Wallpaper at Colonial Williamsburg

It’s embarrassing but true. As a red-blooded, card-carrying citizen of these United States of America, I had never been to Colonial Williamsburg before this summer. But let me tell you: it was worth the wait.

Governor's Palace gardens, Colonial Williamsburg

I loved everything about it. I loved how accurate it was. (When my husband visited as a kid in 1976, the thinking was that these 18th-century houses were decorated in a Colonial Revival style: kind of fancy, pediments over doorways, lots of furniture. NOW we know that the furnishings were much simpler, so the interiors were re-done. Excellent.) I loved the goofy interpreters in their costumes, with their “good day”s and unfortunate footwear. I loved the little street plays acting out the issues of the day. I loved the hokey, expensive carriage ride we took, much to the delight of our children.

Carriage ride at Colonial Williamsburg And, as I’m sure you can imagine, I LOVED the wallpaper.

Check out the George Wythe House (which I now know is pronounced with, not whythe. Sorry, Benjamin Moore’s HC-143 Wythe Blue. I won’t make that mistake again):

Red wallpaper at the George Wythe House, Colonial Williamsburg

Wallpapered stairwell at Wythe House, Colonial Williamsburg

Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg

Green floral wallpaper at the Wythe House, Colonial Williamsburg

Striped wallpaper at the George Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg

Here, roughly, was the decorating thought process of the fancy people in 1770s Williamsburg.

- I am rich.

- I want people to know I am rich.

- So I will put wallpaper in my house.

- And to show people that I’m really, REALLY rich, I’m going to put the fanciest wallpaper in the most prominent rooms, where the greatest number of people will see it.

So straightforward. What can I get, do I like it, will it impress the neighbors. Those were the concerns.

The yellow floral wallpaper in the dining room of the Thomas Everard House was certainly impressive:

Yellow floral wallpaper in the dining room of Everard House, Colonial Williamsburg

Yellow wallpaper, Everard House, Colonial Williamsburg

More on the amazing canopy beds at Colonial Williamsburg later, but I couldn’t omit the Everard House’s amazing blue, cream, and black wallpaper with its unrelated trim:

Blue floral bedroom, Everard House, Colonial Williamsburg
Blue floral wallpaper, Everard House, Colonial Williamsburg

The Peyton Randolph House also had its share of fabulous wallpaper in shades of blue and gray:

Wallpapered stairwell, Peyton Randolph House, Colonial Williamsburg

Gray wallpaper, Peyton Randolph House, Colonial Williamsburg

Isn’t this wallpaper so quirky and fun? I call it, “Drunken Chinoiserie:”

Gray and red wallpaper, Randolph House, Colonial Williamsburg

Sigh. So much gorgeous wallpaper, so few rooms in my own house that can handle it.

Bossy color is a full-service interior design firm based in Washington, D.C. At bossy color, we design outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people.

Paper Rock Scissors in St. Michaels, MD. Go.

You know how, when you’re on vacation in a charming small town, you drift in and out of ye olde gifte shoppes fairly mindlessly, your eyes casting over the goods that seem to be in every store: cocktail napkins with crabs on them; cursive wooden signs that command you to DREAM, or EAT; and “sea-inspired jewelry?” (That’s a direct quote, by the way.)

Well, Paper Rock Scissors in St. Michaels, MD is not that.

Paper, Rock, Scissors in St. Michaels, MD

Paper Rock Scissors in St. Michaels MD

It’s different. First it’s only partly a shop; it also offers craft workshops in things like indigo dying, if that’s your thing.

But I’m more interested in the merch. It’s stylish and just plain interesting.

Paper Rock Scissors in St. Michaels MD

I love those Joseph Cornell-esque boxes. Tragically, I didn’t get the name of the artist. But I did get the name of Kelly Puissegur, an artist who makes intriguing pieces like this:

Art by K. Puissegur

Art by K. Puissegur at Paper Rock Scissors

We bought an overdue baby gift there…

Kids' handmade clothing at Paper Rock Scissors

…(those are baby blankets below the shirt)…

Paper Rock Scissors in St. Michaels MD

And they have some cool things for entertaining, like place card holders…

Placecard holders at Paper Rock Scissors

…and oyster-shucking accoutrements.

Oyster accoutrements at Paper Rock Scissers

Paper Rock Scissors is in an old mill in St. Michaels, so the setting is really cool.

Paper Rock Scissors in St. Michaels MD

Paper Rock Scissors in St. Michaels MD

Stop in if you can. You won’t be disappointed. And who knows? If you hit it right, you might even be able to make an indigo shirt while you’re there.

Paper Rock Scissors in St. Michaels MD

Paper Rock Scissors in St. Michaels MD

 

Annie Elliott is an expert in curated interiors, brilliant color palettes, and telling people what to do in the nicest way possible. Her interior design firm, bossy color, is based in Washington, D.C.

 

Restoration Hardware revisited, from catalogs to capitals

You know that I haven’t always been Restoration Hardware‘s biggest fan. In fact, some of its designs in years past have left me, well, baffled. Remember the Aviator Wing Desk? And how I even offered some friendly constructive criticism?

Well, that was three years ago. And I am nothing if not fair. So I was most interested to read Maxwell Ryan’s (the genius behind Apartment Therapy) interview with Restoration Hardware’s CEO, Gary Friedman.

Restoration Hardware's Gary Friedman.

Restoration Hardware’s Gary Friedman. Photo by Jake Stangel for Bloomberg Businessweek

First things first. MR asked about the elephant in the room: the floor-denting, child-crushing, recently sent package of catalogs. Excuse me: sourcebooks. 

Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan's photo of Restoration Hardware's new "sourcebooks"

Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan’s photo of Restoration Hardware’s new “sourcebooks”

Mr. Friedman explained that this mailing replaces multiple mailings throughout the year; the assumption is that we consumers (and designers, I suppose) will hold onto these sourcebooks for repeated reference. That’s not a bad strategy. I mean, how many catalogs do you receive from Serena & Lily each month?

Mr. Friedman then surprised me by saying (these are MR’s words) that “the books are also fully recyclable and shipped UPS in a partnership, where certified carbon offsets have been purchased to balance all impact” on the environment.

You have to admit that that’s IMPRESSIVE, Gentle Readers. And fascinating, because it indicates that Mr. Friedman KNOWS people are going bezerk about the catalog brick. Sorry again: sourcebook brick.

Next, I was intrigued by Mr. Friedman’s strategy for Restoration Hardware’s bricks-and-mortar stores. He intends to consolidate and make the remaining locations amazing: gigantic galleries with lots of natural light.  (Sounds like DC’s four-story Room & Board store, which I love.) Restoration Hardware’s stores will be DESTINATIONS. With CHILDCARE. This is brilliant.

Restoration Hardware Store Front

(Lest you disagree by thinking that in-person stores are going the way of the Dodo, read Mr. Friedman’s statistics about where RH’s sales come from.)

So let’s get to the really important stuff, shall we?

How’s the MERCH?

Surprise! There are now several – hear that? SEVERAL – things at Restoration Hardware that I like.

We’ve always been fans of their bedding; Restoration Hardware had linen duvet covers in lavender when there were none to be found. (Remember my recent revelation: sometimes purple is the answer?)

Garment-Dyed Sateen Bedding Collection in Orchid

Garment-Dyed Sateen Bedding Collection in Orchid

I like the Martens Round Coffee Table. Good round tables are hard to find.

Martens Round Coffee Table

Martens Round Coffee Table

The Miya Moroccan Wool Rugs are terrific and versatile.

Miya Moroccan Wool Rug

Miya Moroccan Wool Rug

And I love the Buckle Chair in Antique Chestnut. We just recommended this for a Guest Bedroom, actually.

BUCKLE CHAIR ANTIQUED CHESTNUT

Buckle Chair Antiqued Chestnut

Now. Unfortunately. Tragically. There are still plenty of things at Restoration Hardware that leave me furrowing my brow, scrunching up my face, and scratching my head.

The Entablature Bed is simply ridiculous,

Entablature Bed

Entablature Bed

as is the Cambridge Sectional. A tufted, Chesterfield-like sectional? Why would anyone think that’s a good idea?

Cambridge Sectional

Cambridge Sectional

The 1950s Iron Wingback Chair looks like an electrocution device…

1950s Iron Wingback Chair

1950s Iron Wingback Chair

…which is appropriate, considering that the Mayfair Steamer Trunk Secretary

Mayfair Steamer Trunk Secretary

Mayfair Steamer Trunk Secretary

…looks like a coffin when closed.

Mayfair Steamer Trunk Secretary

Mayfair Steamer Trunk Secretary – Closed

Finally, the Baroque Capital Coffee Table

Baroque Capital Coffee Table

Baroque Capital Coffee Table

And the Distressed Ionic Capital Coffee Table

Distressed Ionic Capital Coffee Table

Distressed Ionic Capital Coffee Table

actually make me angry. My former art historian self can’t stand to see capitals perverted like this, fake though the capitals may be. Also, and more to the point, these tables are unspeakably ugly.

So there you have it, Gentle Readers. File this under “personal growth and near-acceptance.” Restoration’s business strategies are intriguing and appealing. But as far as the merchandise is concerned, to Mr. Friedman and his band of merry designers I say: edit heavily, scale down,  add some COLOR, for Pete’s sake, and then we’ll talk.

UPDATE, June/July 2014: Uh-oh: looks like RH isn’t being as straightforward as it should be about carbon offsets and paper sources…

Annie Elliott is an expert in curated interiors, brilliant color palettes, and telling people what to do in the nicest way possible. Her interior design firm, bossy color, is based in Washington, D.C.