I could hardly wait until we finished this room. There is just something so romantic and cozy about a parlor. When we moved in, there was a wood-burning stove in this room. However, we had the chimneys checked out and were told never to use this stove because the chimneys were not in good enough condition for a wood-burning fire. We removed the stove, but I saved the bricks from the hearth it was sitting on and used them later for the hearth under the gas stove we put in the living room. We sheetrocked over the door that used to go into the guest bath, and we installed a gas stove on the west wall. I wanted the fireplace to appear as in many Victorian homes, in a section of the wall that juts out from the main wall on which it would be installed. So Steve built out a box to house the fireplace that went from floor to ceiling, which gave the fireplace more prominence in the room.
The woman who lived in our home from the 1950s to late 90s had several faux fireplaces in some of the rooms and we found one of the mantel surrounds in one of the upstairs bedrooms. We were able to use this mantel around our gas fireplace, with the addition of some of Steve’s creative woodwork. He beefed up the mantel so it was thicker and had more presence, and he added wood to the surround so it fit more perfectly around our gas fireplace. I installed the tile hearth and found a gorgeous mirror at a local bazaar that fit perfectly above the mantel. We discovered after some time that the design in the frame of the mirror was almost exactly the design that was on the mantel – it was just meant to be.
I chose a blue/green paint for the walls in this room and added a Victorian stencil near the top of all the walls in a darker shade of the wall color. I had made some tall burgundy tie-back curtains for a room divider in our previous home and wanted to put them on either side of the bay window area. However, our rooms have 10′ high ceilings which are much higher than our previous home. So I crossed my fingers and went back to the fabric store to see if they still had that same fabric and they did!! So I bought enough to make the curtains long enough for the bay window and tied them back with ropes and tassels. I made a valance curtain to stretch across the width of the bay window and added rope trim scalloping along the width which dropped down on each side with a tassel at the end. We put our Christmas Tree in the bay window every year and it is also beautiful to see the tree lights through the windows at night too.
We were told that the previous families used the parlor for a music room and we have my great uncle’s upright piano on one wall and a late 1880s organ (that we purchased after we moved in) on another wall. We also have an antique record cabinet in a corner by the fireplace and Steve bought me an old-fashioned replica record player for my old albums, plus it records onto CDs.
We also refinished the original floors in the parlor. Since this was a fairly small room, Steve chose to do the sanding by hand. It took him a long time to do the room by hand, but it turned out so nice and probably better than using a machine. We were fortunate recently to acquire my paternal grandmother’s Singer sewing machine. However, the veneer was all pulled up on the top and it was in dire need of some TLC. Steve took the whole machine apart, cut new wood for the top out of quarter sawn oak to match the original wood on the rest of the machine, and I was able to match the finish by combining two different stains. We put the sewing machine in the bay window and it looks like it has always been there.
I bought two Queen Ann parlor chairs on Craigslist, but they were in desparate need of new upholstery. I had never upholstered before, but decided to just go for it. I bought a beautiful brocade green fabric with a very defined pattern, so I had to be careful when I cut out the pieces to make sure the design was in the same place on both chairs. With my handy dandy staple gun, encouragement from Steve when I got frustrated, and some expert advice from local upholsterers, I was so pleased with the final result. They look a lot better now than with the cat-scratched bright orange plush fabric they had before.
I also inherited my mother’s corner curio cabinet and many of the items in the cabinet were from my mother, so it holds a lot of memories for me. I made fabric portieres for the doorway into this room and the living room. Both doors are off the entry and it softens the doorways nicely and really does help to keep the heat in the rooms, as was done in the Victorian times.
I sometimes call this our “winter” room. It is such a cozy, comfortable room, very intimate and it doesn’t have the interference of a TV. It is the perfect place to sit by the fire on a cool winters day and read a book, play the piano or just sit and enjoy.