Tuesday, May 6, 2008

In which Chorus looks at Houses

I went for a walk today at lunch through the neighbourhood directly to the west of Colourful University. It's a very pleasant neighbourhood, and if you walk far enough, and make the appropriate left and right turns at the correct moments, you wind up connecting to a long winding road that comes back east towards the campus and is lined on one side by the river valley, and on the other by some fantastic houses.

Looking at houses is one of my favourite pastimes; it's always interesting to look at homes and think about what kinds of people must live there, to look at the things in other people's homes that you wish you had in your own, and alternatively, to look at homes that you are very glad you don't own. There are very few of the latter on my walk; these homes are beautiful. And many of them are very large, but not all. I think that the original neighbourhood was built some time before the real estate market realized that the combination of gigantic homes and a view of the river would equal big bucks. Over time, many of the original homes have been torn down, but there are still a few charming little houses tucked in between the mammoth ones.

The neighbourhood is interesting too because it does not have a consistent design from house to house, so there is pleasing variety, entirely unlike the new neighbourhoods being built on the edges of our city. No, this neighbourhood hasArts and Crafts homes, which I ADORE; beautiful big brick and stone homes built to look like English cottages onlymoreso, which I ADORE; interesting modern homes built on funny angles to maximize the size of the lots and the view of the river, which I don't ADORE, but wouldn't turn away if someone offered me one for free; and big imposing grey stone houses built like plantation mansions, which I think are cold and ... well, ugly. There are also about 6 houses built in a Frank Lloyd Wrightish kind of square boxes-piled-on-top-of-each-other style, which I think are fascinating, but I can't imagine how they don't have major roof problems, considering how much snow we get. There's a certain smug self-satisfaction in looking at a giant home you'll never be able to afford, and thinking that you wouldn't buy it, even if you could, because it wouldn't be a rational decision given the climate.

I think this fascination with looking at houses began at a very young age for me; my mom and I would drive around the old neighbourhoods of Prairie City and look at homes, and we were always especially on the lookout for little tiny charming houses, the more tilty and quaint the better. With big gardens. And folk art in the yard, if possible.


Crimson Rambler said...

Quelle coincidence! I used to drive around with my daughter, looking for tiny little houses with folk art in the yards! ;-)

ccw said...

I love to look at houses in older neighborhoods where everything is not ginormous and new.

It just kills me that my neighborhood with smaller and normal sized houses with nice yards is slowly being destroyed for huge houses on the same lots. If I see one more giant arched window with a horrible chandelier shining through I might vomit.

Crimson Rambler said...

There was an article in -- I think -- the Atlantic Monthly, quite recently, on how fast these monster-house neighbourhoods are going to become slums.