A sibling visiting the palatial estate at Surlywood once swore up and down that the premises were at least as large as his own, even though the County Assessor measures a 35-percent difference. This is, I suggest, something they used to call Good Design: the ceilings are a mere eight feet, and the bathroom is maybe a little bigger than one of San Quentin’s, but otherwise it’s a pretty efficient — with or without a comma between “pretty” and “efficient” — use of the limited available space.
The opposite of this, apparently, is where Daphne hangs her hat and stares in disbelief:
Two thousand square feet should be enough room for our small family. Hell, if you spent any time with us, you’d wonder why we even need that much space since we always seem to be crowded in one tight circle of a room. Unfortunately, our house was designed by an absolute moron who lacked any crucial comprehension of spacial flow or system design. He also failed to possess a scintilla of esthetic sensibility. The entire left side of the house resembles a dungeon maze of narrow halls and weirdly sized, dark rooms that everyone avoids like the pages of Proust. Tell me, is it so difficult to plan at least two walls featuring windows in every room? Maybe plant a skylight in the long run of an interior corridor, maximize storage space, carve out appropriately sized air-flow intakes that won’t choke the air conditioning system into grisly death seizures every summer?
I might fail on a couple of rooms, window-wise. The living room has only the one exterior wall — what used to be the second now adjoins the garage — but there’s enough glass for two, maybe three walls. However, the master bedroom, you should know, has actual windows on three walls out of a possible four, which is a neat trick.
In the past I have suggested that construction techniques have gotten sloppier in the last six decades, and I suspect Daphne will back me up on this:
When we bumped into a secondary bedroom to expand the master bath in the last good house, we discovered existing two by fours that weighed at least twice as much as our newly bought lumber and there wasn’t a bowed one in the bunch after years of service. The quality of common building materials has degraded, so has our respect for qualified craftsmen in the trades and they’re both as rare as hen’s teeth these days. When housing turned into a cheap, mass-produced commodity of banal cul-de-sac boxes, crudely built by unskilled labor with shoddy materials intended to maximize profit at the expense of quality, we ended up with the shittiest living spaces imaginable. They may look shiny on the outside for a few years, but they degrade into expensive, falling apart nightmares not long after you’ve hung the pictures and planted a few shrubs.
The house at Surlywood could use a coat (or two) of paint, but it’s in pretty good shape for being almost 63 years old. A couple of walls are showing crack, so to speak, and I have all the excuse I could want to rip out the bathroom tile, but as banal boxes go, this one can probably go on for a long time.
Oh, and the last HVAC guy who was out here was briefly shaken by the size of the unit, and it’s not often I can say that.
“Only two tons?” he asked.
I pointed out that the house was barely a thousand square feet, for which a two-ton capacity was appropriate. “Looks a lot bigger,” he said.