The Cross House

Parlor 4.0

Parlor 1.0. This was finished around June, 2017. But it never felt quite right. I ended up changing pillows. Then changing the rug, and unchanging the rug. Sigh. I finally realized that no matter what I did, the walls were just too cartoony, so I…


2.0…changed the walls. I liked this much better but it still seemed unfinished, so I…


…added a gold border to the damask stencil field, and then applied a fabulous leaf trim. Oh, yummy. And this…


3.0…was the result. Also note the new rug, which did not last long because I felt the room required something, well, bolder…


4.0…like this. Click on all the images; they hugely enlarge.

















4.0. I really like this image.


As I have previously written, my worry was that, if I did not get the parlor right, then I would get every other room in the house wrong.

The parlor was also a steep learning curve: WHAT would work in an 1894 house and what would not? I thought I knew with Parlor 1.0 but with each passing month it was evident that my learning curve was not finished.

My goal, from the beginning, was to have the finished room convey a youthful appearance while still being respectful to the 1894 character of the room. When the room was new, it had a patterned carpet, a patterned wallpaper, a patterned frieze paper, and a patterned ceiling paper. All this would have been designed to complement the stained-glass, and the mantel and trim. Rather than any one item standing out, an ensemble was desired. And recreating an ensemble effect was my goal in bringing the room back to life.

Doing a period-correct decor was never a goal. I wanted to show how old houses could be colorful and hip without painting all the trim white, the walls taupe, knocking down walls to create an open plan, and punching 528,958 can lights into the ceilings.

After Parlor 4.0 was finished, Travis and I were talking about the radiators. Travis is a big, burly guy. A guy kinda guy. Then, in mid-sentence, he suddenly stopped talking. I watched him as his eyes scanned the parlor. WHAT is he looking at, I wondered? Then he said, in a hushed voice: “This room is incredibly beautiful. Are all the rooms going to be like this?”

My heart soared. For, I knew: 4.0 was good.


27 Responses to Parlor 4.0

  1. Parlor 4.0 is glorious! The stained glass windows are set off to perfection. I adore the new rug. You have an excellent eye. 🙂

  2. I’m glad you’re getting peace with the parlor! Yay! I still think the kitchen table looks out of place, but I know how you love that table 🙂 YOU enjoying your surroundings is what is important, and you may have found your nirvana!

    • Ms. Davis, a kitchen table?????? I doth protest!

      The table is a Modernist icon, and was designed to be used in any room of a house. The Formica-topped versions have been, yes, used in kitchens, but the marble-topped versions are normally used in living and dining rooms.

      The table is extremely high quality.

      • Those Saarinen tables are so versatile. I see them in decor magazines being used in every possible situation. I absolutely love them, and I love how you’re using yours. If I still had one, I’d pair it with a sofa, just like you did.

        Parlor looks amazing, Ross! Can’t wait to see what you do with the rest of the house, especially the kitchen. I’m SO excited for the kitchen!

      • I know little about modern furniture. I looked up your table and found a lot of info. I believe that I am correct in the following info, and of course I have some questions. Knoll has been making them continuously since Saarinen licensed this Tulip design to Knoll while he was still in art school. They were widely copied, but only the Knoll tables are considered originals. Were they originally made with marble tops? Is the top on yours original?

        • My table was ordered from Knoll in 2017. The table has always had numerous top options, including wood.

          The knockoffs look similar but lack the grace. The marble on the Knoll version has a beveled edge. But the bevel is UNDER the top, giving the illusion of a very very thin piece of marble. Nice. The base is also thinner and better proportioned than on the knockoffs. Stronger, too!

  3. The colors are beautiful with the glass. You know what i love about it? It’s unique to you! It doesn’t look like a Victorian museum (even though I love those) out like a copy of a Pinterest project (I despise when someone rips out the charm from an old house and replaces it with Ikea hacks and cheap copies og Pinterest posts). This is all you!

  4. I spy with my little eye…or rather don’t spy…the radiator slab! Missing, uninstalled, or too clashy-clashy with the the paint or marble table? And I love the June 26, 2015 picture! That was a magical day.

  5. You achieved you goal Ross, the parlor is beautiful. When you love something it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks. But…it feels so good when someone else points out how much they like the room.

  6. Ditto all comments & accolades sans Saarinen marble-topped dialogue.

    I was struck how lovely 4.0 was & in taking in the whole–all the features, embellishments, attendance to fine details — with stained glass galore — made me think of period correct curca 1890’s. All the touches are there w explosions of color, patterns & including a marble-top table–albeit moderne version!

  7. Ross, this is stunning. Anyone who doubts your instincts about the bedroom furniture needs to see this. You clearly know what you are doing!

  8. What I really like about that final image (apart from the decor itself) is that it shows a perspective we rarely see in architectural photos: the view from a seated height. It lets us imagine what it might be like to actually sit and relax in the room, not just walk through it.

  9. LOVE 4.0! And so glad you saw that it was good! I hope you managed a day of rest after all your creating Ross 🙂

  10. Mrs. Cross would approve all her heart I do believe. It is so beautiful, calming in all its Rossness.

  11. I have read through your whole Cross House blog and this is my first time commenting. I have really enjoyed seeing your posts about restoring the original parts of the house, but seeing your posts about decorating the parlor are by far my favorite. Your evolving vision and execution for the room’s décor are stunning! Totally unexpected (for me) to find a room like this in an old house, and yet I think it is completely perfect! I can’t wait to see how the other rooms evolve as you get to them. I live in northeast Kansas and I think a trip to stay at the Cross House airbnb will be in order once you have it up and running!

  12. Parler: to talk/to speak (french)
    The word parlor comes from this – a room where guests are received, lightly entertained, & conversation is enjoyed. Me like! 😀 I also like the seating height views – this perspective shows how really well the Saarinen table works in the space. (I won’t adress my radiator envy.)

    Composition is very much a conversation of elements.
    Yes, 4.0 is good – sooo good – a sublime conversation. 🌻

  13. I would never attempt to give advice on furniture. You have proven yourself in the parlor. The house is going to be magnificent and I’m following you with the anticipation of such.

  14. How about some plants? Like some of those bright-colored bromeliads or something. I feel that some tropical-type plants would be excellent. Or orchids or an amazing bouquet of waxy flowers? Something bold with a defined shape anyhow, to go with the boldness of the furniture, but also to go with the organic shapes on the walls and in the stained glass.

  15. This room has really grown on me. I thought it was garish and too much, and competed with/overwhelmed the architecture of the home. But I like it.

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