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The rooms in this home were in good shape, but plain -- there were no architectural details to add character. The den had a brick wall that looked out-of-place with the homeowners' style, and the brick fireplace in the living room was also quite dated and boring. The overall take on the space was a bit too staid for a young couple anticipating arrival of their first baby.
The problem with Nick's home office was that it was in the wrong room. A quick switch was needed to free up space for their new baby and Nick couldn't be trusted to make the move. We had decided to convert the main floor den into a super home office, and once we were there, we couldn't resist giving a healthy dollop of British flair and detail to the living and dining rooms as well.
The first priority for any office space is a good desk and plenty of shelves to store books and files. These were built under and around the window and spread out onto adjacent walls. The brick wall was covered with drywall, and a comfy couch and calm sand paint tone on the walls are all that were needed to create the perfect atmosphere for Nick to work. Of course, he would also be able to relax and play in this room of his own.
Nick is a Brit, and the Union Jack and a framed photo of the Queen he had on display in his old office gave us a clue that he longed for a taste of merry old England. So we designed the living and dining room dÈcor around traditional Georgian style, but employed a modern touch by painting in white. The foundation of this British design includes deep ceiling and crown mouldings, door trim, wall paneling, a grand fireplace, and comfortable furniture. Although there is now an abundance of detail, we kept the colours light with the exception of a stunning mahogany stained dining room table built by our talented carpenters, and an ornate console that is clad in leather and topped with a classic painted faux marble.
These three rooms are now inviting and full of interest; the sunburst mirror, a painted sisal carpet, a chandelier revitalized with white paint, the intricate console, and of course, the Flag mounted above the handsome new fireplace are all special touches that combine to make this a grand place to call home.
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We built in storage using a combination of stock cabinets and shelving, custom fitting the pieces to suit the dimensions of the room. The brown and white striped roman blinds are neat and attractive, and this style doesn't take up extra wall space.
The sisal carpet was personalized with a plaid pattern. The trick to a smooth finish is to apply very little paint. We taped off thin and thick stripes in one direction, and used a roller to apply a small amount of white paint. Use a scrub brush to work the paint into the weave. Re-tape in the other direction to complete the design.
Georgian style is all about architectural details. Jim stenciled a border below the crown moulding and on the ceiling using Venetian plaster. Then thin strips were nailed on above and below the stenciled patterns, and two coats of semi-gloss white paint unify the intricate frieze.
The lower walls look as though they have real wood panels, but these are made with 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch MDF and pine trim. Again, white paint over all gives the illusion of grandeur. Look in your hardware or lumber store for the variety of mouldings and door casing materials that you can use to trim doorways and windows. You can nail on two or three strips side by side to build height and width. Paint makes the divide invisible.
Although consoles can be grand, the most common have narrow tops about the size of a shelf. The back of the console is screwed into the wall and the front supported by two arched legs. We carved the console legs from oak and covered the wood shapes with leather. Strips of upholstery tacks were nailed on to highlight the design.
Paint has long been utilized to reproduce the look of costly materials and Debbie replicated the look of Carrara marble here. Paint the shelf top and edges with two coats of white paint. Mix a small amount of two glazes, white and gray. First cover the base coat with a thick layer of white glaze. Then brush on the gray glaze in 2 and 3-inch drifts all going the same way. You are creating the base for the marble. Dab over the surface with a rag to soften the gray and then lightly brush over the surface with the end of a soft brush to blur the gray into the white. To make the veins, dip the last inch of a feather into black paint and draw irregular lines that zig and zag, but move in the same direction. Add just a few golden veins. Continue softening with the brush until you have a natural-looking finish. Top with two coats of high gloss varnish to pop the colours and bring out the depth that you would find in real marble.
Refacing a fireplace has become a popular means of changing or adding style to a room. For our English manor house theme we wanted to add both height and detail to the existing brick. We built a new faÁade by attaching MDF to the front, sides and top, and then built a higher mantel and decorated with crown moulding and other trim details. For safety, non-flammable cement fiberboard is installed around the fireplace opening. The hearth is tiled with white tumbled marble.
To give the illusion that the Union Jack had been flying high for decades, we aged the fabric. Nylon is not as easy to tint as cotton, however, here's one method. Dip the flag into strong tea and let sit for 15 minutes. Continue the aging process by pressing pieces of tin foil into random areas of the fabric with a hot iron. Brush on a white wash to give a bleached look.
Traditionally a convex mirror was framed in elaborate gilt, but we chose a more modern design. We cut out four different lengths of 1" x 3" pine, cutting one end of each at 37 degrees. These were nailed onto a plywood circle around the mirror. Once the sunburst design was built, it was painted with a base coat of gray and highlighted with pewter metallic paint.
Our carpenters built a handsome maple extension table and applied a mahogany stain/sealer to the wood. The carved legs add weight and detail to the table and it makes a stunning focal point in the all-white dining room.
The homeowners' metal chandelier was brightened up with white metal paint.
Wooden valences can be painted, but we chose to dress up these with elegant suede fabric. Batting (padding sold in sewing and fabric stores) was glued onto each valence first, then the suede was wrapped over the batting and stapled to the back. The edges were finished with trim applied with hot glue.