I never had ambitions to be an architect or an interior designer. I wasn’t particularly interested in designing spaces for other people; it’s been a purely personal thing. It has an end goal – creating somewhere I like to be, but equally important is the process of creating it.
My first attempt was my bedroom. Until I was 15 or 16 I shared a room with my brother. Then my parents decided to have the attic converted. It wasn’t a lavish affair but I persuaded them to let me turn my part of the attic into something that suited me.
I was into all things 1960s. I’d seen the Beatles’ film Help and I thought John Lennon’s sunken bed was amazing. That was what I wanted.
The decoration was purely down to me and my friends. It’s almost all painted on softboard and screwed to the walls.
It was a time when I had a very strong sense of what I believed in. I didn’t always feel completely comfortable in myself, but I felt comfortable in my values. That was a good feeling. I suppose, in a strange sort of way, my surroundings expressed those.
At university I did my best to make my rooms feel like mine but, living in college, it was hard to stamp my personality on a place I had to vacate every eight weeks.
I would have liked to have done the same with our apartment in Kuala Lumpur but I was vetoed. It was probably sensible. My taste probably wouldn’t have been an asset when it came time to sell but I spent the best part of six years in an unwelcoming white cavern with absolutely no personality.
The treehouse is my latest effort to create a space. As I’ve written here I knew early on how I wanted it to be. My friend Servan led me to clarify my thinking when he said he thought it would be a great meditation space and that it would be a shame to enclose it.
I realised that what I needed to do was to create as many views as possible; break the tree up into a series of visual vignettes by using lots of small windows, so you get a sense of the whole trees from the inside but never see them all.
Today however was something of a milestone. I had the electricity connected. It means we have lights and a heater so Luca can sleep out here when he likes, and I can plug in my laptop, and maybe even a stereo. And plug in my laptop I did.
Long ago I had the strongest sense that this was going to be a great place to write. And I was right. I’m not sure I’ve ever sat anywhere that felt more right in that respect. It was as though an idea had taken physical form.
I’ll let you know how I get on with the writing but I have a project to move forward – a book that needs small additions. I think this is going to be the place that it happens.
Now just to persuade my muse…