Thursday, 8 March 2012

1. Shoot Factory 'House Next Door'

Located here

2. Toast Christmas 2010

3. Shoot Factory 'House Next Door'

4. Toast Christmas 2010

5. Shoot Factory 'House Next Door'

6. Shoot Factory 'House Next Door'

7. Toast Christmas 2010

Lately I have been thinking about the fantasy of homes and the reality, and how a little bit of imagination can bridge the gap.

For some years I have loved the homes presented by Toast. These are peaceful places, often undecorated. I have imagined them as much-loved town houses untouched by the years or elegant and homely country houses, miles from neighbours and protected from the world by their remoteness. I imagined that these town houses were nestled in the centres of picturesque European cities, with impossibly high house prices. But in fact these islands of homely beauty are sometimes in places we wouldn't expect. Places that are partly empty and people have turned their backs on. Places where we might not even expect to find a home.

With the imagination of just a few, the pattern of property ownership can lead from dilapidation to bohemianism and then gentrification. An area becomes empty of people until those with little or no money - aspiring artists, musicians, writers and those who are not afraid to think a little differently - move in. When the herd sees the area full of life once again, they want to buy into this dream for themselves. Of course the prices get higher and higher until the only people who can afford to live there are those focussed on money and the place loses its soul and affordability simultaneously. In fact sometimes the newer affluent residents turn against those who pulled the area out of the doldrums in the first place.

We shouldn't feel afraid to take chances on places. There are many areas of the UK that are virtually empty for no good reason. They are often only streets away from wealthy unreachably expensive areas, yet we don't take advantage of them. Here is a great place to start looking.

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