Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Billy Baldwin Brown And Sexy Living Room

It's finally time to see what I've been working on for the past couple of weeks! I hope you enjoy it!
Here's a peek looking inside from the dance parlor. We put up the shutters, discarded for outside use because they are old and falling apart. I scraped and sanded them, and then stabilized the surface with satin finish poly. The stripe doors were painted four years ago, but now I did a free hand painted thin brown stripe to look like a chalk pin stripe to see if they'll still work out. What do you think?
The silk drapes and wall lamp with the brown silk shade and green silk wire cover are in the dance parlor which "looks" into the living room.
Now that you're inside, let's look around. I shot these photos using only natural light and a slow shutter speed. The light outside shifted quite a bit, as a rain storm was coming in. So I apologize for the dark photos. While the room has a deep color, it does not feel dark or dreary. It feels sexy and soothing and chic, and brings me back to my deep dark New York roots!

The paint is Color Place mixed into a Kilz base. Color Place is a Sherwin Williams paint made for Wal Mart (at about half the price). The color is called Buffalo. It is a warm brown with an undertone of gray. Light plays off of it beautifully. I painted the dance parlor this color four years ago, and decided to continue with it to fool the eye into looking like the living room is a much larger space. The new batch of paint matches perfectly. I use flat paint, and wrap the room in color - the walls, ceiling, and trim get the same color and paint. It hides flaws and make the boundaries seem endless.
I love the color of the old shutters against the walls. I needed to "center" this window to get the furniture placement I wanted. I would have liked to get a huge antique screen, and I mean huge, as the windows are 80 inches tall! But there's no budget for that! I love the old New Orleans shutters so much - it's Creole Regency! I think the tattered red paint looks like an old Chinese or Tibetan or Venetian paint finish. The shutters on the window can be opened.

I absolutely love the way the couch came out! The faux white leather is such a fabulous contrast against the deep color of the walls. I did not have the original skinny cushion re-used, but replaced it with a higher profile cushion to update the look of the sofa. The vinyl is very soft and fabric like. It's flannel backed. And of course the nail head trim is to die for!
I am so happy to finally achieve a symmetrical furniture placement. This is the first view of the living room. Previously the large Baker credenza with the flat screen TV and the off center window, were the first things you saw. The chandelier never looked quite right, though it has always been hung in the center of the room. Now it all lines up, thanks to the shutters.
I flipped the nine foot long credenza to where the couch had been. I had to block a door that leads to the guest bedroom. However there is another entrance to this room, and this door was seldom used. I think the door mural looks better then ever behind the credenza.
I did a Dorothy Draper trick (from her book Decorating Is Fun!), by painting the edge of the credenza doors the same color as the walls. She recommends painting furniture and picture frames to match wall color. I know some of you are cringing that I would paint a Baker piece. However, when I bought it years ago, it was just a $100. piece of thrift store detritus, not the Hollywood Regency treasure it has become. If ever I want to sell it at an investment piece price, I'm sure I can have it refinished. The top is pecan wood, and has never been touched.
The Baker piece is in the manner of Fornasetti from their Italian line (it has the label). I have a Fornasetti print resting on top, along with the caged glass lamps I rescued from the street. I have learned to live with the DVD and VCR, because it's important to the hubs. I just added a couple of pretty remote boxes and a piece of coral.
Here's a total view of the credenza. I try to make the flat screen a part of the art and objects. It's so weird to photograph a TV set - I don't know if it's better to have it on or off in the shot. There's a little French antique metal folding chair in front of the credenza.

Here's a view to the other side of the room. The light has shifted and it's a little dark. But I wanted you to see how tall my windows are, and how I a treat an unused "front" door as another window.One of my favorite views is between the two windows. I placed an antique rusted metal drinks cart there, and propped up a very distressed vintage mirror (it has been in the garden and survived Katrina!) on it. My old Ballard Design Della Robbia lamp got one of the PB black shades. I "layered" another table in front of this, a gold wheat sheaf base table. It has a huge square glass top, but I replaced it with a 30 inch round one. I love using it as a book and magazine table. And of course the Ghost Chair is one of my favorite things.

It may look a little cluttered, but I love it. I "needed" a floor lamp, so I fashioned one out of a small table lamp on top of an antique bamboo plant stand. The etagere holds a collection of white objects, that look so good against the brown.

A few little details: black tassel pull on a lamp; antique cherub peeking out from behind the distressed mirror (I'm selling the cherubs on eBay now)...

...the other cherub, one orange Foo dog, a little iron urn of shells, and an old brown transfer ware plate with bugs and a bird on it. You can also see the great patina on the drinks cart.

The view from the couch into the dance parlor. And in this corner the Eames chair (also for sale on eBay now soon to be replaced with a chaise lounge the hubs chose for himself). Above is the Will Barnett print "The Young Couple".

So now the doors are closing on the tour...

I hope you enjoyed looking at it, as much as I enjoyed doing it!
It's still just a little bit of a work in progress. I plan to try out a new striped rug I ordered, and get a lantern to replace the chandy. And of course the chaise lounge is coming on the 26th. Also sussing out an Ikat pillow. The French settee is being recovered in the same faux white leather. I bought 15 yards (60 inches wide), and there was enough fabric left over to do the settee. I am also going to recover my four antique Isabelina salon chairs (we use them as dining chairs) in the same white faux leather. It's good, it's really that good.

And now credit where credit is due...

Who's your Daddy? Want me to build you a couch?

Thanks to the hubs, my Alberto, for never getting in my madcap way when I'm on a decorating jag. He hung the heavy shutters, even when he didn't understand what I was going for; he took down ugly fire alarms (this was an institutional building when we bought it), and expertly patched up the huge holes they left; he totally redid the cable TV wires; he rewired lamps for me; he let me show him pictures of chaise lounges; and he keeps the wine poured and the kisses coming.

The chaise the hubs wants and is getting!

The staging area in my office

And a very special and heartfelt thank you to my angels Sabina and Joe who made it possible for me to do this. I can hardly wait for you to come and enjoy it in person!
And thanks to all of you my dear bloginistas, for reading and writing and egging me on.

The inspiration - a small sampling from the clipping file:

I don't know the top two interior designers
Do you?
Love the deep colors, screen behind the couch, symetry

Billy Baldwin Interior Design
Slipper chair, bibelots, books. French chair, deep color

Billy Baldwin Interior Design
Slipper chairs, little tables, books, deep color

Billy Baldwin Interior Design
Screen behind white couch

Jonathan Adler Interior Design
I still love ya Jonnie -
even though you made me crazy!
It's a very Billy Baldwin room don't you think?

Jonathan Adler Interior Design


Ivy Lane said...

Love this post! Great job..and SIGH... I WANT a ghost chair!!!

Old House Junkie said...

Val, Love the room! I very much enjoyed the postings of the process also. I liked previous versions of the room and am sure I will like future ones, but this is super. I know you're enjoying it. Shutters are perfect, couch looks classic, interesting objects arranged in a pretty way.

You know, many RMS viewers can't appreciate a room unless everything was bought new at the same time at Ikea, PB or some such store. . . Youth, I think.

RMS used to be a place where homeowners said, "Here's what I've done, what do you think?" It has degenerated into lots of postings of ugly rooms in which no improvements have been attempted and homeowners are saying, "Give me a new room." I am so weary of the begging.

I remember when you first posted your dance studio on RMS, some of the viewers never understood that it was a dance studio. . . I found their comments funny in their ignorance, but I bet they did sting you.

Don't always comment, but do always read. Enjoy your blog. ohj

Design Junkie said...

It looks fucking amazing.

Cote de Texas said...

omg - sweetie - it looks so fine! wow - I LOVE it!!!!!!!!!!!

i can't wait to see it in person one day!!!

You did great - love it ALL!!!!

seriously, seriously wonderful. Are you putting it on RMS?

Mazel Tov!!!! Enjoy!!!

Dianne said...

Love it!!!!!!!!!! It is so artistic and sooooo New Orleans. Great job!

Visual Vamp said...

Hi everybody, Thanks so much for checking this out. And thanks for the postive feed back!
Alberto says I'm a geek LLLLLLoser - he does the L sign on his forehead with both hands, and I tell him two L's make a W for WINNER!
The whole process did start with RMS! If those bitches had loved my rooms, I'd still be there mentally masturbating LOL.
I'm glad they shook me up and got me off my ass.
My spaces will never look slick and perfect, but I know they are interesting, pretty, and nice to be in.
Post this on RMS? I don't know. I don't feel the need to be rated anymore LOL. Old House Junkie is right. RMS is kind of played out. I'm sure there are still nice people there, and a few nice spaces too, but you have to wade through so much crapola before you find them. The quality is on the blogs.
I'm going to just keep on doing what I'm doing - making the house pretty for me and the hubs, and for all those who come over to see us.
My biggest wish is to have all of you in our home one day, so we can spoil you :-)

Alkemie said...


I truly love how eclectic your place with a mix of all the things you've found and love. You have wonderful high ceilings and you've done such a wonderful job in pulling the different elements together. The sofa is certainly a star. I love the shutters on your windows - so much character. And I noticed you hung up a lot of mirrors and illustrations in your dance studio - very fun. Thanks so much for showing us your wonderful place!!


Alkemie said...

Valorie - I forgot to tell you. I love ghost chairs too. I have black one but I must say that your credenza was a huge find! I can't believe you got it for only $100! What a deal! I have no qualms of painting furniture :) As you said, anything with real wood can always be refinished - have fun with it.



maison21 said...

wow- the paint really transformed the room! it's about a bazillion times sexier now. and the white sofa and the hide really pop now (love a white pleather sofa, as you know). good job!

Pigtown-Design said...

Love the brown walls. That's my earliest memory about Billy Baldwin... the Maryland Governor's mansion was decorated by him and then some tacky gov's wife repainted the amazing brown walls. grrrr...

Lauren said...

Your room looks fabulous! LOVE what you did with the sofa!!

Mary Kay said...

PERFECTION. I LOVE IT. The couch and dead animal rug are to die for! I love seeing your inspiration photos. Cool. Skip RMS and get this space into a contest, any contest, fast.

Thanks for your note - I deleted my feed gadget by mistake the other day, so it's fixed now and here's the URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/RateMyFavoriteSpaces.

Sabina said...

I love all of it! Did you paint the front of the lane credenza again? I was with you when you got it, and didn't look twice at it. It took you to see past its size and the tabacco stains, you visual vamp you. Can't wait to see all!

Visual Vamp said...

Hi again everyone!
Karen I do love my Ghost chair, and I saw your black one on your blog, and it is so glam too! Wouldn't it be great to have one in every color!
And Sabina I did paint the front again! Just the border around the edge of the doors, to make it all mesh with the new wall color. And I do remember that day when we looked at the big old thing in The Bridge House Thrift Store (It Ain't There No More)!
M21 Pleather rules! Thanks for checking mine out.
And PTD how cool that Mr. Baldwin actually decorated the gov mansion once upon time! If there are any photos of that, you should post them on your blog for us!
And Mary Kay, you are as sweet as ever - give me a heads up if you hear of anywhre I can send these photos for bragging rights.
And Lauren thanks for leaving a comment - I love your blog too (Material Girls).
And Design Junkie you know I love you, and your way with words.
I got a new hanging light fixture, and some other finishing touches are in the works, so I'm glad y'all like looking at this space, because later you'll see a little more.
xo xo xo

beachbungalow8 said...

i love these shots. i love the eclectic look. it's beautiful!

katiedid said...

Wow! I absolutely love your house! You are very talented. I think what I like most is the fact that you have your dance studio right there too! Your white sofa is gorgeous, and all of your things are so creative. I love your blog and hope you don't mind if I link you to mine!

Visual Vamp said...

Thanks Miss Katiedid! Yes, the dance parlor is handy, and we use it daily and enjoy having it so much.
The sofa turned out so good, and after having it for a couple of weeks, we are loving it more and more.
And it will be lovely of you to link my blog - one good link deserves another, so may I please link your blog to mine too?