Archive | March, 2014

An open letter to building contractors in Spain

Posted on 07 March 2014 by American expat!

Dear Spanish contractors of today:

I appreciate that you understand that humans, for the most part (though I can think of a few exceptions), do not like living in cold, dark, airless cave-like dwellings.  I don’t know why this escaped your ancestors who built the antique dwellings that pass for apartments here, but evidently it did.

Anyway, I really like that you get that sunlight is important to most human beings, and that mold is not a welcomed, decorative feature of bathrooms. But while your understanding of living spaces is a vast improvement on that of your forefathers, you still need a lot of help in the design department.

Take bathrooms for example. Why would you make this the darkest room in the house? This has caused me, on more than one occasion, to unknowingly exit my house with the skin of my face made up into an unnatural shade of orange. Or sometimes I will catch a reflection of myself and first mistake it for a frightening clown.  Inevitably, I will discover one makeup faux pas or another, committed in the darkness of the bathroom, hours after leaving my home. It’s distressing. Perhaps this dim mood lighting in the bathroom would be better suited to the bedroom, which, incidentally, burns with more wattage than any other room in the house.

And how about walls. Whatever gave you the idea that pressed chalk is a great wall surface? I’m assuming that’s what it is, since it crumbles at the slightest touch and

trying to clean it means that whatever cleaner used merely absorbs into the wall, discoloring the white around the cat paw print as if to frame it. If you try scrubbing, the whole framed cat paw crumbles off the wall, leaving a dirt smeared hole in the spot where Kitty tried to catch the red dot.

Let’s talk about kitchens. The placement of the washing machine in the dead center of the kitchen, while the space for a dishwasher is about as far from the kitchen

sink as you can get, are clearly decisions made by someone who does neither laundry nor dishes. The placement of the fan over the stove was evidently done by someone who doesn’t cook, either. At least not someone over 4’9″ tall. One has to slot themselves in sideways between the burners and the fan apparatus to get a good look at what’s in the pot on the back burner. This nearly always results in whacking one’s head on the fan thing when pulling back from the scalding steam or spitting grease you just stuck your face way too close to.

And finally, how about more than one outlet per room? The conga line of power strips dancing the length of the desk in the office, with all those black and grey cords fanning out across the floor and walls on their way to power up office machinery is a little unsightly. OK, you did provide more than one outlet in the bedroom, but I’m not going to get much use out of a socket that resides at face level in the middle of the wall opposite the bed. Especially when the walls are made of chalk and any attempt at mounting a shelf or a TV (this is presumably what it’s for) would result in a pile of chalk-rock on the floor and a hole of exposed cement. So, I chose to cover this particular outlet with a (very light) picture, which still resulted in chalk-rock on the floor and chunks of wall missing.

So keep building those new places, they have elevators and sunlight and we humans like that. But get someone who actually thinks about how a space will be lived in to throw some design skills in the mix, OK?



Washing machine in dead center of kitchen

Washing machine in dead center of kitchen

My chalky, crumbling walls.

My chalky, crumbling walls.

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