I think it was Yves San Laurent who said that Fashion fades but style is eternal. One of the things that has been freaking me out slightly about the house is how we do make it nice enough now so that we like it in ten/twenty years time as well as straight away. Style wise, I get it wrong all the time but most of the time it doesn’t matter one bit as its usually only a pair of shoe boots that actually made me look like I have trotters or refusing to accept that Cos dresses, despite how much I love them, make me look like a lesbian Amish lady, if such a thing was allowed. I like to think I’m not a fashion victim but the ghosts of photos past say otherwise with ghouls including the classy Geri Halliwell white stripe at the front of my hair in the early 90’s and other milder faux pas’s such as the old dress over bootleg jeans phase which was not as long ago as I’d like to think. Sure we are just back from a week’s holiday in Kerry and I am already laughing at what I’m wearing in some of the pics and that was last bloody week.
Try as I might, I don’t always get it right so how in god’s name do we decide on a style of house, inside and out, that we will love today, tomorrow, forever.
Now was a good time to be musing such matters as the planner was acomin’ so we needed well, a plan. The date was set, so we set about our homework keen to impress. By this, I mean Daragh researched the various architecture styles of the houses along our street and I made sweeping generalisations about who this lady was and what she would be like, and planned our charm offensive accordingly.
Now just to be clear, she wasn’t the planner planner person, this first visitor was the conservation planner lady. So despite being really very old, our house isn’t protected which is a major bonus, but it is situated in a conservation zone, whatever that is when its at home. This street where we currently and futuristicly will live, is one of those funny liquorice allsorts types: really vile public-toilet-esque apartment blocks jostle for elbow room beside pristine Victorian terraces and red-bricked 90’s townhouses (our current abode) are plonked opposite grey austere three storied facades which are apparently real architectural gems known as Dutch Billy style. Its a real mixed bag.
A lot of the older ones are it turns out protected so when we go for planning permission, whatever we end up doing will have to be in keeping with the “conservation aesthetic of the street”. Which is fine but confusing given its all so higgedly piggedly.
The big day arrived and we were kind of excited, giddy if I’m honest, not really the best frame of mind to meet someone who I’m pretty sure could completely make or break everything but it felt like the first step forwards out of the old and into our new. I, having decided the planner would be a semi hippy earth mother type with an Irish name who would arrive by bike, put on my Birkenstocks, stuck the baby in a sling, very nearly decided to wear pigtails and tried to look holistic.
We had been told by our engineer who was accompanying (in reality supervising) the visit to say nothing, (i.e. Shut up, he was obviously getting to know me) and let him do the talking so instead I concentrated on looking earthy, did a lot of that hip circling baby waving that pro sling wearers seem to be at, and tried to look like I had a compost heap and used vinegar instead of Cillit bang to clean the bath.
And up the hill she came. (On her bike might I add). It was all very official and thrilling. I mean she had a clip board and everything. She clearly meant business. As we walked her around the place, it all seemed to be going very well. She seemed very interested in the house, the engineer was asking what seemed liked very intelligent questions, the baby was practically in a trance with all my jigging about and Daragh was doing a lot of furrowed browing and quizzical faces. But then, in style terms, we had a slight wardrobe malfunction. Having been warned that the word demolish to a conservationist is almost Voldemortesque, We couldn’t help ourselves and instead keen to show off our homework, may have mentioned a great idea we had concocted: This would see us attempt to replicate the design of our neighbouring property, a two storey bricked house, which is lovely and also helpfully keeping with the tone of the neighbourhood. No? Her eyes widened, first in planner design horror but then I saw a flicker of, was it pity? She explained, much in the way you would to a two year old that they cant wear their wellies to a christening, that this would not be possible as these were Victorian terraces whereas ours was clearly a villa style and obviously you can’t just knock one piece of history and replace it with imitation history as that is kind of the opposite of conservation.
Ha ha ha how we all laughed hysterically: her at the craziness of our suggestion, us in panic that we had made a bags of it and also wondering what the hell villa style was.
Ah yes the titters continued but we know she saw through us and yes even through my ecomum disguise. The truth was out: We were basically property chavs, with no design style or integrity and were highly likely to try and knock the house and cement everything in sight as soon as her back was turned.
In fairness to Rioghnach/Blaithnead/Dearbhla, she was pretty sound and we all pretty much made an instant silent decision to pretend our little blip hadn’t happened and soon we were back up and running and as it turns out, it went pretty well. She seemed fairly hopeful that we would get permission to build a two storey extension at the back, once we leave the facade as is. And actually that’s fine by us. We have both grown to love the frontage of our little blue folly and I think it will make a nice reminder when its all done and dusted to step through the past and into the future, of where we started and hopefully how far we will have come.
So now? Now we wait for an email from our new planner pal in which she’ll outline what she thinks is best for the property. Apparently this will take weeks. To be honest we’re in no rush and It is giving us a chance to get our design hats on. Cue lots of wine fuelled late night sketching with Alice’s Hello Kitty crayons.
Hmm, the sooner we get an architect the better. Now where does one find one of those? Any suggestions gratefully welcomed…