascape of my native Cape Cod.  John is a wonderful talent, and a generous man.  He comes and helps me hang my most sacred pieces at the completion of each renovation.  He makes me smile.  If you don’t know John, and live in the Boston area, you could try these folks:

Jacquline Becker . Fine Arts Consulting Services . www.beckerfinearts.com . 617.527.6169 or Haley & Steel . www.haleyandsteel.com . 617.536.6339.

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OKL . Layered for interest . keeping it eye level.

While I am not the type of person that has the patience to nudge and mark and measure and remeasure, if you are attempting to do this on your own, I recommend laying it out on the floor, or creating templates.  This is particularly important if you are selecting a pattern that is complex, or asymmetrical.  Better safe than sorry.  Happy Hanging.

 

 

Money Can’t Buy Me Love: Finding a way

Money…what a disdainful word.  I sometimes love it, sometimes hate it, and often live in fear I won’t have enough of it.  This is all normal.  Everyone must make choices, decisions, look longingly at an item, or a destination that must wait for another time.  This longing is a good thing.  It forces you to ask why you want something (in my case it’s typically because it’s beautifully designed),  and it keeps me up at night, devising ways in which I might obtain said object, or falling into a fitful sleep where I dream I own it. That about sums up my obsessiveness in a nutshell.

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Amir Khamneipur’s . Gold Table

Unrequited love got me thinking about this.  A few months back I read House Beautiful’s edition about small spaces.  They featured an interior designer’s home in Manhattan.  Just 700SF.  Amir Khamneipur’s home is exactly the home I would craft if I had that kind of money.  It’s so clever, it’s a grey goddess of color beauty, and it’s accented by mirrors, and metallics.  I am a big fan of all.  It features a gold dining table with a powder coated base in off white.  It’s heaven, and I have been like a lovesick teenager doodling images of it on the pages of my notebooks, expressing my adoration at every turn, and finding a way to bring it up, casually in conversation.  Ugh, a fool for love.

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www.thechroniclesofhome.com – Jen’s DIY Grasscloth coffee table.

This table is in fact, one of Mr. Khamneipur’s own designs.  You can buy it.  This tiny little bit of a table, just 2 feet wide by 44 inches long, runs at a cool $7900.  Well that price made my love go stone cold.  The table is too small for even my little dining nook.  If I am completely honest I had a moment of total insanity when I contemplated getting two to fill the space.  Please!  It clearly was not meant to be.  Fate has a plan for me, and it’s not Amir’s table.

Left:  Grasscloth Wallpaper . Wallpaper Direct  Right:  Benjamin Moore’s Peach Cloud

I got to thinking about customizing a piece that will appropriately fit the space.  I do want that gold top, but the logistics and timing, not to mention the cost, had me considering another option altogether.  What about grasscloth?  How hard could it be to do make one on your own?  Surely, there must be someone out there that does just this thing.  Well in fact there is.  I found a gal who has a blog called The Chronicles of Home.  Jen even lives locally.  Now she is a DIY’er, and I am not.  I like to say – “You Can Do it….I can help”!  Jen made her own custom grasscloth covered coffee table.  Quite lovely.  She riffed on a World’s Away Design, covering the base in grasscloth as well.  Me, I plan to have my Dad construct the table, and my wall covering expert paper it.  Once it’s papered I plan to run two fat gold metallic stripes down the center with a peach stripe crisply inserted between the two before I varnish the whole thing.  I may paint the legs gold too instead of covering them in the grass cloth.

Left:  Ralph Lauren’s Metallic Gold Paint Right:  Farrow and Ball’s Lotus Wallpaper.

Love should be willing to meet you at least half way, don’t you think?  Happy Home Adventures.