Would I do it again? Yes. Even though we ran months over schedule and a scary amount over budget. We were at a friend's house recently -- they spent a similar amount, for a similar-sized, similar-aged house. And they bought it freshly-painted, and moved right in. So what did our time buy us? Customization. I have, it turns out, very specific tastes. Many of the homes we looked at had recently renovated kitchens, and I was unhappy with almost all of them, because they'd been renovated to something beautiful, but very far from my taste. I really wanted the chance to make a kitchen, a house, that was exactly fitted to our function and our tastes.
I didn't really know what my taste was at the start of this project -- I find many aesthetics beautiful. Medieval design, modern, rustic, global, Indian / Moroccan, Victorian (up to and including lots and lots of wallpaper), mad scientist / steampunk, etc. and so on. There are touches of all of these in the house, as it ended up, but the overriding feel, I would say, is modern Victorian. High ceilings, tall windows, art glass (in a restrained usage), lots of light, push-button switches, an industrial edge, lots of plants, rich colors, open shelving, separate rooms with wide doorways (we've stored the actual doors in the garage).
Now, when I look around, everything is beautiful to my eyes. I know it's not for everyone. Blue kitchen cabinets are quirky. Dark colors on the walls are depressing to a lot of people. When I look at pictures of what people like on Pinterest, there's a ton of white -- white walls, white cabinets, white furniture. That holds very little appeal to me, although I do like a white clawfoot tub, and white dishes. I wonder whether the desire for white is coming from wanting more space, more light, more openness in the home? I wonder whether removing some of the clutter would fill the same urge? This is the sort of thing my head has been filled with during this whole renovation process, and it's left precious little room for writing.
But I think that's okay. Kevin keeps asking me why I'm still looking at design elements on Pinterest, when we're so close to done. The thing is, designing this house has been a creative, artistic process. It satisfies the same part of my brain that likes to knit, to cook, to garden, and even to write. I can't turn it off, and I don't really want to. It's often been intensely frustrating, especially as budget and schedule ran up against their limits, or when I was trying to mesh my own design desires with those of Kevin, and the functional needs of the children. But remarkably satisfying nonetheless, creating functional beauty.
A few people have suggested that I could do this for a living, which I find really flattering. If I did, I'd want to do it properly -- go back to school, learn the fundamentals, more than you can get from just watching HGTV and reading coffee table design books. I don't have time for another career -- I'm too invested in writing to walk away from it and start all over. But there's definitely an appeal.
If I had extra time and money, I might well try flipping houses -- buying old historic properties, renovating and restoring them to something that acknowledges the beauty of the past, but also functions well with the needs of the present. And if a friend wants me to come over and talk to them about their space -- how they can re-envision the layout, or bring their love of curves and color into a beige box, I think that would be awfully satisfying. I've learned so much in this process; it seems a shame not to use some of that knowledge, going forwards.
In the end, it just makes me so happy, glancing up from my laptop to see beauty all around me. I know that doesn't matter to everyone -- Kev, I think, could be almost as happy in the beige box, as long as he had a good mug of hot coffee nearby. But for me, beauty lifts my spirits, and brings pleasure to the everyday. A lovely kitchen is a joy forever, god wot.
And now, back to writing books.