Archive for January, 2010

needy chest of drawers

Sometimes a great deal can turn out to be not such a great deal.  This past summer we picked up a very needy walnut chest of drawers with plans to make it over.  The base is missing and the cheesy plastic goldtone knobs and pulls drive me crazy. Six months later, we’ve yet to agree on hardware and supports.   “How about walnut caster? … a salvaged utility dolly?… maybe we can build legs or a plank?  All dead in the water options.  Then I happened upon these hairpin legs while looking over a spread on Jacqueline & George Schmidt of Screech Owl Design  in the Feb./March issue of ReadyMade magazine.

raw steel hairpin legs

They are available online at hairpinlegs.com and come in raw or stainless steel.  I thought the iron would look best and ordered eight ten inch legs on sale for $10 each.  We also have a taller chest in the room that will get the same legs.  To think we were just about to break down and order custom Portica or Parsons bases from Room and Board.  Whew!  Good save, ReadyMade.   With the new legs the chest will sit at 32″, good height for use as a credenza.

iron oriental cabinet handle

I’m leaning toward these ring pulls I found at whitechapel-ltd.   We both like them, but I’m still a bit unsure, though.  They are way too expensive and I have not been able to find a good sub.  The legs have shipped and I’ll have my hands on them this week, hopefully.   I’ll decide on the pulls then.  Can’t wait.


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Interior designed by Stephanie Couchaix photographed by Jean Demachy in "Parisian Interiors"

So many things in our living room feel trite.  I’ve been pouring over photographs of collectors homes and would love to create highly personal rooms like those in this post for my family. What the rooms do have in common are a sense of capriciousness and wit .  Take the full-sized artist mannequin in Stephanie Couchaix’s design above.  What fun this room must be?

Photo by Marc Rogoff, David Carter's London boutique hotel featured on pointclickhome.

While there is much of the unexpected here nothing is shocking or prone make us uneasy.   You just get the feeling that the homeowner has a lot of gumption and a sparkling personality.

wary myers living room

Design by Robert Stilin, Traditional Show House 2009

In an austere setting these chrome-framed chairs would be  perceived as uncomfortable.   But, here the padded seats and headrests and the soft fabric look downright comfy.  This sense is punctuated by contrast to the curious wire chair.

Design by Robert Stilin

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Square One

view of our living room from front door

Welcome.  When my husband William purchased our 1900 Baltimore rowhouse ten years ago, it was a dump.  He began work back then, all by himself, intending to rent the house out.  Things changed.  We got married  and now we have baby Maxwell. We decided to make this place a home instead of a rental property.  William has done an unbelievable job of renovating the space.  He refinished the heart pine floors, exposed the brick, knocked out walls, put up walls, rebuilt the staircase, salvaged the cast iron tub in the bathroom, ripped out the vestibule…the list goes on and on.  With a good deal of the bones set in place (I’ve been reading Apartment Therapy) we are now working on making the space comfortable.  We’ll  start with the living room.


a view from the front window

So here we are at square one.   Everything in here is second-hand, save the hemp and leather rag rug.  All of the upholstered pieces are in good condition which means I have to find a way to work with the orange wool hopsack on the chair.   The butterfly chair, a birthday present from William, has a canvas cover that has seen better days.  It didn’t fare well in the washing machine.

this butterfly chair has seen better days

That Abraham Rattner artist proof of “Boy and Turtle”  in the background, another birthday present,  is really inspiring me. William loves color.  I think we’ll have to rely on an abundance of color to modernize the 70’s color scheme we’ve got going on now.

walnut chest holds "vintage" stereo equipment and woodblock prints

"vintage" stereo equipment

William’s “vintage” stereo equipment is not going anywhere.  It sounds great.  I love my woodblock prints.  Hopefully when we’ve finished, the living room will be stimulating and fun for baby Maxwell.  It should be a cozy place for  grown-ups to relax, read and listen to music.   The room is about 17 feet by 13 feet, with lots of odd space hogging angles and other limitations.

hemp and leather rag rug

exposed brick and wool upholstery

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The parlor of Langston Hughes' home in Harlem, N.Y. Credit: Jim Cummings-Barbara Harris

Langston Hughes’ Harlem Brownstone went up for sale August 2008 but is now permanently off the market.   Stripped of its furnishings the three-story, 1869 Italianate is beautiful–all aged creams, grays and worn wood.  Muted by time,  the colors look wonderful in the soft sunlight.  A nice balance of cool and warm.  Isn’t the ceiling amazing?  Look at the detail.

The photo below shows the room from a different aspect.   The grays and creams appear deeper in this light.  I’d love to know what the place looks like now.  From what I understand only the façade is protected and may not be changed.  Not sure if the gorgeous moldings, ceilings and other detail are in danger of being destroyed.

We have some great old details in our Baltimore row house, but nothing this.  My husband purchased our place ten years ago, before we met.  William is not much of a preservationists, but I’ll say he’s coming around.  We were married at the Government House in Mt. Vernon.  The night before the ceremony my two brides maids and I had a slumber party of sorts. We stayed in the most beautiful suite .  The cast plaster ceilings were stunning.  William vowed that, if they had been in our home, he would have (eeeekk) scraped them off.  We’ve come a long way.

The patina on this place has me all fired up.  I am going to buy some aged grayish-white paints for the walls and save the remaining original ornate brass door knobs and lock plates from my husband’s wrath.  We have a neighborhood Benjamin Moore Paints dealer, Budeke’s Paints in Baltimore, Fells Point.  I love this paint shop.  Great service, knowledgeable staff.  Hoping to get the glowing walls pictured above I picked up two light grays, one warm and one cool, for the living room:

Benjamin Moore Intense White, OC51 a very light, chalky gray with a slight bluish-lavender cast.   Maybe the color of  rushing water around  river rocks.

Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist, OC27 a light gray with a lavender cast.  It’s creamier earthy than airy.  Both paints are from the company’s Off White collection.  I’m off to paint and will post the results.  Thanks to preservationnation.org and harlembespoke.com for the  pics.

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