Flow? What flow? At Colonial Williamsburg

Thanks for bearing with me, Gentle Readers. Here is my final observation about Colonial Williamsburg. And then I promise to go on vacation somewhere else.

As an interior designer, I spend a lot of time thinking how I can achieve flow within a house. How can I make each room a little different while maintaining a cohesive feel?

Modern interior showing flow between rooms

bossy color

It helps if the style — or mix of styles — is consistent. And color is an obvious strategy for flow: if I’m working with a palette of, say, three main colors, I might emphasize one color in one room, pull out another in a different room, and establish a neutral backdrop and use tiny amounts of all of the colors in another room.

But those upstart colonialists: they didn’t care about flow! The fancy people didn’t anyway. They wanted to put up as much color and pattern as they could afford.

To wit: the George Wythe House. Dark red, blue and white, and electric green in a single eyeful. I love it.

Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg

Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg

Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg

Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg

Here’s a pink room looking into the same green one, still at Wythe House:

Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg

Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg

And here’s the view from the ballroom to the dining room in the Governor’s Palace (this picture is from Elle Decor). The only color consistent between these two rooms is a pinky-purple in both of the rugs. (And we don’t know for sure that these were the EXACT rugs used at the time — there may have been NO repeat colors across these rooms.)

Ballroom in the Governor's Palace, Colonial Williamsburg

Ballroom in the Governor’s Palace, Colonial Williamsburg

So. NO connection between colors or patterns room to room at Colonial Williamsburg. Huh. It’s actually kind of liberating, isn’t it? (Pun totally intended.)

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

Robert Allen’s “Ming Dragon” fabric. Rip-off or homage?

I was thumbing through the Dwell Studio catalog that came this week, and my eye stopped on this picture:

Robert Allen's Ming Dragon fabric on Dwell Studio headboard

Dwell Studio’s Carnegie headboard

Pretty, isn’t it? My first thought was, “Wow, Dwell Studio! Pretty impressive, using Schumacher’s iconic fabric, “Chiang Mai!” (Actually, my first thought wasn’t that eloquent, but that was the gist.)

Schumacher's Chiang Mai fabric

Schumacher’s Chiang Mai fabric

But I was fooled. As I looked closer, I realized that something was off. There aren’t as many colors, and the pattern isn’t quite as wild…ah ha! It isn’t Schumacher’s Chiang Mai, it’s Robert Allen’s fabric, “Ming Dragon” on Dwell Studio’s Carnegie headboard.

Robert Allen's Ming Dragon fabric

Robert Allen’s Ming Dragon fabric

There are differences, of course. There are no Chinese pots in the Ming Dragon, there aren’t quite as many colors, the flowers are different…in this colorway, there are gray leaves, which Chiang Mai doesn’t have…

But. I don’t think there can be any argument that the Robert Allen fabric is, if not a rip-off, then at least an homage. The similarity in the dragon heads is unmistakable:

Robert Allen's Ming Dragon fabric on a lampshade

Robert Allen’s Ming Dragon fabric on a lampshade

Schumacher's Chiang Mai fabric on a lampshade

Schumacher’s Chiang Mai fabric on a lampshade. Which could use a flange, by the way

Granted, the Chiang Mai has a crazed look in his eye (and he’s looking at US, so who knows what he’s planning), and the Ming Dragon is more polite, averting his gaze. But I mean, how many dragons do YOU know with flowing dreadlocks?

That’s what I thought.

Homages-slash-rip-offs in design are nothing new, of course. Saarinen’s Tulip table has to be one of the most ripped-off pieces there is. I’ve blogged about it, actually. (Several times.) The original is more elegant, more sophisticated, its pedestal just a little more slender at the center…it’s just more graceful than the clunky knock-offs.

Eero Saarinen's pedestal tulip table

Eero Saarinen’s iconic “Tulip Table”

Schumacher’s Chiang Mai pattern is worth ripping off. It’s MAGIC. There are so many colors in it, including black, that it’s incredibly versatile. I’ve used it as a fabric and as a wallpaper.

Buckingham Interiors Chiang Mai wallpaper

Buckingham Interiors. Why, oh why, didn’t I photograph the Dining Room bossy color wallpapered in Chiang Mai?

So even though the Ming Dragon is pretty, I’m going to stick with the original Chiang Mai. That iconic, crazy pattern that’s both familiar and edgy.

I’m loyal that way.

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is a full-service design firm in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people.

What’s inspiring bossy color this week? Light blue and coral

You already know that we’re completely taken with Duralee’s Bailey & Griffin fabrics. Right now, their Paradise Toile in blue and coral has become an absolute obsession.

Bailey & Griffin, Paradise Toile

Bailey & Griffin, Paradise Toile

So I’ve been looking for examples of blue and coral  — Robin’s egg blue and orange, really — to inspire us as we build some design schemes in this palette. Here’s what we’ve found.

Tobi Fairley

Tobi Fairley

Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy

Blue and orange wallpaper Chinoiserie

Thibaut, Orange Sheffield wallcovering

Designer unknown -- can you help?

Designer unknown — can you help?

Cowtan & Tout, Hurlingham toile

Cowtan & Tout, Hurlingham toile

Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy

F. Schumacher, Chiang Mai Dragon wallcovering and fabric

F. Schumacher, Chiang Mai Dragon wallcovering and fabric

Lisa Romerein

Lisa Romerein

Henri Matisse, Goldfish and Sculpture, 1912

Henri Matisse, Goldfish and Sculpture, 1912

Of course, Robin’s egg blue and RED is another of my favorite color combos right now…

Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy

Better Homes & Gardens

Better Homes & Gardens

…but that’s a blog post for another day.

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is a full-service design firm in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people.