Category Archives: Decorating

The Living Room: Moss Wall

Seattle, between January and May, is the worst version of itself. Damp and gray, its inhabitants pale and impatient. We’re rewarded, of course, with an incredibly lush Spring. Everything blooms, we toss our galoshes to the back of the closet, we forgive our fair city and forget the months of drizzle and muck. The end is teasingly near- but the fickle shifts between rays and rain have us all fidgeting, weary of our own walls.

It was on a particularly dreary day that inspiration struck- a project to channel my restless energy, to bring the outdoors in, and to invigorate one of the boring walls I’d been staring at for months. Well, a very small section of a wall.

Brass & Lucite Sconce

A disproportionate number of the few posts I’ve written here have focused on the South wall of our Living Room. The plaster fireplace is a statement- and it hasn’t always said what I wanted it to. I struggled with styling the shallow, arched alcove until I installed my lucite sconce. Dramatic, but still not quite there. Should I paint? Wallpaper? I didn’t realize what was missing until I took down my holiday garland– the fireplace didn’t just need color, it needed texture too.

Enter inspiration.

Gilles Jauffret moss wall web

Source

This is the kind of image you pin with absolutely no illusions: it is inspiration only. Who puts a messy moss wall in their house? Me, apparently. The fireplace alcove gave me the opportunity to realize this look in a small, practical way.

Moss Wall Treatment, WarLock Manor Living Room

As to execution, this project was as easy as it gets. I measured and cut out a piece of stiff cardboard, then scribed it for an exact fit. I also marked the location of back plate and mounting screws of the lucite sconce to avoid placing any of the moss underneath the fixture. And then I got busy with my glue gun! I used preserved moss in a variety of textures and colors, and arranged it in clumps- just like the living moss that grows so prolifically here in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to all the aforementioned rain!

Moss Wall Project: Step 1Moss Wall Project: Step 2
Project Progress via Instagram

Installation was even easier- the moss panel is simply held in place by the sconce. No additional damage to our crumbly plaster, and totally removable.

Moss Wall Treatment + Lucite Sconce, WarLock Manor Living RoomYou might also notice a few other tweaks. We painted the interior of the arch chalky white to match the arched doorways throughout the house. I rewired the sconce with a far more attractive cloth-covered cord, and draped it in a way that looks purposeful (the best option, as we’re not able to hardwire a fixture in this location). I also finally got around to installing drapes on the windows surrounding the fireplace. Small changes, but this elevation now has depth and continuity with the rest of the Living Room.

Moss Wall Treatment + Lucite Sconce, WarLock Manor Living Room

I love it. It’s an unexpected counterpoint to the many metallic elements in the room, and a bold swatch of color. Best of all, the moss plays a magical trick on us cooped-up Seattleites: it reads as a third window. It merges the house with our pride-and-joy garden in an surreal and organic way- no rain gear necessary.

 

Bar Lights, Star Bright

One of my most beloved Craigslist finds is a petite mid century hutch, with a greige finish and brass details. It’s served us beautifully through the years, storing linens in our Seattle bungalow apartment, and then showcasing curiosities in Berkeley. When we moved into WarLock Manor, I gave it a very glamourous marbled back and transformed it into our bar cabinet.

As if the crystal didn’t sparkle enough, I added strings of starry lights for the holidays…Bar Cabinet and Sputnik Star Lights

Combining my Sputnik-era starburst and lucite obsessions with the astral theme I’ve established for the Living Room, these were a holiday gift-to-self from Pottery Barn. When I found a matching lit star ornament at Target, I didn’t hesitate to snag that too! They’ll twinkle through Christmas and light the way to 2014.
Martini Glasses and Sputnik Star LightsThe stars are on a battery-operated timer, set to light up right at cocktail hour and glow as we imbibe some holiday cheer.

Bar Cabinet and Sputnik Star Lights

Mixed drinks and spiky star lights- that’s how we do merry and bright at WarLock Manor!

Sputnik Star Light

A Bit of Holiday Cheer

I talked myself out of a Christmas tree, so I’m adding sprigs of greenery everywhere to make up for it. Tiny cypress topiaries, faux fir bedecking our four-post bed, and I may even torture the fiddle leaf fig with a few ornaments. In the Living Room, the simple cuttings that brightened my Thanksgiving tablescape are now livening up our mantle as a holiday garland.

Homemade Holiday Garland

I strung the stems together with wire, then wound them up with store-bought bead strands (one of the silliest purchases I’ve made in recent memory- half of the glitter is now embedded in my carpet). The garland is hung with removable adhesive hooks, disguised by bows of black satin ribbon. The whole project was easy-as-can-be, minus some feline and canine interference (“What’s that? I can bite it? What’s that? I can have it?”).

Coincidentally, it’s a lazy way to disguise the cord for the new lucite sconce!

Homemade Holiday GarlandI’m liking how the garland works here- adding a frame to the fireplace, referencing the shape of the lucite fixture. Symmetry… creativity… my whole brain is happy.

Best of all, the house is finally feeling more festive! Just in time, as we have friends gathering at WarLock Manor tonight to snip paper snowflakes and sip spiked cider- and that’s just the kind of holiday cheer I like best.

Let There Be [Brass & Lucite] Lighting

The title of this blog, All the Dark Rooms, is borrowed from a favorite poem. It also happens to be an accurate description of our 1928 Tudor as we found it. The house has minimal hardwired lighting (none at all in the Living Room, Study, or Dressing Room), and we moved in with only four working lamps. In my desperation, I rigged up bare bulb fixtures with ring stands and clamps. Those were dark days.

I’ve improved our situation somewhat with table lamps, but we need more, more, more! And more drama wouldn’t hurt either…

Brass & Lucite Chandelier (Thomas O'Brien for Visual Comfort)Thomas O’Brien Brass & Lucite Chandelier via Horchow

Supernova Chandelier

 Supernova Chandelier via 1stDibs

I may be dreaming too big for my little house with either of those statement chandeliers, but I just love the glamorous combination of brass and lucite. So when I saw a sconce on eBay, sized right and priced under $30.00, I bid to win.

But, as is often the case with impulse buys, I had no idea where to put it. So it lived in the basement for a few months, until I had an A-HA moment- it’s perfect for the odd alcove above the fireplace.

Brass & Lucite Sconce

The thrill of thrifting is two-part. There’s the find, and then there’s the finding out. I like to know as much as can be known about every vintage piece that we bring home: the who, where, and when, and (like any Antiques Roadshow devotee), what it’s worth.

So I did a little searching, and found a chandelier with identical lucite swoops and brass fittings.

Dorothy Thorpe Brass & Lucite ChandelierChandelier via 1stDibs

I’ve seen them being incorrectly attributed to Dorothy Thorpe and Charles Hollis Jones, but I believe these pieces were actually part of the Crylicord collection designed by Peter Hamburger for Knoll. The suite included chandeliers and hanging fixtures, task lamps, floor lamps, and wall sconces. I can’t find a match to my fixture, but I think I did well for $30.00.

So, no tv-worthy “I had no idea” valuation, but it’s certainly the dramatic change I was after for the Living Room!

Thanksgiving at WarLock Manor

Today I’ll be lunching on the last bits of a marvelous turkey and enjoying some leftover weekend happiness- memories of our second Thanksgiving at WarLock Manor.
Thanksgiving 2013 at WarLock Manor

Thanksgiving 2013 at WarLock ManorWith grandparents visiting from out of town, this was an occasion for great-grandma’s Rosenthal “Bristol” china. The wreath of green laurel leaves and delicate scalloped pearl edge on the plates made for a quirky pairing with Bordallo Pinheiro lettuceware serving pieces, all acquired from a friend and fellow collector. My Dirilyte Empress flatware picked up the gold detailing on the china while lending a modern edge to the mix. Adam’s incredible cooking (cider-brined turkey, truffled cream cheese mashed red potatoes, sourdough-apple stuffing, gjetost gravy…) was elevated on a line of risers and pedestals down the center of the tables.

This year I aimed for fancy but unfussy- gold paper napkins with a basket weave pattern; a single plate, knife and fork per place setting; a huge painter’s dropcloth spread across both tables as a pre-wrinkled and unstainable tablecloth.
Thanksgiving 2013 at WarLock Manor My thoughtful grandparents sent me an arrangement of pale pink roses and blue anemones (crafted by Maxine, my wedding florist!) as a centerpiece for my tabletop. Such a lovely surprise- especially since they were so complementary to the color scheme I’d already picked! I tucked simple stems of greenery underneath the spread to make the table extra lush (and I have plans to reuse them for another holiday project). A scattering of clementines and gilded pears was the finishing touch.Thanksgiving 2013 at WarLock ManorThe best part of our Thanksgiving, of course, was the family that surrounded our table- my parents, my little brother and his lovely girlfriend, and all four of my grandparents. Hundreds of miles traveled, 80th birthdays celebrated, an extra-special bottle of cider savored, and a puppy who only jumped up on the table once. We have so much to be thankful for.
The Lockharts & Millers, Thanksgiving 2013

Paper Snowflake Tutorial

‘Twould be the season for holiday decorating, if we WarLocks weren’t grinching out this year! Visions of the pup treeing an angry cat in a mercury-glass laden noble fir have me a little more fearful than cheerful. I’m not sure if I’m more over-protective of my animals, or of my collection of ornaments… either way, “NO, Pearl, NO!” every time she nibbles at a bauble or bough doesn’t really scream Christmas spirit. So, we’ll be decking the halls in moderation. Or up high, where she can’t reach.

Luckily, my favorite holiday craft is non-toxic, non-breakable, and absolutely non-tempting to a naughty puppy. With paper snowflakes in every window, the house will feel festive for all the wintry months to come.

Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 1

Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 2 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 3 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 4 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 5 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 6 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 7 Paper Snowflake Tutorial, Step 8

This tutorial is one of my favorites from Shock the Bourgeois. In searching for it I got a sentimental look back at our holiday celebrations of years past- how Adam cooked Thanksgiving for one, how we tablescaped for two, how we trimmed our tree and our tiny apartment. Hopefully there is enough pie and prettiness in the archive to satisfy your appetites this week, as Adam and I scramble to ready a Thanksgiving feast for 10!

The Living Room: Wingback Chairs

There’s nothing more satisfying that a good Craigslist transaction. The kind where you get a snappy response, make a same-day appointment, fork over a few twenties, and neatly fit your finds in the back of your Honda Pilot (tetris brain!). When you snag exactly the thing you wanted, for less than a quarter of what you thought you’d have to pay, you deserve to kick back in one of them and gloat about your thrifting prowess. Like so:

Wingback Chairs at WarLock Manor

That’s right, I finally found the straight-legged wingbacks I was dreaming of! For only $50.00 each! Just look at how they complement our fireplace! I’ve been showing off the chairs on Instagram, but an astute friend called me on the fact that I’ve only posted black and white photos. It’s true. Why? Because… orange.

The New (Orange) Wingbacks

An avid flea-marketer, I deal with rust all the time. But this color makes me cringe more than the prospect of a tetanus shot. Burnt orange, rust, russet… whatever you call it, no. But I have plans for you, my pretties: inky black, brassy nailhead trim, faux-ostrich backs. Thanks to the major cash I saved, I can make this happen. Someday. For now, the ugly fabric is in good condition; my upholstery skills are not!

 

PS: I’m posting all the behind-the-scenes details (and amusing outtakes) from our posts at the WarLock Manor Facebook Page. If you’ve hit like, you can take a look at the Craigslist ad that put these chairs in my Living Room

 

The Living Room: Wishlist

My policy, when it comes to decorating (and life in general, for that matter) is to dream big, then resize to fit. A concept can become reality via money or ingenuity- and I have to believe that the latter is infinitely more valuable. I don’t shy away from shopping high-end resources for inspiration. Limiting your view to what is easily attainable is settling; aspiring for more (and making it happen through creative means) is satisfying!

To prove the point, let’s rip another page out of the Living Room section of my design binder. Design starts with inspiration, translates into a palette of colors and textures, and then takes shape with furnishings. This page focuses on the South wall, which features the original plaster fireplace. It has the potential to impress.

The Living Room features all-original mahogany trim and hardwood floors, a sculptural fireplace, and arched passages to the Vestibule and Dining Room. This is what we were looking at when we fell madly in love with the house.WarLock Manor Living Room, South Elevation

Images, Clockwise from Top: Lindsey Adelmann Chandelier, Paint Color by Benjamin Moore, Crystal Orb Table, Rug (Owned), Wingback Chair

The table is wishful thinking, but doesn’t it belong at WarLock Manor? The unusual shape, the crystal ball… I’m utterly bewitched, but the price tag would spell disaster for the rest of the room. I can’t imagine that our guests would be so captivated by a table that they could overlook the lack of a chair! Since I can’t conjure up the real thing, I’ve been pondering ways to recreate the look with more humble materials (a thrifted table base + acrylic orbs from an old lamp?).

Now close your eyes and envision a pair of shapely wingback chairs flanking my curvy fireplace… perfect, right? Everyone and their brother is selling granny’s old wingbacks on Craigslist- with Queen Anne legs, in the wrong proportions, in singles, in ratty condition, or 200 miles away. Thrifting requires eternal optimism. Someday, the chairs will appear.

Sometimes though, good design is absolutely attainable- and the chandelier is a shining example. The Lindsey Adelmann studio has actually published the instructions (and kit!) for assembling this fixture, and the plans are easy to customize. You can see this chandelier DIYed all over the interwebs, and soon I hope to add mine to the search results!

 

Those of you who follow along on Instagram and Twitter know that I’ve knocked one of these items off of my wish list… one that will be absolutely ideal with a bit of DIY. Pictures tomorrow!

The Living Room: Colors and Textures

I’ve received at least three considerable hereditary gifts from my mother: Tetris brain (I’m always telling Adam, “yes, it will fit“), an eye for color, and the itch to organize information. Like my mother before me, I am genetically predisposed to decorate.

While I can space plan and color scheme in my sleep, organizational strategy requires conscious effort. I trust my own taste, but if I wing it, I may not be making on-budget decorating decisions that follow the master plan. That’s where my design binder comes in. A section for each room, and pages for inspiration, swatches & colors, floor plans, elevations, measurements & specifications, and mock-ups. I’ve created simple, flexible templates that I can edit to keep current with my purchases and ideas. Digital and printable, I can consult these pages whether I’m shopping in-store or online. This is my favorite way to stay focused on my design priorities, prevent impulse buys, and best of all- share with you here at the blog!

Earlier this week I posted my inspiration page for the Living Room, where we’ll curl up with a cat and a book on a dusky evening. Here’s how that translates into fabrics and colors…

WarLock Manor Living Room, Textiles & ColorsImages, Clockwise from Top: Paint Colors by Benjamin Moore, Marbled Paper, Blue Vintage Sofa (owned), Leopard-Print Fabric (owned), Rug (owned), Swan Wing Pillow, Striped Velvet Pillow, Mock-Croc Pillow

 

The Living Room: Inspiration

When Adam and I were renters, we made our home within the restrictions of space and lease agreement. I was tormented by this vivid recurring dream, in which I’d open a somehow-undiscovered door in our apartment and find myself in a new room. Oh, the frenzied mental decorating… and the disappointment upon waking! Nowadays, I am living the dream- about nine distinct spaces to furnish however I fancy. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

Here’s what I’m envisioning for our Living Room: chilled colors with a zest of citrus, a night sky with brassy stars, sophisticated and spooky.

WarLock Manor Living Room, Inspiration

Images, clockwise from top: Owls, Matilda, Phineas, Flowers & Citrus, Neutral Pattern