Saturday, August 10, 2013

Decorating today's home by looking at elegant interiors of the past, bidding farewell to Whitehall, The Flagler Museum

Visiting historic homes and buildings gives me so many ideas that I can use in a more updated way for my home or in client projects.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reliving my field trip to Whitehall.  As I go through the photographs I get reinspired by what I saw.  Here are some final images and thoughts.

A fun thing I like to do is look at interiors from the outside  just to get a different perspective.  Even when I look at my own home through a window it takes on a more charming feeling.

Looking through the curved panes of the windows outside The Grand Ballroom makes me think back to how this elegant room would have  been filled with laughter, music, dancing and more.

Many of the windows were draped with lace curtains. How pretty they look from the outside, too.

Lace was as valuable as gold until early in the 20th century. It was highly prized in decorating and fashion during the Gilded Age.

A lace camisol on display in the lace exhibit at Whitehall

Though Whitehall had manymodern conveniences, air conditioning was not one of them. All the ladies carried beautiful fans.
There are even special shadow box frames just for fans.
An interesting way to use fans in decorating today's home might be to frame them to hang on a wall or display them on an easle on a shelf.
Lace can also be framed, layered over pillows, draped over tablecloths, and even used as wrapping paper.  I have seen lace used as a stencil too.  How would you like to use lace to decorate your home?

 At first glance I thought this was a topiary on the table beside this chair. Looking closely I see it is a lamp with a lampshade covered with leaves.  What a creative idea.

I noticed the detail on this chair, an added tassel and gorgeous fringe at the base.
I once hot glued boullion fringe on the base of a plain sofa and it instantly dressed it up.  Tassels can be used in many ways to add interest to decorating your home.

Key tassels can be hung anywhere like on this armoire
Add a chair tie tassel to any lamp for color.
Tassels down the back of this dining chair are unexpected!
 Where would you like to add a pretty tassel in your home, around a vase, on pillows or draperies, or maybe even to pull down a window shade?

This bergere next to the fireplace with rose damask fabric and gold leaf frame is a show stopper.

Here is another view of the drawing room and another pretty "be-flowered" lampshade.

The bolster on this bed in The Heliotrope Room is accented with a pretty tassel. Look closely and you will see fringe on the hem of the bedspread as well. 

This image of a rocker by a window in The Green Room was calling to me. 

The bed in The Colonial Chamber was recessed into a large alcove.
 What a great idea to add a cozy feeling to any bedroom.  If you have the luxury of taking out a closet, tucking a bed inside the space not only opens up the room but makes a charming statement.  Want to create an even more dramatic focal point? Drape the wall behind the headboard.  While this room this is done in a very traditional way,  there are other ways to interpret this design for today's interiors, such as shown below.
Photo courtesy of House Beautiful.

The Gold Room shows off a pretty four poster with a comfy chaise at the foot of the bed as do many of the bedrooms at Whitehall.

The Louis XV Bedroom has a lovely fireplace.  All the bedrooms had not only fireplaces, but real closets too, and all the fireplaces were different!
 If you want to add romance and elegance to your bedroom (or any room for that matter) install a fireplace.  It is an instant focal point.  Today they can be delivered and just plugged in or turned on.

The Pink Room showed off this beautiful hand painted bed.  (All the beds had headboards and footboards.)
 Painting a headboard is a fun way add a unique touch to any bedroom.  The design can be as simple or intricate as you like....just don't cover it up with a ton of pillows.

We added a handpainted design to this cabinet in a bedroom.  We took the design from the fabric we used for the bedspread. 

Photo courtesy of Caimano Interiors
The Pink Room fireplace..

The dressing table in The Pink Room. 
Every bedroom also had a dressing table.
 I noticed that many times the light over the dressing table was suspended from an elegant bracket.  We can use this idea in decorating today's home in almost any room.

In The Blue Room we find another pretty dressing table and fireplace.

The Master Suite is splendid with it's gold walls and fabrics.

To add touches from this Gilded Age suite place a large standing dressing mirror in one corner, add pretty seating, a dressing table and create a dramatic canopy above the headboard.  Finish it off with a chaise, either at the foot of the bed or in a sunlit corner.

Another view of The Colonial Room shows a more traditional style canopy bed.  Here the chaise is replaced with a pretty bench and the dressing table has gotten smaller.  The scale of the furniture is tailored to the size of the room.

The upstairs passageway over looks the courtyard. The windows must have been added over time. The doors were all louved so as to let in the cool air for ventilation.
 This look is so "Palm Beach".  The white wicker furniture and large Boston ferns is the perfect way to say "Welcome to my porch, come sit and let's visit a while."  This is a great idea for creating a summer time feeling in any space in your home today.

The Yellow Roses Room has matching fabric and wallpaper which was an innovation at the turn of the century.  This pattern was reproduced when Whitehall was restored. A piece of the original wallpaper was found behind a mirror.
 Another favorite way I have of looking at a room is as a reflection in a mirror.  As with looking from outside a window, this also gives a more distanced perspective.  It was the best way for me to see this room as the pattern really was overwhelming.  While using the same pattern on the walls and furniture can be effective for making a space feel larger, it can be a bit too much of a good thing.
I hope you have enjoyed touring Whitehall with me.  As you can tell there was much to see, to learn and to appreciate.  The style of decorating was top notch and the restoration was done meticulously.   My thanks to our docent for his amazing wealth of knowledge.  I also want to credit "Flagler Museum, An Illustrated Guide" for providing me with some of the facts that my brain just could not contain.
What inspires you in your decorating?  Do you love visiting historic homes to get ideas from the past to translate into your home today?  How do you like to add drama, detail, elegance or even a touch of whimsy to a space?
As always I invite your to share your ideas and questions in the comment section below.
Happy Decorating!

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