The Story of a House, Part 2

by Kristin on May 14, 2009

in This and That



So, my intention was to be coy, keep you guessing, and do my next post on something else.  However, things have gotten so incredibly busy with end of year activities that I find myself doing that which comes easiest – telling you more about my home.  The entry and hall of my house were dubbed the “gallery” by my architect.  Not because there are any priceless paintings there – far from it – but because of a story that I told him about my vision for it.





When we were living in London, The British Museum opened a new wing, called The Enlightenment Gallery.  It is truly spectacular in every way.  It is meant to reproduce on a large scale the library of a gentleman of the Enlightenment – sad to say that none of us ladies likely had the wherewithal to afford the books or objects therein.  But I digress.  The library is a collection of books, yes, but also objects of nature, architectural models, cultural artifacts, maps, skeletons, etc.  It is like a Cabinet of Curiosities on steroids.  And the architecture is stunning.  My vision for our entry was to tell the story of our lives, to integrate the various things that we had gathered in our travels, along with natural objects to create our own Enlightenment library.  My wonderful architect promptly renamed the space the gallery.


So here we go.




As you can see, the gallery morphed into something a bit different.  As it turned out, many of the things that we had gathered in our travels had disappeared through various moves.  And the bits of shell and lava rock that the kids had gathered were rather paltry in comparison to what we needed.  So, I began to think of the gallery as an opportunity for my kids to become enlightened.  It started with a trip to Roundtop, the amazing antiques market, where I found a series of educational prints ranging from different cloud formations to the skeletal structures of amphibians and images of toadstools. 



I found a fantastic bookcase from one of my favorite Dallas antique dealers, Nick Brock.  As it was being moved in, I decided to have the movers remove the doors and hang them in the alcoves behind the matching dressers from Aidan Gray, found at Mecox.  Here are the niches that flank my dining room french doors.  The two chocolate and ivory toile slipped chairs are Victorian his and hers chairs that used to live in our master bedroom.  The bench with loose cushions sat in our perennial garden in New Jersey for years.  I love the patina that it acquired, and the contrast in texture with the wainscoting. 





But I had the most fun gathering the accessories that fill the bookcase and top the dressers.  My one eared deer was another Roundtop find, the parchment scrolls are color photocopies from an antique French household accounting book, the seashells were garnered from various stores and stalls, John Derian plates were found at the shop 4510, and I have the ubiquitous book The Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, but it’s distinctive cover is never seen as we always have it open to some wonderful page or another. 




My favorite part of this space is the sunshine that flows in from the steel French doors that line the space.  And the view is toward my backyard, which my dear friend Daniel Houchard has turned into serenity itself.  More about Daniel soon. 




As you may have guessed, this story is going to have many parts, and my hope is to intersperse writing about the house with posts about people, places and things that I find irresistable or inspirational or both.


1 tartanscot May 20, 2009 at 1:55 am

wow, what a beautiful space. can’t wait to see more!

2 Joni Webb May 25, 2009 at 4:47 am

oh my!!!!
i can’t wait to read more – your house just looks gorgeous. the pictures are so wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ok – I added you to my blog roll. let’s get some readers going now. haha!!!

3 pigtown*design May 25, 2009 at 3:46 pm

What a beautiful house and how clever of you to use the gallery as a teaching tool. Congrats on your new blog!

4 Kristin May 25, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Joni – you are the inspiration, girl! If I end up with a fraction of your readers, I will be blessed. Keep up your amazing work.

5 Kristin May 25, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Thank you so much! My kids and their friends do love this area. If only I had thought about grubby fingers before I decided on the cream linen skirted table – sigh! Have to get that cleaned and treated with industrial strength I-don’t-know-what. I love checking in with your blog regularly – my parents are from Maryland, so there is a real affinity there.

6 beachbungalow8 May 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm

wow, Where to begin, beautiful house. I’m loving the covered books. I had to go back and figure out where that paper came from. What a brilliant idea. It reads sort of pale blue, is that just the photo?

are you familiar with dan marty? I think you’d love his showroom, here at the PDC.

7 Kristin May 25, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I just went to his website and felt my heart start beating more quickly. WOW! You’ll see as I post more photos of my house that we have a very similar design aesthetic.

Thank you for the compliment – I really enjoy your blog and I am so happy you decided to stop by!

8 Lena July 24, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Ohh your home is beautiful, and I love how you have decorated it. I just found your blog today and will vistit often :)

9 amy July 27, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Wow I love your entry. That staircase is amazing! And the gray steel windows really pop against everything. What type of hardwood do you have? It reminds me a bit of mind (brazillian teak)

10 megan August 28, 2009 at 8:18 pm

I am in awe at the millwork design you have created. I am wondering how you were able to give it sort of a lived in/aged look? Is it painted and also glazed over? Or is it just paint? If you are able to email me I would love to know. It is driving me crazy trying to figure it out!!

11 Kristin August 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Hi Megan,

Thank you for the compliment and welcome to the blog! The millwork was painted first and then drybrushed with burnt umber, which is a very dark tint that they use with glazing, but in this case it was not combined with the glaze. They dragged a paint brush with burnt umber on it over the larger expanses of wood, and then very lightly went over it with a dry brush. They used more on the moldings and left more of it in the crevices. Finally, they used a dry brush to fleck some “worm holes” aka tiny spots onto the whole thing. The real trick is in getting a beatiful base color. I love mine. Since there is no glaze over it, the true color shines through. I hope this helps!

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