My current line of thoughts on aesthetics


Well, I missed last week’s update. Still trying to get used to the idea of occasionally posting less than 4,000 words… and no pictures even? Ooookay.

So for today I’ll write down, and by doing so sort out, this wild bunch of thoughts I’ve been having recently about the project’s aesthetics. The thing is, like most people, I want things to be beautiful. But what does that mean? It is very, very clear to me that one person’s idea of beautiful can often be another’s idea of meh, or even hideous.

The aesthetics of this village

An excellent example are many of the other houses in this village – none of them are hideous, mind you, but next to none of them appeal to me in any way. The general idea of a nice house around here is, hmmm… modern, even high-tech, flat colours, mostly white or maybe light yellow or something, grey goes with everything, manicured lawns with either tiny patches of chrysanthemums that have been mowed around or a front garden made up of stones that cost a serious fortune. Tile roofs, marble steps, flowers in the windows, lace curtains, everything very neat and well-kept. And totally uniform and sterile.

Well, this is conventional building for you. Right angles are easiest and therefore cheapest, industrially produced things look all the same (I’m thinking of roof tiles here), and of course this is a tiny village where everybody has their nose in everybody else’s business, or at least over the neighbour’s fence. All the time! (I love telling the story when about five or six weeks after we’d moved here, I came across a woman while walking to kindergarten to pick Mio up. She looked at me quizzically and proceeded to ask who I was and where I lived, in short: where I belonged. So I explained a little, and she said, “aaaahh you’re the one with the mud house!” …)

So yeah, takes a little getting used to. I don’t mind so much, because I make excellent gossiping material and actually enjoy it, so my building a freaky, wild, sprawling house-and-garden in the middle of this place should be a lovely thing for everyone. It’s just the stone gardens that freak me out a little. Some of them look like tiny graveyards! And don’t get me started on the actual graveyard – ALL polished marble with tasteful arrangements of small flowering plants in carefully raked soil that’s probably dyed black. And every special wreath that someone brings will be cleared away the MOMENT its blossoms start to droop. I love graveyards, but I don’t go there much.

So what do I like?

Great question. And while it’s pretty clear what I don’t like so much, there are also plenty of aesthetics that I’m totally in love with, what with Pinterest being a neverending source of ideas. I like colourful, whimsical, wild and sprawling, but I also like a minimalistic, elegant aesthetic in muted tones. Pfff. %-)

But maybe all my tastes can be mixed easily. Many things are not up for discussion:

There will necessarily be

  • organic shapes and soft curves everywhere,
  • lots and lots of plants, flowers, veggies etc. in great diversity and abundance,
  • natural colours with subtle hues,
  • wood surfaces from reclaimed or found materials, not industrially processed,
  • natural stones with uneven shapes and surfaces,
  • other reclaimed materials that have their own, unique patina.

And then I can probably have a room with a hammock that’s swamped with cushions and blankies and has a lacy draped curtain and beads and hanging chandeliers and spiral designs and everything, and another, much neater one of the minimalistic, classy variety. Ooooohhh this will be so NICE :-D

Thoughts on the roof covering

What actually got me thinking about this was the roof. Our local building regulations require us to have a clay tile roof, but aesthetically, I’m not very fond of clay tiles. I like the look of a grass roof, and we could probably get an exception for it. However, there are other drawbacks, plus I’m thinking we’ll need a host of exceptions already… So what don’t I like about tile? I wandered through the village a few days ago and had a good look at quite a few houses. I found a variety of tile shapes (and colours), and there are some shapes that are quite nice (the most common one is the one I like least). But I realised that what makes me go meeeh at the thought of a tile roof is actually the look of ‘large, contiguous, brand new, sleek and shiny, uniform surface’. THAT is the real problem here. So these last days I’ve been thinking about a roof covered in recycled tiles. Different recycled tiles. I’ve actually seen a few houses with such a roof, and I think if you do it cleverly and on purpose, this could result in a really interesting look. And it would probably look just as eco as a grass roof! I like the idea…

Learning to go with the flow

What else? This idea also lead me to some thoughts about letting the available materials dictate much of the look. Like, I wouldn’t use just any old, ugly things because it fits the bill, but I think that most old things that fit the bill wouldn’t be ugly. I feel that I should free myself of any fixed idea what the results should look like, and instead just delight in digging up cool stuff and go with the flow of that. I used to not be able to do this very well, but it seems I’m getting better. :-)