Tag Archives: Design

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.

 

Wishful Thinking for WarLock Manor

I’ve discovered Polyvore. By that, I mean: “I’ve discovered a very pretty way to avoid doing chores.”
I think I’ll always prefer the control and perfectionism of Photoshop for projects like my WarLock Manor design binder and inspiration pages, but it’s neat to shop, style, and share  all with one easy tool. Plus, Polyvore hosts giveaways that are like coloring contests for grown-ups. DREAM.COME.TRUE. Let me tell ya- I was a coloring contest champ back in the under-12 glory days. Other kids had soccer trophies, I had QFC holiday bag design blue ribbons.
So when Kristin of The Hunted Interior announced her Project Decorate “Layered Living” challenge, I decided to step into the ring. Here’s how we layer at WarLock Manor…
Wishful Thinking for WarLock ManorWishful Thinking for WarLock Manor by allthedarkrooms

We go overboard with neutrals and punctuate with sharp metallic accents. At least, that’s how we’d like to layer… (a $500.00 Ballard Designs gift card would certainly help!).

Find: Pewter Bee Napkin Rings

I have a fondness for creatures. As my husband has learned through 8 years of walking by my side, we don’t get very far without meeting new friends. Dogs strain at their leashes, cats appear out of nowhere, squirrels and crows sit next to me on park benches. I like to catch snakes, rescue snails from the sidewalk, and share sandwiches with wasps. I’ve never been bitten or stung. It’s like they know.

This Snow White thing translates into decor too. It seems that furry, clawed, or winged things are always following me home…Pewter Honeybee Napkin Rings

Like the swarm of pewter bumblebees that found me at Pacific Galleries this weekend.Pewter Honeybee Napkin Rings + Dirilyte Goldware

Quirky, not too cute, and in a mix of metallics that complements the gold and silver already in my china cabinet. I can see these sweetening up all kinds of tablescapes, but I’m busily testing out place settings with a honeyed theme.

Bee-Themed Table SettingPewter Honeybee Napkin Rings + Gold Pressed GlassA charming addition to our tabletop menagerie- though not quite what I had in mind when I told Adam I wanted to keep bees.

 

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

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

 

The WarLock Wedding

Happy Halloween, everyone! Today, we’re looking back at the best party I’ve ever been to (and certainly the best costume I’ve ever worn)… our wedding day on October 29th 2011.

Elizabeth

I fell in love with my wedding gown on my first excursion to Cynderellie’s Closet in Edmonds. My mom plucked it from the rack and I think we both knew right then. The intricate beading and dark, feathery lace had the Victorian Gothic aesthetic that I’d envisioned for my Halloween weekend wedding. It was almost uncanny. Of course, trying on gowns was so much fun (so much fun), I had to try on several dozen more. But nothing compared, especially after I found out that I could customize the dress: removing the straps, emphasizing the sweetheart neckline, and trading uninspired chiffon for a full satin ballroom skirt (with pockets!). I couldn’t wait for it to arrive, and when it did, it fit like it was made for me. It was perfect in every way.

The Dress, Detail

With such a statement gown, everything else needed to be simple and subtle: a dark manicure, a sweet veil with just a touch of gold thread at the hem. I borrowed my mother’s antique gold filigree earrings, with smoky gems that fit my colorless theme. To stand tall next to my 6’7″ husband-to-be, I picked burnished gold pumps with the highest heels I could find!

Getting ReadyThe Shoes

I’m going to gush more about the florals shortly, but let’s just take a moment to breath a collective sigh over this bouquet, shall we? Had I not had an important “I do” at hand, I could’ve spent the entire day gazing at it. I asked Maxine for texture, variety, contrast between sharp edges and lush layers, and to incorporate trails of black and white feathers (which, I believe I was wearing in my hair when I first met Max!). I knew exactly what I wanted, and somehow, Maxine did too.

The Bride's BouquetThe BrideI’ve always thought that I was born in the wrong era. So I showed the brilliant Jenny Bowker my pins of old-fashioned beauties with soft eyes and loosely piled hair, and for one day I became the Edwardian woman I’d admired. The wedding color scheme (or lack thereof) was inspired by vintage photography. I love the timeless, mysterious quality that comes with faded photographs- how the faces of the subjects are both haunting and riveting. I dressed our wedding party and our venue in a broad palette of neutrals, with just light tints of color. It suited Adam well too, as we both gravitate towards muted tones in our wardrobes.
The GroomI wish I had more pictures of my handsome groom! Adam and his groomsmen sported classic black tuxes with herringbone patterned vests. Adam wore a pearl and pale gold paisley silk tie. All of the gentlemen in the wedding party received white rose and feather boutonnieres, wrapped in black and white cord and finished with a vintage pyramid stud button.

My beautiful bridesmaids wore shimmery greige dresses with ruched bodices and sweetheart necklines. I wanted to give my girls something special to thank them for standing beside me (at the wedding and always), so each received a one-of-a-kind necklace. I designed the pieces with an eclectic assortment of pearls, crystal, and vintage elements, linked together with chain. Each piece featured a tiny gold skull- a reminder of how we all celebrated Halloween weekend in 2011.

My Mother (and partner in planning) truly shone in a green-tinted gown with a bead-encrusted band. I hope you can see some resemblance, because… wow.

These ladies kept me smiling until 5:00 sharp, when our ceremony began.The GirlsThe BouquetsWaiting

Adam and I were married at Lord Hill Farms, in Snohomish, Washington. The setting was everything I’d dreamed of- a converted barn with moody lighting, soaring windows, and a pastoral view. Knowing we’d have Fall foliage as a dramatic backdrop, all of the ceremony decor was limited to natural green, blushy pink, shades of white, and a roomful of gilded chiavari chairs. We decorated the aisle (and just about every other surface) with pale pumpkins and mercury glass candleholders. To achieve the lush, overgrown garden look that I desired, Maxine clustered vintage plant stands and a wire arch with branches, gourds, candles, and greenery. One of the spiral plant stands now resides at WarLock Manor!

Spiral Plant Stand, Gold Chiavari ChairsSpiral Plant StandsWhite Pumpkin Aisle Decor

The week preceding the wedding had not been Seattle’s prettiest- drizzling and dreary, cold and muddy. But we woke up to a clear sky and that spicy smell of Autumn in the air. Scenery that had been dull gray and lifeless the day before was suddenly rich and surreally vibrant. It was magnificent.

The Ceremony ArchThe ProgramsThe Ceremony

A cellist friend from my orchestra days played unaccompanied, setting the tone for our ceremony with low, resonant notes that filled the lofted space of the barn. Music has been an important part of our relationship (I opened my first attempted flirt with Adam with discussion of a song by The Doors) so we flavored our event with a bit of rock and roll- I walked down the aisle to an arrangement of “Moonlight Mile” by the Rolling Stones. The ceremony was officiated by my Uncle Craig, lending extra significance to words from Joseph Campbell and our simple vows. As Adam and I met as English majors, we spent hours immersed in poetry to find evocative and intelligent readings that spoke to us both. And we chose dear friends whose voices brought the poems to life. Lovely Sarah read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnet XLIII” from Sonnets from the Portuguese, giving it gravity and sincerity. Kelly recited “Prothalamion for an Autumn Wedding” by May Sarton with her natural joy and sparkle. Lastly, my dear friend Austin read a sweet few lines that I stumbled upon as Adam and I researched together in a bookstore. It brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. This is us.

“Love Song”

Sweep the house clean,

Hang fresh curtains

in the windows

put on a new dress

and come with me!

The elm is scattering

its little loaves

of sweet smells

from a white sky!

Who shall hear of us

in the time to come?

Let him say there was

a burst of fragrance

from black branches.

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

We exchanged rings and a kiss, and made our exit to the Prelude of Bach’s Solo Cello Suite #1. And that was that- we were married.

The RingsAdam & Elizabeth

While our guests enjoyed a signature cocktail (I’ll share the recipe soon!) and the piano stylings of our friend Elliot Gray, Adam and I went outside for photos in the golden hour before sunset.The BouquetAdam & ElizabethAdam & ElizabethTiny Gourds & Mercury GlassTable Decor

As promised by our Save-the-Date cards, the tables were indeed set for a fantastic dinner party. Each table featured a unique centerpiece of rustic metal cake stands and wire birdcage cloches, flickering candles in mercury glass, scatterings of gourds and feathers, and more incredible floral arrangements by Maxine. I selected black tablecloths to set off the flowers and white dinner plates.

Table DecorBirdcage ClochesCranberry Sauce

Dinner, catered by the talented resident chef at Lord Hill, lived up to even Chef Adam’s culinary standards and was by all accounts delicious (I only managed to sit down long enough to taste the mashed potatoes!). We selected a rich menu and served it with our very own cranberry sauce, giving the recipe to our guests as a timely favor for the holidays. Our cake was a masterpiece by Dan of Decadence, who created a custom pumpkin spice recipe baked with bits of ginger and swathed in thick frosting (we resurrected the top layer after two years in the freezer, and it was heavenly). The cake was adorned with chocolate cosmos sugar flowers and sculpted gold pyramid stud trim, and topped with glass pumpkins by a local artist.

The CakeGroomsmen's Favors

As aspiring brewers and connoisseurs of fine libations, we offered our guests a selection of wine,  and locally-brewed beers, cider, and root beer. The groomsmen toasted with skull beer steins!

Skulls for Our Halloween WeddingThe Dress, Detail

Solbird turned it up loud, and our friends and family filled our guestbook with candid shots from the  3-2-1 Foto photobooth. It was the night of our lives.

Bride & Groom in the PhotoboothBride & Groom in the Photobooth

 

 

Photos by Tasha Owen Photography