Great House Therapy: Maria and Georg’s Anti-Fascist, Music-Filled Salzburg Lake House -The Toast

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Name: Maria, former postulant-turned-wife who now dons fabulous tweed suits, and Captain Georg von Trapp, retired officer of the Imperial Navy and handsome devil
Location: Salzburg, Austria
Size: A large house with very extensive grounds, and Georg will not have anyone shouting
Years lived in together: For some time whilst Maria was the plucky governess, and now as a married couple; owned

Recently returned from their honeymoon where they had a lot of sex, Maria and Georg have already set to work on making improvements to their lovely lakefront mountain home. Maria, who has made a career change, is surprised to find herself in charge of such a large house.

“I was going to be a nun, but Georg was a tall drink of espresso,” she said. “With one of those little chocolates on the side.”

Their historic house has a number of exquisite period features, including Louis XV gold paneling and sufficient crystal chandeliers to outfit an ice palace, but the couple has also made some modern updates.

“The patio off the ballroom was all fine and good for dancing the Ländler and blushing uncontrollably in Georg’s arms,” said Maria. “But it was time to rethink those tall hedges and fake Greek statues. We got a fire pit, some new patio furniture, and a copper Weber for grilling in the summer. We really hit up Lowe’s.”

Georg hadn’t done a lot to the house since the death of his saintly wife. But Maria has proven the perfect governess, decorator, and now-mother, even with her short hair.

sound of music interior

“Salzburg is spectacular,” she said. “The city is known for its delightful berry-picking, twittering birds, green hills, great climbing trees, and impending Anschluss. I’m a big fan of the hills.”

Her former home of the abbey has also been a decorating inspiration. “I have tried to incorporate some design elements from the world I abandoned to take my proper place in the patriarchy,” she said. “I found the most lovely white Italian leather couch from Ruggiero e Hammerstein that looks like a huge wimple.” She has also ordered a number of things that will arrive in brown paper packages tied up with string.

While Maria enjoys spending her afternoons reupholstering furniture in old curtain fabric, the transition to domestic, married life has been a challenge for Georg, who is preoccupied not only with what kind of countertop will prove most durable in their kitchen, but also with the rise of fascism.

“Georg has been gardening to deal with his stress,” Maria said. “Mostly, he plants a lot of Edelweiss and takes swigs out of his flask and cries.”


A chat with Maria: 

Their Style: Georg favors a seafaring aesthetic inspired by rigid discipline, uniforms, and a lot of marching. He likes rooms to conduct themselves with the utmost order and decorum. I enjoy large fountains, tree-lined streets, extravagant home puppet theaters, and statues that remind me of the Reverend Mother’s chiseled cheekbones. 

Important Influences: For Georg, definitely nature. We were repainting the children’s rooms, and he wanted something that suggested “the wind that moves through the trees like a restless sea,” and I was like: Georg, seriously – that’s not a color.

Inspiration: Uncle Max has a great eye. He and Rolfe used to go furniture shopping from time to time before Rolfe dropped off the face of the earth. They picked out a gorgeous Saarinen Womb Chair and an Umlaut side chair upholstered in the color “Auf Wiedersehen.”

sound of music gazebo

Some of Her Favorite Things: Oh, my lord – I have more favorite things than Oprah. I love my Switzerland Sofa from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, which I picked up during their 20% Off Living Room Event, as well as my Bright Copper Kettle armchair from Victor + Victoria. And I’m obsessed with my retro powder blue AGA Dual Control cooker, which I suppose isn’t really retro as the fifties haven’t happened yet. I cook all the time. Whenever I make schnitzel with noodles, Georg says, “Sweetie, you need to Intsagram that shit.”

Biggest Indulgence: Our housekeeper Frau Schmidt. I really couldn’t do without her stern and haughty glare and her help around the house. She has very high standards for herself and others. I mean, it’s 1938, and the woman dresses like a character in an Oscar Wilde play.

Changes to the Property: Liesl had us tear down the gazebo because she has bad memories of Rolfe telling her that he was seventeen going on eighteen and would take care of her before he became, you know, a Nazi.



What Friends Say: 
Georg’s friends from his days in Vienna’s glittering salons seem to like the place, and they stop by for Sachertorte and to remind us how much better it is to live in the city. The Baroness says our wine cellar is lacking, and that I could up my fashion game. Max drops in for pink lemonade laced with pink lemonade and to blather on about his career woes. I don’t really have any friends since I left the sisterhood. All my nun friends stood behind a big, dramatic gate at my wedding, and I thought: You seriously have to stand behind that gate? You can’t even come in and hang out with me? Jesus.

Biggest Embarrassment: Those Nazi bastards hung their spider flag up in front of the house, and apart from the fact that it represents the lunatic, death-bound ideology of a nation left in a precarious position by the War Guilt Clause of the Treaty of Versailles, it also has zero curb appeal.

Upgrades to the Property: We just put in a spa bathroom with Jack and Jill sinks, and now our mornings go so much more smoothly. I don’t understand how couples manage with just one sink. Imagine that! At the abbey, I would just wash with a bowl of icy, not-quite-clean water, but you won’t find me doing that self-abnegating nonsense anymore.

sound of music lake

Plans For the Future: We’re actually considering a move, perhaps into the mountains on foot in the middle of the night. Otherwise, Georg will be forced to relocate to a submarine of the Third Reich, and those spaces are absurdly cramped – much smaller and less cool than those trendy tiny houses.

Best Advice: Don’t rely too heavily on trends, and follow your own heart. And don’t be intimidated by problems. How do you solve a problem like a lack of throw pillows? Just go to Target and get some more friggin’ throw pillows.

Susan Harlan is an English professor at Wake Forest University, where she specializes in Shakespeare. Her essays have appeared in venues such as The Guardian US, The Morning News, Roads & Kingdoms, Nowhere, The Awl, Public Books, and Curbed.

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