Today I went to visit a gorgeous country farmhouse. Big, light-filled kitchen. Fireplace in the monastic dining room. Verandahs on three sides. Chickens, ducks, horses, and a Border Collie. A studio. Old, rustic stables. Acres of green paddocks as far as the eye could see. Your basic rural dream.
I wasn't just there to visit. I'm writing the house up for an interiors magazine. I don't do house stories that often these days, but I love them for the opportunity to step into someone else's life for a little while. Though there is a certain amount of Life Envy that can go along with that opportunity. I wrote about it in this guest post, which first appeared at Mother Hoot in September last year.
One of the worst things about being a freelance writer is the ‘life envy’ that can ensue. It’s bad enough simply flicking through the pages of a glossy lifestyle magazine – imagine actually visiting those houses, soaking in the dreamy views, lolling on the designer sofa…and then climbing back into your own trashed people mover and arriving back in your own life.
Some months ago, I visited a sublime modernist fantasy perched high on a rolling hill with vistas out to the ocean. There was even one of those infinity pools (not sure how you feel about them but, for me, the idea of swimming to the horizon without encountering marine life is extremely attractive). Soft music played as I tip-toed across the wide, timber floorboards, admiring the stonework on the floor-to-ceiling fireplace. Wide cedar bi-fold doors tempted me out to broad veranda, where jasmine twined a scented path to the sky. Lawn, like a verdant green carpet, ran down to the dam where picturesque white ducks splashed about.
Seriously? People live here? How do they ever leave?
The home belonged to a young couple from Sydney, who enjoyed it as a weekender. They rented it out to those who could afford it. And they let me through the door to share a glimpse of it with the readers of the magazine I was writing for.
I drove away, down a winding country lane, past fields of mooing cows and, within 10 minutes, was back at my place. A slightly tired cottage made of fibro. I turned off the car, listening to the engine die away, thinking of what I’d left behind.
And then my family burst out the front door, thrilled to see me after a three-hour absence. And what I’d left behind dimmed to a pleasant memory.
It doesn’t matter where you live, really. The best home is your home.
If you'd like to know more about writing house features, visit In My House, the blog of my lovely friend Catherine Shields, an art director and writer whose work features regularly in Australia's best home magazines. She shares the background stories of her 'house shoots', as well as her vast knowledge of all things interiors. The image shown above is from one of her own projects. And she loves questions.