Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Like Houses (like a lot)

I am not sure exactly when my obsession with houses and architecture began. My earliest memory has to be in the third grade when we were assigned to make a model of our house. I don't remember that much about it, except that my dad was the parent in charge of helping me, and that he was pretty gung ho about it too. We got out a cardboard box and began making some rough measurements. I think I remember my dad leaving the room and me cutting the top of the box to create to roof line, and then him coming back to see that my third grade cut was much lower than it should have been. And pretty crooked to be sure. But we worked with it and made a pretty good replica of our Wisconsin house. We even painted it white and had little shutters. I remember taking my house to the school library to get my picture taken with it, and then it appearing in our small town, Middleton newspaper. That was my first model.
I remember going out on Sunday afternoons to look at open houses. I could not have been more excited to go see each house to examine every detail, pick out my room and imagine what my life would be like in each home. I still remember one of the houses we looked at. Weird. I was probably only 8 or 9.

I remember one Christmas getting a dollhouse that either my parents or Santa painted, wallpapered and furnished. I still remember the first time I saw it in the corner of the dining room across from the piano. I loved imagining that I was the one living there. I loved that there were three stories and an attic and stairs that you could really go up, I mean if you were 6 inches tall.

I played with that dollhouse for years. Not in the normal way that girls play with dollhouses though. For me, it was about the house, the floor plan, the arrangement of furniture, the expansions that I would add on with blocks marking out walls, and when I ran out of blocks, pencils. This whole game involved a pile of Fischer Price people, a pile of furniture, me, my sister Emily, the basement, blocks, pencils and of course the big doll house, and was known lovingly as "douse" (doll+house... get it?). Whenever one of us thought of the brilliant idea to play douse, which was probably almost daily and which was never, in my recollection, ever cleaned up, we would look at the other one and say, "Krem-La Douse?" (which meant Emily-Laura, downstairs, doll house... want to play?). Then we'd put our arms around each other and float down the stairs to our half of the basement, which was never enough space for my creative mind. My poor brother taught violin lessons on the other half and would have to shove his kid sisters' embarrassing mess of pencils and such to the other side so he could be professional. Anyway, from this point, douse went something like this: we'd separate all the people and furniture and take turns picking. Then we'd name them, assign them ages and design their houses. This was the best part because I would imagine them going down penciled hallways, into living rooms and bedrooms. Once I was done designing everything, I was done playing. Poor Emily, though. All that set-up was just a formality so that she could actually play with the little people, and I was done. Of course, I did play douse until I was 12 or 13. The point is, it was always about the house, about the architecture.

I remember drawing floor plans of houses on graph paper. I remember really bad ones in the beginning, and then filling books of them whenever I was bored. I used to draw perspectives of my dream bedroom, with each exciting detail like where the fish tank would go, the drawers for my clothes, the built in shelving unit lining one wall and the carpeted corner where I kept my kittens. Cool dream, right? Kittens...

Then there was the architectural drafting class that I took as a senior in high school. Fourth period, right before lunch and right by the lunchroom. My friends would come in and have to pry me from my drafting table so that we all could eat. I loved that class! I loved architecture. I always have.

I still remember the first Parade of Homes that I went to. It was near my house and I was around 12. There were 7 houses in a row that we spent our afternoon walking through. I could think of nothing better than that! I still remember some of those homes. I went to the Parade of Homes every year that I lived in Utah, and some years that I was just visiting. So important is the Parade of Homes that I dragged four children through 20+ homes this year (you know they liked it). And I still look through Parade of Homes books from years past at all the floor plans.

What I really don't know is when I started walking through houses that were in the process of being built. I remember one night hanging out with my friends and there being a framed house next door. Somehow I convinced my friends to walk through it with me, even though it was really dark. There was some kind of thrill that we found creeping through someone else's house, imagining what each space would look like. Then going down the unsteady stairs to a dark basement because I needed to know what that would look like too. I remember that house specifically because my friends thought I was crazy. But I told them that I did it all the time, so it must have started before then.

Now, more than ever, I love going through houses, finished or not. Sure, it may be illegal. Call it trespassing if you must. But I love it, and I just can't resist it. I live in a city that is chock full of fields that are in some stage of being developed. There are holes being dug every day, there's foundations being poured, and plywood being formed into houses all over the place. There are 7 in our new neighborhood and on the way to Erin's school I can count at least 6 that I pass four times a day. I finally walked through four tonight, till it got too dark. I love the smell of fresh 2x4's and sawdust. I love the smell of drywall and mud. I love to imagine the spaces and the furniture, just like in douse. You see, I just love houses.

And our house is one of them. The framing began last week and they already have everything up to the trusses. These builders are incredible. This is where it finally takes shape. Now it's our house that smells like wood and has nails and sawdust littered all over the place. It's our house that we can walk around and imagine ourselves living there, because we actually will be. It's really happening. Every day we'd drive by and see something new that's been done, but I would never actually see anyone working on it. I was starting to wonder if it was elves, or maybe illegal immigrants that had to work in the middle of the night so as to not be deported. But today I actually met the framers (neither elves nor illegals). This is the fifth house just like ours that they've framed, so they are getting pretty good at it. I am really impressed by how well they are following the plans because we've made a bunch of changes. Every detail is there. Tomorrow, we'll have plywood on the roof. Cool.

foundation wallsour pile of dirt in the back yard
with window wells and dirt filled in to the foundation
preparing the basement floor for concrete
...and the framing begins in the basement supporting the floor aboveground level, and yes, we will be able to see in our neighbor's windows
(I am kind of bummed that we didn't get day 2, 3 or 4 of the framing showing the first and second floors. So it jumps from the one wall picture above to the picture below.)
the machine putting the trusses up with most of the trusses up

Did I mention that I like houses?


Mrs. Potts said...

Did you ever play The Sims? My favorite part of that game was designing the houses.

Maisy Shenzii Mckenzie said...

I love houses tooo
i do not construct houses but i draw them as a hobby of mine ;)

Marinda said...

that was such a fun post to read! i had no idea how long your obsession with houses has been going on. i hope to feed your addiction sometime soon and we'll walk through mine!