Our Red Sitting Room
As you have now guessed I don't shy away from colour when it comes to design and decoration. While neutral colour schemes can be calm and soothing sometimes a bit more excitement is required. Our red sitting room is used mostly in the evenings to gather with guests before dinner. We wanted a glamorous wow effect for this space. We decorated this room back in 1988. It hasn't changed very much over the years. We started with the two two seater sofas covered in a Warner's linen called 'Chinese Panel'. The sofas inspired the red wall colour. The colour we wanted to evoke was laqauer red of a antique tray or reminiscent of Pompeii. The incandescent lighting and the red walls make everyone glow in this room. The walls are finished with a glazed 'broken colour' effect, that gives the colour both more depth and creates the illusion of space. To balance the rick red walls we used a soft gold coloured ceiling, off white skirting boards and timber work and bronze coloured picture rails. This room was the first one we did in this house. It was the room to escape to when the rest was a demolition and renovation site. It is furnished with an assortment of pieces from different eras. The coat cupboard was made by Max's grandfather in the 1920's. A three legged cricket table circa 1760 made from elm was my first antique purchase in my new job at Crichton Interiors many years ago. I decided to set a policy of each year buying an antique piece to slowly build a collection of treasured items. It came from Lee Harper Antiques in High street, Armadale. The country Chippendale carver Max bought from John Dunn Antiques. We covered it in a piece of crewel embroidered cotton that picks up the warm rust colour of the room. A pembroke table from C1790 holds a quirky collection of crystal bottle stoppers. They refract the light. A fur rug made from Fox paws covers the old pine floor, that we waxed to keep the colour soft. To add some modernity the brass and glass coffee table sits on the rug allowing the rug to be seen as well as Max's childhood collection of rocks and minerals displayed in a display case, also made by his grandfather. The paintings on the wall range from my dodgy fake 'our lady of the snow" 15th Century oil to early twentieth century New Zealand water colours, to an oil known as' the pirates and pumpkin people' from the mid 1970s. Defintely an eclectic mix. We added 'silken satin' curtains that spill onto the floor and lots of cushions in treasured fabrics, hand printed silk taffeta, patterned velvet, cotton damask and even a chintz pattern with a monkey in the design. This room is nicknamed 'monkey's room' as the Chinese Panel' fabric has little green monkeys in the design. I added a monkey cameo to the stencilled border on the floor and we found a bronze monkey candlestick.
Rich red walls contrast with golden coloured 'silken satin curtains that theatrically spill onto the floor.The Warner's linen 'Chinese Panel' fabric inspired the red walls for this room. Hand printed silk cushions have napoleon bees and stars. I made these many years ago. The silk damask cushion is the most recent, it is a sample from Gainsborough Mills, England. The green silk cushion with the pearl buttons has bound button holes.
A long shot of the living room
The end of year break has given me time to tackle a niggling problem, our living room. While other people were planning what to serve Christmas day or their New Years Eve party, we were selecting colours, ordering paint and preparing surfaces. There is something very satisfying when you can see physical evidence of your work.
Essentially our living room needed repainting and some new furniture. While the original scheme was quite pleasing, it had not stood the rigours of two cocker spaniels and two spoilt cats. The upholstery had become tired, and the animals just didn't like it. We needed a room that we could all share. This is our room to relax in, watch TV and eat casual meals.
We did an audit of what worked and what we liked and then developed a new scheme that would be more animal friendly. Twenty or so years ago when we built the extension onto our modest Californian Bungalow, we created a room that gave us garden views that would open onto a kitchen. We used similar elements and scales that were in the original house . We originally painted the new timber floorboards as we had original boards elsewhere and couldn't match the patina. The idea of painting things was that you could easily change your mind about colours. This room opens directly out onto the garden, and our first cocker spaniel stayed on the garden paths as he didn't like the great outdoors, these ones know no boundaries and bring the whole garden in on their paws. We decided that some sisal rugs that could be hosed down if they became soiled and they would limit the amount of floating dirt, and cut the grit from scratching the floors too much. A leather sofa that you could sponge down and repair the scratches with black shoe polish, was a practical choice. A classic styled two seater would work along with two ottomans which the cats like to sit on, or provide extra guest seating.
Inspired by our European travels we have refurbished the room to reflect our adventures. Starting with the chequerboard floor reminicent of Italian Palazzos and Renaissance paintings, we selected Porters Paints, flooring paint in Chai, Cardamon and Peat to create a grid. This exagerated the perspective of the room and makes a great base to pull together our eclectic furnishings.
We then selected colours reminding us of Venice, our favourite city. Taking an old reproduction of a Canaletto painting,(tacky but sentimental) we chose a dark murky green for the walls and ceiling.This makes a great background colour for the assorted items on the walls and contrasts with the gilded frames.
Porter Paints mixed the colour especially for us and called it "Boyd's hemlock". We used "Chai" a deep taupe to paint all the joinery including windows, skirting boards and case pieces of furniture, as well as the background border on the floor.
An antique Japanese screen is the focal point behind the sofa. It reinforces the garden concept and adds to the exotic furnishings of the room. Sentimental items from our travels, including Florentine marble paper pieces, top horizontal surfaces and our favourite books fill the shelves. An old counter chair from the department store Georges inspired the use of metallics.
Furnishings and additional details
Fabrics featuring gold stencilling inspired by Fortuny textiles are used for blinds. Cushions soften the practical leather sofa. The glint of gold reflects into the room, particularily at night when this room now gets most of its use. A row of bronze hedgehogs inspired by William Burgess sit just inder the ceiling line in leiu of a cornice. The lamps are styled after Fortuny lamps from the early 20th century, he is one of my design heros and fits with the arts and crafts theme of a Californian Bungalow.
We spent two weeks painting the floor, walls, woodwork and furniture. I had lots of fun selecting fabrics to make new cushions and spent a day sewing. We then rearranged many of our treasures so we can get pleasure looking at them through new eyes and remembering our enjoyable travels. This room now fulfils our design requirements: It is practical for our fury family and we get pleasure from just being in the room!
Hi I am Elizabeth an interior designer who lives in Melbourne, Australia in a little Californian Bungalow cottage with my partner, Max, who is also an Interior Designer, and our beloved furry children, Doris & Ernest. I believe that design can make our lives more rewarding and productive. I love, architecture and design theory but my everyday passion is fabrics and decoration, as I don't think we should get too serious but have fun with our homes and enjoy the process of creating our own environments. I am interested in classic cars, and collect Georgian and Mid Century furniture.