Friday, April 10, 2009

Light vs. Dark

The Kenmore Arms has been bustling this week.  My climbing roses are finally gathering courage and beginning to wrap themselves with long graceful sweeps around the front balcony. 

Maybe it's good karma rubbing off from this book I'm reading...
...because I have what's known in horticultural circles as the dreaded "thumb noir". Even cacti wither around me. But speaking as a newfound optimalist, the bright side could be that I have undiscovered talents in composting.

Anyway, let's move inside, where the painters have been busy priming and painting since Monday. I have been itching to redo my upstairs office for a while now and, after much consideration, settled on Farrow and Ball's "Old White." It's a beautiful color, gentle and soft. 

And I liked it for all of four hours.
(Tuesday, April 5th)

Unfortunately, as soon as it dried I had a huge revelation that what I actually wanted was the complete opposite. (Why do all revelations come after you write the check?)  I craved drama, mood, mystery. My office needs to double as an occasional Lilliput-sized screening room and I wanted a destination that would feel sophisticated by day and ever-so-slightly sexy by night. A bit Babington House...

with just a dash of 18th century Spitalfields.
(Photo of Dennis Sever's house, which I discovered through a 
commenter... Thank you, Linda! I am officially obsessed.)

Dark doesn't scare me. As you can imagine, life here in California is very, very sunny (to put it mildly). To me, the sun is a huge Klieg light in the sky with its spotlight relentlessly trained on every man, woman and child. It's fine for The Divine Italian; he's a heat-seeker. I, however, am Norwegian and Irish and I am a pale snail looking for a dark refuge. 

So I bit the bullet and told the painters to come back on Thursday so that they could redo what they just that minute finished doing. 

This time, I went with Farrow and Ball's "Railings", a deep bluey-black...
(Thursday, April 7th)

...and I can't believe how much more I love it. It's a totally different room. It was suffering from an identity crisis and now it's found itself.
And see, it still gets a lot of light. And despite its admittedly more masculine feel, right beyond those French doors are all those sun-loving roses, entwined in pink splendor.  So it's all very yin yang. 

Of course, now that it's painted, I am itching to change everything else. Like the curtains, the couch and the desk chair. Last November, I was lucky enough to visit Peter Dunham's "Gentleman's Study" at Veranda Magazine's Greystone Mansion Showhouse and I still can't get it out of my head.

I would love to create my own mini homage to it at The Kenmore Arms. His "Globe" curtains speak to me in a profound way. They're very Royal Geographic Society meets Diana Vreeland.

And I might have to reupholster my desk chair in his "Almont Stripe".
Stay tuned.

19 comments:

ArchitectDesign said...

I LOVE the new color -if you want a huge change -why not continue the color up onto the ceiling? THEN it will be a cozy space for sure!!

mary said...

Are your roses "Cecile Brunner"? They look like it - and your thumb couldn't be noir enough to hurt them...they love SoCal !! Mine took over my life - so when I opened a shop - that's what I named it. Love the walls - awaiting the next move....

C.T. said...

OOoohhww YEAH!! You go girl!! Love it alllll the way. Very, very Yin Yang indeed and sooooo sophisticated, cosy, stylish....God how I envy you right now ;-)

Laura [What I Like] said...

Adore it! I totally know what you mean about CA sometimes being a bit overly sunny. We all need a bit of darkness in our lives. I love the contrast of the white sofa on that wall...very unexpected and chic.

Amy said...

the new color is perfect. i still can't get over how chic and stylish yet effortless your rooms are...hoping a little will rub off on this blog reader!

Mrs. Blandings said...

Simply gorgeous. And I love the Dunham fabric - those globes are fantastic.

tartanscot said...

holy fan-deck.
I *LOVE* the new dramatic colour. seriously, a way-whole-lot.
good for you for keeping at it until it was perfect.

M said...

Gorgeous! Farrow and Ball paint and wallpapers are so beautiful and stylish.

pve design said...

An art teacher told me, one must start with the darks first in order to see the light. That deep dark color is so Cecil Beaton. I love it. Look forward to seeing the transformation. The roses, they are stunning.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh, the second colour is the best, by far. Being a pale soul myself, I also feel quite at home in the dark.

Christine said...

could i recomment painting the ceiling? The harsh line you've created between the wall and the ceiling needs to soften up a bit.
It looks fantastic tho
Christine

royalapothic said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!!! I just did my living room in Deep Charcoal and am really loving the contrast. With our amazing light in LA, we can get away with it.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Architect Design and Christine: You both have commented on the ceiling, which is actually a soft grey but I admit looks quite white with the new paint color. I am considering painting it now...thanks for your input!

two hippos said...

the railing paint colour looks perfect! Your climbing roses are very beautiful, we have trees full of blossom here and the thought of scented rose and sunshine is something to look forward to.

Tricia said...

I love the abrupt turnaround! Sounds like you had the deep palette swirling around in your heart but couldn't quite pull the trigger. So glad you didn't miss a beat at the end. The chair fabric option is to die for.

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa -

As I have learned after all these years and 4 homes...sometimes you just have to see it in person to make the decision! Good that you went with bold...I Love, Love, Love color!

My bedroom was recently painted a beautiful blue/gray with bright white trim and it went from boringly restless to passionately restful.

Nextup (thanks to you!) a trellis full of climbing roses for an aromatic, visually stimulating view from my newly blue room.

vroom

homemade said...

hi
I just found your blog via ancient industries and will be following, It's very lovely.
I always paint my ceilings the same colour as the walls too as it softens the edges.
Look forward to further posts. Have you ever seen E F Benson's house in Rye, Sussex? you would like, it is owned by the national trust.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Homemade: How amazing...I didn't know Benson's house was open to the public! And am considering calling the painters back in... :)

eccentricfemme said...

Great color change, it is def more interesting and sophisticated. Please don't replace the couch, it gives good contrast.....and while I bet one of the fabrics you mentioned for your curtains or chair would be lovely, do your own thang!

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