Wow wow wow. Just wow.
A few months ago I got an email from a couple in Piedmont asking if I could come edit and style the vast (my word, not theirs) collection of artifacts they've picked up from all over the world. Um, yes, yes I can. I would love to. Let me in. Right now.
When I arrived at their house I was thrilled with it's stature, age, and SIZE. I doubt I've ever been in a house this big. My inner 8-year-old self went squealing around the rooms pretending to be a princess while my 39-year-old self introduced herself calmly to the very nice and beautiful woman who opened the door.
She welcomed me into the entry way which is actually a hall, a grand hall, there's no other word for it. It's just stunning.
Through the hall was also a loggia. Do you know what that is? I didn't know either. It's this and I want one.
The beautiful lady led me through a dining room that doesn't even pretend to be a place for every day eating. This thing is strictly a special occasion dining room, like for when the president stops by or something. The kitchen was next and then the room she wanted me to work in, a big one with a fireplace, floor to ceiling shelving, couches and an eating area. Because they are human and not royalty this is the room where they spend a considerable amount of time. They had moved in this past summer and their collections had landed on the shelves, haphazard and spilling over in their abundance. This is where I come in. Perfect!
Over the course of two weeks I stripped down the shelves, did a lot of piling like with like and mentally cataloging everything, which was a challenge on par with playing chess (for me), edited out what didn't belong, and styled the heck out of those shelves, which wasn't a challenge but instead a heart-pumping thrill-joy that let me know I am doing the right thing for my heart. In the process I got to explore the house and see other collections, like their fabric and clothing from around the world (this couple does awesome work in developing countries) and an amazing variety of puppets and masks and some camels that I fell in love with.
Here's where we started. They were using the shelves as surface area essentially, and knew it.
I took out all the colored ceramic ware and consolidated it into the bookcase next to the kitchen and not in the larger view of the entire room - they just weren't working with everything else. The room and collections wanted to be monochromatic so I let them. Now they aren't fighting with an identity crisis.
Then I added books by raiding their gorgeous library (picture every amazing dark, all wood proper library you've ever seen in a movie) for books with the right colored spines. I'm a big believer in bookcases housing books, especially when they are surrounding a fireplace and accompanied by couches. Cozy!
Next I moved some of the shelves to create more proportional and symmetrical lines within the shelves. Then I played and played and played. Here is the process!
The beautiful lady emailed after living with it for a while and said, "I wanted to let you know how much more I like the kitchen/family room because of your vision!", which is all I can ask for really.