Monday, February 20, 2012

In praise of symmetry

The apartment at high noon on February 18th. This is as bright as it gets in February. That's right. Not everyone lives on the 23rd floor in Manhattan and has great light, though I love the light that we do have: you really see it change from minute to minute. It's Northern light, grayish-blue in color that washes across the ceiling during the day. I chose to balance it with warm colors used in the furnishings and cameo white walls that have a hint of yellow. The mantel tile was the starting point. I went with their brownish orange, finding burnt orange velvet for the two chairs and a carpet with a similar tone. Is it perfect? No. But I think it works, though I am ready to find a much large carpet that extends under the sofa and chair legs. Now that would be perfect, along with the big mirror that is languishing in the basement awaiting gesso and gilt. 

Symmetry cried out to be an element with the mantel being centrally located, the seating and shelving reinforcing this perception after moving pieces of paper cut to scale on graph paper. It was the only configuration that made sense, one that allowed a clear traffic pattern and gave the room coherence. 

While you can't quite tell from this photograph: the bookcases aren't the same length (the one on the left hides a steam pipe). Still, they create the desired illusion of symmetry. The other 'pairs' in the room keep the idea going. The lamps across the room on the piano (which you can't see in this photograph unfortunately) echo those on the mantel on a larger scale, the bronze Chinese vases with gold shades having similar, thought not identical, shape. Somehow, these two pairs give the room a wonderful calm. It doesn't take much I think: just a bit of planning and the where-with-all to keep going with an idea once you've started plus a bit of luck - the pink ottoman being a case in point.  I'm not a decorator, but I have had fun in this space. Once a month, it turns into a Salon for voice teachers and their musician friends. After everyone has gone, I always find myself saying: "The place is made for this!"  


  1. you may not be a decorator, as you say...
    but your sense of color, light, balance and texture seems perfection. this room looks loved and lived in. and that is something the decorators never seem to be able to really achieve. usually, it's all too picture perfect.
    tartan scott comes closer to any for me in achieving what you have.
    i learned to love grey, or rainy days from my mother, who also had the gift... she would say... "time to light the corners." pools of light around the room dispel winter gloom!

  2. Well bravo dahhing.. decorator or not, very charming indeed!

  3. I like the proof of the habitat in its extraction by the salon of associates.


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