OHJ April 2017

OHJ April 2017

EDITOR'S LETTER: My Favorite Girl

East Gloucester, where I live, has plenty of Victorian-era houses, mostly Italianates but also a few Second Empires and Queen Annes. My secret favorite wears exuberant, sawn-wood Gothic details and a whimsical, scrolling mansard pierced by miniature dormers with round-top windows. The house is charming, not at all brooding, more the size of a large cottage even if it has villa pretensions. It nestles into a quiet intersection down the hill from a main road, so it can be viewed in axonometric perspective—passersby get a low-flying bird’s-eye view of two elevations at once, plus that fanciful chapeau of a roof.

The house was dutifully rehabbed during the early 1980s and treated to a reserved polychrome scheme. Later it was restored again, much more meticulously, inside and out, by an artist–designer, who preferred a certain purity. She painted the exterior white, which somehow did not obliterate its bargeboards and vivacious trim. Indeed, the house now resembles mademoiselle in her petticoat.

At some point I was invited inside. Interior pocket doors and mouldings were there, but the immaculate interior was ethereal in white, cream, ivory, and ecru, walls and furniture alike. Art and collectibles were lovingly, sparingly placed. Sunlight streaming in through original colored-glass windows threw translucent pastels across floors and walls. I was touched.

Had I been asked earlier, I’d have counseled against white paint. (Aren’t we all happy that the big old houses, virtually erased in white paint or vinyl for much of the 20th century, have their color back?) It just goes to show, though, you never know what’ll work if the vision is clear. Meanwhile, visions in color appear throughout this issue: Victorian polychromy, an energizing green Deco kitchen and a pastel bath; a farmhouse bursting with fuchsia and violet, emerald and sapphire; bright earth tones in encaustic tile; pumpkin and crimson portières. All delicious.

~Patricia Poore, Editorial Director of Old House Journal

Look below to see stories from this issue.