Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gothic Home Decor and the Dread of Downsizing

Even though the insomniac  has an abundance of ideas ricocheting around in her brain for blog posts, getting them down in written format seems as if it's going to be a weekly challenge. This week, a brief treatise on Gothic Home Decor seems to be in order since the topic is one of the most consuming of the insomniac's  obsessions (hence the compulsion to shop on eBay at 2:00 a.m. to find yet another addition to the ever-increasing hoard in the Gothic Mansion). One occasionally worries about one's offspring having to deal with the almost forty years' worth of accumulation, especially when that fateful moment arrives that they decide it is time for their Sainted Mother and Father to downsize from The Gloomy Gothic Mansion into A Sunny Retirement Condo in Palm Springs. Perhaps the continual growth of the collection is a not-so-subtle form of revenge ...

Realizing there is already a plethora of pictures on the World Wide Web showcasing Gothic Home Decor, one hopes the pictures exhibited here today are obscure enough to have not been previously viewed elsewhere. The insomniac  cannot recommend the publication “The Opulent Interiors of the Gilded Age” highly enough - the photographs from the late 1800's are a constant source of inspiration on decorating styles, textiles, furniture, etc. and each time the book is perused, countless ideas emerge that can be replicated (although on a much smaller scale) in one's own Gothic mansion.

Please bear in mind that when the insomniac  refers to Gothic Home Decor, it also encompasses a fair bit of Victoriana as well (yet another obsession, to be dealt with in future posts).

A multitude of plants eliminates the need for expensive furniture.
An excellent decorating idea, provided one has a green thumb ...

The fretwork is magnificent but seriously, who decided to paint it white?

The insomniac took this photo to an upholsterer and had a copy
of the settee made. Less expensive than purchasing a new piece
of furniture with the added benefit of being able to choose one's fabric ...

A striking pair of girandoles on the mantle - always an excellent decorating choice.
Nasty pictures of grim-looking old women should, however, be avoided at all costs ...

Note the ingenious use of old dish towels to cover cheap plant pots,
although ornately carved plant stands with claws certainly help.
Truthfully, anything with claws is a must for a true Gothic aesthete ...

Again with the dish towels.
Or perhaps they're exquisite tapestries and the photo doesn't do them justice ...

A totally achievable decorating effect; tattered velvet with an abundance of fringe,
old ropes to assist with the artistic draping, and if there happens
to be a few old rapiers laying about to complete the look, all the better ...

One magnificent table + one spectacular piece of taxidermy
+ one adequate wicker chair = one exceptional room ...

A minimal amount of furniture with maximum impact.
And how easy to recreate that ottoman in black velvet ...

The decor in the insomniac's  own Gothic/Victorian retreat relies heavily on a generous layer of dust to add to the ambiance, and assuredly has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that dusting is the most loathed of all household chores, ranking only slightly higher than cleaning the commode. And when rooms contain such vast quantities of fascinating objects, dust becomes unavoidable unless one is lucky enough to have someone who takes care of these household duties for them which, regrettably, is not  the case in the Gothic Mansion.

The cluttered style the insomniac  adores
and is attempting to recreate in the Gothic Mansion ...

Not quite there yet.


Perhaps one could hope for a more restful sleep
if this cozy bed were available ...

To summarize, the insomniac's  version of Gothic Home Decor includes layer upon layer of frayed and rotting textiles casually tossed over every available surface (and remember, if exquisite tapestries are unavailable, dish towels will suffice). Add as many large pieces of Victorian furniture as one can afford, but if working with a limited budget then one can disguise other people's cast-offs with layer upon layer of frayed and rotting textiles (see above). Supplement with plenty of large plants and taxidermy then allow all of it to accumulate a fine layer of dust, which will hopefully remain pristine and undefiled by offspring who delight in drawing happy faces in it with their fingers, thereby utterly ruining the effect. And there you have it - Gothic Decor that increases in beauty with each passing year and with every piece lovingly collected. And at the end of it all, you too can have some small measure of revenge on your offspring, who will be left to deal with your hoard after having exiled you to Palm Springs.

Until next time,the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams ... of your next decorating project. Goodnight, my pretties.

IA


Picture Sources:
   The Opulent Interiors of the Gilded Age, Dover Publication
   Victorian and Edwardian Furniture and Interiors, Jeremy Cooper
   Victorian Splendour, Australian Interior Decoration 1837-1901, Suzanne Forge

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In the Beginning, there was Darkness Over All ...

IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS DARKNESS OVER ALL and from this darkness (hereinafter referred to as the insomniac's  sleep-deprived mind) there emerged - well, quite frankly, nothing. After countless sleepless nights skulking through other blogs and thinking “should take a crack at one of these blog thingies - how hard can it possibly be?” it is, apparently, much more difficult than previously imagined. How does one actually start off? Where does one begin? The proper tone must be established from the onset so the reader knows what to expect. The initial post must capture their attention and somehow deter them from scurrying away into the night, in hopes of discovering something even slightly more entertaining to spend their valuable time on. The pressure is almost enough to make one throw up one's hands in despair and abandon the idea altogether.

It would appear the wisest course of action would be to stick with lots of pretty pictures and very little verbiage, to avoid having potential readers flee in horror. And hopefully, in future posts the words will flow more readily and there will be an abundance of useful information to be gleaned on a number of obscure topics dear to the insomniac's  heart.

Without further ado, here are a few pictures from a recent trip to the Czech Republic and, more specifically, the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora, a favourite destination. Even though the insomniac  has been fortunate enough to experience the ossuary twice already, she hopes to make at least one more pilgrimage before she “shufflel's off this mortall coile”. Perhaps next time in the winter, when there are fewer tourists ruining her somewhat feeble attempts at Artistic Photography.

Massive chandelier in the nave ...

Closeup of massive chandelier ...

It is estimated 40,000 skeletons were used to create all the decorations in the ossuary.
Why aren't there jobs like that around anymore?

Damned tourists, mucking up an otherwise extremely artistic
photo of a Baroque candelabra in the shape of a Gothic tower ...

The insomniac  wants one of these in her  attic ...

The church has a shabby decayed-looking beauty ...

Schwarzenberg Coat of Arms
and skulls neatly stacked to the rafters ...

Skull finial on the front gates ...

Formidable looking spider hanging from the
horizontal bones under the skull on the right ...

For further information on the ossuary, visit www.kostnice.cz. Kutná Hora is a short bus trip from Prague and is a beautiful town to stroll through after visiting the ossuary. It has some small antique shops, the beautiful Gothic Church of St. Barbara should not be missed and there is a small bridge with some interesting statues that are picture-worthy as well. The Gulash Soup is a definite must on a chilly day, should you happen upon a restaurant that serves it. Mmmmmm ... beer and gulash soup.

Bridge Statue I
Bridge Statue II
Church of St. Barbara

And thus ends the first (and rather pedestrian, one might add) attempt at a post. If you've managed to make it through to the bitter end, please accept the insomniac's  unending gratitude. If you have a chance, please stop by the Attic to peruse some of the souvenirs that were shipped home from the Czech Republic this trip. Sadly, the life-sized skulls from Ye Olde Ossuary Gift Shoppe both broke in transit, although this one still manages to look quite fetching with his missing teeth, regardless. Quite possibly the veil helps.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.

IA


PostScript: Aaron, you have left this mortall coile far too soon - may you forever Rest In Peace.