Interior Design

What’s Hanging (part 2)


A grouping of antique silhouettes. I have a weakness for odd antique art and recently purchased six silhouettes. How to hang them turned out to be a real mind bender. Usually the silhouette frames come with an ornate top ring, and hammering a brass nail into the wall to hang them from would have been the typical way to go. Except two of the frames had problems and required special treatment. Leigh Ann Williams of 24FPS suggested I call Russell Sublette, a preparator and mount maker who has worked at the Dallas Museum of Art for over thirty years. In his free time, Russell makes these ingenious captures for pieces of art that would fare better without the traditional mounting and framing techniques. There’s a little video on the DMA’s website that highlights one of Russell’s behind-the-scenes masterpieces.

Follow the link below to see the captures before, during, and after the install.

Interior Design

Decorative Wire Grille


Used instead of glass. I have a large collection of books that don’t happen to be fancy sets of gilded leather bindings that would provide a uniform and elegant look on open shelving. My dining room is a small space and could easily feel cluttered and claustrophobic with all the mishmash of various book covers. I have seen decorative wire grille used in the libraries of many historic stately homes and thought that by using a grille with elegant silk café-like curtains lining the inside of each cabinet door, I could trick the space into feeling unfettered and more spacious.

Interior Design

Jewelry for the Dressing Room


My little design became a reality. After purchasing the crystal stars online, I took them and my design drawing to a local jeweler hoping they could create the nickel plated components. At first they were confident about pulling it off, but after three weeks, they called saying it wasn’t possible. That’s when my designer, Charley McKenney, offered to take my design to the metal artist who had previously created metal backs for two of my antique sconces. This guy, with no fuss, was able to make my vision a reality. Not only was the price reasonable, but they were more beautiful than I had ever hoped for. The brass stars were cut into shape before they were nickel plated along with the balls that would eventually be soldered to the screw posts. My idea was to have all the components separate. That way I could thoroughly clean the parts and avoid dirt and dust from collecting, thus mucking up all the sparkle. And because I can be such a spaz when cleaning, I have extra crystal stars to replace the ones I might break in the future.

Interior Design

Wood Floors: Color and Finish


I have yet to see an acrylic or urethane finish that can compete with the old-fashioned paste wax in looks and practicality. Practical only because it’s easy to clean and repair small patches (something that one can’t do with acrylic and urethane). When the time came to sand and refinish the original wood floors of my house, the only stipulation I had was that the finish must be wax. But the color was all Charley McKenney’s doing. As my designer, he envisioned a deep reddish brown hue. After the sanding, we (the floor guys, Charley, and I) made up a small sample combining one cup of Dura Seal‘s #221 Golden Brown and gradually adding one teaspoon at a time of Dura Seal’s #122 Mesquite Red. We then wiped this on the floor in different areas of the house to see how the variances of natural light affected the color. At three teaspoons the perfect blend had been achieved. Unfortunately, with precise math (1.5 cups of red per 1.5 gallons of golden brown), the final blend was an undesired dark brown. So more mesquite red was added, and the final formula ended up being 2.25 cups of mesquite red per 1.5 gallons of golden brown (that is if my notes are correct). Our contractor had also given us a choice of wetting or not wetting down the floors before applying the stain. After experimenting on spots with and without water, we chose to wet down the floors. There was a richer difference between the two choices.

The next step was to apply the sealer. There’s absolutely nothing environmentally friendly about this poison. It seared my eyeballs, deadened my brain with pain, and burned my lungs, causing me to return to my hotel room earlier than I planned. Fortunately, my dogs were not phased. But there was something good that came from this process, the color became even more enhanced. When it comes to making the choice of being environmentally correct or incorrect, color and sheen are the determining factors for me. The green choices just weren’t up to snuff. At least they weren’t for me.

Then came the final step, Dura Seal Paste Wax was applied and buffed to a soft sheen before it had a chance to set and harden. And as you can see in the above photo, the results did not disappoint. Thank you, Charley!

Interior Design

The Fabric Holdup


Curtain rods. I have never been a big fan of the overly duded up rods that I see everywhere. Most are massive with thick diameters, flirty finials, and demand too much attention, thus detracting from the curtain fabric and the room’s overall design. In my two small bedrooms, the curtain rods needed to be functional and discreet. My architect and designer, Charley McKenney, came up with the perfect solution, unfinished 1-3/8 inch diameter wooden poles with radiused corner returns. The poles were then painted to match the wall color. In some cases, when the light is reflecting off the poles, they will also blend and match the ceiling color. As a rule when painting the rooms in my house, the wall color was 100 percent of the chosen color, and the ceilings were usually 75 percent of the wall color. I will be covering the paint variations in another post. The curtains were then slipped on before installing the rods just shy of the ceiling. Having the curtains fall from ceiling to the floor gives my small rooms a more spacious appearance. Pretty decent kind of holdup. Yes?

Interior Design

Glass, Brass and Class


Door knobs and escutcheon plates. When I moved into this house in 1985, all the interior doors still had their original hardware with the exception of the brass knobs which had been replaced during the late 1950s or early 1960s with a style that only George Jetson would have understood. Whether it was the budget or just a preference, the choice and placement of the metal and glass knobs was a puzzler. Inside all closets the escutcheon plates were stamped nickel plated brass and the knobs were glass with nickel plated workings. On the exterior side of the closets and on both sides of all the doors to all rooms, there were stamped brass escutcheon plates and brass knobs. The one exception to this setup was the bathroom, which had nickel plated escutcheon plates with glass knobs on both sides.

Interior Design

The Hanging Gizmo


Nickel-plated-solid-brass knob. I’ve always enjoyed having a hanging calendar in my kitchen with all the dogs’ treatment dates marked out. And since the kitchen is kind of retro (actually it honors the retro look without being a total slave to it) and completely brand new, the last thing I wanted to do was to use a thumbtack which could badly damage the wall over a period of time. So my solution was to purchase a drawer knob in the same finish as the rest of the kitchen hardware. Satin/brushed finish nickel plated solid brass. I went to Elliott’s Hardware, picked out the knob, then trudged over to the screw department and asked for a double threaded screw that could replace the knob’s screw, and the other end of this screw could be used with a plastic sleeve drywall anchor. Et voilà! I do believe this is a brilliant solution. I wonder if Martha Stewart has already thought of this trick. Probably.

Interior Design

It’s a Keeper


Above is the original dining room light fixture. And now, that the room serves a dual purpose as a library and dining room, this fixture can’t be more perfect. When I first moved into the house in 1985, this light fixture was a three-way. See the brass knob ball at the base of the light fixture? Turning it allowed me to alternate between having just the top five on, or just the bottom bowl on, or have all six illuminated (which was way too bright). But, all good things must come to an end, and the internal stem (or whatever it’s called) finally broke. Some day I plan on taking the whole thing down and locating someone who could fix it. In the meantime, a dimmer switch has been installed and works just as well as the three way if not better. But still… It would be cool to have it working in its original condition.