A Room of One’s Own

In Accessories, Home Decor on May 20, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve always day-dreamed about a “morning room” — a place where I can read, write, and (though I don’t know how…yet) arrange flowers.  I believe I plucked this fantasy right out of the pages of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, but, come to think of it — it must have also been informed by Virginia Woolf’s extended essay, “A Room of One’s Own.”

(You can read the text in full at UVA’s eText Center.  It is a wonderfully articulate argument for a woman’s right to have the physical and creative space to do her own work, find her own voice, and exist on her own terms — in a time when such latitude simply did not exist for women.)  Perhaps the essay resonates particularly deeply with me, as I am one of five children and I grew up in a house where privacy was at a premium and finding ways to make my voice carry — to make myself heard — was a routine challenge.  When my elder brother visited a few weeks ago, he admitted to having claimed a small room in his house just for himself — a place he could retire to in quiet and solitude, whether to work or idle.  I’m on the same page.

Setting aside the emotional and intellectual benefits that such a space would afford, you know at bottom I’m interested in the visual appeal.  What would a Magpie Morning Room look like?  It would begin with a soft pink palette inspired by my favorite flower: the peony.

I’d invest in some lovely Cath Kidston printed wallpaper — I love the rose print in either the stone or pink ($30/meter, Cath Kidston):

Just look at what you can do if you coordinate the wall-color to her complementary line of fabrics:

I might, for example, upholster a traditional Pearson chair ($199, BallardDesigns) in either a matching or complementary fabric version of the wallpaper above.

Sidenote: I bought one of the Ballard Designs Pearson chairs — mine was a slightly different model with a curved top/back — and had it upholstered in a prim ivory and neutral fleur de lys-style print.  It is the perfect accompaniment to my room — it makes a statement but the palette is neutral so it doesn’t dominate.  Love.  And highly recommend.  An easy way to give a room some feminine personality.

I’d add in a pristine white wood desk (“The Meredith,” $499, Pottery Barn):

I’d then accent with shades of pink — maybe this amazing Noury Meadow Rug in the pink ($299-$2,039, Horchow):

And, for a pair of lovely guest chairs (I’m obsessed with these Gentry Chairs by Hickory Chair — the lines, the shape are just perfect), some bright throw pillows (the peony print — $36 apiece, Nest Living; the geometric print — $118 apiece, Trina Turk; the poppy print — $185 for two, Etsy’s PlumCushion Shop):

I’d seat the chairs around this awesome apothecary-style mirrored coffee table by Jean-Richard (“The Galla,” $1,829, Horchow):

There would, of course, be a stack of requisite glossy coffee-table books — I’d want Jeanette Montgomery Barron’s My Mother’s Clothes ($25, Kate Spade); my copy of Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige, which contains perhaps my favorite painting ever — an Alfred Sisley portrait of a quiet snow-covered country-scape ($32, Amazon); and Jose Andres’ Made In Spain because — well, he’s from D.C. and I love his food ($23, Amazon).  Eating at Minibar = apex of culinary life to date.

Alongside the stack of books, there’d be a constantly-replenished arrangement of fresh-cut peonies:

I’m crazy about the silver trumpet vase featured in the image above, though I’d likely use some of my monogrammed Pottery Barn julep cups for the same purpose — ($24 for plain; $30.50 for monogrammed at Pottery Barn):

For my desktop, I’m loving this stark white alabaster Ethan Allen lamp ($369, Ethan Allen):

I’d add in some beaded silver-plate frames  to tie in with the julep cups (also monogrammable — $29-$54 at Pottery Barn), this lovely Tiffany Atlas clock ($625, Tiffany), and then a stack of Kate Spade’s note-ready pads in peppy colors (I own these, and no one takes me seriously when I use them, but  I just love ’em — $12 for 3 at Barnes and Noble):

Oh — and, of course, I’d need a favorite candle to scent the room.  I alternate between Tocca’s “Florence” scent and Seda’s “Japanese Quince”:

On my bookshelves?  The hundreds and hundreds of books I’ve accrued over the course of my 25 years.  They’re currently scattered all over — some here in my cramped Georgetown apartment; others in the basement of my parents’ house; others in their garage; still others in a storage unit.  I want to herd them all and arrange them, intermixed with my keepsakes — a sterling silver piggy bank I received at birth; various Sevres porcelain trinkets I inherited from my grandmother; little Dutch girl dolls my father brought me back from Holland.

And even though I likely own a number of the titles, I would love to buy the Harvard Classics collection — a 51-volume anthology of the canonical works of literature in English originally published in 1909 (by Harvard president Charles Eliot).  They would just be an awesome heirloom-type collection to own.

On my beautifully wall-papered walls?  I’d mat and frame a couple of Genevieve Woodford’s acrylic cameo prints ($25/apiece, Etsy):

She does them in all sorts of colors (I’m partial to the mid-blue color, but pink would be perfect for my room — lovely!) and I’m obsessed with the old school scrolled borders.  I’m also sort of loving the idea of contrasting the rococo sensibility of the prints with some graphic pop art — not too much.  Just a little shock of modernity framed on a bookshelf or hung (somewhat irreverently?) around the room.  And because my fiance is pretty much hell-bent on having us buy a French bulldog once we tie the knot — this might have to be the one ($8 for an 8×10 print, Etsy’s ArtBarker Shop):

And then, of course, I’d need my reading nook — a cozy settee (this one is from Hickory Chair), likely reupholstered in a pink and white stripe, and a cashmere throw (on sale for $199, The Pashmina Store):

Perfect for snuggling up with a good book!


My online Stella & Dot trunk show is still up — but today’s your last day!

For access, go to:

At the top right of the page, click on “Can’t Make It to the Show? Find Your Hostess” and type in first name: “Fashion” and last name: “Magpie.”  Shop away!

Read my “It’s a Magpie Mini Market” post for styling ideas.

  1. Thank you so much for featuring me in your blog!!!

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