Saturday, August 26, 2023
Ralph and I went to see the Barbie movie today. This sounds like a ridiculous thing, because why would we want to see the Barbie movie? I have never owned a Barbie in my life, my least favorite color is pink, and if there is one thing I hated playing with and still hate now it’s CLOTHES.
But it is such a phenomenon that our curiosity got the better of us. If you’re interested, I have to say it was a pretty funny and entertaining movie. Very clever, tongue-in-cheek, poking as much fun at itself as the rest of the world.
I’m still not going to wear pink.
Anyway this is not the Barbie post. This is the Dream House post. Because this is how my brain works. Some people see astronaut Barbie or sparkle Barbie, but I see Dream House.
It’s something I have thought about a lot, and something Ralph and I have been planning for a long time. We budgeted 3 million for our dream house but that was like ten years ago and you can barely get a shack for that now. Unless you’re in Wyoming.
So I am not putting a price tag on my house. I’m assuming that whatever I want I can have, as long as it exists. I mean, I may want a kitchen that magically washes my dishes but since that has not been invented yet, I will stick with what is feasible.
In a perfect world where money is no object, I give you: my Dream House.
First, the kitchen, quite possibly the most important part of my house. I should start by saying that I don’t need a big kitchen, per se, I just need one that’s big enough. That means space to put my stuff so I don’t have to crawl on the floor to dig out my 30-pound cast iron Dutch oven when I want to make ropa vieja. That means a place to put my stand mixer so I don’t have to carry it across the room or find it in a box when I want to make bread. It means never, ever having to balance the bucket of flour on top of the carton of eggs on the edge of the sink because I ran out of room to mix the pancakes.
I want a gas stove. I cannot abide by electric cooking, I just can’t. I hear New York is implementing some no-gas-stove policy where new houses cannot be built with gas because of asthma or something.
I love New York but that is a deal breaker for me. I will not have a house without a gas stove. I don’t care about your asthma. If I can wish a church would burn down just so I don’t have to hear the bells, you can imagine my indifference to your asthma when it comes to its effect on the quality of my food. Just saying.
This is what you would call “non-negotiable.”
Here is another thing I want: separate freezer and refrigerator.
I’ve had freezer on top. I’ve had freezer on bottom. I’ve had freezer on side. I’m here to tell you they all stink. I want one whole refrigerator and one whole freezer and never the twain shall meet.
I also want a separate ice maker, because at the end of the day your ice just smells like leftover pizza no matter what you do and this is not particularly appetizing when it comes to cocktails. Also my refrigerator will NEVER have a water filter. Do you know what will have a water filter? My water filter.
In our condo we had a water filter under the sink with a spout coming out of the counter next to the faucet. It was perfect. This nonsense where you stand in front of your refrigerator for ten minutes while filtered water trickles out is ridiculous and takes up a stupid amount of space.
It also gets gross and moldy and slimy and requires an exorbitant amount of cleaning.
My kitchen has a large sink with some sort of something built in to stop the water from flooding the rest of the counter.
I don’t know what that thing is, but I’m willing to learn. In Brigantine the water constantly flooded behind the sink and eventually all the grout fell out of the backsplash. Here, the water is constantly running a river onto the floor. I don’t remember having that problem in our condo, but I also had a D-shaped sink where the faucet came out kind of over the center so I think that gave it enough space from the counter that it didn’t flood. So let’s go with that.
Oh, and the microwave? Cannot be above the stove. I know this is a space-saving thing but it’s stupid. You can’t vent the stove, and everything you cook just ends up congealed under it. So no. It can be built into the wall or something. The only use I have for it is reheating some very specific things, so honestly I wouldn’t cry if I never had one again. It can be convenient but most of the time I reheat stuff in a pot because I don’t want it to be disgusting.
I want a hood, a venting hood that actually vents, not just has a fan that sucks grease up into the interior of your microwave so all you end up with is more goop to clean.
Also there has to be a pantry. Possibly a pantry as big as the kitchen. I never want to move sixteen things so I can find the baking soda. I never want to stack cans ten high because it’s the only way to fit them on the shelf. The pantry needs lots of shelves, shallow shelves, so nothing is ever stacked more than two deep or one high. And plenty of cabinet space for pans and pots and a billion plastic containers since nobody has yet invented the magical shrinking one. I never want forty plastic lids to fall out on top of me when I’m trying to dig out the pie plate.
And maybe even a built-in ladder like you see in a library, so when I need to retrieve something from the top shelf I can do it without disassembling half the kitchen.
Here is a thing I have been wondering: why do cabinets have that indent of space under them so that everything you drop goes into the farthest corner where you can’t sweep it out? Why don’t cabinets get built straight down to the floor? I don’t know if this is an engineering requirement or what, but if it isn’t, then I don’t want any space under them. Or on top of them. I do not need potted plants on top of my cabinets. Do you know how much dust and grease collects up there? Dear god. I want no spaces where gunk can accumulate.
My dream house has no forced air heat. I want ambient heat, whether it’s radiators or stoves or whatever. I want heated coils in my floors. I cannot stand the noise that forced air heat makes. Same for the air conditioner so if there is such a thing as ambient cooling, I want that too.
I am becoming very crotchety about noise. The fact that I have to listen to that compressor blow all day all day all day all day drives me braying at the moon insane.
I don’t want to hear a fan, I don’t want to hear a roar, I want to hear nothing at all.
Also forced air is very drying. Your skin gets like paper and your eyeballs practically bleed every winter.
If I am going to have a dream house, those things have to exist.
Do you know what else has to happen in my house? Things have to make sense. I really think stuff is designed into houses just because they have always been designed into houses that way. Case in point: why is there a towel rack above the toilet? Who goes to the toilet to dry their hands? If you’re taking a shower, you need a towel by the shower. If you’re washing your hands, you need a towel by the sink. It is annoying that I have to wash my hands then reach over the toilet to get a towel. Why is it not BY THE SINK?
Because nobody thinks to put the sink in a place where you can hang a towel. The sink is this gigantic counter with nothing to hang a towel on. Why do you need a gigantic counter? So you can put a thousand toiletries on it and always have a mess? Do you know what would happen if you didn’t have a gigantic counter? You’d put stuff away. I really don’t want to look at deodorant and powder and shave cream and moisturizer and Q-tips and whatever else sprawled across the counter all day. It collects dust. It’s ugly. Put it in a cabinet!
So no huge counters and a sink with a towel so I don’t have to drip all over my toilet whenever I wash my hands.
Also, nothing, and I mean NOTHING in my house will be white.
White is the stupidest color, second only to black.
Black collects dust.
White only looks white if you never touch it or use it, and cover it with Saran wrap so nothing falls on it, not the merest speck of dust or a single hair. I want my house to have natural colors that look earthy and touchable, not this gross, miserable white that looks dirty no matter what you do.
Also, tubs? Stupid. Unless you have a baby or you are really into baths, nobody needs a tub. Least of all a tub that has huge edges around it so that when you shower they collect water and mold up in about five minutes.
In our condo, we had a jacuzzi tub and I HATED it. First of all, you could never actually fill it with hot water because the hot water ran out long before you could get enough in there to sit in. Plus after the first five minutes the novelty wore off and for the next 20 years that thing was the bane of my existence, a giant dust collector, a thing I had to stand in just to clean with a bottle of Windex and 400 paper towels.
In our apartment our tub has six-inch edges that are constantly wet. And not for nothing but after I shower and I’m clean, I don’t want to stand there for the next ten minutes wiping down the shower so it doesn’t turn into a science experiment by the next day.
Tubs are stupid.
I want a shower. A giant shower with NOT WHITE tiles, something natural and textured. I want actual water pressure. I do not want shower doors. I want a shower big enough that I never have to de-scum a shower door again as long as I live. Glass does not belong in a bathroom.
Again, I don’t need a huge bathroom, I just need a bathroom that’s big enough. Big enough for two sinks, so Ralph and I can each have one, and counters that you can use when you need to but that don’t become a home for junk. That means we also need drawers and cabinets, with a separate space for cleaning supplies so I never have to put the bleach next to my face cream.
Do you know what I did once? I’ll preface this with a trigger warning, so if you are squeamish you may want to skip ahead to the next paragraph. You’ve been warned. I once brushed my teeth with the old toothbrush that I use to scrub the toilet and shower grout. Why? Because there is only one cabinet and I accidentally grabbed the one from the cleaning supplies instead of my toiletries.
I want a closet for supplies but the actual linen closet should not be in the bathroom. I do not want my linens to smell like bleach or hamper any more than I want to accidentally pick the wrong toothbrush. Non-negotiable.
In our apartment, you can only get to the bedroom closet by going through the bathroom. This is the dumbest design. We had the same thing in our condo but since it was our condo we ripped down the walls and built new ones so they were separate. I never want to be standing there waiting to get my underwear because Ralph is in the bathroom.
I want all hardwood floors in my house, or tile if it’s a bathroom or maybe an entryway where you come in with your wet shoes.
Oh, don’t even get me started on entryways.
So you come in, right? And you have dirty shoes on. Where are you going to put them? You’re going to leave them in front of the door. Which is a MESS. And sometimes you have an umbrella. What are you supposed to do with that? And your winter coat?
It’s a project just to walk in the door. I want a place to put shoes and umbrellas and coats and whatever you need to put, like maybe your purse or keys so I don’t have to wander around the house every time I want to leave looking for things I can’t remember where they are.
And I do not want to look at them all day, so they need to have what… a closet? Cabinet? Something. I’ll hire an architect to figure it out, but there needs to be a place to put “stuff you need to take off when you come in or put on when you go out”.
Oh yeah, floors. I cannot deal with carpet. I have allergies, for one thing. And after a while I don’t care how much you vacuum, it just doesn’t feel clean. I can do areas rugs and replace those once in a while.
No laminate either. I want everything to be as natural as possible and I’m not trying to be environmental about it, I just don’t want to feel like I live in this manufactured fake environment. I want wood floors and granite counters and stone tiles.
In fact, I don’t even want it to be perfect. The more dented and irregular the better. The thing is, if you have these beautiful shiny hardwood floors and you get a ding in them, it’s a crisis.
Trust me, I know. When we did the remodel in our condo we got these gorgeous mahogany colored floors. They looked so spectacular for about four seconds and the minute you walked on them you could see every toe print.
I am perfectly fine with rustic rugged looking stuff. Perfection is pointless.
What else have I not covered.
I want my own room. Not sure what I want in this room yet, but it will definitely have comfortable furniture and a lot of cushions and light. Probably for writing but also for not writing. As a kid being sent to your room was the worst thing. As an adult I want to go to my room. Like if I want to do a puzzle or a craft or something. I’m not saying that nobody else is invited. Ralph can come to my room and hang out but his stuff can’t be there. Not a wire, not a glass, nothing. I mean, he can bring it in when he comes, but it goes out with him when he leaves.
Let’s talk about wires.
I cannot STAND wires. I know it is a reality of modern living but there HAS to be a way to put wires somewhere else besides across the floors and the table and collecting dust under the couch.
Stuff can be built into walls. Stuff can be run inside baseboards.
I do not want to look at a mess of wires ever again.
I want a gym but it cannot feel like a gym. It has to be more like a second living room, just with my Peloton and stuff. I like having the bike in the living room now because it is super easy to hop on and you can watch TV and you don’t feel like you’re relegated to “somewhere else” if you want to exercise. In our condo we sort of had that, but eventually we moved the treadmill into the bedroom, and even though I didn’t like it there from an aesthetic point of view, it did make it super easy to use.
So I need a room that is for living in but also has the gym stuff. And I need a room for living in that DOESN’T have the gym stuff so when I have guests once every two years, they don’t have to look at my bike.
And neither do I. I don’t actually want to see it all day.
I guess if it was designed in I could live with it, maybe somewhere I could screen it off, or have some cool Japanese-style sliding doors that I could open up and close again. I’m open to suggestion. That’s what my architect is for.
I want books but I’m not convinced I want a library. Having a library feels like having a gym, like your books are OVER THERE, relegated to a room. What if I don’t want to be in that room?
I think the idea of a library is cool so maybe I can have a library and also have books everywhere else.
I want a lot of bookshelves everywhere.
And art. Not art where people are like oh, that’s art. But art from places I’ve been and people I’ve seen. I would love nothing more than to have my screen art from the streets of New York and my New Orleans art from the guy sitting on the sidewalk in Jackson Square.
Ceiling fans. Must have ceiling fans. Cannot abide by stale air.
Windows. A lot of windows but all with coverings. I have been to so many big expensive houses with these grand windows that are so big that nobody can put shades or curtains on them. It is very disconcerting. I can’t live in a house where you can’t block out the world so I want a lot of windows with an equal amount of shades and curtains.
And NO BLINDS. Dear god, I cannot tell you how much I hate dusting blinds.
I am exhausted from thinking about it.
Which reminds me that I need things to be FLAT. I do not want nooks and crannies and edges and carvings.
I do not want “dust doors” to be on my weekly task list. Doors can be flat so they don’t need dusting.
I don’t need an indoor pool. An outdoor one might be cool. I don’t need a screening room or theater chairs. I wouldn’t mind a sound system so I could maybe possibly understand the dialogue on a movie instead of constantly reading the subtitles.
There are other things that I would like that are less about the house and more about the experience. Like chickens. I want chickens. And bees. And a zen garden. And a pond. And many, many flowers and an herb garden and possibly a vegetable garden.
Also no lawn. Enough patio that I can have my outdoor kitchen and hang out, but grass is an invention of the devil. Grass has to be mowed and weed-whacked and there will be no incessant lawn machinery noise at my house. There will be peace and there will be gardens.
And about ten cats.
I think my dream house boils down to a few concepts. Convenient. Easy to clean. Quiet. And basically pretty, where pretty is subjective, but must adhere to the other requirements. A lot of things are pretty. Elaborate filigreed molding is pretty but it’s a damn inconvenience to clean. So it is not allowed.
I feel like this is a good start. I’m sure there are things I will think of later but trust me, I have a running list and it is updated regularly. The good news is that my dream house will have adjacent dream houses so you can come visit and possibly never want to leave, which will be ok, because I will always be able to find the ingredients I need to cook you dinner and I will never be out of Campari because my bar will be completely organized. I know I didn’t mention a bar in my dream house, but come on. Was this ever in question?
Photo: I never ever want to look at a cabinet like that!