Romance & Rococo
Just like I did in the dining-room, I will use elements of the rococo style in the drawing room (or salon). Rococo was used in Dutch interiors between ±1739 and 1780. The origins of this abundant style can be found in France during the reign of Louis XV. In the 18th century the fireplace held a prominent place in a room and much attention and money was spent on decorating it.
In contrast to the study next door, which has a somewhat masculine feel with a lot of wood and darker colours, I want this room to feel more feminine and a bit romantic, with softer colours and shapes which fits in nicely with the rococo style. I also want it to fit in with the dining room below so I will be using similar colours and bring in some blue and white china here as well.
I found a typical rococo fireplace which is perfect for the drawing-room. I painted it a soft pebble-grey colour. To match the fireplace I wanted a shaped mirror, so I chose plastic mirror material which scratches easily but on the plus side can be cut with a jewellers saw. I was able to make a perfectly shaped rococo mirror frame using embossed paper and a bit of cutting and pasting. I may change the golden colour to one with some more warmth, it looks rather yellow to me now.
I finished building the fireplace surround, painted it the same colour as the fireplace, finished the mirror and papered the walls. The wallpaper is ‘Portia’ from Small Interiors. I chose this wallpaper because it looks like ‘Velours d’Utrecht’, a type of woollen velvet with an impressed pattern called ’trijp’ . This type of ’trijp’ was often used on walls. Unfortunately this is just plain paper, but I do like the pattern and colour. The green is very similar to the green in the dining room and I like that link between the rooms. Just as I did in the dining room I have used a false wall again as it is so much easier to work with.
This room again will have parquet flooring using teak wood. The pattern will be a little less complicated to make than the others I’ve used. In reality these parquet floors were quite rare in the 18th century because they were extremely expensive.
Just like with the other floors in the house, I have first made a paper template. On the template I drew the floor-pattern and glued down the strips of wood. I now have to start cutting the wood for the inner squares. A lot of work because they will all be at a 45° angle.
After everything was cut out and glued, I sanded the floor with quite a coarse sandpaper, followed by a finer grade until the wood felt silky smooth. A few layers of wax finished the floor beautifully.
I have started making the panelling on the walls. I’m using matboard, thick paper and some thin wooden moulding. The panelling will have the same colour as the fireplace. Unfortunately, after a long search, I was unable to find the same paint I used on the fireplace. It is no longer in production.
Luckily I was able to find a paint colour which is a very close match to the one I used originally. However, it only comes in half liter cans! That will give me enough to paint the whole house! Anyway, I’m glad I found the right colour so I can continue.
I have finished the panelling and I’ve also made a door and a door surround. Above the door I’ve made a mirror echoing the large mirror of the fireplace. Both on the fireplace mirror and here I have toned down the bright yellow gold on the Dresden paper with some cream paint and a lovely rich Florentine gold wax.
In 2005 I bought these porcelain figurines by Tricia Street with some prize money I won in a miniatures competition. The dancing beauty forms a pair with a figurine in Chinese clothing. For me the pair symbolise Martha van Grootheest de Kleijne’s acquired freedom and wealth and her connection with China (see: Singel 224 – The History).
My most recent acquisition (2019) is the wonderful pair of blue and white Sultan tulip vases by Henny Staring-Egberts.
The ivory bowl with fruit in the centre was made by Vonas Miniatures.
I’ve made curtains from an old piece of grey silk I had laying in the attic. I dyed the fabric a grey-green colour using some acrylic paint mixed into water. The curtains are slightly greener than the picture shows them. To make the pelmets I’ve used the same pattern as I used in the dining-room, only this time I used a plain fabric and a golden cord trimming. The shape of the pelmet is echoed in the fireplace and door surround. In the two photos on the right I also finished making the curtain tie-backs. I’ve used hair spray and some glue to make the curtains hang a little better.
I have started making a comfortable sofa. I first made a sketch of what I wanted, then made a wooden frame, trying to copy my sketch as closely as possible. I used some measurements from my real sofa as a guide. An old broomstick had exactly the right size for the armrests.
I covered the entire frame with the same silk I used for my curtains. Even though on the photo the colours look very different, they really are the same. So far I am quite happy with my first attempt at making a sofa.
I have made some pretty cushions. The larger one I made with the same silk I used on the sofa, painted with a green and gold motif and finished with some golden cord and tassels. I made the small cushion from a beautiful silk brocade which I dyed a matching colour and finished it with some frilly ribbon.
I bought three lovely chairs online at Comptoir de Rouvray (no longer in business). On the photo above you can the original colour. I painted the chairs in the colour of the drawing-room and then sanded it back a little. I used a tiny bit of gold as an accent here and there.
For the upholstery I used the same silk fabric I used for the curtains and the sofa. I trimmed the seat with some picot braid which I painted a green/gold colour. Two of the chairs have wonderful ‘cane’ webbing. Not wanting to cover that up, I used an idea I saw in a glossy magazine for a partially upholstery backrest.
I’ve also been making a tiled back for the fireplace. I started out by using my computer, but my computer skills are not good enough to make it exactly how I wanted it. (Edit 2019: This was back in 2005, my computer skills have much improved since then!) So I reverted to cutting and pasting the old fashioned way, using good old scissors and glue. Et voila, just how I wanted it! Of course I will still add a floor and a fire basket. The ‘mouse hole’ is for wiring the fire.
I have to confess the floor in the drawing-room is not looking too good at the moment. It has warped quite a bit. Ignoring my own advice, I used thick paper instead of the firm cardstock I always use to glue my floors onto. (Too lazy to go to the store). It’s not so bad, I can still glue the floor down, but I like to be able to take everything out so I can reach the wiring. I should listen to my own advice more.
When I saw this beautiful étagère in a magazine, I knew I wanted to make something similar for the drawing-room. I started measuring and making some sketches immediately and even though my design turned out a little different from the original, it still looked quite elegant.
The étagère will be a corner cabinet. Because I used a wood with quite a deep grain, I put on a few layers of gesso before painting it. The gesso (and some sanding) helps to give it a nice smooth surface ready for painting on which you’ll hardly be able to see the grain of the wood.
I decided not to paint the C scrolls (which are so typical for the Rococo style) onto the étagère , but to make them out of clay. I gessoed, sanded and painted everything before I glued in the shelves. I used the same colour paint I used for the chairs, fireplace and panelling. The edges on the shelves and the scrollwork are painted gold and I aged the étagère using umber and green paint.
Even though the étagère isn’t finished yet (I still need to make a vase filled with flowers to put on the top), I put it in the drawing-room to get an impression of how it looks. I am really pleased with how it turned out.
The paintwork on the fireplace, panelling and door looked a bit new compared to the étagère , so I aged it all the same way I did the étagère . It now looks as if the étagère has always been in the room.
The blue and white bowl and vases are by Cocky Wildschut. The beautiful wooden doll was made for me by Jody in the online St. Nicholas swap in 2008.
Over the years I have added more pieces to the corner cabinet. The kettle on stand is by Henny Staring-Egberts. The five piece blue and white garniture on the top shelves was painted by me. I copied the centre vase from a full sized one I own.
For the ceiling I combined the two techniques used on the mirrors and the étagère , which gave the ornaments on the ceiling a little more volume. In the picture on the left the ceiling looks a lot darker than it actually is. It needs a beautiful chandelier in the middle….
I found it very difficult to find lights within my budget so I decided to make wall sconces for this room myself. For these sconces I used the same technique I used on the mirrors above the door and the mantelpiece.
The candle lights are glued to a little saucer which has a little hole drilled through it to accommodate the wiring which is led through a piece of plastic tubing to the rear of the mirror. I used a little bit of heat on the plastic tubing to bend it into shape.
The wonderful oil painting now flanked by the wall sconces is painted by Elly Ypma: the portrait of Machteld Muilman (Frans van der Mijn ca. 1745-1747).
Machteld was portrayed on the occasion of her wedding to Jan Pranger in 1745. She is shown in their house on the Singel in Amsterdam which of course is where this canal house is situated swell.
The other painting in this room is the watercolour of an 18th century man which I painted in 2004.
In March 2016 both paintings received new frames by John Hodgson (UK). I left the old frame on the watercolour, which now serves as an inner frame. The original colour of the frame was gold but I gave it a wash of white paint, just as I did with the mirror and sconces. It all matches beautifully now.
I made the little side table underneath the painting to match a wonderfully shaped green marble table top I bought from Trees Beertema (Unicorna). On the table I have displayed some miniatures I made over the years: an orchid I made during a workshop by Anja van den Doel, two photographs of my son (the one on the right during the feast of St. Nicholas, a very special feast for Dutch children. It’s where the modern day Santa Claus originates from!). For the picture frames I used hand-dyed silks. I made the table lamp base from wood and beads, the lamp shade is covered with an antique Chinese hand embroidered silk.
The little toy rabbit (or is it a hare?) was made by Dave Pennant of Teeny Weeny Teddies.
I couldn’t find any chairs I liked for the Drawing Room, so in January of 2009 I made a chair after an example I found on the internet. The style of the chair is Louis XV. As the sizes of the original chair were provided online, I could make this copy exactly in 12th scale. The fabric I used for the armrests and on the frame of the chair were the last scraps of silk I had left from making the curtains.
After finding a fabric I liked better for the salon, I re-upholstered the chair and made a sofa to match the chair. The new sofa replaces the one I made a few years earlier. The patterned fabric for the chair, sofa and the red cushions are all cotton quilting fabrics. The edges on the upholstery of the chair and sofa are finished with braided cord I made myself using embroidery floss in two colours matching the fabric.
The Aubusson carpet is one I printed onto cotton from a photo I found online. The colours and pattern are perfect for this room. Maybe one day I will make a stitched version of it (but don’t hold your breath).
The beautiful little purse with silver clasp (by Jens Torp) was embroidered for me by Elly de Kraker in 2010.
The beautiful little tea table was made by Mark Gooch. It has gorgeous carved ball and claw feet and carved knees. It is a so called ‘concertina’ table: by sliding the clasp underneath the table, it enables the sides to straighten and double its size. The two videos below show how it works.
A fairly recent addition to the room is the embroidered casket which was made by Elly de Kraker. It has embroidered panels all around and on the tiny drawers inside. The embroidered casket sits on a wooden sewing table (McQueenie Miniatures). The chair is by David Booth, with Rose Garland embroidery by Nicola Mascall.
Silver inkstand by Jens Torp, after William Cripps, 1747.
On the right hand side of the room stands a folding pedestal side/chess table, made by Chris Malcomson.
The video on the left shows the side table opening up into the chess board.
The comfy reddish pink armchair was made by me as well. It is actually upholstered in a green velvety fabric underneath the red slipcover, but I wasn’t happy with the velvet so I made the slipcover for it.
The chair has working castors under the feet. I like the pop of soft reddish pink colour of the slipcover in the room. The colour is repeated in the coat of the man in the water colour and in the painting of the roses.
The painting of the roses just a photocopy which I hope to replace with a good oil painting one day.
There are still a few things to do in this room, finishing the hearth of the fireplace for instance. Also the lights need attention as most of them turn on and off at will. As I was taking photos for this page I constantly had to jiggle the lights to keep them on for the photo. Very annoying.
I forgot to mention the sconces on the fireplace, they have wonderful rococo shapes, perfect for this room. I found them in 2011 on eBay at Jim Coates Collection. The sconces were given the same paint and gold wax treatment as the mirror frames and the frames for the paintings, giving the original gold finish an overall softer look.
The glass and gold decanter is by Gerd Felka.
As mentioned before, the blue and white Sultan tulip vase (one of a pair) is made by Henny Staring-Egberts. The tulip vase in the shape of a Turkish warrior is based on a 17th century original. The tulip, although the quintessential Dutch flower, originates from Turkey, making this a vase with a wonderful deeper meaning.
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