The dining room of the Cross House. All the DARK wood, and the DARK Lincrustra, is not how things looked in 1894. Many layers of later finishes have darkened over time.
You can still see, sorta, the 1894 faux wood finish. Most of the trim and doors throughout the house have a faux finish.
In the lower left you can actual wood where the 1894 dining room faux finish has been lost.
This is the back of a trim piece in the dining room. It is wholly plain, with no grain pattern. Quite unlike…
Again, more bare wood revealed.
And more. The actual wood is featureless. This is typical throughout the house, save the foyer and stairhall, which is oak, and never had a faux finish.
The original faux finishes are particularly damaged on all the window sills. I have been scraping these down to bare wood, and plan to retain a faux artist to recreate the lost 1894 finishes.
Today, the parlor trim is glorious. It was SO not like this when I purchased the house, the trim then being very dark and looking quite abused.
In the library, you can see the restored “cherry” trim and an unrestored corner block. The difference is…impressive.
Under the library windows the faux graining is evident again.
When I removed the over-mantel of the round bedroom, a pristine area was revealed showing the 1894 finish (upper right). Compare this with the top of the DARK mantel top
After removing the later layers of time-darkened shellac, you can see how closely this matches the untouched 1894 area. Thanks, Kenny!
The mantel before, and…
…after. Thanks, Kenny!
My experience with the Cross House reminds me of the famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which was dark. And everybody assumed it has always been so.
But, about twenty years ago, all the later layers of varnish and shellac were removed, revealing an astonishing difference.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1902 Huertley House had very dark trim throughout. Everybody assumed this is what Wright had specified. And this dark trim was normal for all his houses of the era. Note also the dead white plaster.
But, a careful analysis revealed that Wright had specified MUCH lighter trim. And the plaster was actually a multi-toned finish. Stunning. Today, many Wright houses of the era have been similarly restored.
It has become quite the trend to paint over “depressing” dark trim in houses. This is tragic as simply removing non-original layers of varnish/shellac can reveal…