Making Over a Parlor in a Historic Mansion

In case you missed it, for the past few months we have been following along with a young couple knee deep in the restoration of their historic mansion in Greensburg, Indiana. Their home was built in 1871 by Bright B. Harris, a scout for Morgan's Raiders in the Civil War and they have slowly been putting their own touches on the mansion to bring it back to life.  We have seen them complete their entry, their master bedroom and their living room, even dealing with a little surprise that took Dea on a different design path than what she was thinking, and today, Dea is revealing to us her parlor.

rehab addict, old home,

I have shared with you that I grew up in a historic mansion in this very same town. Our home was built in 1860 and had a parlor at the front of the home. Otherwise, I'm fairly certain I would have no idea what a parlor was since that's not common home lingo. Our parlor was originally used for weddings and funerals but mostly it was a room that went largely unused in our home. I decided to look up the definition.

A parlor is essentially a formal living room, and when Dea and Christian saw the parlor it was anything but ready for entertaining visitors. 

The previous homeowners ripped out and essentially gutted some of the most charming original details of this historic mansion. The parlor's fireplace used to have a marble mantle with handmade fretwork but was stripped of all of its glory.

The original chandelier that was hanging from the center of the room was ripped out with nothing left in its place.

Dea confessed that they struggled to come up with a plan for this room and "kind of flew by the seat of our pants!" I think we can all agree, that it came together in the end to become a beautiful room worthy of entertainment and reception.

When I was talking with Dea about how the plan came together for this room, she had to make a little confession. Here's what she said:

"First, we chose all the furnishings in the wrong order. I chose the ideal color pallet with a dream rug I had made up in my mind (completely imaginative) land then searched for months endlessly to find it. Lesson: ALWAYS CHOOSE THE RUG FIRST! Luckily when I did find a rug that existed in the real world it happened to complement the wall color and I only needed to swap out a couple of the throw pillows to pull the design together."

Dea has made some amazing color choices in her home. I asked her about how she selects the colors and she gave me some great insight.

"People usually comment on how pretty the colors are that I pick. They also usually throw in a comment about how its something they would never have picked, or would never have the courage to use in their own home. I say why not?! If the color looks good in a room and you love it you can always tone it down by selecting plainer furniture, more subtle artwork, or light curtains. I also like to look at things in terms of layers in the room you have the wall color layered with a rug layered with furniture/wall art/curtains layered with accents/pillows/ throws. So if the wall color is brighter or darker then you still have several layers over it that can be used to tone it down; or, if you're really brave, go bold all the way!"

And now this fireplace. What a project! I think I would have been intimidated to take it on.

Thankfully, Dea and Christian have a friend who works in tile and stone. Their friend was able to instruct and help them with their hearth project. 

It's not uncommon to find a fireplace in a historic home bricked up and sealed off. In the home I grew up in, every room had a fireplace and nearly every one of them had been bricked up and wasn't functioning.

It took some work to restore it, and Dea tells us the fireplace is still a work in progress {they would like to find a marble mantel similar to the one that would have originally been a part of the home}

but I think it's an amazing transformation in an effort to restore this piece back to the room's focal point. 

I was immediately drawn to this bar cart. It seems like the perfect accent piece for a formal reception room. Sometimes your budget doesn't always allow for that perfect piece. Dea had been looking for an antique bar cart but couldn't find anything in her budget. She finally started broadening her search and started looking for newer ones that had similar details. She began looking for bar carts with stamped metal trim details, something common in the antique bar carts she had her heart set on, and was able to find a great piece that looks like it was made for this room at a fraction of the cost.

That rug that was in Dea's head finally became a reality when she found this great rug on eBay. Dea had been searching for almost a full year looking through hundreds of antique wool rug listings hoping to find the perfect rug that she had envisioned in her mind. She finally came across this new one that was large enough for her room and fit into her budget. She was a little skeptical at first, thinking that at only $500 the quality would be very poor, and she has been pleasantly surprised at how fabulous this rug is. Sometimes taking a risk is worth it.

All of the beautiful artwork has been passed down through the family.

I'm constantly amazed at the beautiful details in the decorating design. The home is able to somehow maintain its historical element but still feel updated all at the same time. I asked Dea how she did it.

"One of the things I keep in mind is to keep a classic look, whether it's for a historic home or not. I try to also blend old and new pieces, but the classic lines of the newer pieces don't stand out as much against the historic furniture pieces; instead they meld together. for instance the white couches are new, but they have a nod to traditional Victorian with a touch of mid-century to them, with the boxy shape but tufted back. 

I also tend to be drawn toward mid-century pieces so I really have to keep that in check by making sure they still have a traditional element about them. another example is the piano bench which has clear acrylic legs, but the texture of the fabric and tufting have a classic traditional feel."

I feel like with every room reveal that I suddenly have a new favorite. Truth be told, I love everything about this historic mansion and am constantly amazed at the beautiful transformation that the home is taking on. Dea and Christian should be quite proud of the work that they are doing.

restoration, rehab addict, diy, home improvement

You may not be taking on the restoration of a historic home, regardless, there is some great decorating and design {and life} advice we can all learn from Dea. Be bold, think in layers, and don't give up on finding that piece you have in your dreams, it may just end up being a happy reality.

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Jeanne Washburn said...

Yes to an antique home...I am on the hunt. Love this transformation. :)

Pam M said...

love the way she melded new with old with mid-century modern. The room is gorgeous!

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