A ramble about style and suchlike…
I am feeling a little impatient – I’d like to move into the house tomorrow. Rising damp, falling damp, subsidence, termites and all.
Instead, there are negotiations and discussions to take place. The Pimps, The Architects and The Authorities must confer. Politics and agendas will no doubt cloud the air. Acres of silence will unfold. We will doubt our ears, doubt our sanity, doubt out temper-containers. Then, sometime this century, we will be allowed to do essential structural stuff. After that, whatever changes we’re allowed to make. Then, if we haven’t died from frustration and impatience, or gone bankrupt in the meantime, the fun stuff happens.
If I were to sit up straight, put my hand on my heart and tell the truth (the whole truth and nothing but the truth, swelp me god), I’d have to admit that I don’t find French drains and sumps the most heart- poundingly exciting things. And oddly enough, soil pipe placement and wall stitches don’t much enthral me either. But I’ll do my bit. I will get to grips with under-floor membranes and the right grades of gravel; I will search for someone who can repair lathe and plaster ceilings (even if the nearest is in Piddle Trenthide or Queen Camel); I will strive to understand the principles of sound transmission, joist re-enforcement and sandstone poultices. In short, I will acquaint myself with the guts of the house.
But really, honestly, only en-route to the bits I like.
And that, of course, is dress-ups.
At the architect’s meeting the other day I expressed my worry that the house could, quite easily, lend itself to the pompous. It could, without due diligence, take up attitudes of grandeur, strike poses of self-importance. And this worries me. I don’t want an aspirational house that we have to live up to, in which we feel like frauds, in which our lives feel small. I don’t want to feel we should be wearing periwigs to breakfast, cleaning our teeth in champagne and never ever slumping in front of the telly. I want a home, not a lifestyle. I want to do justice to the elegance and beauty of the house – just no strumpetry, thank you. Well, maybe a bit of strumpetry but definitely no pomp and circumstance.
So that’s what I don’t want. And what do I want? Well that’s a vastly unspooling bolt of colour, yet to be pinned and cut.
When I was a comic-reading girl, we used to have paper dress-up dolls that you cut out with your blunt, roundy-ended scissors. First the doll herself, (respectable in her undies, natch) and then all the outfits. A great deal of mouth-breathing and puffing went on, with tongues protruding between teeth in the utter, rapt concentration of it all. Ideally what I’d like would be something like this for houses. I know – there are software packages abounding but I can’t be faffed learning how to use them and in any case they never look convincing to me, probably because my ability to suspend disbelief has waned since the paper dolls.
So my idea is to collect various outfit styles for the house here in the blog and try them on for size. And partly because the architect and I are considering keeping this wall in my study roughly as it is now, I’m starting there.
I don’t know what this look is called, so I’m calling it ‘Deshabille’.
This is the house of Debra Cronin, in Woollahra, Sydney. The pictures have trotted their way around the blogosphere quite a bit, so apologies for that. (But I’m thinking they may not have been seen by M&A, who have bought a house down the road, and who are at the advanced stage of considering the wholeness/holeyness of walls).