Shades of grey have taken on a new meaning for me.
Bathroom renovations are on our to-do list for later this year. I called my son, Peter O’Callaghan, who will oversee the work.
‘Yep,’ he said. ‘Renovations are easy. Yes, we can move everything around and make this space more usable. What do you want?’
The questions started. Big tiles? Small tiles? How high? Floors? Porcelain vanity top? Stone-bench tops? Colours? Taps?
It seems bathroom renovations require as much research as writing a book!
Eighteen display houses were advertised as ‘open on Saturday’ at Alkimos Beach. Where better than display houses to look for the latest in interior décor? John and I headed up the coast on a blustery day. Way, way up the coast. The new development is 40 kilometres from Perth and 15 from the City of Joondalup.
We turned off the main road to the west, over a sand dune. On our left was an enormous fenced area. A sign about the shopping and other amenities that will be built one day caught my attention.
A sea of houses in all shades of grey confronted us. That was the only sea in sight, in spite of the place being advertised as a ‘beach estate’. We drove around and eventually caught glimpses of the ocean. It is one and a half kilometres from the closest house. The roads to the beach have not yet been built. One day there will be a ‘seaside’ village. So we were told.
Row-upon-row, street-after-street houses in different shades of grey in Alkimos Beach unnerved me. I often wear grey, but grey houses always distress me, although I live in one. That, too, will change in spring, when our house is painted outside – a gentle, warm cream colour.
John and I set out at the beginning of the display ‘village’ and went from house to house. Grey outside, grey inside. Every single one. White bench tops in one or two kitchens were a relief. Black tiles also occasionally broke the dreadful monotony.
The layouts of some houses were interesting. Some were wonderful. Almost all, whatever the price range, had studies and children’s activities areas. Big windows and light. But I couldn’t get past that colour. The greyness seeped into my soul.
Of course, I found no bathroom décor that I could live with.
We chatted with the representative from Land Corp in an office on site. There is apparently an edict from the developers that says the exteriors of houses there can only be painted in five colour palettes. Blue-grey. Yellow-grey. Green-grey. Grey-grey. Brown-grey. To keep the ambience of the village. Pardon me?
The rep also told us that solar panels may not be placed on the north of a house if the front of the house faces north. Excuse me?
I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m unlikely to read it. As you might imagine, the very title puts me off.
However, I can’t help thinking what a wonderful setting Alkimos would be for a gothic novel, with all those shades of grey. It would also work as the background for tales of dystopia, dysfunction, depression and general psychological grimness.
Now that my newest book, ‘Elopement: a memoir’, is in production, I can get on with thinking about new writing. The thought is exciting. I might just rival Fifty Shades of Grey yet.