Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I was looking through my copy of Interiors by Minn Hogg and Wendy Harrop for what must have been the tenth time when it finally dawned on me that my favorite chapter of the book is titled "Cluttered". That's rather strange considering that I have an aversion to clutter in my own home. And yet, perhaps my appreciation for these so-called cluttered interiors is not so surprising when one reads the chapter's introduction, in which the late antiques dealer Stephen Long defined a cluttered room as such:
There is rarely a contrived scheme or method to such interior design, it is more often a combination of beautiful and idiosyncratic items- just as carefully selected as a single object in a minimal interior- which come together to create a highly personal and enchanting scenario which would be a nightmare to move.
"Highly personal" and "enchanting". Those must be the qualities that draw me to these particular interiors. When I study rooms such as these, I am always left wondering who the homeowner is. I just know that he or she has to be interesting, eccentric, erudite, or even squirrely. But when I see a room that has been decorated in an affected manner, I don't wonder who owns the home, because truthfully, I don't really care. The room no longer has personality; it is simply a congregation of furnishings that probably mean very little to the homeowner. Long might have agreed with me on this point, as he also wrote in the introduction, "True clutter is very different from those artfully arranged tablescapes, piles of expensive books and endless buttons and bows aimed to give an instant lived-in look."
If you study these rooms, you'll notice that there is a method to the madness, so to speak. Pairs of objects and collections arranged en masse, for example, do help to create some semblance of order. And although I often complain about the current fad for willy-nilly decorating, I can't pin that criticism on these interiors. The rooms seen here were not decorated for effect, nor did they take shape quickly. Rather, they developed their personalities, and enchanting ones at that, over time.
And Long was right about one more thing: these scenarios must have been murder to move.
Photo at top: Isn't it interesting that the house of Sir John Soane was the lead photo to the Clutter chapter?
All images from Interiors by Minn Hogg and Wendy Harrop.