Old-House Interiors May/June 2010
Dare I admit that I am about to buy a Pottery Barn sofa? Not an antique settee, nor a licensed reproduction, nothing imported from England or Morocco. No, it’s Pottery Barn, and although not Texas-sized, it’s big and squishy. The new sofa will replace the old one in the TV room—the couch that raised the kids, eighty-seven inches of imposing leather with a tough, kilim-covered seat cushion in burnt orange and brown that absorbed every spill without comment. The couch has been a trampoline, a wrestling pit for boy and dog, a high dive (don’t ask), and a bed for boys who pass out with tummies full of Cheetos. That old sofa was selected because it would stand up to abuse, and it did. But I also bought it for its presence, because its high sides and low seat, its rusty leather and its exotic upholstery made it look like a piece from another era, or at least another country. (Actually, it was by Drexel Heritage.)
For a long time I held the notion that eventually this house would look all-old, with interiors that seemed to have survived from 1904 (albeit with a 1915 stove, a 1998 refrigerator, and the occasional storm window). I was persuaded, I suppose, by all the houses I have toured or published, wherein subscribers to OHJ and OHI have successfully created a period piece (albeit with electricity, discreet with push-button switches). Turning up my nose at anachronism, I thought that’s what I wanted, too, and I am sure it is the right way to treat an old house.
I didn’t quite accomplish the goal, at least as defined by those with the calling. My kitchen is pretty convincing, appliances notwithstanding; the building’s envelope and walls inside could all be original (though of course they are not). But I have chrome, not nickel, in one bathroom, acrylic-clad posters in a kid’s room, and, soon, a Pottery Barn sofa. Could a pink flamingo be next?
Patricia Poore, Editor of Old-House Interiors