A Fascination With Houses

I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with houses. I love everything about them – I love to know their architecture, their era, whether the windows are transom or bay. I like to know if the roofline is gabled or ranch, if the garage was pre-1950s or post. I like porches. I like fads: I like formal living rooms that eventually gave way to “great rooms” that then went back to formal living rooms, and  the fact that porches gave way to back yards in the middle of the century. I took an architecture/urban-planning course in my senior year in college, and it was one of those courses that makes you think your life could’ve taken a very different direction if you’d heard about it soon enough. …

Anyway, I like home architecture, but I also like what’s inside. I like the story of the house. I like houses that look lived in, not like pages out of a magazine. I like homes that have messy bookcases – filled with well-loved books and maps and maybe some postcards tucked in. I like frames on the walls – framed photos, framed T-shirts, framed posters, framed bookmark collections – I don’t care what’s in the frame, I just love to see what a person chooses out of his or her past to put up on a wall and remember.

I also like homes that have some color in them, and have some interesting items sitting on the tables. I remember a friend of mine had a basket of watch-faces sitting on her entryway table. I thought that was very cool. They were so neat looking, in their black-and-white way, and she’d collected them over a long period of time while working in antique malls. I like collections – Bingo balls, postcards under glass, beach glass in a vase, wine corks from life’s momentous occasions, or anything else that says this person has had a life.

I also adore good design ideas. I’m particularly prone to things leaning toward nature, but I respect and find fascinating other people’s tastes, be they MCM, Grecian, Regency or nautical. Some people can do the aesthetic part really well and some people can’t, but I’ve had a few girlfriends who do it amazingly well, and their homes are a delight to me. Every space is simply eye candy – every nook and cranny is one I can see staying in for a long time.

Here are some of the best homes I’ve ever been in:

  • Dixie’s home in Grass Valley. She’s no longer there, but we visited her ranch house there and I fell in love with it.
  • Dixie’s friend Ginny’s home in Nevada City. Really too cool for words. I think her home was even featured in Sunset magazine, if I remember right.
  • Michelle’s home in Costa Mesa. Michelle makes all of her homes uber-cool, but this is the one I remember best, when we were in our early 20s.
  • Libby’s house on Coronado Island. She’s no longer there, either, but I remember that house down to the dark-Italian-tile floor.
  • Lauran’s “neat-o” midcentury modern Eichler home. Eichler homes are works of art in their own right. I have some pics of Lauran’s home that I’ll post for you soon.

In the mean time, what’s the coolest house you’ve ever been in? And what made it so memorable for you?

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5 thoughts on “A Fascination With Houses

  1. When we were house hunting, we looked at a townhouse that would never have suited because of all the steps (and we were moving my then 79 year old Mom in with us) but I was struck by the vibrant colors the owners used. After years of living in military houses and rented apartments, it never occurred to me that you could paint rooms such bright colors. I was used to white and beige and never realized until that moment how dreadfully dull they were. The kitchen was a bright sunny yellow; one bedroom a deep, lovely green. And my favorite was the master bedroom – a deep, luscious red. When we finally found a place, we repainted every room in the house with the exception of the den downstairs which appeared to have been recently painted. My mother’s room is a bright teal blue – her choice. I went on the Behr website and selected colors that went well with the teal to paint the second bedroom, which we made her sitting room, and the guest room. They are not terribly bright but the color flows from room to room. Johnny chose a dark green for the living room. I thought this would be too dark, but it’s perfect and I love it. The kitchen is sunshine yellow. And our bedroom – fire engine red, just like the room I loved in that townhouse!

  2. Our goal is to live in a MCM (Mid Century Modern) type home in Palm Springs.
    Great post honey!

  3. We have yet to buy our first home. We hope to in 3-5 years. That’s the goal. I use to want expensive on green grass. Now I want lived in on tall, brown grass with snow capped mountains in the background.

  4. Jersey Girl — Oh, gosh, color is great, isn’t it??? It’s a really cheap thing that absolutely anyone can do — the only price is the paint (and, well, the swearing that goes on while you try to get it on the wall, but that’s another post. ….). But deep color can really transform a living space. Your colors sound AMAZING!

    Superman — I’m with ya, hon! By the way, I just met Claudia from Modern Mecca on Twitter (@ModernMecca), and she runs a staging company that stages homes in OC and LA and she’s really versed in MCM. Here’s her website: http://www.modernmecca.com/#mi=1&pt=0&pi=2&p=-1&a=0&at=0 and I just became a fan of hers on Facebook, where she chats about homes. Cool!

    Crystal — Oh, you’re going to be so thrilled when you buy that first home! And since you have some goal time, you’re going to know exactly what you want, and you’re going to be thrilled when you find it. I’m excited for you to make it happen!

  5. Being a real estate agent, I see a lot of great houses. I get tired of beige and not fond of white – I love color. I have color all throughout my house, some are very bold but I love it – I don’t have a white wall in my house. I think the best house I have ever been in though, was about 22 years ago. When I was married to Billy we went to visit his Aunt and Uncle in Tennessee. His Uncle had been the Mayor so they were pretty well off and they lived right on the river (which was huge and more like a lake that went on forever!) The house was wonderful, it had a great gourmet kitchen and the upstairs overlooked the many acres they had and the water! My favorite part was downstairs….they had a spiral staircase that led to a rec room with a pool table and a sauna and each bedroom had their own theme and bathroom – truly a beautiful home! I had the room with the black bathroom with a claw foot tub – it was gorgeous!!

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