Lisa and I went with Charlie to see the This Old House Carlisle Project this weekend. As regular readers will recall, we infiltrated the area a few months ago to find trade trucks pulled up but otherwise nothing much in the way of visible activity. This trip was a little different. For one thing, we were paying to go—which was ok as the proceeds from the tickets support a good cause. For another, there were no trades in sight (though there was still some work to be done). This tour was really about the house and what the decorators had done with it.
I’m pleased to report that even the most questionable rooms (with one exception) looked much better in person than they did on TV. The “very red” entrance hall actually looked really good, for instance, as did the kids’ bedrooms. The topiary dragonfly over the breakfast table, however, looked not just out of place but scary. We asked a number of pointed questions about the sculpture, such as whether it needed to be watered and whether the family that bought the house was planning to keep it. (Oh yeah, spoiler warning, highlight text to read: someone bought the house for about $1.8 million.)
One comment from just about everyone on the tour was how much smaller the house felt than it looked on TV. I thought that was a tribute to the architect; it could easily have felt echoey and cavernous. Some spaces, including the library, were just about perfectly proportioned and executed. But I thought the barn was disappointingly unbarnlike after the decorators got done with it. The fireplace helped add ambience as did the barn timbers, but mostly it felt like a room with tall ceilings.
Lisa and I both decided it was much more satisfying watching the actual structural work happen than touring the house as a designer showcase. And we know how I feel about interior design showcases. (I should note, however, that it was a hell of a lot of fun to check out the mechanicals in the basement. The boiler and those plumbing manifolds look even more impressive in real life.)