Friday, 30 October 2015
Lucy Mangan talks the modern mum's dream house
What does a modern mum's dream house look like? Lucy is building hers in her head - as you do
So. I don't have the energy to read any more, I've got no patience for sex and – bar Orange Is the New Black – Netflix has been a dead loss. What is there to fill the 40 minutes between the child's bedtime and yours, and to accompany the evening wine? Property porn, that's what.
A nice glass of white and a rush to judge other people's kitchens, or sighs of admiration at someone's square footage and impeccable taste in soft furnishings – an evening delight that hurts no one.
But since I had a baby I prefer to daydream about remodelling my own house (you know, now that I barely leave it and know we won't be able to afford to move until we downsize in our 80s to pay for the care home), and imagine things that exist almost within the boundaries of possibility. How does it go?
Well, I declutter, obviously. Eight extra days in the week magically appear (with childcare) while I sort, bin, bag, drive to the charity shop and back and then dance around in the empty space I greet like a long-lost friend.
Then I add storage. I get all those clever seats and beds with built-in boxes and things underneath. A cabinet maker (who works for free, obviously) makes floor-to-ceiling bookcases and built-in cupboards everywhere. 'What colour would you like them painted?' his equally unrenumerated decorator friend asks me. 'Farrow & Ball's Unscuffed and Durable,' I say grandly.
I accept that I have to choose between having a dining room and a playroom. With bad grace I choose playroom and insert colour-coded toyboxes, a chest of drawers for all the arts and crafts crap so I never have to see it and a strongbox for the Play-Doh because that is never to come out without permission again. Although just in case, I will have the whole house decked out in – well, let's just make it shit-resistant carpet and have done, shall we?
I convert the loft into an en-suite master bedroom. It's just for me. It has a bath with candles round it. Even in my imagination I have not managed to use this bath or light the candles, but one day, my friends, one day...
And then I add a home office. Oh, it's a thing of beauty. It's down at the bottom of the garden (I stretch the garden so this actually means something). It is two tiny rooms. One has a desk, chair, filing cabinets and the laptop. The other has a little sofa which no one knows converts into a bed, piles and piles of books, rugs on the floor, pictures on the walls, a little table with a kettle, coffee, tea, sugar and 14 kinds of biscuit on it. The door has a padlock.
Occasionally I go bonkers and imagine what it would be like to have a Georgian townhouse – adults on one floor, children on another, sleeping and working on two more – or a sprawling pile that allows much the same division, just along the horizontal rather than vertical, but in the main I dream small. Does this mean I'm secretly content, or just totally knackered? I shall retire to my en-suite to decide.