Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holly’s colorful cabinet of natural curiosities

Ever since the fall 2015 One Room Challenge reveals a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking and looking and looking again at the boho fun family room done by Holly Hollingsworth Phillips. There’s so much home decor eye-candy here, it’s hard to know where to start the sugar binge. My eyes have put on 10 pounds each just trying taking it all in! 


She promised at the outset it was going to be a wild design, and she wasn’t kidding. But every time I look at it, I find more to love. After all, how can you go wrong with a purple velvet sofa?


The road in


Whenever I’m mesmerized by a particularly well-designed, many layered, and fabulous space like this one, I think subconsciously I’m looking for its “key.” I hate to call it a theme, because that’s so cliché, and if the room is done well, it’s more subtle than that.

It’s more like a secret road in, if you get my drift. Like I said, I don’t consciously go in search of it; it just all of a sudden pops out at me. Like this…



Why these three books, Holly? Here’s what I think:

  • A Visual Life by interior designer Charlotte Moss. The subtitle is “Scrapbooks, Collages, and Inspiration.” Phillips’ room is a sort of scrapbook, collage AND inspiration for color lovers like me who don’t have the guts to take the chances she has. If she can pull it off (which she did in spades!), well, maybe I can try harder. 
  • Cabinet of Natural Curiosities by Albertus Seba. The title speaks for itself, and Phillips’ room is full of “natural curiosities.” No detail, no matter how small, has been overlooked. Phillips' keen eye assembled vignettes with the stunning precision of Seba's painstaking illustrations.
  • La Tour de 300 Metres by Gustave Eiffel, which includes engineering drawings for the Eiffel tower. Interestingly, people called the plan for the tower “grandiose” at the time, and even ugly. Since it was the tallest structure attempted at the time, many also said it couldn’t be done. My guess is Phillips might have drawn similar reactions when she tried to explain (if she tried) what she wanted to do in this room. But like the Eiffel Tower, it now speaks volumes for itself.



This view is from the opposite side of the room, looking into the conversation and TV-watching area. I love how the black ceiling and woodwork pop against the white walls. Together they make an incredible backdrop for this riot of color and pattern.


Under the microscope



Wallpapering the backs of the shelves in this unit was truly inspired. Can it be possible that the books and objets d’art pop even more against the colorful swirls of this paper by Lindsay Cowles? The print, which resembles an ikat to me, is a major unifying factor in the room. It contains the purple of the sofa, the green of the draperies, the pops of yellow and orange. Because the print is itself indistinct, it helps our eyes pull the whole room together.

The black of the cabinet helps make everything stand at attention as well, and within its frame the TV disappears. The animal figurines are more “natural curiosities,” as are the agate slice cupboard knobs. In fact, there’s a real gemstone palette going on here. Rather than the weary emerald/ruby/sapphire combination of precious stones, she gives us the second tier of semiprecious stones—amethyst, malachite, shades of citrine, peridot, blue topaz, and rhodolite garnet.



See? The Cabinet of Natural Curiosities book sits on a cabinet filled with curiosities of its own—mineral-slice lamps with gold-lined shades, a brass skull, and silver and gold boxes topped with turquoise and shell. Even the inset panels of the cabinet doors are a natural curiosity—capiz shell from the windowpane oyster.

This photo also provides a great closeup of the carpet, Karastan Exotics Aberdale Antelope. I’ve been seeing this more and more lately. I love its delicate fawn color and geometric pull of the undulating darker lines.


A compelling collection of art





I always admire a well-put-together gallery wall. I’m pretty good at putting items together, but the tough part is choosing the right art to begin with. The two central prints, between the lamps, are by Kristi Kohut and from Minted. They carry over the color values from the bookshelf side of the room but orient them horizontally instead of vertically, as in the wallpaper backing.

Isn’t the white fur of the ottoman against the carpet just to-die-for? This room is such an exotic romp! BTW, don’t miss the bird on a perch in that far corner and the animal skull over the French doors—more natural curiosities. I told you every little detail was taken care of.

The draperies hung as high as possible help keep the black ceiling from feeling stifling. And while we’re on the subject of those draperies, let’s have a closer look.



The drapery fabric, also used in one of the throw pillows, is Tonic Malachite. Green against purple has always been one of my favorite color combinations. The “lady” painting is by Hayley Mitchell, and I’m groovin’ on her earrings. The orchid is a nice touch, too!

You can see more Mekenzie France photographs of Holly’s new family room at The English Room. Don’t forget to check out links to all six weekly posts that show “before” photos, inspiration boards and project progression.

All I can say is, this room is my new inspiration for my own great room. I’ll be looking at these photos over again and again and trying to bring a bit of the wild and crazy cabinet of natural curiosities to the Lawson domain.

Thanks, Holly!


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