Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Home Views

Here is a little secret... I am the daughter and sister of 2 women who like myself, are home spys. (Oh and cemetery lovers, but that is another post.) To summarize a trip with my mom and sister, we shop, eat, wander through cemeteries and tour homes. During our trip to Charleston last month we toured a number of historic homes and gardens organized by the Historic Charleston Foundation. Here is what I found interesting about Charleston homes.
  • The kitchen is not the heart of the house. In the Old South, kitchens were often separate buildings in the yard due to residents fears about fire. As kitchens were moved inside the homes they were almost an afterthought. In the dozen or so homes we toured, we never saw large kitchens or open concept living. There were no kitchen islands or great rooms, but small rooms which flowed into one another. The kitchens are often small and in the middle of the house, surrounded by cozy libraries, formal dining rooms, expansive entry ways and almost always surrounded by large verandas and porches. I found it fascinating that the hostess wants to be out of the kitchen, mingling with her guests outdoors or enjoying formal dining. A very, very different style from the Midwest and one I really liked. It created a much cozier atmosphere, but also one of formal living, where guests still dress up for parties and enjoy a cocktail in a library not standing around a kitchen island and the hostess mingles with her guests throughout her home and garden.

Last year during the weeks I spent at Oxford (my mom was my companion for the trip) we had a nightly ritual. First we enjoyed a delicious meal with friends at our college dining hall and then we walked. We wandered through the streets of Oxford, often at dusk, just as people were arriving home from work, sitting down for dinner or relaxing in their gardens. Dusk...just as the lights come on but it's not quite dark...is the perfect time to glimpse the way people live.

However because I don't want to get arrested for being a "Peeping Tom", and a glimpse into a house when walking by is a quick fix, I feed my home/real estate addiction through films, TV and the Internet. It should come as no surprise that I religiously watch HGTV's House Hunters and House Hunters International. And then there are my 2 favorite websites dedicated to all things home spying. I've been reading The Real Estalker for a couple of years and love it. Hysterically written and always full of big, beautiful usually celebrity homes. Recently I found the site Hooked on Houses, the perfect mix of regular homes, before and after pictures, featured celebrity homes and the houses, brownstones, vacation getaways etc we love from our favorite movies. There are dozens of your favorite film homes listed on the site (Father of the Bride, The Holiday, Notting Hill, An Affair to Remember, Twilight) but my favorite movie house of all time, is Diane Keaton's beach house in Something's Gotta Give. You'll find a few movie homes adapted from novels such as Atonement, Brideshead Revisited, Chocolat and Gone with the Wind. Enjoy the tours!


Rich said...

I love House Hunters and HH International! Divine Design is also amazing!

Scott & Tiffany said...

Shannon- I'm the same way! LOVE House Hunters etc. I also look at real estate websites just to see what the inside of houses look like.