I have a confession to make: I’m a Lookie-Loo.
Lookie-Loos are people who masquerade as potential homebuyers but have no real intention of ever buying; they’re just curious to see the inside of a house that’s listed for sale.
The TV series “Portlandia” spoofed the concept in a 2015 episode:
But my Lookie-Loo tendencies don’t run toward today’s modern homes. Instead, I’m curious to see the interiors of homes and buildings from the Regency era. And I have a good reason for it: seeing those interiors helps me visualize scenes when I write them.
I’m especially interested in seeing interiors that weren’t filmed for Jane Austen adaptations for the big screen or TV. Here’s an example:
In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet accompanies her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner on a tour of Derbyshire, where they spend time at a coaching inn in Lambton. In both the 1985 and 1995 BBC adaptations Mr. Gardiner secures a private parlor for their use at the inn.
But in the 2005 movie adaptation, Elizabeth and the Gardiners don’t indulge in that kind of luxury. Instead, they’re thrown together with other travelers in the inn’s public room.
What we don’t get a glimpse of in either adaptation is Elizabeth’s bed chamber at the inn, and that’s when my Lookie-Loo tendencies come into play. I’m curious to see the inside of Elizabeth’s room; I want to know if it’s comfortable and clean, and whether it has touches of old-world charm. Thanks to a number of online resources, I can hunt down visual cues of what her room might have looked like.
Perhaps it looked a little like this one. I can imagine Lizzy sleeping here, in a chamber on the top floor of the inn, tucked in among the rough-hewn rafters (minus the electric lights on the bedside tables!):
Or her room could have looked like this one, which I particularly like because of the remnant of old tapestry hanging above the bed:
Here’s another option, with the bed hung with draperies to fend off the cool night air. This is a small room at The Crown, a coaching inn in Faringdon, Oxfordshire that is still in operation today:
If the summer night turned chilly, Lizzy might have had a fire in her chamber, which this room at The Spread Eagle in West Sussex will accommodate nicely:
I’ve had to train my brain to ignore hints of today’s modern conveniences, such as electric lights and heat radiators, when I look at images like these, but that’s easy enough to do. We Lookie-Loos are pretty adept at seeing what we want to see in a pretty room.
Are you a Lookie-Loo? Do you enjoy touring houses and tracking down images of places you’ve only imagined?
What place or room mentioned in Jane Austen’s novels would you like to see that hasn’t been represented in a filmed adaptation?