One Size Does Not Fit All

A Panel from Zuber's "Scenic America" Wallpaper

It's not easy to find tradesmen these days, at least not those who want to give customers what they want. It seems there's a new game being played:

"Pick and choose from my list of available items. No, I don't use items from that building supply store. No, I won't install a vanity you bought from Wayfair. No, I won't paint the walls antique white. You must pick and choose from my list in today's popular colors: white, gray, and black."

In a world that seems to worship a farmhouse look in those three colors (never seen in a real farmhouse beyond the old wood-burning stove), one is lost whose style leans to the traditional. My house is a blend of American Colonial and French Provincial. The former is in the symmetry; the later is in the 1960s details made popular by Jackie Kennedy's (nee Bouvier) having been of French origins. Nowhere in that do we see a white, gray, and black theme.

Mrs. Kennedy established the White House Historical Association to restore the Residence according to design principles of the period when the house was built (late-18th century). She said, "Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there." She and the Association approached the owners of other historical houses and arranged to borrow pieces that would contribute to that goal. And, in 1962, when she gave her televised tour on CBS television, she presented a historical home that had shed all of the fad items of previous presidential administrations and acquired items that reflected America's history and origins.

Mrs. Kennedy's efforts are seen to this day, even though subsequent restoration has been done. Nowhere in that Greek Revival dwelling does one see white, gray, and black. Rather, the three diplomatic rooms are the Red Room, the Blue Room, and the Green Room. The East Room and corridors are painted antique white. The Family Dining Room is papered in Zuber's "Scenic America". Those were the colors of the era the house represents. As it goes in the White House, so it goes in George Washington's home, Mount Vernon; Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello; James Madison's home, Montpelier; and James Monroe's home, Highland.

As for authentic farmhouses, watch "The Waltons." The set decorators did an excellent job of creating an American farmhouse from the early 20th century. If it has a named style, it would have to be "Early Marriage Hodge Podge". If it has a color scheme, it would have to be "whatever was available." If it has ambience, it would have to be described as "lived in".

One is not going to achieve either Mrs. Kennedy's or "The Waltons" style with a white, gray, and black color scheme. One must study the period that inspires the desired decor and go from there.

I've run off three tradesmen who had the "my way or the highway" attitude, and I'm prepared to run off the one who is coming this afternoon, too, if I have to -- even if C and I have to do the work, ourselves.

Be well, be happy, be safe. Keep the faith! Keep the peace!

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