Un­sung icons: Front of house The im­por­tance of first im­pres­sions


Home Beautiful - - CONTENTS -


‘pic­turesque bay win­dows’ to the soul, then the front door and its sur­rounds pro­vide sim­i­lar in­sight to a home. It starts off with the door it­self, and these have been through a cat­a­logue of fash­ions. There’s your bog-stan­dard opaque va­ri­ety, whose prime pur­pose seems to be pre­vent­ing passers-by from see­ing your nudie dash from the bath­room to the bed­room. Mis­sion ac­com­plished. But who could for­get the lead­light craze that threw jewel tones down the hall­way when the sun struck it just right? Or the tech­no­log­i­cal leap which al­lowed you to per­fectly match the shade of your tim­ber door to that of your freshly painted walls? The min­i­mal­ists could barely con­tain them­selves. This cor­re­spon­dent is also old enough to re­call the scan­dal when the first per­son on his street painted their door fire-en­gine red. We’ve heard of fea­ture walls, but what madness is a fea­ture door? Where will it end?

Be­fore ‘the wel­come mat’ be­came an ex­cel­lent joke used by Kath & Kim, it added what your mum might call “piz­zazz” to a door­way. Your en­try-level can­di­date was purely func­tional. A rough greige rec­tan­gle of coir held to­gether by wire. It was per­fect for dis­lodg­ing the mud from be­tween the studs of foot­ball boots fresh from sports on Satur­day morn­ing and the veil of dust that clung to the RMs of coun­try visi­tors who couldn’t fig­ure out why you let your dog sleep in­side. Long be­fore the term ‘door­mat’ was ap­plied to people, you could up­grade with ones fea­tur­ing flo­ral mo­tifs that echoed the garden’s star at­trac­tions, the al­ways classy ‘wel­come’ – note the fancy italic font – or the jokey va­ri­ety; as in “bless this mess” or “you don’t have to be crazy to live here – but it helps!”

Add in a door­bell that es­chewed the bor­ing ‘bing-bong’ in favour of the open­ing bars of Moon­light Sonata and you quite lit­er­ally had a world of en­ter­tain­ment at your feet. But turns out this was a mere pre­lude to the won­ders that lay within. The first fea­ture you no­ticed – mainly be­cause it was at your eye level – was the hat stand. Which in­vari­ably creaked un­der the weight of lapsed in­ter­ests and pass­ing fash­ions: hel­mets from the brief flir­ta­tion with cy­cling gath­ered dust along­side those trans­par­ent plas­tic vi­sors ladies wore in the 1970s play­ing ten­nis. Per­haps there might have been a tweed flat cap – pur­chased on a retro whim. Ditto, a lac­quered rat­tan boater com­plete with black rib­bon that was bought for a ru­ral race car­ni­val but then for­got­ten at home – where it’s stayed ever since. On the stand’s teak ten­drils were also to be found sun-weath­ered base­ball caps that saw time on the side­lines of count­less sea­sons of Satur­day morn­ing sports, plus deeply un­fash­ion­able floppy va­ri­eties that pro­vided un­par­al­leled sun pro­tec­tion dur­ing a morn­ing’s weed­ing

Be­side the hat stand and af­fixed to the wall was a key board. No, mil­len­ni­als, not a key­board – a key board, which trans­lates to a piece of tim­ber, of­ten fash­ioned in a wood­work­ing class, into which sev­eral hooks had been screwed, where you hung your bunch. Some­times beveled edges were a dec­o­ra­tive fea­ture, as were dain­tily painted flow­ers. Or, for some­thing faux rus­tic, the fam­ily’s name was burned into the tim­ber with a blow­torch. Below this of­ten sat one of two items: the first was a row of sturdy pegs on which hung obli­ga­tion and re­spon­si­bil­ity jack­ets. That is, items donned out of ne­ces­sity when on your way out the door to do some­thing you didn’t re­ally want to do, such as walk the dog you begged for at Christ­mas, at­tend your brother’s 8am-kick-off footy car­ni­val or head to the servo be­cause it was the only thing open and Nan wouldn’t have her tea with­out milk.

The other item was boot racks – es­sen­tially, a se­ries of ver­ti­cal tim­ber rods where wellies were placed to dry off af­ter a morn­ing’s jump­ing in pud­dles. If there were kids in the house, you got to see a num­ber of sizes, rang­ing from the adorably tiny up to “I can’t be­lieve she takes a size nine al­ready.” Prac­ti­cal pur­pose aside, they tugged at the heart­strings of the sen­ti­men­tal as they rep­re­sented a pas­sage of years and growth, a rub­berised mon­tage of fun times past. Even when their oc­cu­pants had long since out­grown them, had doors of their own to dec­o­rate and couldn’t fig­ure out why their par­ents were still dis­play­ing their old gum­boots.


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