My husband and I have reservations at a bed and breakfast in the near future. We have visited several different B and Bs in the past and we have found them much more enjoyable than staying in hotels (when we can afford it). Sigh. They can be pricey. People either love them or love their privacy too much to share a bathroom or the breakfast table with strangers. Some people won't even consider it. It's probably cultural.
Our favorite B and B is The Jabberwock Inn, based on Alice in Wonderland, with quotes from the story and bits of whimsy in unexpected places. A converted convent, it sits perched on a steep street directly up from Cannery Row in Monterey, California. You can see it here, if you'd like. It's been quite a few years since we've been there - way back before the economy took a nosedive.
What is it about invading the home of strangers and eating at their breakfast table that is so appealing? I think it brings out the voyeur in me. Of course, I don't invade their privacy or wander out of proper bounds. I simply wonder what it would be like to live there, to sit on the porch overlooking the bay every morning and smell the old-house scents and hear the wooden stairs creak and the clock ticking in the hall. To be awakened by barking sea lions and surf, with the fog lacing through the branches of a craggy cypress outside the window. It makes me want to crawl into someone's skin and write. I want to know the past inhabitants, their stories of happiness and loss, of sacrifice and devotion. To witness them marching through their days of monotony and tragedy and miracles. Curiouser and curiouser.
I think it's a sad fact that if you want to sell your house you are advised to 'stage' your home by putting away any and all personal items. Prospective buyers need to imagine their own possessions in your living space and not be distracted (or put off) by yours. I understand the concept, and I know it works. But haven't you walked through an open house and caught glimpses of family life, despite their best efforts? You can't hide the stories. There might be a little handprint pressed in the cement patio or a giant bag of 'large breed' dogfood in the garage. The scent of Old Spice in the bathroom or Youth Dew in the master bedroom. Perhaps one side of the closet is empty. Maybe the upholstered chair shows claw marks or an outline of a child's drawing has bled through the paint on the bedroom door. Are they selling the house to move closer to relatives or have they lost their home to foreclosure? Are they expecting a new addition to the family and need more room, and would that be a baby or an elderly grandparent? Very different stories with different endings.
If you look around your home, even without any personal items displayed, what would it say about you? Consider the general appearance. Are you a fastidious neat-nick or do you have different priorities? Possibly you're dealing with poor health in yourself or a family member and it's just too low on your list to worry about. It would be easy to tell the difference with a little bit more sleuthing. Is the garage full of ceramics waiting to be fired or do you have a spare room filled with scrapbooking materials that keeps you preoccupied? Are there copious medical supplies beneath your bathroom sink and the scent of Betadine in the air?
Maybe your laptop is open to a project you are responsible to complete and had to bring home from work. Are the books on your shelves classics or romances? The movies on your shelves comedies or adventures? The car in your driveway plugged in or up on blocks?
If you staged your home for an open house, what is it about your life that would unwittingly tell a story?