Archive for the 'Interior' Category

14
Dec
07

IMA Holiday Open Greenhouse

Old Friends

A trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art Greenhouse as a Christmas tradition? Yep. The Greenhouse is open for business year round whenever the museum is, but two Thursday evenings in December the Greenhouse folks, like my friend Lynne above, roll out a therapeutically warm and life-filled holiday welcome. You can pop into the final Open House of the season next Thursday, December 20 (free, open till 8:00 p.m.). It makes a great date night venue.

Warm Greeting

I love the subtle details. This year simple candles burning in the snow were at the gates. In the past, it was red fabric lanterns with tea lights inside.

If you think an emphasis on nature limits your color palette to sage and brown, the Greenhouse staff is ready to blow your mind. I’m thinking about buying this metal tree and all of its ornaments for our house so I can make it through the February and March blahs.

Aviary Tree

Ornaments

If you look closely you can see the guitar player through the window.

IMA Greenhouse

I’ll always need a plant and a smiling-person-pick-me-up to brighten my spirits when winter is bearing down on me. Sue, Lynne, and the Greenhouse crowd always hook me up with both.

Pretty

Oldfields, the IMA’s American Country Place era estate of which the Greenhouse is a part, is open for free that Thursday, too. The grounds are lit so that you can enjoy the gardens at night. Cold as it was outside, winding through the endless luminaria trails was a calming way to end a typically wild December day.

Oldfields Formal Garden

On the Grounds

On the Grounds

10
Dec
07

Design Past, Present and Future

It took a 19th century near death experience to get him there, but once Ebenezer Scrooge finally caught his clue he declared that he would keep Christmas past, present and future always before him. In the interior design world I get the impression that most people are a combination of past, present, and future with an emphasis on one more than the others.

I love contemporary design, I really do. Clean, spare lines and an emphasis on materials totally enchant me in public spaces. But for some reason I can only live with a little of it at a time in our home – a danish modern coffee table in our hearth area, a sputnik lamp, which I have yet to hang in our guest bedroom (makes me wonder if I’m subconsciously resisting it even when I love it), and our newish sofa.
New Sofa

The first two of these could hardly be considered contemporary since they were made in the 60s. And the sofa has traditional, even if spare lines.

Sometimes I wonder why I can’t shake a traditional bent. Not that I’m unhappy with our home. Quite the opposite, I love it. This Saturday John and I were sitting in the kitchen drinking our morning coffee, Sam (our wood stove) quietly blazing before us.
Sam

We were talking about how we’d rather be hanging out in our house than in any hotel we could possibly think of (at least at that particular moment), which is a good thing since we pour our spare change into the house and not into big vacations. It is full of stuff that means something to us – family treasures or finds. Auction scores, those trophies from furniture safari’s with John’s mom.

But I like to think of myself as progressive–socially, spiritually, politically. Even when I work in art museums, though I love the earlier pieces, I prefer to spend the bulk of my time with art less than a century old. Why then, when we built our new house five years ago, did we look at southern, country antecedents? Am I a closet conservative?

I suppose part of the answer can be found in how I was raised, not just the regional influence (the Arkansas Ozarks), but the people who did the job. We never had a ton of money so we learned to value the things, fine or not, that we saw at our family gatherings. Plus the 70s had that whole “back to our country’s roots”, folk thing going, which my Aunt Judy turned into a subtle, but elegant homey art form that totally worked.

Then there was my friend Felley’s mom, also named Judy. I know it is a chronological impossibility, but I’m convinced that Margaret Mitchell based Melanie Wilkes on my friend’s mother, who even looks for all the world like Olivia de Havilland, I swear. In addition to her sweetness, charm and patience (I always showed up at her house after school ready for a snack and was never, to my recollection, rebuffed or disappointed), she also had an incredibly refined, but remarkably approachable sense of style.

She was never self-conscious enough to speak in such terms,  but I learned from Miss Judy to think of interior design as one of the three essential tools of hospitality–the other two being good food and genuine thoughtfulness, two things my mom could have written the book on.

For Miss Judy, every furniture purchase or placement choice seemed to be with a visitor’s comfort and timeless style in mind. Those two things became fused together in my psyche because of her, I think. One of my sweetest memories is of sitting on her fabulous, dark blue chintz Chinois floral patterned sofa with her as she talked me through my smorgasbord of adolescent problems.

Then there is my own mom. She also has great design sense, but the most valuable lessons I learned from her were to keep it fun and to never be afraid of color, especially red. And when you get stuck, call a designer (luckily she has a friend and next door neighbor who is one). And never apply your lipstick with the aid of a compact mirror when you’re in public. Oh wait, that was what my sister learned. Sorry.  

So maybe it’s because I’m so attached to these people, ideas and memories that I keep my feet rooted in a traditional style. From a design point of view the south is frequently criticized for being retardataire. I suspect my own observations may point to why that is, if it is. I guess for me the past is a vital part of the present and the future. Maybe there’s nothing I can do about that, and maybe I should stop feeling the need to apologize for it.           

14
Sep
07

More on Neutrals with Color

More from September’s Elle Decor. Here is a better shot of Marjorie Gubelmann’s living room. I love the scale and finish of the hanging lantern.

Living room

And here is her dining room with its spectacular hand-painted Gracie wallpaper, proving neutral rooms are happy to live near big color walls. I find it hard to believe that I’ve never had a room this color green. I’ve always loved it.

Green dining room copy

Side note: In Bob Altman’s glamorously stuffy Gosford Park,
gosfordparkpic
a great source of design inspiration if you need it, the billiard room (the room pictured above is actually the drawing room in the film. I couldn’t find a still of the BR but you get the glamour point) is glazed the same color green as the wallpaper above. I think the billiard room is under-painted with yellow. Whatever the technique, the effect gives the space a sturdy glow. In Gubelmann’s dining room, the silver of the Venetian mirrors, the shimmering chandelier, and the small scale of the black bamboo chairs keep the room light and airy. I love it.

18
Jul
07

Patterns, Color and Winterthur Revisited

I’m intrigued by how good designers mix patterns. Henry F. DuPont’s, Winterthur, is a great place to see a seemingly infinite number of ways to do it.

I took John there for his birthday a few years back because I knew he would enjoy the craftsmanship of some of the finest examples of wood furniture in the U.S. As DuPont turned his estate into a survey of high quality non-native American furniture (approximately Empire and before), he also created a giant canvas on which to layer his talent for putting rooms together (and gardens, but that’s another post).

Julie and I have been exchanging comments lately about color in neutral rooms. While the elements of DuPont’s dining room are a little more reserved than Julie’s more worldly style, the basic idea of using color with a neutral background is here—the fabrics carry the color.

Dining Room

The architectural elements are allowed to shine on their own with a neutral coat of paint (more of an oyster than the pinkish color you see here), and maybe a few highlights (see the trim on the doors). The rich wood of the furniture also gets to play a major role.

I like that the drapery fabric and the chair covers are the same medium sized pattern. Sometimes I think I’m afraid to use a fabric in other parts of the same room. I don’t know why (maybe it’s an attempt to avoid the catalog look). But a few repeated fabrics, even a vibrant stripe like this one, can give a room unity of design, calming the space. If I remember correctly the stripe and the large pattern of the rug are the only two fabric patterns in the room and the differences in scale work well together.

floating staircase

The stair hall (not a great picture, sorry) is an even more refined space, with light and airy Federalist pieces, which play nicely with the floating staircase – delicate, but sturdy. Anyway, the green of the settee fabric, which in another application might be considered bank-ish or too heavy handed looks downright understated in this setting.

chinese parlor 2. jpg

There’s nothing understated about the Chinese parlor. I love it, with all of its game and tea tables everywhere (mostly, if not all, American Rococo, aka Chippendale), and that great (in every sense of the word) wallpaper that makes you feel like a character in a giant storybook. The whole room is a big, elegant play room for grown-ups, but really, wouldn’t kids be happy here, too?

chinese parlor

I’ve never worked with pattern on the scale of this wallpaper, but I like it, especially that DuPont made it work with two large rugs and the large pattern in the two different green damasks. The sturdy forms of the furniture ground things. And now that I look at it so do the drapery and sofa fabrics, which even though they are a damask pattern read as a solid when seen next to the wallpaper.

If you are a furniture/design or even a garden buff, Winterthur is well worth a trip for inspiration.

01
Jun
07

Paint and Lighting is Up, Cleaning Tid Bits

Well, all the painting is done except for the detailing. After climbing over furniture to find a spot to sleep Tuesday and Wednesday, we actually slept in our room again last night. The redo isn’t done yet, but here is the wingback we had reupholstered (labor at T & H Upholstery in Indy – $260.00). I apologize for the crassness of posting prices, but I find the lack of readily available information about this kind of stuff kind of frustrating, so I’m putting it out there.

Reupholstered Wingback

I think the fabric (Calico Corners – 9 yards – $200.00 [discounted price]) Dave helped me pick looks pretty good with the paint color. You can see both here.

The redo has been a good op to clean things that I never would have otherwise (My tendency to ignore baseboards is one of the reasons this blog is called “Good Home” and not “Great Home”). When our next door neighbor Mindy heard we were going to hire professionals to clean our rugs she insisted that we let her bring her rug cleaner over and have a go at it.

So Wed. night while John and I painted one half of the room, she cleaned the carpet in the other. THEN she came back the next day to do the other half! She refuses to let us pay her. We’ll have to figure out another way to thank her because the carpet looks really good. Mindy rocks!

Screen Cleaning

To clean the screens on our windows we decided to put them in the shower and just hose them off with a little attachable sprayer that I got John from Restoration Hardware one year for Christmas (it was actually on his wish list). I’m thinking I may clean all of our screens this way in the future.

Here is one of the chandeliers.

Lighting

I think they are hanging a little low, which we can easily fix (going the other direction is a little harder). I’m going to see if I can talk John’s mom into sewing sleeves for the chains—either in champagne or wheat colored linen.

Lighting

My favorite thing so far is the paint color. It’s the only one besides the yellow in our living room that I’ve ever liked the minute it went on the wall. I usually have to get used to new colors even when I like them a lot. This blue is hard to photograph though.

Some potentially bad news. I know I promised before pics, but they may be lost. When my computer hard drive went a couple weeks back they may have been erased. I’ll know next week, I think. Keep your fingers crossed.

24
May
07

Bedroom Status Report 2

Looks like I have a deadline for finishing the bedroom. June 6. Our friend Scott is coming to town for a conference and he’ll need the guest suite, so it will need to be free of the furniture from our bedroom placed there temporarily while we work.

For the sake of scheduling ease (our lives are too complicated to work around someone else at the moment), we’ve decided to do the painting ourselves. Know that I will say at least fifty times as we are painting, “we totally should have hired someone.” John will ignore me, as he should in such cases.

BTW, I like Benjamin Moore paints (also Sherwin Williams, Porter and even Behr-I can’t afford Farrow and Ball), but something it took me awhile to realize is that not all paint stores are alike. Their mixing skills vary. So either get all of the paint you need on one trip or find a good paint store because if you run out, you may well end up bringing back a slightly different color or finish the second time.  That happened to me once, and it annoys me everytime I see the result in our kitchen.

We’ll be using:

Palladian Blue (HC-144 – Eggshell)
from Rollie Williams Paint Spot
5292 E 65th St
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 842-6772

Rollie’s is a Benjamin Moore dealer here in town that I’ve used before with good luck.

Dave, who is in the residential leasing biz, says a cleaning service could do wonders for our carpet and that we really don’t have to replace it. So that should save some trouble and a little money. If I can get him to provide the company’s name I’ll call them and post their info here as a resource for Indy folks.

John is on vacation next week, so we’ll hit the ground running with painting next Tuesday when we get back from Batesville.

I still need to:

Call and order paint
Measure for, then order matchstick blinds and window hardware
Pick up the reupholstered wingback
Take two other chairs to be reupholstered

Keep your fingers crossed and pray for John. As much as I try to be good, I get antsy in the middle of weeks long projects. And I can get kind of sullen towards the end when it seems like the details will never come together.

16
Apr
07

A Store I Love: Country Friends

If you read this blog much, you’ll realize that while I’m crazy about all kinds of design, our own home tends towards the “not new” (I stopped using the word “traditional” during an episode of the Sopranos when Carmella used the term to describe the white leather and chrome-gilded mobster haven she and Tony called home.)

Outdoor Table and Chairs

(Outdoor table and four chairs I have my eye on. $199.00.)

I don’t know why I like what I do. I could try to figure out why old furniture, flowers, lots of color, gardens, cushy chairs, woodstoves, holidays, etc., appeal to me, but I don’t really care. I’m a big fan of metacognition, but over thinking design is one of the easiest ways I know to kill a good look.Fortunately though, there is a store made for people like me: Country Friends. Saying the name embarrasses me, but I’d be lying if I said it isn’t the first place in Indianapolis that I go when I need a perfect “something”—for a gift, to fill a floral container, for the front door, to help set the table.

Bird Bath

(A bronze birdbath we bought for John’s dad. I liked the forked base that makes it easy to relocate.)

Dave, another Friends-o-phile, and I typically make four official pilgrimages a year—Easter time (for spring and summer), early fall (Halloween and Thanksgiving), before Christmas and after Christmas. And then there are a few trips for random gifts or decorative dilemmas.Many people I know won’t go there. John refuses to darken the door. The place is PACKED with stuff, a look and shopping experience that a lot of people don’t enjoy. And there’s no shortage of kitsch, which doesn’t bother me. For whatever reason, I have a healthy respect for kitschy things as long as they’re sincere.

Michael and Sheila

(Michael and Sharon)

Plus the owner Michael, who started the business 22 years ago in Muncie, is a little manic and loud, but I love him. He buys fun stuff constantly and a lot of it, so if you are willing to spend some time you can usually find what you need. The staff is super friendly. They asked about my mom three months after she came to visit one time. I like that in a store.