A Bit of Elegance Amidst Ruins

So, the table is set for the board meeting tonight of the 1900 theater.


My friend Patricia scolded me. “Ross! You have to iron the table cloth!” She said I could mist it, and then toss it into the dryer. I replied: “What dryer?”


The table will look pretty for less than five minutes as people bring in their own containers of food, cans of beer, and papers and phones and iPads.

But…for a brief moment there is elegance amidst the ruins and I think the contrast is delicious.




  1. Seth Hoffman on October 1, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Looks beautiful indeed!

    It reminds me a bit of an old European house, with clean and elegant furniture in a room many hundreds of years old, with age and deterioration making a poetic contrast.

  2. Barb Sanford on October 1, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Beautiful! And what Seth said. The contrast between the lovely table settings and the ruined wall is truly poetic.

    Patricia and I have this in common: I noticed the tablecloth immediately. I am my mother’s daughter. I still iron, and will be ironing pillowcases today or tomorrow, after I wash sheets. I love the luxury of an ironed pillowcase after a long day of housecleaning, which is what’s on the docket for today.

    A request: Could you consider taking a photo of the table from beneath the stained glass, facing east? That way, people can see the table and the beautiful built-in china cabinet. Not sure it would all fit, but it would be a lovely perspective if you can squeeze it all in.

    • Seth Hoffman on October 1, 2018 at 10:36 am

      Although I rarely iron clothes, I have an appreciation for it. My most common use of an iron is when making curtains (which seems to be often, as I’m never happy with the standard sizes sold, or willing to pay for custom draperies).

      Our current house has the remains of a built-in ironing board in the kitchen. Sadly, a previous owner removed the board (and even the door!) at some point and converted it to small spice shelves, but the ghost marks of the hinges and hardware remain. I would love to find a salvaged unit to replace it sometime, but the odds of that seem pretty close to impossible.

      • Barb Sanford on October 1, 2018 at 11:01 am

        A built-in ironing board! What luxury. Though I might trade it for spice shelves, if someone had converted my kitchen pantry to other use (such as a first-floor bathroom). I prefer to iron by the washer and dryer, appliances that possibly weren’t available back when your house was built. If you have a kitchen big enough to accommodate ironing, I’m jealous.

      • Dan Goodall-Williams on October 1, 2018 at 11:55 am

        I wonder if you try Ebay or Letitgo, if you could find one. My nieghbor’s house has one, she still uses it.

  3. Sandra Lee on October 1, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Yes easy fix to mist & iron:-)
    I just bought a table top board from Target $10 & place on portable island/bar (apt) 2 b waist high… spritz and go to town…
    Ok w/o but Ross you are a stickler for detail & I would have thought cognitive dissonance untenable…. hahaha
    Elegance among ruins … sublime
    Cheers to a successful board meeting!

  4. Tony Bianchini on October 1, 2018 at 10:55 am

    I rather enjoy the juxtaposition of the glamour amid the ruins. Shabby chic is “in.” Haven’t you noticed? Some term it “patina,” I’ve even heard “sweaty.”

  5. Dan Goodall-Williams on October 1, 2018 at 11:53 am

    That chandelier and table setting are just to die for. Anyone walking in will forget what the walls look like. Job very well done Ross. Don’t waste time with the table cloth, it will be all covered up with food etc.

  6. Jackie on October 1, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    My dream has come true here!!! 😍

    No flowers or candles it’s true, but the wonderful unexpected bonus of a beautiful table cloth, is that a recent acquisition?

    The room looks absolutely lovely now, as others have said the juxtaposition between broken and beautiful is fabulous; artful in a totally uncontrived way, I do wish the creases could drop out of the tablecloth by magic, but you can’t have it all I suppose, lol.

    I can’t wait for a report on the reaction of the board members, the ambience of the Cross House will work its spell on them as soon as they’re through the door, I’m sure!

    OH… and we now know how she likes to reveal previously undiscovered secrets to visitors, don’t we, I wonder if she’ll unveil anything this time around. 😏

  7. Ramona J on October 1, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    And sometimes just misting does the trick without ironing!

  8. Marti Boundy on October 1, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    The table looks lovely! is that Dirilyte flatware? I love mine! If I’m correct, I have the same pattern. I also have my mothers 12 place settings and most of the additional serving trays, bowls and a coffee/tea service!

    Hope your dinner went well!

    • Ross on October 1, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      Yes, Marti!

      That is Dirilyte!

  9. Annette on October 1, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Oh wow, I would have been so bowled over by the China, the cutlery, the Chrystal the windows and the chandelier I wouldn’t have noticed the tablecloth or the walls. What a lovely atmosphere.

  10. Diana on October 2, 2018 at 12:44 am

    From Roman times, through Medieval times, to Victorian times, the fancy rich people wanted the creases pressed into the table linen on purpose with a linen press.


  11. Carla B on October 2, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Marvelous! I can now see it restored to glory in my mind!

  12. Nancy from Georgia on October 2, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    So very elegant! I’d be honored to be at your wrinkled tablecloth!

  13. Cindy Belanger on October 3, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    The dining room is beautiful, the ruins recede into the background and the beautifully set table, stained glass and chandelier stand out. The tablecloth is not wrinkled, just creased. haha Let us know how the dinner went.

  14. Karen Spencer on October 3, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Truly beautiful Ross. I love your china, glassware and gold flatware.

    I noticed and enjoyed the folds in the tablecloth right away. Very Michaelangelo.

  15. Francesca on November 23, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    I actually adore the juxtaposition of the pristine elements mixed with the ruins. You can feel the weight of the years and the life stirring in the walls. She was not gone, she’s waking to a new century and all he quiet dignity stands undiminished.
    I just saw my wonderful neighbors’ 120 year old, lovingly maintained beauty go up in literal flames from my parlor window two nights ago. There was nothing to be done but offer a warm place for them to wait and grieve. All those lives lived in those rooms, the memories of generations imprinted in her walls, the irreplaceable work of so many hands gone. The grief is terrible, but I’ve been reading your blog for hours now and it has been a boon to my soul.
    Truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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