Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Interiors of London

This past "weekend" (Thursday through Sunday woohoo!) I've had the chance to look at the exclusive interiors of London, from Buckingham Palace to personal homes. Building interiors are one of my favorite things to see. I'm the kind of person whose idea of a fun afternoon is going out and looking at model homes on the market and scrolling through various versions of staircases on Pinterest. So getting to walk through Buckingham Palace and see a few architecturally significant residences during London Open House, was pretty darn cool.

Touring the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace was incredible and possibly my favorite London site so far. Unfortunately, photos aren't allowed inside the Palace, but I did buy some nifty postcards afterward. Normally, I don't gravitate toward listening to the audio tours while visiting sites, but here it was very well put together and really pretty necessary. With many audio tours, you simply walk up to whatever you're interested in and put in the corresponding number on the sign. However, this tour was an amazingly immersive experience that felt like a real guide was with you. Plus, without it, I would have missed vital information about portraits, furniture, and even the locations of secret passageways!

There was an excellent exhibition for the 2014 tour cycle as well centering on childhood and what growing up as a royal was like. They had over a dozen outfits worn by young Prince William and Harry, as well as Princess Elizabeth and Beatrice. There were lots of royal toys, furniture with their names inscribed, and even drawings they had done (Queen Victoria was the best artist). Actually everything Queen Victoria was my favorite part, from a surviving dress she wore as a child to the portraits of her family she had hung on the walls of the Palace. I'm not sure why she's my most-looked-up-to royal figure. Probably a mix of the time period she ruled, her love of husband and family, and the fact that her rule was a true golden age.

When the inside tour was over, we were led out into the gardens. They were so beautiful! I took a lot of pictures. I can (literally) only imagine what it must be like to have a royal garden party there. It would be so incredible to see something like that!

Also this weekend, an event was going on called London Open House. These sites are either normally open-to-the-public sites which then become free or are personal homes that have been architecturally praised and are open for public tours. On Saturday, housemate Janel and I went to two private homes. The first was called "The Small House". It is reportedly one of the smallest self-sustaining homes in all of London and wow was it small! Before becoming a home it was first a flower shop. The owner lives here "occasionally" and the house is apparently worth around 250,000 pounds. Yikes!

The next home we went to had a bit more room to move! It was a pink traditional Victorian home that had been purchased by an architect and completely redesigned. It was gorgeous and also very sustainably built with special insulation, windows, and rain-catchers.

So that's pretty much been my weekend! It was fun and also exhausting....but every minute has been worth it. There's so much to see and do here. It's never ending really, which is both awesome and sad, since I won't be here forever. I just really have to concentrate on the things I know I want to see and do, while still making room for the spontaneous life that is living in London! Hope you enjoyed.


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