Friday 30 December 2011

More About Decor

Fair Client: "I want the house to be nice and baronial, Queen Anne and Elizabethan, and all that; kind of quaint and Nuremburgy you know — regular Old English, with French windows opening to the lawn, and Venetian blinds, and sort of Swiss balconies, and a loggia. But I'm sure you know what I mean!" (George du Maurier, Punch, November 29, 1890)
The decor was extraordinary — suede walls, fluffy white carpets, smoked glass, salmon-pink tented ceilings. Jimmy Savile’s house, Mail Oct 2011

I know that the new owners will completely gut the house, extend it and add period touches that were probably never there in the first place. Steerforth, Age of Uncertainty blog on selling his mother’s house in Teddington

The “mansion” of bastard architecture and crude paint, with its brass indifferently clean, with coarse lace behind the plate glass of its golden-oak door, and the bell answered at eleven in the morning by a butler in an ill-fitting dress suit and wearing a mustache, might as well be placarded: “Here lives a vulgarian who has never had an opportunity to acquire cultivation.” Emily Post

Does your butler have a moustache? Shame on you!

Patio heaters have reached London N16 – but outdoor pizza ovens are still beyond the pale.

Someone reached this blog by typing “why do posh people never match their furniture?”. Why don’t they? They inherited it. ("The trouble with Michael is that he had to buy his own furniture" - Michael Jopling on Michael Heseltine)

Upwards always want to live in a converted rectory, not a manse or vicarage.

According to the Middle-Class Handbook, overhead lights are for emergency use only – like when someone drops a contact lens. Middle-class Upwards in the 19th century thought gas and electricity a bit vulgar (so unforgiving to the complexion). But why did the electricity/gas companies install central ceiling lights (traditional location for a chandelier) in the smallest cottage? Just as people lift details from the grounds of stately homes and put a bonsai version into their own half-acre (terraces, topiary, ponds, lawns), they lift details from the great houses themselves and stuff them into a much smaller interior: huge fireplaces, central chandeliers, dining tables, roll-top baths. And after Downton Abbey, everybody wants a butler’s pantry even though the society that produced them is long gone (for most of us).

Houses with exposed beams make Upwards shudder: in envy, because they could never afford a house that old; in horror, because beams have been devalued by imitations and also because they’re emblematic of an out-dated kind of cottaginess. It really is terribly hard being an Upward.

Upwards and grand Stow Crats whinge about collections of houses being called a “close” when it isn’t a cathedral close; they also complain about houses called Something Lodge that are neither a gate lodge nor a hunting lodge. Also American high-rises called the Something Arms like a pub, with no reference to any coat of arms.

They also hate anything bogus, like modern “antique” solar-powered “carriage lamps”, or wishing wells with no well. Or an inappropriate detail, like a Regency-style (Quality Street) bow shop window shoved into a Victorian terrace or 60s house. Caro Stow Crat doesn’t like bygones in the living room either – why display an ancient knife-cleaning machine (bought at a country house sale)? Hipster Rowena, now over her 50s phase, is either buying up 70s pottery owls and orange raffia lampshades or sets of pigeon holes from old offices and chemical-stained workbenches from redundant labs.

Suitability is the test of good taste always. Emily Post

More here. And here. And here.

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