Ed­i­tor's Let­ter

Arts and Crafts Homes - - CONTENTS -

this is­sue strikes me as par­tic­u­larly art-filled, which has me think­ing about what makes an art­ful home. Per­haps it’s not only what we add, but also what we don’t re­move. Com­fort is im­por­tant, too: the art of liv­ing weighs into our per­cep­tion. My fa­vorite in­te­ri­ors are those lived in and handed down. Rooms al­lowed to show signs of age bear wit­ness to lives that went be­fore. Sto­ries are em­bed­ded in floor­boards more worn than the rest, in fab­rics grown thread­bare where they were most often touched. One ad­van­tage of a time­worn room is how it can hold a wide-rang­ing mix of fur­ni­ture and ob­jects. The an­ti­quated and the mod­ern may be com­posed into an art­ful and soul­ful whole that con­tin­ues to evolve. No need for to­tal re­dec­o­rat­ing ev­ery decade. But show­ing your age is un­pop­u­lar in Amer­ica, less so in Europe. Re­mod­el­ers armed with af­ford­able mod­ern ma­te­ri­als rush in to “im­prove,” eras­ing the past. The pur­pose­ful aged in­te­rior al­lows an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of time pass­ing—com­bin­ing a tol­er­ance of the worn, a re­spect for the old or orig­i­nal, and a non­cha­lant em­brace of what’s nec­es­sary for ex­pec­ta­tions to­day. I’m not alone in these sub­ver­sive ideas. Pho­tog­ra­phers Steve Gross and Susan Da­ley have made a ca­reer look­ing for the un­re­touched. (See Old Houses, Farm­house Re­vival, Old Florida, and His­toric Charleston, among oth­ers.) Lon­don­ers Robin Forster and Tim Whit­taker wrote The Well-Worn In­te­rior, a book de­pict­ing “faded and gen­tly de­cayed in­te­ri­ors: peel­ing paint, dam­aged floors, and other tes­ta­ments to his­tory.” Search­ing for clues in our own restora­tions, who among us hasn’t wished to find houses where lit­tle has changed? We go on house tours, visit mu­seum homes, read books. We try to spot the odd ar­chi­tec­tural de­tail. The most im­por­tant les­son might be that those houses we love best are ec­cen­tric, and im­per­fect, full of un­scrubbed ev­i­dence and there­fore filled with life. Per­cep­tion and then in­ten­tions change. We’re more likely to use ma­te­ri­als that have longevity and that ac­quire patina, like tile and hard­wood. We try to make a house that will age well.

Pa­tri­cia Poore, Ed­i­tor

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