In his study in the White House, Abraham Lincoln sat in a threadbare chair. His postmaster general, the former Ohio governor William Dennison Jr. said, “I should think the Presidential chair of the United States might be a better piece of furniture than that.” Lincoln replied, “You think that’s not a good chair, Governor. There are a great many people that want to sit in it, though. I’m sure I’ve often wished some of them had it instead of me!” (That’s from The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden.) Lincoln was famous for being honest and unpretentious, unlike a recent ex-president who was completely dishonest and pretentious.
Beware of pretentiousness in others and in your surroundings. Things that pretend to be something that they’re not are a form of pretentiousness if they are pretending to be something more expensive. Examples are wooden columns that are painted to look like fake stone (They never really look like stone—no matter how well they’re done, they look like fake stone.), exterior walls that look like stucco but are really plastic foam, rails for landscape stairs that are meant to look like carved stone, but are really just plastic. I’ve talked several clients out of going for the new fad of ceramic floor tiles that are meant to look like wood planks. (It so obviously a fad!) One client said, “Well, if I don’t use that, it will have to be vinyl.” I said, “There’s nothing wrong with vinyl—it’s easy to walk on and easy to care for.” (Since I said that, a client sent me this about what’s wrong with vinyl. So now I’ll go back to saying linoleum—that’s what we have in our kitchen and bathroom, and a builder came over last week and raved about how nice it looked. Azrock and Marmoleum are well-respected brands.)
In my new book, Feng Shui for Real Estate, coming later this summer, I caution against fake shutters and fake mullions. Since they’re in and around windows they represent how we see things—windows symbolizing our eyes in feng shui. The more fake stuff in our lives, the less likely we are to notice the difference between lies and truth. Keep it real!