Ed’s let­ter: Bare ne­ces­si­ties in the bach, or crea­ture com­forts?

NZ House & Garden - - CONTENTS -

No kitchen ap­pli­ances. No car­pet. No TV. No dish­washer or table­cloths or elec­tric blan­kets. The vi­sion for the lit­tle bach we built on Lake Taupō was ruth­lessly pared back. We’ll have just the ne­ces­si­ties, my hus­band Nick and I said to one an­other, en­vis­ag­ing mo­tel-like cup­boards with just one set of plates and a few pots. It should feel like camp­ing, we said.

And it did, for a year or so.

The rot set in af­ter a string of wet hol­i­days. There are only so many drippy bush walks you can do with kids, and so we got a sec­ond-hand TV, a DVD player and a box set of Star Wars. Then an­other box set of Down­ton Abbey for me. And Coun­try Cal­en­dar for Nick. Binge watch­ing be­came part of the hol­i­day tra­di­tion, and it seemed a pity not to re­house my folks’ old La-Z-Boys to the bach so we could re­ally get com­fort­able.

At the same time the bach cup­boards were fill­ing with un­camp-like lux­u­ries. The food pro­ces­sor, bread­maker and large tin of smoked pa­prika were needit-now pur­chases for pass­ing culi­nary en­thu­si­asms. The pizza stone, scented can­dles and as­sorted serv­ing plat­ters were gifts from guests.

Like Nick and I, over two decades, the bach grad­u­ally lost its taut­ness and soft­ened round the edges. It got com­fort­able with age. And af­ter work­ing on this Jan­uary is­sue – in which vari­a­tions of my bach story are re­peated across sev­eral Kiwi homes – it seems to me that the slow ad­di­tion of do­mes­tic com­forts to our lives is just about as nat­u­ral and inevitable as age­ing.

Take Chic and Wayne Fi­field’s home in Whangaumu, near Whangarei (page 58). For the first 13 years it was lit­tle more than a camp­ing ground. These days there’s a beau­ti­ful home with squishy couches and a tim­ber-and-cop­per aes­thetic. They’re still cook­ing on the bar­be­cue, but plans are afoot for a roof over the out­door kitchen: “So we can cook more com­fort­ably in the rain.”

It’s a sim­i­lar story north of Kaikōura, where Mark Browne spent years on his lovely slice on land liv­ing in a car­a­van. Then a te­pee. Then a yurt. Then an ar­chi­tect-de­signed bach with an ex­cel­lent sound sys­tem (page 16)

There is, of course, a school of thought that says we should fight this nat­u­ral ac­cu­mu­la­tion of crea­ture com­forts. My kids – who are fans of tiny houses and small apart­ments – urge me to do a mas­sive de­clut­ter and re­turn the bach to its pu­ri­tan­i­cal be­gin­nings. “It’ll feel great,” they say.

I see their point. I still feel the al­lure of mo­tel-like cup­boards, and one day I might take my­self to Taupō for a Marie Kondo ses­sion... but not this year.

Right now, hol­i­days are loom­ing, and I’m look­ing for­ward to a catch-up binge of Game of Thrones. Can’t wait.

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