I walk through all kinds of homes every week to write home reviews for my job as a freelance journalist. I’ve seen lots of lovely display homes and have met hundreds of people who live in some pretty amazing houses.
Some of these people have been in the enviable position of being able to build (or restore) their dream home. I once did a riverside mansion in Applecross that was on the market for $25 million. It was built by a very lovely FIFO worker for himself and his wife. His idea of a dream house feature? Two toilets, in separate rooms, in their lavish ensuite. Not just his-and-hers vanities, but his-and-hers cubicles.
“We knew we had to build two toilets,” the husband told me.
“It’s the key to a good marriage,” his wife chipped in.
Fair enough. That said, a man I once met who had built his dream house in Hillarys had eight bathrooms - for a family of three! No-one needs eight bathrooms!
Maybe you don’t want to have eight bathrooms (I don’t even like cleaning one) but I think we’ve all daydreamed about what we would have in our own dream house. My list of must-haves has changed over the years. The pink queen-sized waterbed I lusted after when I was six is no longer on the list. Neither is the trampoline hallway so I can bounce from room to room (impractical for heels and carrying in the shopping). But if I could build my fantasy dream house with amazing The Sims-like features? I now have other things I would NEED...
Because who wouldn't want a tower? Or a belvedere, if you will. What a good place to get away and sulk or escape from bratty sisters who want you to take them trick-or-treating, like in Hocus Pocus.
Look familiar? It's the best part of Practical Magic - the house, with widow's walk atop the tower.
A WRITING SPOT WITH A VIEW TO INSPIRE (OR DISTRACT)
I’m not fussy, I’ll take either of these.
A SECRET PASSAGE
Um, only one of the greatest books of the 80s:
Give this book a Man Booker.
This book spawned my lifelong obsession with secret passages, bookcase doors and hidden rooms. It had me knocking on all the walls in my parent’s 1950s house listening for hollow noises (ok, I was seven) and dedicating a Pinterest board to secret doors.
For those of you who haven’t read the gem that is The Ghost At Dawn’s House, Dawn and her family have moved into a really, really old farmhouse in Stoneybrook with a barn out the back. Dawn was my favourite BSC member by the way. Because she was ‘an individual’. I also liked Stacey who made me want to have diabetes (did I mention I was seven. Also weird).
Dawn had often wondered if her house could have a secret passage, and one day she goes out to the barn to read and falls down a trapdoor into a secret passage. She grabs a torch and finds out that the underground tunnel goes up to the house and connects to a panel door in her bedroom wall. Creepyyyy.
Dawn and her parents suspect that the secret passage was once part of the Underground Railroad, which I have to say I actually thought at the time was a tiny little underground train tunnel (seven!).
Over the next few weeks Dawn starts hearing strange noises coming from the passage and finding weird old things on the floor. Then Dawn finds a book that says her house was the home of a 200-year-old dead guy called Jared Mullray who went freakishly missing one day. And she starts freaking out that the house is haunted by the ghost of Jared Mullray. As it turns out, one day Dawn discovers that eight-year-old Nicky Pike has been secretly hanging out in the secret passage to hide from his mean triplet brothers and the noises Dawn heard were just Nicky. She and Nicky have a talk with his parents, and they agree that Nicky can keep visiting the secret passage as long as he always tells a babysitter or a grown-up where he’s going. It will probably be only a few years until little Nicky is drilling holes in the wall of the secret passage to watch Dawn undress, but this is not mentioned.
All is well and the Babysitters Club is having a sleepover and watching Sixteen Candles at Dawn’s house when at 1am comes a rapping from inside the secret passage. Obviously not eight-year-old Nicky Pike. The babysitters drag their sleeping bags to the lounge. The book ends. This stuff is literary gold, my nerds.
My obsession with secret passages and secret doors has continued throughout my life. When I was a teenager I became obsessed with the secret room part of Tomb Raider. The amount of HOURS I spent making Lara run full-pelt through the hedge maze only to miss slipping through the sliding door to the secret room by a nanosecond. I nearly wept tears of frustration. But the elation when I finally made it! Ahhh. Like the joy when I figured out I could lock the creepy butler with his stupid rattling tray in the freezer.
I did feel guilty about it though, afterwards.
Anyway. My dream house doesn’t have to have a secret passage. A secret room will suffice.
One very cool Irish home.
This may come as a shock to those of you (with dishwashers) because we don’t have one. We have an old original jarrah kitchen and Mr Nerd says it would be too hard to fit it in the cabinetry and also that WE DON’T NEED ONE. I know, what the hell. It is practically stone age not to have a dishwasher. It would be the equivalent of me going round to a friend’s house and seeing them scrub clothes on one of those old wooden washboards. Depressing.
How my friends see me.
So yes, I want a dishwasher. Clearly when it comes to dream homes I don’t ask for a lot.
This would otherwise be known as the party room and we would have our themed parties
here. It would have polished parquetry floors so we can put socks on and slide on them.
I’ve seen a couple of old Perth houses that had ballrooms. One was Le Fanu in Cottesloe (you know the crumbling old ruin on Marine Parade?). Falling to bits but very cool.
A WONDERFUL LOCATION
Somewhere pretty and no psycho neighbours please. I want to live in a nice community. Cottesloe and Bicton by the river are lovely spots. Highlands would do nicely. I’d live close to parks and nice walks so I can take Nala for runs otherwise she’d drive me mental.
A SUPER MARIO FISH TANK
Because it’s better than coral. And you can role-play the Romeo & Juliet scene.
A COSY HARRY POTTER-ESQUE BEDROOM
When I did high school chemistry, my friend Naomi and I spent hours drawing blueprints of our dream house-castle instead. Mr Botterill will tell you that is why I failed chem. (But I always knew I was going to be a writer or a failed architect! Why would I need to know what a covalent bond thingie was?)
Anyway Naomi and I often drew houses with Harry Potter-esque features like secret tunnels and stone walls. I love Harry Potter and even have a Pinterest board for Harry Potter home inspiration. One time Mr Nerd and I even had a giant Pictionary party with a wizard/Harry Potter dress-up theme. Clearly I am Ron Weasley. Mr Nerd is… I don’t know who Mr Nerd is.
I love all the visions that Harry Potter books conjure up – the old framed pictures and fireplaces and beds with bed warmers placed by little house elves.
My dream house would have a really cosy Harry Potter-y bedroom or living room, somewhere really nice for curling up to read with a mug of hot chocolate. Which leads me to…