Sunday, February 21, 2010

New Beginnings at Chez La Vie

I started a new teaching gig in January and it seems as though I'm now teaching writing, I have little inclination to write myself. I thought I'd share some recent interior decoration updates to Chez La Vie with you.

We finally bought some new furniture for our living room, which if you've been following my blog from the beginning you will know it was long overdue. We still need to paint the living room and are looking for a rug, so I'll wait to post pictures until that's complete (hopefully before summer!). In the meantime, we did make some inexpensive but meaningful changes in our Dining Room, and here are the results.

When we moved here in 2002, the dining room was painted a Laura Ashley yellow. Although a bit too "country" for me, I didn't really mind it and I had other things to worry about (children, law school), so it remained. We also had a light fixture that, while not horribly ugly, shed a dim yellow light over the table. It's no wonder I needed glasses after studying under that light for three years.

Thus the first purchase was a chandelier. I'd been collecting pictures of chandeliers for awhile and ultimately settled on this "Maria Theresa" fixture from Horchow. I wanted something elegant but not pretentious (I live in a cottage after all!), and naturally price was an issue. Of course the electric hookup is not directly over the table so we had to string up a chain to anchor the chandelier accordingly. (Eventually we'll get the house re-wired, and this taken care of, but for now ingenuity rules.) I made a chain cover out of silk.

Once we had the chandelier up, we needed to decide on a color. Since 2002 we've been playing with the idea of a red dining room, but in the end that made us a little nervous. One random Saturday morning last fall, my husband and I were paging through my binder of magazine tear-outs, and were stopped by a 2006 Kelly Wearstler spread from House & Garden. Now, I admire Kelly Wearstler and appreciate her Hollywood Regency aesthetic, but I live in a cottage! Yet the paint color, Pratt & Lambert Pearl White 29-29 (more grey than white, though, as you can see), spoke to us. It was elegant, calm and simple and showed off the play of metals throughout the house (brass, mirrors, nickel), which was important to me, since I have a mirrored buffet and a silver tea set I like to display when my silver polishing husband gets his act together. The paint decided on, we immediately ran to the hardware store, not wanting to put this off any longer! We used Benjamin Moore Cloud White for the trim.

Last spring you may recall we found a hutch at a garage sale and subsequently painted it up to hold our china and liquor. I rearranged it to better present my Wedgwood Wild Strawberry tea set and pink American Sweetheart depression glass. All the other furniture in the room has equally humble origins. The mirrored buffet was my aunt's; I believe she herself bought it from a re-sale shop. We bought the table and chairs from an antique shop in Richmond, Illinois, when we purchased our first house in 1999. I recovered the chairs but otherwise it's just as it was. I like to wonder whose house it came from, how many family Thanksgivings it's seen.

The painting above the hutch is by my youngest son.

I did say "inexpensive changes" above which will make my husband laugh, given that I not only splurged on a chandelier but bought the Restoration Hardware mirror below. We originally planned to wait and look for a reasonably-priced antique Venetian mirror, but I've been obsessed with this Restoration Hardware version since I saw it in Maria Menounos's home in InStyle, May 2007, and I couldn't stand to wait. Also, I was afraid the room was going to start to look too frilly, what with the chandelier and my mixed-up furniture, and I like that this mirror adds a more modern touch.

I made a few more purchases. Last fall, my husband and I were browsing Jayson Home and Garden in Chicago and found the horn candlesticks on the table below. Recently RueLaLa had a Barbara Barry sale (my FAVORITE designer) and I bought a pair of oval link candlesticks and a crystal decanter, now gracing the buffet. ( I also indulged on a set of Barbara Barry Dream sheets...heaven! Even my husband was impressed by their deluxe crispiness.)

As you can see, the question of how to dress the windows remains an open one. I am leaning towards Restoration Hardware white Thai silk draperies. What do you think?