I was wondering why was there no “What style of house are you?” quiz. Now that could provide some useful self-understanding. While most of us will never conquer space, slay a zombie or live with a large group of urban-or-forrest-dwelling zany cohorts, many of us will live in a house. Maybe we should understand how our distinct personalities draw us towards a certain style house. If you look at the history of any house in your own neighborhood, you’ll be surprised how similar the series of past owners’ personalities truly are. It’s as if a house’s very essence calls out to a certain persona. This should warrant an internet quiz!
Not being a computer programmer, I can’t conjure a series of questions that, once answered, will direct you to the house style reflecting your innermost psyche. I can, however, offer a few of the most popular historic house styles and give characteristics of people that are often drawn to them. I witness this all the time sitting at our conference table. As a disclaimer, understand no science was used in these presumptions, only my own flippant personal observations. Consider this not a quiz, but a habitation horoscope of sorts.
The lover of all things English tend to be quirky and haphazard in their make-up. Impulsiveness usually wins out over logic. They crave humility as a virtue and have a keen desire to stay close to the landscape. Shagginess, decrepitude and patina is not seen as unkempt, it is a goal. They feel most comfortable in small, warm spaces. They will own a dog,….it will be in the formal dining room and it will be dirty.
This is who you want sitting next to you at a dinner party – they will know which piece of silver to use. Well heeled, well spoken and well dressed, Francophile residents are polished and stylish, even while languishing away in the “countryside”. They are romantics at heart but classics in their demeanor. They adore fresh flowers in their daily lives and are usually great cooks. Books are not mere accessories – they actually read them.
True American styles vary but are many – Greek Revival, Shingle Style, Federal, Colonial, etc. The people who are drawn to these houses tend to be conservative in their beliefs as well as in their politics. They are usually pioneers of some sort and have self-succeeded greatly somewhere in their life. Family tends to be very important to them as they always envision the perfect Rockwellian “family” or “grandparent” house. They are gracious hosts and good, welcome friends. They are the people to seek out for solid advice. These types will have money but will not flaunt it.
This is who you want to party with. People drawn to Italian style tend to be gregarious, opulent and decadent. They lean toward the exotic, and think gilt paired with ravaged wood is a marriage made in heaven. They throw grand events, and seem to have an enviable attitude of celebrating life daily. Italian style can be on the expensive side but they won’t care because it’s worth it – and they’ll stretch to get it because they have an irresponsible streak. They can also be great cooks but would never, ever open a cookbook.
There was a lady I knew in Montgomery who, in the 1950s, built a very contemporary house in a very traditional neighborhood. She reportedly put a sign out in her front yard that simply said “I DON’T LIKE YOURS EITHER.” That perfectly sums up one of the types of the contemporary owner. They are rebels and don’t care what others think of them. Smart and inventive, they usually have a healthy self-esteem and a equally vigorous ego. The business world loves them as they lead, not follow. They like toys and will want to turn on their bathroom lights from the car. They will have big art and pet fish.
I hope you enjoyed my armchair archipsychotherapy (I am definitely trademarking that word).
And if you must know, it’s an Italian armchair.
Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley
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