Friday, April 6, 2018

Another Nondescript Building

Except as a consumer, I make no claims on architecture, but I have read that the essence of a building is the quality of space it encloses. One sleepy morning on the bus, I overheard a new arrival to Seattle remark confidently that on our right was "another nondescript building", presumably of the countless nondescript buildings that have gone up in the region over the last few years.

A volunteer at the museum that is destined to occupy said building got an advance tour recently and came home awestricken by the volumes of the interior space. When the high steel framing was going into place, one of the crew hustled past me on a break, equally excited about how wonderful the building was.  

In my own structure, I find that the emptier it is, the more useful and rewarding it is to occupy -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, April 5, 2018


The National Park Service maintains an archive of museum-level housekeeping expertise at If you value your inventory, this resource will help you make the most of it. It's especially useful for making sure heirloom and scrounged old things stay useful for as long as can be.

The technical wisdom in this resource will help you decide whether something is worth maintaining or whether it will be better off in someone else's collection. My personal criteria are to own useful things and to make sure nothing deteriorates on my watch, except from legitimate wear and tear -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Grandmother's Linens

A lengthy and entertaining dialogue with the offspring has greatly simplified my tabletop systems. I overheard a classic kitchen revolt some holiday months ago and learned that the volunteer scullion was disinclined to spend a quarter of the visit washing dishes.

It came time to set a special table recently, and I dug out a hand-embroidered linen cloth and napkin set, deciding to use both the napkins and cloth because it was time to wash the scent of storage drawer out of the linen. I don't usually combine an embroidered cloth and its napkins because it's over-rich for my taste. I spread the cloth on a side table, aka folding office table, to set the buffet and placed the napkins on a round, bare central table. Good time had by all -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Value of the Hall

Terence Conran takes a good hard look at entry areas in his  House Book, a formative piece of popular interior design. The visuals are out of date, but the basic principles are valid. After nearly forty years of experiments, I finally parked the right table in the front hall . It's round, a convenient diameter, has a tulip-shaped pedestal, and is just a bit high. A hall is a switching point for every thing and being that comes into a building. A table makes it easy to unload.

A flowering branch in a big jug set just the right tone for the big spring meal. It's so apt, in fact, that I'll use the table as an ornamental focal point for seasonal decoration all year around -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Board and Trestle

I chanced to walk past a moving van and spotted an interesting table sitting by the lift at the rear of the vehicle. It was a restatement of the classic board and trestle of the Middle Ages. At that time, when as many as twenty people would live in a hall house of two hundred square feet, the dining table consisted of planks set on sawhorses. It was set up for meals and then knocked down afterwards. People were smaller then.

Someone had designed a miniature version fabricated out of stout elements of lumber that were rounded on the edges. The plank grain of the stock was stained a grayish beige. The finish was smooth but not glossy. Parts of the grain had raised gently, presumably because the stain was water-based.

The trestles were built like the expedient ones carpenters assemble on site, but they were narrow, just seat width. The tops were wide enough to offer a comfortable perch to the sitzbones, and the trestles were high enough to serve as shop stools. The top was one broad board edged with bullnosed molding about half an inch deeper than the thickness of the board. That depth allowed secure placement across the trestles.

The whole thing looked like an ideal side or standing work table for a small space, and it clearly could be knocked down so the trestles could be used as bar stools. It also looked like my favorite kind of furniture: the shop projects high school kids make for their parents -30-
More after the jump.