The Long Road Home Part II

Following on from here

Space: I’ve always had clear ideas about the sort of home I wanted to live in. Among my earliest memories are thoughts about the space around me and how I fit into it. I had a lot of space but that was probably because I was very small at the time and had moved to my Grandparent’s home in the city for a few years. In every home we’ve had since I always ended up trying to make as much space as possible. Not for me the cluttered cosy corner – I’d feel suffocated not cosseted.

Light: Being tropical blooded, I need sunlight and brightness. That’s all.

A house can have both of these but still be completely wrong if the space is poorly laid out and doesn’t help the flow of everyday living. Beside the practicalities of cooking, eating, washing and somewhere to sleep, a prime consideration is storage which UK homebuilders prefer to ignore. I mean, I know we’re an island but people still have stuff to keep somewhere in their homes! I don’t mean extra curricular hobbies – gosh that’s another big issue – or even personal collections (yes my bags and shoes!) but spare table and bedlinens for example – you’d think we’re still slumming it in the Industrial Revolution with one of everything – if we’re lucky! And entertaining – most people like to socialise in their homes if only with their own families, you know. I’m not expecting a massive dining area – not even a separate dining room – but it’s nice to be able to fit a modest 6-8 for a meal together at the same time without multiple sittings or playing musical chairs or banishing anyone to TV dinners. Most of our social events centre around food so for us, it’s essential.

And so about the hobbies …. one can sew, yes that can be quite neat and tidy or knit but anything else it seems the British have to resort to their sheds or garages. When I first learnt about this fact, I thought it peculiar. How lonely? But that is exactly the purpose for some I later found out! Remember, I’m basically an indoors person so anything that involves unecessarily venturing outdoors is not welcomed especially if it means in all weathers. Why not attach the shed to your house? Ahh that would be called a Conservatory. I’m sorry but the very first conservatory I ever experienced was the Orangerie at Versailles. You can forgive me for not making the connection. My childish logic was, why not build a bigger house in the first place? So our kids play piano and violin, both relatively neat but still there are some necessary paraphenalia of music stands and music books/sheets at least. We all love books and yet more books. My Woman Cave would contain a little library of all my favourite books and my collections of course (not to mention Chris Pine).

Garden: I have always loved the classic English Garden full of every type and colour of roses and shrubs and trees but I don’t have green fingers and not enough time to care for and nurture it. Maintenance is the key so I’d be happiest with a small garden and patio. Besides with the British climate we cannot expect to be outdoors for much of the year (see hobbies above).

Neighbours: this is so tricky and I’ve experieced and know of such horror stories! Gone are the days when often one simply moved just ‘down the road’ from parents and everyone knew everyone else. Nowadays people transplant themselves or are transplanted in entirely new cities and countries. You can research an area as much as you want but if your neighbour happens to be a nightmare and there’s no possibility of improving the situation, there really isn’t much you can do besides moving on if you can. I try to be discrete but maybe best not to live next door to a car lover if you dislike your drive looking like a parking lot. And best to avoid the builder/home DIY enthusiast if you are tidy and would be mortified to have piles of rubbish bags weekly in front of your house falling into your neighbour’s driveway. It’s enough to make one retreat to the middle of nowhere!

Parking: nice to have a garage, but who actually uses theirs properly (see hobbies above)? Most people I know use theirs as a big storage room. And/or off road parking of course especially for visitors (see entertaining above) without intruding/inconveniencing neighbours in any way – an alien concept to some.

Access: Getting to and out of your house, to school and work are other important factors to consider. We currently live on a fairly busy road and wanted a quieter, country feel but not actually be in the countryside, with amenities such as supermarkets, healthcare and leisure facilties relatively close by. Also an international airport is still an important part of our lives. All this without having to change the kids’ schools! In fact we have thought ahead to enable them to continue their tertiary education without being more than a few hours’ travel away at most (unless they end up in Europe of course which goes back to the airport).

Not looking for much, am I? Final part next ….

Thanks for reading!


8 thoughts on “The Long Road Home Part II

  1. Blighty

    This is a great analysis of what one should think about when house hunting. So agree with what you say re storage. My theory is houses don’t have enough storage as they are often designed by men who in their own homes never put stuff away and in fact have no idea how much stuff is involved in running a house. Ditto utility rooms – often teeny but for me the engine room of the house and should be really big – if I designed a house it would be! Recently looked around yuppie type 6 bedroom, 5 bathroom type showhome (for fun, on our road, everyone was having a snoop) and I was struck by the contrast between gadgety kitchen (IPads and TVs that pop out of work counters) and teeny utility room, where the washer and drier were smaller than standard size to fit in… anyway so hope you found your ideal house, looking forward to the next instalment.

  2. silkpathdiary Post author

    Thank you Blighty! It’s not a theory – it’s a fact the men produce the plans – you’re right! I felt the older homes had the space but not many have been maintained well enough where we are plus the new homes are simply tiny or are town houses which we don’t want. I know I’m not going to get everything I want but a good 95% is enough 🙂

    1. rukshanaafia

      There are more women in architecture now than formerly but most never get to design actual buildings ! I’ll try and find the link to a research piece on this which I read last year .

  3. Vix

    Its good to have a plan! I think if I was house hunting I’d let my heart rule my head, high ceilings, cornicing, original doors and fireplaces would win me over but the over-riding thing of importance would be being within walking distance of a town centre. The thought of being trapped and having to rely on a car would send me mad! x

    1. silkpathdiary Post author

      Believe it or not my ideal is the same! I couldn’t bear to have to jump in a car all the time, I did have to for years because there was no other choice then stopped driving completely for 2 years straight just to ‘detox’. x

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