The Househunter: Room by Room

6th October 2017

We’re all about the open plan this week. A contentious issue (well not globally I grant you but here in this small corner of the internet at least) as when you have small children – you want to be able to see them or maximise the sense of space that having no internal walls can give you.

But then, they grow up. And they won’t give you the sitting room back in time for the Channel 4 news, which is, in any case, far too scary for them to watch. So you end up hiding in the kitchen knocking back a sneaky glass of red and wondering how long before you can insist they go upstairs. And then, when they are about eight they go upstairs into their bedrooms and you have all the privacy you thought you wanted and you can’t get them out of their bedrooms until they are about 18. When they move out. Gone. Just like that. Although if the 16yo continues to play 90s rap at current volumes I may not be entirely distressed when that day comes.

Anyway, open-plan looks great but it’s harder to live in if you live with, you know, other people. These days I like a wall. A bit of separation. A room for reading,  a room for tv. A room, as Virginia Woolf so memorably said, of my own. Where I can leave my book on the coffee table open at the right page and not find it has been buried under a pile of pizza boxes when I return from the loo.

You know what I mean. But this is Fantasy Friday. And we’re all about looking and dreaming today so this, in my make-believe world of multiple house-owing is, let’s say, my Saturday house. Lots of space for the family to gather for a sun-filled conversational lazy brunch fuelled by excellent coffee and a small bloody Mary while we gather round the table.

Followed by a relaxing hour in one or other of the two seating areas. Only we are all as one here, so we will happily all listen to the same music at the same time – except for the 90s rap – that’s still not happening. It is a glorious, beautiful, family weekend…

…And then on Sunday, we’ll move to a house with walls. Because everybody needs a break right? This one though, should you be possessed of £1.1m and a job near Leamington Spa, in Warwickshire, is on the market with Fine & Country. I shall be virtually touring this space a lot. From within my walled space.

But for those of you who want walls. Let’s leave the bucolic pleasures of the countryside and head to the smoke. This is in north London. There is some open plan but there are also two sitting rooms. And a playroom. A study and five bedrooms. This then, is for the family with teenagers. The family where everyone needs their own space, but there is a big enough kitchen for everyone to wander into for the odd meal. And then plenty of space for everyone to be i their own space – both mentally and physically – afterwards. This then, is my house. And let’s not let the fact that it costs £2.4m get in the way of that little fantasy.

Mind you I know estate agents are supposed to be selling us the aspirational dream but the 35 images of this one include at least three of the Porsche. I was tempted to ring up and ask if they were throwing that in as part of the deal. It’s on with The Modern House by the way and was designed by Paul Archer, who does do lovely houses.

It’s spread over five floors which means if you buy this you won’t need to buy separate gym membership as you’ll only have to leave the charger at the top once and race up to get it, holding the phone which you will then leave up there when you run back downstairs clutching said charger and wondering why you are even holding that in the first place. This is fitness house.

Where they have gone fully open plan though is with this en suite bathroom. Isn’t it gorgeous. I love the colour scheme – the black taps and floating vanity unit. It’s all very lovely. But there’s no loo. For reasons I entirely understand. But I had a look at the floorplan and I can’t actually spot a loo on this entire floor. And there isn’t one on the ground floor either. And they’re suggesting the basement playroom – where there is a bathroom – would work for nanny or guest accommodation.

So perhaps I won’t buy this one. But I will admire it. Perhaps – I have it now – in my fantasy life we won’t need to go to the loo in the middle of the night so it won’t be an issue. I do still love that bathroom though. And the gorgeous architectural black kitchen at the top.

What do you think? Perhaps listening to all that 90s rap has addled my brain and I’m missing the point.

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  • Jane 9th October 2017 at 9:52 am

    Oh yes – walls, definitely! I’m about to move into a flat where the current owner has either knocked them down or – in a misguided fit of 60s retro – put in a serving hatch. I’m going to put them up again, although incorporating a couple of pairs of antique windows because I do see the point about light moving round the place.

  • Tabitha 7th October 2017 at 10:56 am

    Open plan can work, but this demonstrates that it requires some unique design decisions to be approached. Plus, it’s all down to the end-user of the home, their lifestyle and desires from their living space. The modern aesthetic is lovely, and really enhanced by some oaky assets.

  • Liz 7th October 2017 at 9:16 am

    £2.4 million and yet so very soul-less! Leamington one is a stunner. Maybe in fantasy world I wouldn’t be such a worrier – I can just imagine sitting below that amazing dome on a rainy night. ‘Darling, that wasn’t a … drip, was it?’ ‘No, don’t be silly, probably just condensation. Go to bed’.

  • Sally Legg 7th October 2017 at 8:50 am

    Ps.Doh, just realised I was looking at two houses, not one…it’s the second one I loved, the first is far too cavernous! And yes, more like a hotel…..but the second one, I could cope with(even without a loo)

  • Ardith 7th October 2017 at 1:33 am

    I had a friend who had an open floor plan home before it became de rigueur. She had zero window coverings…including in the guest bath-which, by the way, had corner windows facing the entrance. The open floor plan, with wood floors, was incredibly noisy and noise traveled throughout the house. Privacy apparently was not a consideration.

    When I came to visit, I was set up in the media room. There were at least two times the man of the house walked in while I was trying to get dressed. Oh, and without window covers, that room also was viewable from the circular drive way. Ditto for the bathroom overlooking the entrance, there was NO privacy. So, have no fear, I will never get into a bidding war with people who want to buy such a house. It’s all yours.

  • Ksenia Barton 6th October 2017 at 7:00 pm

    I live with my husband and two kids and I fantasize about having many, many single-purpose small rooms 🙂 . Plus we need walls for the statement art 😉 .

  • Stevie 6th October 2017 at 3:03 pm

    The Leamington Spa house has the most fantastic ceilings, which I loved, but the living area was reminiscent of a boutique hotel. Probably because I’m not used to such a big space….

  • susan 6th October 2017 at 11:36 am

    I will never understand why people think having a bathroom (or even just a bath) in your bedroom is the height of luxury. I don’t want damp towels, footprints, steam, tiled surfaces, etc in my bedroom. Of all the open plan trends, it’s the one that makes the least sense to me (with or without a toilet). De gustibus….

    • Stella 6th October 2017 at 2:18 pm

      I’m aghast at that open plan bedroom :-0 Why? Why????

    • Ardith 7th October 2017 at 1:21 am

      Ditto! For so many reasons. Privacy can be your friend. It can help you keep friends. Cheers all, Ardith

    • Marilyn 7th October 2017 at 10:13 am

      Totally agree with you! I always wonder why everyone thinks that Having a bed in the bathroom is à good idea

  • Sally Legg 6th October 2017 at 8:54 am

    Omg! That’s the house I want to buy when I win the lottery- gorgeous! I take on board your comments re open plan, Kate, but as our daughters have left home and we now have young grandchildren, open plan is very practical . I can cook/empty dishwasher/sort washing whilst making sure they’re not being mauled by our 2 Schnauzers!!
    Ps. Have gone ahead with Studio green painted splashbacks to match kitchen cupboards(Peignoir on walls) and am so pleased- thanks for encouraging me, Kate… and if I can work out how to send you a photo, I will…..

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