Sunday, 14 November 2010

Lovely Homes


Howard and Eileen Weybridge buy an old house in the country and paint it bright pink, add leaded windows, and decorate the outside with wagon wheels and those stone mushrooms barns used to sit on. Inside, there’s too much varnished dark wood with an orange cast. If they buy an Arts and Crafts house they rip out the beautiful wooden overmantels, block up the fireplaces, and knock through all the pantries, sculleries and entrance halls. They replace the stained glass with double glazing. Somehow anything post-Victorian doesn’t count as an “original feature”. They live in very expensive gated communities (now known as “enclaves”).

The Definitelies have leaded, diamond-paned windows in their bought council flat, and a Georgian door with a fanlight, a Spanish wrought-iron outer door and loads of hanging baskets with pink geraniums, lobelias and petunias, like a pub. There are some Definitelies made good who have a bungalow on the North Circular. They’ve turned it into a mini-Versailles with a scalloped wall plus stone balls, and a door with a broken pediment and corinthian pilasters flanked by two lions couchant. The garden is full of dracaenas, which are the new pampas grass.

Bryan and Jen Teale live in a boxy house built in the 60s. Somewhere inside it is a panel of embossed glass. They may build on a conservatory or log-ear or lowjear (loggia, pronounced lodger). (“We call it a canopy porch in Dorset”, as someone said on To Buy or Not to Buy.) If they make a lot of money, they build their “dream home” in the country. It has downlighters, slate floors, and an “open-plan kitchen/living area”. This is a kitchen and a living room without the wall in between – the “units” still describe the space where the kitchen would have been.

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