This week is the big one. I’m so relieved to finally be here, standing with confidence and gratitude. It is done! Now, I invite you to come see for yourself…
“Will you walk into my parlour, said a Spider to a Fly;
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy.”
This room absolutely has my heart and soul poured into it. I hand crafted, painted, and applied each one of those moulds for my Versailles inspired door. I scrounged around for the right door knob, and I’m so happy with how my refurbished antique handle turned out. I’ve learned that mixing and matching never hurts!
I love each and every single piece of art in this room — from replica art (“Paul, the artists son on a donkey” by Pablo Picasso) to modern Italian originals. This corner makes my heart sing. The pastel yellow chair was hand stitched by my friend’s great-grandmother in the 1920s. You may see a few of her upholstery pieces around the room.
Below is my music corner. Of course I have my 100-year-old piano and matching stool, both so beautifully carved. It is extremely fitting that on either side of my piano are these enchanting lamp shades, whose figurines each hold different musical instruments. They fit the scene so well here; not only because they suit the musical theme, but also due to their eye-catching colour contrasts, and how they add to the chinoiserie motif that is threaded throughout the room.
I love my chinoiserie accents, including the scenic and trellis pillows, the blue and white ginger jars, the Royal Crown Derby Mikado plates, and of course, my vintage lamps.
Lamp shades are an art unto themselves, and these mid century capiz shell shades are no exception. Their opal colour and gold scalloped edges are absolutely stunning.
Every piece in the room has a story and I wish I had time to tell each one. The artist on the left is unknown, but it came from Holland and had been in the same family for over 75 years when I bought it - I hope it will continue to be in mine for the next 75!
If you’re an avid art collector of mid century American art, then you may recognize the Pascal Cucaro on the top right. This original was purchased in San Francisco in the 1950s. The family who first owned this painting had 12 originals of his work.
This lady on the bottom is one of my favourites. I bought her from an antique collector many years ago. She is my Mona Lisa, except instead of wondering about her smile - I wonder if she’s sad. I suppose it’s because I’ve read too much Thomas Hardy that she appeals to me.
This is probably my favourite view around the room…possibly because it provides me the opportunity to create symmetry. I’m obsessed with the blue and green. It’s so classic and will stand the test of time. I’ve had my heart set on the Mikado plates for quite awhile; I was just waiting to find the right amount at the right moment. The detail of each plate must be admired as you imagine the story that is unfurled in every scene.
My bergère chairs and 19th century bombay chest all pull on my historical sensibilities…and of course there is Priscilla. She has two cubs scampering about the house somewhere, but she prefers to defend her ground right here.
Now, let’s go into the Imaginarium - every house should have one you know. An Imaginarium is a place of wonder, excitement, and adventure. After the stresses of life and adulthood — you know, “reality” — we should all have a place where we can use our imaginations and be children again. My Imaginarium is based on the Chronicles of Narnia, which I grew up reading and have always loved. In fact, they were my stepping stones to so many other books. I hope the next generation becomes ardent readers and finds inspiration from great stories, whether it’s from Narnia, or a newer classic like Harry Potter.
“Courage, dear heart.” —Aslan in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Fantasy is often the armour with which we face the hard realities of life — whether it’s through fashion, design, or literature. No matter our life style, we all are confronted with things that make our hearts ache; however, some have the luxury of masking those problems better than others. The best we can strive for is feeding the healthiest version of ourselves. I happen to think imagination and belief is the key to unlocking our potential.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
This is one of my favourite quotes, because so often we want safe. We want secure. We want our feet firmly on the ground. But then we miss out on adventures and greatness, because we settle for safe. I took a risk in building this room, not knowing if I could pull it off. I want to risk; I want to teach my kids to risk. I think we have many playful years ahead of us in this room — reading, using our imaginations, and dreaming of new possibilities.
If you’ve made your way to this page, I hope you leave feeling inspired. You’ve watched me…now what will you create?
I want to give a huge shout out to my family for their support on this project: my brother for all the electrical support, my dad for drilling a few screws, my mom for sewing those cushions (‘cause I was running out of time), my besties Robyn, Jocelyn, & Lauren who all pitched in from time to time, and Greg - my husband, Greg - for the continuous encouragement and countless hours of being my gopher.
Finally, your journey isn’t over - please find your way to the other designers’ pages where they are showcasing all their hard work. You can find the featured designers here, and the guest participants here.
Thank you so much Linda, for bringing this amazing online event together. Thanks for being brave and taking a risk. Thanks for teaching us collaboration over competition. Better Homes & Gardens - you people are wonderful! Keep the good content coming and, of course, we so appreciate you sponsoring this event.