I love feminine decorating. Can’t help that I do – but I am just drawn to the more feminine side of decorating – using silks and linens and French antiques and mirrors. I suppose you either like feminine decorating or you don’t.
For instance – this Mario Buatta Charleston interior just makes my heart beat faster. No, it’s not trendy or cutting edge, but it’s so feminine and pleasing to the eye. It’s hard to believe that not everyone loves this style of decorating, but judging from the media examples found in magazines and the internet – they don’t.
Oh. I’m confused these days. The magazines show houses and more houses that I don’t understand, much less like. I flip through them and toss them away faster than I can hit the delete key on my Zinio account.
But seriously, is it me??? I really want to like an interior that is outside my safe zone , something that isn’t what I am usually attracted to. There has to be a trendy house – somewhere - that moves me!! A house that is designed for 2015, that isn’t feminine, but that still excites. And then, there it is. In Traditional Home.
A shock? Traditional Home? Yes. And the biggest shock was it was a masculine design – not feminine at all. Still, it appealed to me so much – it makes me want to be able to design just like this for a bachelor or a young, fashionable family.
The exterior. Please. What is this??????? Is this not the CUTEST, most ROMANTIC house ever designed? And it’s a 1929 original. Not new. Located in Bloomington, Illinois – the French Tudor house is famous in its neighborhood for its Snow White vibe. When the owners met a young man who was working down the street – they told him the house was going to be for sale. He jumped on it because he remembered the house from when he was a boy. He used to say – “one day I will live there.” As fate would have it – he bought the house, moved in, and then married those owners’ daughter who had grown up in the house!!!
Summer Thornton, from Chicago, was hired to renovate the house that she, too, remembers driving by as a child. Thornton retained the charm of the interior and the exterior, but she updated it for today. I was so excited to find photographs of this house on Thornton’s web site and couldn’t wait to share them.
Before we go inside – let’s just admire the exterior for a bit. Could it be anymore romantic with its welcoming slate steps and white vases that lead to the turreted entry hall. Notice the French lantern above the door! Love that detail, along with the weather vane.
Oh, if I were building a house I would take this photograph to the architect and say – design this exactly. Then, when my new house was built, I would buy a lounge chair – and put it on the front lawn – and just stare at my house. I would. I promise. And I would wave at all the children driving by wishing that one day they would live there.
I wish there was a bigger picture of the entry turret – but you can see the original stairs, now with black painted treads. The floor is a classic limestone with black diamonds, newly laid by Summer. The leaded windows are original. Summer gives a clue to the hip vibe inside – with Circa’s Hicks lighting fixture.
BEFORE: the living room had wall to wall carpet! Yes! Summer replaced it with a herringbone pattern wood floor. Since the ceilings are only 8’ – she painted it all white, walls and ceiling, and added vertical paneling on the walls. The owner wanted a masculine, monochromatic vibe – but how to achieve this in such a romantic, feminine house? By using texture and a mixture of handmade materials – Summer achieved the goal.
The living room – is a mix of new and old – with a strong masculine touch.
I love how Summer added the classic oil paintings to the mix of art deco and mid century design. I love the symmetry of this vignette.
The mantel is new. This view is towards the front of the house. In the bay is a desk. I love how the round table was incorporated into the furniture placement. It acts like an entry table and helps to break up the expanse of the long room with the low ceiling. The light over it also helps to disguise the low ceiling. Despite the house being masculine and with a mid century vibe – it’s still warm and comfortable and inviting.
I love the mix of the leather Restoration Hardware wing chair and the fabulous vintage 50s black and brass light fixture.
NOTE: in a long room with a low ceiling – break the space up with a center table and add a chandelier over it.
Another classic oil over the fireplace. Love the ottoman and mix of chairs.
In the bay window – is a vintage Art Deco desk. Love the chair and the etageres.
The dining room before.
In a change from the white walls, Phillip Jeffries grasscloth wallpaper was added to create a more dreamy mood. The table was custom made by Summer. The chairs are Suzanne Kasler for Hickory. The light fixture is Bradley.
But the showstopper is this incredible console in black and brass. Whoa.
NOTE: A great way to trend your interior is to hunt for a 50s style console in vintage shops and garage sales. One piece like this – which you could paint black or gray – could become the focal point of your room.
Not seen in Traditional Home is the library, which has paneling – with a gray ceiling, a big surprise. The standing lamp is incredible.
Note: Summer used a lot of taxidermy – real and faux – in the house which creates a warm feel. Search E-bay for reasonable specimens.
The kitchen was completely redone. Fabulous appliances and marble topped island are the focal points. Remember that Williams Sonoma sells ranges that are somewhat reasonable and have that spectacular look.
Another view – the stove is between two brick walls, as are wood shelves.
This wall is tiled in subway tiles up to the ceiling – again to make the ceiling seem higher. Notice the beautiful cabinets lined in brass. Sconces are unusual in a kitchen – but flanking the sink – they look great.
NOTE: Create a design element that flows through the house by using sconces. Summer has them in almost every room. Be sure to check Restoration Hardware for great looking sconces.
The breakfast room with fireplace and wood store above it – and sitting room. The floor lamp is so interesting. I love all of Summer’s hand picked fixtures.
The sitting room overlooks the backyard. Midcentury coffee table.
Upstairs – the master bedroom has creamy linens in ivory and black. Love the painting and the taxidermy.
Sitting area. Notice the shoe rack in the bay – what else can you do with a bay that size?
Love the new mantel.
The bathroom carries the décor from downstairs up. The subway tile, with gray grout, the slate floors, the black frames mimic the windows. Notice the wood shelf on the vanity and the wood ceiling. The bathroom is stunning.
Another view of the bathroom – shows the wood walls and subway tile wainscot. Seriously – I have never seen a bathroom like this.
What do you think? Did the designer fulfill her assignment: design a masculine house with a monochromatic scheme that respects the house’s romantic roots but makes it viable for today?
Yes? I think so.
Does this design make you rethink feminine versus masculine design?
Would you ever think about switching your own house from feminine to masculine?
To see more wonderful photographs from the designer, go to Summer Thorton Design HERE.