When we toured our home, I loved the small den tucked away above the garage (or as my husband calls it, “the lions den.”) It’s not large by any means, but we were enticed by the idea of having a little refuge off of the master bedroom for watching TV and having some quiet time. I viewed it as a great little bonus space on the second floor and was excited to transform it into a soothing oasis.
The panelling was in good shape and I loved the parquet floor, but unfortunately everything had to be ripped out to accommodate new insulation for the exterior walls and new ducting and a new subfloor. I was sad to see the character go as we updated the structure, but was determined to reinstate that same vintage vibe - but this time with a modern edge!
I achieved this eclectic vintage look by installing applied panel moulding to the walls and painting it out in a surprising soft mint colour: Benjamin Moore Irish Mint 2041-70. Both the trim and walls are in a satin finish, so it looks rich and creamy and totally soothing.
I paired the mint with a dreamy lilac, which reminded me of a colour combo you’d see inside a Parisian patisserie, but set it off with crisp black and white to keep it from feeling too girly girl. The monochromatic art on the walls varies from a reproduction poster to an ink drawing my dad did in the 70s to a tear out from an Hermes catalogue. The lavender flatweave rug by Madeline Weinrib was a lucky score at a sample sale at Y&Co and ended up being the perfect size for the small room.
The success of this unsual colour combo of mint, lavender and black and white works thanks to the fabric that ties it all together: Manuel Canovas’s Dara in torquoise. I have been obsessed with this fabric since I first laid eyes on it in Primavera’s showroom in Designer’s Walk. It’s just bananas. I used it for the accent cushions and trimmed them in black fringe from Designer Fabrics for a classic decorator detail.
For the sofa, I used Robet Allen’s Orvis in black, which is a rich herringbone woven that complements the tailoured lines of the piece perfectly. It was a challenge finding seating with a narrow enough depth for the tight space, but Barrymore’s Gatwick two-seater made the cut at 34” deep . I customized it with a band of white grosgrain ribbon from Mokuba on the skirt and know that the classic shape and compact size will make it a piece I’ll have in my home for years to come.
To punctuate the black and white elements, I used another textile I had been lusting after, this time from Telio’s beautiful showroom. Jim Thompson’s Erminia, a sheer from The Tony Duquette collection that looks like the ermine trim you’d see on a king’s cape in fairy tales, was a perfect choice for tailoured roman shades.
I didn’t have room for a conventional coffee table so I had to think outside the box. West Elm’s hex marble tables had the geometric shape that I loved, and they could be pulled together or apart to allow for optimum flow in such a small space. Only catch: I was not into the aluminum frame. Enter Amaco’s rub’n’buff, which I special ordered from an art supply store. After some well-ventilated elbow grease sessions with a pile of shmatas, my table bases were now a burnished gold, which looks ever so elegant with the carrera marble tops!
The beautiful antique gilded chair in the corner was a treasure I schlepped back from the Brimfield Show trip I took with my fellow editors in the spring of 2012. The chair was just too special to leave behind, even with little bits of carvings missing and the worn down finish. I decided to reupholster it in leather after stumbling upon a remnant of a hide in a delicious mint at Designer Fabrics. The remnant was just big enough to cover the back and seat and I love the way the pastel pops against the luxe gold frame. The frame is so unique that I can see it holding its own in any corner of the house because it’s just that pretty.
The original den also had a narrow built-in unit with an electric fireplace. I’m not really into electric fireplaces (this pyro needs a real flame!) and because of the small size of the room, any actual heat source was ruled out in order to keep it from turning into a sweatbox. The uselessness of the fireplace combined with the lack of depth to fit a cable box led us to start from scratch.
I designed a new paint-grade built-in to house the TV as well display books and tchotchkes above, with hidden storage below. A favourite vintage oil painting I found in my grandparent’s basement, my first piece of original abstract art by Team Macho and a piece of Wedgwood black jasperware all mingle on the open shelves and reinforce the palette even more.
I needed a mesh inset in the lower doors of the built-in to allow the signal of the remote to travel to the cable box, and splurged on this gorgeous diamond grille from Ginger’s with a rosette detail – the jewelery of the room! This detail along with the other warm metals in the room, including the vintage light fixture from Around the Block, complete the decadent mood of this enchanting little room.