The other day, I saw the house of a man. If a home could be said to be set to masculine-host pitch perfect, that home hit all the high notes.
It would be a mistake to call the place simple: Uncomplicated, maybe. Straight forward. Quality. Not one thing more or less than a person needs to live a gracious life, just touched, ever so gently, with a man's hand. Somewhere my Grandmother has been proved incorrect yet again: a man does not need a woman's touch to keep a gracious home. But he does need good taste.
This home was enlightened and spoke to me not only for its gentlemanly grace, but also because my taste in decor tends toward clean lines and colors.
Setting up home after home is my marital marital obligation. In doing so one argument rages on: Twelve complete dinner services. Six huge sets of stemware, nearly all discontinued and precious. Enough service items, one of us contends, to host the Second Fleet. And all the furniture which we are obligated to move with them: In the military, you cannot count on built-in's. Or anything else, come to think of it.
I don't even want to get into the words which have been slung carelessly over a 120-piece depression glass service which, "No one uses anymore," and which, "is waiting for a revival." Like I need this. As if I can stop cleaning up baby food or waxing nostalgic about lipstick colors for the fashion pieces herein to even consider whether some of my household and professional accoutrement should be jettisoned at one of these stops because - just a note here - when not doing those things I have been hostessing fleet clambakes. Ah-hem. But after feeling the serenity of that home, I thought about it at least.
I have been to the pinnacle of male household sensibilty, and I have not found it wanting. Bathrooms: Clean. White. Toweled. Papered. Kitchen: Nothing on the counter top, a bowl with the bills and that is all. Organized and clean. Spare and calculated. But not minimal and not simple. A place you would enjoy a visit, never want for anything nor worry too much over your manners.
I long suspected of my Grandfather that he would have had the magnificent and infallible taste I attributed to my Grandparents as a couple, had he been on his own. But, we knew him as the gentleman of the house and he deffered to her in matters of household. He was a charming host surely long before he met her although one never gives much thought to the domestic knowledge of the gentleman once the mistress of the household begins arranging and giving orders, do they? After all, how would it all have worked out for them if not? They would have been terribly mismatched for sixty years, it seems. Now that I have seen and understood what a gentleman can accomplish, I like the idea that men are capable of very gracious living all on their own; Without hiring a decorator, reading my work, or sacrificing one shred of their masculinity to the task.
Newly afraid for my job? Sorry if I found one day that no one needed household how-to's and etiquette primers anymore? Not for split second. If I do the job right, I will just fade away.
We are one step closer.
Credits: Architectural Digest, Living etc (2,3,4), Southern Living