democratic truths of the soul

"The furniture is detailed in a refined Rococo manner, carved with gentle aristocratic curves and garlands of flowers. But as the eye moves towards the ground, something unusual comes into view. Where we might expect the chairs to meet a floor which resembled them in tone -- made of marble, perhaps, or highly veneered parquetry -- we instead find rough, unvarnished wooden planks, of the sort one might see in a hayloft...

The manor house proposes a new human ideal, in which luxury would entail neither decadence nor a loss of contact with the democratic truths of the soul, and in which simplicity could be synthesised with nobility and refinement.

If certain subtly balanced buildings touch us, it is because they stand as exemplars of how we might adjudicate between the conflicting aspects of our characters, how we, too, might aspire to make something beautiful of our troubling opposites."

Alain de Botton,
["A balanced building as a promise of a balanced life:
Skogaholm Manor, Närke, c. 1790"]