It's a time-worn cliché: "The more things change, the more things stay the same."
But could you ever envision that novelist Henry James' description of a 19th century English house would be so perfectly realized in a 2010 Manhattan apartment featured in House Beautiful?
Read the following extracts from "A London Life", written in 1887, and see for yourself how uncannily designer Daniel Sach's project for a New York townhouse matches the details of James' novella:
"Lady Davenant was in the drawing-room, in a low chair by one of the windows, reading the second volume of a novel." [I mean, come on. The book is even there!]
(House Beautiful, October 2010.
Interiors by Daniel Sachs. Photos by Ngog Minh Ngo.)
"The room had its bright, durable, sociable air, the air that Laura Wing liked in so many English things - its chintzes...its well-worn carpets, its domestic art - that of being meant for daily life, for long periods, for uses of high decency." [Do we need any more proof that the aesthetic sensibility of a comfortable room transcends time? Umm, no. Case closed.]
"The afternoon had faded but the lamps had been brought in, the smell of flowers was in the air and the old house of Plash seemed to recognize the hour that suited it best." [These dark-painted walls perfectly illustrate the seductive allure of a room at dusk.]
"There were quaint old maps on the wall...
...and 'collections' -- birds and shells....The place was a setting for rosy childhood." [Even today, exotic, far-off places and stockpiles of "stuff" remain the classic recipe for a kid's bedroom.]
"That was the story told by ever so many other things in the house which betrayed the full perception of a comfortable, liberal, deeply domestic effect." [The personal touches, below, so indicative of the soul of the owner, add the necessary layers of meaning and warmth which make a house a home.]
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So here's the question:
If you had to pick a book whose interiors best fit your own home, what would it be? Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" with its stripped-down midcentury sensuality? Or perhaps the eccentric, cheerful chaos of Dodie Smith's "I Capture The Castle"? Or the simple, spiritual comforts of Thoreau's "On Walden Pond"?
Talk to me.