Friday, May 23, 2014

Ruined Treasures

When I go to a new town, I don't want to see the mall or the manufactured amusements. I want to see the old neighborhoods, the ruined places, and the faded treasures.

I own a micro (nano actually) press that puts out a monthly shoppers newspaper. Part of my glam job is to deliver the papers every month. Three days and 500 miles and ink-stained fingers. Overall, I enjoy it (okay, winter not so much.)

One thing I hunt are the ruined treasures hidden in the small towns on my route. I don't care about, in fact I mourn, the brand-new shiny pre-fab siding with pre-formed plastic picket fence you've put on your Victorian. Instead, I hunt for this:



On a side street in Butler, Missouri is a ruined building that evokes shades of New Orleans, even Paris. Its dirty gold stucco exterior is covered with gaudy lovely wrought iron lights and details.


Even thought it doesn't tone with the design aesthetic of my mid-century modern home, I covet this light fixture. Seriously covet.

Every window and door is lined with these wrought iron trims and grills.


Can you imagine your porch lined with these trims? Not my current house, but I see houses all over town that have installed weird period-incorrect porches, rails, and overhangs when this is what they need.

The first rule of Renovation Club:

Always talk about Renovation Club. In fact, do it until people run away screaming. Then chase them with your color swatches.

The second rule of Renovation Club:

Be true to the architecture of your home. 

You can't make a Victorian into a Craftsman, no matter how hard you try. And everything (like granite countertops) that you think is so chic, classic, and timeless? In a few years people will be looking at it and saying, "How utterly millenial. Get the sledgehammer."

Sorry, I digressed. I hate seeing beautiful vintage architectural detail kicked to the curb in the name of "modernization." I remember looking at a house with a plastic tub insert and the woman proudly proclaiming that they "ripped out that tacky clawfoot tub!"

Part of it is that I was a picker. My then-husband and I made a living recovering treasures like these and selling them to the highest bidder. I totally enjoy seeing a house or building restored with vintage and re-purposed architectural detail. I still do it as a sideline and hope to return to the trenches.

In the meantime, I hope all this vintage wrought iron is rescued from this hulk and given the home it deserves. They don't make it like this anymore.

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