Bringing the Downtown Abbey look into your home

The holidays are over and the next big event happens tomorrow night: the return of Downton Abbey! And if you are like me, you can't wait for the new season. Check out my article in the Fort Myers-News Press today for a few tips on bringing a bit of the Downton look into your home. 

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• January 4, 2014

It begins again at 9 p.m. Sunday on PBS — the fourth season of the award-winning “Downton Abbey.”

We pick up six months after the shocking finale that ended with the death of Matthew Crawley. And now we will find out how Lady Mary and baby George are coping. Will she be able to save Downton? What dark secrets and new romances will unfold upstairs and downstairs? We have so many questions.

But let’s face it. The star of the show is the house, a manor house set in Edwardian England at the turn of the 20th century. The show revolves around the estate and it details the daily life and scandals of the family of wealthy Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham and his American wife, Lady Cora Grantham; their three daughters and household staff.

Photo provided by PBS.

Photo provided by PBS.

Each week it lets us peek into life inside the manor house. It is as though we should not be there listening and watching. But we can’t turn away. The captivating writing and stunning appearances transport you to a time that marked a turning point for England and the entire world. And for the Crawley family, it is about holding on to a lifestyle that is slowly slipping away.

Inspired by the opulence of Victorian English chandeliers, this Rococo iron and crystal chandelier from Restoration Hardware adds sparkle to any room. Photo: Restoration Hardware. 

Inspired by the opulence of Victorian English chandeliers, this Rococo iron and crystal chandelier from Restoration Hardware adds sparkle to any room. Photo: Restoration Hardware. 

Inspired by the opulence of Victorian English chandeliers, this Rococo iron and crystal chandelier from Restoration Hardware adds sparkle to any room. Photo: Restoration Hardware. And it is the lifestyle that captivates us. Even though we don’t have a library that holds 5,500 books, some dating back to the 15th century, and a dining room table that seats 32, we still long for a tiny bit of the feeling of opulence, taste and sensibilities of that period.

As a Fort Myers interior decorator, I always ask my clients how they want their home to feel when they walk in the door. Not look, but feel. So if you would like to put a little of the Downton Abbey feeling into your home, think about these tips.

Pottery Barn gilt finish frames. Photo: Pottery Barn.

Pottery Barn gilt finish frames. Photo: Pottery Barn.

Pottery Barn gilt finish frames. Photo: Pottery Barn.

• Add some gold touches. Gilded is the look and you can achieve this with metallic paint or spray paint on chairs or the legs of a table. Find a small chair (or two) that needs some work. Paint it gold and reupholster in a beautiful new fabric.

• Hang family portraits. If not yours, purchase some at flea markets. Stack them on top of each other and cover entire walls. Forget all of the rules that I have previously given you for hanging artwork. Stack them!

• Display crystal candlesticks. The more the better. They add sparkle and in the evening give that beautiful color that we love about this show. Purchase from consignment shops or flea markets. If crystal isn’t possible, try the beautiful antique mercury glass pillar and candle holders from Pottery Barn. They provide the dramatic display of silver and light that is so much a part of the Downton lighting.

Mercury glass pillar candle holders from Pottery Barn. Photo: Pottery Barn.

Mercury glass pillar candle holders from Pottery Barn. Photo: Pottery Barn.

• Hang a chandelier. For sparkle and a beautiful, warm reflection off the walls like in the Downton drawing room. And sconces, especially in the bedroom and bathrooms.

• Embellish. With tassels, add them to lamps or for a more subtle touch, use them to tie back thick drapes. Or just loop a really gorgeous one around a doorknob.

• Create a library. It doesn’t need to be huge but a wall or part of a wall will allow you display your books and achieve that Downton look. If that doesn’t work, try Brunschwig & Fils outrageously fun, faux, library print wall covering and instantly add floor-to-ceiling built-ins packed with wonderful books.

 • Don’t forget the kitchen. One of my favorite Downton Abbey accessories is the wonderful standing tiered pot rack in the corner of the kitchen. Use colorful pots and of course, a few copper ones. A hammered steel cookware stand with the look is available at Williams-Sonoma.

Add functional style to your kitchen with a hammered steel cookware stand from Williams-Sonoma. Photo: Williams-Sonoma.

Add functional style to your kitchen with a hammered steel cookware stand from Williams-Sonoma. Photo: Williams-Sonoma.

• Add a lady’s writing desk or vintage writing secretary. You may not wish to spring for the original rosewood Edwardian version, but the beautiful Bramwell writing desk from Pottery Barn works with its antique brass hardware and is an updated option.

• Display china and crystal. Bring it out of storage. Display it on a sideboard, shelf or arrange decanters on a silver tray. And to dust all of this, you will need an ostrich feather duster like the sassy one on the show!

• Layer everything. Drapes. Pillows. Rugs. This may be a little too heavy for Southwest Florida but layering can be done with lighter fabrics.

• Add damask paper to an accent wall in a modern color.

• Purchase something tufted. A sofa, ottoman or chair. This is a popular look now for any home.

• Oriental carpets, whether original or copies, are classic Downton Abbey.

• Add architectural details. Colorful moldings and chair rails. Paint inside doors panels a color for pop.

• Mirrors, mirrors on the walls. Gilded, patinaed or whitewashed. My favorite: the manor house whitewashed mirror from Restoration Hardware. The whitewashed look is casual enough for Southwest Florida homes and is a great statement piece.

Make a statement with this Manor House Whitewashed mirror from Restoration Hardware. Photo: Restoration Hardware.

Make a statement with this Manor House Whitewashed mirror from Restoration Hardware. Photo: Restoration Hardware.

• Color your home in Downton Abbey tones. The beautiful rose wall covering in Sybil’s room. And the wood tones, cornflower blue walls and the white ceiling in Cora’s room. The kitchen’s grays, browns and ivory. The reds, greens, blues and browns of the library. And that red velvet sofa.

The drawing room’s pastels and creams, the yummy green/aqua, pale rose and ivory. You can add touches of these colors by coming up with a palette and using splashes of color in accent pieces, fabric or on walls.

• Include palms for an opulent touch. The larger the better to fill corners. Palms were the hallmark of Victorian homes. This is the easiest tip of all for Southwest Florida homes!

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog.

Want a home that makes you happy?

Call me. I can help!

Time to hire a professional? Read my tips for working with an interior decorator in the Fort Myers News-Press. 

Sweet dreams are made of these: tips for a glamorous bedroom makeover

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• September 21, 2013

Headboard doubles as a comfortable backrest, creating a cozy spot for reading and relaxing. Available in slipcover options, so it can be changed. Paint color: Sensuous Gray by Sherwin Williams; Light fixture at left: Capiz shells. Photo: Pottery Barn.

It’s true. The best sleep comes in a beautiful bedroom. A gorgeous bed with sheets and pillows that are so comfortable that you can’t wait to land there at the end of the day. Perfect lighting, accent touches, color, window treatments. It all works together for a touch of glamour that makes you say “Ahhhhhh” when you walk in the room.

Headboard doubles as a comfortable backrest, creating a cozy spot for reading and relaxing. Available in slipcover options, so it can be changed. Paint color: Sensuous Gray by Sherwin Williams; Light fixture: Capiz shells. Photo: Pottery Barn

Getting there can be a challenge and for most homeowners, it is hard to know where to begin. Often it is the most overlooked room in the home. Everything else gets the design touches and because no one else sees the bedroom, it is the last on the decorating plan. Wrong. Because it is where you spend your sleeping and resting hours, it deserves top priority and some thoughtful planning.

Petal-shaped capiz shells form a translucent cluster of flowers on this flushmount lighting. Photo: Pottery Barn.

To start, it is important to select calming paint colors for the bedroom. Declutter the room. Move the computer and work station out of sight. If you can live without at television in the room, great.

Stratton Bed with drawers for storage, Swing arm-sconces and a porcelain blue duvet. Photo: Pottery Barn.

Stratton Bed with drawers for storage, Swing arm-sconces and a porcelain blue duvet. Photo: Pottery Barn.

Now to glam it up a bit and add some drama! Most of these tips are simple and will totally transform the bedroom. So much so, that you will likely want all of your guests to see the beautiful transformation!  And the best news: You can spend as much or as little when and if your budget permits.

Mark Fanta, general manager of Webster & Company, which includes Ralph Lauren Home, at Miromar Design Center in Estero, says the most important thing when planning a glamorous bedroom is to decide on a theme and stick to it.

Place a small sofa or bench at the end of the bed to create a sitting area. Bed and sofa: Ralph Lauren Home at Webster & Company, Miromar Design Center. Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn.

“Whether it is a color theme, a period, or even a style like French country, the key to glamour is simple elegance.  Keep your color scheme to one or two hues and include at least one neutral.  Color clashing and cutesy florals should be banished from a bedroom.  Accessories should compliment your color scheme with clutter being kept to a minimum.

And the bedding is the ultimate in creating a glamorous bedroom. I believe in using simple white-on-white pique and bed linens of the highest thread count afforadable in your budget. Simple and clean but very elegant.”

Doug Ulrich, general manager at Norris Home Furnishings, says that a current trend is to take classic lines on pieces and give them a unique finish or paint to transform a ypically traditional piece into one with transitional timeless elegance.

"Take unique pieces such as secretary,  flip top desks and armoires and make them the statement piece of the room by having a unique size, shape or finish."

More tips to add drama to your bedroom:

Traditional design gains modern boldness in this Frances canopy bed, inspired by the open industrial feel found in revitalized loft spaces. Photo: Pottery Barn.

Select neutral paint colors. Popular now: calming grays, browns, blues. Favorites from Sherwin Williams: Bamboo Shoot, Sensuous Gray, Smoky Blue, Turkish Coffee.

Add crown molding to the room in a high gloss super white.

If the room has a tray ceiling, paint with a splash of color and hang a chandelier.  Make sure it is on a dimmer as with any overhead lighting.

A large mirror, leaning on the wall or attached, adds sparkle and shimmer.

Select direct lighting for reading and ambient for mood lighting. If space is at a minimum on your nightstands, consider adjustable swing-arm lamps or sconces.

Because the bed is the focal point, use a high, upholstered fabric headboard, leather or tufted fabric. This softens the look and has a clean, glam feel. And a modern take on a canopy bed is always in style.

Don’t overlook the foot of the bed: add an upholstered bench or trunk that can be used for storage. If there is space, a loveseat.

An upholstered chair or tufted lounge for reading adds a relaxing touch.

Repeat colors and textures to unify the space.

Writing desk or vanity is functional and should be the spot for treasured accessories that you want to see every day.

Create a master suite with use of color, fabrics, connect the bedroom and bath spaces so they work together. Much as you remember from your favorite hotel, carry the theme into the bath with the window treatments and color. This is a great way to make both spaces will feel larger.

Add fresh flowers and have sweet dreams!

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Her column, Home Inspirations, appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or email wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog.

Thanks Mr. Chihuly: You made my day in Seattle!

Photo of glass flowers at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle

I knew this was going to be a great day.

The kind that people who live in Seattle never talk about. The skies were blue and the sun was shining.  l almost skipped to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition that’s located at the base of the Space Needle.

Photo of Dale Chihuly and Wrenda Goodwyn at Chihuly Art and Glass in Seattle With Dale Chihuly at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle.This was a day that I had looked forward to since the exhibition opened a year ago.  Stained glass has always been one of my passions and I have dabbled in it for years.  Dale Chihuly pushes the envelope with his dreamlike pieces. You want to stare at them for hours and that’s what I did.

The centerpiece is the Glasshouse. A 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space, the Glasshouse is the result of Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories. The design draws inspiration from two of his favorite buildings: Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the Crystal Palace in London.

 

The installation is an expansive 100-foot long sculpture in a color palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber. Made of many individual elements, it is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures. The perception of the artwork varies greatly with natural light and as the day fades into night. It is inspiring and captivating.

So after going through the exhibition(45,000-square feet of colorful bliss) twice to take it all in, I entered the Glasshouse and there he was: Dale Chihuly. It was my lucky day.  He was talking about how he did the installation. I met him and we talked for a few minutes.  He was gracious and had his photographer take a photo of us. He made my day in Seattle.

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Home Inspirations: All that glitters

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• June 9, 2012

Photo to Baccarat chandelierMarie Coquin chandelier designed by Phillipe Starck. Photo: Baccarat.

Women love them. Men often aren't crazy about them.

They are romantic and sexy. The right one with the perfect dimmer switch setting makes anyone look beautiful.

They are dazzling and add style and a touch of refined culture to a space.

They go anywhere in the home, including bathrooms, closets, a walk in pantry. I have even seen one in a laundry room.

You can spend a little or you can spend thousands.

Photo of Baccarat chandelierZenith chandelier with clear pink and mist crystals by Phillipe Starck. Baccarat. Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn.

Chandeliers are an accessory that can make an entry or dining room. It does what the perfect necklace does for an outfit. And as with jewelry, before you head out the door, you want to know that you selected the right one.

In southwest Florida, many homes sacrifice chandeliers for ceiling fans. While women are most likely willing to say goodbye to a fan in hopes of adding a beautiful, sparkly chandelier, men often need to be coaxed into considering one.

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