When I was a child I drew hundreds and hundreds of houses. Early depictions would have been of the square topped by a triangle variety, that would have been followed by 3d versions and I distinctly recall more sophisticated illustrations with a garden wall, goldfish pond and a few trees and flower beds.
What I probably never drew was a home. Over the last few months all four of us have been drawing homes. Davies and Scarlett have done this exercise many times over the last few years. We have had very elaborate interiors including helter skelter staircases, laundry chutes, trapdoors and skylight windows to see the moon, the stars and the northern lights. Drawing a home is a whole lot more fun than drawing a house I think.
We have a few very inspirational books on cob and other green buildings which we have been referring to for help at this stage
Thanks to advice from these books we started thinking more like Davies and Scarlett and less like the junior version of me and began planning a home rather than a house. There is a difference. We don’t need to be constrained by square building materials and straight edges – we can create a home that is more like clothing – comfortable, designed to fit around us and our shapes. Specific to us and our needs and our rhythm and our lives.
We began with an exercise to get us thinking about the pattern of our days. We all started with a blank circle and marked the 24 hours of the day around the edge, then wrote around the outside what we were doing during those hours – we all did it and it gave us a blueprint of when we are apart, when we come together and what sort of space and light we require at different times of the day and night.
It showed when we are sleeping, eating, hanging out, watching a film, listening to the radio, having a bath (clearly this was a little bit of an aspirational project rather than simply the reality of life in a caravan just now!). We then spent some time talking about specific spaces that we need, the things that we sometimes struggle to find a home for in our current living space and that it would be good to consider before planning a home. We came up with:
- room for Bonnie’s crate – somewhere near the door so that she doesn’t walk mud all through the place when she comes in wet or dirty. Bonnie sleeps in her crate but only really goes in when we are either not home or in bed so it doesn’t need to be in the main space.
- space for coats and boots – we need a ‘decontamination zone’ for wet and muddy clothes when we come in from outside.
- Power hub – we need a space outside to house our generator, inside for the batteries and invertors and controls for our off grid power sources.
- Boiler room and water tank – a space for storing and heating water.
- Clock – my 21st birthday present from Ady was a giant pine framed clock. Nearly 20 years later it is still the focal point of every home we have and will require a flat bit of wall to hang on – we need to factor that into our plans.
- Bath space – we really miss a bath and need to ensure there is a space for one with a nice view, it doesn’t need to be fully enclosed in a room, just screened off from the main living space.
- Loo room – this does need to be enclosed and would be best near the door so you can just nip in from outside without going all through the house.
- Cooking, eating and hanging out – this is the main focus of any indoor space for us and makes sense to be all in one place rather than sectioned into separate rooms.
- Cosy place – for a child to sit with a book or drawing materials, for an adult to sit and drink a coffee or write or check emails.
- Christmas tree – you can laugh! We tend to have our Christmas tree up for the best part of a month and so something which is around for 1/12 of the year deserves a space planned for it even if the other 11/12 of the year that space is given over to something else.
- Sleeping, personal space, storage for clothes, toys.
We then translated those circles into a physical space orientated towards north, south, east and west taking into account where the sun rises and sets – beds to be on the eastern side of the home so the rising sun wakes you of a morning, living space on the south side for maximum light, bath space on the western side for sunset views, water tank and larder on the north facing wall to keep it cool. After several drafts – and a lot of discussion and pacing things out and looking at spaces with tape measures we came up with a plan.
Three bedrooms, a cupboard for a loo, a screened off space for the bath and a nice big living space to fit everything else into. The interior will shape itself with obvious places for the things we listed above showing themselves to us as we go.
One of the errors we have made in life here so far is orientating our caravan the wrong way – it had to go east/west as that makes it most resistant to most of the wind and weather we get here but we should have spun it round 180 degrees so that what is currently north would be south. That would mean the fridge and main kitchen area which currently overheats facing south in the summer would benefit from the constant shade of being north facing, and the bedrooms and bulk of the clothes storage space which suffers from damp along the north wall would all be south facing and get light even during the winter months. It was an easy rookie error to make when we moved here having never even thought about such things in our previous life – you just don’t get to decide which doors and windows and rooms face in which direction in a normal house. Getting to know our land so very well over the last 2 and a half years has offered us the luxury of knowing which bits of the croft are in shade at certain times of year, which areas flood, where the prevailing weather comes from and precisely where to sit to get the best views at different times of year, of day, of night.
You will notice so far the only drawing of our home is a floor plan, we have more to do in terms of looking at elevations and other dimensions. There are technical bits to work out, doors and windows to site. More on that later.