1996 or 1997 I began to read my mother’s copies of Martha Stewart Living. I was at the cusp of adulthood, that age when one has nothing but time on one’s hands, and begins to get ideas about how one would like to use it. Heady dreams one has in those days, before the grind of Day In and Day Out squashes your ambitions about who you’d like to be.
Having guests. Guest rooms. Guest beds. Magical Christmas rooms for children. Mansions with rollers in the butler’s pantry for storing tablecloths. Potting sheds. Flower-cutting rooms. Elegant dinners served on transferware and Depression glass. Bruleed oatmeal; organized linen closets; herbal sachets tucked in every drawer (and the bag of your vacuum clear. Yes, dears, this was pre-Dyson). You provide guests with baskets of bottled water and dark chocolate. You give them menus and lists of planned outings. Always include a dark-colored face cloth for makeup with the pile of towels. You have tied your sets of guests towels with ribbons, haven’t you?
I thumbed through the pages, daydreamed over the photographs, read the articles again and again. No, I would never have a mansion with a stable and a guesthouse and a stockman to take care of my small working farm, but … surely I would have a comfortable house. Surely I could put some of these ideas into practice.
After a lot of years, a lot of dorm rooms, a lot of rented houses and the gargantuan disappointment of my first house hunt, imagine how surprised I am to find myself with, not a mansion, but a gracious sixties tri-level on an old horse farm, and outbuildings. We have a garage lined with workshop benches. We have a tiny adorable barn. We have a workshop, where my husband runs the family business …
… and in the back of that workshop are the Guest Quarters.
Okay. Right now it’s two box stalls in a big open space. Concrete floors. Barn doors. Or was all that–we are converting it. My husband wants a lounge, kitchen, and bathroom for the business. And a bedroom, so people who visit can stay longer without the aggravation of actually staying in our house. Give them some control. Give us some privacy. We are thousands of miles from everyone, you understand. Parents want to come here for a fortnight at least. And we will have space to accommodate them.