How to bring a touch of Oz to your home

08/08/2014 7:00 AM

08/09/2014 5:54 PM

Actor Bert Lahr may have played the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 classic film, “The Wizard of Oz,” but his taste in decor was bold.

Several years ago the website Estately Blog published a photograph of a room in Lahr’s Beverly Hills mansion that had a wall covered with a mural of Emerald City, carpet emblazoned with a yellow brick road and a door framed by a rainbow.

The gated estate, built in 1941, was recently on the market for $28.5 million. Not surprisingly, it has been remodeled, and according to Estately it has a “rich ambience (that) emulates a supreme Connecticut/Hampton residence.”

In other words, all traces of Oz are gone.

If you’d like to incorporate a little “Oz” into your own home, we’ve found more subtle ways of doing so.

Emerald City

Part of the magic of “The Wizard of Oz” is the aesthetic beauty lent to it by the Technicolor film process, particularly when Dorothy and friends arrive in Emerald City, where the green jewel-tones practically jump off the screen.

Thanks to a resurgence of emerald in the last couple years — it was Pantone’s 2013 color of the year — there are some rather stylish ways to use it.

Louise Meyers, owner of Pryde’s Old Westport, marched directly to emerald green Georgia Pattern pitchers by Mosser Glass ($37.99) that hang from the shop’s ceiling. Mosser, she explained, is the country’s oldest glass maker. The pitchers are nostalgic and elegant, and would add a pop of color to any tabletop.

If you want to go big, get an emerald green velvet sofa, like the one in actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s New York City brownstone that she showed off to Vogue last year.

You could have one custom-made, or you could order the William Sofa in Vance Emerald ($1,999 at HighFashionHome.com) with its “refined tufted back and historic rolled arms.”

The Williams Sofa is actually a Chesterfield sofa, a style that dates back to the 18th century when, according to the London Gallery website, Lord Phillip Stanhope, the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, apparently asked a craftsman to make a piece of furniture that would “allow a gentleman to sit upright in the utmost of comfort allowing sitting without wrinkling the garment.”

The Wizard was all about powerful appearances, so such a sofa would be perfect for him, especially upholstered in emerald green.

Blue gingham and red sequins

Dorothy’s iconic dress and shoes could serve as a great jumping-off point for decorating any number of rooms: a child’s bedroom, a kitchen, perhaps even an informal sitting room.

Pryde’s Old Westport carries bolts of Blue Gingham Oil Cloth, ($8.99 per yard) which is created by coating close-woven linen or cotton duck with boiled linseed oil to make it waterproof. It’s most common use is as a water- and stain-resistant table cover.

But Pinterest has other ideas for using it, including making place mats; upholstering stool or chair seats; creating wallets, tote bags and lunch bags; and covering lampshades.

Bed, Bath & Beyond carries pairs of Gingham Blue Kitchen Window Tiers ($19.99-$24.99, depending on the size). Hang them halfway up a window, cafe-style, and you can watch storms roll in across the Kansas plains.

If you you really want to “Dorothy” things up, say, in a girl’s bedroom, order the Red Sequins Design Decorative Pillow Covers ($14.99 each, from MiniInTheBox.com).

A spinster’s style

Now we assume you probably don’t want to emulate nasty Miss Gulch — the hateful spinster-turned-witch — but the woman did have a bit of style.

Take her bicycle, for instance: It would be considered quite hipster today. We couldn’t pinpoint one exactly like it, but then again, who can? There are online forums where bicycle enthusiasts actually debate the make and model of her bike.

Bob Albright, owner of Midwest Cyclery on Main Street, took a look at a photo of Miss Gulch perched on the thing and said a Dutch utilitarian model, such as an Electra Amsterdam or Linus Roadster, comes closest.

The good news is that the frames of these modern versions are made of aluminum and can come in eight speeds, all of which makes them lighter, smoother and faster. Too bad Miss Gulch didn’t have one. She might have outrun the cyclone.

And did you ever notice how much nicer her basket is than Dorothy’s? The latter looks like something from a dollar store, while Miss Gulch’s is sturdy enough to hold a dog captive. It also has the elegant lines and practical features of the Peterboro Handmade Picnic Basket, from Crate and Barrel ($59.95), which is handcrafted of Appalachian white ash — the same hardwood used in baseball bats and hammer handles.

According to the retailer, they have been made in America since 1854, comprise more than 50 components, and “can hold up to 60 pounds of food, drinks and table appointments.” Sounds like they’d be pretty escape-proof, too.

To reach Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian, call 816-234-4780 or send email to cgregorian@kcstar.com.

A wizardly world record

We’re celebrating this month’s 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” movie with a story a day and a challenge.

According to Guinness World Records, “the largest gathering of people dressed as characters from ‘The Wizard of Oz’” was 446, set in 2010 in England.

In June, 1,150 fans of “Oz” and Judy Garland dressed up as characters from the film to break that record at the Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids, Minn.

We think Kansas could be the setting for another record. Bring yourself, your friends and family in your favorite “Oz” character get-ups to the Kansas Speedway at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 16. The Star will take a group photo for the record books.

There will be raffles for prizes and, of course, lollipops. RSVP at wizardofozrecordbreaking.eventbrite.com.

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