The Cross House

Parlor 3.0

So, yes, I repainted the parlor walls. Some readers hate what I did. But most seem to like it.


I like parlor 2.0 much much much better than parlor 1.0, but knew that the work was not quite done. SOMETHING was still not right.


In repairing the damaged ceiling and oculus, I added an outer border to the oculus. This visually allows the “cracked ice” lines to die into same. And this gave me an idea…


…to do a gold border for the gold damask medallions to die into. I like this MUCH better. I had tried this last week actually, but did the border in teal. This proved too much.


Border, left. No border, right. The border, in an instant, made the walls less, well, confusing. There was suddenly a distinct separation between the “picture” (the damask pattern field) and the “frame” (the chartreuse border). Then, all of a sudden, a REALLY crazy idea popped into my head. Wanna see? Scroll way down…





















I added a decorative vine to the gold border! I had a box of these, a mistake from last spring, when the “vines” I had ordered for the picture rail arrived one size too large.


I spray-painted the vines gold but, because of the underlying base material of the vines, the color shows up as coppery. Which I really like!


As you walk around the room, the vines shimmer. The effect is magical.


When I finished the above corner, I was struck with a thought: the walls, for the first time, were now, well, worthy of the room. The vine, somehow, added substance which had been lacking. This is not evident in the images but is highly evident in person.

This morning, I had planned on painting out the chartreuse with the same sort of pale color in the damask field. But after doing the gold border/vine, I realized that I now liked the chartreuse frame.

What I did today pleases me in a way that was lacking 24-hours ago, and last spring. The cartoon quality of Parlor 1.0 is now gone, and the finished corner has a substantial quality previously lacking.

Gravitas has arrived.

Ross happy.



62 Responses to Parlor 3.0

  1. O Ross, it is AMAZING! Absolutely beautiful. I can’t believe it. I admit my mistake in questioning your vision. I had thought you had gone too far, but you hadn’t gone far enough. You are in the drivers seat and I am just along for the ride… and I will buckle my seat belt and stop backseat driving. I will keep my big mouth shut from now on!

      • You have the technology. Paint the switch plate so it is a part of the border. Even the switch toggles could be painted.

          • Going off topic here, but I have a new toy I wanted to tell you about: the Cobra from Eco-Strip It works much better and safer than a heat gun, and does a good job over all. Reduces the chance of scorched wood, the only problem I am having is small crevices. I’ll probably have to use a chemical stripper in a few places, but for doors, facings, and baseboards, it is awesome. Oh, it doesn’t get hot enough to vaporize lead paint, so it is a lot safer in that regard, too; I keep a 5-gallon bucket with a lid handy and put my scrapings into it as I go. I still use a P100 mask and put plastic over the doorways, just as an added precaution. Yes, it is $500, but I have a whole house interior to strip. I wonder what it would do for your dining room…

  2. Definitely looks better Ross. I’m so glad you are finally happy with the parlor! Now, back to the stair hall please….

  3. Thanks. I needed that. Without the border around the panels on the wall my eyes kept trying to find a place to land. And rather than dance around the room with delight enjoying all the hands of Ross had wrought, I was unsettled, jerky and quirky. I fear even the photo of dear Hillary was jittery, rattled and unanchored. Now, with a frame defining the panels of decoration, I feel you have achieved an elagence with which Jackie would have been pleased.

  4. The border around the damask panels is just what was needed. It is now complete. A brass switch plate would look great. Wish I could see the room in person.

  5. To me this is a prime example of how things were done in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, as well as long before. Time, effort, and thought went into every detail. you changed the room from being simple and flashy, to being elegant, well thought out, and dimensional. The adding of the border and vines created a bold 3D design and effect. You’ve practically turned the room into a masterpiece.

  6. When you did the damask rectangles… the first idea that popped into my head is to put a “molding” that the new textures would be framed… but i didn’t write my comment… I’m really glad that you found the solution by yourself!!!

  7. This room really throws me, as it’s far busier than anything I’d personally do – but I’m no artist. However, the addition of the vine border in this post suddenly made the room make sense to me! It’s a lovely mirroring of the border on the picture rails. Glorious, Ross, glorious.

    • The room is far busier than anything even I have ever done!

      My aim was to honor how the parlor would have been decorated originally. It would have had a patterned wallpaper, a patterned frieze paper, and a patterned ceiling paper. But, how to do this in a fresh, youthful way?

      This was my quest!

  8. I enjoy reading about your process and seeing how the room evolves. But what I really like in these photos is the ghost image of Ross, who magically appears in the fireplace mantle mirror. You are almost never in the photos of your beautiful house, so it’s like spotting a Hitchcock cameo when I find you hiding in the background.

  9. Ross, I must admit I really liked 1.0 better than 2.0. However, this blows both of them out of the water, I love it. Great job, I’m glad I could be along for the ride!

  10. The 3.0 room is simply stunning. It absolutely has the character of the room and the house in mind, but in a fresh new take. I LOVE it. Your work on and in this house never ceases to amaze me! I don’t post often, but I read regularly and am constantly in awe of what you are doing to bring back the life of a little piece of history in my home town.

  11. Wow, this is really good. Well done, sir!

    I have to laugh though at the opulence of the gold next to the plain white switch plate!

  12. I had no issue with the previous scheme but now I realize it was lacking in LUSHNESS which it now has. Something interesting, though the pattern has become way finer and more complicated it actually makes the room seem LESS busy and chaotic than before. I love the new walls, they are so rich yet they certainly read as 21st century.

  13. YES! Much better with the framing. My only concern is that the busy patterns look like they might detract from the mantle in the one corner. I assume it looks less busy in person.

  14. It’s so enthralling watching your design process….makes me smile to watch you inch ever closer to the Victorian tastes of layers and layers of patterns, lush colors, fabrics and textures….yet somehow avoid the cacophony and overwhelming fussiness of that era. To me your ceiling is somehow Harry Potteresque, but I love it. I am also enjoying your eclectic furnishings….with the exception of the animal print cushions. They evoke, to me, animal remains in English hunting lodges and/or tasteless fashion accessories ….

  15. Love! LOve!! LOVE!!! You design your rooms like I design my quilts – I call it “design-as-you-go” or “by-the-seat-of-my-pants designing”! Things always work out, but sometimes it just takes some time!

  16. In the fourth picture It looks like you forgot a roll of painters tape way up on top of the door header moulding. That’ll be fun getting down LOL

  17. WOW….just boarded this ride, and it is incredible.

    I sooooooo understand the process of the project revealing itself to you….

    In stages…

    With absurd demands which actually create a smile of unobtainable justification at what reveals itself through your fingertips.

    This parlor has another surprise or 2 for you….

    How delightfully exciting!!!

    Carry on, my wayward son!!

  18. You have the 2018 version of “Victorian” locked in! I can’t think of any way this could be more perfect. Well done!

  19. I like it. It adds formality to what was a more minimal aesthetic (i.e. something felt “missing”).

    I also find it interesting that although you started with a very modern take, you’ve ended up with most of the design elements of a more formal Victorian style. In very bright colors, however.

    As I’ve said before, I like that style of applying a very contemporary decorating style in the framework of the Victorian style. I think you’ve done that, and in a completely unique Rossian way. Kudos!

    And finally, it is just decoration. You’re not removing or painting trim or destroying other critical parts of the home’s character, so if people don’t like your colors, kindly suggest that they can go shove off.

  20. I LOVE THIS. I like it much the way you did the panes of color to break up the wall. The outline around each plane stand out and it turned out amazing.

    Ross, you should do a video tour of the Cross House for your followers that unfortunately are so far away and cannot see this amazing house in person

  21. I LOVE THIS. I like it much the way you did the panes of color to break up the wall. The outline around each plane stand out and it turned out amazing. You are truly an inspiration for people that love old houses and want to save them.

    Ross, you should do a video tour of the Cross House for your followers that unfortunately are so far away and cannot see this amazing house in person.

    • What a great idea! I’d watch the heck out of that. I’d also watch any ongoing updates, videos of Ross restoring lighting fixtures – I learn so much from him and get so inspired!

  22. Delurking again to say: Parlor 3.0 is absolutely lovely. I have not been a fan of the previous parlors as that much intense color is too overwhelming for me, and you were correct that something was ‘off’ in the proportions of the wall stencils and the remaining blank space, etc….

    But now? the walls look layered, and have been muted, so to speak, so that they balance out with the gorgeous wood trims and stained glass. To me the parlor now looks like the inside of a jewel box, just gorgeous as a whole but then you get to see the delightful details as you settle into it.

    Well done Ross. Thanks for bringing us along!

  23. Ok so they say everything happens for a reason, I hate that the pipes did a number to your pocket book but oh the turn of events are just so FANTASTIC! The Phoenix from the ashes!

    • The brownstone is gorgeous, I can only imagine how much work went into that, the parlor is especially stunning. It sure has appreciated in price since he bought it. I believe Clem Labine was one of the founders of the Old House Journal, if not the founder then one of the early contributors along with Patricia Poore. Back in the 1970’s it was just a 6-8 page brochure/booklet, not the magazine it is today. I’m giving away my age, just reminiscing.

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