Peter York: The way we live now

Killer instincts
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The Independent Online

Some interests take over your house. They dictate how the space is used and how it looks. Crazed collecting fills every room. When he died, Andy Warhol's house was full of unopened bags of Saturday buys. High art and low, those Forties cookie jars ... everything!

Other hobbies transfer straight to the wall - 18th-century mezzotints of your obsessive subject (monarchs, marsupials, monopedes), increasingly close-hung as you get more, or glazed shelves full of important blue and white Export porcelain. And books really do furnish a room. Fogey intellectuals have bookshelves that take over. They've got gravitas: pre-war sets in dark blue cloth bindings; faded John Murray dust-jackets; absolutely nothing by Clarkson or Littlejohn.

But the interest that most dominates a house is hunting (or fishing - any kind of enthusiastic killing). The hunting lodge is an ancient idea, turning up across Old Europe. While British hunting imagery is dominated by foxes, meets, open-country, equestrian everything, Germanic imagery is focused on something darker - forests and antlers.

The antler aesthetic covers a lot of ground. It's real and fake, ancient and modern. It's serious and very decorator-camp. Taxidermy is central, too, to achieve that odd effect of a series of cervine corpses - heads and head-and-neck poses - apparently thrusting through the walls. Rooms absolutely bristling with bone that bit above eye level.

The look goes with those early-17th-century (and 19th-century fake) still-lives of game, particularly the hung hares. Georgians thought it was all rather crude. Fox-hunting was clearly more elegant (and, of course, it's more Leisure Class to chase the inedible), and forests couldn't compare with landscaped parks. The hunting-lodge style reappeared here in the later 19th century as a particularly "Scottish" look - part of the Victorian invention of tradition.

Pictured here is an Austrian hunting lodge. It's like a New Rich English house of 1880. Everything is striving towards anciency, but the effect is like suburban Surrey with added antlers. It's cosy rather than Spartan (there's clearly been a woman's touch). Everything in this large house is wooded-up - panelled in an elaborate shiny way that incorporates corner cupboards and chimneypieces. The ceiling is wooded-up too and - very Surrey this - the shelf at the top of the panelling carries every possible kind of stein and pewter plate. It's unfashionable on a hundred levels; animal rights people aren't keen on corpse display, shrinks think an interest in taxidermy is an indicator of potential psychosis and Austria's a bit of a problem place. But Queen Victoria would probably have considered it a nice little modern house.

Stein mania - the dark 'old' metal. They might be going for anciency, but really it's very suburban Surrey

Comfortable late-Victorian upholstery belies the Spartan masculine tradition of hunting lodges

Antlers everywhere - it's a look that's at once real and fake, ancient and modern. Though taxidermy doesn't tend to go down well with animal rights people

Obligatory fur rug. Every lodge should exhibit the spoils of the hunt

Panelling throughout as decoration - there are hardly any pictures here

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