Grit, Grime, and Gilding.

Rose Cumming had her "ugly room," my mom and I have a studio space.

Rose's was filled with furnishings rejected by clients; ours was overrun with a variety of non-integrated projects and wispy flyaways that failed to "work" elsewhere.   Harmless enough, until, at some point, a line was crossed.  What was once a halfway house for homeless decor morphed into a life-sucking vortex that took victim many an unwitting decorative element.  An overhaul was utterly necessary.

We attacked the space with great zeal.  So great, in fact, that we only realized after the fact that there wasn't a single "before" shot to be had.  Such is life.  Perhaps, I justified after the fact, it's better this way, for the sake of preserving an aura of mystery.  But no, I'm certain it would have been better had you seen the truly pedestrian junkiness of the space beforehand.

In shelter mags, some decorating maxims seem to pop up ad nauseum.  One that has always perplexed me is the "build a room around a carpet" philosophy.  Sure, that helps with cohesion, but why a carpet? Much more wall shows than floor, and seeing as I'm not acquainted with any carpet weavers, a painted wall hanging allows us much greater control over the general atmosphere of a space. So, we decided to tie the entire room together with a dirty, dank, aged (looking) tapestry-inspired hunting scene.

I should let you know, I have my own decorating mantras. First and foremost: Nothing pulls a room together like grit, grime, and gilding.  At three canvas panels wide, my mom painted this "tapestry" to knock out the entire (previously dark wood paneled) wall.  My other favorite oft-repeated mantra? Go big or go home.

Big? Yes. Extravagant? Always.  But, we really pulled together this studio space with spit and glue.  In fact, there is not a single new piece of anything in this room, at all.

Trick #1: Layering carpets.  Behold the floral carpet that I've LOATHED for years, deeply buried (oh, thank the lord) under an Oriental carpet found extremely inexpensively on eBay.  The catch? A large part must have been damaged, because the thing arrived surgically stitched together, and well, the pattern doesn't exactly match up.  But hey, when you're layering, these things are minor details.

Trick #2: Covering the plastic sofa. Oh my, I cannot believe I just admitted that under this lovely wool blanket, exists a brown, PLASTIC beast of a Chesterfield sofa in a rather ideal shape and size. 

Trick #3: Using old fabric remnants.  Make pillows from them. You don't want your guests to see the plastic sofa, and you don't want them to feel it, either.  Actually, the curtains are old panels as well, and the lampshade is embellished with remnant ribbon.

Trick #4: Covering the paneling with canvas. We even went so far as to cover the cabinets with stenciled gold/ black damask (and ended up liking it so much, we made another panel of the damask for the wall).  It's very easy to attach with cornstarch/water paste, and doesn't do permanent damage, so foreseeably, you could change your rooms daily if you felt so inclined.

Trick #5: Working with old pieces of furniture.  Recognize the stalactite table and the velvet secretary? All of these pieces were thrift-store finds, reworked or painted, down to the faux-marble accent table.


Jill said...

Such a moody room with a luxurious feel...I love all the textures and treasures...great photos!

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

So glorious, my experience is the mantra about the rug stems from the fact that the rug in the room can be very expensive (and generate very good profit-thus Go figure) I can insight venom from my carpet source because I am less than interested in this element and typically wait til I am well into a project. This room has it all over Rose's ugly room-which though fantastical-still?
I could nap of that plastic in a thenstant.la


Jill- Thank you!

little augury- Embarrassing to admit, but the plastic sofa is extremely comfortable. And yes, Rose Cumming's "ugly" room looked like it was QUITE the experience. It's one of those spaces I really wish I could have seen in person.

jezebel said...

Absolutely glorious and inspired, and entirely possible you'll find me, uninvited, sprawled on that couch.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Holy crap -that room is amazing! Is this the guest room for visiting bloggers? hehe
I love your photography most of all -so often the atmosphere of a room is ruined by flash -you've captured it perfectly!

home before dark said...

Girl, you are living large! Love the "go big or go home". You' be right at home here south of the Mason-Dixon. No indecision here. LOVE IT! Proust lived here once I think. Maybe in one of his passing days in the future? Love this. You and your mother are incredible. I'm drinking my coffee toasting your 3G's!

Lynne Rutter said...

very nice work, ladies!!! "go bog or go home" i think i like your mom!


Jezebel & Architect Design- Yes, both of you are welcome to stay over, move in... You'll have to duke it out for space on the plastic sofa, though (I'm taking no part in that!).

Home before dark- You're not joking! I remember the first time I visited Texas, I was pretty astounded at how large all of the cars were. Right about now, though, a trip south of the Mason Dixon line sounds like a great idea. It'll sound like an ESPECIALLY great idea once the weather gets so cold that it necessitates my typing with gloves.

Lynne- Thank you! If I had to pin it to one of us, I'd say that the "Go big or go home" thing is more my contribution. My mom tends to be much more understated...design wise, we balance each other out well (although I'm sure at times she would beg to differ, ha!).

Mary Maki Rae said...

No way is your Studio Room Ugly-!
You Two have Inspired me to get Working on some projects - "Waiting in the Wings"-!!
Keep up the Great work-!!


Great beginning but keep going. Stop at nothing, add photos, paintings, mirrors ON TOP of the painted wall and you will need a table basse,or else where will you put your drink ?
Its great and I look forward to seeing how this room will evolve.


Funny you should say that- Already, there are paintings and a mirror stacked on the side table. I'm sure it will evolve (QUICKLY) in the layered direction. Things around here tend to do that at an alarming pace, burying tables, chairs, entire rooms in the process!

Beth Connolly said...

Really stunning.

Transformations Home Stylists said...

love your photos of your studio - looks like "the world of interiors'! and i'm very into the secret life of secretaries and desks; i recently did a post on flinging open the doors and revealing the inner sanctum of your desk...

Jasminum Rex said...

Wow! Can I move in with you? This is exactly the kind of room I long for - I can just imagine curling up on that sofa with a good book on a rainy evening. The textures, colours and patterns are beautiful. Especially the wall painting - your mum is very talented!

Great blog and I look forward to reading it in the future!

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