photo by Dennis McWaters
Of all Gunston Hall's rooms, this is the most elaborate, with exuberant classical woodwork showing touches of fashionable rococo design. The fireplace wall, comprising an ornate chimney breast flanked by two built-in niches, called beaufats, is the focal point of the room. Classically-inspired broken pediments surmount all three features and unite the wall aesthetically. While classical details dominate, touches of sinuous naturalistic carvings demonstrate an awareness of the fashionable English rococo styles. Architecturally , this is the best room in the house, featuring costly details not found in any of the other rooms. For instance, the floor was made of carefully matched blind-doweled planks, a very expensive method of construction. Additionally, carving in an “egg and dart” pattern surround the panels of the black walnut entry doors and, in Mason's day, a painted or decorated paper covered the thin pine paneling on the walls. Lending further enhancement to this magnificent interior was the fact that the room's two windows looked out at Mason's extensive garden.