The Cross House
In 2014, when I began to paint the exterior of the 1894 Cross House, I had self-selected criteria:
- I did NOT want a “painted lady” effect. This is a look created by hippies in the 1960s when they took “gloomy” old Victorians and painted them in many many many colors (normally fueled by LSD). The look became popular, and is still in evidence today.
- I wanted to use period-correct colors.
- I never thought to paint the house in my favorite colors. Rather, it was important that the colors complement the limestone and the colors of the stained glass. What looked good on the house was more important than what I liked.
- Ideally, I wanted to recreate the original colors.
Well, y’all were enthusiastic about this approach and everybody seemed to get it.
However, recently, I did three Fun With Furniture posts, detailing my search for antiques.
Again, I established self-selected criteria:
- That each piece be period-correct to the house. So, early 1890s.
- That each piece complement the house, in terms of quality and style.
This was not really different than my approach to the exterior, yet the reaction these posts received surprised me. Some readers were supportive. Some disagreed with such an approach, which I am fine with. Some readers though just did not seem to understand why I would, well, limit myself. Why not have antiques from the 1860s or 1910? Or 1930s?
I explained why I had no desire to have antiques in the house which did not complement the era when the house was built, did not complement the existing architecture, and did not complement the house in terms of cost and style.
But, it seems, my reasoning fell on deaf ears regarding this latter camp. So, I wondered if a different approach might help?
But, what if, I dunno, aliens kidnapped all my mantels? Obviously, I would have to replace them.
So, wanna go shopping for mantels?
Obviously, all these are TERRIBLE choices.
None fit the Cross House. They all pre-date the house. They would each compete for attention with the existing trim/doors and stained-glass. They are each intended for a house way grander than the Cross House.
So, if I would not dream of selecting any such mantel to replace an alien-abducted one, why would I chose antiques which pre-date the house (or post-date), compete for attention, and are too grand (or too simple) for the house?
In decorating the Cross House, or any house, I am highly attuned to What The House Is. All houses have a personality. Some houses, like the Cross House, have very strong personalities.
The personality of the Cross House is created by the high ceilings, doors, trim, mantels, and stained-glass. All these elements are of a specific era and represent a specific aesthetic. So, to me, it makes sense that any antiques chosen should complement the personality of the house rather than fight against it or dilute it. Like the right tie on a suit or the perfect brooch on a dress.
There are a zillion antique tables out there but rather than just pick any ol’ table why not first create a Purchase Criteria List? Why not purchase a table which is best suited for the house? A table which would perfectly complement the personality of the house?
And I do enjoy a good hunt.
In 2012, when I needed a new car, I created a Criteria List:
- Two years old. No more no less.
- Under 30K miles
- Top-of-line trim package
- NOT white
I also poured over online reviews and read through Consumers Report car guide. I looked at a zillion images online, too. After several months my search was narrowed to a 2010 Chrysler Town & Country in Ruby Red, level 3 trim package. Then the really hard work began: finding one. Well, it was not hard finding one but it proved difficult finding one within driving distance. I had no intention of buying a car half-way across the country and having it shipped to me.
Several more months passed and I was exhausted. Would I ever find my dream car?
Then, I was sitting in my old car at a traffic light in Topeka. I glanced over. And there, on the prime corner at the Chrysler dealer, was a gleaming 2010 Town & Country in Ruby Red with level 3 trim package. My heart stopped.
Moments later I was next to my dream. Please, I thought, please have low mileage. I glanced at the sticker. it read: 28,000 miles.
I have done this kind of hunt my whole life. First, I desire something. Second, I distill this desire to its essence. Then…the hunt begins.
In 2012 and 2013, I did this when looking to buy a house. Again, I created self-selected criteria:
- Essentially untouched.
- Brick exterior.
- Large, a full basement, a 2-car attached garage, and an en-suite master bath.
What I also wanted, above all, was a sensible house. One needing almost no work. I was WAY too busy to take on A Project.
But…when I at last fell in love with a house and purchased it in March, 2014, somehow my self-selected criteria…exploded.