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office Archives - Kimberley Seldon's Dabble

A Tour of the White House

Image Credit White House Museum

Image Credit White House Museum

American royalty, the White House is arguably the most iconic home in the US.

1.5 million visitors tour the White House each year, but they see only a handful of the 140+ ground and mansion areas. It is broken down into three sections, the East Wing where the Emergency Operations Center resides, the West Wing, where the Situation room is, and the Residence, a four-story living space.

In total, the White House has 132 rooms, including 16 family-guest rooms, 1 main kitchen, 1 diet kitchen, 1 family kitchen, and 35 bathrooms totaling approximately 55,000 sq.ft. It also features 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplace mantels, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.

During the War of 1812, the White House was completely demolished by fire with most of the valuables being ransacked by British troops, leaving only the exterior walls standing. President Madison hired architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe and Hoban to lead the charge on the rebuilding project. When Teddy Roosevelt came to office in 1902, he decided the White House needed to be expanded and modernized due to overcrowding and an outdated appearance. He selected McKim, Mead & White to remove the Tiffany screen and all Victorian additions and replace everything with a neoclassical style that wasn’t popular with most subsequent Presidents.

Out of respect for the historical value of the house, no substantive architectural changes have been made since, but many have taken turns redecorating and refurbishing to make the residence more in tune with their personal style. Jackie Kennedy, who decorated all the rooms by theme and periods of world history, made some of the most significant changes.

We’re here to give you a quick tour of some of the most interesting interior design features of America’s first family.

Blue Room
The center of the State Floor, the Blue Room is known for its breathtaking view over the South Lawn and oval shape, the perfect area to receive guests. The elliptical saloon was decorated in the French Empire style by President Monroe with its most striking element an early 19th century gilded-wood and glass chandelier encircled with acanthus leaves. Blue satin geometric draperies are hung with a border of gold rosettes that match an equally extravagant carpet. Furnishings are heavily corniced and the ceiling is painted in fresco, adding to the richness of the space.

The Blue Room

The Blue Room, 2009 (Image Credit: Reuters)

Oval Office
The President’s formal workspace, the Oval Office has hosted a number of important diplomats, dignitaries and heads of state through the years. Each President has decorated the room to suit his tastes, but the most consistent features that remain include a white marble mantel that’s been there since 1909, two flags, and the famous Presidential seal on the ceiling.

The Oval Office

The Oval Office, 2010 (Image Credit BBC – Reuters)

Vermeil Room
Also known as the “Gold Room,” the Vermeil room serves as a display room and, for formal occasions, a ladies sitting room. More subtle and feminine than most of the other rooms, soft yellow paneled walls accent a collection of vermeil, gold-plated silver, a gift from Margaret Thompson Biddle. The carpet is a Turkish Hereke from around 1860, chosen for its pale green background and gold silk hues. Other prominent accents include early 19th century mahogany pieces like a circular table and a pier table, plus an impressive ten-armed cut-glass chandelier and scroll sofa.

The Vermeil Room

Vermeil Room, 2008 (Image Credit: Architectural Digest)

 

Green Room
Originally envisioned to be the “Common Dining Room,” the Green Room has served many purposes over the years from lodging to entertaining. Still featuring green water silk-lined fabric chosen by the Kennedys in 1971, draperies of striped beige, green and coral satin adorn the walls of the Presidential Parlor. All the accessories are gilded and ornate including a pair of hand-carved American eagles, a favorite decorative motif of the Federal period.

The Green Room

Green Room, 2008 (Image Credit: Architectural Digest)

Lincoln Bedroom

In a room Lincoln never actually slept in, the Lincoln Bedroom is part of a suite of rooms that hosts overnight guests and political supporters. It has been furnished in Victorian style since the Truman renovation and is rumored to be haunted. Famous furniture includes a commanding 8 by 6’ rosewood bed with canopy, slipper chairs, sofa, and cabinet chairs. Featured prominently on the desk is one of only five holographic copies of the Gettysburg Address. The room was updated in 2004 with an opulent white marble mantel, canopy carved in the shape of a crown, and deep emerald green, yellow and purple draperies.

Lincoln's Bedroom, 2007 (Image Credit: Newsweek - Gary Fabiano)

Lincoln’s Bedroom, 2007 (Image Credit: Newsweek – Gary Fabiano)

Home Tour with Erinn Valencich

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We loved learning more about Erinn Valencich in our recent interview with her for Dabble’s inaugural issue. We titled the column ‘Swimming Pools and Movie Stars’ as a riff on the Beverley Hillbillies theme song, since her project was in that well known high-rent neighbourhood. Our editorial team was immediately attracted to the interior’s easy, carefree spirit as it seemed ideally suited to southern California.

As with any magazine, it’s not always possible to include every photo in a feature spread. Here are a few of the photos that didn’t make our first cut, but are nonetheless worthy of attention.

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This guest bedroom and adjacent bathroom would be a welcome sight for any guest in need of overnight accommodations. The luxury of bathing with the windows wide open is not lost to a majority of North Americans who live with cold weather temperatures.

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With everything close at hand, the office commute doesn’t have to be a long one. We love how simple, almost austere, this working space feels. Who needs distractions when deadlines are looming?

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Still another room with exquisite views to outdoors framed in ebony.

Organizing your Office

Originally aired on Cityline.ca in October 2012.

Design Vignettes for Spring 2012

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As a design professional, I know it’s not enough to create a room that’s beautiful. A well-designed room has to function beautifully as well, allowing everyone in the family to move through the space with ease. A well-designed room also has to smell fresh and clean.

Many don’t make the connection between design and fragrance, but the reality is an unpleasant smell can ruin any decor, no matter how gorgeous. I have a new favourite scent for home from Glade Expressions. It’s Cotton and Italian Mandarin and the scent reminds me of fresh laundry off the line, just lightly infused with summer citrus.

Recently we had the chance to sample four new fragrances from Glade Expressions and create design vignettes for Spring 2012 that match the mood of each scent.

Craft Room: Pineapple & Mangosteen

More and more Canadians are embracing colour as never before. This season’s go to colours are citrus inspired oranges and yellows. For energy, you can’t beat this combination. If you’re not ready to go use colour in main rooms, start by incorporating colour in occasional spaces such as hobby rooms or even the powder room.

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ABOVE: Craft room vignette is inspired by Pineapple & Mangosteen.

Kitchen: Lavender & Juniper Berry

Why not allow travel to inspire your next design decision? Many Canadians in love with a particular colour or style while visiting a destination that’s new and exciting. Our kitchen vignette is inspired by a trip to the south of France when lavender is in full bloom. If you have a neutral kitchen, it’s so easy to incorporate travel inspired colour. A set of lavender blue dishes brings new life and a happy memory into your home.

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ABOVE: Kitchen vignette is inspired by Lavender & Juniper Berry.

Bedroom: Cotton & Italian Mandarin

Most of us want to create a bedroom that’s calming; a retreat from life’s hectic and busy schedule. As a designer I encourage my clients to remove electronics such as TVs and iPads from the bedroom in order to create an environment that is meant for relaxing. From furnishings to linens to our home fragrance, we crave crisp, clean setting where we can unwind and recharge. Since the bedroom is a private space, it’s perfectly fine to introduce a colour that doesn’t appear in the rest of the house, but go easy. A little pop of colour goes a long way.

By the way, did you notice the room diffuser in the vignette above? Glade Expressions has a selection of diffusers and fragrance mists that are good looking enough to leave in plain sight–just where you need them.

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ABOVE: Bedroom vignette is inspired by Cotton & Italian Mandarin.

Office: Fuji Apple & Cardamom Spice

The office is a great place to be bold with statement pieces and just have a bit more fun, allowing your personality to show through. Accessories like the vintage globe, marble obelisks and magnifying glass give clues about the person behind the decor. This room might belong to someone who loves the idea of travelling the globe but wants their home to have a classic and timeless feel. The perfect setting for Fuji Apple & Cardamom Spice.

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ABOVE: Office vignette is inspired by Fuji Apple & Cardamom Spice.

For more information about the new collection from Glade.

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

  • The living room’s sectional sofa is covered in creamy, textured linen. Sitting adjacent is the iconic Platner chair and stool. “To me, the Platner series represents ultimate glamour,” the designer says.
  • Steven opted for Resene Marsale paints in industrial hues—like the dramatic charcoal seen here—to complement urban views.
  • Floor to ceiling glass, dynamic city views and overscaled accessories create a dramatic setting for dining.
  • Europeans were fascinated with the Far East during the time of explorer Marco Polo. A closer look at the cabinet's details reveal animated people in ornate dress and elephants in ceremonial costume.
  • The luxurious silk-panelled walls embrace the bedroom’s cozy ambience.

Perched high on the cliffs in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm, this penthouse condo with its stylish “cocktails-at-five” mood reflects the talents of Australian designer Steven Stewart. The quiet inner-city dwelling suits his client’s busy lifestyle. As a bonus, it’s also an ideal meeting spot for friends to gather before heading out for a late dinner at one of the area’s fabulous restaurants.

Spacious and airy, chic open-plan living and dining rooms lead to outdoor entertaining areas as well as stunning, unobstructed views of the city and its brightly lit Story Bridge.

Although it’s an optical illusion, it almost feels that the illuminated bridge—which crosses the Brisbane River, connecting the city’s northern and southern suburbs— is within easy reach.

In the dining room, eight alabaster leather chairs border the gleaming black table, ready to accommodate the owner’s frequent dinner parties. Two vintage Chinese vases from a local antiques dealer sit on top. “We purposely chose white vases to add a spark,” says Steven.

Despite its ultra-urban vibe, the burgeoning neighbourhood of New Farm gets its name from the city’s early years as a rural community. “Since this is the condo’s only penthouse,” says Steven, “it’s affectionately called the New Farm Penthouse.”

The towering metal sculpture, purchased by the owner in Italy, strikes a pose against Brisbane’s evening skies.

“Black and gold Chinoiserie provides a stunning backdrop to the luxury textiles and finishes,” says designer Steven Stewart.

A gleaming bar cabinet with glass shelves and mirror backing displays crystal wine goblets, ready to oblige a future soirée. The decorative details of the chinoiserie work beautifully against the dark and dramatic interior accents. Steven explains the term Chinoiserie is a French word that means ‘in the Chinese taste’ and describes a European style of decorative detail, wildly popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Clearly, it’s still fashionable today.

Bedroom walls are seductively panelled in a sophisticated silk textile, custom-dyed to match the paint finish on adjacent walls. Not only does the treatment create a cozy environment for sleeping, it’s an effective way to dampen noise as well. Underfoot is a cozy taupe carpet.

“Bedrooms don’t experience the same heavy use as say, the kitchen, so I took the opportunity to use more extravagant materials,” the designer enthuses.

In addition to carrying the home’s industrial colour scheme throughout, Steven introduces a Chinese motif on the decorative pillows to echo the chinoise elements throughout the condo. The faux fur throw adds a welcome layer of luxury.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY KYLIE HOOD

Home Office Transformation

Originally aired on Cityline.ca on January 20, 2011.