Monday, February 24, 2014

Espana Chest... and my Dorothy Draper wannabe

Oh, wait.   Wrong story!

Let's try it, again. 

Several years ago in House Beautiful, I spied a chest of drawers.   And, it was spectacular!  

Black chest of drawers in David Jimenez's home in Kansas City
Unfortunately, there is that pesky Biblical Commandment, "Thou shalt not covet."  Ok... so I will not covet HIS chest of drawers, I will find one of my own!  Hmmmph.
Sadly, I knew nothing about that lovely piece of furniture.
Time to do some research.
Generally referred to as Dorothy Draper chests, these are officially named Espana Chests.  
Dorothy Draper Espana Chest from 1stDibs
According to Kate Collins, "The Espana Chest was designed by Dorothy Draper by invitation of the Spanish government to design a collection to raise the profile of Spanish design in the International market. Profile raised; this is a classic piece." 
Even though these chests are Spanish in origin, the design style is frequently known as Hollywood Regency. 
Ms. Draper, herself, was an interesting character.   Born to a wealthy family in 1889, she established the first interior design company in the United States, in 1923. 

The original Espana chests were created from cherry wood, lacquered in black or white, the 24 karat gold decorative drawer trim was hand applied, and the drawer pulls were high gloss brass.  They were designed as "bunching chests" since several of them could be used together.   Heritage furniture produced and distributed them starting in 1955. 

Original advertisement, circa 1955

Today, a new Espana chest will cost about $5000.    And, used ones are all over the proverbial price point map... ranging from a $400-8000. 

My buddy, Josie, managed to find a Dorothy Draper-esque chest of drawers in Charlotte and sent a photo to me.   It was promptly purchased because it was CHEAP!

But, there was one small problem.  How was I going to get it from Charlotte to Greenville???? 
Fortunately, Ross Spain to the rescue.  Ross is a friend who owns Acquisitions Limited in Raleigh.  He jokingly claims that he is in the used furniture business.  Actually, he and his business partner, Ben Everett, import European antiques and their Raleigh and Charlotte stores are always stunning.
Ross, generously, transported the chest to Raleigh.  We just won't discuss the therapy bills... the chest had a severe bout of PTSD after riding in a truck filled with pedigreed antiques.  {Wink}

The ancestry-challenged chest was kept in storage until I moved to the Triangle.   Though my initial thought had been to refinish it in black lacquer, low gloss white was chosen.  And, since gold inlay trim and additional drawer pulls might look out of place in this crazy mid century modern house, they were avoided. 

Today, it continues to be a Dorothy Draper Espana Chest wannabe!   But, located in my guest bedroom, I love it.

My Dorothy Draper-inspired Espana Chest

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

This is the Story of "The Pig"

No... not a flying pig.   But, the chronicles of a house which my friends affectionately refer to as "The PIG."

So as not to get ahead of myself, a few details must be explained. 

Last year, near the end of June, I decided to relocate my plastic surgery practice to the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area... a region lovingly known as the Triangle.  Moving was a great opportunity to be closer to my friends and extended family.   Getting settled, establishing new hospital privileges, and building the practice have kept me busy for the past few months. 

Anyway, back to The Pig.

In Raleigh, I moved into this crazy mid century modern house.   Perhaps I've neglected to mention... mid century modern is not my aesthetic.  My friends thought that I had completely LOST my mind!

In fact, there were a couple of 'WTH is HE thinking?' comments.  

But, most didn't appreciate the similarity between this house and my life.  I wanted something different!  Previously, my home in Greenville was traditional.   My surgical practice had been classically established.  My work responsibilities were fixed and habitual. 

Though I love plastic surgery, the desire was to reinvent my practice.   My new job was far from ordinary.   The task at hand was to learn to seamless function as the medical director of a plastic surgery cosmetic clinic and spa while simultaneously helping to establish their ability to provide reconstructive procedures.  I needed to learn about the latest and greatest medical devices being used.  The hours were even different... not 8am to 5pm; rather, more 10am to 7pm. 

The house became a metaphor for all of the changes going on in my life.   It was certainly different.

My decision had been made, but The Pig needed some love.

Inside, the first priority was the living room.  

Living room, first visit, August 2013
Looking back at a few of these photos, I NOW understand my friends' concern!
Regardless, the house had reasonable pedigree.   Built in the early 1950s, the home served as the primary residence for its architect and owner, Edward "Terry" Waugh - a professor in the School of Design at NC State University.  
Edward Waugh, AIA
Back to my basic philosophy:  "Do your best, where you are, with what you have."
The house either needed some work... or a wrecking ball.  #hotmess
Cue the window washers.   Paint the ceiling.   Fix some electrical outlets.  Remove the blinds that were no longer in working condition.  Quick cosmetic fixes. 
Today, the results are not final - more of a work in progress.  (Hmmm... just like me?)  Window coverings are still missing, and Santa forgot to bring a couple of area rugs for the room.  The TV has yet to be mounted to the wall; the vintage 1980s tract lighting need to be replaced; and, the list goes on and on.
Considering the following, this room ain't half bad:
  1. No new pieces of furniture were purchased for this room.
  2. No pieces of art were acquired. 
  3. No new tchotchkes were obtained. 
  4. The only new thing in this room is the fern on the dining room table!
For historical reference, this is a photo of the original living room, circa 1950s.
Earlier today, I took a photo... from the same vantage point... of the now combined living room and dining room.  
Wondering why the outside looks overexposed and too bright?????   Snow.
View of the backyard from that large window, this afternoon. 
Here are a few other photos of the room over the past few months.
Late summer, 2013

Thanksgiving, 2013
Christmas, 2013
This house has NOT been decorated in a modern minimalist style.  And, some may completely criticize this simple fact.  
But, I don't believe in ancestor worship!   Heavily collected interiors that are well-edited are my taste. 
Attempting to make MY furniture work in The Pig has actually been great fun. 
A buddy in town provided the nicest compliment.  Brian said, "This IS a crazy old house... but somehow, the interior looks and feels like Joey!" 
So, even though this seems like the story of decorating a wacky living room, it is really the account of staying true to yourself while embracing people, places, and things that are new and different.