A Victorian Life

A conversational tangent on our podcast this week, in which we mentioned Victorian interiors, prompted Root Simple reader Misti to leave a link to a blog post about Dennis Severs’ amazing Victorian house in London,

Dennis Severs was a Californian who left the land of palm trees and bright tan landscapes and came to London in the late 1960s. After giving up on studying law and driving a horse-drawn carriage, in 1979 he bought a derelict eighteenth-century house in Spitalfields, the most poverty-stricken area of historic London. He already knew that he wanted to slip backward in time. So he renovated the house slowly and in keeping with the age. He washed the floors with tea, he acquired the right furniture, he toasted bread on the fire.

After his death in the 1990s, Severs’ house became a sort of museum that you can visit.

Severs reminds me of the neo-Victorian couple that got thrown out of the Butchart Gardens last year for violating an oddball rule forbidding “period style or historical dress.” The couple, Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman, have a blog, This Victorian Life, where you can read about their adventures involving corsets, pince-nez glasses and high wheeled bicycles (!).

While we were recording the podcast I also referenced Mario Buatta, a.k.a. the “Prince of Chintz,” known for his four-poster beds and heavy drapery. I don’t think I’d want to live in one of Buatta’s houses but I mention him for his Victorian sensibilities and as a reminder of how fast design ideas can fall out of favor (with the exception of midcenutry modern).

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