This is hardly a scoop, because it came to my attention via today's New York Times, but I really love Annina Günther's miniature interiors. Not only are they tiny and scrupulous, they are fantastically full of quotidian detail.
As she renovates the dollhouse, its tiny owners do the same in their own tiny way.
The front entry is cluttered.
And, as she says, every house share needs a hippie.
I am feeling very fond of our own, full-sized, house just now, which is not actually our own but a rental. I like our stuff in this house, and how we have it arranged. I like the mixture of old and new. There's the chair with excessively elaborate turned wood arms and legs, a handmedown from someone with more rococo tastes, stuck in a corner and piled with blankets. There's the great slab of dark-stained maple that is our coffee table, the densely quilted quilt a friend made us, the stacking tables that were my grandmother's, the window seat that no one ever sits on because it has been co-opted as a shelf for a tiny fraction of our ridiculous quantity of books, the crib filled with pillows because the baby actually sleeps in our room. Everything looks right, though I admit I'd have made some different choices if I'd been designing the bathroom.
Soon, though, we won't live here anymore. This summer, we're moving across the country for the sake of a one-year postdoc I'm taking. It's a lovely position, in a beautiful place, and academia is like that, but there is certainly something highly deranged about picking up everything including a cat, a baby, and our ridiculous complement of possessions and taking it all that way, only to move it all again a year later.
I'd try not to think about it too much, but we have to find a place to move into, and we've become spoiled and picky. The nice thing about going for such a limited time is that it makes it easier to throw money at this problem in good cheer. The not so nice thing is that, spendthrift or not, it's difficult to be successfully picky about housing from 2500 miles away. But I really mind living in dank places and rickety places and places with wall-to-wall carpet or, for that matter, places with no washing machine. It's a pickle.
Once upon a time, I went apartment searching on Steve's behalf in Berkeley, where I already lived. It was a major undertaking. The rental market was appalling, and he was on a budget.
There was no Craigslist. Instead you registered with a place called "Apartment Finder" and phoned in every morning to listen to a recording of the dismal listings that met your parameters that day. A robotic voice took you through the paces. "Studio... apartment. Full... kitchen. One... bathroom. Shower. No... bathtub. No... pets." Then you ran off to the showing, arriving fifteen minutes early only to discover that the place had been rented two hours earlier to the fellow who was helping the previous tenant move out.
One day there was a listing in Steve's price range in a really lovely part of town. "Surely this apartment must be in the one and only falling down shack in the Berkeley Hills," my roommate and I said to each other. But when we arrived at the listed address, the building was beautiful.
Unsurprisingly, many other people also turned up for the showing. We milled around on the sidewalk, marveling over the attractiveness and eyeing up the competition as we waited for the landlord to arrive.
He emerged suddenly from around the side of the building. "This way!" he said happily, and motioned for us to follow. We walked up the driveway and through a side entrance.
This door led out of the beautiful sunny day into a dark, unfinished basement.
It was not a basement apartment. It was just a basement. The ceiling was just barely over my head. I am five foot four. The exposed pipes hung somewhat lower.
Stooping and staring, two dozen people made their way through the cellar in mounting dudgeon. In one corner, I can see it now, was a tiny bleak washroom containing a toilet and a not very nice sink. Nearby, two milk crates filled with pantry items and plates supported a small hotplate. Under the one narrow window lay a mattress with a rumpled duvet and a single pillow on top. I believe there was also a lonely guitar.
The landlord seemed genuinely puzzled as person after person made offended noises and left.
"Who would live there?" we wondered as we walked down the hill. "A zombie, maybe."
It might have its charms, for the right tenant. "Zombie... pit." Apartment Finders could say. "One... window. No... kitchen. No... shower. No... view. No... hope."
So, this is what I am afraid of, whenever we think about moving. Please don't make us live in a zombie pit. It's no kind of place to raise a baby, and we don't even own a guitar.