A million dollar house where we can commune with the whales


I started drawing on the wall of my house. We’ve been living here for over six months now, so the novelty has worn off enough that I’ve started doing really stupid things like sticking 100 plastic bats on the outside wall and buying paint markers. Nobody can stop you from drawing on the wall when you are an adult. It’s a fun hobby because it’s forbidden, but also because it takes a long time to decorate an entire wall. I expect this hobby to keep me busy for half an hour a day for at least three months.

Part of the reason I’m drawn to projects like this (painting patterns on the ceiling, building small decorations, creating mosaics) is that stylistically, I lean towards maximalism. But the other part is that I like when a house can tell me who lives there, and I want my house to. I don’t want it to look like a perfectly designed showroom. I want it to project who I am and feel like myself inside, like a great outfit would.

It’s also, of course, a corrective overreaction to the gray obsession that’s sweeping American interior design. I’ve been ranting in this column and in bars for months about how everyone should design their home exactly how they want it and make it a place that brings them joy. I still believe in it, but let me tell you, this week’s house was a real test of faith. It’s designed for someone, that’s for sure. But who, exactly? I am not sure.

This week’s house was built in 2016 so it’s pretty new. It is listed for $1,599,000 Canadian; it’s $1,089,443 in US dollars. The house is located in Sooke, British Columbia. I looked at this, and it’s directly across the San Juan Strait from the Olympic Peninsula. Olympic National Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life, so that’s a good start. It is quite remote, about a 45 minute drive from Victoria, BC.

The description starts out pretty well: “Breathtaking views of the JDF Strait nestled in the trees with multi-million dollar homes, the backyard is a 3500 acre park with trails everywhere.” Wow, 3,500 acre park! This is a dream.

What the description does not include are the whales. This week’s house was sent by our friend Conni (who also brought us Marfa’s Monstrosity). She said very succinctly, “I don’t like the Whale House.” So let’s see what she means.

Here is the exterior of the house:

Screenshot: Zillow

First off, I hate when garage doors are so prominent in home design. If you have a million dollar house, you can afford to put your garage somewhere else! And I already have a visceral (negative) response to this shade of blue. It reminds me of the “Paris” themed phase of every white pre-teen girl where everything is this shade of blue and black and white and they’re obsessed with Audrey Hepburn.

And of course there is the whale. Look at him over there to the left, emerging from that blue painted asphalt. Which choice. Let’s find the entry:

Screenshot: Zillow

Wow. Can you watch this? More fucking whales. What’s weirdest to me about it is that the water and the whales are so cartoonish, but they’re not placed in an environment that makes sense. Why, for example, are these two groups of whales not connected?

Should we go inside? I guess we have to.

Screenshot: Zillow

OK OK. Let’s try to see beautiful things. I really think this mural of a whale is well done. I like the colors, but the blue here is a completely different (better) blue than the one outside, and the whale has a lot more movement in its body. It’s at least cohesive, and I like that there’s that concrete changing room space to take off your boots and raincoat. Windows with this wood trim also look very nice.

What’s here?

Screenshot: Zillow

OK, agreed. We have high gloss dark wood floors. I hate them. I don’t like wide strip floors in general, but I really don’t like having three different wood tones in one room. The ceiling, for example, is magnificent. Imagine how much better this room would look if the floor was the same color and hue as the sleepers.

In terms of layout, obviously, I don’t like it. Open space is my enemy. But as far as open plans go, this one is pretty well done as the spaces are still distinct and clear. Kitchen, dining room, living room on the other side of this strange wall with the fireplace inside.

Here is a better photo of the kitchen:

Screenshot: Zillow

This cuisine is completely out of place here, but I think it’s a little sick. It reminds me of the kitchens in Almodovar films set in Madrid where someone’s mother had died but is now alive again. It’s so red! The only thing I don’t like about this vibe is that I think the red should be very bright. The red is already so intense. Why not just go there? I don’t like the bar stools either, but luckily they’ll take them with them when they leave.

One would expect some of this false modernism to continue on the other side of the separation wall, but that is not the case.

Screenshot: Zillow

Instead, we have this weird space where everything is open and the rug isn’t centered. Even though I didn’t like whales, I could at least respect them. But now I am upset. Are the same people who bought that boat off the shelf responsible for the couches? It’s hard to believe for me.

Conni said it better than me, though: “I think a choice has to be made between the weird Whale House or the decorative accents that are vaguely native, but specific enough to feel like the Bad™ house and this house apparently made the of them. I should have stayed with the whales. Yeah! What did Conni say!

This porch is very nice, though.

Screenshot: Zillow

Again, the furniture makes no sense, but the view is wonderful. Imagine that same deck with heavier furniture to balance out the glass. Imagine sitting here in the morning watching real whales in the strait. It would be a privilege and a joy!

But we have to go back inside and see other things.

Screenshot: Zillow

This bathroom is very small. So small. I hate when bathrooms have these tiny little sinks that splash water all over the place, and I hate when people cut easy corners. Fill those peg holes on this Ikea shelf! Stop adding lots of patterns in a room where your knees are going to touch the wall when you sit on the toilet.

I’m starting to think that the real “theme” of this house is “colors”. This piece is copper and brown, for some reason.

Here is a room:

Screenshot: Zillow

Wow! Here comes another whale! And also a red table? And also a bed side table that drops from the ceiling to just the right height so you can absolutely smack your face on the shelf and give yourself a black eye. Tremendous! Exactly what every girl dreams of. The ceiling and windows are gorgeous, though.

Oh my God.

Screenshot: Zillow

No thanks! The amount I like all of these design elements individually is zero percent. The amount I like them all together is minus 500%. We have wooden ceilings again, which is not a good idea in a bathroom. And they are a different color for some reason. We have what appears to be a CARPET that is bright red. Practically, these are molded decisions. You should never try to increase your mold risk.

Feathers aren’t just offensive, they’re ugly clip-art style. And then there is this rain of death. Do you think when you get stabbed in there, the walls soak up your blood, and that’s why they have that pattern? This bathroom is connected to this terrible corridor:

Screenshot: Zillow

Why is it so narrow? Well, because of the garage. That’s what happens when you make room in your house for your car but not for your people. You end up with Joanna Gaines barn doors from Amazon in your whale house that might have doors with portholes instead! What a parody.

Back outside, we can feel a lot less claustrophobic in this cute fire pit right next to a hot tub! I used to think hot tubs were gross, but a few weeks ago I walked into a hot tub for the first time in 10 years and realized they were both disgusting and that they absolutely ruled. So I like that.

Screenshot: Zillow

That’s it for the Whale House! Goodbye whale!

This house was listed on Zillow for CA$1,599,000 for two days. If you buy the whale house, I have lots of awesome whale themed ideas that I will give you in exchange for sitting on the deck to watch the whales.


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