Saturday, October 11, 2008

A room of my own

When I lived in New York City at the turn of the last century, I loved to walk home after work  through the West Village, the one neighborhood in Manhattan that has still managed to preserve its bohemian charms.  In that magical hour after sunset as legions of people made their nightly journey back downtown, I loved to watch the gorgeous old brownstones slowly return to life after a dormant day.  Gazing up at the enormous lit windows, I would try to guess what each home was like from the clues I could make out as I walked by:  a piece of artwork on a wall, floor-to-ceiling shelves stuffed with bibelots and books, carved ceiling moldings, even the fabric on a chair.  As much as I longed to go inside, there was something magical about being on the outside looking in.  It was an enchanted domain, and the fact that I would never be invited in made my fantasies all the more potent.  I'd climb the stairs to my studio apartment (decorated in techno-chic, don't ask), settle in on my futon couch and order takeout Chinese, still awash in visions of pre-war splendor.

Even today, the allure still holds.  Just the other night, after we had neighbors over for a glass (or three) of champagne, I grabbed my camera and took this shot of our kitchen from the backyard.  The golden interior light, the remnants of dinner on the table and the blurry outlines of my husband (tidying up) and my son (angling for another Trader Joe's macaroon cookie) gave me the same frisson of longing that I remembered from my NYC days.  The only difference was that this time I could go inside and join the party.  

Do any of you have the same fascination?


Rachel said...

I realize that this is an older post, but I just found your blog! It's wonderful!!
Before I was married, and when I lived in various apartments (especially my downtown loft), I LOVED to look through others windows and guess at their interiors from the small view I was afforded. Luckily, I had (and still have) 2 dogs to walk at least 3 times a day, so I got to walk around and look in a lot. I remember there was this one loft in my building that I could see from the street that had one wall painted a bright persimmon. It was gorgeous!

Oh, and another quick comment - I'm also bored of the super-perfect and always boring multi-million dollar residences in that certain magazine you talked about below. Blech. They're always so devoid of personality. Plus, is it me or are most of them all neutral color schemes?? I have nothing against neutrals, but I'm tired of looking at all beige houses!

Love your blog!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Re: that certain magazine, yes! They're always these beigey neutral color schemes, with really huge expensive bad art. They feel like big dentists' offices, most of them (nothing against dentists, I love mine, but still...) Merci for the nice words, Rachel!

Melinda Browning said...

Hi Lisa, Just found your blog through Ronda at "All the Best". This post brought back memories of being a college student in Dallas and driving through Highland Park and University Park. I had the exact same experience, always wondering about what went on behind what I could see through the living room windows. And then I'd go back to my tiny apartment which was minimalist chic...well the chic is questionable, but it was definitely minimalist.

I think I love the movie "Rear Window" for this same reason. That the main character could only catch a small slice of what was really happening in each apartment.

I'm looking forward to following your blog, and starting one of my own this year as well.

Noticed you on Ronda's Facebook page, perhaps we can be "FB Friends".

Melinda Browning

cotedetexas said...

Oh God yes --driving by dusk is the best stalking time just as the inside lamps are turned on and the curtains are still open. Heaven!!

Caitlin McGauley said...

YES!! My favorite thing is being on a long cab ride in the dark, maybe at dinnertime in the winter- the perfect time and season to peek into windows. I love seeing the warm light and people going about their business. I don't even mind stopping at every traffic light on every block.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Melinda: Absolutely!

helen tilston said...

Lisa, I love this particular blog. I thought I was the only one who did this. I particularly love walking my dog along Hazelton Avenue in Toronto, particularly in winter time, when the snow is crunchy beneath my feet and there is a blanket of snow everywhere.The interiors are always warm and glowing. It is particularly interesting when one can glimpse a couple sharing their day. Art work certainly adds to the mystique. Domesticity at its best

Unknown said...

While in Paris this summer we stayed in a friends apartment in the Marais. We were situated on the 5th floor, which was near the top of the building. At night I spent hours as a voyeur peering in to the apartments across the narrow street -


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