Monday, December 02, 2013
There's No Place Like Home
Typically, it's while traveling when we most appreciate the comforts of our homes. I have been on the road for the past month or so, and although I have thoroughly enjoyed my travels (and I have much to share over the next few weeks,) I always say, with apologies to Dorothy, "There's no place like home."
Perhaps this is why I was so compelled by this gem of an article, written and illustrated by the esteemed illustrator and author Philippe Jullian for the March/April 1975 issue of Architectural Digest. Titled "Dans Mon Moulin", the brief article is more like a handwritten and illustrated note, one which expressed the fondness that Jullian felt for his French country house. Considering that Jullian was known for his lively illustrations, it was entirely fitting that the house's interiors were captured in watercolors rather than photographs. Jullian's interior illustrations convey a charm and a magic that no photograph could ever duplicate. (Illustrations do have a way of imparting personality to inanimate objects, which is probably why I insisted that my book feature my sister's illustrations alongside interior photographs.)
But it's Jullian's text, reproduced in his own script, that also makes this article so endearing. It is breezy and concise, and it reads a little like a list of attributes that made the author's house special to him. And yet, it is the text's simplicity that is so refreshing today, when many houses are made to seem grander and far more serious than they really are.
Read it for yourself below. The piece just might inspire you to pen a note extolling the virtues of your home. Or, at the very least, it might inspire you to improve your penmanship!
When I found this romantic house next to a small river, it was almost in ruins.
Four years have succeeded in making it comfortable, but it hardly looks new. That suits me, for I have a good deal of provincial Louis XVI furniture inherited from my family.
And I spend a lot of time in the antiques shops and flea-markets of London and Paris. I live in what seems to my interior designer friends a rather Dickensian "Old Curiousity Shop." The walls are covered in old damask or in East Indian printed materials from the eighteenth century.
I also have a large tapestry made from a design by Rubens. A light touch is added by fuchsia and geraniums in blue and white china pots.
There are books everywhere and pictures too: prints along the staircase and in the gallery, Chinese paintings and bamboo furniture in the bathroom.
There is always a big fire in the living room to keep out the dampness. These are some of the ingredients which give my house a kind of charm, since I have made no particular effort to use a consistent color scheme or any careful interior arrangement.
The house is twenty-five miles east of Paris, and it is where I write all my books. It is always filled with flowers from my garden.
The Garden Room- An Empire bust, porcelain vases and a mirror to reflect the park outside.
The Library- once part of the old barn this room is filled with my books and many old prints. There are Japanese cabinets, a Victorian church carpet and a Dutch brass chandelier.
My Bedroom- the Louis XVI fireplace, with a terra-cotta bust on the mantel and the brass bedwarmer leaning against it, is my favourite part of the room.
Image at top: "The Drawing Room- Baroque marble statues on a wooden Louis XVI mantel; the golden damask hangings are from a Rothschild house."