Friday, April 06, 2007


The three storey challenge.

If I had really thought about it, buying a house with three storeys, for someone as domestically challenged as me, was always going to be a recipe for disaster.

No, it's not that the house is a mansion - as the term 'three-storey' conjures in most minds. Despite the three levels, it doesn't have a massive floor area. I think they built the house like that so that it didn't take up too much room on the relatively small block of land - we have a smaller 'footprint' and thus more yard area than most of the neighbours.

(The Bottom floor - living area - is about 9m x 9m.. and because of a roofline extending from the side over a carport and along the front of the house and encroaching in over the top of the ground floor rooms (not shown by my resident young artist of several years ago!), the top two floors have their depth reduced by about 2m - so each of those floors is around 9m x 7m - with the top floor losing more floor space to 'voids' because of the steep pitched roof.)

The middle floor has just two bedrooms, a bathroom and living space (aka 'the Playroom' - but effectively a very large and not so useful passageway with the Stuff! of the two that have to share a bedroom spilling out into what space there is. The top floor is what might be called a parent's retreat - our bedroom, plus repository for everything else that can't fit in the rest of the house.. ie. sewing table, ironing board, and all the laundry for sorting and ironing! And a little ensuite boxed off in a corner. (*That's my red towel hanging over the curtain railing in the top window because we haven't got round to putting in a towel rack!)

Marc had lived in a two storey house as a kid, and he always swore we wouldn't have a two storey house. (So we didn't - we got a three storey one instead!) He remembered all too well the inconvenience of forgetting something and having to hike back up or down stairs to get it. Times that by two, and you can imagine the frustration of forgetting to bring something down from our room or vice-versa!

The stairs that lead from the bottom floor are, most of the time, half covered with items that should get put away upstairs. The theory is that next time you walk up you take it with you, but it is amazing how blind everyone can be to the bits and pieces lined up on the bottom few stairs, quite happy to negotiate the obstacle course until I do my lolly and demand everyone remove their bloody crap! from the stairs.

There isn't much in the way of storage space in the house either, so the vacuum cleaner is rarely stowed away... (It probably should live in the Cupboard Under the Stairs, but that's full of so much other crap, it only usually gets shoved in there with a whole pile of other junk, out of sight, if we are expecting visitors!) The rest of the time it tends to either live somewhere around the bottom floor (I'm a huge fan of the 'I was just about to vacuum' look) or somewhere around our room. Whichever place it is in, it is always at the other end of the house from the area you want to vacuum, so you have to lug the bloody thing up or down two flights of stair before you start. Funny how that helps you put off the vacuuming till another time...

Our bedroom particularly is out of sight, out of mind, so it's not a great incentive to make the bed. It's not like anyone is going to see it! Some days I don't end up there between cleaning my teeth in the morning and heading up to bed at midnight!

Because of design flaws in the middle-floor bathroom - it has a shower-bath arrangement, but the shower nozzle is in the middle of the long wall - so concerns about slipping, and the inadequacies of a shower curtain with that set up has led to the situation where the kids just use the shower up in our ensuite. Try keeping on top of the showering of three 'interacting' siblings from the bottom floor at the time when you are usually cooking dinner...

'Earth Hour' the other day (plus the recent electricity bill) reminded us of how slack we were with turning lights off in the house. From the bottom floor you can't see the top, so often you realised that the lights in our bedroom had been blazing for hours while we were downstairs having dinner, watching tv, etc. [For cynical reasons we didn't participate in Earth Hour as such, but we decided that it should be the catalyst for all in our family to resolve to make an effort, from now on, every day to keep on top of turning the lights off. Because frankly we have all been guilty of slackness in that department. Ms Eldest wasn't home that night, but the other two nodded seriously and vowed to turn over new leaves along with us. Her Highness when filled in the next day informed us that she ALWAYS turned the lights off - and wondered why she got an earful the next day because half an hour later we went upstairs and discovered that she'd left our lights on after having a shower!)

I've always thought that I should be a lot fitter than I am because of all the stairs! (Maybe I'd just be worse!). Recently I've been trying to make an effort to take them two at a time every time I go up - and also to go myself instead of sending one of the kids to fetch something. With two flights of stairs in your house, who needs a step class, huh?

We've started on plans for extending - a challenge with the unusual design - and occasionally Marc has suggested knocking it all down and starting from scratch. I am sure that you'd never get planning permission for a three storey job now (particularly one with the steep-pitched A-frametype roof line that starts from the floor level of the top floor.) So apart from the concern of losing the small amount of extra backyard that we have, and despite all my gripes about the cleaning issues that it presents, I'm kind of attached to my three storey house. Maybe the new (fitter) me will just have to come up with some psychological solution to dealing with the housekeeping challenges involved.

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I would go mad with more than one storey. Hey maybe that's the root of all your troubles? There must be a name for it.

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