Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Visual Vamp ReVamp: The Dining Room
I don't have a magazine worthy home. It's a bit of a dump, a run down shotgun house in New Orleans.
Still I love it with all my heart, and lavish it with decoration, an ever changing work in progress fueled by humble acquisitions, a shop girl salary budget, and small treasured upgrades.
The Visual Vamp dining room is a small 10 x 11 space, a pass-through really, a glorified hallway. I have struggled with it for five years, trying to define it's function.
When we first moved in I knew I wanted a red dining room, I chose a coral base red called "Late Tomato". My table was too large, so I used a caterer's round 60 inch folding table, skirted of course. There were no drapes, just bamboo shades. Alberto installed the chandelier hours before our first Thanksgiving dinner in this house, while the paint was still wet.
After five years of red, I have changed the color to, well, greige! Some of you have also noticed I changed my tango red hair to blond, really a sort of greige as the gray becomes lighter shades of blond. I loved both those reds, and as a colorist, I truly love all colors pale or saturated.
I had already used this color in an adjoining bedroom, the guest room. One day I just got the urge for a change and started moving the furniture around. I could never center the table under the chandelier and still have a walkway.
By moving the armoire to an opposite wall, I suddenly could center the table under the chandelier!
I found some Parsons chairs abandoned by a neighbor over a year ago, and stashed in my shed.
They were castoffs from the lounge of Loyola University, and I doubt that the student who lived next door is coming back to reclaim them. The scale was perfect for the new table placement.
I also cleared out a few things: The hall table and mirror, the Voodoo altar, and all the Majolica plates.
Once the furniture was rearranged I knew I had to change the paint color. And the chandelier lost the cord cover and the shades, and it was lowered.
I tried out some mini stag heads, and draped the table with the white cow hide rug formerly on the floor. I knew I had to get some white slip covers made for the chairs, and maybe get a bench.
The art work over the years radically changed from a hodge podge gallery wall, to featuring a wonderful painting by Jack Mayberry. It reminds me of a map of New Orleans, and the horizontal blue shape reminds me of a levee.
The slip covers are made of denim weight cotton. I asked for a tailored skirt, and simple seams with no welting. The chairs are a bit over size, and I love how the white slip covers enhance the lines.
Stylist extraordinaire, Jill Sharp Brinson suggested I add white ironstone to the top of the armoire, add some delicate greenery to the chandelier, and add some beans or shells to the glass hurricane candle holders. She also liked the natural light and slow shutter speed I use to take the photos.
I have an ironstone collection in the kitchen, so that was a go; the greenery is a vine pulled off the live oak tree in front of the house, and I added pale sand in the hurricanes.
I removed the stag heads, and Alberto installed sconces I had in the shed. I found them years ago in New York, and never had just the right place for them. The metal antler on the table is one of my favorite things, and it has been moved all around the house.
I moved the drapes from both bedrooms to the new dining room (the beautiful turquoise drapes are in my bedroom, and the guest bedroom has a simple shade and valence for now). I intentionally got them in the same color, knowing that one day I would probably use them elsewhere as a pair. I treated the side entrance door as another window.
The antique lantern was also lowered in the former entry hall, and the hideous cord cover banished.
The exposed beam is intentional. We unearthed it when we took down a wall and a door between the two spaces, and we loved seeing the old cypress underpinning of the house.
The print is an old calendar page purchased at Ruby Beets many years ago. Alberto framed it for me. The French antique oyster plate was a gift from my dear friend Michael Pelkey.
Opposite the table are a series of built-ins done in the 1960's by the original owners of the house. Instead of ripping them out when we renovated, I re-purposed them as bookshelves for over size design books by removing the upper and lower doors, and having a custom mirror made for the counter top.
I made a new skirt for the bottom counter. It's burlap left over from a wall I upholstered in my bedroom. I just used staples, and hot glue to affix the black and white stripe grosgrain ribbon at the top.
The bookcases above are wonderful storage. I love books in a dining room.
Next to the built-ins, is a little corner. An antique corner table fits there perfectly, and it used to house my infamous Voodoo altar.
I boxed up all the mementos, and stored them safely away.
Now it's a place for flowers and art work.
The last piece to come into the room, is a bench. I thought I'd try it out as additional seating at the dining room table.
Although it looked fine, I prefer the chairs at the table, and moved the upholstered bench under a mirror that was traded with the one that was in the entry hall for one from the dance parlor.
So this is the finished revamp of the Visual Vamp dining room. We are enjoying the change, and are planning a dinner party. In the meantime I love sitting at the table with a cup of coffee and my decorating daydreams.
I hope I inspire you to repaint a room, recycle some of your old things, rearrange the furniture, move things from one room to another, purchase a thing or two to freshen things up, and in general have a great time decorating. As the great Dorothy Draper said: Decorating Is Fun!!!
Please share your revamps with all of us! Tell us what you're doing, and as always please send photos for Readers Projects so we can all ooh and ah.
Thanks to Joni Webb (Cote de Texas) and Jenny Andrews (MFAMB) and Jill Sharp Brinson and Maria Killam (Colour Me Happy) for encouragement and advice early on in the dining room revamp!
And special thanks to Alberto for always trusting my whims and cheerfully doing the projects I generate, and Jack for being my sounding board and lending a hand, and Ernesto for the beautiful slip covers.