On Curb Appeal: The Da Vinci Delusion
Editor Scott Omelianuk on curb appeal
The editor makes a case for shabby chic.
"It's sort of like a palazzo in Milan or Florence," I said to my wife as we stood in the street, looking up at the decaying front of our house: the cracked cast-iron railing, the flaking brownstone, the missing mortar between bricks. What I meant was how the imposing, sometimes dirty, and dinged if not altogether crumbling facades of those Renaissance-era Italian buildings often hid modern and well-decorated interiors (just like ours!) and how that was sort of cool.
She sensed that my over-enthusiasm was just overcompensation and wasn't buying it.
"Yeah, well, you know, Leonardo, the Taos Pueblo is a thousand years old and looks like it was built yesterday because they keep up with the keeping up."
She was right, of course. I once toured the Taos Pueblo, and the guide made a point of saying how the cluster of attached homes looked new because it was often replastered. Our place—from the outside, anyway—wasn't being kept up and did not look so new. In fact, I'm embarrassed to say that unlike the palazzi, which seem uniformly grimy, we had, on the outside anyway, the shabbiest house on the block. See, my neighborhood has had something of a renaissance of the real-estate kind in the past year, and in addition to the Medici-vulgar—things like four-story additions that use full-lot coverage allowances—there has been the elegant: thoughtful facade restorations sensitive to the 19th-century streetscape. We should have done the same. I just didn't want to spend the money.
"Almost derelict," my wife said, shrugging her shoulders as she walked up our dilapidated stairs to the front door. It was clearly time for a makeover. Not a relationship one, I mean a curb-appeal makeover. Perhaps you're in a similar position—not making excuses for how a moldering manse could be thought of as Italo chic, but aware of the need for a front-door face-lift yourself. Enter our cover story, Get More Street Cred. In it you'll find advice from seven smart redos in seven house styles. While my urban Italianate isn't one of them, you'll surely find a style that's a winner—or should I say un vincitore.