Friday, July 26, 2013

Whitehall, The Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, inspires window treatment with Gilded Age style

Window treatments are a passion of mine.  How delighted I was to see that my visit to Whitehall gave such inspiration for elegant window treatment.

The library was also used as a reception room by Henry Flagler and to hold business meetings.
It is done in a masculine Italian Renaissance style.  The ornate coffered ceiling is actually plaster faux finished to look like wood and then gilded with gold leaf. Note the red damask fabric covered walls!
A Palladian window, as this arched window is called, can be a tricky shape for designers to  treat.  This shows a beautiful way to drape it using swags and cascades, or jabots as they are also called.  Hanging a large tassel from the center is a nice finishing touch.
I have done similar window treatments for client projects, though none with a gilded carved molding surrounding the window!  A treatment like this is a very formal look but done in a floral chintz would make it less formal and done in a linen would also tend to be more casual.

Above is the grand double staircase leading from The Grand Hall to the second floor.
This is another less intricate and therefore less formal way to treat a Palladian window.

Here is one corner of The Music Room, which was also an art gallery.

 This window is surrounded by decorative gold molding and topped by an ornate carved pediment.  What a lovely idea to enhance an ordinary window.  I was also taken with the use of simple boullion fringe across the top as a little valance over the drapery.  This is also a fun and inexpensive way to trim out a window.  I have actually seen swags made from cording and fringe too.

The Grand Ballroom had fifteen windows and doors, all topped with beautiful paintings called lunette paintings as they were in a half moon shape.
A famous lavish party called the Ball Poudre was held here in honor of George Washington's birthday.
The Bal Poudre, held in 1903, was described as one of the most sumptuous affairs south of Washington.

Here is a closer look at one of the lunette paintings, surrounded by scrolled gold molding, of course!  This could be another idea to be used atop a window to add height and drama. The painting could be anything that related to the over all style of the interior, like seashells in a seaside retreat or fruit in a dining room or kitchen.
Also notice another little valance just below the painting. It seems it is just a simple way to disguise the rod underneath.
This window is located in The Drawing Room where Mary Lily entertained guests and listened to music.
Another beautiful Palladian window treatment. This is a wider softer arch with one large swag and two smaller jabots.  Sometimes the space in between can have another pair of swags but this is a great way to save on fabric yardage and keep the treatment lighter.
This close up shows a velvet panel trimmed with tapestry and then edged with tassel fringe. The delicate lace you see here was evident in many areas of the house and was a highly prized material used in fashion and design during The Gilded Age. 

Looking closely at one panel you can see a thin layer of touille over the tapesty. It was fraying with age.
Here is a detail of a window treatment recently installed showing a band of brocade fabric and double layers of beaded and tassel fringe.  A coordinating tassel tieback completes the elegant style of this treatment.

Photo courtesy of Picture Pretty Interiors
The Master Suite glowed with light and rich gold damask upholstered walls.  While the bed is the main focal point, this triple window certainly grabbed my eye.  You can catch a glimpse of the dresser in the reflection of the full length mirror, and notice how the dressing table is placed so that light from the windows would reflect on Mary Lily's face.

 The valance above the window panels is so charming. I would guess it was custom embroidered and shaped to follow the design.  That's a very interesting idea for a contemporary window valance if  you chose a modern pattern instead of a traditional floral.  Adding more architectural molding also dramatizes a window and draws immediate attention. It could even be the focal point of the whole room.
 A similar style of valance is shown here in The Morning Room.  The embroidered design is more tailored and has also been used down the leading edge and bottom of the drapery panels.
Here is  another look at The Drawing Room.  As you can see there are several  windows and doors. There is more detail in the crown molding above the window molding.  Because the ceiling is so high these windows would look tiny if they did not have such substantial woodwork which both grounds and elevates them to the proportion of the room.

How would you use inspiration from these old world designs in today's interiors?  Have you ever considered creating a focal point with a dramatic window treatment?  I invite you to share your ideas in the comment section below. 

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