Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Let's Get Personal

Because isn't that what makes for the best rooms in the world of interior design? I love sensing a person inhabiting a space in mind and spirit as well as body. To me, it is what makes a room interesting. And, you can learn a lot about a person that might otherwise go unspoken. So when the new year rolls around with its lists of 'what's in and what's out' and what 'trends' are predicted to surface in the months ahead, I read them once and never think of them again. Nothing interests me less.


Online earlier this week I came across a copy of the photo I posted of my recently 'refreshed' living room; someone commenting on it deplored how 'bare' the room was. That stung a little at first but after some reflection I realized that she was probably not considering the very personal nature of the decorating in my home. Her style is obviously quite different than mine and perhaps she can't relate to how I like to live. But there is very real story and history behind the development of my personal aesthetic and I am going to tell you one part of that story now.


So, getting personal...I went to boarding school in eighth grade at age thirteen. And once a year, for the next 12 years, I would pack up all my belongings and shortly thereafter unpack them into a new dorm room or sub-let or rental apartment until I met Mr. H and he made me want to put down roots.


Nevertheless, the impulse to remain unburdened of 'stuff' in the interest of mobility is as deeply ingrained in me as is the primal instinct of 'fight or flight.' So when you see photos of my personal spaces and perhaps find them a little spare, you will know it is because I am ready to fold up the tents at a moment's notice and move this caravan to greener pastures. But it doesn't mean I don't like to feather the nest like it is the very last one.


The previous photos are a few oldies but goodies from my Instagram feed - it's my current obsession - and they feature a few of my favorite things.

Now let's move on to the 'new' living room...

If you have been following along for a while now you know that my living room has long been a source of frustration. The shape of the room (skinny rectangle) and its position in the house (location of the front door and a staircase) made furnishing it a puzzle and it took a few rearrangements before it worked. In its first incarnation the room was somewhat formal as I was trying to use some inherited antiques. It never felt right, wasn't really comfortable and we hardly ever used it. I've since stored the antique sofa and worked in more comfortable seating, but I still wasn't loving it. What I needed to do was make the room more inviting so late last fall I embarked a mini-overhaul that I am thrilled with. What did it take? Simplifying and going with what felt right and nothing else. It is now my favorite room in the house.


I began by working in some colors I love right now. The pillows are made up in two fabrics, Rio Linen and Santa Ana, from a long-time favorite resource Calvin Fabrics.


And while I am cataloging my favorites, this is my current welt style of choice.


The curtains had originally been in the dining room; I moved them in here a while ago to make the room cozier but their pretty Scalamandre trim wasn't working with the new scheme so I had my drapery workroom remove it and replace it with this Greek key pattern, Dominique Linen Tape in Zinc, from F. Schumacher. (I saved the Scalamandre trim and reused it - I'll tell you about that next time.) And, yes, the linen sectional gets quite wrinkled during the dry winter months - we have forced hot air which also shrinks the linen curtains. Come summer's humid weather, they are puddling on the floor.


I also repainted the living room. It wasn't a dramatic change; I used the original color, Benjamin Moore's Muslin (OC-12,) but had it mixed at 50% of the tint. The room seems much lighter now. I also repainted the curtain hardware in the same color as the wall but in a semi-gloss finish and swapped out the large knob finials for smaller endcaps which feel more modern.


Lastly - and here is the thing that had bothered me most for the last 5 years - the original light fixtures I bought for the room and really did love (the Arrow Wall Sconces from Circa Lighting shown below) were positioned too high for the proportions of the room. Although Mr. H would argue to the death that they were fine, they never looked right to me. Conventional wisdom says sconces should be mounted 60" to 66" from the floor in a room with eight-foot ceilings but my mistake was having the electrician position the back plates of the fixtures 66" from the floor. I should have specified that the light bulbs be positioned at that point. Here is a photo to illustrate...


I tried to have the sconces lowered but there was not enough wire in the wall to do it without extensive work so I needed a fixture on which the light source was at the same level as the backplate. Going back to Circa, which I think has one of the very best selections of lighting in the market, I chose the Reed Double Sconce in oil rubbed bronze. I like having something dark as an anchor in a pale color scheme and the position of these is much better proportionally. (Just nod in agreement.)


I also took down the collection of etchings that I had hanging throughout the room and hung this painting by Vermont artist Glenn Suokko. Less is definitely more here. The room has a great feeling - casual but chic, inviting and conducive to relaxation (I have had more than a few naps on that sectional) - and that is exactly what I was going for.


Coming up...the dining room also gets a 'refresh.' And, big news, my One Room Challenge is finally ready for it's close up. Yes, at long last we will have 'the reveal.' Until then...xo

41 comments:

  1. I think your commenter may not have taken the time to really 'see' the room. It is not bare in the least. It is that hard to do mix of elegance, grace and comfort. Brava.

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  2. I love your updates. The pillows look great and they are the perfect size. The new sconce is more complimentary to the style of your furniture and accessories. I prefer the more streamlined look versus clutter everywhere. I have a hard time parting with my older things from my French country days, so my basement has turned into a hoarders paradise!!

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  3. The room is so lovely. Although I adore your style, and no explanation is required, but I so enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. It's a breath of fresh air . . . Certainly a room that is soothing and inviting in the midst of life and all it's happy chaos! Couldn't love it more!

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  5. I am in love with every detail of this room. So beautiful. I love the look of your whole blog. May I ask the paint color of your blog header? Such a pretty color. Thank you, I look forward to reading your blog the minute I see it in my inbox.

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    1. Sorry, I don;t know the exact color of the header. My fabulous designer, Shari at Little Blue Deer, did it for me.

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  6. I find the 'less than positive' comments interesting. You know comments always say more about the person commenting than the actual comment, itself. I envy your lack of clutter and how non-burdened by 'things' your life appears. We are moving for the eighth time, and I am determined to release all of my unnecessary things once and for all. You inspire me.

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  7. First I love your room, its so soothing and serene and peaceful, I can imaigne sitting in there with a book or a good friend on a sunny or snowy afternoon quite easily.

    Second, thank you for that personal glimpse into your life, the "roots" we grow early in life most certainly have a profound effect on how we live our lives and why we often do what we do. We probably each do not think about it so often but if we reflect back on our earlier childhood experiences, we can often see a distinct connection from the past to the present

    Always enjoy seeing whats new and happening with you.....enjoy yet another round of snow :)

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  8. Phyllis,
    I love the subtle changes to the living room. It welcomes one in, that's the best. I love the color of the walls and the pillows.
    Funny, I was just thinking about your daughter's room makeover. I'm happy you'e going to share the end result.
    My best friend and I were talking about the comfort of finally knowing "what you like" design wise in your home. I appreciate authenticity in home decor. I enjoy seeing what's important to the homeowner. Thank you for sharing a bit of your "personal story" with us, including your personal design preferences.
    xo,
    Karen

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  9. I was just wondering about the linen on the sofa when I scrolled down to find out you were addressing it! I need to reupholster my sofa…. and was wondering about using linen. It now has a creme duck cloth. Would you believe, it is a Jennifer Convertible bought probably 12-14 years ago, that withstood dog sleeping on the top pillows every day for years, daughter and general wear and tear. It still looks fine! I just had all the cushions "replumped" with new filling and who knows, it may have another five years in it! Except that….. I don't want a skirt any more.
    Anyway, your room is lovely and so clean and airy and inviting. The new sconces are perfect, I agree. Look forward to more! and stay warm and maybe….. enjoy the snow?

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  10. I love your style and can appreciate both...You are very talented and the peaceful feel is delightful!

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  11. calming and soothing.........what a lovely room phyllis.

    so agree, a room should reflect the personality of it's inhabitants. love your space!
    debra

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  12. Phyllis, Thank you for sharing your beautiful room with us. I think the reader did not look at the room in it's entirety as it is not sparse. Your room is gorgeous and I like this simple, elegant, uncluttered look. The sconces and fabric choice is perfect. My home is neutral and I try to create a similar serene vibe. Love it! Your vignettes on instagram are beautiful and I've enjoyed following:)

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  13. Love it, I am crazy for greek key trim and this room is soft and sophisticated! WELLDONE!!

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  14. Phyllis, As much as I love antiques, I am also confronting some of the same things that you discovered in your living room. We pass through our living room but rarely entertain or relax in there. As I get older I want to live with only the things I truly love and pare down my spaces to the barest beauty. I am looking for that simple, casually chic environment that's not fussy or too formal. Your living room is absolute perfection, so beautiful and serene and yes, personal and exactly the kinda' of environment I hope to (one day) get to. XO, Allison

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    1. It's a journey, but trust me, you'll get there!
      xo, Phyllis

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  15. Dear Phyllis -
    Bare?? I don't think so! I do agree with Leslie (above): perhaps the reader expressed an opinion prematurely....before seeing the room in its entirety. I love it! Your living room is serene and sophisticated. There is volume, softness, texture, and restraint. Beautiful!!! Thanks for sharing more photos.
    Cheers,
    Loi
    Tone on Tone

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  16. I'm sure you can guess how I feel about your room… I love it! The colors, the details are beautiful and serene. I am enjoying the more spare interiors of our new house and plan to keep them that way.
    I have gotten a thicker skin since I started blogging. Those negative comments don't sting quite as much.
    Thank you for opening up to us, your readers, and sharing your lovely, personal style…

    xo
    Brooke

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  17. Oh Phyllis, my dear kindred spirit, your home is many things...beautiful...elegant...understated...thoughtfully composed, but bare...NEVER! It is much easier to fill a home with a plethora of things than it is to artfully craft a place to live in with less and one which truly has a soul. Each day I am ridding myself of things I no longer want or need, and I even had a dream last night about decluttering. I know very few people who can create beauty out of clutter, though there are some who are masterful at it. As Loi said, restraint is a beautiful thing!

    xo Kat

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  18. Hi Phyllis,
    First of all, thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog! I was truly honored as I love EVERYTHING that you do. Your blog is exquisite and I loved your story! The person who commented in that way is a tasteless cow. So, never you mind! I'm also mad about Greek key trims! I too, learned that sconces need to be at about 66" on center, but I think that your decision was good and I love the dark accent! I'm exactly like that, a few inches off and it will bug the hell out of me until it's fixed! And I also LOVE Circa Lighting. ASAMOF, I have an order for them right now for a chandelier and one sconce for my big job that I am enjoying so much! Please come back and visit me again, if you like! best, Laurel (that wordpress sign in never works for me, so have to use my google (yuck) account.)

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  19. Had to chuckle just a bit...when you stated someone commented on your "bare" decorating. Personally, I love your elegant and simply stated decor. It says a lot about you and how you prefer to live your life. I LOVE IT. I have had similar comments about my home...thought I must say, I do love my uncluttered home. You have to be at peace in your home...looking at I know I find it that way...and thank you for letting me in...I feel right at home.

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  20. Everyone has a story when it comes to how they live in their home. Loved reading this and I really love your sofa. I need new couches so bad...you don't even want to know. Laughing because I was already nodding as I was reading about the sconces:) This room is so yummy.

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  21. Laughed out loud at the (Just nod in agreement). I do totally agree both that it looks to be the perfect height and that the room needed that little bit of dark. I love all of the colors in this room, all from nature. Sand, stone, oysters and clams...and pale warm sky. It's a place I want to be.

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  22. I was nodding in agreement through the entire post. I find your style utterly refreshing and serene and that is the biggest compliment. You have just the right balance of spareness and detail and I love your style I'd hire you in a hot second if I could afford you and you lived here. Haha. I am not joking. Try as I may, I can never decide which decorator I love most, but other than Daryll Carter, and Loi, I'd say you get me every time. :) If it wasn't too stalkerish, I just might start copying you. I can't seem to replicate your look though - I seem to struggle with a spare classical aesthetic and a sort of romantic English cluttery one. I just can't seem to edit the way you do. I must try harder. Haha. You are an example! :)

    xo Terri

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  23. Phyllis,

    As they say, everyone has a story...it is always nice to learn a bit about my favorite bloggers and the hows and the whys of their life. I could not agree with you more about the latest fads, colors, decor etc. I purchase what I like and decorate accordingly. For most of my life we moved often for my fathers work, then I traveled extensively for school and with my husband, my home reflects that...little treasures picked up along the way weave their way into the decor and I love it because each time I glimpse a piece of art, or a tiny sculpture I am reminded of a special time.

    I am sure that the person that made the comment did not mean to be hurtful or at least I hope not.

    I cannot wait to see your one room challenge!

    Have a beautiful weekend, I hope the cold and the snow are not getting to bad.

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  24. I didn't think your space was bare at all! In fact there was so much depth with all that texture and layering! I am happy you didn't let the sting linger. Being a military spouse, I can relate to what you shared. This is the first time we've lived in the same State for more than 2 years. I love your style. Although I am a colour and pattern clashing lover:-), I like simplicity. Happy evening lovely.

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  25. Phyllis,
    How lovely your style and aesthetic are. Educated, traveled, worldly and a calm haven to come home to.
    Bare, nude, simple are attractive and alluring to me.
    pve

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  26. I adore your home and all it's treasures. It is so interesting to learn more about you and your 'fight or flight' mantra- it all makes perfect sense. I love your lighting and your beautiful linens. Have a lovely weekend.xo Nancy

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  27. Oh darling Phyllis, you have no idea how very refreshing it is to see a home like yours. I have a girlfriend who doesn't know the meaning of the word "edit." Everything she has ever brought into her home is out in full display and complete disarray. Do you know how much I hate visiting her? In fact, we all try not to go there, which is sad, isn't it? I love that people add the color and the spice to our homes. I absolutely do not understand that "bare" comment at all. I have just changed our living room from what looked like the 70's to me to a totally monochromatic scheme, except for some important antique pieces. I'm very very happy with the serenity I feel from this environment. Like your home....it's serene. xx's

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  28. Your home is truly chic and so you Phyllis! Seeing ones treasures and memorabilia is what makes a home extra special!
    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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  29. Hi Phyllis,
    Saved your Calvin fabric choices. Love them. Your home is not "bare", it is refined - a quality we all stive for.

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  30. I find you home anything but bare. The first time I saw your room, I LOVED it and then coincidentally I pinned it again after seeing it on pinterest. I adore each and every detail and the Greek key on the draperies is amazing...you can design my rooms anytime!!

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  31. I love the clean feel of these pieces. So fresh!
    xo
    Sharon

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  32. Beautiful. My eyes immediately felt soothed when I saw the first image - lovely and restful palette in this room. I can see why it is now your favorite!

    Good for you, shrugging off the criticism. I received some really mean comments when I posted that I got a new chandelier - I haven't even bothered posting the chandelier 'in situ' because I don't want to deal with the haters!

    - Holly

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  33. I love your decor style and there is no need to explain it to anyone! The colors are quiet and soothing. I don't like a clutter and when I enter a house with knick knacks and stuff everywhere I just don't know where to look or rest my eyes. Your style is beautiful!

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  34. I love your living room! It's very peaceful!
    -Shelley

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  35. How insanely beautiful!! Truly. It is so utterly peaceful. And your mix of texture is so lovely. I'm with you on your new favorite welt. I never know what to call it -- flat welt, mini-flange, some call the corners 'butterfly corners". I ADORE it. Who cares what it's called. It's so elegant and sophisticated, yet completely relaxed. Just like your room ;-)

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