I’ve spent most of the last few days at home with a sick boy. My youngest has strep throat, poor little guy. He’s on antibiotics now, though, and is finally on the upswing.
Several days at home, away from the studio, squeezing work in where it fits, doesn’t get me very good blog material. Fortunately, I still have pictures of The Retreat to share.
In case you missed my initial post about it, The Retreat is a manor house in Virginia that was built in 1799. We did a photo shoot there for our second look book and it was an absolute dream day.
It’s hard to even call this space a “foyer” with a straight face. You would at least have to use the fancy pronunciation. It’s basically a room all on its own with a grand staircase and magnificent woodwork.
I’ve never see the inside of a front door that is so impressive.
The foyer also has a side entrance, the stairs, a doorway to the study, which I’ll show in a minute, and to the living room.
The living room is where we shot the MMSMP Schloss dresser. The light in that room was so beautiful. That’s one thing about old homes…they were built to take advantage of the light. Even the old part of our house, that was built in the 1940’s, is perfectly situated to get the best light throughout the day.
The study is a smaller, cozy space that still feels grand, but more intimate.
Here’s how it looked before…
The room is furnished with, what I would consider, antiquities and oddities…things that made you want to lean in and explore. Natural elements mixed with old books and found objects.
One thing I took away from the decor at The Retreat was scale. Suzanne, the owner (also the owner of Lucketts), bought furniture that was large enough to fill these grand, high-ceilinged spaces.
We shot a dresser painted in Mora in the study. It fit perfectly in one of the doorways. Since it was a smaller dresser, it looked best nestled in this recess. And, let’s face it, those doors made an amazing backdrop.
The study opens up to a small hallway with a back staircase and through to the dining room.
The dining room was one of my favorites. The creamy paneled walls and the partly stripped trim that was still holding onto a hint of green paint stole my heart.
I hope to use this same look in my own house somewhere along the line. Not my current house, but some house. Some day.
So, most of us don’t have a house that looks anything like a 1799 manor. I was a little nervous about that fact when we were shooting there for the look book. I don’t want our furniture pieces, in such grand surroundings, to feel like they aren’t relatable.
I’ve learned though, after years of looking at spaces that are far nicer than I could afford, that there are always decorating take-aways.
Here are some I gathered while shooting the space…
You can use any colors on any budget. I love how Suzanne chose a fairly monochromatic color palette for the house. Each room has a different paint color, but all of the taupes, grays, beiges, blues and whites flow together and create a sophisticated atmosphere.
LET OLD THINGS BE OLD
I loved the fact that they left the stripped woodwork alone, left imperfections in the plaster and didn’t make everything look new and perfect. This house is old and they let it be old and its the better for it. You can use that same philosophy on antique furniture, textiles, etc. Don’t stress about the stains, scratches, gouges, repairs and other “flaws”. Those are signs of a life well lived.
I already mentioned this one. Scale is so important when you’re furnishing a space. I can’t tell you how often I see huge, overstuffed furniture wedged in a small room or, the opposite, a huge room with small furnishings and tiny wall art. Proper scale is what makes a vast room feel cozy and comfortable or a small room feel ample.
DON’T OVERWORK THE SPACE
This is another thing I see a lot…spaces that are overdone, overthought, over styled and over decorated. I’m sure I’m guilty of that very thing, too! It’s easy to do. These spaces felt collected and arranged, but not contrived. The dining room had mis-matched slipper chairs. The accessories were all loosely placed. Not everything was symmetrical, perfectly spaced or balanced, but it all felt right.
I hope you found a few take-aways in these photos as well!
For more inspiration, check out the before & after pictures of the kitchen.