The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"All in Good Time," and Other Platitudes. . .

The craftsman house interior palette (found via Squidoo online three months ago) that I'm working with to plan repainting of various rooms over the next two-four summers.  The living room, library, upstairs hallway, newly created TV room at the back of the upstairs hallway, and downstairs bathroom are slated for, ahem, a little brushing up.

Average guys working to kick up their everyday style should keep in mind that both an overhaul of one's attire and one's home interior take some time.  It's better for things to develop gradually, rather than all at once.  Sure, there are people who can drop a ton of money on either clothes or furnishings in one fell swoop and redo everything at once.  But that's not necessarily the way for a physical space or personal wardrobe to develop and become an extension of your personality, is it?  Just watch old episodes of What Not to Wear and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy to see what I mean.

No.  It's preferable to slow down, think things through a bit more carefully, develop some kind of plan, and then proceed according to that plan, making minor adjustments along the way as needed.  You will, of course, want to keep a running list in your mind or on paper of what you want or need to do, and be aware that getting it just right once you have that newly altered thrifted suit, or refurbished dining room table and chairs, might take a try or three before you realize, "Yeah! That's it."  As with so much else though, the journey is more than half the fun.

When it comes to home interiors, clutter is perhaps the biggest thing with which most of us wrestle.  Some of you might recall that I mentioned decluttering our own abode several weeks ago when my wife and son were away.  Of course, many of us want (Really?  Really??!!) those vacation trinkets from the package tour to the Greek Isles five years ago on display somewhere, but it's easy to get carried away with tiny Eifel Towers, sand paintings, seashells collected on a beach somewhere, and that huge sombrero you purchased at the last minute in the airport on your way home from that drunken Spring Break trip to Mexico 25 years ago.  None of these items were among our particular clutter problems by the way, but you get the general idea.   

Nope, clutter is the devil as I've mentioned before, and there comes a time when you've got to put some things away.  Or throw 'em out.  Be merciless here because not everything from your youth and young adulthood is necessarily worth displaying on your shelves or keeping in the attic once you are out of college and (hopefully) functioning as an adult.  Honest.  A reasonably straight dwelling that's free of clutter looks a lot larger within its component rooms, less junky, and much more inviting as a result.  

But unless one is going for an ultra modern, minimalist look, an absolutely empty room looks sterile and unfriendly, kind of like one of those fake IKEA rooms set up to display their stuff in the store.  You know?  It is the addition of books and some carefully chosen personal items, within reason, that help to impart your own unique stamp to a particular space.  If you are patient and look around long enough, sooner or later, you will find precisely what you are after and at a reasonable price.  

While we had enough "stuff" to fill every room of the house when we purchased it several years ago, much of our combined furniture was of undergraduate and/or grad school vintage.  You know.  Old, cast-off family things, a few IKEA pieces, odd lamps from the 1970s, stuff scrounged from curbsides, and so on. High time then to begin shedding some of the less good stuff and adding more adult pieces as and when we are able.  Which we've done routinely in the last five or six years.  

During that same time, we've added a number of nice looking, more sophisticated and adult items, which help give our home an eclectic, lived-in look without veering too close to being an Architectural Digest photo display on the one hand. . .  or the dreaded and all too common sloppy-mess-that-could-be-a-whole-lot-better-with-a-bit-of-imagination-and-careful-weeding-out on the other.  

Like sprucing up one's wardrobe, the idea of adding things gradually also applies to minor repairs and changing interior colors to suit oneself.  Since our home is in the craftsman style, it occurred to me to do some research online and try to nail down reasonably authentic interior colors once I decided that it was time for the ubiquitous honey-tan on the first floor to go.  Hence the illustration above.  

I've decided on three Olympic latex (emulsion) colors that come close to three of those shown above.  You've already seen examples of the Olympic 'Tea Leaf Green' in the repainted bathroom photographs from June.  This color resembles the second from the left in the third row down from the top.  Kind of a calm gray-green.  I've also decided for the living room on Olympic 'Parchment' (very close to the second from the left in the second row from the top), and a very light gray, akin to the second color from the left in the very top row, for the library walls.  These rooms will get these colors, during the summers of 2015 and '16 respectively.  The ceilings and (planned) crown moldings will remain white.

It's a lot to anticipate in the meantime AND take care of over the next several years, but doing so one room at a time makes the task manageable.  I'm also reasonably good with this kind of stuff thanks to years of watching and later helping my mother and maternal grandparents, all three of whom were adept at these kinds of do-it-yourself things, so it will be exciting to watch everything take shape in our own home.  

Since the Grand Duchess is not experienced in this sort of thing -- She freely admits her sense of color and spatial relations are weak -- and she will be away with our son for two or three weeks each summer visiting her parents when the future work is undertaken, it won't be that hard to do.  The main thing is simply to have a block of uninterrupted time to work, get everything finished, cleaned up, and the rooms put back together as I do each one.

Once the living room and library have been repainted, then it will be time for better, floor-to-ceiling curtains, which will help our ten-foot ceilings look even higher  It seems increasingly like we are going to stay put for the next few decades, and also increasingly unlikely that I'm going to hit it big in some state lottery and be in a position to buy us a large flat either in an old section of Berlin, Hamburg, Bergen (Norway), or Bolzano (Italy).  So, we might as well do our best to approach elegance and even opulence in our home through planned improvements.  Slightly larger rooms would help of course, but I fear our tendency might simply be to cram in additional furniture and stuff, which gets us back to square one.  To paraphrase the late Joan Crawford. . .  No more clutter, ever!!!

A final thought today on interior decorating (I really despise that term and much of what it implies).  In much the same way as with men's attire, not everything you purchase and add to your interior decor needs to be the most expensive, the newest, or an actual antique (lots of garbage is sold as "antique" nowadays).  With some forethought and creative license, there is a great deal of nice stuff to be had that can provide years of tasteful, attractive, and adult service in you home, The trick is to do some research to increase your knowledge base, develop a discerning eye, and look out for quality stuff that you like and can acquire without breaking the bank.  That's as true for home furnishings and improvements as it is for classic menswear.

-- Heinz-Ulrich  


P.S.

And since The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style began as a blog primarily about men's attire, I should mention that there are several recently thrifted sports jackets and a double-breasted blazer at the tailor's right now.  I'll share photos and commentary on the these once I have them back in August just before the fall semester begins.  There are also two or three recently acquired suits that will appear 'round about October after some minor alterations.  These, however, are heavier weights, and definitely not appropriate for what could still shape up to be an uncomfortably warm August and September in my little corner of the American Midwest.  Stay tuned! 

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