Grand designs

Nothing of note or merit has occurred this past two days (unless you count the few, geeky tears shed towards the end of Voyager, when one of the characters elected to stay behind in the Delta Quadrant and Everyone Was Very Sad) so today I decided that in addition to writing something down I’ve long meant to (lest I forget), I‘d pop it on here so that everyone can share in the delicious joy that is my Grand Design.

The premise (for those not in the know or with too little interest to click the link (something I am often guilty of myself (doesn’t it just seem that sometimes there are links sprinkled gratuitously through blog posts, like ice-cream toppings? (it’s a little too much to expect them all to be looked at)))) is that people submit their crazy home designs and the TV channel chooses the weirdest/most extravagant/least practical ones to be part of the show. Sadly, they don’t fund the build, which is why my design has remained thus far in my head.

[The show opens with a camera panning across a high cliff-top. A single track leads from the road through scrubby grass, peppered with wild flowers. High clouds scud across the sky, giving a dappled effect to the grassy expanse and the grey-blue sea ahead. The track ends up at a small, gravel car park without a fence. It is set back from the edge of the cliff and next to it, a hill rises inexplicably on the front of the cliff, as though a knoll had been left too long in the oven and grown out of all proportion. On closer inspection, its gentle curves seem divided – the lower edges have been cultivated and turned into vegetable patches! The top boasts a further smattering of wild flowers and some low, shining domes. Further, larger glass domes become apparent at ground level. A gorse bush in bloom wafts the scent of coconut and sunshine towards you (or would, if it weren’t on screen) and as you pull up in the car park and the angle changes, you see a round aperture cut into the far side of the hill, and within it, a door…]

It’s an awesome exterior, wait til you see the rest.

There’s a wide hall beyond the door, with blond parquet flooring and coathooks on one wall. The ceiling is snug, but not too low, and the light floods in through those awesome reflective, tunnelly-leads-to-outside-giving-natural-light things (anyone know the actual word for those? I’d be most grateful), complemented by small spotlights. Shoes are in a rack under the coats, and a wooden chest of drawers (antique, obviously, probably with some vestiges of floral painted designs) sits in a state of shabby chic, holding telephone and note pad and an ornate bowl for keys.

The hall leads down a flight of stairs and, moving further on, the light changes and becomes flooded with that peculiar brightness you find where water is reflected. A massive, crescent-shaped sweep of a room, encompassing lounge and open-plan kitchen leads the eye to the panel of thick glass windows and a set of glass doors, covering the inner curve of the crescent, where a small courtyard, fronted with further glass in the form of a fence, seems to drop directly off into the sea.The light-tunnels from the hall peter out and become replaced by eco-friendly spotlights (if such a thing exists).

Comfy, huge sofas cluster around a brightly patterned, large rug on the floor towards the centre of the crescent. There is a handy storage unit for children’s toys near the end of the bank of windows. A low, wooden coffee table holds magazines and coasters (and, in all probability, water rings from unkempt teacups). The kitchen area is in the back of the crescent, to the left of the hallway. It has a kitchen island (always wanted one of them) and expanses of pale grey-blue granite topping. The oven has a fancy fume hood. A bowl of fruit in a fancy wire basket is at the breakfast bar. The dining area is directly in front of the kitchen, occupying the left corner of the crescent. A solid oak table and quirky, mismatched, brightly painted chairs add to the dissonance between sleek modernity and shabby eccentricity.

Your eye is drawn to the walls surrounding the outer edge of the crescent. They are plastered and rendered somewhat roughly, but not painted. At intervals, huge, bright paintings create almost a gallery feel, inviting some of the outdoors in. Some small mirrors and glass decorations are also visible, positioned to reflect the seascape opposite. Wooden doors lead off in four directions and there is another small hallway leading away from behind the lounge area.

Delightfully, this painting belongs to me. It’s by British artist Yvonne Coomber and is one of my most treasured things-which-bring-me-joy. It’s about 1.5m square.

Behind the doors are the bedrooms; three for children, one for guests. They are not huge, but are beautiful, with further paintings adorning the walls, built-in wardrobes and more snug ceilings. Light is provided by further installments of the light-tunnel/spotlight combinations. Chests-of-drawers are present in all rooms, as are wooden treasure chests, reminiscent of sea-trade and every magical treasure-chest ever conceived. The guest room has a tiny en-suite wet-room.

The hallway behind the lounge area has a family wet-room style bathroom behind another door, with a mosaic-tiled shower and a sunken bath at floor level (just for fun). The tiles in the mosaic are every colour of the rainbow and peter out into the more sombre tiles which cover the rest of the room. Fluffy towels on heated rails and a rainbow array of bubble baths make this seem like the perfect place. As you look up, you realise that above the bath, there is a large skylight, rather than a light-tunnel, and you can see seagulls flying overhead against the blue and white of today’s sky.

Beyond the bathroom is a flight of stairs leading upwards, then angling round. The light is much brighter at the top. You ascend and find luxurious carpet, a wooden ceiling, curving up from the edges of the floor and another almost-crescent of floor-ceiling windows. The master bedroom. The king-sized bed is central, facing the sea, and beyond it, a small, separate room holds another tiny en-suite wet-room, with a circular window at head height. Further wooden chests of drawers follow the lines of the walls, and at the opposite end to the bathroom, a tiny walk-in closet contains the clothes and shoes of the inhabitants. Another circular window provides light in here, too.

Standing next to the main windows and looking up, you see the waving fringe of the grass roof and admire the way the sparkles from the sea dance on the ceiling. You can see down into the courtyard now, and notice a sunken corner with an ornate ironwork table and chair set and a barbeque pit.

Returning downstairs, you notice a door opposite the stairway and, intrigued, push it open. A flight of stone steps seems to lead into the depths of the earth, lit by dim wall-mounted bracket lights. Small, inset lights in the walls next to the stairs make you feel more comfortable about descending. The ceiling of the tunnel is rocky and unplastered.

Feeling as though you have walked down more steps than you can count, an opening appears to your right. You realise that this room must be carved into the cliff under the main body of the house. A weird light seems to emanate from the room. As you get closer, the scent of water hits you and you round the corner to find a cave-like place with beach-cobbled floor and a secret swimming pool. As your eyes grow accustomed to the light, you realise that the walls and ceiling of the cave are studded with glass gems as they curve gently over the pool. Upon closer inspection, you realise that there are no light fixings here, and the light is emanating from beneath the water. You step closer and see that the lights, in many colours, lend magnificence to the mosaics in the base of the pool – you see ships, waves, underwater creatures towards you, and further away, the sky with glints of golden in the clouds and glints of silver in the waves.

Having amazingly brought your swimsuit with you, you quickly change and step down the tiled stairs into the pool. You lazily circle the pool a couple of times before wondering why the light seems so intense at one particular point. Standing up, you take a closer look beneath the water and are astonished to see a tunnel! Irresistably drawn, you duck down and swim through. The mosaic tiles here are mostly black, with occasional silver or gold, and are studded with tiny lights, like stars. The tunnel is short, and almost as soon as the experience begins, it ends, and widens out into another pool. In the base is a giant, glowing mosaic of the golden sun, with a friendly smile upon its face. The walls and ceiling of the cave are studded with many more glass gems, reminding you of the way Disney cartoons see the dwarves’ jewel mines. The water ripples light across the ceiling and you spy a button close to the edge of the pool. You swim forward, narrowly avoiding banging your legs on the tiled ledge above the sun’s face. You press the button and jets of bubbles turn the surface of the water to turmoil as you lean back into what you now realise is a seat, and relax.

Later, blissfully refreshed, you return to explore the remainder of the tunnel. The stairs continue to descend, further and further, until you are sure you can feel the earth’s heat emanating from its core. It’s not really that far, and you do reach the bottom. A room, not too large, sits with comfortable arm-chairs, a small table and is lined with bookshelves. It is lit in the fashion of a Victorian-style reading room and the books scattered across a low table indicate its frequent use. The window is odd, and seems particularly well framed, but as you look, you realise that it is not the air you are seeing, but the sea! The window looks out below the waves! You marvel for a while, then realise that it’s nearly time for the closing credits and you haven’t yet congratulated the owners on their ingenuity and awesomeness of design.

Rapidly ascending the massive flight of stairs, you begin to understand why there is no need for a fancy home gym in this dwelling. At the top of the stairs, you bump into Kevin McCloud, weeping slightly in wonder and envy at what has been done with this home. Your hosts are gracious, eccentric and seem like salt-of-the-earth types. You’d like to resent them their beautiful home, but you know that they earned it through their dedication to the world-wide introduction of the incredible curative, Licked By Kittens Therapy. You leave, sadly, hoping one day to visit again.

[The camera follows you as you get sadly back into your car and leave. It rises as though on the wings of a bird, leaving you at the end of the driveway and panning back to the huge knoll of the most awesome house in the world. The sun is going down now, and glinting palely off the glass domes atop the hill. The sound of the waves drifts up from the base of the cliff and in the salty air, a group of seagulls call softly to one another.]

There’s nothing like a good flight of fancy, is there.

2 thoughts on “Grand designs

  1. Absolutely! I forgot to mention that the dining table would be massive and well able to hold all the mappage/board games needed for an excellent evening's entertainment.

    Reckon I might've left out a games room though. Bummer.


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