Writer and Researcher
Amy Gale
At Home with Antiques Writing Samples
amygale@amygale.com 212-787-5971
"Fascination for Railroads Inspires Unique Décor," Hartford Courant (November 20, 2009) In the old days, the private trains of the wealthy were decorated to look like rooms, with separate cars for the dining room, bedroom and drawing room. The sumptuous upholstery and richly carved furniture made the passengers feel at home. David Saling of Glastonbury pulled a reverse switch on that tradition. He decorated a room to evoke the golden age of railroads. There are vintage model trains, a replica station clock and murals of the Pullman Company and Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (the original operator of the Orient Express) by local artist Patrick Ganino. At the end of the room is an alcove furnished like a sleeping compartment. The sleeper alcove is a place for fantasizing. "I happen to love trains, and I have always dreamed about taking a vacation by rail," says Saling, who works long hours in construction. The arrangement is also practical. While the room is an office and entertainment center, it serves, too, as a guest room. Keeping its principal functions separate from the bed was one goal. Another was to avoid the makeshift look of occasional sleeping quarters. Sharon McCormick, an interior designer in Durham, worked with Saling to make a room that was both useful and imaginative. Railway nostalgia encompasses many periods and places. Even commuter trains can have allure. They were a success symbol in the 1930s, when many Americans did not have a job to commute to, and they feature in postwar suburban fiction. Certainly, the alcove view is more John Cheever than Graham Greene. The window looks out not onto the Siberian forest or Himalayan foothills but the New London Turnpike. The interior, though, was inspired by the first-class compartments made famous in movies like "North by Northwest" and "Murder on the Orient Express." The alcove is furnished with a bed that McCormick designed. It is made of stained oak and has fluted posts. The walls are covered with red grass paper. At the alcove entrance are olive silk curtains that are tied back, as if the valet has done the morning tidying. In reality, McCormick explains, the curtains are not hung from a rod. "David didn't feel that his guests would really draw the drapes, so we chose to utilize the slopes of the alcove ceiling to create drama with stationary drapes." One challenge was to create the illusion - but not the discomfort - of a cramped compartment. For example, the twin mattress (encased in a gold cotton/rayon cover) is noticeably narrower than the bed. It only looks like one of those hard pallets that slide around on a steep Alpine pass. Above the bed are two small luggage racks. A large rack for trunks and suitcases would have overwhelmed the space and blocked the window, a double-hung model that does not at all resemble a transomed picture window. Saling shrugs off the discrepancy. The project was strictly decorative, so there was no question of replacing the window. "I didn't want to violate the integrity of the architecture," he says. The accent pieces were found by Saling in local shops and on the Internet. The valises that are posed on the luggage racks look old and worn but are, in fact, new and flea-free. There is also a book-form hideaway box for concealing valuables. "When you start to think about how elegant the sleeper cars on trains were, you can really come up with some neat stuff," says Saling, who one day plans to book a berth for a long train journey. For now, he has his own sleeping compartment. Last stop Glastonbury!