Simple Splendor and Everything of the Best

Written by Randy Watson



There are certain dwelling places that are ever so much more than the houses that most of us are content to live in . . . these houses – or mansions, rather – are on guided tours, sometimes an attraction in their own right; they are spectacular for possessing any and/or combining all qualities; qualities of size, location, design, for workmanship and sheer extravagant comfort. In fact, such houses usually make the places that most of us live in, look like the ratty doghouse out in back of a crumbling double-wide in a run-down trailer park on the bad side of town. Most often the only comfort we can take in such comparatively humble abodes, is that it is ours, and it's paid for. Still, such ordinary homes are comfortable, and very often incorporate such items as were luxuries in previous decades . . . running water, electricity, air conditioning, cable TV and internet access – luxuries once, but almost necessities now. It's all a relative thing – but oh, the homes that we can fit out for ourselves when money is no object at all.

What is behind these gated homes? I guess that sheer size alone is the most impressive – so many bedrooms, bathrooms, dedicated to special purpose rooms, guest suites, a chef kitchen the size of a small aircraft hangar . . . all that tends to add up. If you are routinely entertaining tens or hundreds of people at massive events, possess a huge art collection, have guests that stay for months or years, or just a very large extended family – of course size makes perfect sense. Look at Buckingham Palace, or the Vatican – now there's a mansion for you.

Then – what about spectacular location? There are only so many gorgeous mountain vistas, or villas with a spectacular seaside view or of Tuscan vineyards that the rarity tends to limit number. But such are wonderful places to live in – and given deep enough pockets or sheer determination to live out in scenic country or at the top of scenic downtown buildings – they can be found and possessed.

Design . . . my own personal weakness – a cleverly and tastefully designed large house, with a multiplicity of original, attractive and useful details is always easier to live in, than a large house. There is size . . . and there is utility. I've lived in large and slap-dashed units, and then in tiny and carefully designed ones and I would assume this would scale up to mansion-sized residences. Which would you rather live in: Hearst Castle, the Greene & Greene Gamble House or the Southwind Ranch in Karnes County? Sheer splendor and size, or something carefully designed to be livable and attractive at every angle?

So – with enough of what you have, you can have as much as a house as you want.