The anonymous lines have been on my mind lately, lofting as I am between three residences. My imagined solution for the ‘empty next’ was to swap the big house rather than maintain it, perhaps for three smaller places on the coast, in the mountains, and on the Continent. Three year’s experience with that rootless lifestyle has changed my thinking – I really do need a base and a satellite rather than coequal residences.
It got me thinking about house and home, what is needed / wanted / enough / too much when it’s no longer a space for raising a family.
Some would advocate continuing to move up, creating a more elegant and refined ‘Architecture-Digest’ space (left). Others would opt for Thoreau-style simplicity (right).
Each is warm and livable in its own right. Yet neither seems right for me. One seems too impersonal and formal, a house but not a home. The other is a cozy turtle’s-shell, home but not a house.
I visited the house at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge the other week and it gave me a lot to think about. It’s an eclectic living space, intended partly to live in (house) and partly to reflect the owner’s tastes, interests, and patronage (home). It has space to be alone and space to be social, room for guests and window boxes for solitude. ‘not much of a kitchen, bedrooms a bitt towards monk’s cells, but really inspiring living spaces. The rooms do a wonderful job of connecting indoors and out, of integrating the art with the furnishings, of creating spaces to live, think, and create in.
It reminds me of another anonymous aphorism: A house becomes a home when you can write, ‘I love you’ on the furniture.
Kettle’s Yard Museum and House is close to Magdalene College in central Cambridge. Both are worth a visit, the museum holds a series of modern installations, the house has a fixed collection. The museum is generally open, with noontime concerts that are worth a bag lunch. The house is only open mid-afternoons late in the week, admission to each is free they ask 2 gbp to take photos.