Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Free the Walls

Photo courtesy Flickr

Casual reading in the history of domestic interiors turned up a useful distinction in the management of space. During the Baroque period in England, furnishings, including unused dining chairs, were placed statically along walls. Italian tradition is to ignore the walls, and doing so makes a room swing.

This is a development property we bought for its workspace. When I covered this interior’s many layers of wallpaper with sponged broken color, to camouflage seams in period style, I unwittingly displaced quite a few works of art (of varying merit). The fresh walls were, and still are, so satisfying I don’t need a collection of framed focal points to keep my eye from grumbling about the background.

The surplus artwork rotates now rather than hanging out collecting dust. Broken color makes the walls subtly advance and recede visually, enlivening space in a way that’s welcome in the middle of town. Sound and digital visuals trump mediocre imagery.

Last year, we began to downsize in place. The more we focus on lightweight furnishings that roll, fold, stack, or deflate, the bigger the house gets, the easier it is to maintain, and the more energy we have for culture-a process rather than a destination.


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