subtle elegance

Some rooms come together quickly…and others take a bit more time to realize.  The latter was the case with this Mountain Brook, Alabama Dining Room.  Designed as an addition to this home, this space needed to be able to accommodate the family of six who lives here–and a few dinner guests as well.  At first we were going to do a big rectangular table but several months into construction we decided with the owner to place a round table in the room instead (another off-the-truck find Doug and our client scored one day!).

Aren’t the chairs gorgeous?  From the start, Paige knew she wanted to use them in the room.  The Chippendale Side Chair from Hickory Chair normally features pleated box skirts that fall just below the seat.  Doug worked with Hickory Chair to customize the pieces with a full length skirt that adds softness and elegance to the room.

Once we had the furniture plan figured out, we still had to tackle what to do with the room’s interior architecture.  Doug worked with the home’s architect, Jeff Dungan, to consider a number of options.  They looked at a barrel-vaulted ceiling; continuing the paneling from the adjacent Living Room; and a flatwork-ceiling among other things–but ultimately arrived at a simple and classic chair-height wainscoting.  The design of the wainscot paneling reflects that of the Living Room but gives the space its own identity.

Above the wainscot we were still left with the issue of what to do with the upper wall surface.  We knew simply painting the wall wasn’t enough so we decided to utilize another great design from Whitewall & Co. (a venture of our sister company, The G Brand).  Rather than paint the design in a contrasting color, we opted to use a clear glaze for a subtle effect that mimics wallcovering.  The talented crew at Jan Hale Studios applied the design to the walls in stunning effect.

[the Troupe Square design from Whitewall & Co.]

The sconces that flank the transferware collection hung on the wall, by the way, are antique Tuscan pieces.  We like their sculptural quality without candles — the pale greenish blue finish doesn’t specifically relate to any other color in the room but we think that’s what makes them work so well in the space.

So what do you think of stenciling with a more subtle effect?  It’s certainly a different look from the bedroom we designed for the Southern Living Idea House or Doug’s Birmingham office, but we think just as effective and unique.

[photos by Colleen Duffley]

[before & after] 3 chairs

Regardless of a project’s size or budget, we don’t believe it’s necessary to throw out everything and start over when redecorating.  In fact, we like finding ways to use our clients’ existing pieces, especially when we can help reimagine those pieces in a new way.

Our clients had purchased and reupholstered these french bergeres just a couple of years before we began working on a renovation and total redecoration of their Mountain Brook, Alabama home.  Paige and Doug debated leaving the chairs as is but as we developed the color scheme for the new interiors, it became obvious that the chairs were going to be too brown for the charcoal and white look of the home.  Before reupholstering the chairs (in a super cool and super chic metallic silver damask) we had our decorative painter Jan Hale touch up the wooden frames of the chairs and add some more white to the chalky tone of the wood.  The result is the same pair of chairs in a much different look.

While we were able to reuse many pieces in this project, due to the increased size of the home it was necessary for us to buy a lot of new pieces too.  It’s well established by now how much we love breathing new life into antique furniture and in this house we were able to completely change the look of some older pieces with a few upholstery tricks.

When our client emailed Doug a photo from Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta, showing a set of 6 camel-back French side chairs she’d just discovered, Doug immediately said ‘Buy them!’  The dowdy red and gold tapestry look was never going to fly in this house so we selected something completely different to recover them in.  At first glance a lot of people who visit this home are shocked that we covered the chairs this family of 6 sits in every night for dinner in pale grey upholstery, but the fabric is in fact some seriously commercial grade stuff!  Manufactured by famed textile mill Maharam, this upholstery fabric is 60%  nylon and 40% polyurethane, making it nearly indestructible.  Doug worked with our upholstery shop to find oversized nailhead trim for the chairs (in lieu of the more standard issue size that came on the pieces originally) to add some updated detail.

Doug bought the pair of chairs below literally in the middle of the street one day.  Circa Antiques, which has stores in both Mountain Brook and Charlotte, North Carolina frequently ships items back and forth between their two stores.  Doug and our client happened to be in the right place at the right time and scored the pair as they came off the back of the truck!

Although they were in pretty rough shape when we found them, it was obvious that these chairs had potential.  Paige and Doug debated swapping the pair with the silver damask pair in the Living Room but ultimately decided to place the chairs in the home’s Guest Suite instead.  Refreshed with a beautiful Italian linen (that has just the slightest hint of lavender in the grey weave–which we love!) the chairs are now the centerpiece of the room.  An elaborately detailed Ankasa pillow from our shop is the perfect finishing touch.