Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ode to Rose Tarlow

The seating in the apartment is a mishmash of things, from antique chairs from the flea market around the dining table to a sofa found on the street- a cast-off from a single-family Brownstone. Since the place is only 650 square feet, I've learned over time what works and doesn't. The place doesn't need a lot of stuff. What it does want, however, is rich color, texture and old things with patina/character to offset the lack of natural light. Heck. If you are home in a 'dark' apartment, you want to feel comfortable in your surroundings, right? Of course, the result is my taste talking, which leans towards English Country House Style (the pink ottoman is John Fowler's influence). It's a balance between what you like and where you are. As it is, I can't see myself having these things on the 24th floor of a high rise. It would scream for Eames and Madmen modern. But this place isn't that. It has old growth oak floors and was built in the 1890's.

The chair above is one of two tombstone dining chairs - circa 1860's - that were found at the flea market (I call them tombstone chairs since that is what their backs recall). The beautifully soft kid calf leather was also found at the flea right after I brought the chairs home. Funny how it showed up when I needed it. There was just enough, the upholsterer telling me there was hardly an inch to spare.

The lion library chair on the right was found on the street as was the green velvet sofa across from it. (You have to come with me now! Said Mr Husband. I've found the perfect sofa. The rich people down the street just threw it out on the sidewalk!) Its mate on the left came from a thrift store - Housing Works - a few blocks away. I chose to cover both a rich amber velvet which plays off the caramel-colored fireplace tile. The chairs are the same scale, and the backs of the sofa and chairs have the same height- two of many ideas gleaned from Rose Tarlow's A Private House. From seat back height to lamp shade color and shape, her wisdom has influenced me greatly, giving the place has a sense of calm, a necessary thing in the City That Never Sleeps.

One of Tarlow's ideas is to use color monochromatically in order to create spaciousness and serenity in a small space. I didn't do that, but have come close in having lots of green. There is green in two sets of curtains in the living room as well as the rescued sofa. And I've been thinking of changing the red curtains in the bedroom to a lighter green than that used in the living room. It would go great with the gold pelmets and enable me to finally use the luscious old velvet  (Tarlow is also enamored of old velvet) I've had waiting in a drawer in the armoire (the latter is c. 1915 from Belgium - or so I was told). Right now it is telling me that it wants to be a half-tester above the bed. 

I made the curtain rod as well as the silk curtains, staining the wood an antique walnut to match the armoire, finding old brass rings at the flea and Victorian finials on Ebay. The ogee mirror on the armoire reflects uplighting and makes you look up, a good thing when you have eleven-and-a-half foot ceilings. I hope Tarlow would like the dialogue between the old wood and the subtle sheen of the fabric. Her work inspires me. 


  1. I so agree with your choice of Rose Tarlow as your source of inspiration. She's in a class by herself....unless you'd like to add Billy Baldwin and Van Day Truex to the class. Well done...M Goldenberg

    1. I have books on both men and admit to be more taken with Van Day Truex. I like the class Tarlow is in. It has exquisite antiques, beautiful fabrics and useful things like ivory handled serving ware. (I've been collecting it slowly.) Thank you for your lovely comment, M. Goldenberg

  2. Dahhling bravo! you have done an amazing job at putting together a space that is beautiful & does not read small or cluttered. I love the story of all the finds & its various locations, be it the sidewalk or HousingWorks (great organization!)...


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