In Search of Solid Ground

If you’ve been following building progress, you will know that we have a large storage area underneath the pool which we didn’t plan for (favourite suggestion for future purpose: bowling alley).  You might also recall that the reason for the appearance of the space is that excavation went deeper than originally anticipated.

Tractor room or bowling alley?

I’m not sure why I didn’t think about this when the bowling alley first appeared (Tom’s just reminded me that his future tractor also needs storage space), but the original and extended search for solid ground has, unsurprisingly, led to the existence of other spaces underneath the house, so when one of our architects asked us if we didn’t want to consider a larger, subterranean cinema room that would offer us more than the relatively modest, but snug television room, we didn’t quite know what to do with his question.

A choice emerges pretty quickly: either you  leave things – i.e. existing plans, freshly-built walls – as they are and live  with the knowledge that under the floor there is a space you could potentially develop later OR you cut a doorway now so that you have access to the space should you want to turn it into something functional sooner rather than later.  In more concise form: do you want a
subterranean cinema now or later?

Here’s another way of looking at the choice: do you want to get all the dirty work done now or do you really think you’ll feel  up to breaking down walls again in a year or two?

Or: How much do you like building dust?

More to the point: How much do you hate building dust?

Our architect’s question actually caused a bit of an eruption of ideas.  You see, the problem is that this team of two tends to be far too enthusiastic about challenges others might not even consider, so when someone says “hey, how about xyz?” as  in “how about training for a triathlon?” or “how about living in a yurt in Mongolia for a while?” or what was that recent again – oh yes – “how about moving to Portugal?”, we don’t automatically dismiss ideas.  We consider, research and only now and again get carried away.  So, when an architect
comes up with a good idea, we feel an obligation to consider it.  I have a sneaky suspicion he knows us better than we thought; that he spotted how we are secretly driven by the mere thought of an ugly/unused/non-functional thing/space/event that could become so much better with the right intervention.

Maybe we don't need internal walls...

Inevitably his innocent question meant that, on a dusty Sunday afternoon, we pulled on our boots and drove up to the site to see if we could live with the rooms as they were or if it actually made sense to capitalise on this interesting  underground opportunity.

We measured width, length, how the room could be arranged and how we would move around the space.  Believe me, it’s not the first time we’ve done this and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last.  We looked this way and that.  The house is at a point where we have very few internal walls.  You see mainly open spaces and these are so desirable, especially with views in all directions, that we started playing the “how about…?” game again.

It went something like this: how about if we don’t build this wall and make these two rooms one?  I mean, just look at the space!  Then we will need that home cinema, won’t we?  We have the space, don’t we?  And it would be less expensive to do it now that the relevant people and machinery are on site, won’t it?  Will the incremental cost really be all that high?  Down there, we would never have a
problem with noise, would we?  Just imagine…

And so we went on.  Until one of us stopped this cursed “what if?” tendency we have.  We might have known all along that we were just indulging in some wishful thinking, because, despite our adventurous streaks, we’re both – for the most part – quite realistic and sensible (apart from that time when we opted not to cancel our trip into an African country that was on the brink of civil war.  Turned out to be the most fantastic trip, by the way).  Somehow we calmed down and asked ourselves: do we really want to be spending more?  The answer was easy.  Definitely not.  More importantly: do we want to move in as soon as we can?  Oh, yes.

I admit that the idea, along with a few others, lingers.  But while too much of a
good thing can be pretty fantastic and indulging your creative urges can lead to some spectacular inventions, and while it’s not always great fun to be patient and responsible, I think this one requires at least a modicum of restraint.  We’re not ruling out the exploration of that space, of course, but, for now, we’ll at least have a bomb shelter and the tantalising idea of something unfinished that could become so much more.  Just in case we ever get bored…  Or decidedly less allergic to dust.


One response to “In Search of Solid Ground

  1. Oh how lovely… SPACE! and not knowing what to do with it!! I can just imagine the ‘what if” conversations will continue regardless over bottles of chilled white port, deep into the summer.

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