Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Harmony, Contrast, Balance, Order, and Unity

The title sums up gestalt values for a successful visual design. Applied to house cleaning, those points save a lot of trouble.

Several years ago when developers were reconstructing this comfortable block of turn of the twentieth century houses, the kitchen floor became, as it were, terminal. We were not sure of the future here, but the Thirties linoleum was moldering in heavily used areas and was beyond tolerance. I realized that there wasn't much difference between painting linoleum and painting the canvas recommended for making an old school floor cloth. 

Linoleum is a layer of pigment mixed with ground cork and linseed oil steamrolled over burlap. I reasoned that maintaining a layer of floor paint might not be any more bother than applying and removing successive layers of wax, so I painted the lino the same color as the other painted floors in the house.

Three years has been enough time for ordinary wear and tear to generate some noticeably shabby areas. Added to the marks of time on the original varnished fir wainscoting and the fading polish on a couple of senior pieces of furniture in the room, it became apparent that it was time to do something. The kitchen comes first. 

My partner volunteered to paint carefully delineated patches on the floor, as I had planned when the paint was new. I reasoned that a genteel accumulation of patches on areas of heavy wear would grow increasingly interesting to look at and prevent heaping gobs of excess paint from piling up along the margins of the room.

So far, so good, although a little more patching is in order. Nothing says progress like the faint odor of fresh paint. The wainscoting still has to be refreshed with "bright wax" and/or teak oil. I spent a coffee break anointing a tiny brown wood table with a Down East furniture polish from the woodworkers' specialty supply in the southeast. The effect is delightful, as is the scent of the product. With a vintage brass tray protecting the top, the ca. 1870 table has become a much-needed accent in an otherwise practical space -30-

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