"Many cottage interiors still reveal an enchantingly stubborn rejection of modern standardization in matters of ornament, a marked predilection for exuberant colour, objects crammed closely together, family photographs and pictures of Royalty, national heroes and religious subjects. Mrs. Hockey favours Nelson and, as some unspoilt country people are still wont to do, frightens her grandchildren with threats of Bony. Cottagers consider exposed ceiling beams unsightly and old-fashioned and commonly paper over them, as Mrs. Hockey has done here."
The author's description is as quaint and unspoilt in its own way as the country people, the Cottagers, she portrays and I wonder if it could have been written today.
However, that apart, the accretion of objects on and above that chest of drawers brings to mind how some of today's decorators, celebrity major or minor, that lay layer upon layer, sedimentary as the dust that settles, are unable to leave any surface, horizontal or vertical, unadorned. In the quotation above, clutter, though that word is not used, is seen as a class signifier, a stubborn rejection of modernity to use the author's phrase. If that still holds in today's celebrity-driven market could we still make the same value judgement of cluttered interiors?
The language of design critique once it goes beyond the gushing "I'm loving .... " can be objective but frequently is more of a value judgment - witness my use of the word gushing. It is difficult to separate language from biases and because aesthetic perception is not what one expects of today's writers on design and decoration, it seems to me that there is a need for a fundamental retelling of The Emperor's New Clothes. That is a post for tomorrow or later in the week.
Source: English Cottages and Farmhouses, Olive Cook, 1954.