1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Voyeur-Tour

I spent my Saturday as a guide for the Greene County Historical Society Tour of House Porn. Okay sure, they call it something a little more prim (because Eutaw is nothing if not prim), but we housebloggers can read between the lines. Interior and exterior home tours with no restrictions on photography? Yes, that my friends, is house porn.

I love looking at old houses for three reasons. 1. I love old houses. 2. I want to get ideas (particularly for kitchens and bathrooms). 3. I am a voyeur. Well, aren't we all? We want to see how other people live: how tidy they are (though tour day is probably not a good time to judge); whether they like antiques, reproductions or Target chic; what their idea of restoration is; whether their TV is prominently displayed or tucked away; whether they have a pampered pet, a dog chained in the yard or none at all; what paint colors they chose; whether they have a bedspread or a comforter; whether they store their clothes in armoires, dressers or an entire room repurposed as a closet.

It's all so telling.

And in a small town - where everyone feels they have a right to know everything about everyone else - a home tour is the perfect way to nose into each other's business.

Each year in October several fine residences from around town are chosen to be "on tour," and there's always a slight shuffle in the mix. Half the town turns out for these tours, especially the older women, who dress to kill in elegant suits.

This year our friends L&M and S&B were both invited - and agreed - to be on the tour.

In the past several months L&M bought and rapidly restored a Victorian cottage catty-corner to us. Our house is its evil antithesis - ours is decorated with cat hair and random eBay finds, while theirs is the most immaculate house I've ever seen, and it's stuffed with glamorous trappings like rich fabrics and lots of gilt.

S&B moved into their antebellum Greek Revival the same time we moved into our house (2 years ago this month). It's a wonderful place for entertaining - lots of wide open spaces and the smells of Bobby's incredible cooking wafting through. S&B's major contributions to the house have been painting the interior walls bold, inviting colors; scraping/painting the dizzying 3-story exterior; and landscaping the yard in a way that showcases the house perfectly.

The trouble with S&B's residence is that it's too big for one person. Yep, our beloved S&B are splitsville. The house had been on the market for a month and sold the day before the Home Tour (a remarkably short sale time for a home in Eutaw).

ShantheMan asked me to hang out and help give tours of the house on Saturday, so I dolled up and headed over bright and early that morning. Some houses go all out with tour guides in each room clutching notecards and elaborating on the origin of each stick of furniture or piece of silver.

Yeah, that's not the kind of tour we did. We gave a little spiel something like this:

"The house was moved here in 1856 from the nearby community of Springfield. It was rolled here on logs" (pause for crowd reaction) "Yep, on logs! And it's only slightly haunted! Tee hee!"

Sometimes we threw in a ghost story or two and/or mentioned the fact that Dr. Willis Meriweather was the original owner and look there at those medicine bottles found in the attic! Then we sent them wandering about the house on their own.

A surprising number of fellow voyeurs asked ShantheMan: Why are you selling? How much did the house sell for? Where are you moving? Why are you moving there?

He answered with more poise than I probably could've mustered and never said, "Noneya business!"

All in all, the day was surprisingly fun. I enjoyed my tour guide role and meeting so many people who like old houses; some had even driven hours to get there.

We also got to meet the new buyers! They seem dedicated to preserving the house, which is wonderful. And the woman was wearing a cute sweater. So that's good.

Still, it was always present in my mind that our friends would be leaving soon. Bobby is moving to Tuscaloosa, and ShantheMan is moving to Moundville while he looks for a small house to restore in Eutaw.

Sigh. Anyway. In our down time, we also stole away to tour two other houses on the tour and one that wasn't, which I'll share pictures of later in the week.

And now, drumroll please, let the house porn commence:

Home Tour - ShantheMan photo set

Home Tour - ShantheMan slideshow

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3 Comments:

Christine said...

Those colors are too good to be true! Do you happen to know what paint brands and colors they were using?

7:16 AM  
Kristin said...

Okay, Shannon says on the exterior it's Benjamin Moore, oil base primer, latex paint. I love Benjamin Moore too! They did three colors I think, one light cream, one beige, one brown for accent. The colors are similar but just different enough that it makes the architectural elements stand out.

4:38 PM  
mindywagner said...

Great pics, thanks for sharing!! And you look like an adorable tour guide ;)

2:07 PM  

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