January 25th, 2012

Braehead Revisited, chapter 3: The Parlors

Just off Braehead’s magnificent grand hall are two beautiful formal rooms. We decided to use them as a music parlor (since a pianoforte’ was already there) and a dining parlor. The two identically sized rooms are divided by huge pocket doors with their original ceramic knobs. The exquisite millwork in these rooms was painted to resemble birds-eye and tiger maple by a nineteenth century artist. The mantels, too, have a beautiful alligatored paint finish in black over a deep ivory. Amazingly, the artist’s work remains in remarkably good shape. Very little was done to it other than gentle cleaning.

Notice the Victorian plate warmer under the window to the right, above. Plates would be placed in the metal device and warmed near the fire.

The magnificent pianoforte’, screens, artwork and all the furniture you see in these rooms were found in the house. The only exceptions are the antique painted music cabinet and American Empire dining chairs that I purchased for the project. The rugs are also recent purchases and are contemporary interpretations of period designs.


The fabrics I selected for these rooms are based upon period patterns and colors. The American Empire sofa and Victorian chair are covered in velvet. The screens and side chair are in tapestries and the double swag and jabot window treatments are in silk. The ladies’ fire-screen retains its original tattered printed velvet beneath the Oriental tapestry we applied. Screens like these protected ladies’ beeswax make-up from melting if they sat too close to the fireplace. This is where the warning, “Mind your beeswax” originated.

A small, paper covered box was discovered in a shed on the property. When we opened the lid, we found these old Christmas ornaments! The delicate decorations remain as we found them and the box now resides on the mantel in the music parlor.

Two tureen lids found outside on the property were probably thrown out as Union troops vandalized the house during the War Between the States. The bottoms were not recovered, but the lids are quite beautiful as art pieces.

Braehead was decorated for an autumn open house when most of these photos were taken. I made arrangements of wheat, oak leaves, pumpkins, pheasant feathers and other natural materials to adorn the table and mantels for the event.


Tomorrow we go upstairs!



Resources in Friday’s post

Photographs by Kimberly Long, Life Long Memories Photography – see link at left.

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5 Responses

  • Cindy Ensminger said:

    Just beautiful! LOVE the colors! Can’t wait to see more.

  • Merry said:

    So glad you are enjoying the tour, Cindy. As I mentioned, original wallpaper fragments were found during the renovation. Some of it had been covered and so the vivid cobalt blue and orange had not faded. Interestingly, the current owners’ favorite colors are blue (hers) and orange (his)! Meant to be…

  • Karen Bane said:

    Merry –
    I met you when [the owner] brought you into my Silver Spider Shop on Caroline Street. I visited Braehead both before and after and am amazed at your vision in helping her restore this gorgeous home. It is beautiful both inside and out!
    Congratulations! and thank you for posting all the “chapters”.


  • Merry said:

    Hi Karen,
    I remember you and your lovely shop. We purchased the brass fireplace fender in the music parlor from you especially for Braehead.
    Thank you for reading my blog. There are a couple of posts still to come in the series on Braehead as well as future posts on a variety of other topics. I hope you will keep reading!

  • Pingback: [Interview] Merry Powell, Interior Designer: “Preservation is Contagious” - PreservationNation

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