Archive for January 10th, 2013

Home Sweet Home

“Describe your dream house” – yet another Plinky prompt, but I can tie this one in to the NaBloPoMo theme of energy, because my dream house would use a minimum.

Mind you, I’m fussy about aesthetics, too.  Very fussy.  If I were to use wind power, for example, I wouldn’t have one of those windmills that looks like the drones out of Star Wars.  I’d build a windmill like the ones you see in Dutch landscapes.  Much classier.  What I’m primarily interested in, though, is geothermal energy, best described as “everything old is new again.”  You can use it not only to heat your house, but also to power it; in other words, you can go off the grid.  Supplement your geothermal plant with a root cellar as an alternative form of refrigeration, and you’re all set for power and water.

With the basics of energy sources out of the way, it’s time to talk about design.  The appeal of a “hobbit hole” is strong, and many years ago, I knew a woman whose retirement cottage was built into the side of a hill.  I can think of a lot of advantages to such a design – mostly geothermal – but there are two major drawbacks for me.  One is, where would you wipe off your feet?  You need a mudroom where you can change out of your outdoor gear into something that will keep the house clean.  And the other, of course, is that the space in a hillside is limited.  I don’t necessarily need a big house – I don’t live in one now – but I need more space than four hundred square feet.

So my ideal house is probably going to be along the lines of a log cabin, something that looks as if it grew out of the trees surrounding it.  Of course there are trees surrounding my ideal home.  Not too many – you have to think about mold – but the clear-cutting I see that heralds new construction always breaks my heart.  What do you do for shade in the summertime?  You have to have a few trees.  My house has a front porch for sitting out in the evening, and a back porch where I can hang my laundry, rain or shine.  We once lived in a house that had just such a “utility porch,” and I couldn’t get over how well my clothes dried in even the wettest weather.

The utility porch out back would lead into the mudroom, and the mudroom would actually be quite large, because it would house not just the footgear, but also a coat closet, cubbies for hates and gloves, a washing machine, a potting table for the resident gardener (my husband), and a utility closet with space for all his gardening gear and all my cleaning supplies.  That leads into the kitchen, a big ol’ farmhouse eat-in kitchen.  Like Russians, I firmly believe that the best and most authentic social life takes place in the kitchen.  Living rooms, if not used for the life of the family, are for pretentious old fuffs.

Which brings us to the living room.  Where I grew up, we didn’t have Family Rooms and Living Rooms.  An earlier generation had Parlors and Dining Rooms, and the “family room” was the kitchen; I’d still want any entertaining we did to take place in the kitchen, but I need a place for stuff that earlier generations didn’t deem necessary, like my husband’s and my music and literary libraries (substantial enough to constitute a branch of the local public library).  I’d want built-in shelves lining the walls of my living-room-cum-library, not just because they look classy, but also because you can use books as insulation.  The boob tube would hide discreetly behind a tambour, but a boob tube there must be; how else could I watch NCIS and Foyle’s War?

Nowadays, a two-bathroom house seems to be a must.  Whenever my mother-in-law would get on my nerves too greatly, I would silence her by telling tales of growing up in a house of seven people and one bathroom; only child that she was, such a concept was too horrible for her to dwell on, and rendered her speechless for at least fifteen minutes.  Not having at least two bathrooms was inconceivable to her, and I guess it is to most people nowadays, so okay, we can have two bathrooms in my dream house.  But I insist that one of them have a walk-in shower, all tile-lined for ease of cleaning, with a built-in seat.  The other, of course, has a bathtub, preferably porcelain, which holds the heat better than fiberglass.

Then there are the bedrooms.  There have to be at least four, preferably five:  One for my husband and one for myself (in our present arrangement, he can hear me tossing and turning at the opposite end of the house, with both bedroom doors closed.  I swear I am not exaggerating); one for a guest bedroom; one for an office; and one for…a chapel.  I know that the rustic German and Russian houses that I find so attractive used to have a “holy corner” where the family’s icons lived, but to get away with that, everybody in the house has to be on the same page.  My husband, who is not Orthodox, is okay with having icons in his living room, but not with my praying before them; so I’d like to have a room where I could pray in peace.

I’d have a lot of storage built into my husband’s bedroom.  The guy is a packrat.  There are piles of paper everywhere.  Sometimes I tell him that if I die before he does, the house is going to look like  the Collyer Brothers’.  I’m trying to make light of a situation that actually does scare me; sometimes, when clearing the kitchen table of months of debris, I’ll find empty envelopes from greeting cards.  Who saves empty envelopes?!

And my own bedroom would have to have a separate sitting area.  Actually, now I come to think of it, that could do double duty as a chapel, but what I really wanted it for was my cross stitch:  my frame and supplies, and storage for future projects built in.  Ideally, that needlework cubby would face the street, so I could watch what was going on outside; I have found that in the summer, I really enjoy stitching on my current (screened-in) front porch because I get to see everything that’s going on in the neighborhood, and it’s good to keep tabs on people’s comings and goings, especially when you see suspicious characters in the house across the street.

Gardens – well, that’s my husband’s thing.  My idea of a garden is the same as my stepfather’s:  He’d take plastic flowers and stick ’em in the dirt out in front of his house.  People out for a walk would slow down and stare, trying to figure out what variety of flower he had “growing” there.  I should add, in his defense, that he was a dedicated and prolific vegetable grower, like my own husband, but he didn’t have much use for flowers.  And although I personally love flowers, what I don’t love is plunging my trowel into the dirt and seeing Creepy Crawly Things everywhere.  Ewwww!

Lifestyles of the Rich and Brainless it’s not.  But for me – it’s my ideal home.


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