A Bungalow of the Mind
IN THIS SPACE IN THE SUMMER ISSUE, our publisher, John Brinkmann, considered the kitchen— specifically, the kitchen in Twycross House, the 1914 airplane bungalow that served as the magazine’s headquarters for most of the past 16 years. He was considering making the house his home, but the kitchen was putting him off. After years of reading about other peoples’ bungalow kitchen remodels, he was teetering on the edge of plunging into one himself, since there was no way he was going to move into Twycross if he had to live with that kitchen.
Well, I’m here, at his request, to report that he’s living with it and is, all things considered, glad for the opportunity. For the past few weeks, Twycross has served as his place of postoperative convalescence.
For me, this bit of history—extending from the last few of Twycross’s long years as a publishing house to its interlude as “the bungalow” (our alternative location) that Brinkmann had begun outfitting as a final home for his father (who died before the necessary fixes could be completed) to its most recent incarnation as his own way station—has allowed me to experience the house in a brief succession of role changes. It’s a bit like a series of snapshots of a house through several eras of renovation, except in this case it’s been only about a half-dozen years, and the change isn’t a matter of physical alteration so much as an adjustment in how I experience the house when I walk inside, an accommodation of expectation to memory.
The first day I walked in, and in the years afterward, the place hummed with activity. People were working at computers or talking on phones or packing things for shipment. Brinkmann’s voice occasionally wafted downstairs from his office in the cockpit. Because most everybody was in some sort of contact with remote others, the place had a dimensionless feel. The exterior was shaped by architecture and design. Inside, architecture dissolved into activity and purpose. At least that’s how I remembered it, and that’s what I expected, and got, each time I entered.
When the magazine moved down the road to save further wear and tear on the house, I no longer stopped there. (Others did, of course, to pick up mail or take care of minor maintenance, and Brinkmann had begun refurnishing it with European and American Arts and Crafts pieces.) I passed by almost daily, because I live in town, but that was all. Eventually, I blended into the daily activity in the new offices.
It wasn’t until just the other day, when I tagged along to reconnoiter some furniture to be moved, that I walked into a Twycross that had reverted to being just a bungalow. Now the rooms that had seemed almost virtual spaces were unmistakably defined by walls, doors, windows, floors and ceilings. The hum of purpose was absent. A simple wooden repose had reasserted itself, as if the place were awaiting a next new inhabitation, free from the baggage of memory. I re-experienced the house for the first time, from a new distance that was only in my mind, which made me think that a lot of what we get from our bungalows is what we bring to them, once we get to know them.
Click here to return to Publisher’s Letters