This weekend we caught up on our cleaning (including de-cluttering our poor dining table that has become a catch-all, hopefully only until we get better entryway storage), which was excuse enough to pull out my camera.
I got the dining table in December from Restoration Hardware, taking advantage of one of their many sales. The rustic look is a bit out of my wheelhouse, but since this is the one and only dining area in the house, I didn’t want a table that was too precious. I also was really adamant about having a 60″ round table, ruling out a vintage Saarinen tulip table (they come in 48″ and 72″). I picked the Monastery because it was the most refined of all the tables at RH: the surface is completely smooth, not that lumpy plank business. That would’ve driven me nuts. Absolutely nuts.
The banquette is the Finley Bench from MGBW in Citron upholstery. When it was delivered, I had a little whoopsie moment about the finish of the legs. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking with the dark legs, but hey, I don’t spend a lot of time at floor-level so I honestly don’t care. But it’s probably some sort of decorator no-no I committed.
Thanks to photoshop, the room looks very bright and airy with the Atrium White walls. But the thing is, the room really doesn’t get much light. It is never flooded like this. I made adjustments so you could see the true color of the bench and table, but I’m pulling some classic magazine trickery here. This is the kind of stuff that makes me gush over white rooms and then have serious “wtf?” moments when I see the magazine rooms in person. The dining room still feels pretty cold, but I’m hoping getting art and curtains installed will bring in the cozy factor.
So I guess I’m saying, the white walls may not be long for this world. There’s no point in having a room that photographs well but feels bleh in person. I’m going to finish it for now, with painting it down the line in mind, and once all my other major painting projects are done and I’ve hosted a few more parties, I will probably re-paint in here. In case you’re particularly attached.
In January I placed an order for a new sofa. Since we bought our co-op, I wanted to invest in a sofa that was a good scale for the room, and something a bit more traditional. I had always liked the lines of the MGBW English roll arm, and with the promotional 20 percent off, it was a done deal.
For the upholstery, I picked a sky blue velvet that picks up the border of our rug. The size is a quite perfect 77″. We did get the down fill upgrade (which clearly needs to be re-fluffed). Brand new, the cushions looked a bit more like this (Jayson Home carries the London, branded as Morgan):The blue works so well with the rug and I’m a bit amazed at how different the room feels with a light-colored sofa. We have a long way to go with the room, but visually not having this large, dark piece of furniture makes such a difference.
So now it’s time to start seriously thinking about painting the room. I’m still into the idea of dark brown–I cannot do another non-color in this house. I’ve done my research, tested the paint out, and I just need to bite the bullet. If I hate it, I’m out a weekend and some paint.
I’ll just go ahead and admit I’m feeling rather confused about lighting these days. Some days I think I should go traditional–not necessarily period-specific, just very classic, befitting of a pre-war apartment. Something Charlotte York Goldenblatt would approve of. There’s a lot from the Aerin lighting line that would work so well, particularly this flush mount for our entry. I’m completely obsessed with it: the scallops, the brass detail, the opalescence!
But then I wonder if this is all getting a bit too fancy. We have a pre-war, sure, but it’s a walk-up. In Queens. It was never a doorman luxury building. We don’t have central air and there are house rules about window A/C units facing the street, so a ceiling fan is a must in our living room. Can you have fancy-pants light fixtures within spitting distance of a ceiling fan? If that question sounds crazy, welcome to my neurosis.
I suppose it would be helpful to have a fully realized vision for the apartment. So far I’ve been kicking around English country/chinoiserie chintz (you are free to blame Downton Abbey). With the history of the neighborhood and building, I love the idea of referencing gardens and the outdoors, which is the whole MO of English country. Not pretentious and certainly comfortable. With a smattering of chinoiserie because I just can’t quit the stuff. Tole lanterns then? Or more industrial like Hicks pendants? Vexed, I tell you, vexed!
So yes, lighting. It’s not the end of the world to not have a clear idea of what to do yet, but the current lighting is such a drag: My lovely dining banquette is here, looking a bit listless with the odd Craftsman-ish chandelier. They are not a cute couple.
Any lighting wisdom out there?
This past week I painted our bedroom– a small victory since the other half of the room is sorely lacking in storage, and we’re living among some very attractive piles still. But painting meant we could hang our headboard, a nifty DIY by Jenny, who gave it to me after a decorating client of hers decided to go in a different direction. It’s upholstered in a metallic linen, so neutral but not boring, and a pretty counterpoint to the wall color.
The wall color is Dior Gray, which to my eye looks a bit purple. I’m okay with that, mostly because I really want to be done painting the apartment. The color isn’t quite the gray I expected, but I’m going with it.
Do note the lack of a duvet: the steam heat in our building is a tad bit too effective–we haven’t needed any sort of blanket all winter. Which makes me sad since I bought a lovely scalloped duvet cover from Matouk, and I will probably only use it one or two months out of the year!
Of course, the cat enjoys the color as well. It’s very conducive to her daytime napping.
If you’ve ever toured a colonial-era home, you were probably introduced to the concept of public and private rooms. The idea is simple: all the really nice, formal things are concentrated in rooms that could be viewed by the public, and as you moved through the house to the more private rooms, the architecture would simplify. Intricate mouldings did not extend through the entirety of the house, for example. Formality was like a shield; if you were close with a member of the house, you were likely entertained in a less formal sitting room. But an outsider? Fancy fancy room for you, with the foyer being the first line of formal defense.
So practical application today: if you ever find yourself in a colonial-style mcmansion where absolutely every room has dentil moulding, you can tut-tut in your head about their lack of historical accuracy! What fun!
I bring this up because our modest 1919 apartment embraced the same concept. All of our doors have these lovely glass knobs, but the closets are cleverly equipped with porcelain knobs on the other side. Why have a pretty thing no one sees? And indeed, solid brass hardware is only used on the public-facing sides of the closet doors. The interiors are fitted with brass-plated hardware. I love that practicality.
As you can see, I’ve painted the door and finished the hardware. We stripped the door before painting, and I have mixed feelings about the results. The final layer of paint was oil-based and very difficult to strip. On the interior side we just left it in tact, but the hallway-facing side we attempted to get through that layer of paint, with poor results. It was a job probably requiring some manner of power tools. So I think going forward we’ll just strip the top layers of latex paint, which aren’t too terrible to remove, and then prep the surface for painting.
I went with Deep Caviar in a high gloss enamel and I’m really happy with the color. The hallway doesn’t get a ton of light so it’s hard to see with an iphone photo, but the color reads as a chalky black-brown. All of the hallway doors will be painted in this color, with the interior side of the bathroom and bedroom doors painted white. By the spring, we should be done with the door slog!