Darling-Chéri and I started talking about moving out of his flat only weeks after I’d moved in. This was two and a half years ago. For a variety of reasons (banks who won’t lend you money etc) our search was a bit staggered but eventually it really kicked off in April and I am glad to say that we have now found our perfect place.
The thing about looking for a new place is that even when you’re not actively searching, well, you are still looking a bit. I must have seen thousands of floorplans in the past two years and this was the opportunity for me to understand a bit more about English architecture.
If you have ever seen the suburbs of London, you’ll agree that there isn’t a lot of room for originality when it comes to the architecture of English houses, as the writers of Asterix rightly observed in Asterix in Britain. Most of the urban expansion happened in the Thirties and with around 4 million houses built at the time, the authorities used common sense and went for the simplicity of homogeneity. Hence the sight from the Overground can border on monotonous, with alignments of identical dark red brick houses with dark grey roofs, stuck to one another in a pattern that just repeats itself with no variety from one town to the other. Having worked and lived outside London for over 5 years now, I have got used to this visual repetition – I have always found it strange though, as I consider the English very original and imaginative in other areas (fashion, haircuts, tattoos to name but a few…). I sometimes wonder if people around here express on their own person their rejection of the conformity they are culturally (and architecturally) subjected to. As they can’t differentiate their house from their neighbour’s, they seem to imprint that difference on themselves!
In the past few months, I have been able to go deeper in my architectural observation: it turns out houses that look similar on the outside are generally similar on the inside. Thus what I thought to simply be some sort of defect on the first two houses we looked at turns out to be a widespread issue. This defect is the third bedroom, often called the box-room. As a French person, I was not familiar with the concept at all. And even now, I struggle to see how a 5sqm room (where you can barely fit a single bed), which was originally created for storage purposes, can be sold as a full-on bedroom. We did see a few quirky houses where all the bedrooms were of a decent size, but they were the exception rather than the rule.
So inevitably our future house, if we ever manage to finalise the purchase, will have a box-room. I am still struggling to find what its purpose will be. A nursery? Probably at some point, but in the meantime… A micro gym room? An ironing closet? Spare storage space for my shoes and Darling-Chéri’s shirts?