Sunday, June 24, 2012

Anatomy of a Room

Ladies Parlor at, My Old Historic House.

This was the centerfold of the June 2011 issue of Victorian Homes Magazine.

     I am not sure that getting the anatomy of room is something that can be taught. In my experience, it is a God Given talent and something that can come along after many years of trying. One of my favorite teacher ,in college, taught me a little thing to do when decorating and it can really help. When you think you have a room done to perfection, look at it through almost closed eyes. If you see the room as a whole at first, and not one thing jumps out at you, it is right. After the first look when the whole picture is a unit, then one should see  single items. All colors should blend and no object should out shine another. This is true to every element, wall color or covering, floors, art, drapes and so on. This is especially true with the decorative accessories. No matter how fine and important they are, they should never jump out at the first glance of a room. It's the entire picture we are looking for.

A mixture of elements make up a great room. This is a French 19th century bronze candle stick

Hand painted decorations on a ruby glass luster

A 19th century formal portrait of a man, notice the reds in his face, pick up on the other reds in this room

    The anatomy of a room contains many layers. Just as important as the other, each one makes for the final picture. Never consider a product, such as a carpet, for it's price tag, but for what it can add to your rooms final look. Never consider a carpet because you already own it, if it is not right, it would be better to leave it out, so the final picture is perfection. If a carpet is needed to create quiet, warmth or some other reason, it should as well work in the final picture of the completed room. The same goes with wall covering. Paint color can be one of the hardest things to pick. To me it never looks the same on the wall as it does on that small sample. If you are in doubt, it probably is wrong. Buy a pint and try it out, before painting the entire room.I often pick colors for fabric or something I plan on using in the room. Most paint stores today have computers that can match the color to your item with pretty good results. Wall paper is far easier for me to pick than paint. It is a challenge as it is an all over pattern, floor to ceiling and can influence what other patterns you might be able to use in a room. I love wall paper and can not imagine a world with out it. I once wallpapered a ice box, that was in the 60's. need I say more.It is not for everyone, and it has a tough time in today's world. I am not afraid to mix patterns, to me it is second nature, but I have to admit, it is not easy for every one.

The yellow paint color for this room came from the wall paper boarder. 

Cranberry glass is a common accessory in this room

   The making of a great room does not have to mean spending huge amounts of money. I have to say, it usually helps if there is a big budget. Most people think they need expensive crown moldings and trim to make a great room. It doesn't hurt, but is not an absolute rule. The same effect can be made with paint, wallpaper or other fun products. The result is usually more eye catching and every one remembers it far longer than the do crown molding, which, to me, is as common as dirt. Sorry, if I said the wrong thing, that is just my thoughts.I like mixing low budget items with expensive one. The expensive ones make the cheaper things look better. No one can see a price tag when the walk into your room. To me a great room is one that looks like you have been collecting things and living in it for years. A few family treasures are always some of the first items to be noticed. I have a few T J Max and Home Good items in my house and no one, not one person, has ever said that looks like  Home Goods. Now if the whole room is from that store, they probably will say that ,as it is an advertisement for that store. Too much of any thing can be bad. One has to learn when to stop.

Cranberry glass continues in the chandelier

    A beautiful room will be layers and layers of things. Starting with the bones of  the room. The walls, floors and windows. Then comes furniture. There is nothing worse than furniture that is too big or too little for a room. Scale is a major thing. You will learn scale with experience. To me it comes natural. I also have a good rule I follow. If it is a small room, instead of a lot of small stuff, I like to use a few large pieces. This is tricky, but can be done and makes the room seem bigger and more important. I never thought that I would ever say this, but too much  stuff, can mess up a room faster than bad art. You have to learn to trust yourself to say, 'that's enough." And speaking of bad art, if that's all you have, don't use any. Bare walls are better than walls full of bad. And family pictures have there place, if you want them in a formal space, go ahead, but make them an accessory, not a focal point. No one loves your family like you do.
   Today decorating has taken a change in pace. Most rooms in most homes are void of color and lack excitement. Accessories are cheap resin and an after thought. Beautiful carved wood has gone away and big over stuffed pieces has taken it's place. I do admit they are comfortable, but have we no sense of beauty and wonderment left in  our lives??? I do not look at many magazines these days, all the rooms look alike.  Even the homes of the rich, have no desire or excitement. They are all off the rack and boring. Gone are all the great decorators that I used to dream about. Mark Hampton, Sister Parrish and many others. Oriental rugs have been turned away for uncomfortable sea grass and jute. Have you ever walked bare foot on that stuff?

A fancy wall treatment of today's choice is ragging. People are in love with decay. What's up with that. I worked all my life for prosperity, I want my home too reflect that I have it.
    There is no real ending to this post. I could write a book. I am sure I have stepped on some toes. I am sorry in advance. I am only saying what I feel. My  mind means very little to others. If you like my thoughts and they help in any way, I am glad. Please come by some time for a real tour of, My Old Historic House. I will leave the rights on and Sissy Dog is always at the door with a jump and a kiss.I have been away from blogging for awhile. I was busy opening my new antique mall. it has been doing pretty good. I also neglected, my home. Yard work is endless and so is dusting, especially dog hair. Oh well, that's what's next. I might have more time to blog in the winter.I just want to say thank you to all my sweet followers who have emailed and asked about me and Sissy. Some of you also said they missed the blog, so that's what has made me come to the computer today. Thanks and I love you all.

The accessories are all very romantic, suitable for a ladies parlor

Lots of gold leaf carvings add to the regal look

Even Sissy, the queen Beagle, fits right in.

Another snap shot from the June 2011 issue of Victorian Homes magazine. 


It's Just Dottie said...

Oh Richard!!!!
Everything is so beautiful!!!!
It takes my breath away.
Smiles, Dottie

Lottie said...

Richard, I am so glad you came to the computer today! I, too, have missed your blog. And, wow, what pictures you posted today of your lovely home! Best of luck with your new antique mall. I love the view out the door of the river.
I like what you said in this post about closing your eyes and thinking of your room. Also, bare walls are better than bad art. I love the cranberry colors in your home. Have a great week ahead!

Pamela Gordon said...

Hi Richard. That is such a gorgeous room and that chandelier is just stunning. Thanks for sharing your decorating tips. How is the new shop doing? Have a great week. Pamela


STUNNING, STUNNING dear Richard!! I've missed seeing your very unique and breath taking lovelies! Your chandy is more than spectacular. I got a Marie Therese, Italian chandy from Mama's Day and it's gorgeous...BUT YOURS...!!!!!!!!
This room is gorgeous, all the furnishings and every piece of your accessories, or elements of decoration are simply stunning! Thanks for the tips. Hugs,

Anonymous said...

I think whatever your style, the rule you mentioned about seeing the whole picture still applies.
It is always a pleasure looking at rooms like yours, with so many treats for the eye.

Barbara F. said...

I agree with a lot of what you've said here, Richard. I hate all white homes, and sometimes shabby chic is just too much shabby and not enough chic, JMHO. I am not crazy really about too much real rust inside a home or distressing furniture to the point where it looks like it is screaming for a paint job.
Again, JMO. xo

Stacy Leigh said...

This would be a great article for Victorian Home. Maybe you should submit it :) They might want to pick you up as a guest editor or something.

Gina @ VictorianWannaBe said...

Oh Richard! You did find time to write a new post!
Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou!
Looking at your house just makes me so happy because you know...I am a Victorian Wanna Be!!!
Thanks for sharing with us your knowledge, tips and opinions on decorating. I'll have to try the squinty eye thing and see how I've done. Sissy is looking as cute as ever! Gina

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

the pictures DO NOT do that chandelier is the most beautiful one I have ever seen, dripping with cranberry beauty!
I wanted to write and tell u I saw the article in the Post 3 weeks ago! I wish they had a pic of the house, I hope it was good publicity!

Glenda/MidSouth said...

What a pretty room - treasures everywhere you turn. I have noticed many are missing from the land of blog now days, but then this is a busy time of the year.
Thanks for stopping by and nice comment. No breeze now - it is 97 and the air is very still as I type.
Enjoy your evening.

Olive said...

Richard, I think you are right that some have an innate sense of style and scale and some do not. I was given two large pink chairs for my den this weekend and the color is right but the scale is wrong-they are too large. Your cranberry chandy is splendid. Hugs, Olive

andrew1860 said...

Hi Richard, It is good to see you back. This room is perfect, You have so many beautiful things. They blend so well with each other. I want to go shopping in your parlor. Thanks for this post!

Curtains in My Tree said...

Richard we all have our opinion of what we like and that is OK you didn't step on my toes with the corns on them LOL

I like it all except for walking into a house that looks empty and bland.(however if the home owner likes it, fine with me) I love your wall paper I just never could hang the stuff by myself and wall paper hangers are big dollars over here.I still want the Country Side Waverly toile in my bedroom and bath.
Your house is my dream house and now I settle for auction, yard sale, goodwill and thrift store decor.
My prosperity shows LOL I mean lack of it. I spend a lot on clothes travel and food . However I am very content in my senior years
Life is good for me today, hope I am not bragging too soon

Hope to see you soon


Shelia said...

Hi Richard, I was wonderful where you were! :) Your ladies parlor is so beautiful! YOu have the prettiest things and the chandelier is most gorgeous! I love all of your pretty rugs too, well, shoot, I guess everything!
You take care and kiss Sissy a hug.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

janice15 said...

It's beautiful, I'm so glad that I found your blog...It just made me dream I was there...I love all the pieces all the cranberry glass...and the carpets are divine...I'm a Victorian Lady and this fits me just fine...I hate all white and all pink I need color and this definitely shows bounds of it...Simply breath taking thank you for sharing it...I'm a fairly new blogger...come by sometime...and visit my day to day life...have a great new week...with love Janice

Pearl said...

Never aplogize for your taste! I love it all and really miss the real stuff. To me a home is a reflection of your taste and you do it so well Richard. I don't buy magazines unles they feature Victorians because that's what I like. I also agree with you on carpets to. I always learn a great deal from you kid so keep on teaching us. Don't blame you for being away this summer the store is more important. I have taken the summer off to and I'm busy decorating my home and getting all the victorian things I can find. I love the History of furniture and glass so I have a long way to go before my home ever looks like yours. Have fun with the store and much success to you. Hugs, Pearl

Anonymous said...

i really enjoy your blog miss you when you have to take time off your home is fab i love victorin however my home is more primitive but the statements you made can be about any decor as long as it has some zip

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lesson on decorating. You are so lucky to have a talent for this, but you've also worked hard to learn. I appreciate every bit of knowledge and experience that you share.

Two years after moving into my "modern" home, I am still struggling to pull the decor together. I hate my bland beige walls and lack of architectural detail other than (ha!) crown molding. The windows are blah holes cut into the Sheetrock. My Victorian furniture is splendid, but it's been a challenge to make it fit and get the scale right. With no more room for furniture, I'm now working on accessories but I tend to collect rather than decorate and I end up with too much. Then it looks like clutter. (Or an antiques store!)I have no idea where to hang my extensive collection of family ancestors in their Victorian frames. In the guest room? Maybe they'll discourage company from lingering too long. :)

I fight the ongoing problem of dog hair by having no rugs at all, which is hardly a solution. I'm sure my Scotties would LOVE lounging on Oriental rugs. That jute stuff makes me cough, and sisal is horrid on bare feet. Even my dogs won't walk on it.

You're so right about the bland and horrid taste of today's "contemporary" look. It's sterile, ugly, unwelcoming, and cold. Everything is gray and drab! Phooey! Give me art and artistry any time. The Victorians made even brass plates on pieces of machinery into works of art. Today we rob ourselves of so much.

Don't worry about not blogging often this summer. We'll love whatever you can find time to share with us.


Love Of Quilts said...

I love the room and furniure. I do believe I lived back then this has always been my taste.. just can't afford it lol.

Charlotte Wilson said...

Rich words from the Master! I am in awe of your knowledge and am not one bit offended by anything you said.
After all, it is in the eye of the beholder and there are so many styles out there. I agree that so many houses have that same look as if they Don't have their own ideas.


Sea Witch said...

You are a master of your craft. Visual beauty that is jaw dropping when you enter your rooms, even via the blog post.

Bama Planter said...

Richard, this post is truly inspirational. The things you say are true...true...true. I think your ability to put a room together is a gift, but I also think you took the time to learn what works and what doesn't work, and that ability didn't come overnight. Marshel

Elizabeth and Gary said...

Hi Richard,
How wonderfully lovely!!! such a beautiful room. I could stay in this room for hours just looking around.
Have a sweet day, Elizabeth

Babs said...

Richard, Your ladies parlor is stunning, and it's obvious that you love your home and enjoy the process of decorating it. Thanks for the tips on making a room special and I'll look forward to your nest post. Hope your antique mall is doing well,

Vicki said...

Hi Richard. Just wanted to add my kudos to your BEAUTIFUL home. In reading your blog, not only does your knowledge and talent for design come through, but it is so obvious how very much you love the things in your collection; that they're not just "pretty things" but they have a history and an artistic craftmanship that is so blatantly absent in most contemporary design. I used to be afraid that I was becoming too materialistic because of how much I love my antique pieces. But then I realized that what I felt was all about the honest appreciation of the beauty, history and craftsmanship of the piece and not about trying to impress anyone by its possession. So now I don't feel materialistic at all! And thanks to your beautiful collection of pink Bristol glass on your etagere, I've got a whole new passion! Let them keep their "neutral" walls and straight brown box furniture!
Best of luck to you and your new antique shop. Keep us "posted". said...

Such beautiful pictures.I love that chandelier with the red glass-just beautiful. Glad the new shop is doing well.

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

This room is just magnificent! The colors truly speak to my heart!
You have created a perfectly stunning room!


~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Hello Richard~ ~ ~
I so much enjoy stopping by your home for a visit. I agree with your thoughts on decorating and find many of the newest trends lifeless and boring. Give me color anyday.
Your cranberry chandy makes me sigh everytime I see it. What is the story of the chandy? Did it come with the house? Possibly you already posted the story and I missed it. Enjoy your day.
~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

Jaybird said...

Yaay for saying exactly what I feel!! My home decor is to indicate my respect and love for those who live there/visit. Yes, I like to see the pretty rooms, but I do the work more to show my care for others.
Thank you for your always beautiful posts..I have been missing you and Ms. Sissy!

Mrs. Cherry Heart said...

Hello Richard, first off I have to say I love love love every inch of your beautiful home. You have an eye for detail and pulling things together. It's a festival for the eyes!
I am writing to tell you thank you.
For what you might wonder. Well I read your blog a few years ago and took these pictures from this post and put them in my ideas folder! We all have one of those don't we?
Anyways I painted my 1800s farmhouse front room in these colors and loved it! I will dig up the pictures if you would like to see them. ( we have since moved to an 1872 Victorian in a lil Victorian village) I am so glad I found your blog again. I will book mark you and come and visit.
Thanks again for sharing your home, your knowledge and your precious fur baby with us.
Dolly's Cherry Heart

Unknown said...

Hi Richard. That is such a stunning room and that chandelier is just eye-catching. Thanks for sharing your decorating tips.

Thank you!