Mansion in May - Challenges
A Naturalist's Study
Design Challenges and Constraints:
A very wide and dominant dormer (5' X 8') was located adjacent to a small window.
A poorly done room division left wide gaps between the sheetrocked wall and ceiling along the entire west wall and over the room's entry way.
Very thin sheetrock was used as a dividing wall along this entire west wall, making it unsteady and almost unusable for hanging objects from it.
A broken double hung window, which operated on its original 1909 pulley rope, was broken on the left side, and part of the window glass was cracked.
One half of this rather small room (13' X 16') was to function as a sales office.
The broken small window (3' X 4') was the only window in this south facing room for providing natural light and fresh air.
Most of the original floor moldings and quarter rounds had been removed when the room was carpeted wall to wall, and this left wide gaps between the walls and floor boards when the carpeting was removed and the floors were refinished.
It was assumed (correctly) that the west wall would eventually be taken down by the new owners in order to reunite this room with its adjacent sister room, thereby returning the room to its original symmetrical layout and size, which was more consistent with the other two bedrooms on the third floor of the mansion. This assumption led the designer to work with the structure of the room, rather than to alter it for creating a Naturalist's Study.
Add verticality to the window area by hanging a ceiling-to-floor window treatment.
Use color to integrate the objects in the room and further express the room's theme. A tone on tone lime green fabric with stenciled gold leaves printed vertically on the fabric was used for the main window treatment, along with a loosely folded Marimekko fabric that looked hand-drawn (the same fabric was used for chair pads and backs used by sales personnel). The painterly quality of both fabrics added lots of texture to them.
Visually diminish the size of the dominant dormer by placing a floor screen in front of the dormer, adding a horizontal element to the area that led the eye across to the longest wall in the room, which exhibited most of the Naturalist's artifacts: butterflies, moths, minerals, shells, graphic and digital photographs of nature, and handmade paper sconces, designed especially for the room. These sconces added the needed soft, ambient light to this darker side of the room.
Use Trompe L'oeil above the doorway and on the closet door, for adding depth and dimension to this small room.
Use floating shelves for displaying objects to provide the room with a lighter and more airy feel.
Faux finish walls to cover the blemishes, nicks and unevenness on all the wall surfaces (3 applications of 3 different colors: rolled, ragged and dragged).
Install floor moldings and quarter rounds to provide room with a finished look.
For a description of the room's major pieces, please see "Designer's Notes"