Saturday, May 16, 2009

Furniture re-do

Lately everyone has been thinking about how to do updates to their home on the cheap, for obvious reasons. I found this great vintage sideboard on ebay made by Baker and decided to have some virtual fun with it. You can find it online HERE. A quality made piece like this is worth the investment. If you buy a vintage, dated-looking cabinet like this (the blonde ashen wood isn't very popular now, even if some readers do like it!) it's easy to update-especially if it has great lines like this! I would start by lightly sanding it, priming the exterior then spray painting it a glossy black with a few coats. I suppose a more adventurous decorator could go for a bold color, but thats not my style. I would leave the interiors and even the edges of doors and drawers the natural wood to prevent sticking. Next I would update the hardware. I love this Pirouette knob from Restoration Hardware and think the lines compliment the console. Nickel finish of course!
The Gilmore Knob, also from restoration hardware, would work nicely too -and is more masculine.
This would be a great chest for in a large bathroom or dressing area, painted white, for toiletries and odds and ends. The black paint would work nicely in a hallway or foyer as a catch-all. You might even consider leaving just the very top the natural wood. Dated looking, quality pieces like this are easy to find at tag sales, craigslist and your families basement -give it a try!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Walsh Mansion

While on the embassy tour a few weeks ago, I was able to tour the famous Walsh mansion which houses the Indonesian embassy. Located 2 blocks from Dupont Circle, the house was designed in 1903 by Henry Andersen for Thomas F. Walsh, a gold miner. Not just any gold miner, he found the largest gold mine in the world at the time! He and his wife, Carrie, moved to Washington DC to make their mark on its social scene. The house was built for the sum of $853,000.
While they inhabited the house until Carrie's death in 1932, the site is better known as the home of their daughter, Evalyn Walsh McLean - the last owner of the Hope diamond. She abandoned the house after her mother's death and it was occupied by various goverment agencies at her bequest until it was bought by the Ambassador of Indonesia in 1951 for $335,000. Small loggia over the front entry.
The current main entrance. You see the former Ritz Carlton hotel in the background.Statues from Bali flank the front entrance which ward off evil spirits and invite good spirits.You enter into a tiny vestibule with marble walls and an ornate ceiling.Looking back into the vestibule from the central hall.The most impressive space in the house is the central hall. You can see why! The skylight rises up 3 floors, letting in tons of light. Even with all of the dark finishes the room felt very bright.
Detail of a banister.The skylight.Sconce in the central hall.To the right of the stairway was a room with another prominent doorway. I wasn't sure if this was originally the main entrance or if this was a type of reception room.To the left of the main staircase is the salon. In honor of the day an Indonesian band was playing.
The ceiling in the Louis XIV styled room is incredible. I love the juxtoposition with the Indonesian parasols.More of the salon. The ubiquitous crystal chandelier.Above a doorway. Doesn't this remind you of a carousel?This doorway led to the Conservatory.
Sadly the conservatory has been stripped of most of its charm but with the addition of hideous curtains. Imagine this room filled with potted palms, orchids and trees!
The exterior of the conservatory.
Beyond the salon through a large opening is the music room. Here is a view back into the salon.While it is named the music room for the enormous organ in the corner, I questioned if this was originally a dining room of. It clearly is used as one now.The room is lined with these (china?) cupboards which now house Indonesian crafts.The fireplace in the music room.
Detail of the paneling.
The ceiling in the music room.
Sadly this was all we were able to see of the mansion, but it was so over the top and ornate I had my fill! What an amazing place!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A touch of mirror

I have this great tray on my coffee table (Victoria Hagan 'shagreen' tray from Target) that has seen many different lives. Tonight I went to my local hardware store and had them cut some mirror to fit inside. I love it, especially at night. Lets look at some of the previous versions of it.
Previously, it had just been some cork I had glued down that you can see here around the bric-a-brac. The tray has been this way for the past year. The turquoise square is a large glass coaster of sorts so I had somewhere to set my drink and not stain the cork!In an even older version ( 2 years ago) I had a gold and black patterned paper on it. The paper was easy to replace if it got dirty, the cork however was not and held stains easily. I think the mirror is the best version! What do you think?

Monday, May 11, 2009

domino sale, ny trip

I spent the weekend in NY and had a wonderful time. The first item of business was the much talked about Domino 'tag' sale which was really exciting: talk about a crowd, though! I was lucky to get there early enough thanks to Heather, David Jiminez and some other friends who are morning people: AND Heather brought her famous cookies wrapped with an orange ribbon! I have to admit I ate 3 bags of them over 24 hours. They're addictive!
You can read what the Habitually Chic Heather bought HERE. Pictured below are my finds but I can't help kicking myself over what I did NOT buy: a bolt of gray rough silk fabric that would have been perfect for a table cloth (or 4 or 5 really) for $3, 2 big boxes of gray waterworks subway tiles for $20, 2 totally chic waterworks nickel sconces with black shades for $100 - ARGH -the ones that got away!
What I did get was this tortoiseshell and silver teacaddy and charming antique photo montage of children cooking. What i most liked about the picture (which Heather thrust at me telling me I must buy it!!) was the unusual size and BEAUTIFUL wood frame. It was a bit dusty and sad looking, but nothing some wood soap and orange oil can't fix! Now it's really cute and going onto the gallery wall!
I convinced my friend Eric to get this lovely plaster corbel with greek key design on the side. I should have saved it for myself though, haha!While walking from the Kips Bay Showhouse on Sunday down to see the exhibit of important jewels at Cartier (you have to go, it's amazing with 100s of items - 2nd floor, don't miss it!), I was passing Bergdorf Goodman, trying to be good and not go in when I saw the windows.I recognized the staging of the famous Cecil Beaton photograph of Charles James dresses from the 50s (my favorite image in the world) out of the corner of my eye. My heart stopped - I turned and saw these creative windows devoted to 'the model as muse' and ran across the street to get a closer look. The sun was just right to get the ultimate amount of glare unfortunately, but you can still make out whats going on.

These were well known images of fashionable models and actresses right at the corner near the Plaza. Everyone was stopping to look (hard to get a photo with no people walking by!).Erte inspired, perhaps? I'm sure this is based off a famous image as well - anyone know?

It was a great trip and I have my friends to thank for that. Hope you all had fantastic weekends! Head to NY to see Kips Bay and the Cartier exhibit immediately!