Magical Happenings involving Anthemion

Yesterday, I did a post about the hardware of the Cross House, with co-writer Bo Sullivan.

Bo identified the maker of all my hardware, and noted the the interior door knob sets featured an anthemion design.

What, you might ask, is an anthemion?

Anthemion, design consisting of a number of radiating petals, developed by the ancient Greeks from the Egyptian and Asiatic form known as the honeysuckle or lotus palmette. The anthemion was used widely by the Greeks and Romans to embellish various parts of ancient buildings.

I know, WHAT does all that really mean?


A simple Anthemion, anthemion [Credit: Alison Frantz]design consisting of a number of radiating petals, developed by the ancient Greeks from the Egyptian and Asiatic form known as the honeysuckle or lotus palmette. The anthemion was used widely by the Greeks and Romans to embellish various parts of ancient buildings.

A solitary anthemion.



Used in a frieze.



In plaster.



In brass.



And in my interior door sets. While I was aware of these gorgeous knob sets, until Bo pointed out the anthemion motif, the motif did not really register.


Ok, so cool. Cool!

Particularly as I have always liked an anthemion motif.

Today, I was talking with somebody in my office, and they asked about the chandeliers I recently purchased for the Cross House. I went to my computer, and showed them the post I did on the pair of period-correct gas/electric chandelier I purchased in January.

As we were looking at the images, my eyes bugged out.



How had I not seen this before?????????????



The chandeliers abound with..anthemion motifs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



My mind was now racing. Didn’t I have more anthemion in the house? Why, indeed! Look at the top center of the bronze historic plaque I installed in 2014. It never crossed my mind when ordering it that it featured an anthemion. I just thought it looked right for the house.



And just to the left of the bronze plaque is a stained-glass window with…anthemion in the center, and done in beveled glass.


Why, the Cross House is blessed with anthemion!

Golly! Who knew??????????



Recently, I did a post about doing a stencil on the parlor walls of the Cross House. The post generated a small bit of controversy.

Today, while researching this post, I came across anthemion stencils! Zounds! And this got me to thinking…



Just a thought: Perhaps a stencil like this for the parlor?



Just a thought: For the frieze?



Just a thought: Or something simpler for the walls?



Just a thought: Or full-blown dramatic? I suspect through that this look pre-dates the Cross House. Click here to get a better look at these papers: Bradbury & Bradbury.



Just a thought: And how about these yummy dinner plates for the dining room? Only $210 each! Yikes!


When I wrote the post about doing a stencil on the parlor walls, some readers did not seem to understand why I did not accept Bo’s gracious offer to underwrite the cost of doing stencil version of the original parlor wallpaper, which I have fragments of.

My concerns were:

  • A stencil pattern of the original paper would not replicate the paper. It would be a version of it. And this fudges history. I would rather do something entirely different.
  • The original paper was part of an ensemble, in that it also had a frieze (above the picture rail) and complementary ceiling paper. Because I have no idea what these latter papers looked like, I could not authentically recreate the original ensemble.

But by shifting to stencils with an anthemion motif, I am introducing a pattern which never existed previously in the parlor. I could also skip, with impunity, doing a frieze and ceiling paper, thus giving the room a more modern look.

Well, I am tingling with excitement about this new direction.

Tonight, I will be dreaming of sugar plum anthemion.

And it is all Bo’s fault.



Several commenters have noticed that I change my mind a lot.

There is some truth to this.

I am fluid about some things. And inflexible about others, such as my determination in 2014 to discover the original exterior colors of the Cross House, and then paint the house in such colors. Nothing else would do.

I also feel it is important to be both fluid and inflexible as a construction manager. This is tricky, because while one has to maintain X schedule and X budget, unexpected things always crop up, and one needs to be adjustable.

When it comes to the art of interior design, I feel it is important to be fluid, and have always been so in my long career as a designer.

When I change direction, it is normally because new information arrives. Perhaps the draperies I had my heart set on did not have enough in stock, or looked quite different in person than online. Sometimes I just cannot afford a beloved idea. And so on.

Today, I discovered that the Cross House has a built-in motif. It seem foolish to ignore this wonderful new discovery. Why not have some fun with it, and make the house even more beautiful as a result?

As Frank Lloyd Wright said: My favorite tool in the drafting room is a hammer, and my favorite tool on a job site is a sledgehammer.




  1. Cindi M on March 5, 2016 at 7:01 am

    I haven’t seen you as indecisive but willing to share your ideas with us and open to feedback. And what feedback! I have learned so much about lighting and now hardware and anthemion motifs. See, I’m even using it in a sentence. But back to indecisive. I have lived with and worked with people who only saw possibilities and never made a decision, so I can spot the difference in 20′. Nope, strength in flexibility. Oh, and I love that wallpaper. I don’t think I have ever said that about Victorian wallpaper.

  2. ken on March 5, 2016 at 8:10 am

    I like this choice much better Ross. I think the frieze and the more simple wall pattern would look great and go well with your new fixture.

  3. Betsy on March 5, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Ah ha ! I like this… it’s not ” indecision “. It is waiting for things to happen, to develop, to emerge and then synthesizing them. I really believe in this. In our older house, over 25 years, both mechanical and decorative “problems” were resolved over time in this very way. Good for you!

  4. Melody on March 5, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Part way through reading this post, my thinking was “this needs to be the stencil!”

    The simpler ones you show look like seashells. The kind of style that bad bathroom sinks look like.

  5. Sharon on March 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Hi Ross, I’ve done a lot of stencil research. I know that this stencil is period and you can find the same stencil published in the 1899 Alabastine stencil catalog in case it helps. I don’t make any money on this, I’m just a fan of stenciling.

  6. Bo on March 7, 2016 at 10:12 am

    These are wonderful noticings Ross, and they aren’t coincidence – they are in the DNA of the house. Because the Empire style was so popular in 1894, and because the the light fixtures and hardware are by design Empire, the fact that the house abounds with them is literally in its nature.

    Being an anal-retentive Virgo, I tend to get overly matchy-matchy in my instincts sometimes, and the anthemion theme could be an invitation to go down that path. However, using the anthemion as gateway to learn more about and explore the 1890s Empire style as a theme could offer some rich possibilities – I mean, how about those cool stars in door hardware?

    Maybe if I can find time, we can do an Empire post together soon.

  7. Arlene Suzanne on March 7, 2016 at 1:14 pm


  8. Montana Channing on March 13, 2016 at 9:36 pm


  9. Lisa on November 26, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Again, I am so late to all of this but having the time of my life. I’m pretty sure we’re cloned or twins separated at birth or some such craziness. I have never met anyone more like me than these blogs. When I read them out loud to my husband he shakes his head – a remodeler only out of necessity – the love and joy is lost on him but he does see the joy it brings me – and the suffering – oh the suffering – then the joy. Good for you Ross, good for you 🙂

    • Ross on November 26, 2019 at 8:23 pm

      Very nice to meet you, Lisa!

      You are an obvious kindred spirit!

      BIG, hug!

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