Over the holiday break, I had the opportunity to visit a former client and her magnificent house. We did the bulk of the work on it about three years ago, and she has been in it for over two years now, so there were lots of reminiscences
about the process and construction, disappointments and discoveries. At one point, another of the visitors turned to me and asked whether it was all worth it. Without hesitating, I turned to the homeowner and asked, “Does it work?”
Because as far as I’m concerned, it does not matter if I’m not particularly partial to the colors of a room or the style of couch in the living room – what matters to me is that the house does what it needs to do for that family and how they live, while still being true to its historic self. In this particular case, the house hosts about 1 1/2 events every week (130 people were to arrive for lunch the day after our visit) and yet is still cozy and wonderful for the four permanent residents. The little girl loves
her room with pink knobs on the built-in, the little boy plays basketball in the renovated attic, and there’s now a use for the funny attic room where you can’t even hear the doorbell – a home office for when they need to hide. At the same time, the grand spaces with all their historic detail have remained intact and are being used fully: what more can I ask for?
Corbusier said, some dozen years after this house was built, that “the house is a machine for living in.” While the house in question is miles away conceptually from Corbu’s cubes, he’s absolutely right. Bringing a house like this back up to speed as a modern machine, suited to the peculiarities and necessities of the new family, was one of the greatest projects I’ve had the pleasure of working on – and yes, totally worth it. Because it works.