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.


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