Friday, January 21, 2011


I may not be seduced by huge portion sizes or large cars, but I seriously flirt with the idea of substantial houses, by which I mean anything at least double the size of our single bay villa.  In the big scheme of things (think the Hamptons or a feature property in Country Life), it's a relatively modest and, in New Zealand, achievable aspiration.

Villa : From heritage to contemporary
By Patrick Reynolds, Jeremy Salmond, Jeremy Hansen

Tuesdays and Thursdays I collect the latest residential property guides. I mark 'potentials' with post-its, then research further online.  They are usually two-storied character homes (preferably with deep, wrap-around verandas on both levels) or sprawling double bay villas.  Occasionally, my eye strays away from the grand old dames of the Victorian and Edwardian eras and I fancy a bit of sleek architectural design with loads of north-facing glass (the sunny side) and artificial intelligence.  Fortunately, few of the potentials pass the test, which saves me much needless coveting of houses we will not own.

The key reason we can look but not buy is that I have decided to remain at home with the children, unpaid.  It's odd.  I adore beautiful things, but am now too unmotivated or lazy to acquire them by resuming my corporate career.  I'm exhausted at the idea of trying to do/be/have it all.

So I'm reduced to a real estate voyeur; a would be if I could be.  I regularly persuade the obliging Mr T to view selected open-homes, sharing my vision for various rooms and resolving flow issues and such.  I'm sure my misplaced enthusiasm has resulted in several inflated offers from potential buyers determined to out-do me.  I look like I mean business.

But I'm not going there - not now, maybe not ever. Because as much as I love a generously proportioned room, and rambling grounds, I am persuaded that our family's footprint is already large enough.

Increasingly, I like the idea of working with what we have, within the confines of the existing square-footage.  I am constantly (obsessively) rethinking the use and layout of our rooms.  I have discovered that when something is not quite right with a room or an arrangement within a room, it's usually resolved by paring back.

Consequently, our double garage is now full to brimming with items I/we absolutely had to have at one point in time, and now absolutely have to go.    There is sufficient furniture, household appliances and kitchenware to outfit a small bach or holiday home, plus seven bikes, two kayaks and three redundant PCs.    And we could start a small good-will shop with the bags and bags of discarded clothes intended for Trade Me (New Zealand's largest online buy/sell site).   

It's all a bit ridiculous. 

We have made a habit of buying more than we need and of not valuing what we have. Clearly, I should heed my grandmother's advice: plan purchases and never succumb to impulse or vanity, buy the very best quality you can afford with money you actually have in the bank, and then look after it with great care.

In that case, I suspect the paring back would take care of itself.

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