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?


M.Lane said...

What a lovely home! It looks like a very happy place which is certainly the point.

Good to see a post from you! Good luck in the new job.


The Daily Connoisseur said...

I love your room! That chandelier is so beautiful! Love the wall color too- congrats on the teaching job! xo

Irene said...

I do like the colour. The living room in my mum's house had a colour very much like it. There are some differences in style, such as, the floor was black marble mosaic and the curtains green velvet, and it was the 70s, but grey and white instantly says "chic" to me.
A rug is a priority, yes, but before you settle on what you really like, inexpensive sisal with gray or beige binding that you could still use in the spring/summer even after you've got your perfect area rug, may be a good idea.
For my taste, some more color would be needed for a more lived-in feeling, in the form of a painting, perhaps(your son's adds a great touch). But that of course pre-supposes we want the same things for your own home, lol.
These days anything honourable that keeps our minds and wallets off the recession gloom is great news! All the best,
aka Happy Turtle/Frivolous Mommy!

Bee said...

The Pearl White is very restful and elegant, although I like a red dining room, too. (It's very popular in England, as you might imagine. Why fight the dark? You might as well go for rich and cozy.) Your Horchow chandelier reminds me of many happy childhood hours spent thumbing through their catalogs.

I'm interested in knowing more about the writing course you are teaching!

Headbands and Hand Bags said...

Ok your dining room is beautiful!! I love the plates and full china hutch!

Maggie May said...

Oh it looks SO lovely! I love the wall plates and the chandelier.

vicki archer said...

Gorgeous changes...xv

Anonymous said...

Very pretty! I love it all! The grouping of candlesticks looks beautiful. I love the plates on the wall too--I could go on & on!! xox MBM

Petunia said...

I love what you have done with the dining room so far. The paint color is beautiful. We painted the D.R. in our last home red--big mistake. Even after trying swatches first we had to repaint it a couple of times because the red always came out too bright. I eventually hated it and painted it a dark tan!
Love your mirrored buffet and that RH mirror, too!