We're beginning to scout out tag and estate sales for pieces that look like they belong in the house.
We thought by now, we'd explored every nook and cranny, but Rob came upon a decorative treasure in a crawl space above the ceiling at the far end of the center hall. Carefully heaving himself through a pop-out, he found remnants of the Italianate handpainted ceiling discovered in the china closet which was apparently painted over when Governor Holley's new wife called for the house's first renovation in 1860.
Chris and I sit at the work station in the living room to discuss options for sinks throughout the house. We'll need sinks for new bathrooms, kitchen areas, laundry room. We decide that we'll use vintage sinks if Chris can find them, to retain the old-fashioned feeling of the house.
We're a long way off from decorating. But. I couldn't resist this handspun Chobi wool carpet from Pakistan that was too big for my friend Max's dining room, but fit perfectly in ours. The painter was horrified when he first saw it, afraid he'd have to work with it underfoot. He was relieved to hear we were storing it upstairs. It took 4 men to move it. It's 14 x 19' and weighs over 200 lbs.
Remember what I said about us keeping in place all the simple brass fixtures that are already there? (on the left) Forget that. Chris took another reconnaissance trip to PW Vintage Lighting and came back with wondrous finds. Like this sconce and its mate for the dining room, with glass shade that echoes Greek key design in revival door moldings.
We'll use the original sconces in bedrooms upstairs.
For the breakfast room, we're looking at quirky milk glass lanterns with "bonnets" on chains that servants used to pull up and down to refill when the fixture was gas. "It's similar to what might have been here originally, before they electrified it," Chris said.
Which made me wish aloud that the family had saved the fixtures that came out in 1915. "I wonder whatever happened to those," I said.
Chris's eyes twinkled. "You're probably buying them back."
Of course, the fun part of a renovation is decorating. We're not nearly there yet, but I've already made a trip to my favorite lighting store: PW Vintage Lighting in Great Barrington. We don't need many fixtures. We plan to keep the simple brass mounts that were installed on walls and ceilings in 1915, when (luckily for us) there wasn't much choice in fixtures. How surprised the householders who installed them would be to discover the price those fixtures fetch today!
We do need more light in the center hallway, however. Adam, PW's excellent proprietor, sent me home with this arts and crafts candelabra on approval. Our friends Tom and Karen help decide how it looks. Imagine persuading a store clerk in the Bowery to let you take home a fixture and try it out before paying.
who we are
We are a couple of Upper West Siders from NYC who never set out to buy an old mansion in Connecticut. But the moment we walked through its massive front door, we were smitten. The info on this site is earnestly cobbled from a variety of sources, including the web. Please let us know if we've gotten something wrong, or if there's a story about Holleywood you'd like to share.