By Lynn Byrne. I am about to break legendary decorator, Elsie de Wolfe’s famous maxim, “Never Complain. Never Explain.”
It all started with my recent photo shoot of a large country house. I am so happy with that project, but it set me to thinking that I never buy stuff for my own house the same way I do for others. I have always taken the Tim Gunn approach. I “make it work” with what I have or find on the cheap!
Then yesterday, I read in Heather Clawson’s Habitually Chic blog that she needed to spruce up her apartment because a certain magazine requested photos.
That made me take a hard look at my lovingly rebuilt Victorian. I concluded that it does not look like a designer lives there. (Loyal readers know that I rebuilt our house after a devastating fire in September 2001. Read and see pictures here.)
First room slated for a spruce up is the front parlor. Now here is where I break Elsie’s famous rule. I am going to explain.
My choices for the front parlor were designed to make the house “feel” like the circa 1900 wrap around porch Victorian that we originally purchased and not like a brand new house. Frankly, nine years after the major fire, I don’t think I would make such “period” choices in the furniture today. Here is what the parlor looks like right now. I can tweak things, but a complete redo is not in the budgetary cards.
I want to make the space feel more sassy!
One option is to replace the Victorian chairs (the one you see has a smaller scaled partner). I thought that would be a quick and easy fix, but then I considered scale. The table next to the Victorian chair with the lamp is actually a nice burl walnut antique. Older tables tend to be taller than new models and this table is no exception at 29″ high.
When I first saw this chair by Jonathan Adler, I thought I would scoop a pair right up. But it is only 28″ high and the tables in the room would look like skyscrapers next to it.
I plan to see this set of chairs from High Style Deco antiques on Thursday. The gray silk would work with the existing scheme. My concern here is that the room becomes too neutral. Also, although it is bigger than the Jonathan Adler chair, it still might be too small. The back is just 33.5 inches high. I want to see them in person.
I am also considering a pair of this chair designed by Barbara Barry.
I would go the C.O.M. (customer’s own material) route with the Barry chairs and have them upholstered in this David Hicks by Ashley Hicks fabric available through Lee Jofa. I think you can tell from the photo that the fabric has a lovely sheen much like my silk and wool Tibetan rug in the parlor.
At 35.5 inches wide, the Barry chair might be too big for the delicate room however. (I am beginning to feel like Goldilocks here.) Again I want to see it in person.
Finally, I came across this very bold fabric, also a David Hicks by Ashley Hicks design. What if I just accept that I live in a Victorian and we have period antiques sprinkled around the house that are of high quality. (Although the chairs in question were snagged in a field in Amagansett for $425). I could take a Diamond Baratta approach, but perhaps a bit more subdued. (They are well known for their playful and bold use of color. They often use vibrant fabrics on furniture with older silhouettes.) Here are some examples of their work.
Click here for their website.
Would just recovering the existing chairs do enough to ramp up the style factor?
Here is a shot of the fabric draped over the larger chair.
Also in the room is this Heywood Wakefield rocker in original finish that is very comfy. I think I would keep the rocker if I simply recovered the existing chairs but add a new pillow in another strong geometric pattern, probably emphasizing the fuchsia in the settee fabric. If I got new chairs, the rocker would go. (I would have to try to sell it.)
I need to stew about this one for a few days. Thoughts anyone?
I also have plans for the family room, master bedroom and front porch. My shoes are really ratty……
Mmm, lots to consider.
Product photos originated from the designers’ websites. Other photos are linked to their sources.