the reading room: details

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The reading room sits directly behind the living room.  It is the smallest room in the house, smaller even than our master closet!  When we first found the farmhouse I could envision the room empty except for a baby grand piano, as the location of the room would fill the whole house with music.  But, sadly - I do not play the piano!  I didn't need another sitting room- our small living room serves that purpose, or a study with a desk, so a reading room seemed like a perfect use of the space. 
In writing this post I realized that the only things I have most recently purchased (within the past two years) for this room are:  the floor lamp, the floor lamp shade, the rug, the basket for books and magazines on the floor next to the chair, and the pillow.  That's it. Everything else I have had for 8 to 10 plus years.  Moral:  invest in only things you absolutely love, and you will love them forever!
In our Dallas house these objects/furniture were all in different rooms; here they came together in different groupings, but all work together.
The wall color is Benjamin Moore Ashwood OC-47 in eggshell, with Benjamin Moore White Dove trim.

This is Mavis, and this is her story!

Antique french chair was found in Marseilles, France and is now covered in a natural linen with an alligator back.  The antique case piece is Italian.  I love how there is glass on the sides instead of being solid.  It took Dan two weeks to restore the wood, removing multiple layers of alligatored varnish, and me two full days to scrape and clean the antique glass.  It was a labor of love and is one of my  (aren't they all?!)  favorite furniture pieces.  This was the piece I worried about the most in making our move from Texas- the antique glass is paper thin.  Thankfully, in the three moves (from Texas via two rental houses while renovating) it took to move into the farmhouse it survived!
Antique painting entitled "Cottage in Devonshire" in its original frame, circa 1850 by J. Poole shares the top of the case piece with a large demi-lune bottle and a piece of coral.
The rug is antique.  I was having an "I don't want to spend any money" moment the day we found this rug.  Luckily Dan made me buy it.... even though at the time I wasn't sure where it would go.  It was $110 after the 10% discount for cash!  A ridiculous price for an antique rug this size and in this condition. 
The antique brass chandelier was purchased 19 years ago.  It hung in our Dallas house for several years, and then was banished to a closet when I went through my "I hate brass" phase.   Even though I was responding to all the b.a.d. bright and shiny (and lacquered) builder brass on the market at the time, my antique brass took the fall too!  Thankfully, I never sold it.  I have several brass pieces that I somehow just knew to keep and they have now found places here at the farmhouse, which called for the warm, aged patina of old brass!

The antique Italian case piece is filled with antique books, Chinese blue and white ginger jars, antique herbariums,  a watercolor, small antique mirrors, real shells and coral, a hand-carved wood shell, vellum books, and bits and pieces from nature:  a small bird nest and wasp nest found on the property, a piece of river wood from Idaho, and a piece of tree fungus, of course!
On the top shelf is a pair of antique French girandoles. When we found the bronze and crystal lights at Interiors Market in Jackson, Mississippi (a wonderful shop if you are in the area or passing through)   they were missing several of the clear and amethyst drop crystals that hang from their arms.  On our next trip to France we took the crystals missing their pair, found the "crystal man" at the Paris Flea Market, and found "similar" antique crystals for replacement.  Though a photo wouldn't do it justice, they are really beautiful lit inside of the piece  (I use 7 watt bulbs on a hi/low dimmer that I dim to 3.5 watts each!)

Antique French gilt mirror sits on an English chest of drawers (found ironically enough, at Interiors Market in Birmingham,  Alabama.)  Antique blue and white double happiness temple jar made into lamp using an ornate ceiling cap as the lamp cap.   18th century Italian gilt pricket.
I purchased this vintage chair (one of a pair) about 20 years ago.   At the time I hand-applied gold leaf (the real kind, not the paint)  and had this fabric upholstered on them using the reverse side of the shiny damask fabric that was so popular at the time.  This side looks like a patterned white linen.  It has proven to be a good decision as I have loved them for 20 years now!   About six years ago,  I applied a grey wash over the gilt chair frames, and tea stained the fabric (while on the chair;) to soften them a bit.  You'll see the mate in one of the guest rooms.

This Martha Washington chair was one of my first antique furniture pieces.  It has seen several different fabrics over the years!  The pillow is made from a vintage fur muff.   A large antique Chinese brass bowl with a horn letter-opener, found in Paris, sits on a stack of design books. 

Fabulous drum lampshade found several weeks ago at Home Goods.   The brass finial for the antique floor lamp was found in our "lamp parts department" in the basement.  It wasn't originally a lamp finial, but has been retrofitted to work.  I adore how the finial design mimics the design of the wood lamp base, and now the color and sheen in the lampshade.

As I've mentioned before, the small walls flanking the living room fireplace had been removed when we found the property, so the fireplace "floated" between the living room and this room.  We added the walls back, and in doing so were able to create this small bookcase in the reading room.  I wanted an old door for the bookcase, but feared it would be impossible to find since it was such a small opening.  We found this "perfect" (in size and layout) door at an antiques shop during renovation.  The bottom is solid, where we were planning to place our wi-fi and printer and didn't want them in view, and the top had antique glass where I wanted to see the books!  We hired a finish carpenter to build the bookcase and shelves to match the antique door.  The antique iron door pull was found at an antiques shop.... it fit within 1/16th of a inch on the frame of the door.... perfect!  I chose to leave the door with its original finish.

The vintage winnowing basket was found at the Scott Antiques Market in Atlanta about 6 years ago.  I immediately fell for it, but was going through one of my silly phases where I had to have a place for something before I could purchase it.  I went through my mental images of the rooms in my house back in Dallas and couldn't  think of a single spot to place it.  As we were getting in to the car to drive back to Dallas I remembered this linen-draped table that had always seemed in need of "a little something," so I kept its measurement in my purse.  I always carry various measurements of rooms, tables, paintings, etc. in my purse, and you can imagine my delight when this winnowing basket was the exact diameter of this table! 
On the table, linen covers a burlap-like fabric (not burlap, a true fabric that up-close looks just like burlap, but is soft to the touch and no burlap smell;) that I found at Calico Corners probably ten years ago.  Had I known the current burlap craze was going to hit, I would have purchased bolts of this!  This is the same skirt fabric used on the table in the living room.
The winnowing basket holds design books, a tortoiseshell and sterling page-turner and a large, perfectly split rock from the meadow in the Tetons where Dan and I spread my father's ashes.   When I walk by the table I often run my hand over the rocks which makes me feel connected to my father. 

Garden arrangement.

Painting by the late Jerry Wilkerson,  famed pointillism artist (though this is not painted in pointillism.)  The painting deserves an "everything has a story" post of its own.   

The 18th century English Country-Chippendale chair is too fragile for use.  An antique iron lantern now serves as a candle holder.  I found the antique French piece on ebay- it has a stunning iron arm that would attach to a wall, and "had" stained glass pieces lining the lantern, but when it arrived almost all of the glass had broken in shipping.  The shipping company reimbursed me and was supposed to pick up the damaged piece... they never came back to get it-  oh darn!!  

The antique French chair and oil painting were both purchased from the same shop in Marseilles, France.   In Dallas they resided in different rooms, but they have been reunited here at the farmhouse!  That the old woman in the oil painting has a book in her lap seems most appropriate for the reading room!

Close up of the beautiful details on Mavis.

Old Chinese ginger jar, antique leather-bound books, antique oil painting, and an antique Chinese green-glazed terracotta bird sits on top of the chest.  If you were to open a drawer you would find a collection of about 6 more birds;)    My largest pair (a size I have never seen anywhere else) reside in the bookcase and came from the estate of Mrs. Sherwin Williams. 

Vintage (circa 1922) Biltmore-Providence pierced Hotel dish holds an antique English sterling-and-horn magnifying glass, and vintage postcards & photographs of dogs. 
Included is a photograph of Dan's mother as a young child with her dog, my sister and brother-in-law's first dog, our first dog- Kelsey, and a photo of me (yes, I am classified as "vintage";) and my childhood dog- a miniature dachshund named Ginger, with my next door friend Becky  (this photo is peaking out on the right side!)  
I adore my small collection of dog postcards, as you know a person had to love and adore their dog to have spent the money on a photograph back then.  All the dogs in my collection have the most soulful faces, and look to be mutts...  my favorite "breed"!
 I like to look at, remember and love the beautiful dogs for their long-gone owners.