Other People’s Houses

I enjoy looking at other people’s houses. I imagine what my life would be like if I lived inside. I look at all kinds of homes- but I especially like the nice ones. Every evening I will go for a walk and observe houses. I entertain thoughts about what these people must do to afford such nice homes? I love seeing the various ways that people decorate their homes and I enjoy looking at the landscaping in the front yard. Sometimes I will look inside a front window to see how the residents have decorated the inside of their homes. When I feel like seeing homes I have never observed before I will drive to distant neighborhoods and walk around for hours. There are few pleasures that I enjoy more in life than seeing a well decorated home for the first time.

I love modern and Victorian homes. I love welcoming homes that have a lot of plants, cats and benches out front. I enjoy seeing homes that are painted in unusual colors and have obscure art outside. I enjoy looking at bohemian homes that have been given an individualized flare by their artistic owners. Homes that are loved and built with an attention to detail often take my breath away. I love staring at every inch of these homes in the same way that I would observe a beautiful lady. I find myself filled with a certain “homey” sensation when I stare at other people’s houses; a sensation that fills my body with feelings of comfort and ease.

I often will get as close to a home as I can so I can peak inside. I am interested in the interior design of other people’s houses and I am curious about what kind of furniture and art rests inside. I want to see if the home owner has a book collection and if so I want to know what kinds of books are sitting on their shelf. I try to make an effort to make sure that no one is home when I am looking through windows but I can not always be sure. There have been several occasions where I have been innocently peering through a window, enjoying the interior design, when suddenly I was noticed by a resident inside. On these occasions my plan is to yell out “sorry” and run as quickly as I can.

I have always enjoyed architecture. In college I wanted to be an architect but I could not handle all the math. My parents also shared my love for architecture and home design. As a young boy and teenager every Sunday my family and I would go for long drives around various neighborhoods. We loved looking at other people’s houses. We would  stare at the various homes as we drove very slowly by each one (after years of driving around and looking at other people’s houses on Sundays my family was given the nick name “The Stare Family”). My parents were gathering ideas from other people’s houses and imagining ways that they could redecorate their home. I on the other hand was dreaming about the beautiful and stylish home that I would one day own.

I currently rent a two bedroom house. It is rather cheap and ugly house with not much thought or imagination that went into its design. The front yard is filled with plants that are dying, paint chips that have fallen from the side of the house and a decaying fountain that no longer works. The inside of my house is not as bad as the outside. There are hardwood floors, nice white walls and a relatively peaceful back yard. I don’t really have the money to furnish my house nicely so my wife and I have had to use our imaginations to make our house into a kind of impoverished bohemian oasis. We have birds that help drown out the outside car sounds and a leather couch that helps give our box like living room some modern charm- but for the most part the inside of my house is rather simplistic. Since I currently have a lot of free time to wonder, I spend a lot of time meandering around inside of my house. I think about ways that I can make my rental house a bit more charming (like the homes I enjoy looking at). I buy plants, re-arrange a lot of furniture and hang various art on the walls. I clean the kitchen and bathroom at least once a week but I never feel that “homey” sensation that I get when I look at other peoples homes. This is the downside of being a renter- you never really feel like your house is your home.

When I walk around neighborhoods, staring at other peoples homes, I still dream about owning a home of my own one day. Like my parents twenty-five years ago, I too am getting ideas for the house that I hope to one day own. Just yesterday I walked around San Fransisco looking at all the various urban and Victorian homes. Some people who are home owners in the city have a sense of design and aesthetics that I rarely find out here in the country. I take everything that I like about other people’s houses and add it to the construction site in my mind where I am building an imaginary home of my own. This home is a modern house and has small hints of all the houses I have ever loved. There are wooden benches in the front yard, a pebbled driveway with a working rock fountain in it and tall glass windows that let in the sun light. There is a hammock in the backyard, redwoods growing on all sides and solar panels on the roof. I have beautiful art on the walls, comfortable couches, fish tanks and dozens of book shelves filled with classics.  There is my writing desk that is up against a large window that looks out over the sea. One day I hope to build this home in the material world but first I realize that I need to find that darn tree that I have heard so much about where money grows from branches instead of leaves. For now, I suppose I am content enough walking around for hours and looking at other peoples houses.

7 thoughts on “Other People’s Houses

  1. I wish your dream becomes your reality. :).

    I admire certain kinds of architecture, specially the old kind and some new and the creativity I see in others in the way they manipulate their living and outdoor spaces. But I cant take their dream and make it my own.

    I believe I own the space I live in(whether its rented on owned, is not the deal) as long as I live there. Being simple is helpful, I dont need much in terms of stuff(except books) to feel comfortable.

  2. I do the exact same thing and I also love Victorian homes – the warmth they seem to naturally exude when they’re done up just so. Staring at the outside of the home at all the details, how that bench is placed, where the plants are, the type of light fixture – I almost analyze the details to see ‘why’ it works. Peeking inside is such a guilty pleasure, but I’m not sure I’ll ever stop. I started going to school for Architecture but never stayed (long story); the passion hasn’t left.

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