Dec 7, 2011

On Old Farmhouses, and Stuff.

Wouldn't it be cool to have an old restored farmhouse to live in?

Phil and I often pick out old houses when we drive in the country, ones that we'd want to live in.  We go for the long, wrap-around porches, the old ranch-style one stories that are common down here in hot country.  Houses up north call for two stories so you can stay warm at night upstairs, but down here, it's all about big windows and lots of them, with shade all the way around the house.

How I would love a country kitchen like this... 

As much as I love looking at the country decorators' art, the antique finds, the primitive homes revived from a century ago, I've noticed an overkill in which every old cabinet, every basket, every over-the-door shelf is full of...stuff.  Not useful stuff, but arty stuff made to look old.  There are names for that kind of stuff...ornies, bowl-fillers, and my perennial favorite: tucks. 

I gotta ask: is this how those people really lived in the "olden days"?  Did they really cover every flat space with look-pretties that serve no purpose but to collect admiration and dust?  I think if you handed some old farm lady a "tuck" and told her it was to sit in her dough bowl and look pretty, she'd look at you like you were nuts.

Sure, the wealthier folks had a fancy room or two so they could express and impress, but the rest of them had a USE for everything that sat on a table, basket, or shelf. In its purest form, "Folkart" was making useful things beautiful. 

I don't think the process works in reverse.

Of course, there is another extreme--the Shaker sort of "Thou Shalt Have No Look Pretties" esthetic, bare and period to the point of austerity.  Some go so far as to hide all things modern--dishwashers, fridges, and TVs--in specially built cabinets. I can only imagine what a pain in the tookus it would be to live in a house where no Modern Things are allowed out in plain sight.

Some day, if and when we ever really settle in a place, I'll hope for wood floors, architecture that allows me to pretend the house is old (if indeed it isn't) and a common sense approach to Stuff.  There will be Look Pretties, there will be Old Stuff out for the sake of enjoying Old Stuff.  But the tables will be covered in books, cell phones, bills, and other odd bits of our daily life, just like they are now.


  1. I have a feeling that your old farmhouse would be a combination of function and design...look forward to seeing it when, and if. Enjoyed your thoughts on this subject.

  2. I haven't been blogging for very long and the first time I came across the terms "tucks" and "ornies" I had no idea what they were referring to. I was mystified...LOL I guess I need to get out more. Plus, all that stuff collecting dust makes me cringe.I'd rather be creating than dusting.


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