Satin Slippers and Dimity

Just when I thought it was over and I’d put the last lick of paint on our kitchen wall, I decided to paint my studio.

It was magnolia, but felt a bit too ‘heavy’ and definitely needed freshening up.  It’s a tricky, north facing, L-shaped room with a velux window . . . .

and an area with no natural light around the corner.

I wanted to keep it as light as possible and the new wall colour was very important.  Pure ‘gallery’ white felt too cold and austere, cream was too yellow and the only greys I could find at B & Q were too dark and cool. I wanted my studio to have a warm, soft and neutral feeling like pussy willow buds.

When Steve and I were in Ireland, we stayed with his friend Lauraine who is a home decorator and interior designer.  The guest bedroom was gorgeous and she gave me a Farrow & Ball paint colour card.  I ordered a few sample pots.  Great customer service and packaging.

Farrow & Ball paint samples

I painted some pieces of cartridge paper so I could place them around the room.

This helped me narrow down a couple of colours, but it wasn’t until I started painting the colour on the wall that I could see what would work.  I tried about 10 sample pots in the end.  The Farrow & Ball website was really helpful, with some neutral and grey colour schemes.  I ended up going with a warm grey called Slipper Satin for the west wall, a warm reddish-white called Pointing for all of the other walls and a warm red called Dimity for the trim and doors.  When I was auditioning colours, I felt very calm and relaxed when I looked at those colours on my walls, so that tipped my decision.

I admit that when choosing colours, whether paint, hair dye or nail polish I can be a sucker for the names.  Slipper satin and dimity conjure up imagery of feminine elegance and beauty.

Satin slippers, early 1800’s

Dimity is a type of lightweight, sheer cotton fabric used in gowns and undergarments.

Dimity petticoat, 1879

Dimity tournure, 1873

A ‘dimity’ was a bit of draping worn by performers of the Poses Plastiques, which was an early form of strip tease.

Woodcut of a poses plastiques act at the Coal Hole Tavern, London, 1854

Performers wore flesh colored silk body stockings and/or a dimity to give the illusion of modesty.  This dimity body stocking worn by Clara Ward, Princesse de Caraman-Chimay, is edged with pearls at the wrists and neckline.

French albumen photograph of Clara Ward,  1905.

The French writer, Colette, in a dimity drape during her music hall career (1906 – 1911):

Colette, 1909

So, here we have my beautifully decorated studio.  I just have to choose fabric for some chair cushions and possibly a rug to bring some colour into the room.  It feels really good in there.

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