To Chalk or Not? That’s the Inspiration

This room in the March 2016 issue of House Beautiful absolutely takes my breath away.

Paul Raeside

Yes, I know—chalk paint is passé.

But surely the people who make those pronouncements weren’t talking about this room, this “writer’s room,” as it’s called, in the Montreal townhouse of designer Garrow Kedigian?

I remember reading in one of those end-of-2015 articles about what would be hot in 2016 and what was on the way out that chalk paint had worn out its welcome—not because Americans don’t like the look or idea of it, but because they don’t like their handwriting.


No handwriting here to worry about. Just swirling acanthus leaves, shadowed lines punctuated by diminutive rosettes, and a frieze of egg-and-dart delightfulness—classical lines opulently etched in a transitory medium, something that never goes out of style.


Garrow Kedigian

The only handwriting we’re apt to see here is something on paper, done at this desk, though it doesn’t appear to be the desk of a serious writer—too small, uncomfortable seat, and where’s the laptop? Or paper and pen for that matter?


Garrow Kedigian

Aha! Here are some pencils, placed here when we weren’t looking. (Actually, this photo came from Kedigian’s Instagram account, rather than the HB shoot.)

But are these chalk pencils? Is this entire room a pun?

You know that Bible story about Belshazzar’s feast? The arrogant king of Babylon held a party and drank from the temple vessels. A disembodied hand appeared and wrote on the wall. The prophet Daniel was sent for to read and interpret the message, which was basically that the king had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. He lost his kingdom to the Persians shortly after.


Garrow Kedigian

There’s no impending doom here that I can see. But what I wouldn’t give to read the title of that book on the table!

Puns aside, the only person “wanting” here is me. Something in me wants this room, impractical though it may be for me. I’m incredibly clumsy. I’d have the chalk embellishment marred beyond recognition by the end of the first day. And the chalk dust would make me cough.


Paul Raeside

But you have to admit it’s beautiful.


Paul Raeside

I could stretch out on that chaise longue right now, wait for the words to take shape on the walls or the ceiling or in my head…

Or not at all, and be happy as a clam either way.

For more info and more stunning photos…

Paul Raeside


Follow the links to see more of Kedigian’s gorgeous townhouse and read the House Beautiful interview with him. Both are part of a color issue focusing on neutrals.

Most of the designers featured favor whites and beiges, but Kedigian shows darker, moody, and often pigmented neutrals—a murky teal, a smoldering umber, a spicy terra cotta, and yes, a dusty matte black. Here’s what he had to say about that:


“What is a neutral? It’s just something that’s not jarring. I want the colors to be dramatic but not overwhelming. Everyone always wants white walls, but I think white makes it much harder to design a successful room, because the palette is so stark. For me, white is jarring.”

Susan Lawson / BoHo Home

One thing you will miss if you don’t check out the HB print version is the little bubble on the last page of the spread, which directs you to “the best room in the house, page 77!”


Paul Raeside

Which is, of course, this room whereof we (I) speak (pontificate), embellished by New York artist and sometimes actor Rajiv Surendra.


Rajiv Surendra

Here is Surendra at work on Kedigian’s room. Remember him from Mean Girls?

He played Kevin G, a math geek who raps in the school talent show. The Toronto native now owns a bustling calligraphy business in the Big Apple.


Rajiv Surendra

Here are a couple more examples of his work. You can also follow Surendra on Instagram.

Beautiful stuff, no?

Paul Raeside

Indubitably! But this one is still my favorite. I think I’ll settle into that chalk room in my head and wait for some words to materialize. Wake me when my novel’s written. ;->

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