Vintage pink 1930's ornaments, magnolia leaves, gilt pine cones and lots of patience. That was last year. My sister tells me - comparatively speaking - that I've gone quite austere this year. And I suppose that is true all things considered. Plain or extravagant, each approach has its time and place, and this year didn't lend itself to grand flourishes, though I do have one in store for next year if a huge mirror can be considered the basis of a plan. The current mirror is the wrong scale. Too small. Not enough presence to keep up with the wide mantle and tall bookshelves.
I picked out large moulding at a lumber yard this past summer and sent it off to a carpenter friend (also a very good singer) who returned it just before Thanksgiving glued and joined together. It's huge and now sitting in the basement, awaiting gesso, bole and gilt. The last time I gilded involved the base of a round dining table from 1920's with three leaves. The original idea was to strip off the white paint and blue trim and stain the wood a beautiful walnut. The stain didn't take however, so my genius of a husband casually suggested that I gild it. I did just that, refinishing the top with a mix of mahogany and walnut stain and creating the bole for the base from scratch and giving the gilt an aged patina.
The lamps on the mantle are Aesthetic Period (c. 1875) oil lamps that I electrified. They still have their tanks intact and could brighten the room with a soft glow with the appropriate fittings. Embossed on two sides with different scenes of flying birds, I found them at the 26th Street Flea Market. The shades were found behind the counter at Just Shades.
Whether my head is stuck in the past (I research 19th century vocal pedagogy) or I've simply reflected the date of the building (1885) in its furnishings is something worth pondering. Whatever the reason: I love old things. My father is responsible for that. I'd go antiquing with him as a child and would enter a store with him staying: " Don't touch anything!"