Thursday, October 27, 2011

Erasing Lines: Thoughts on my Kitchen and Bath

Kitchen Designs

"What if I move this over here or that over there?" I ponder the architect's drawings of our kitchen. I don't want to live in a house and wonder for the next forty years, "Why did we put the counter there?" or "Why is the sink so far from the stove?" Details wear me out so as I exhaust every possibility, I also exhaust myself. I know the architect, the builder, and the kitchen planner are probably wondering about me way over here on this side of the world plotting out my kitchen- I tinker with their suggestions. Maybe if I was there in person or maybe if I had actually lived in the house, I would have a better sense of what would work both for my family and for the house. Instead, I sit with paper, whiteout, a pencil, an eraser, a tape measurer, and a pair of scissors so I can cut up the architect's work and move it around on the paper, adding a line here, erasing a line there, trying to see what could be.

A Little Help from my Friends

I have also solicited input from my design friends. I love their, "What if ...?" Our friend, also an architect, studied the paper one fine afternoon with great intensity. We had asked him for input on moving a wall. Finally, I asked, "What do you think?" He said, "I want to move the bathroom," pointing to the half bath in the Sunroom. He wasn't so interested in the wall as in the bathroom. I thought that was interesting because when my other friend had said the same thing, I dismissed it, thinking that moving the bathroom was impossible. We didn't come to any grand conclusions, but a week later when our architect and the builder suggested we move the bathroom instead of the wall, it was an easy decision.

Another moment of valuable input came with this question: "What are the dimensions of this bathroom?" As we stared at the white paper with it's black lines that made everything look perfectly in its place, I said, "I don't really know." Then she said, "I was in a friend's bathroom this summer. It was so big, I felt naked in there." I knew what she meant, a bathroom needs to feel intimate. We split the bathroom into a study and a bathroom.

Chewing on things helps. The more I think on how I will use something and how much time I spend in the space, the more ideas on the space I am willing to consider. It is not a quick process- you find merit in one idea and that leads to something else so you have to consider the compromises. I'm in search of functional space that has chi or flow as well as light, but we are limited to the confines of an old house which is probably good- the possibilities are finite. I heard they jacked up the living floor three inches this week- should be level now.

My husband is pretty good with spacial perception so I am hoping that we can talk through some of the ideas and conclude this process. He is tired and irritated with the daily haurangings over minutiae, but I try to remind him, "Think about it now so we never have to think about it again."

Notes from a Lecture by Ruskin

In 1853 John Ruskin delivered three lectures on art and architecture to an audience in Edinburgh, Scotland. They were later printed in a book titled Lectures on Architecture and Painting. I read this book in March while lying on a mattress on the floor in a rented beach house as everyone but me slumbered thanks to jetlag.

...every farthing we spend on objects of art has influence over men's minds and spirits, far more than over their bodies. By the purchase of every print which hangs on your walls, of every cup out of which you drink, and every table off which you eat your bread, you are educating a mass of men in one way or another. You are either employing them healthily or unwholesomely; you are making them lead happy or unhappy lives; you are leading them to look at Nature, and to love her—to think, to feel, to enjoy,—or you are blinding them to Nature, and keeping them bound, like beasts of burden, in mechanical and monotonous employments. We shall all be asked one day, why we did not think more of this.

John Ruskin