Out with the Old & In with the Older? by @ginaconkle

Q: When did keeping up appearances mean going back in time?

A: The 18th century.

For the history buffs, today’s post is my siStock_000023210879_Mediumecond on English homes and cottages.

We like to feather our nests, reflecting our style and personality. The 18th century family was no different. Toss in the excess of mercantile wealth and England’s political dominance, and you have people with money to spend.

Remember the Norman arches?

The second half of 18th century England saw a new trend of landlords. Cottage building on their lands became attractive, even picturesque. One fad was to redesign homes and gardens to look like the much admired landscape art that featured long ago eras. False lakes were dug. Hills were moved. Fake Roman and Norman era ruins were constructed. All done to affect the old.

The craze for out-dated things met its match in designer William Kent. Charged with designing part of Kensington Gardens, he planted dead trees to mimic a Salvatore Rosa picture.

If that doesn’t have you shaking your head, this will. Well-to-do country squire, Charles Hamilton of Painshill, hired a hermit to live in an old thatched cottage in the woods. The hermit’s duties? Keep his hermitage clean and sit at the door with a book in hand whenever the squire had visitors venturing near
51oXRBeHIfL._SX382_BO1,204,203,200_the woods.

Builder James Malton kept the fad going with his Essay on British Cottage Architecture (1798). He studied cottage architecture and the effects of time on those buildings. Malton rebuilt cottages for simple country folk and as retreats for the wealthy. But, he made the new look old.

Malton’s cottages featured uneven walls, unmatching colors and textures outside, and jutting booksgables and windows lacking symmetry. Talk about careful attention to make things look bad. You might guess his work wouldn’t pass muster with modern day building inspectors.

Every era has its quirks and eccentricities. Fashion just rolls that way.


Now it’s your turn. What home design fashion trend (in history or modern times) gives you a laugh?

Follow Gina Conkle:

A writer of Viking and Georgian romance with a softly sensual side, Gina loves history, books and romance…the perfect recipe for historical romance writer. Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations. When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found delving into the latest adventures in cooking, gardening, and chauffeuring her sons.

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12 Responses

  1. jessicajefferson

    So, I’m guessing one day the tiny houses trend will keep people guessing. I keep picturing an archeological dig in a few hundred years where people find both sprawling 15000 square foot homes and then 300 square feet tiny houses – what are they going to think?

    • ginaconkle2013

      The pendulum has swung from the McMansion to the “hut.” We are a dichotomy, aren’t we? When I first got married, we started micro-small and grew into bigger. Looking to the future, we’re thinking smaller now. So, funny trends and changing times.

    • ginaconkle2013

      Cottage says homey and quaint. I love ’em, too!

  2. dholcomb1

    there’s no pretty way to disguise an above ground pool–not knocking them, always had one growing up. But when some people try, lol, it’s just sad. let it be.


    • ginaconkle2013

      We like our creature comforts and fun. They don’t have to be pretty…just functional.

  3. Victoria Vane

    Do you remember the popularity of the English Tudor style homes in the 1970’s? I used to LOVE them. Now they look so dated!

    • ginaconkle2013

      Yes! Like the 1970s Mexican hacienda trend in southern California. We lived in a Mexican-style home along with several hundred others in suburbia!

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Maggi,
      You’re making me think of the “The Shire” in Lord of the Rings. Those homes and the pretty gardens…so idyllic.

  4. Barbara Monajem

    There are a lot of 60’s style ranch homes where I live, and I think they’re mostly pretty ugly. However, they must have been trendy back then! I look at some of the cute new houses and wonder when I’ll suddenly think they’re not so nice after all. So weird how fashions change, but even weirder how we’re so powerfully affected by them.

    • ginaconkle2013

      Hi Barbara,
      I know what you mean! I remember my mom gushing over our brand new 1974 Mexican-style home in a brand new subdivision. She soon changed from loving earth tones and the hacienda trend. As for me, I’m learning to value space more (indoor and outdoor).