The Cross House
I have been a bit quiet of late, blog-wise.
In January I sold a ton of lighting (I restore vintage lighting for a living) and have been frantically getting all these fixtures restored and packed and shipped. Whew!
Yesterday, I had a VERY important meeting and am breathless about the results. Please stand by,
Because I have — at last! — figured out how to have 32-hour days, I have also been spending hours upon hours pondering decorating choices for the Cross House.
REVEALING NOTE: For months now I had no intention of doing this post. I feared that, by presenting half-formed ideas, I would get taken to task. “I hate that idea!” “WHAT are you thinking?” “That is SO ugly!” Then it occurred to me that readers might enjoy a window into my…thinking process. So, by going ahead with this post it is official: I am a fool. Or a masochist!
It seems that there are but two, entrenched, approaches to a historic house:
- Restore the house to its original appearance. Then do a period-correct decor.
- “Update” the house. You know, knock down walls for an open plan, punch 2,854,742 can lights into the ceiling, paint all the wood doors and trim white, and install hipster furnishings.
Neither of these approaches appeals to me. Rather, I yearn for — escandaloso! — a brave new approach. A brave new Option #3:
- Restore the house to its original appearance. Do whatever the hell you want with the decor.
There are two rooms in the house I am focused on: Parlor and Library.
It feels as if I have pondered 5,694 options for the parlor. Actually, upon reflection, I have pondered 5,694 options!
There are remnants of the original 1894 wallpaper. THIS IS AMAZING. There is no evidence though of the 1894 frieze and ceiling paper. Sigh.
With Bo’s help, it seems that I can get the original wallpaper recreated. At great cost. GREAT cost. And, being the wild & crazy guy I am, I will likely do this. One day. One day like, you know, after all the sensible things are done like having a finished kitchen and at least one (likely two) finished bathrooms and a finished bedroom and a finished office and MOST IMPORTANTLY a finished telephone closet!
Thus, while patiently awaiting the perfect wallpaper, the ideal wallpaper, the most wondrous wallpaper, I would like to get the parlor lookin’ good but at minimum expense/effort.
Thus, the above thoughts inform the following.
The library is almost entirely wall-to-wall shelves. The only visible walls are above the mantle/overmantel, and tall skinny spaces between the three windows and to each side. Really, just hardly any wall space, and the skinny verticals will get covered by curtains.
The walls and ceiling are now Tiffany blue. The shelves are white. I wanted to assure that there was no mistake that anybody would assume they were original, and wanted them to appear clearly contemporary.
The missing picture rail will be reinstalled, but only above the mantel and between the windows as the shelves otherwise preclude this.
Well, there you have it.
Nothing is carved in stone yet.
The stencil for the parlor arrives next week, and my brilliant artist friend Patricia will be advising me. I will paint one corner, and then do the stencil. If I like the results, only then will I make a definitive decision. And then I will have to find a frieze and ceiling stencils.
A sample of the crazy 1970s paper for the library is already taped to the wall, and am 50/50 between it and the anthemion designs. I prefer the former but the latter has a matching frieze and it will be easy to find ceiling stencils. I have had zero success so far in coming up with frieze/ceiling stencils to complement the 1970s paper.
I have a long career in interior design and have learned that design really is an art form rather than science. So, too, I have learned that doing the unexpected can result in rooms which feel alive. In my experience, making safe choices normally results in rooms which, while pretty, feel lifeless. So, my Scottish heritage seems a good complement to the art of interior design!
Oh, and my next post will be astounding…