The Cross House
Today, I drove the 90 minutes to Dr. Doug’s huge 1904 house to deliver more period-correct lighting. He and I have been bartering. He gets lights. I get woodwork. Doug is soon to start on the lattice for my front porch!
After hanging a sweet 3-arm fixture in the white bedroom, I stood back and asked: “Have you thought about moving the bed to this wall?”
“I’m wondering if it would look better?”
Doug shrugged. “Ok.”
We dragged the bed from the window bay to the only available wall.
We then stood back. At the same time we both said: “The room looks bigger. Wow.”
It did look bigger.
“But what should we put in the bay window?” Doug asked.
“It cries out for a settee. Do you have one you’re not using?”
“Let’s go look!”
We wandered from room to room and from floor to floor. In the parlor were two sofas. One from the 1920s and the other 1930s. Neither seemed right of the parlor which cried out for a matching parlor suite.
“The 1920s sofa would look great in the white bedroom. Can we move it upstairs?”
Doug looked at me, like I was crazy. “How old are you?”
“62” I answered.
“I’m 67, and you think we should drag a sofa, a sofa!, up a staircase?”
I pondered. “Is it heavy?”
Doug shrugged. I went over and picked up one side. “It’s not that bad! Come on!”
Doug lifted the other edge. “Oh. It really isn’t that bad!”
We took off the cushions to save weight, and I even removed the protective covers on the arms. Every ounce reduced helps at our age!
As we hauled the sofa up, and struggled to get up the U-shaped stair, I said: “We are living a Friends episode!”
After much grunting, we got the sofa upstairs and into the bay of the white bedroom. We stepped back.
“Oh! That looks good!” we both exclaimed.
Emboldened and energized (me, at least), we then changed out the dresser with one from the small bedroom, and dragged a chair in from the round bedroom. The windows all had 30-year-old shades which no longer pulled up and I demanded that Doug take them down.
“Diana won’t be happy.”
Diana is Doug’s wife. “Blame it all on me!”
“Oh, I will!” (Note: The house has always been Doug’s passion/madness. Diana, who would much prefer a…sensible house, has been impressively patient for 35 years now.)
Moving into the small bedroom, we pushed the dresser from the white bedroom into place, and pulled the iron bed from the big window and to the wall opposite. I also installed a period-correct 2-arm chandelier.
“What do you have against beds in front of windows?” Doug asked.
“I don’t like not having access to a window. I also worry that it’s bad feng shui. And I worry about snipers. It seems so easy to get shot if one’s head is against a window.”
Doug had nodded a kinda approval with my first two statements but he looked startled by my last statement, giving me a look like: Are you serious?
I acted like I didn’t see this.
While on our knees reattaching a mirror to a dresser, we both found that we could not easily stand back up. We moaned as our bodies furiously protested any attempt at going vertical.
Of course, the parlor had been denuded of a sofa so it, too, needed some attention. I looked to the 1930s sofa. It just did not work in the room. But nearby was a lovely 1890s settee. “I wish you had more like that.”
Doug replied: “I do.” He then walked me around the house showing me three other pieces from the set: an armchair, rocker, and side chair.
“Doug! You have a matching 1890s parlor set! Why isn’t it in the parlor?”
Geez, straight men. What are ya’ gonna do with them?
Soon, the 1930s sofa was hauled out, a large rug too big for the foyer (but perfectly scaled for the parlor) dragged in, and the parlor set was at long last IN the parlor. I stood back. “OMG! This looks fabulous!”
Doug was not sure. “It looks so empty.”
I dragged a sorta complementary table out from the music room and placed it along one wall, then gathered up a range of candle holders and placed them atop the table. Grabbing a ladder, several pictures were taken down and replaced with pictures better suited to the 1890s set.
We stood back, my clothing soaked with sweat.
Me: “Wow, it looks friggin’ incredible!”
Doug: “It looks so empty.”
The parlor set predates the house but seems to work well in the room.
The new rug better fits.
Doug and Diana will need to find some period side tables and a tea table for the center.
I placed two vases on the extraordinary fretted screen. It was begging for such a touch.
I would love to see the room re-colored.
Drenched in sweat to my underwear, I departed. Doug said: “I’m worried what Diana will think when she gets home.”
Many miles later, I pulled off the highway to buy a refreshment. I opened the car door…and could not move. My body was locked into a recumbent position. Oh, it was painful working to vertical. Well, sorta vertical is all I could manage.
Back on the highway, my phone rang. It was Doug. And I knew that Diana had returned.
I hesitated. Dare I answer?
“Diana liked everything!” Doug said, kind of amazed.
“And, now that you’ve had a bit of time to take it all in, how do you feel?”
“I think I kinda like it, too!
And, with that, the world was just a tiny, tiny bit better.