Let's Play Interior Decorator (warning long)

For the first time in over ten years I have the opportunity to get my half of this Victorian duplex redecorated. Things have gotten off to a slow start, but I will soon be in a position to begin going through things like paint chips, wall paper samples, borders and anaglypta patterns.

I know there is wealth of artistic talent at these boards. I have benefit of the fact that my landlord is the past president of the local Victorian restoration society and is willing to take the financial hit in order to do things in period style and tastefully so.

The cast of characters:

The ceilings throughout are quite tall, between twelve and thirteen feet. Traditional double hung sash windows with the full complement of bull’s eye cornered trim, door moldings, baseboards and picture hanging trim decorate the two main rooms. The doors are standard four panel trim with old lockboxes and glass door knobs. The dark pine (or soft yellow oak) floors are exposed and varnished in the two front rooms, though they are not of extreme quality.

The apartment is of a shotgun configuration (the house is divided lengthwise into a side by side duplex) with a parlor in front, a bedroom in the middle which then forks into a railroad kitchen or the bathroom at the back of the house. Though somewhat narrow and compact, the tall ceilings compensate heavily for any space limitations.

My front parlor measures about ten by twelve feet and each wall is center punched with either a door or window. The windows are almost six feet tall, not including the trim. The bedroom is of similar size but its only window is in one corner which gives a darker cast to its atmosphere. Both ceilings have ornate central plaster medallions from which the chandeliers depend.

The bath has an old white porcelain claw foot tub but is otherwise a total wash with lousy linoleum, an out of period sink and vanity and a rather tired commode.

The kitchen is a complete train wreck due to the presence of an unused old concrete laundry sink that consumes vital space in the tiny area available. The linoleum is completely hosed and one of the cabinets needs to be rehung. A beautiful Merritt O’Keefe replacement stove waits patiently in the driveway, tarped until the time of installation. The porcelain sink (paired with the concrete laundry sink) is toast and the swiveling faucet and tap set that supplies it is of an unserviceable and archaic wall mounted design.
Modifications and changes:

The worn out chandeliers will be replaced with energy efficient ceiling fans. I am not fond of the frilly, four-bulb, tulip shaded lighting that is so common, so input from anyone who knows of some cool, single globe alternatives would be welcome. The blades of the fans will be in a blonde wood that will match the light colored wooden miniblinds for the window treatments. Polished brass finish will be the preferred accent for all exposed metal in the house. I am considering curtains or lace scrims, but pets generate a huge amount of dust and I hate dusting.
Color sets:

I’m leaning towards ivory, cream and tan colors in general to complement the light wood (birch, or light pine) miniblinds. I need to avoid any medium to dark colors as they will shrink the room’s appearance too much. I am concerned that there will not be enough contrast between the trim and walls to avoid a monochrome scheme.

Any suggestions of classic color combinations (especially Victorian period) would be very much appreciated. I tend to furnish with Teak finish Danish modern, so strict adherence to traditional (and often quite dark) color sets is not mandatory. All wall tops and the ceilings above the wood finish picture hanging trim (16" from the ceiling) are painted white in the parlor and bedroom. I like the effect because it lightens the rooms noticably. My landlord is partial to sponge painting, but I am not the bigest fan of it.

The middle bedroom is wallpapered and I want a new pattern. The pink micro-starred design has to go. I’m in favor of an extremely subtle, vertically striped “bamboo” style of pattern similar to writing paper made of the same material. The bedroom also has a dark brown and gold anaglypta (heavily raised relief paperboard) running three feet up from the floor with a string course of concave wooden trim around the entire room. It needs to go, as the dark colors deflate the room. I favor something with a more subtle vertical pattern to match the new paper.

Both main rooms will receive area rug floor coverings. My landlord has already procured some decent low grade Oriental copy patterns, but I will eventually upgrade to good Trans-Caucasus textiles for the full effect.

The bathroom should get a traditional hexagonal or octagonal white mosaic tile flooring with black string trim at the edges. I’m partial to a corner sink but will lose vital storage space and sink size by rotating the basin that way. I’d like to see tile brought up to the four foot high trim that circles the room, but that is on the wish list. Any suggestion for light colors that will harmonize with the tile pattern are welcome.

As most of you know, I love to cook so the kitchen is one area that I really want to see upgraded. The old warped wooden counter will be pulled, along with both sinks. I really need help on finding a compact Euro-style dishwasher. I’d like to see the counter replaced with a triptych of marble pastry board, maple butcher block and slate or another material for the sink perimeter. I’d love to put (wire mesh type reinforced) glass doors on all of the cabinets to open up the appearance of the kitchen. Any suggestions as to a floor covering would be well received. Tile might be nice, but it can be rather cold to the feet. I’m really tempted to do the kitchen in a classic Danish color combo of rust red areas with a royal blue trim. This color scheme will shrink the room mercilessly but is one of my favorites, so I am torn.
Final Notes:

I tend to go for understatement and subtle geometric patterns. Colors should normally be found in nature and go easy on the eyes. Natural materials are preferred to synthetics. The common mode color accent will be the golden brown teak veneer of Danish modern furniture.
Needed leads:

Compact Euro-style dishwasher (110VAC).

Single globe, brass finish ceiling fans.

Area and trim paint color groups.

Wallpaper and anaglypta patterns.

Tile and other floor covering materials.

Wooden miniblinds and window dressings.

For those of you who have read this far, I thank you. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Well, let me start by saying that since the recipe thread, I’ve wanted to eat at your house, but after the collectors thread and this description, I’d settle for just seeing the place.

[sub]…dinner wouldn’t be turned down, however…[/sub]:slight_smile:

This may not be quite what you’re after (depending on what “white-washed oak” is), but check out the bottom of page three of ‘light wood fans’ under “Ceiling Fans With Lights” (site uses frames; I didn’t know how to link to the page) on this site.

One thing you might consider which I always thought looked cool in tall old rooms is a pressed tin ceiling. You can still paint it white, but it would add a nifty bit of character to the place. Beyond that stroke of genius, I’ll let everybody who knows more about these things than I take up the cause…

You might also want to check out http://www.historichouseparts.com as well. This sounds like a wonderful thing to be able to do. Have fun and show us how it comes out.

So, um, can I move in?

I can’t really help much, my decorating at the moment is limited to hunting down chairs for my dining room table, but I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful. Post pictures!!!

Sheer brilliance, I have always adored tin ceilings! I will have to find a really subdued pattern, but since I do not have coved ceilings this would be a smashing highlight to the parlor.

Great suggestion! This one will definitely land on the table come decision time. Now I’ll have to find out if they do M.C. Escher patterns for tin ceilings.

Thanks Dijon!