Thursday, July 26, 2007


On Sunday James began a discussion about ideal rooms, asking us to post a picture of what, to us, is a liveable room and then send him the link. I've thought a lot about this and have decided that any room I spend any time in has to have books and has to have clutter. By clutter I mean objects that mean something to me and rather a lot of them. No minimalist, me! In fact, when I was selling my house in Britain and an estate agent suggested I "declutter a bit" I cursed, stamped and screamed for days and refused to do it, for I do not understand why people want to go and see a virtually empty house. Can't they imagine their own things in a house as it is? Or is it that they don't collect or keep things? Anyway, my mother, who, along with Dad, abhorred clutter [I suppose they were rebelling against an earlier age] used to say I'd have made a "good Victorian". And, indeed, I love Victorian rooms and could quite happily have lived in the Dickens House in London, for instance, assuming I had been a rich Victorian! [I cannot find pictures of the interior.]

My heroine Simone de Beauvoir used to keep all her books on a shelf at picture rail level which went right round her tiny, neat Paris apartment. I have pictures in a book of the house of Marguerite Duras [again, I cannot find these pictures online]; it is not modern, but has cool, clean lines and white decor, and, as uncluttered living spaces go, I think I could cope with it, for there are books. In the same volume there are pictures of Marguerite Yourcenar's sitting room, which is booklined, has personal objects everywhere and has homely shawls gently draped over the armchairs. That would definitely be more "me."

Then I think of the writers' and artists' houses I have visited, particularly in Italy, among them the Bellini house in Catania, the house of Carducci [ a poet who caused me much misery at university] in Bologna, the poet Quasimodo's house right here in Modica, Pirandello's birthplace near Agrigento, the Leonardo Museum and nearby birthplace at Vinci, the Verdi birthplace at Roncole and his Villa Sant'Agata. All are fascinating and I could linger for days happily in any one of them. And I could certainly live in the rooms of the Castello Nelson near Bronte, about which I posted in January. But for one room my choice has to be D'Annunzio's magnificently cluttered study at the Vittoriale on Lake Garda. Imagine working and writing in this room! I'd be in heaven. Just one thing, though... Where on earth would I put the computer?


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I can understand what you mean WL..but I did "declutter" when selling our house, good for a modern house...and it sold the first time,on the first viewing..but because of chains etc it took months/year to sell.. long story, Arni stamps his feet when he hears that word. When looking for a house, we were shown one house and I could NOT see beyond all the clutter..and that house took months and months to sell.

Anonymous said...

You are a well travelled lady. If only, there were digital cameras years ago.

Crushed said...

Cluttered homes look lived in.

We live a bit cluttered, my bedroom has piles of unpacked boxes in it which will stay as they are probably.

Who wants to live in a showhome?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Anne. Well, my house went on the market mid-Oct. I changed estate agents early Feb and it sold within a day! I like clutter. Hi, Steve. only reasonably well -travelled within Italy. Yes, I do wish I'd had a digcam years ago. Crushed, I agree 100%.

PinkAcorn said...

I have to say D'Annunzio's study would be my choice, too. I don't think I would manage without a bit of clutter...well, more than that by the looks. I did post some pictures on my blog with all the clutter off my counters!

jmb said...

When I enter a house with no books I wonder about these people. Although I do know readers who have few books, only using the library system here with my husband being one of them.
I like the look of the room you posted although I probably would get rid of some of the statues. Very warm looking.
My mind drew a blank when I read James's post. So I'll have to think a bit more.

lady macleod said...

I am not a 'clutter' person, albeit I love it in other people's homes - those photographs, especially the last are splendid. If I have not worn or used something in the past year, out it goes. It became so bad that Q made me promise to consult her before giving away any more of her clothes! I am just as happy in a austure Japenese decor as I am in a Victorian or Italian one.

EXCEPT books. My decorating style is and has always been stacks of books on the floor, on the tables, on the bed, and in the bookshelves that run floor to ceiling. After Q went to university I kept some of the overflow in the now unused oven - I did take some flak for that one. I can throw out just about everything when I move, and I have given away loads of books to the local libraries, but the smallest number I have even now in storage is around 50 boxes, and I MISS my library.

I think I would enjoy cleaning out a space for the computer for you:-), and I think you should lead the Great Houses tour after I finish the Great Libraries tour!

James Higham said...

...D'Annunzio's magnificently cluttered study...

Magnificent room indeed - I can see what you mean.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, pink. So glad you like it too. JMb, I feel exactly the same when I enter a house without books. I keep wondering, "Where are they?" Yes, I admit I might clear away some of the statues - to replace them with clutter of my own! Lady M., I too have boks everywhere but I am unable to get rid of things when I move. I think this comes partly of having no family - I need my sentimental things around me. I'm pretty good at getting rid of clothes that are past their heyday, though. We could set up a tour business! Glad it appeals, James.

Anonymous said...

I always look around a person's home for the books - to help me settle and to assess their interests and style. I would find it very hard to settle in a house without any books. That and photographs, mainly family ones.
I once visited a young mum whose son had to ask to have his book box dragged out from under the stairs - I wonder to this day if that lad struggled with reading at school. The house was large enough for him to have a little bookcase of his own somewhere.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Shirl. I, too, always look for a person's books when I enter a house. And photos are important, too. Poor little boy - children from homes where reading is not "natural" do so miss out.


View My Stats