Monday, 22 February 2021

Two of a Kind

Recently, whilst watching a dramatisation on YouTube of Henry James's splendid novel, 'The Spoils of Poynton', we rather delighted in Mrs. Gereth's somewhat disparaging remark, "Not a double door in sight."

Double doors leading from the Drawing Room

Now, we should not wish to boast, nor indeed resort to hyperbole, but the fact remains that we are, to paraphrase Mrs. Bennet and to continue in a literary frame, "in possession of" seven sets of double doors.

Such good fortune, if it can be seen as such, arises from the expansion of Budapest during the late C19 when, following The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 which re-established, albeit partially, the former sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hungary, the city fathers sought, through somewhat grandiose projects, to rival the street architecture of not only Vienna but also of Berlin and Paris.

Andrássy út, Budapest, 1896, courtesy of Wikipedia

Today, living off Andrássy út, a principal boulevard set to equal the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and lined with Neo-Renaissance mansions and townhouses, we are the beneficiaries of such early town planning and are able to enjoy ornate plasterwork, etched glass, shuttered casement windows, enfilade rooms and, of course, double doors! 

Original Victorian stove in the Dining Room

What attracted us to the apartment, some twenty years ago, was not, it has to be said, the disrepair, even wanton destruction of the Socialist years (as the Communist period is now referenced), the evidence of multiple occupancy by five families, but beneath the layers of crudely applied paint, the gas pipes hammered against the walls, the festoons of wires and cables, the broken panelling and patched parquet, something worthy of restoration could be detected for there, concealed in dust and detritus, were the splendours of a bygone age.

Pier glass and fitted furniture in the Main Hall

So, today we relish the detail to be found in solid brass window catches and door furniture, in carefully carved wood, in ceiling roses, in original pier glass, in fixtures and fittings, all now over 150 years old, and of soaring ceiling heights and, of course, double doors!

Architectural details around the apartment

However, this is not to disregard, or disrespect, those for whom this period, this style, remains anathema. Those who cherish the run down farmhouse, those who favour the Spanish hacienda, the convenience of the bungalow residence, the cosiness of the thatched cottage, the reassurance of Tudorbethan or the modernity of the converted loft apartment. Each to his or her own!

We, unlike Mrs. Gereth, are prepared to concede on every point. But we do have double doors!! 

106 comments:

  1. It does all look very attractive. Are you able to keep your apartment warm in Winter? I always thinl of Budapest as being a cold city in Winter.

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    1. Dear Pat,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      It is a very good question. Winters are generally harsh here in Budapest. Indeed, just a few days ago, an all time low of -35C [yes, that is not a typing error] was recorded in the Hungarian countryside.

      However, our apartment is centrally heated and the heating goes on in October and stays on, 24 hours per day, until it goes off, usually in March. If Mr Putin is kind enough to keep the gas flowing [in one year not so long ago, it was switched off], then not only is the apartment beautifully warm with its double glazing and very thick walls, but it is very inexpensive to heat. Indeed, every building in Budapest that one visits in Winter is warm, no matter the size. We have always marvelled at that.

      In England it is quite a different story....

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  2. I can certainly see and appreciate the beauty in many types of buildings and of homes. Yours is absolutely lovely! What care and artistry was taken in the building of it. And how wonderful you did the work to bring it back to glory.

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    1. Dear Mary,

      Thank you for your kind and generous comment.

      The building in its entirety is on a grand scale as it was built originally as an 'apartment house' containing several apartments for other members of the owner's family or servants or to rent out. Ours was built by a rich wine and spirit merchant in 1870.

      The apartment was in a terrible state when we bought it, but that added to the romance of it all at the time. That soon faded when we realised just how much work had to be done but we were extremely fortunate to find talented workmen who could bring the place to life again.

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  3. Splendid details! And you didn't even mention the overdoors. (Which look to be a bit scandalous? Are they original to the place?) And as in the entry hall, such wonderful paint color choices.

    Our house was built in 1908, and though much less grand than your lovely apartment - the word "enfilade" fairly makes me swoon - we are so grateful that all the moldings and paneled doors, the pillars that mark the transition to the dining room, are intact. Before we bought this place, the first ten years of our marriage were spent in an apartment that more resembles an American version of yours. Built in 1912, I believe. The same very high ceilings, moldings upon moldings, etc. We only had one set of double doors, but we had a pair of quite vast "pocket doors" between the drawing room and the dining room. They must have been incredibly heavy and it was a wonder that they still functioned perfectly.

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    1. Darling Stephen,

      Thank you for your kind and generous comment.

      As our apartment was, in fact, the apartment owned by the original owner of the building it is fortunate to have much more elaborate architectural details than many other apartments in the building.

      As nearly all the double doors had detailing over them, we commissioned 'overdoors' to be painted by Máté Orr for the two pairs of double doors in the Drawing Room. They are trompe l'oeil hermaphrodite wolves as we thought to have something slightly shocking to amuse our guests. :):)

      The 'enfilade 'arrangement gives for such wonderful vistas through the apartment and is so good for parties when everywhere can be opened up and people can flow from room to room.

      Your own house sounds fascinating and we do so hope that it may feature in a future post. To have a wealth of original features is precious indeed. So many people rip these out and it takes the very heart out of a room in our view.

      The 'pocket doors' sound very splendid. As many apartments were divided up in Communist times, one can often see very grand double doors in some apartments which, sadly, when opened, reveal a brick wall.

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  4. Your double doors are extremely elegant, designed to be opened with a flourish so that you can make a grand entrance into the room!

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    1. Darling Sue,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Yes, you have got the picture exactly. Now, all we need is a butler!

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  5. Hello Jane and Lance, By a coincidence I recently reread The Spoils of Poynton, and was reflecting how close Henry James got to writing a comedy, with the manipulative Mrs. Gereth. It's kind of a shame, but still I'll take James any way he decides to write.

    My own apartment has no double doors, but all of the floors are marble checkerboard (a different pattern in the bedrooms), which is especially impressive in the large adjacent living and dining rooms--certainly the apartment's best feature.
    --Jim

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    1. Darling Jim,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Mrs. Gereth certainly is a fascinating character and was well played by Pauline Jameson in the dramatisation.It is well worth watching if you have a mind to revisit it again. And, how right you are. Almost a comedy but not quite. Perfectly judged.

      Your marble chequered floors sound wonderful. And, so practical as well as beautiful. Perfect for dancing on at parties! We do hope to see them featured in a future post.

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  6. Your apartment looks absolutely beautiful, and one to which I confess I would aspire if I had the means. Alas, a small, practical bungalow is now on my horizon but I can still dream.

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    1. Darling JC,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      A practical bungalow which we know you will fill with your most treasured possessions sounds like it will become a delightful and welcoming home. Your long awaited move will be the start of a new era and we trust that it will be filled with happiness.

      And, how wonderful that we can all dream and take ourselves wherever we might wish to go in our imaginations. Fortunately, we can keep the apartment warm since it is miserable to be cold.In our small house in England, almost the same age as our Budapest apartment we are permanently freezing. Not built with harsh winters in mind.

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  7. Dear readers of Jane and Lance, be assured it truly is a magnificent apartment, full of beautiful architectural features. . . . . and of course astounding art and incredible furniture collections. I fell in love with it.

    Dear ones - glad you are staying warm and cozy. We are too, with a cheery wood fire on the hearth nightly now we stay home 24/7, along with the almost silent heating system (we had a completely new heating/aircon system installed 18 mths ago, thankfully). But, chilly or not we'd come back to Budapest in a heart beat if possible!

    Enjoy the week.
    Mary xx

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    1. Darling Mary,

      Thank you so much for your most kind and generous comment.

      Of course nothing would delight us more than to greet you at the hall door, fling open the double doors, pour glasses of Hungarian champagne and laugh the night away. this may be a way off at the moment, but it will come.

      How fortunate to have had the heating system sorted before the pandemic took hold. A blessing indeed and we are similarly thankful for a new lining installed in the chimney which, after two years, was finally completed.

      Take great care and stay safe. J and L xx

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  8. Dear Hattatts,
    I am happy to announce that we have several sets of double doors.
    Our house is fairly young but a handy antiques store provided us with many double doors. One set are ballroom doors from the venerable Hotel Utah.
    Loved reading your story and wondered who did all the work.

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    1. Darling Gina,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We are delighted to hear of your double doors and are particularly intrigued by the ballroom doors from the Hotel Utah. We can imagine them swinging open to reveal a dance floor suited to the most fabulous parties. Indeed, post-pandemic parties will be all the rage and your ballroom doors will be swinging open constantly.

      A small army of people did all the work. They were with us for six months and, at the peak, numbered 15. They were found via the owner of an electrical shop. We went along there to ask if an electrician could be found to do extensive rewiring. Mrs 10% as we called her owned the shop and said she could provide every kind of worker. This she did, including a glass engraver to copy the broken glass in the windows of the Outer Hall. And, she charged 10% of the work prices. A bargain!

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  9. We only have our central heating on for 3 hours in the morning and then 6 hours in the evening but we do have a wood fire as well during the day. The coldest it has been here I think was in our garage a few years back when the thermometer reading was -18C. Certainly a lot warmer than Budapest would be.
    Keep warm and stay safe, Diane.

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    1. Dear Diane,

      Thank you for your comment.

      In our house in England we are rarely warm except at the peak of summer or when we have a roaring open fire. In Budapest, the double glazing everywhere and thick walls makes heat retention far more efficient.

      And, the cost of heating in England we find astronomical compared with Budapest.

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  10. Not a single double door in sight in this modest flat of mine, and there are quite a few things I‘d rather like to be different about it, but it is mine - and my home. Also, when I bought it, it was the most reasonable place within my very limited budget. And of course, it suits me in so many respects: within easy walking distance to my parents, to my sister, to the train station, shops, cocktail bars and pubs of my town; last but not least, the palace grounds and the deer park. Isn‘t it wonderful when our home does all that for us? I know I am very lucky!
    If I remember correctly, I read The Spoils of Poynton following a recommendation of yours, some years ago. Must have a look at my own review.

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    1. Darling Meike,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Double doors are not needed to make a house into a home. And, whatever, as you write, we must all count our blessings to have a home at all when so many in the world do not.

      The reasons for making a house feel like home are, we think, as varied as the people who live in them. The factors that are essential to some are absolutely inconsequential to others. As you say, it is wonderful when we can live somewhere which fulfils so many important requirements. Your apartment sounds to be perfectly placed and, looking at the wonderful walks that are within easy reach of you, makes it a perfect place to be in these times of confinement.

      We may well have recommended 'The Spoils of Poynton' previously since we are great admirers of Henry James. However, we rarely find dramatisations of our favourite novels to our liking but, in this case, we were pleasantly surprised.

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  11. Your home is indeed quite beautiful. I have always admired the classic styles of the past centuries. The woodwork alone is something you rarely see in new homes today. I imagine it is wonderful living in such a beautiful home.

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    1. Darling Bonnie,

      Thank you for your most generous comment.

      Hungary is quite a strange country to live in but we feel blessed to have such elegant surroundings in which to spend these lockdown days and nights.

      New homes can be lacking in the details which make a difference to a room but we fail to understand why so many people who move into a period property rip out the very details that, presumably, attracted them to buy it in the first place.And, we really must not get started on plastic windows....

      We are quite traditional in our tastes but we also enjoy adding some contemporary elements just to mix things up a little bit.

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  12. double doors open up a room to the next and make for good visitor circulation, not to mention the added benefit of appreciating their construction details; I am imagining interior double doors being flung open for a grand and dramatic entrance; then the double doors to the exterior flinging the open to let in an afternoon breeze, and then double windows to let in the fragrance of a jasmine in bloom or to spy on a passerby below walking in the cobble stone street

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    1. Darling Linda,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, we would agree that double doors really make a big difference to the flexibility of rooms, making them open and airy in the summer months and allowing for a more intimate warmth in winter.

      And, as for flinging open windows to spy on the comings and goings on the street below....how well you know us!

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  13. What a wonderful post - I always admire your beautiful home while recognising it is not quite for me. My friends have a magnificent old farmhouse in France and it too has double doors - thickly patinated in green, gold, red, hints of blue - generations of history in two panels of wood.

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    1. Darling Mark,

      Thank you for your comment.

      It is the differing mixtures of tastes and styles that we all have that makes for interest in life. How good it is that we all like something different.

      Your friends' house in France sounds wonderful and we love the thought of layers of history revealing themselves in paint colours on the doors. One can just imagine the fashions changing over the years and the doors that have opened and closed on many an occasion. Such stories they could tell....



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  14. The spoils of Poynton was heavy going for me, largely because of Mrs Gereth. An earlier commenter looked on her as a possibly comic figure, and maybe I'd do better with that in mind.

    I love your home and the history which goes with it. I've experienced similar, not as well restored, apartments in Paris, Blvd Malesherbes I think, where I worked as an au pair. My room was way up under the roof with a great view.

    Seeing the tall windows and doors was like a trigger of memory. I expect there were double doors and certainly in the home of my employer's parents, complete with uniformed maid serving at table and correcting the family she'd known since they were kids.

    What I wonder I'd: what are the characteristic smells of your building? French old places have a distinctive mixture of food and history and weathered building materials.

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    1. Darling Liz,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      One has to be in the mood for Henry James we feel since he can be difficult to digest. But, he is a favourite of ours and we were intrigued to see how well the dramatisation was carried out. We have to say that we were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it very much. You might like to give it a try.

      It is interesting that you should make comparisons with Paris. Budapest is often used as a film set in the place of Paris....similar styles of architecture and less expensive to film in Hungary.

      The world over restorations can be of varying degrees of success. However, we do despair at the huge quantities of original windows and doors that we see thrown out into skips in the name of modernisation. So sad.

      The characteristic smells of this building relate to cooking. Thankfully, this is a house in which people live rather than rent out the property to tourists. So Paprikás csirke [chicken paprika] if often on the menu in this building.:):)

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  15. Restoring your apartment to its original splendor must have been a huge task, but the results are beautiful.

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    1. Darling Linda,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, it was indeed a mammoth task. We were young and foolish. It helps!

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  16. Double doors are meant to be swished through in a floaty dress I feel. Love them.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Darling Briony,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We can just imagine you swishing your way through one set of double doors followed by another. And, how delightful that would be.Alas, floaty dresses are in short supply here....but now you have planted the seed of an idea!

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  17. Dear Jane & Lance - how fortunate that so much of the original splendour of your apartment remained thus enabling you to have it successfully refurbished.
    I can only claim one set of double doors although I have been considering having a double entrance doorway fitted to the entrance porch.

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    1. Darling Rosemary,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Yes, the presence of so many of the original features and architectural details were the attractions for us to buy the apartment. We hardly spared a thought to the vast amount of work needed and the length of time that it would all take. Still, sometimes it is good not to think too hard before jumping in.

      Oh yes, double doors on the entrance porch. We love that idea. Indeed, we quite like the idea of squeezing double doors into small spaces since they seem to make the space bigger. Friends of ours changed the single door into their galley kitchen in Brighton into a pair of doors and it made the world of difference.

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  18. Ahh the glorious architecture and interiors of C19 Budapest apartments. The generously high ceilings, rich period features, and yes double doors are just so sumptuous. Back in 2017 we looked at apartments in District 2 and 5, intent of finding an alternative home but with Brexit uncertainty, went for Margate instead. The desire is still there and still on the cards, even if it means just staying in shorter bursts.

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    1. Darlings,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Well, we do so hope that you will not give up the search. How wonderful that you have considered Budapest. District 2 is on the Buda side where one is likely to have at least a share of a garden whilst district 5 is in the heart of the 'Downtown' in Pest where everything really happens. A registration process [not so easy but there are people to help] can secure residency for five year periods at a time, so there are ways of being here beyond Brexit.

      But, Margate is a great choice and we are sure that one can also find houses with fabulous period features there. And, of course, there is the sea. In landlocked Hungary we so miss the sea.

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  19. Its restoration, style and decoration does you both great credit. I've never thought about double doors and they do add a sense of spaciousness.

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    1. Darling Andrew,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Well, double doors can be looked upon as a single door chopped in half. Friends of ours in Brighton did just that to their kitchen door and it made a huge difference.

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  20. My father bought one of my aunts a house circa 1900. It had two front rooms that went the width of the house. Between the two rooms was a curious wall that appeared to be solid wood carved panels and double doors with tiny panes. The entire wall could be folded away to each side, turning those front rooms into a mini ballroom! It was lovely. Your home is splendid!

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    1. Darling Holly,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      We love the sound of your aunt's house and the folding wall. A great idea for adding flexibility to a room since the separation can be in place as required and, as you say, when folded back, the entire space opens up for large gatherings.

      We do find it useful as well as practical to be able to open up the rooms or close them off according to mood, season or use. It makes for easy entertaining that is for sure.

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  21. Darlings Jane and Lance,

    The vistas into your apartment are breathtaking! A grand restoration, indeed. The hard work hardly bears contemplation but it must have been so much fun to see your dreams become reality. And commissioned trompe l'oeil? What a divine undertaking!

    I'm pleased to read you are toasty against the fearsome cold. Our, by comparison, pared & modern Art Deco apartment, which we adore, also has central heating. Yes, winter in Sydney is a thing! It keeps us nicely comfortable between April and October against the rare plunging nighttime temperatures of around 8C - and no, that is not a typing error, haha!

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    1. Darling Pip,

      Thank you so much for your kind and generous comment.

      The initial restoration involved incredibly long and filthy work but we were very fortunate to have very good workmen across a range of trades who really did a great job. There are still, thankfully, craftspeople to be found who can do wonderful restoration work.

      Oh, there are many times when we dream of a pared down Art Deco apartment but we just do not seem able to part with the many things which would need to go. And, Sydney, with its beaches and marvellous weather. 8C is positively sweltering!!!

      We fear that we are always dreaming up projects for the highly talented artist and friend, Máté Orr. The over door panels were the first of this kind that he had ever painted. They are entirely flat, it is just the paint that gives them the bas-relief look, complete with classical landscape in the background.

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  22. The homes of the Nouveau Riche of that same era in this country featured grand details such as double doors. Fitted furniture I've never seen, but I'm sure it exists, too. There were many such mansions along Cleveland's most wealthy neighborhood, Euclid Avenue. When I was a college student there in the sixties, many of these homes were torn down, after the interiors were sold for architectural salvage. I walked past a house under demolition, and near the curb was a glass doorknob. Round glass, like a witch's ball. I installed the doorknob on the patio doors of my first home. I always wondered if the second owners treasured them as I did.

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    1. Darling Joanne,

      Thank you for your most interesting comment.

      We were intrigued to read more about the Euclid Avenue houses and did not realise the extent of magnificent houses which were built there. It is reported that in its heyday it was one of the most beautiful streets in the world and, yet, so few now survive. This is so sad. Perhaps the Allen-Sullivan house, at least will be saved.

      And, how generous of you to have left the glass doorknob, such a welcome and serendipitous find. We have to say that we should have been tempted to keep it and replace it with something else. But, yes, let us hope that the new owners are treasuring it.

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  23. What incredibly beautiful architectural structure and details you have in your apartment! Not a double door in sight in my world either, sadly....unless you are generous enough to include the patio doors leading outside which I swear each winter I will do away with given the cold and draft they allow to enter. And there is certainly nothing grand or elegant about them. I don't believe I have seen architecture the like of yours since I lived in Madrid and was able to travel a bit throughout Europe. I truly love all styles and representations you mention, but none are quite so noble as the elegant beauty and venerable dignity your apartment exudes. Thank you so very much for the peek inside! ~Robin~

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    1. Darling Robin,

      Thank you so much for your kind and generous comment.

      We feel privileged to be the guardians of this apartment, trying to maintain it for future generations. However, most likely, modernisers will not appreciate the floors which need polishing and the general level of constant maintenance that an old building needs.

      We have never visited Madrid. Indeed, we have to confess that we have yet to visit Spain, but we are certain that, like you, we would certainly enjoy discovering its art and architecture.

      What is so surprising about the apartment is its practicality. The high ceilings provide not only a wonderful feeling of spaciousness, but, in summer, give an airiness to the rooms which is very welcome, especially as we do not have [or need, particularly] air conditioning. The wooden floors are warm in winter and cool in summer and the double glazed windows cut out noise from the street, exclude draughts and keep in the heat. Indeed, with the fitted shutters, there is no need for curtains. So, all in all, very modern building requirements were met in these latter days of the C19 in these Budapest apartments.

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  24. What a wonderful old apartment you found, and how beautifully it has been restored. The double doors are magnificent, and one can imagine them opening with quite a flourish. Alas, we have no double doors in our Australian Federation style home, but we do love our high ceilings, our lovely ceiling roses and cornices. Love the blue walls in your Drawing room, and the Victorian stove, so elegant. Thank you for showing us around.

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    1. Darling Patricia,

      Thank you for your kind and generous comment.

      We did look for many months to find this apartment. We knew what we were looking for but it was incredibly difficult to find and, now, it would be near impossible. We wanted somewhere unrestored and in its original form and those two requirements were problematic.

      In Communist times, many large apartments were subdivided in the most crude ways. Interior doors were blocked up and exterior doors were added by simply hacking through walls. Our apartment had been lived in by five families so the wear and tear was incredible without even mentioning the pet animals. They were just at the point of burning the panelling when we arrived so our workmen were able to copy the design in order to fill in the gaps.

      The colour of our Drawing Room walls is 'Manor House Grey' by Farrow and Ball. It does look blue in some lights and, indeed, changes colour throughout the day and at different times of the year. We love that.

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  25. After many years in modern houses we moved to a penthouse in a grade 2 listed building and are now the proud owners of 2 sets of double doors. One set into the lounge the other set exactly opposite across the hall into the kitchen so we can be open plan or private as required. Sometimes it’s good to have other people’s choices forced on you, things I would never have considered now delight me, it’s never too late to learn.

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    1. Darling Jenny,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We understand completely what you mean here. When we moved from our C18 cottage to a modern apartment in a Danish architect designed building on the Thames in London, the change could have hardly been more drastic. But, the new environment was inspiring and dictated much of what we chose as furnishings.

      Your new apartment sounds wonderful and, as a penthouse, hopefully you have wide ranging views which can really make a difference to the whole ambience of a place. As you say, the opening and closing of the doors can make a great impact on the rooms and the spaces which are opened up or closed, giving welcome flexibility in the use of space.

      No, it is never too late to learn new tricks in anything. And, it can be a welcome surprise to change one's style every now and then.

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  26. It is wonderful to see a building that has been restored so beautifully and retains the splendour of its age. One can imagine the swishing silks against those doors!
    "The Spoils of Poynton" is my next in line viewing delight and have discovered all sorts of forgotten gems over lockdown, including the wonderful "Citadel" and the brilliant ,shocking, "Therese Raquin".

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    1. Darling Deborah,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Yes, we do often wonder just exactly what went on inside these rooms in years gone by. We do know that, at one point, the apartment had literary connections with the owners running a private printing press. So, perhaps to some extent, it might explain why we feel so happy here.

      We can definitely recommend the dramatised version of 'The Spoils of Poynton'. As you say, lockdown has provided us with many opportunities to scour YouTube and there are some real gems out there. We can recommend subscription to 'Daisy Mason' who seems to specialise in period dramas and 'Amazing British Crime Dramas' or 'ABCD' who uploads some classic crime related television series. As we have not owned a television for more than 40 years, we can now catch up with what we have missed.

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  27. Mrs Gereth might have whispered, "They had to buy all their own furniture, you know". In Havana, you see whole families' washing hanging out on the balconies of grand but crumbling old Colonial town houses.

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    1. Darling Tom,

      Thank you so much for your delightfully witty comment.

      Mrs. Gereth might well have been capable of saying such a thing but, we should have responded that it has all been 'preloved' in an attempt to shock or confuse. Indeed, we are not entirely certain that we know the meaning of 'preloved' ourselves but believe it to be modern and indicating that we are, so to speak, in the "swing of things". Either that or we have simply lost the plot!

      We should love to visit Havana and have been enthralled by tales of the place by those fortunate to have been there. The two currencies, the faded grandeur, yes, we should love all that to be sure. And, rather like Budapest, we feel that there would be the everyday touch of people actually living in these houses instead of them being museum pieces. Here carpets are regularly beaten in the courtyard and bedding hung over railings to air.

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  28. Wonderful photographs. You live in a lovely apartment. You should have your own television series. I would love to fly south to the Algarve for the winter. Maybe one day soon.

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    1. Darling dave,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      We are delighted that you have enjoyed the photographs which for some reason were very problematic to take. Somehow, we took an entire morning trying to get the images we wanted, just with an i-phone, the light seemed to be playing tricks.

      Portugal is a country we have never visited but should very much like to do so. Lisbon is easily reached from Budapest and we are interested to know more about the art and architecture of what looks to be a most attractive city.

      As for a television series, well, as we have no television, we are not entirely certain what kind of 'show' we might feature on. In the good old days of gardening, we did feature on 'Gardener's World' one year with Roy Lancaster. Such a performance. One cannot believe the number of people and cameras and lengths of electric cable which are needed to make a few minutes of television!

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  29. One normally thinks of wide avenues and careful town planning as happening only in modern cities. Yet your top photo shows that Andrássy út was absolutely equal to Champs-Élysées. Better still, how elegant those Neo-Renaissance mansions and townhouses were.

    Was there heritage protection guaranteeing the preservation of Andrássy út and its architecture?

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    1. Darling Hels,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Andrássy út is a world heritage UNESCO protected site and so has been largely well preserved. When we first came to Budapest, the houses were nearly all black from air pollution and neglect of 100 years, but they are now largely restored to their former glories. Some have become hotels but others have remained, as intended, as apartment houses. Mid way along the street is the magnificent Opera House which adds a majesty of its own.

      Rather perversely, we have to say that when the buildings were blackened, there was an air of mystery and a deep and dark past about them. We felt as if we were in an episode of 'The Third Man' and could even here the theme tune playing along!

      Delete
  30. I adore grand old living spaces and your apartment is wonderful. Full of life and beautiful things.

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    1. Dear jean,

      Thank you so much for your kind comment.

      there are many such buildings in Budapest, especially on the Pest side of the Danube but there is a difficulty in obtaining an apartment that is as it was built originally rather than having been chopped up. Whilst accepting that providing accommodation is always needed, one cannot help but feel that building new, modern and efficient homes would, at least in part, have been preferable to simply hacking up one apartment to make two or three in its place, thereby ruining the architecture completely.

      Delete
  31. I have no further need for double doors since I gave up wearing crinoline... Jx

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    Replies
    1. Darling Jon,

      Thank you for your comment which caused us much amusement.

      Well, we too have found that lockdown does not really call for crinoline but, of course, we must all be prepared for the post pandemic parties to come. Then, the double doors will be swung open in style!

      Your invitation is in the post....

      Delete
  32. Clever you two, to see the gleam of gold among the dross and bring back the style and elgance of that apartment.
    We saw one of the old coffee baron houses in San Jose of similar style, well chopped up into interlocking dens, but could not persuade one of the several owners to sell...I pass it from time to time and wonder about hiring a hitman.
    The last house in France had double doors...any number of them...amazing how useful they are when renovating or moving furniture!

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    Replies
    1. Darling Helen,

      Thank you for your kind and generous comment.

      We were young and foolish at the time of the apartment purchase so that can probably explain why we ever felt that this project would be a good idea. But, it turned out well, mainly because the workmen were fabulous. It may be rather different these days since skilled craftspeople seem to be thin on the ground.

      We can picture in our minds an old coffee baron house and can well imagine that we should have been tempted to buy it too. Hiring a man and a gun seems a somewhat desperate measure but these are strange times so drastic action might well be needed. Perhaps just check to count the double doors first.... caveat emptor!

      We would entirely agree with you about the practicality of double doors. Getting a baby grand piano up the staircase was one thing but, without the double doors it would have had to remain outside on the landing!!

      Delete
  33. It looks like the Queen's living quarters at Buckingham Palace, minus the gaudy ornaments. I haven't been blessed with double doors, unless you count the French windows that lead out into the garden, I'll get the maid to announce me the next time I go out there.

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    Replies
    1. Darling Mitzi,

      Thank you for your kind and generous comment.

      We are particularly grateful that in so generously likening our rooms to those at BP you make careful mention of our lack of gaudy ornaments. Of course, we have hidden the lava lamps, fake plants and tupperware for the photographs. Normal life will be resumed as soon as possible.

      Envy is a terrible thing but we must confess that talk of French windows has made us just slightly envious. Of course, they are the most sublime form of 'double doors', enticing one to slip through them and out into the garden. Alas, we are two floors up, so tripping out through our windows, even though they are all double, would be a rather messy business.

      And, how perfectly wonderful to have a maid. We have not seen the like since the war....but, to announce or not to announce....well, that is the question.

      Delete
  34. I recognise that photo of Andrassy Street and stopping for a mulled wine in a small, dark wine bar on the way to the Opera House (to see a ballet) one cold January evening four or five years ago. Your apartment is overflowing with double doors. I have lived in places with one set or even two but you have many. Good for moving large pieces of furniture from room to room and in and out.

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    Replies
    1. Darling Rachel,

      Thank you for your comment.

      It could have been a real possibility that our paths may have crossed in a small dark wine bar on the way to the Opera House and even more of a possibility that we may have met in a small dark wine bar on the way from the Opera House. :):)

      We have seen many wonderful productions at the Opera House and we do miss it dearly. It has been closed for renovations for years now and we cannot wait to be there once more. We do hope that you enjoyed the ballet, a favourite on the repertoire is 'Onegin'.

      There are indeed seven sets of double doors in the apartment. We are not sure what the collective term may be but, perhaps, a corridor of doors might be a good description for them. They are very practical and, as you say, are perfect when large pieces of furniture, especially the piano, needs to be moved. However, we have to say that we do not like to move the furniture once it is in position. This is just one of several idiosyncrasies we have....

      Delete
    2. I wasn't thinking of you yourselves changing furniture from room to room but speaking hypothetically. I also do not move furniture around however I did have cause to move one chair to another room when I created a summer sitting room in my house and all that was missing was a chair to sit on. I took one from the living room and had to have help manoeuvring it from one room to the other, double doors not being part of my interior.

      Delete
    3. Dear Rachel,

      A summer sitting room sounds absolutely delightful. We should certainly have been fired up to move a chair to create it. Indeed, only this past weekend, we had cause to move our long awaited bookcase [even longer story] from the pavement outside our building up five flights of stairs to our apartment. In spite of seven sets of double doors we almost killed ourselves. Be assured, that bookcase will NEVER move again [or, at least, not by us].

      Delete
  35. What great detail and love those double doors! Janice

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    Replies
    1. Dear Janice,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, the double doors were part of our love at first sight of the apartment.

      Delete

  36. Living “Down Under” I am always late to the party, but I wanted to share some thoughts on domestic heating. I lived for 4 years in Vienna (not so far from you!) where our apartment block was heated with the output from a garbage recycling plant. This seemed a clever idea in the late 80’s but it doesn’t seem to have taken off. Imagine when I arrived in Australia in July 1990 and found myself always cold indoors. No-one seemed to find it necessary to heat their homes. Indeed, houses were built with the prime function of keeping out the summer sun. Winter could take take of itself.

    For a few years, my partner and I had a beach house with a beautiful wood-burning stove. How I miss those cosy evenings by the fire! Days were spent chopping wood and carting it to appropriate storage: a labour of love. Nowadays, I live in a modern apartment which faces West. I am tormented by the setting sun, which makes the balcony uninhabitable for 4 hours each day in summer. I thought it would be a perfect solution, but you just can’t win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Margaret,

      Thank you for your comment, no matter the time of day or night!

      How interesting about the heating system in Vienna. In many ways, we also marvel at how advanced some aspects of this C19 building are compared with modern standards. Certainly, there is a thought about winter heating, recognising the sub zero temperatures. The stoves in every room would have warmed the place beautifully and would still work if we chose to use them.

      Your beach house sounds to have been wonderful. That is the stuff of dreams for us as we do love the sea and miss it very much in landlocked Hungary. But, how right you are that there are always problems wherever one finds oneself. In summer here in Budapest, temperatures may soar to 40C so we are pleased that we do not face south.

      Delete
  37. I sometimes shop at IKEA (maybe unknown to you?). They have a saying "Love where you live". A recipe for happiness?

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    1. Darling Margaret,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, we do know of IKEA [pronounced as if it has an o at the end in Hungarian] and there are two very large stores in Budapest. These are destinations of delight for Hungarians who appreciate the range of goods on offer and stylish chic at affordable prices. What we wonder is whether the customers realise that in many instances they could buy real wood furniture at even cheaper prices in second hand furniture stores that would last a lifetime. Still, the glassware is very good value.

      However, we do love the motto of "love where you live" since the reassurance and comfort of a happy home is one of life's most important treasures.

      And, still on the topic of IKEA, a designer friend of ours who decorates for some extremely discerning clients, often 'upgrades' IKEA items with certain touches. It is amazing what a difference a painted lampshade can make on a lamp or a regiment of glass tea light holders with candles on all the steps of a stone staircase. Magic!

      Delete
  38. Replies
    1. Dear Sonia,


      Thank you for your comment.

      We try our best!

      Delete
  39. It is all about the details and it's the reason I love period architecture so much. It is the time, skill and love that has gone into the carving of those exquisite features that rarely exists today and as such must be preserved at all costs. You were fortunate so many of the original features survived, in so many buildings they must surely have been lost.
    I do envy you the space, thatched cottages do indeed tend toward the cosy size. There is one doorway here that is so low even I have to bend almost double to get through it. And I am only 5'1"!!

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    1. Darling Jessica,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      We do so agree that the devil is indeed in the details. It is unbelievable how many wonderful items are simply tossed into skips here in Budapest. Doors, windows, parquet floors etc.etc. We constantly say how these would all be treasured as architectural antiques in the UK and cost thousands but here they are discarded in favour of everything new. It is so sad.

      As you say, we were so lucky to find an apartment with so many original features still in tact. We looked for months and lost count of the number of apartments we looked at. But, finally, the right thing came along and, three days later it was ours. The buying process is very rapid here.

      Your own house more than makes up for the low beams with your own wonderfully individual style and, of course, your fabulous garden. Variety is the spice of life and a home will always be where the heart is!

      Delete
  40. My dearest Jane and Lance,

    I do love the title of this post - "Two of a Kind" - very witty indeed. I haven't read Henry James for awhile and as you said rightly in one of your replies, his novels call for a total concentration. I find his earlier works (such as The Europeans, 1878) are easier to read than the novels from his middle and later period. I read "The Spoils of Poynton" many years ago, and I admire the way James puts his characters into a moral dilemma and how they try to find resolution after a conflict. I find Fleda Vetch character quite problematic as she strikes me as someone who you need to sit down with a sheet of paper with two columns saying; here are the pros and here are the cons, and yet, she is absolutely torn to make a decision despite her intelligence and intuitive nature. I suppose that James makes a point that life is not as straightforward as we assume even if we try to be analytical; being ruled by our heads rather than our hearts. In the end, a true friendship lasts and survives much longer than the material wealth.

    I think that your beautiful home is very lucky to have you as its owners. You have spent a great deal of time and investment by restoring to its former beauty. I love looking at all the architectural details and the double doors perfectly suit the character of the house. No doubt, they would give such a sense of heightened drama and anticipation when they are firmly shut when the guests arrive for the dinner party and open at the last minute, as if parting the curtains at theatre, to reveal another part, elegantly lit, of the apartment.

    I hope you are both doing well and staying safe.

    With warmest wishes,

    ASD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darling ASD,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Yes, we should agree entirely with your viewpoint that the reading of the novels of Henry James requires great concentration, particularly applied to those sentences which may best be described as tortuous. How often one reaches the end of a sentence or paragraph, only to feel the need to return to the beginning to ascertain the meaning of what has just been read.

      The character of Fleda Vetch is indeed, as you rightly say, problematic. On the one hand she may be seen as a young woman in possession of high moral values which, in order to uphold them, she is prepared to suppress, even sacrifice, her own,
      personal happiness, most significantly in the case of her love for Owen Gereth. On the other hand, she may possibly be seen as a somewhat predatory, disingenuous figure who is prepared to manipulate the Gereths and the Brigstocks, together with the situation which they have created for themselves, to her own advantage. In either case it is the underlying weakness of Owen Gereth that determines the fate of them all.

      You are so kind in your comments about the apartment. Only recently have we completed a redecoration of the entire apartment which necessitated a rehanging of all the pictures. A major undertaking, the result of which we feel to be a great improvement.

      Sending our best wishes to you and G,
      J and L xx

      Delete
  41. And they are fabulous -- worthy of someone making an entrance into a room, in perhaps a ball gown or evening wear! (I'm sure you routinely wear ball gowns and evening clothes around your apartment?)

    Your talk of the Socialist years reminds me of that scene in Dr. Zhivago when the Communists commandeer Tanya's family home, relegate her family to a small apartment and say there was room for multiple families in the rest of the house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Steve,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      How did you guess? Lockdown [since 11th March and counting] has provided us with many opportunities for donning ball gowns, white tie and tails, tuxedos and tiaras and that is just for breakfast. Grand entrances and exits are announced by a virtual butler and the double doors have been virtually swinged off their hinges with all the comings and goings. Well, in our imaginations....:):)

      In Hungary, there was no restitution of property so people who owned large houses or, even mansions, found themselves occupying only a small portion of what at one point was totally owned by them. And, as there was an acute shortage of housing, many houses and apartments had multiple occupancy with buildings crudely subdivided, the scars of which are visible to this day. In our apartment, five families had been housed there but, fortunately, it had remained complete and most of the original features kept. One can easily see that, given just a few more years, there would have been little of worth remaining. As you can imagine, there is still resentment about how the reallocation of property was handled to this day.

      Delete
  42. What beautiful period details you have in your home. I live in a small modern mud hut, so no such joy here! It reminds me perhaps of some of the elegant buildings I saw in Prague many years ago. Arilx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darling Aril,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Having snooped virtually around Gnat Bottomed Towers, I am yet to come across anything resembling a mud hut. what I have found is a place of beauty filled with the joy of a well loved home.

      Yes, the architecture of Prague has many similarities to that of buildings in Budapest. However, the Czech Republic has been much more inclined to embrace the European Union and to make advances post Communism than Hungary. As a result, and this is even more apparent in Vienna, the styles are similar and the building is on the same scale but they are far better maintained and looked after. Budapest tends to be on the shabbier side of chic and that is what we like.:):)

      Delete
  43. I've never had a set of double doors in my life, but I did live once in a ratty old tenement in Winnipeg that had started life as a desirable, classy apartment block around the turn of the 20th century. It had a sliding door and a large built-in ornate sideboard. The whole place had that distinctive smell of rotting wood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darling Debra,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We have to say that, certainly in our youth, the 'ratty old tenement in Winnipeg' would have had great appeal. And, a large built-in ornate sideboard sounds exactly our cup of tea. never mind the rotting wood, we are sure that this would have attracted us like moths to a flame.

      However, sliding doors are not our favourite interior decoration features. In our experience, they seldom glide as one would wish or even slide without juddering. Every one we have come across in the past has jumped its rails [so to speak] and refused to work properly. Although one may feel that they are a good idea if space is a premium, our favoured option now would be to cut a full door into two, making the perfect double door solution for a small space.

      Delete
  44. Hi Jane and Lance, as I feel we are already friends. There is nothing to compare with the charm, style and elegance of older structures. Thank you for this mini-tour of your apt. I was not familiar with The Spoils of Poynton before reading this post but will certainly look for it online this weekend.

    As you may know from my own blog, we currently live in an apt in a former textile mill. Unfortunately, there is not much charm of the building to be seen in the individual apartments as they were totally modernized. That said, the building itself still retains some of its former industrial look.

    The double doors and the whiteness of the architectural trim look marvelous and I would definitely prefer this apt to most others. Our former VA home was an older Victorian and we do miss it some days, but not the upkeep (sigh).

    Thanks for your visits and comments on my blog, much appreciated.

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    Replies
    1. Darling Beatrice,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We are delighted to be thought of as friends. Indeed, virtual friends can be every bit as welcome as real ones, especially in these strangely disconnected times.

      We had not realised that your apartment is in a former textile mill. We do love it when an industrial space is converted for contemporary living but, as you say, often there is only the industrial shell remaining which is rather a pity. However, modern conveniences are so welcome.

      And, as you say, an older house is always requiring some upkeep in order to keep the rain out or to stop the rot or keep the damp from rising.When this becomes too onerous, it is far better to move, otherwise it can be too depressing to live with.

      We enjoy what you write very much and there is always something to comment upon!

      Delete
  45. Your home is beautiful, and the pleasure you take in it is lovely to see. In my small 'new' home I am the owner of one set of double doors, which makes me feel I have two rooms instead of just one! Also, thank you for putting me on to The Spoils of Poynton on youtube...I was unfamiliar with it and did enjoy it..but Owen was so wet! As for 'preloved'? well my favourite in that area is jewellery, every piece, just like furniture has a story. You made a wise choice I think to live in Budapest. I have visited twice, once with my now ex husband, and then two years ago a mother daughter weekend with my beautiful girl...the weather was fabulous and we had a marvellous time,sharing a hotel room and wandering the city having fun (apart from my snoring keeping her awake all night!..there was not another room to be had and she almost decided to sleep in the lobby!) You take time and great care over putting together where you live and it shows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darling Libby,

      Thank you for your kind and generous comment.

      It is indeed interesting how double doors really can make a welcome addition to a room, giving more flexibility of its use without a permanent division.

      We are so pleased that you watched 'The Spoils of Poynton' and, yes, we totally agree about Owen. The characterisation of the players we felt to be very well done and quite true to the novel. Of course, our favourite was Mrs. Gereth, even though we were rather afraid of her at times!!!

      And, what fun that you have visited Budapest. We are so delighted that you enjoyed a good time in what we believe to be a most fascinating and attractive city. There are many hidden treasures here, so another visit would be worthwhile in order to go deeper and discover more. With strict border controls and curfews Budapest has been empty of tourists for some months now....but it is all here waiting for you and we should welcome pointing you in new directions when the time comes!!

      Delete
  46. It dawned on me to check and see if you were actually back to blogging yourself. Good to see. Your home is of course stunning. We have no double doors, no vintage details, not much in the way of detail at all. But we do have the Mediterranean Sea, so I'll stay.

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    Replies
    1. Darling Mitchell,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Yes, it is we!. So good to reconnect with you after what has been far too long away. It is most interesting to see what people are up to in Blogland and we shall be popping in to read of your latest adventures.

      We should not care a jot about double doors if we had the Mediterranean or, indeed, any sea. You must be very well established by now. Wonderful.

      Delete
  47. What an abundance of delights!

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    Replies
    1. Darling Lisa,

      Thank you so much for your kind comment.

      We try to count our blessings each and every day.:):)

      Delete
  48. Your apartment is beautiful and I'm one of those that loves double doors.

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    Replies
    1. Darling Loree,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Join the double door club!. Not only do we find them attractive but they are incredibly useful in creating flexible spaces, either opening up or closing down a room as one wishes.

      Delete
  49. Well, we do in fact have double doors, but I'm afraid they are only oak veneered sliding ones to divide our two living rooms. Can we swap them for a pair of yours?

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    Replies
    1. Dear Tasker,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Well, any double door counts as far as we are concerned. However, we are not so sure about a swap.:):)
      Just a thought....post pandemic if you find yourself in Budapest, there are usually any number of double doors languishing in skips because so many people discard them. Then, you would only have the problem of disguising them as carry on luggage!!

      Delete
  50. Your drawing room looks absolutely sumptuous, Jane & Lance and I love the Victorian stove! I've never seen one like it before. Does it still function? I thought of you yesterday when I threw open the (double!) patio doors to the sun and fresh air. Now, every time I open them I will think of you and The Spoils of Poynton!
    Stay safe x

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    Replies
    1. Darling Angie,

      Thank you so much for your kind and generous comment.

      The stoves are a traditional way of heating these C19 apartments and can still be found throughout Hungary. A fire heats up solid blocks inside the stove which then radiates heat out into the room. They are very effective room heaters.

      We have three but only one, the one pictured, is original. The two others are probably 1960/70 replacements. They would all work but we do not use them as we have the central heating which runs from a combi gas boiler.

      When we bought the apartment, the previous residents had been using the panelling as fuel. Luckily, we bought it in time to stop the complete destruction of the beautiful original panelling.

      The apartment comes with three large cellars in the basement which would have been used to store fuel for the stoves. With servants to carry the fuel from the basement to the second floor and to keep the stoves running, the stoves would have been very practical and efficient. Not so nowadays!

      We love to think of you casting caution to the wind and throwing open those French windows. Mrs. Gereth would be impressed!!

      Delete
    2. The idea of using the beautiful panelling as fuel fills me with horror...aarrgh...but I don't think I would be able to resist firing up the one stove on a test run! ;)

      Delete
    3. Darling Angie,

      Yes, it is certainly tempting to 'fire up a stove'. However, the thought of the chimney catching fire and burning the whole apartment house down does not appeal.:(:( Indeed, sadly, this happens rather too often in Budapest and now there are many more strict regulations about fires and chimneys!!

      Delete
    4. Good grief! Perhaps not then 🤭

      Delete
    5. Yes! Let's not.....and say that we did!!:):)

      Delete

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