Do you fall in love with character charm time and time again? Or is it a white cube with bold interior design that makes you weak at the knees?
I live in a beautiful Victorian terrace — high ceilings, ornate fireplace, wrought iron railings outside. Together with the location, value and size of the house, all of these features were on my real estate wish list. But after living there for 18 months, I can’t help feeling that style won out over liveability and I’m starting to crave some good old modern comforts — heat, or energy efficiency perhaps.
The fireplace adds great character to the living area, but being capped, it doesn’t do much to keep the house warm. I’m not sure how I thought a fireplace could compete with the ease and efficiency of ducted reverse air conditioners and underfloor heating, anyway.
There’s also the issue of how much we’re paying to keep the old fashioned oil heaters running 24/7. The old wooden windows aren’t as snug as they once were, and the single pane glass doesn’t stand up to much more than a light breeze. There are huge gaps around the frames and you could slide your hand through the gap under the front door. Any heat we do generate slips away before we have a chance to relax and enjoy it. And we have the energy bills to prove it. I don’t think the environment will thank us either.
The problem is, house buying is such an emotive process, I didn’t even consider the possibility of these problems arising on the day I viewed the house. It was early autumn — warm, with the sun streaming in through the open front and back doors. The light bathed the rooms in a welcoming glow, romancing me like George Clooney and I saw what I wanted to see — a house I desperately wanted to live in.
I’m not sure I would make the same choice again. Sure, you can bring a period house bang up to date. But you’ll spend a pretty penny doing so. When the floorboards are warped, none of the rooms are square and you need to completely rewire the house just to put in some extra power sockets, it’s a renovator’s nightmare. Labour costs can double as more ‘quirks’ and ‘character’ are uncovered day by day.
Next time I might just be seduced by the dream of 21st century living. But I suspect I may have trouble living with minimalist interiors, handle-less doors and a sunken bath just as much as my wonky, character-filled pile.
What do you think? Do you prefer period drama or contemporary containment?