Thursday, March 19, 2009

Window Dressing and Interior light

The rental house two doors down from 684, which we rented till my fourth year, is remembered only for the front room being dimmer than the kitchen; I remember high windows in the front room, but when I briefly saw that room again I saw that the sills were only about a meter above the floor: toddler's memories made them high.
My grandparents' 684, pre-War, had distinctive  drapes in the front windows, of the living and dining rooms.  They were made of what was called monk's cloth, a heavy loose weave, off-white, to which black iron rings more than an inch in diameter were sewn by an eyelet cast with them at intervals of about four inches to their upper hem.  These were strung on a curtain rod of wrought (?) iron, with pointed tips, which required iron brackets.  Handsome, but requiring maintenance, resewing the rings to the hem, which in any case required heavy button thread.  Of course, they were part of that Mission Style, like the tiles on the fireplace, of the period.  Behind them were roller blinds, too.  I don't think that houses with wooden venetian blinds had roller blinds (I don't know), but all others had.  I can't remember what the bedroom had, but perhaps just machine-lace panels framing the roller blinds.
A different kind of Mission Style was used at 644.  A sofa and chair were wooden (pale wood, probably ash, varnished maple-like—unless it was maple) with sets of matching, brown-plaid seat cushions and back cushions.  The wooden arm rests were not like classic Stuckey; they were sort of rounded in a style I'd now try to characterize as 'kitschy hacienda', in the same sense as the motif of a Mexican man in a sombrero asleep leaning against a cactus.  The curtains in this living room were a brown and yellow ocher open mesh instead of machine lace (woven like a gingham with open squares in it).  Therefore the light was very warm.  In 684, it was not so brownish but the heavy monk's cloth together with the original light-brown oil-stained woodwork also gave those rooms a domestic light quite different from the bright hues and whites of the late 1940s.