When I posted my 2014 book list, I promised a review of this book.
I purchased it in December, a mere two months ago, and I am still picking it up and perusing its pages numerous times per week. What inspires me is that this is not so much a book about how to design a room or a house, but a paean to one man's idiosyncratic vision. The photos, and the text are filled with interesting details and with character.
Although many of the rooms and surfaces are too cluttered for me, I am often intrigued by the ways Mr. Gatewood places things.
Besides, who is not to say that by the time I am in my 90s I won't have accumulated a pile of beloved things myself. I find the idea of buying, collecting and living with the things you love very comforting.
Of course it doesn't hurt the we share a few biases. The windows in his houses all have shades or blinds, or perhaps nothing, but no curtains. Much as I love fabrics I am not really a lover of curtains. In this house I have translucent shades that let in some of the light but block some of the view of my neighbors, who are a trifle too close. In my first house, before I knew George, a sprawling victorian thing, I had bamboo roller shades, which I adored.
There are also a lot of bare floors, and painted floors, and some rugs but the rugs are obviously loved in and of themselves, their selection is as idiosyncratic as the rest of the houses. I love the contrast of textures and styles, simple and elaborate, rough and smooth, polished and rustic. I love the way Gatewood builds a house around a beloved architectural detail, the way he mixes high and low, but mostly the way everything fits into one man's aesthetic, even though the objects themselves, taken individually seem as disparate as can be.
But I suppose what I love most about this book is the way it makes me wish to honor my own taste and my own vision and stop worrying about what a house "should" look like and trust my gut. It reminds me of the young woman I was in my 20s who only wanted to buy things she loved, who would rather have no sofa than compromise.
Well, obviously I compromised over time, and will probably continue to compromise. One can't really live in relationship with others without compromise. But I am reminded that we have a choice of when to compromise and with whom (or what). I'm reminded my home is my sanctuary, it should be filled with joy, with people and things that bring me joy, and if not, where else would I go?