What is it about this house? It haunts me in the same way that Ashcombe haunted Cecil Beaton and Brideshead possessed Charles Ryder. Standing tall in the middle of a great swath of open countryside, it presents a forbidding facade to approaching visitors.
Once inside, however, the interiors are more welcoming, much like a crusty old uncle with a nougaty center. Colorful rugs lay across sloping floorboards and the walls are brightly painted in an effort to soften the brittle rays of the cold Scottish sun.
The front entry is painted the color of sunshine itself. And everywhere, in every room, those rugs. Tattered, worn, threadbare and absolutely perfect.
In a house this large, some rooms can't help being held captive to a gloomy northern exposure. But there's always a design remedy. Here, the library rug acts as the visual equivalent of a fireplace, giving the room a vibrant heart and warming up the entire space.
No corridor is deemed too unimportant for a precious remnant.
This is just a long way of saying that last weekend I bought two small area rugs for my house. It's been fiercely hot here in Hollywood and my remedy for coping with heat is to resolutely ignore it. I consequently decided that since I couldn't go to Scotland for some cold comfort, Scotland would come to me.
Here's the first one. I love it not in spite of its condition, but because of it.
You can tell from the photo that it's seen better days. In fact, it's just a piece of an old runner, but I don't mind. It's my own piece of history, over 100 years old, and bearing the ghostly markings of all the feet which have trodden upon it.
The second rug is pictured below. Again, it's faded, slightly threadbare and worn in just the right places.
(Yes, I realize there's a cat in the center of the frame. Fellini was insistent on having his portrait taken, and it felt churlish to refuse him.)
Until the temperatures drop (which will probably happen sometime around October), I'll be confining my reading material to novels set in bitter, inclement climes, and drinking copious pots of hot tea in a supreme effort to convince myself that it's not actually 98 degrees outside.
When the heat's on, one does what one must to survive.