President's Letter Fall 2015
Some Rules for Living in an Old House
Rosanne tells me this is my last President’s message. Maybe I should leave with a few words of wisdom about living in old houses. I have always lived in old houses, and I make my living helping others do it, so I feel that I may have some insight worth sharing.
1. Do not hoard clothes. I recently worked for a very charming couple who wanted a new house that felt like an old house. The only argument they ever had over the design was whether to have (a.) one closet, or (b.) no closets. He wanted one closet, she wanted no closets. Guess who won.
That was a very refreshing experience for a house architect like me. The rooms were large and light, and there were no dark closets to take up space and encourage hoarding. They kept everything in cupboards and armoires, and it worked out all right.
Ann Rowland, San Antonio’s beloved “manners lady”, taught me this: “Buy new clothes every year so you always look your best, and give the old ones away while they are still fresh and let somebody else wear them.” I have not lived up to that advice, it sounds extravagant, but I know what she meant….don’t hoard clothes. And that is especially good advice if you live in an old house. It always makes me sad to see the second best bedroom turned into a dark closet for the sake of a bloated wardrobe.
2. Do not argue with your house. Old houses tend to tell us what they want. It is usually best to let them have their way. Of course, we can insist on imposing our wills. We can force our old houses to conform to our expectations. But when we do that, we can unwittingly destroy some of the very qualities that we admire. It is much nicer and more respectful when we modify ourselves to the house, rather than vice-versa. It makes life more interesting, too.
3. Embrace imperfection. You will never make it perfect. So just be glad! Sometimes our old houses will help us be better people, if we let them. We may find ourselves having a family dinner in our dining rooms, for example, or sitting outside on our unenclosed porches, listening to the birds and reading books! All kinds of good things can happen in our old houses, if we let them be old houses.
Those are my words of wisdom. It has been an honor serving Monte Vista Historical Association this year. I am grateful to our members and directors for maintaining such an active and productive association.
(Rosanne the Editor adds: It has been a pleasure working with you, Cee. You inspire me to be more like you: hard-working, conscientious, calm and open-minded . Thank you for all you have done for us this year.)
Cee Parker Tuesday, 06 October 2015 President's Message