Monday, February 09, 2004

Even Though It's Winter, It's Always Spring Here; Why Do I Care About the Victorian's Wallpaper?

On the walk to church on Sunday, I saw narcissus blooming outside an old Victorian called the McKee Lundy house a few blocks away. Fruit trees are blossoming, recalling the valley's heritage. In Spring it was glorious here when all the apricot trees and other fruit trees were blooming. As all San Jose residents know, this valley was called by many "The Valley of Heart's Delight."

Both McKee and Lundy are original Santa Clara families. I went through the house, which is in on the register of historic places, during an open house before it was recently sold, and I saw that the former owners spent lots of money papering with expensive Victorian style wall paper. The paper they hung is true to the period, but at the same time gives the place a closed in feeling. I guess a closed-in feeling was part of the Victorian decorating scheme.

Because the original owners were simple farmers, the opulence of the "restoration" seems out of character, and the new owner must not like it either in light of what's happening now.

Today I talked with the new owner's ex husband who was coming down the driveway as I walked by. I told him that
I looked in the living room window one night as I drove by, and I noticed that the living room's wallpaper was gone. (I didn't tell him, but it shocked me.) The walls are now white and the room looks much bigger. I bet the former owners would die if they knew the wallpaper had been removed. The guy told me that his ex wife is going to do the same to the rest of the rooms as she has the time and money.

I like the new white walls better, but that's my era's style: early art gallery, with white walls and polished wood floors. Why do I care? I think I've been negatively impressed by how much admiration the San Jose Victorian Homeowner's Association members have for Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper. I just checked the wallpaper company's website where their prices range from $50 to $100 a roll.

Guessing previously how much the old owners paid for the wallpaper gave me a shiver, when I saw that the new owner stripped it all down in one room and plans to go through the rest of the house as soon as she can get to it. Conspicuous consumption by the last owner is being followed by conspicious disregard of the value of what is being replaced by the current owner. One roll covers 30 square feet. I'd have to research how many rolls would be required for an average room, add the cost of the borders, to see if my guess of thousands per room is correct.

Meanwhile I live in my Victorian with the wallpaper the last owners put up in my bedroom. the office, and kitchen. It isn't reproduction Victorian style. I like it fine. If left to my own resources I would probably have white walls. Making a commitment to a color scheme and style of wallpaper would be beyond my ability. I just couldn't do it! I'm happy that the combined living and dining area still has white walls.
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