Unexpected surprises often arise in books-agreed? A recent purchase Small Houses of Distinction edited by Horace Coon-held a Rose of note-Rose Cumming- and her 1660 built baker's house in Southhampton. Rose summered there-and this wonderful book includes her digs in its pages. Coon, writing in 1938, noted Miss Cumming had not altered one of the town's Originals exterior a wit -but inside it was a different story-as one could guess. Of note-however-the interiors are the antithesis of her much admired glamourous lair in the city. Rose remained true to the "Summer in the Hampton's Style" we think of today, in fact with a little dusting off-living well would be as sweet-
Miss Cumming revamped two small rooms to create a large Living Room with sun giving windows on three sides. A "cupboard" became four bathrooms-four? The house deceives. Along with the modern baths, a living room, dining room, a large kitchen, butler's room and pantry, there are two double bedrooms, one upstairs and one down, two small guest rooms and a double room for servants. Maintained and cherished- the hand-hewn wall and ceiling beams are original as are the very wide floor boards.
In the Living Room, Rose lacquered the walls with an apple-green paper and filled the space with comfortable chintz chairs, a Samarkand rug and period furniture. Conjure up colors of gosling, violet and tobacco brown in the rug and chintz chairs for a unique palette that must have been exciting in its day-and a welcome respite from the neutrals that I tire of so in today's magazine interiors. English antiques-Jacobean and Queen Anne add heft to Rose's quirky sophisticated signature colors. The curtains are piped in green and made of a stiff English lining chintz in a gosling color.
A broad fireplace dominates the Living Room. The Queen Anne mirror over the mantel and an old English milking stool create atmospherics- imagine Rose playing milk maid? The andirons are slender reeds made of brass, highly polished no doubt. Rose's porcelain cat licks it paw whilst Rose is a milking.
Canary yellow walls with starched chintz curtains of roses and sweet peas greeted weekend guests in the Dining Room. Windsor chairs surround a simple table and a Jacobean cupboard holds Rose's patterned Staffordshire china in colors of mauve and plum.
In the bedroom an English needlework carpet dominates with its bouquets of blue, apricot and orange in blocks of a peach background. Mellow hewn beams set the color palette here-with curtains and headboard in a yellow chintz Quall pattern. True to form, Rose mixed Queen Anne pieces with sturdy Windsor and Tudor ones.
Seems the perfect vacation spot, citrusy colors, spriggy chintz-and a distinctly unique Rose.