I am trying to figure out what the “winter project” should be.

This is when I hibernate inside the house during the cold months and finish a room.

In 2016 this was the library.

In 2017 this was the parlor.

Now, I am divided between two spaces.

Should I finish the stairhall/niche/foyer?

Or the dining room?

What I might do is partially finish the stairhall/niche/foyer (meaning: get all the holes and missing plaster repaired, and the whole primed), and totally finish the dining room.

While all this is being debated, visions of decoration are dancing in my head involving the dining room.

Dancing visions involving aubergine and hot pink.

Oh dear.

Oh, oh dear.


This is how the dining room looked during the previous owner, Bob. It looks like this today. Kinda. Bob had installed central AC and he added a trunk-line duct on the ceiling. He then framed this out. But this significantly altered the room and unbalanced it. So, after purchasing the house, I removed this change STAT, and relocated the trunk line to a location where it could be invisible. Oh, the chandelier? It was a 1980s reproduction. I gave it to Bob.


The room today. I purchased the Baker table, and chandelier, for the room. The sideboard is temporary.


The room is blessed with a lot of FABULOUS wood trim, and…


…luscious Lincrusta wainscoting. The room originally had picture rail about 20-inches below the ceiling. I will be reinstating this. But of course, dahlink!


All my color choices will be dictated by the FABULOUS stained-glass. See the purple?


See the purple AND hot pink?


This image was sent to me by my friend PK. It kinda illustrates my thinking.


Another forwarded PK image. This color excites me. It’s like radioactive aubergine. Grrrrrrrrrrrr!


And…combined with these draperies. EEK!


The Lincrusta in the room features a classic laurel leaf motif (top) and an acanthus scroll (below).


So, I was thinking of a stencil perhaps like this for the walls…


…and a stencil perhaps like this for the frieze (above the picture rail).


The walls would be aubergine. But, PK suggested a richer effect than I did in the parlor. So, the first coat would be a pale pink, then a hot pink would be rubbed over this, and then aubergine rubbed on as the final coat. Each coat would be cut with 80% clear glazing, so the colors would be transparent.

Yes, I appreciate that what I just wrote makes NO sense! So…ah…in short, the walls would, in the end, be aubergine but with a lot of depth. I might like this so much that I will be forced to redo the walls in the parlor using the same technique. Damn. Damn!

Over this would be randomly-placed laurel-wreath stencils in hot pink. But even these would be mottled and with depth.

The frieze background would be hot pink. But this would also have translucent depth. Over this would be the acanthus scroll stencil. Ditto with depth.

The ceiling would be a VERY pale pink. And with some sort of yet-to-be-determined pattern.

A major goal is to recreate a 1890s decorative scheme: Pattern on the walls, a patterned frieze, and a pattern on the ceiling. I did this in the parlor and am thrilled with the results.

Well, all this is the current plan.

NOTE: I reserve the right to wholly change my mind!



  1. Sandra Lee on December 12, 2017 at 12:12 am

    Aubergine & fuschia are delicious ideas in the dining room —taking into account inspiration from the stained glass.

    • Sandra Lee on December 12, 2017 at 12:13 am

      Today is my bday & I like be that my post was at 1212 am on 12/12:-)

      • Kerri on December 12, 2017 at 12:46 am

        Happy Birthday, Sandra! Have a wonderful day and do what makes you happy!

        • Sandra Lee on December 12, 2017 at 1:02 am

          How very kind Kerri!
          I have just spent the past 5 days in Twin Cities with my children— all the little darlings together for the weekend extravaganza —as a big 🎂 birthday! Out of town kids back to Denver & KC & I will return to home in Rochester later in the day today to put up my Xmas tree. Birthday tradition for me.

      • Kerri on December 12, 2017 at 12:58 am

        Oh, I forgot… love, love, love the draperies! (the color and length)

      • Ross on December 12, 2017 at 9:40 am

        HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!

  2. Kerri on December 12, 2017 at 12:42 am

    This is going to be another adventure like the parlor with me alternating between thinking, “Ross is brilliant and Ross is crazy!” For what it’s worth… All three are beautiful colors, but that REALLY purple color seems like a little too much. I like the first one better. As far as the color combination, it sounds a little crazy, but I thought the same thing about the color combination in the parlor, and that turned out great in the end. Anyway, I’m excited to see how this all comes together!
    P.S. Have you completely ruled out a period correct reproduction wallpaper?

    • Ross on December 12, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Hi, Kerri!

      I have spent a billion hours looking at period-correct wallpapers.

      And have never found anything I really liked.

      There is also the problem of needing wallpaper, a frieze paper, and coordinating ceiling paper. Few manufacturers offer this today.

      Bo Sullivan collects vintage papers and he has some that I would kill for! But none are available. I would need to time-travel to get some.

      Good papers are also really expensive! Plus the expense of a person to hang the paper.

      At some point I do plan to recreate the original triple papers for the two-story stairhall. And Bo might be able to recreate the original damask wallpaper for the parlor.

      Oh! I did find one paper I loved. When I went to order it…it had been discontinued! I later found one roll on eBay, and another two rolls on eBay UK. So, I have enough to paper one wall in my bathroom!

      • Kerri on December 12, 2017 at 11:08 am

        Thanks, Ross! I know you’ve talked about how expensive it would be to paper the stair hall, but I thought it was more about needing so much wallpaper rather than because of the cost of the paper itself. I know whatever you do will look beautiful. I did have one idea that may or may not be crazy. What if you painted the ceiling a dark blue with some sort of shimmer so that, at night, with the chandelier on, it would look like the night time sky?

  3. Miss-Apple37 on December 12, 2017 at 3:00 am

    ah ah what bold choices! but you did great in the parlor, so let your imagination guide you!

    What about the color of the trim? And the lincrusta?

  4. Chad on December 12, 2017 at 7:36 am

    You may not be as clumsy as me but I would leave decorating the hallway until last because I would probably bang up the walls bringing things in and out for the bedrooms. But finishing the plaster repair and getting the space to look like a finished room in good condition will change the feel of the whole house.

  5. Clinton on December 12, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I like the idea of the rich purple, but instead of hot pink why not pick out the gold from the stained glass? It is a dramatic room, and the gold would shimmer beautifully at night during dinner parties. Also during the day, it would add some sheen into what is a dark room. No matter what you do, it will turn out well.

  6. Devyn on December 12, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Loving the first inspiration shot with with the gilded mirror and persimmon drapes. Very lush!

  7. Lindy on December 12, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I wonder when we call “House Beautiful” or “Better Homes and Gardens”????? OR “Victorian Homes????

    • Ross on December 12, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Or the psych ward!

      • Robyn on December 12, 2017 at 11:19 am

        Oh, sweetness, *that’s* been on speed dial for years! ;>

  8. Stewart McLean on December 12, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Of course you reserve the right to change your mind. The creative process demands that you change your mind as many times as you need to to get the effect that pleases you most.

    You could easily make each choice, change it, and then change back to the first one if you liked it better. Of course when you do that, you will be changing it again to yet another one because something about the first choice didn’t hit you right or you wouldn’t have tried the second one.

    You will have more fun doing this (and the interaction with us, your disciples) than most people can even imagine.

    I also want to note that you might consider thinking of the niche as a piece of furniture, rather than a part of the entry as a whole. Then you can set yourself free of any sense of obligation to “match” it to the rest of the hall.

  9. Carlyn on December 12, 2017 at 11:26 am

    I think metallic gold stencils over the purple/pink would look really good. There’s a lot of gold in your stained glass and in the fireplace tiles, so it would coordinate with that.

  10. Mike on December 12, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I like Stewart’s suggestion for the niche; for some reason, I am picturing it with bright golden-mustard walls, and I don’t even like mustard LOL…

  11. Sandra Lee on December 12, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Mike I agree w you— something bold & different sounds sublime— we all were shocked when Ross chose chartreuse for the parlor & look how fabulous it turned out 🙂

  12. Éric Davignon on December 12, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    I prefer the first image of PK… looks like rich royalty. I completely understand the paint/glaze technique… at 80% it’s gonna be subtle… but you’ll have the security of not over doing it… you could always do a second round of Aubergine… and don’t worry about the parlor… it’s done. No need to redo it … it’s okay to explore a different technique in each room anyway you’re applying the same concept of patterns in the Spirit of victorian…and you should not worry about cohesion… it’s gonna look unified at the end… because it’s your hands that’s doing the job… it’s gonna be you all over! Move forward … and your ideas are great. Have fun… cause we’re enjoying seeing you having fun and 300 questions in your heads at the same time!! LOL

  13. Cindy on December 13, 2017 at 7:55 am

    How bout a working kitchen? Maybe that is already in the pipeline? I love watching your incredible work on the old lady.

  14. Kelly P. on December 13, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I like the idea of the aubergine with hot pink glazes. In the 1980’s I did a series of paintings with purple, hot pinks and aubergine glazes, they proved very popular. They were accented metallic gold or silver and turquoise. Have you looked into picture frame stock for the picture rail? It comes in 8 foot lengths and many finishes. Just have fun can’t wait to see the finished results.

  15. Jakob on December 14, 2017 at 12:38 am

    I love the stained glass panel – what luxury a banana would have been in 1894! And the wine glass…where was the Cross family on the issue of temperance/prohibition?

  16. June on December 19, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    late in the game here for a comment… I think I would go about patching all holes in all spaces so I could heat and ventilate like the house needs. I would really HATE to see all of yor hard and crisp work suffer from the chill of a Kansas winter! Even worse, a Ross, suffer from the Kansas winter! STAY WARM

  17. cc on December 27, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    PK link?

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