I like houses to have names. Houses tell stories and have history, personality and character. Perhaps it’s my love of narrative…….. or marketing….. but I like a house to express itself and not just be a page out of Home Beautiful. Some houses are richly scented with history like my 1890’s house in Tasmania. The Straw House, my last home was a strong, honest home with an artsy vibe- full of character and few cupboards. And then there’s my new home built in 1950’s, moved to a block perched on Wombat hill, zhooshd-up with plantation shutters, with the original floorboards now lusty and dark polished. And yes there are cupboards everywhere! And they are full.
But who is she, this new house of mine? What’s her character? What do I want to create? As the latest custodian what do I want her to be? I love her open heartedness as the walls of windows look out into the street and the fields beyond. I like her ease and relaxed vibe. She invites you to lounge in the sunroom or at night in the candlelight of the living room or perhaps on the wide veranda in the morning sun. It’s an easy house to live in. The rooms yawn rather than chatter. After all the mask wearing and sanitised life this house welcomes a relaxed retreat of soft music, simple food, a glass of wine and stacks of books littered in every room. There’s no rush now.
So Harlowe House emerged as the name from nowhere. Is it the 2 “H’s” that have a ring to it? Not sure. I can see this house in 5-10 years time, surrounded by a rambling secret garden. It’s black farm gate and tall hedge. Its driveway lined with signature birch trees. The Pierre de Ronsard rose ambling with its blousy blooms over the garage. The Ornamental Pear trees turn to rust in autumn. The perennials elbow each other for space and the Japanese maples stand aloof and assured that their autumn colour establishes their superiority in this mayhem of a garden.
A month into my stewardship Harlowe House is simply a name on a black metal plaque cheekily attached to the house. The garden is a cluster of rain ravaged tiny plants. There are no paths and no structure to the garden. The trees stand 6 inches high and are buffeted by high winds. But Harlowe House stands tall in my imagination and the garden will grown and change over the years. There’s no hurry. Nature will find a way to make sense of the garden I am planting.
Inside there are glimpses of what can be. Little corners where colour, texture, light and function have gelled into a harmonious whole. But largely the rooms have not yet found their character. The unpacking may be done but the fun of creating a new whole awaits. But she has a name and it seems to work as a messenger of what will be.
The process of creating is one that brings huge enjoyment and at times hair – pulling as dreams collide with budget. But in Harlowe House..just for a few hours I can pretend the world is about cushions and paint colour instead of sickness and Covid numbers……..