Monday, November 2, 2009

A man's hand

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


Blue said...

Would that all men's interiors were as you describe them! However, beautifully written and very kind to those of us who do prefer a simpler interior, not minimalist as you say, but without all the detritus that is so easy to waste money on. The multiple dinner services I understand - but now have reduced mine to one simple, but decreasing, set of 18th century-style I we bought years ago in Luxembourg. As to taking all that stuff with you on each move, why not? I shipped mine across the pond - only kept it a few years in storage then finally realized I hadn't seen if in all that time and sent to lot to consignment. Not that I'm suggesting you do that!

tintin said...

Love that big urinal in the 1st picture up there.

The Blushing Hostess said...

Tintin. You ruined it for me. That was my new home in Santa Fe.

little augury said...

Well said and so true. I always say two words- 1 name- Bill Blass. All the same, I can not to it personally, though my taste could be said to be more manly than girly. Blushing, Do not abandon any of your treasures on the roadside-Yet. You are going to need them.tintin does add a great point about the man's privilege of relieving himself in the dining room pot in order not to miss one wit of conversation or one course of many. Love this post. G

tintin said...

Have always been intrigued by the observation that authentic side boards from the late 18th and early 19th century must (must!) have the smell of urine. The lead containers on either end were to hold decanters but were also used for relief - - One assumes only by men.

The Blushing Hostess said...

LA - so very gracious, mark of a resourceful woman to find a lovely way to explain the living room urination thing.

Tintin. Sometimes I think I made you up just to amuse myself.

tintin said...

I'm not bragging but if there's anything vulgar about late 18th / early 19th C culture...I know it. It's hard to forget.

Sandra Austoni said...

What a beautiful home. I love the style & decor. The pool at the foot of the bed is very original (but is it practical?)

the Preppy Princess said...

Love this post Miss Hostess, it covers so many good points, and the photos are just divine. Especially the first one, what a beautiful look.

We also love the insight on your Grandfather and the male's role in all of this. While we would concur that gentlemen we know are very capable on their own, we would suggest their quarters would be perhaps just a skosh enhanced by your insight. :)

May your week be outstanding!

{ L } said...

Oh! I loved this post! You post the most interesting posts all the time. Thank you.

Blue said...

I was once, when first here in the South, at a dinner (visiting friends' grandparents), where the host actually did relieve himself in a chamber pot kept in the side board. No-one, but no-one visibly reacted. Hard to believe but, I assure you, true.