I don’t know why. I am not in the market for a ranch in Montana or the former Beverly Hills home of a movie star or a charming villa in Tuscany. I am not planning a renovation that requires custom glass-and-steel panels or the trendiest and most expensive materials on earth. I certainly do not have such money in excess to pay $2 million or more for a condo anywhere.
I suppose I look at “Mansion” to be fascinated and appalled by the money-wasting and dubious taste of the superrich, obviously the target demographic. Occasionally I am also rewarded with a bit of smugness when I see the price tags on listed properties that are in the Turks and Caicos. “That much? Really?” I think. “Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
There’s no way, of course that our own Aloe House would ever be included in such heady company. It’s not directly on the beach; there’s no grand foyer, swimming pool, entertainment center, wine cellar or fitness center; and most of the furnishings arrived on the boat in flat boxes. Most of all, it’s a home, not a showcase.
That’s what I like about it, and about most of the homes on North Caicos. With only a few exceptions, they were built as places to live, not to flaunt wealth.
I am told that the same used to be true of Provo. But the resort boom of the early 2000s had its effect on new buyers, who suddenly “needed” a grandiose, Italianate style with ornamental cornices, balustrades and arched windows. A little of that attitude infected North Caicos, especially in the homes of some Sandy Point arrivistes, but for the most part houses are modest, functional and practical. No compassionate person puts a spectacular but intricate mosaic in an airless, enclosed shower, knowing that someone has to get in there to clean the thing, risking heat exhaustion or chemical asphyxiation.
Before I get too much praise from my neighbors for praising them, however, I must admit my dismay at the names of homes. I know it’s somehow a tradition to name one’s vacation home, much in the manner of naming boats. Something beachy and cute, maybe with a pun, expresses the feeling of enjoyment and freedom of a holiday.
The use of “villa,” however, strikes me as unnecessarily grandiose. Yes, I know that the term, originally for a Roman country house, is now ubiquitous for vacation rentals, but it still seems so much more snobbish than the homes to which it is often applied. At a villa, I expect lush, quiet gardens with a fountain and a meandering path to the sea. I’m not seeing much of that.
At first, I did not want even to name our Whitby house. “Tall yellow house next to Agnes” seemed sufficient identification. However, when, for a time, we rented the house and needed a website for it, naming became necessary. We went with Aloe House and have stuck with it, although the “tall yellow” thing seems to have stuck better.
I like that. The local names are always best. If our house, for some bizarre reason, ever ends up in the Wall Street Journal, I want it to be The Tall Yellow House Beside Agnes and Behind Lovey.