Old and New. Yin and Yang.
I watched an episode of Escape to the Country recently. I must confess that it was a little bit addictive on a rainy lock-down afternoon. A break from the home office was more truthfully a trip around the houses – so to speak.
The remit was clear – a modern house, no less than 20 years old, a new build, straight lines, ‘no-low’ maintenance. The unsuspecting client was ushered into Property Number One, a 17th Century farmhouse with beamed ceilings and inglenook fireplaces.
Property Number Two was an immaculate totally new house, still in the throes of the final touches. You could home in on the sense of relief. Beautifully convenient, move in straight away, functional layout and better still, a builders’ guarantee.
The mystery house, Property Number Three, was a thatched 16th Century longhouse with even more beams and even bigger inglenook fireplaces, even a moat, and listing like a ship let alone Grade 11.
They were all beautiful properties, but what happened to the brief? Another story? No, that IS the story. Pushing a house-hunter out of their comfort zone makes for good television but that is no bad thing in real life.
There has long been a set of clients for period homes and a set for new homes, but are the traditional boundaries being blurred, or have they simply become a little bit clearer, and is it easier now to step from one to another?
The ancient Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang, explains how opposites interrelate, depend on, and complement each other. There are examples all around us, and no longer confined to personal relationships. Finding the ideal property to set up home is high up on our aspirational well-being wish list. The whole process is a balancing act of pros and cons, starting with old or new.
Where better to find the evidence of a perfect balancing act than in a striking Grand (or Small) Design with oversized, ‘all-the-better-for-rust’ antique ceiling lamps, or a mellow stone cottage with the surprise of an ultra-contemporary modernist dining table and multi-coloured chairs (reclaimed and primary colour powder-coated!) sitting very comfortably on a flagstone floor?
If a new house does not have a fireplace, think antique chipped gilt and plaster
over-mantel mirror leaning against a signature colour wall (fixed in place with a bracket at the top please) in a bedroom.
If an old house does not have a single straight wall, line up a set of bright abstract prints in identical frames, making sure that the top or bottom edge of the frames creates a perfect line.
Period houses can embrace the contemporary. Brand new houses can celebrate the old. Choose carefully, think outside the box, don’t spend a fortune, and remember that less is more when you want the old and the new to ‘speak to each other’. The best balancing act is a simple one.
Have fun and create all the character that suits you and it will suit your home, whatever its age.