Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Maison 21, Onion Domes and Dr. Zhivago

For those of you that have not yet seen this gorgeous hunk of crystal, let me fill you in: the incomparably witty, creative and hilarious design blogger Maison 21 has thrown down the glove. He has challenged all who dare to design a room around what has been described as the "Moscow Mafioso" chandelier. Now, at first glance, one might consider this to be a mite "over the top", a bit crass, a tiny bit Atlantic City Trump.

But there was something about it. It conjured up something I couldn't quite place. Something romantic and exotic. So when I commented on M21's blog saying I thought it would be sort of fantastic in the right setting, he called me out. And I am just not one to back down from a challenge...although perhaps in this case I might not recover.

OK, now do you see it? That's right...Dr. Zhivago. The ultimate Russian romance with icy onion domes. So there you have it. This is my inspiration.

So where to begin? I thought I would place this brilliant extravaganza of a chandelier in a Dining Room. I love the restrained eye of Axel Vervoordt. His use of natural elements like plastered walls and lime washed wood floors lend an air of relaxed formality. On the other hand I also can see the more tailored and modern sensibility of Vicente Wolf. I am somewhere in between here. Both are masters when it comes to using the soft greys and blues so often found in Northern European climates:

These rooms from "Axel Vervoordt, Timeless Interior" by Armelle Baron, Photos by Christian Barramon

"Learning to See" by Vicente Wolf

"Crossing Boundaries" by Vicente Wolf

I would start with wide plank, lime washed floors and use a plaster with integral grey/blue color for the walls. The ceiling would also be plaster in an ivory color. Perhaps there would be a simple fireplace mantle as in the Vervoordt photo above in aged marble.

I would use this table base and paint or white wash it and put a round limestone top on it. Kind of reminds me of being in the snow covered woods. This zinc pagoda would be on top of the table. With the spire pointing up, and the chandelier pointing down, it creates a sort of stalagmite/stalactite situation and the pagoda sort of echoes the Zhivago house a bit.

(Oh! I just have to add that I would take the chandelier and re-plate the brass metal in zinc or something that would have that same flat grey color. Can I do that and still stay within the rules of the game?)

Add these chairs (love those feet. A little reminiscent of a wolves at the door.):

In a fabric like this cool blue linen velvet by Lee Jofa:

A painted trestle table used as a sideboard, in a Scandinavian style:

With an over scaled (read: huge) winter landscape by Kate Bright on the wall above it:

The table could be flanked by these urns on pedestals (sort of adds that touch of the Czar I think!):

Perhaps these zinc urns on, or under the sideboard:

With perhaps some icy looking accessories like these frosted glass vases from Oly Studio:

Maybe silver punch bowls filled with chunks of rock crystal, or vodka bottles in ice:

Over the marble mantle, a little wild life:

And for those who are skittish about the real thing, a carved wood deer head from RianRae:

Two cut glass mosaic mirrors on the walls flanking the fireplace:

Above a couple of demi-lune tables painted in a dark grey blue:

Perhaps a pair of rock crystal lamps on the tables:

In front of a wall of windows draped in an ivory wool, two of these hooded chairs would keep out the chill:

A glass side table from Oly Studio in between seems to be a sculpture of ice.

A few more icy accessories like these rock crystal candlesticks, candlelight and a fire in the fireplace to warm things up a bit, and I will be ready for a glass of that vodka and a bit of caviar.

( All items above were found on 1st Dibs unless otherwise noted)

So, perhaps you have been inspired to take up the challenge yourself! I hope I can twist the arms of a few of you. C'mon...take a chance, and you too could be the proud winner of your very own Dr. Zhivago commemorative collector's plate:

(OK....I really don't know where to get a plate like this....you would be surprised what came up with a Google search of Dr. Zhivago)


maison21 said...


not only is re-plating within the rules of the game, it is an BRILLIANT solution to tone down the glitter factor. moscow mafioso re-imagined in gunmetal or pewter becomes kremlin chic instead! and perfect for your icy winter scene.

love the wolves and sheep too.

great job!

halcyon said...

Oh my eyes! my eyes!!!! Maison 21 has given you the challenge of the century and you have (ahem) risen to the task. Personally, I am convinced the only to remodel that harridan of a chandelier is with an AK-47, however....
You have constructed a virtual ice palace in our minds with your blue, white, cream and gray palette. Congratulations.

Maison 21: That chandelier could make a train take a dirt road!

Mrs. Blandings said...

Completely stunned and am totally in love with your creation and the game. Katie - complete genius, totally "brilliant." I adore it. Brava.

Kirsten said...

Wow, what a fun challenge! You did a great job!

Cote de Texas said...

I love this! In case you missed it, I once did my favorite movie sets and Dr. Z was one of them - that Siberia Ice Castle was sooooo gorgeous - remember when he breaks open the door to use the other part of the house - for Lara, his true love, poor Tonya. And for years, I was going to name my daughter Tonya - glad I got over THAT!!!!! great great post!!! of course, i had to bring it back to MOI, always!!!

the House of Beauty and Culture said...


hello gorgeous said...

Wow! This is the first time I have visited your site (via M21) and I am awed at your design ideas using that light. The idea of replating it is brilliant as is the Dr. Zhivago theme (LOVE IT!). I would love to see that room put together. Well done. Consider yourself bookmarked.

Pigtown-Design said...

Katie... i love the idea of the big punch bowl being filled by pieces of rock crystal. I have an enormous punch bowl that i got from a salvage job we did at an officer's club. i never know quite what to do with it!

mandco said...

Ohhhhh...This post is stunning Katie!! Love Dr Zhivago, and your picks! You should design a Dr Zhivago hotel, and I could live in it forever!!

The Peak of Chic said...

Way to go Katie!!! You did a fabulous job ;)

Emily said...

Wow very impressive!!

katiedid said...

Hi M21! This has been such a fun game. Let's do it again! Thanks for the inspiration and the "COMRAD"ery!!!!!

katiedid said...

Hi all!
WOW...what fun to see all of your very kind comments this morning. You all have simply made my day.

Halcyon...You are so funny!

Mrs. B and Joni...Thanks so much. Coming from you two,your words are high praise. :)

Kirsten and Hello Gorgeous...thanks for the visit and welcome!

katiedid said...

Thanks HOBAC! I loved yours! Especially the couch.

Hi Meg! I have a punch bowl too, and I am always filling it with something or other: large shells, flowers, a big fern. Mostly I use it as a big ice bucket to chill wine. They are VERY handy!

Ann said...

That crystal chandelier is so grand. You've done a good job complimenting it with such grand places/spaces too, even if its just a game.

Great job. I love it.

felicity said...

Katie - you did a FABULOUS Job - I love how you made it so STYLISH!

Hugs from

All Thing Bright and beautiful - not logged in to her blog and therefore posting as her name ! Felicity

Neutral Dwelling said...

Wowza! Way to live up to a challenge!

At Home Redesigns said...

Phew! That was a lot of work. Great job!

FancyPants-design said...

Absolutely amazing!! Wow!! Have you heard of the design firm Sills Huniford in New York?? sillshuniford.com this reminds me of them ..they are very Axel Vervoordt.. very rustic!! They have a book too Dwellings!! Seriously you should check it out! :)

Shannon Fricke said...

the cool blue linen velvet is for me!

Lena said...

my god girl!!! I love everything you did. when can I move in, my favorite colors are grey, blue and cream! sooo tranquil! You win in my book, congrats!

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Visionary! I have a friend in St. Pete who should be reading this post.

pve design said...

I like mine straight up and to toast you under that chandelier in that spot would certainly be "cool."
I vote for you "dahling."

chriskauf said...

I really admire your taste, I could use you opinion on my bloglema , please be so kind and give me your opinion on three fabric choices I have for my settee.

a home far away said...

Oh my gosh Uou have been busy:_)
So many inspiring pictures, I hopa you had a great weekend!

Hugs from a sunny Singapore

craftytype said...

My favorite is the 'wolves legs' chair. Very deceptive looking - calm on top and menacing beneath. There's a wonderful staghorn table which would fit into your scheme at Windsor Smith Antiques on Fyndes.

pve design said...

Oh the weather outside is frightful but your post is so delightful.
See my "le Voltage" challenge to dim the lights!

a home far away said...

Hi again!
I just wanted to tell you that ou have an award to collect at my blog, because I really enjoy your blog and your way of wieving lovely homes and decorating details!

Hugs Gunilla

Style Court said...

So inspired Katie! I totally feel the icy shimmer. Love your idea to mix the raw with the opulent. Well done!

ALL THE BEST said...

WOW!! I can see it now and it's beautiful! Way to go Katie!!!!!

Mélanie said...

wonderful Job ....I love this post

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...


{this is glamorous} said...

It's brilliant, Katie. Everything you've chosen to surround the chandelier with just works so beautifully. And the shade of that blue linen velvet!

Meander said...

You, my dear, are a freaking genius as far as I'm concerned!!!
I LOVE that room - can totally see it right now. I'm cold actually. I feel like I need a fancy fur coat and hat or maybe a yummy omar sharif (sp?) to warm me up!!! ;)

katiedid said...

Just a note to say thank you all so much for your very nice comments! It is really makes me face the day with a smile. Thanks!

Alkemie said...

Love the crystal items - especially the lamp!

Topsy Turvy said...

Katie - gorgeous! I love the lime washed floors, and that root table is perfect.