12 March 2013

My Dream Deco Home III: I have fallen in love

In writing My Dream Home I: green, airy, full of treasures three years ago, I acknowledged that the concept of a personal dream home had flitted in and out of my consciousness, but it never had any fixed form. That particular blog post helped to clarify and solidify the dream.

Brighton, East Sussex. The Deco sun terrace is facing the water.

I said back then that the spouse and I had two collections we were proud of. We had thousands of superb books and dozens of superb paintings, both of which would have taken centre place in our living room (paintings around the ground floor walls; books on the mezzanine gallery). The floor needed to be naturally cooling in our hot summer (slate) with a very large Persian rug over the floor for the winter. A very wide fireplace would have been the focal point of one wall, almost like an inglenook in Arts and Crafts homes. The window had to be floor to ceiling, and had to look out directly onto the garden view.

In My Dream Home II : water frontage I tackled another aspect of the dream, both in terms of a beautiful view over the ocean and a healthy beach-based life style.

Now in middle age, I am in a good position to selecting my ideal, for-ever home. It is somewhat ironic that I am LESS picky now than I was years ago; today there would be only four mandated elements:

1. The house must face the beach. This is not negotiable.

2. The side of the house that faces the beach must have ceiling-to-floor glass windows. No blinds or curtains to reduce the impact of a wall of glass will be necessary!

3. The garden must come right to the front door. Semi wild and green – no concrete drives, hedges clipped within an inch of their lives or quaint cobble stone paths. Terraces are perfectly acceptable, but not on the ground floor. If concrete parking spaces are required, they can be located behind the house.

4. The most important room will be the study, filled with bookshelves, really comfortable chairs and large desks.

I don’t mind if this dream house is Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Arts and Crafts, Californian bungalow, Vienna Secessionist or Deco. And I don’t want to worry too much about mundane concerns like the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms and the laundry.

The wall facing the ocean is entirely glass.

The study is ideally fitted out for an academic

Be still, my beating heart. An elevated art-deco style home in Brighton, with a large sun terrace overlooking the marina, came onto the market (Country Life magazine, September 2011). Apparently Roedean Way is considered one of the most sought after locations on the South Coast, and naturally it has amazing sea views. So let me check the requirements noted above:

1. direct access to the sea? tick
2. walls of glass in the rooms facing the sea? tick
3. semi wild and green garden, right to the front door? tick
4. a comfortable study, filled with bookshelves? tick

View from the house to Brighton Beach and to the marina

Failing full access to the sea, I am almost prepared to settle for river frontage, as long as the rooms facing the river have ceiling to floor glass walls as before. The coffee table and chairs on the balcony above the River Dart (Country Life magazine 2012) are my idea of paradise on earth.

Dartmouth in Devon, above the River Dart

Machan is an imposing example of an Art Moderne style property, in a commanding Cornwall waterfront position overlooking Gillan Creek; it is close to the Helford River with far reaching views across Falmouth Bay. Built in the early 1930’s, Machan was designed and constructed in the Art Moderne style, and has undergone an extensive renovation by the current owners.

Art Moderne house in Cornwall
Note the spacious decks, high above the tree line

Exceptional views over Falmouth Bay


diane b said...

You have good taste and good dreams. I like those features too. But I wouldn't like to clean the salt off the windows. My daughter has an apartment overlooking the sea in Vaucluse Sydney. It is a magic atmosphere there but they do have problems with salt.

Andrew said...

Hels, if you can afford that, you can get in a window cleaner once a week. Might there be the tiniest room where Andrew might stay? I like the place very much.

Hels said...


Funny you should mention the salt. My then-boyfriend, later husband was a Sydney lad too. His car was the first car I had ever seen with rust on the body, apparently a regular event in Bondi but unheard of in Melbourne.

I am feeling quite nostalgic now :)

Hels said...


Always place your friends and relations in cities you want to visit :) i lived in Israel and Britain for 5 years and often welcomed visitors from overseas. In return they offered me free accomodation in Berlin, Boston and Florence :)

Parnassus said...

Hello Hels, What a pleasant occupation to design one's dream house. I'm with you on the books/study, but personally I can live without the water views, especially ones in which the opposite side cannot be seen.

I think you were wise to abandon the sub-miniature model. As Ogden Nash, said, "Some people strive for gracious living; I have recurrent dreams of spacious living."
--Road to Parnassus

Mandy Southgate said...

I absolutely agree with you Hels - this would be my dream home too except that I wouldn't mind if mine faced a river or valley or forest. My minimum requirement would be that it must be warm and so I'd probably head to Wilderness in South Africa where all your boxes and mine were ticked.

Hels said...


I never adopted the micro-house for my own life... Joe and I have 5 grandchildren (sofar), each of whom needs a bed, cupboard and games box for himself :)

But I am interested in the new genre of architectural history, given that it is relatively new.

Hels said...


the thing about a dream home is that it is usually just a dream and very rarely thought out in detail. I have used architectural blogs over the last 5 years to become more knowledgeable about what is out there.. and have used this blog to clarify my own needs.

Like 95% of Australians, I have always lived close to a beach, but a _direct_ sea/lake/river view is more than being a tram ride away. In 2002 a very close friend died in a car accident and since then, I have found that only water views have been calming. But I can imagine that for other people, gardens, open fields or forests would be more enriching.

Scotia said...


If we want to pretend we are living in a Deco ocean-cruiser-house, there are two important requirements. There must be spacious terraces that have deck chairs and small tables, and the water views must be amazing.

Examine this bit of heaven. Built in the early 1930’s, Machan was designed and constructed in the Art Moderne style in a spectacular coastal location in Cornwall.


Hels said...


I rang Qantas and am on my way! Many thanks.