My house doesn't exist, it never has, but Fineartist has again sent me off dreaming, owing to mentioning her 'little hippy house' that she is in the process of leaving.
If I had my very own retreat, it would be quirky as. It would be old, with wooden window frames, stairwells and under-stair cupboards, nooks and crannies and at least one resident spider. Every good house should have at least one ancient spider in a dark and unneeded corner.
It would breathe. None of this hyperinsulated airtight modern stuff, but cool brick walls and slightly draughty doors; perfect for a huge library of books, with wooden shelving to the ceiling in the largest downstairs room.
There would be at least two floors; preferably three or four, ending up in the attic, with good treetop views. A different atmosphere on every level.
The kitchen would be big enough to be the centre of the house, room for a cosy corner and a table and a radio or TV or both, loads of workspace and a huge marble worksurface for letting kids get mucky with biscuit making and the like. I would have a whole cupboard just for mugs. In a kitchen like that there has to be a gloriously coloured assortment of large and mismatched mugs; delicate ones for soothing friends with Earl Grey tea, workers' bucket ones for getting down to business and snuggly cuddly ones of thicker stoneware, built for cupping in both hands to savour hot chocolate. No two the same.
The corridors and hallways would be wide - wide enough for a hall table to not be in the way, or a huge aspidistra, or a couple of jardinieres. Little wooden bookcases and chairs would pop up everywhere, under windows and in cool corners good for gazing out and pondering.
I would be a collector of nicknacks. I at least want a china cow - a shaggy, Scottish highland coo. Wooden puzzles and Russian dolls and things the kids made out of cardboard boxes in first year school, each item giving solid pleasure in its own right, all hidden in magical little corners amongst books.
All my hallway windows would be part stained glass because I love colour. Plain windows at the back would come under attack with hanging crystals or coloured nets, or glass shelves bearing chunky glass ornaments.
The stairs would be solid and broad and invite running and thundering; built for abuse as much as for dreaming.
I prefer painted walls, to wallpaper. A plain, solid background is a much better foil for one's possessions if, like me, your tastes are eclectic; if you might find a classic print next to a wall mounted bagatelle board, next to the pictures the kids did at school. Paper would be saved for guest rooms and the sitting room, but only to give them a sense of being grounded, of being 'all there', less changeable. Tiny rosebuds on off white, probably; something a bit Laura Ashley, something that suggests there are magic puzzles and really good dark chocolate in the lounge drawer, or huge new scented guest soaps in the bedside table in the guest room.
I want the biggest ever patio doors, door on door until you could just as well take the back wall off the house, to open the whole sitting room out onto the garden. Maybe a conservatory attached, but an old, slightly cluttered one that smells of potting compost and stored newspapers, of string and axle grease and well oiled garden tools. Big enough to stroll through or sit to take tea, but the atmosphere is way more important than room for more than two chairs. Not a whiff of UPVC anywhere, not a scent of acrylic carpet or wall insulation, none of those isolationist chemicals. The most plastic I would welcome in would be a huge tin or two of lego bricks, because everyone knows that if you are building lego fairylands on the floor, its best to have a smooth stone or wood foundation, which in any case is the best surface for toy cars, too.
The garden. Well, now; the garden would be an allotment masquerading as fairyland. Circular benches around hidden trees - fruit trees and bushes everywhere and beneath them all herbs and good plants; lungwort to stop bleeding, marigolds to keep away insects, to cheer the senses and reduce a woman's discomfort; clary sage, something for everything, especially cooking. Greengages and english apples, cherries, rosemary and bay. Lawn enough for games, but with tiny, twisting paths leading off, and up or down, to surprises; a pond, a viewpoint, an ornament, and inscription, a shed, a secluded sunning spot. Somewhere for people to come and visit, and find exactly their perfect place to feel as though it was made just for them.
The front of the house would present gravel and trees, solid wood side gates and a huge double front door with a porch containing a rack for wellington boots. Nothing glossy, nothing perfect, but looking solid and safe and as though you would have a hard time breaking anything, but that if you managed it would be no big deal. The only shine on the brass letter box and huge brass doorknob.
And for now the dream has run dry; I've imagined everything I can for this session, but for the first time ever I have managed to put shape to something that was always there - my dream house, and it all started with the realisation that yes, ideally, it would be a little bit 'hippy'.