The Bird Cage
Delicate wallpaper, suede, leather, brass, cotton, limewashed wood, terracotta, glass, foliage
I was hunting for a patterned wallpapered room to deconstruct then I came across this. It caught my eye for various reasons – the mix of furniture, the eccentricity of the how the frames are hung, the delicate and girly trailing wallpaper and then there is the ceiling, but most of all it’s how the whole bird theme has been carried right through to the bird footed table. It all shows a sense of the person that lives in this space and a sense of humour. It’s personal and styled for no-one else other than the owner. Clearly evident by the ceiling that this is not your average dwelling. I won’t say it’s a house in the country, which it may well be, as I know you can find this period of home in many parts of London. Regardless of where the foundations of the house lie, it shows that an interior doesn’t have to represent the same period as the exterior.
Apart from adding texture to an interior, wallpaper is statement and indicator of the occupier. I don’t mean this to sound like you might as well plaster the walls with you’re teenage memoirs. Apart from being a very personal choice, if it’s a Timorous Beasties (one of the most exciting textile and wallpaper companies in my opinion) it shows your knowledge of the design industry and if it’s a wall covered with a de Gournay … how shall I say this…it shows you’re not looking for loose change at the bottom of your handbag! People will presume different messages from your choice but it’s a given they will each have a closer understanding of what makes you tick. Not sure I shouldn’t say this out aloud, we all know unfortunately that friend or foe, we are being sized up in some way.
So back to the image. As always I’ll start from the colour that has the highest percentage – 26% – which is the lime wash finish on the floor and frames. The pale timber picture frames are subtle and blend into the wallpaper. Think for a moment if these frames were a darker timber, visually the emphasis would change, you would be distracted by random dark rectangles hanging all over the place as opposed to your eye being drawn to each image of the different birds.
We then have the ceiling. To be honest, beams scare me. I can handle them better when they are painted the same colour as the ceiling and blend in. In Feng Shui terms this is good as to treat them differently than the rest of the ceiling would visually create lines or divisions and this can cause all kinds of issues. Feng shui, in simplistic terms, is about creating a space that feels positive i.e. sleeping in bed and not seeing the door easily or placing a bed under a window where you feel a draft, both will result in a restless night sleep. You either won’t be able to see who is approaching your room which will play on your nervous or you’ll be trying to stop a constant draft on your shoulders. The backing cloth of the cushions is also white and collectively they all account for 23% of the room.
The modern simple lines of the 17% brown – what looks like suede – sofa in terms of design is the opposite of delicately designed wallpaper. The aged terracotta plant pot also has the same visual texture and colour. You have to admit the sofa colour is an odd one but in this context it’s a perfect choice. This is an example of how you should never look at a colour in isolation.
If you cover the ceiling of the image you would think the background of the wallpaper is white. It’s not till you compare the background to the ceiling do you realise it’s slightly off-white and this in turn graduates the change of colour between the floor to wall and sofa to floor. The pictures also share the same colour and if you really want to go into the details, so are the books on the floor and under the sofa. All together off-white totals 15%.
12% yellow appears in the wallpaper and the cushions and having a touch of black in it stops it being garish. The delicate pattern adds texture to the room.
The 2% brass stalk-footed table is brilliant. It’s unexpected and whimsical. It’s the perfect height and the placement of it makes it useful to all who is seated at the sofa.
The varnished leather trunk adds a further 2% and is a similar strength in colour to the table. It also shows that mixing old with new is vital to adding depth to an interior.
Dotted around the wall are the images of black birds. I envisage a tree sprouting up from the floor with each bird sitting on branch. It may not feel natural to hang pictures in such a way but by doing so it’s drawing attention to them and in turn you inspect each picture individually. All together black equals 2%.
The 1% green isn’t just a colour, it’s representation of a living thing- the plant. It adds life and you know that at some point a person will come to tender it. It’s this that makes a room a home instead of a hotel.
This it’s a very natural and tonal palette but adding the little injection of orange on the table it ramps it up a touch.
Finally, if you feel the need to add a floor covering (who doesn’t want to add some warmth underfoot and adsorb some noise) I would use a textural carpet or rug with no pattern. In regards to window treatments, linen drapes that puddle on the floor. In both cases go with an off-white colour.
TIP: When lime washing or staining a floor do a test first if you plan to apply this yourself as you need to get used to how to apply it. It’s quite different to painting. Also you need to keep in mind what timber you are treating as the colours will react differently.
*The colour on screen is not a true representation of actual colour