Photo courtesy Flickr
Casual scholarship in the history of housekeeping has paid huge dividends. Knowing, or at least thinking I know, about historic precedent gives me the courage of my preferences for floors and windows. I fitted the house with sea grass matting in easily reconfigurable squares, covered the windows with blinds woven of bamboo splints (easy to trim with a chop saw), and refreshed the original roller shades to block light. I learned many of the so-called Bohemian points of style from San Francisco matrons who were able to shop at The Original Import Store. The scholarship came from many publications produced in England, that has long supported research and rigorous domestic archaeology centering on its inventory of stately and not so stately homes.
In this structure, I have found that the least expensive period solution is the one that has satisfied, felt light rather than ponderous, and been neutral enough to support the evolution of the rooms. The house, I finally realized, is “Jeffersonian Revival” rather than Victorian. I had wondered all along why the rooms felt and looked best when they were filled with bare necessities rather than cluttered with the proto-consumer excesses of the late nineteenth century. The eighteenth century preferred light weight furniture that can be moved to take advantage of natural light. Rooms were understood as all-purpose chambers. I find that they are indeed flexible and accommodating to any use that changing circumstances suggests. In that respect, the house lives like a traditional Japanese farmhouse, in which the family slept wherever was convenient on any given night.
Floor by floor, I have substituted paint for rugs and matting. The house lives and cleans much faster now. Turnaround time on projects has shrunk to days or hours rather than months. Eighteenth century values, classical proportions, and modular dimensions make it simple to integrate contemporary high-tech amenities with the large historic artifact that is this building.
-30-More after the jump.