Welcome to a new series of posts where we show you how to put together a table vignette, a gallery wall or an entire room inspired by OUATT’s boho-chic style! We are going to start off with a salon-style room. Literary salons were gathering places where people got together to exchange social and cultural ideas- they were hosted in homes, restaurants, clubs or special meeting rooms; they were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries and they are still around in many forms and settings. I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of a literary salon and the rooms where they are hosted. Such a room would be both beautiful and welcoming, and invite conversations on many subjects- art, science, books, music, social issues, travel. I think of it as a room where a book club would meet but of course, not restricted to books. How do we put together a room that inspires so much? I am a research biologist and not a designer, but here is my take…
1. The space. You need a room or a part of a room that you can set aside for hosting your salon gatherings. If you have a room to spare, that’s wonderful. If you don’t, you can always repurpose your living/dining room. I have used everything, from a room that was the size of a really large closet to a little cottage dedicated for the purpose, and I can tell you, it’s what’s inside the room that counts and not the size.
2. Furnishings can range from the very formal (like those named for French kings) to a shabby chic style. Pick the one that most appeals to you. What furniture will you need? I recommend a squishy, inviting sofa and a few comfortable chairs. If you are using a dining space, your table will work just fine. Work with what you have- the idea is to make a space that is always inviting (even when you are on your own) and not something that you set up just for a day. I like to position a rug in the center of the room and draw the furniture away from the walls to create an intimate atmosphere- to put it more romantically, an island where everyone can gather.
3. Now come the layering and the details. Is your salon going to gather book lovers? Music aficionados? Travel enthusiasts? All of the above? Since our theme is a literary salon, let me tell you what I do. I am an avid reader and I like to pile books on every surface- on the coffee table and on tables that I set up expressly for the purpose. I like being surrounded by the books, especially old favorites that I go back to many times. You can also make an artful pile on the side of your sofa though this isn’t always practical if you’ve smaller children- when they were younger, my kids would always try to sit on them!
The theme for the art? I don’t stick to a particular theme but many of the art are tied together by my love for a color like indigo or terra-cotta. My husband is not a huge fan of the amount of art I like to hang on the walls and also, I like to change the pictures I am looking at on a fairly regular basis- my solution is to lean art on the floor and on the tables. I love the feeling that it creates!
For music-lovers, frame vinyl record covers with interesting art to create an intriguing display. And the sky’s the limit for travel photographs- Artifact Uprising will make these beautiful prints and photo books that will allow you add a truly personal stamp to the room.
Lastly, but what to me is the most interesting and special part, use beautiful, vintage textiles to add vivid patterns to your room. A literary salon or any salon suggests a timeless room that is above trends. Where history, art, music and literature bring people together. (Just writing it gives me goosebumps!) Textiles are so much a part of that collective culture and I always think of them as the final thing that binds the room together. I layer them on the backs of sofas, on tables, on the sides of chairs- Uzbeki and Turkish suzanis, crewel-work from Kashmir, India, a lace shawl that my Dad brought back for me from Cyprus when I was 12, a broderie-anglaise peasant blouse from somewhere in Eastern Europe. It’s a way of taking all that’s beautiful in our personal and collective history, and surrounding ourselves with it everyday.
Finally, add fresh flowers, a pot of tea and enjoy!
If you do create your own literary or any salon, please email us pictures, so that I can share it on OUATT and we can all take a look. Interested in creating beautiful, social-media worthy tabletop vignettes? The step-by-step is in the latest issue of the ouatt magazine– you can buy it here or sign up for our newsletter, and get 2 issues free (including the just-released one with ideas for the tabletop vignettes)! Have a wonderful day, my friends!
All images: Studio OUATT