There is nothing worse than a house that is too done up…

‘A house, I know, is but a temporary abode, but how delightful it is to find one that has harmonious proportions and a pleasant atmosphere. One feels somehow that even moonlight, when it shines into the quiet domicile of a person of taste, is more affecting than elsewhere. A house, though it may not be in the current fashion or elaborately decorated, will appeal to us by its unassuming beauty–a grove of trees with an indefinably ancient look; a garden where plants, growing of their own accord, have a special charm; a verandah and an open-work wooden fence of interesting construction; and a few personal effects left carelessly lying about, giving the place an air of having been lived in.’

Yoshida Kenko, Essays in Idleness

There is nothing worse than a house that is too done up and crammed full of stuff. No room in a vast mansion that’s been done up–save the roughly hewn kitchen–invites loitering, loafing, or lingering. The living room is a set piece for a drama never to be filmed; the dining room is a museum without the identifying placards; the bedroom is sanitized of life and eros. Throughout the tour, the guest looks cautiously but has no desire to touch and stay, and moves on hurriedly in hopes of seeing simple natural beauties again. Once outside, he makes haste to stretch his lungs and does a sun salutation without so much as a single thought of embarrassment.

A home–which does not blush in displaying its ‘unassuming beauty,’ whose look, like a grove of trees, is ‘indefinably ancient,’ a place where the occupants can look out freely yet also feel secluded–would produce the desired effect: humility and sensitivity disclosing the inner feel of things.

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