In August, I bought a house.
For years, I had the goal of moving to Prince Rupert, North America’s gloomiest city. This tiny place is full of misshapen houses on tiny, odd lots stacked in jagged lines against the sea. The name “Charles Hays” is repeated everywhere, a nod to Prince Rupert’s most glorious era. My dream was always to buy a grand old house around the same age as the Titanic, one with original wood floors and plenty of crown moulding. I imagined I could restore it to its former glory. I had a few in mind. One was a massive four storey ex-boarding house built in 1910; it was listed for $110 000.
By the time I actually moved to Prince Rupert, house prices seemed to have exploded. That same $110 000 can get you a mobile home or a tiny, literally rotting shack not fit for human habitation. I saw a well-maintained 600 ft bungalow listed for around $160 000 this year. It sold the same day it was listed.
Now, it’s very possible that the ex-boarding house I lusted after may have had some significant problems. I’d only seen pictures, and realtor pictures can hide a lot. Plus, I romanticized shabby old houses without actually realizing just how absolutely terrible old houses can be. Not just old houses, but specifically Rupert houses. In a place like Prince Rupert, slanty lots, water problems, bad foundations, mossy roofs and bizarre construction are all too common. In fact, I visited about four dozen houses this year and the majority had massive structural issues. There were houses listed for a quarter of a million dollars that were flooding in real time as we walked through with our realtor. I now laugh bitterly when I watch episodes of certain reality tv shows where a couple is house hunting for a McMansion built in 2012 in Mississauga and their major gripe is that the engineered wood flooring isn’t the exact shade of white oak that’s trending right now.
Fortunately, I did NOT get the house of my dreams. I got a sensibly-priced, sensibly-sized home with no major issues. It’s not as charmingly old as I thought I wanted, but it is old enough to have lots of character while still being actually functional. There’s a non-flooded basement for storage, and a spare bedroom worth sleeping in. AND, I have an office of sorts. A strange little room built into a slanty part of the roof with a door leading to a balcony. Said balcony overlooks my serene and slanty (but decent sized (for Rupert)) back yard. It’s actually the perfect size for an office, or more specifically, a writing room.
Other than the fact that the previous owners painted it acidic, glowing bright green, that is.
I am on an ongoing quest to eradicate writer’s block, and creating a designated writing space is part of the experiment. Not everyone is so fortunate. In his early writing days, Stephen King wrote in his laundry room. I did find this amazing page — Five best writer’s sheds. I didn’t realize that writer’s shed were even a thing, although I absolutely love the idea of it. Dylan Thomas’s shed is the most visually appealing, but Roald Dahl’s is the best overall (he had HIS OWN HIPBONE on display). My goal is to create such a shed in my very own home. It is slanty and weird like a shed, and has a door to the outdoors. The challenge is to create the feeling of an entirely alternate space, one that is somehow separate from the house as a whole (and thus, my regular life).
First step — white paint to cover the green.
Next step — covering the walls with the quirky art I’ve collected over the years, photos, “mood boards”, and favourite words.
And setting up shelves so my favourite books (both reference and just plain loved fiction) can be displayed within reach.
What comes after this?