After renting the newly released dvd, I Am Love, and watching the film twice, I slipped it into my computer and captured a gazillion frames which I will be sharing with you over the next two days. Today’s post will be focusing on Villa Necchi Campiglio’s architecture and interiors. By using stills from the film and comparing them to photos of the house today, I hope to give you a complete picture. Friday’s post will be about the characters’ lifestyles, which includes their clothing, accessories, and other lifescapes.
Door knobs and escutcheon plates. When I moved into this house in 1985, all the interior doors still had their original hardware with the exception of the brass knobs which had been replaced during the late 1950s or early 1960s with a style that only George Jetson would have understood. Whether it was the budget or just a preference, the choice and placement of the metal and glass knobs was a puzzler. Inside all closets the escutcheon plates were stamped nickel plated brass and the knobs were glass with nickel plated workings. On the exterior side of the closets and on both sides of all the doors to all rooms, there were stamped brass escutcheon plates and brass knobs. The one exception to this setup was the bathroom, which had nickel plated escutcheon plates with glass knobs on both sides.
The inappropriate brass knobs were replaced with the correct type that I found on Rejuvenation’s website, a solid unlacquered-brass two-inch knob. Older homes had a smaller diameter knob than what is currently used now (modern-day knobs’ diameter would have been too large in proportion to my escutcheon plates). I chose the unlacquered brass intentionally, because I HATE permanent gold shiny things in my house. But in order for the knobs to have a patina that matched the existing hardware, I had to dunk them into this Brass Darkening Solution that I found at Elliott’s Hardware. After trial and error, I discovered that all it took was five to ten seconds of soaking to reach the right patina. Anything longer turned my knobs black and blue.
Above is the original dining room light fixture. And now, that the room serves a dual purpose as a library and dining room, this fixture can’t be more perfect. When I first moved into the house in 1985, this light fixture was a three-way. See the brass knob ball at the base of the light fixture? Turning it allowed me to alternate between having just the top five on, or just the bottom bowl on, or have all six illuminated (which was way too bright). But, all good things must come to an end, and the internal stem (or whatever it’s called) finally broke. Some day I plan on taking the whole thing down and locating someone who could fix it. In the meantime, a dimmer switch has been installed and works just as well as the three way if not better. But still… It would be cool to have it working in its original condition.
The living and dining rooms’ wall texture is original to my house (built in 1938). My next door neighbor and other older homes in my neighborhood have the same finish. When I first moved into the house I thought it looked depressing and grandma-ish. But now, I’m so glad that I kept it.
What was the technique called? Did it even have a name? Even my painting contractors found it unusual and had a difficult time emulating it while repairing patches. When the 1960′s kitchen was torn out, we discovered that the original breakfast room originally had this same texture. The rest of the house (the remaining original rooms) has what looks to be the knock down texture which carries the orange peel effect one step further by semi flattening the raised bumps. The orange peel technique had also been used originally for all the ceilings in the house and is the texture we chose for all of the reconstruction’s painted surfaces.
The Ladies’ Clubhouse at Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club in East Texas is one of those hidden time warps. To walk through its rooms and recognize that time has stopped is like some eerie dream. And it’s very important that I tread quietly so not to wake it, because the last thing I want is for it to follow me into my century.
Several years ago, I worked with John Crow Miller on a 400 page historical book for Little Sandy written to celebrate a century of seasons at the club (it had just celebrated its 100 year anniversary). And at that time, there was talk that the clubhouse would have to be demolished. But now, John has written to me to say that there has been a change of heart. He also included a bit of its history.
“The Ladies’ Clubhouse was constructed in 1927, as a facility to house families visiting the club, including women. Juxtaposed against the Men’s Clubhouse, which was constructed in 1910, the Ladies’ Clubhouse contained modern conveniences like hot water and later, gas heat and air conditioning. When the Men’s Clubhouse was demolished in 1967, the Ladies’ Clubhouse was maintained as general quarters for families who did not own a cottage and for members’ overflow of guests. Time and the annual southern melodrama of oppressive summers caused white paint and green trim to fade, floors to buckle and stairs to creak, but through a series of construction band-aides that began in the 1950s, the old building continued to survive. In 2009, the club confirmed the historical importance of the building by applying significant capital funds to restore the foundation, windows, roof and interiors. While the building was never intended to be a showcase of Little Sandy’s charms, it continues to provide functional lodging that reflects the club’s pioneer spirit.”