Marisa de los Santos in Belong to Me
Rafferty is a very minor character in this book but one I wish was a major character. (I don't know why it is that I'm always falling in love with a minor character in a novel. Do any of you do that?) If I were going to have my house renovated, Rafferty is the man I'd call--that is, if our son-in-law would not take on the project. And he most likely could not as he's a little bit busy building many of those lovely Amelia Island houses. Our Bryan is an expert at understanding "what the clients want, what the clients think they're supposed to want, and what the house wants." I believe he would immediately understand Rafferty's dilemma. If you ever contact Bryan to build your house, tell him his mother-in-law sent you!
Here is a link to one of Bryan's houses...
If Bryan could not fit our remodel into his busy schedule, I'd try to find Mr. Rafferty. I would listen to him when he said:
"Like this room," began Rafferty, walking through what Dev supposed was the living room, to one so tiny and dim that it was more an alcove than a room and was lined from floor to ceiling with new, built-in shelves. "People think they need light, light, light. A lot of folks would want to cut in a bigger window, add a French door, maybe get rid of one or two of those big trees outside. Some people would even knock out this wall and incorporate the room into the larger living space. And, yeah, light's important, but it isn't everything. This is a house that wants to hang on to its small, quiet pockets. It respects a person's privacy."
I hummed with sheer delight when I read this because I think every house should have small, quiet pockets. Or is that just an outdated idiosyncrasy of mine? I know I must be in a rare minority about this subject. While I understand the importance to parents of small children of having them play nearby while they're in the kitchen cooking, open floor plans are vastly overrated, in my humble opinion.
I want to wander from room to room in a house and not see everything at one glance. Isn't it odd that while American gardeners have enthusiastically embraced the English notion of having "rooms" in their garden instead of a huge lawn broken up by beds, they have gone in the opposite direction inside their homes?
You almost cannot sell a house to a young couple today unless it is an open floor plan house, as friends of ours found out when they wanted to downsize and put their gorgeous home on the market. I loved that house but it lacked the see-it-all-at-a-glance aspect that buyers seem to want today.
I love a house with surprises, nooks and crannies, odd little juts out and steps down, hideaways, a sense of moving from one activity to another in the rooms instead of almost everything but the most private things taking place in a huge open room.
Sometimes I think about a kitchen from the 1950s where the woman was alone with her thoughts while preparing dinner and the man and children waited in the den where the one television in the house was, watching one of three channels available. Soon they would be called to dinner, except for the teenage daughter who was busy setting the table in the dining room or breakfast nook, back and forth putting ice in the glasses, and in between trips, seeing that her mother's back was turned to her as she stood at the stove stirring the gravy, asks Mom questions that she might not face to face.
Does this horrify you? Am I completely adrift in la-la land of retro Father Knows Best television?
Literally everything goes in cycles. Will I always be in the minority?
Do you think we'll someday turn back to wanting a house with more privacy?
Will we want doors to close between the rooms?
A kitchen where a person can cook without everyone in the party crowded around talking? A kitchen where there is no television blaring a few yards away in the "great room"?
A house where family members find their own private space for much needed solitude so that they can come together refreshed at the dinner table and have something to say to each other?
Will a small room like Mr. Rafferty's be made into a reading nook for the bookworms of the family?
What do you think?
What does your house want?
(from A Life in Decoration by Keith and Chippy Irvine)