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A Field Guide to Ugly Houses - Gilding the Lily (GTL)

I'm hesitant to even include this category because it seems so mean-spirited.  Gilding the Lily is house-proud gone awry from too much love.  It is  simple said, too much of a good thing.  When I look at these houses I want to go up to them and just snap a few things off, a corbel here, a festooned column capital there.

This a nice house but it careens into the too-cute ditch.  Not to be scrooge, but the holiday wreaths even add to the impression of a house that is a bit too charming for its own good.  A few years from now, if the shingles are allowed to weather to a soft gray, this house may be great.  Right now it's too shiny and new and earnest to feel like a made thing.


This is also a really charming house, a probably late nineteenth century Second Empire building that is a bit too encrusted with multi-painted corbels and trim to allow the original beauty of the house to shine through.  Its not ugly, its just too much.  If you think of a design as a balance between tension and repose, this house is overly caffeinated and is trying too hard to be your friend.

"Old World Charm" is fine enough thing, but it can go too far.  Again the tension/repose balance has been tipped into the overly romantic.  The house seems like it has been staged, not designed and built.  The subterranean drive only conjures up images of tortured visitors sequestered away in the dank dungeon.  "A man's house is his castle" is a a metaphor, not a commandment.

As I said, I feel a little guilty even including this category as each of these homeowners have probably spent considerably time and money on trying to make the best house they possible can.  Who am I to criticize.  But it is a lesson worth remembering, that too-much-of-a-good-thing is an attractive seductress to be avoided.