Saturday, October 11, 2014

A House is Not a Home

If you know me, you know I'm not the suburban type.

I get to say that because I tried it a long time ago in a county not all that far away and I was miserable with all of it: the distance to the city, the lack of sidewalks, the dead end streets, excuse me, cul de sacs, every bit of it.

So while I wasn't nearly as curious to see the Richmond Symphony Designer House all the way out in Hallsley as I'd been when it was in the city, the reliably generous Holmes offered me tickets so I grabbed a friend and went to the county.

Clearly, I went in biased because I'm not a fan of a) big, showy houses or b) suburban architecture or even c) overly designed rooms that don't seem livable.

Example: designers who put color-coordinated covers on books in the library or study so the books match the decor (actually happened at another designer house). Spare me.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that much of the designer house was not to my taste. Not the pseudo-Hamptons architecture, not the  retro '80s wallpaper styles, not the nouveau riche accouterments.

Even so, I can always find something to appreciate and today it was the porches and the graffiti.

The screened porch was unlike any I'd ever seen, with its arched screened walls and enormous center screen wall with no support pieces breaking up the view of the woods.

Oh-so politically correct, it had a faux wood floor, touted as easy to clean, but I tend to think that's a non-issue because rich people don't actually use screened porches, do they?

I also gave it points for its multiple uses given there was a sofa, two chairs, a chaise lounge and a table for eating, all with views.

The upstairs sleeping porch, just as huge, had only a single bed where I would have put a queen bed and used it every night of the summer. But that's just me.

A couple of women came in behind me, noted the whirring ceiling fan and immediately started asking where the vents for heat and air conditioning were. None were to be found.

Reminding them that it was a sleeping porch, I said that the idea was to have the many windows open to the night air. But wait, rich people don't want fresh air ever. What was I thinking?

The porch had a lot of charming elements including an unusual shape that gave it six walls of windows and a table with an old Candyland game set up on it.

One room I got a kick out of was a guest room designed by the U-Fab guys over on Robinson Street. What I loved about their very colorful room was that the inspiration had been all the street art on the old GRTC bus sheds which sit directly across from U-Fab.

Photographs on the walls were close-ups of the street art - including a scarred door on which was painted "just another day in paradise" - and the palette was just as colorful, all bright primary colors. The rug had been made out of bright t-shirts woven together making it very soft underfoot.

Maybe I liked it because it had such an un-suburban feel.

An unexpected bonus to my suburban field was walking into bedroom #4 to find a designer friend who had created the modern, masculine room. He proudly explained that the colorful, large, abstract photographs were close-ups of geodes he'd found as a kid. One sat on the dresser.

I gave him much credit for such a nerdy take on his design. Well done, my friend.

We hadn't seen each other in months, but part of that is how busy he's been since he took on the designer house project, a seven day a week proposition apparently. On the plus side, he said he'd given out hundreds of business cards, and hopefully that will translate into new customers, surely the goal of doing one of these extravaganzas.

I heard on the way out that the house has been sold to a young family who will take possession of it once all the designers' hard work is removed. One woman said she'd heard a rumor that the new owners had bought everything in the master bedroom because they liked it so much.

Meh. Not my style.

But then, neither is county living. I'm the type who prefers to actually sleep on porches. And I like to see my street art first hand.

That said, I'm glad I went. It's important to be reminded how good you have it. Simple, but so good.

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