Because home is where the heart is.
And all the stuff that's unique to the residents of that particular home.
I'll admit that I might be a little obsessed with homes at the moment because we're building one and trying to sell another. But, honestly, I've been house-happy for a long time.
When I was little, I didn't like dolls, but I loved doll houses. I built my own doll house when I was ten and spent every precious cent of my pocket money furnishing it with fine timber furniture.
One of my most precious possessions is a house plan drawn by one of my Grade 2 students a number of years ago. He sat down beside me and explained that it was designed for himself and his future wife. He pointed out every detail, including his bedroom on the ground floor, the solar panels on the roof and his wife's bedroom two storeys up. And then, as though offering me the crown jewels, he said, 'You can keep it if you like.' I did like and I will keep it forever and always.
I doodle houses and draw houses and paint towns full of houses all the time. It verges on the obsessive. (Maybe I'm being soft on myself by saying 'verges'!)
When I travel to other towns for work, I spend my free daylight hours walking the streets looking at houses.
When I'm overseas, one of my favourite ways to explore a new town or city is to walk the back-streets, away from the touristy sites, and look at houses. Houses reveal so much about a culture and climate.
My favourite part of the weekend papers is the article in Sunday Life that features someone's home. My favourite magazine is Country Style.
I love the articles that feature homes that are quirky, even slightly weird, but a true reflection of the owner's life and passions: the horse-lover's converted barn with saddles and harnesses hanging over the back of the couch; the ceramic artist's kitchen full of daggy pottery jugs and vases - the kind we all tossed out once the seventies were past; the antique collector's living room with moose-heads and railway clocks and dark-and-dirty oil-paintings hanging from every inch of wall space.
Homes are wonderful.
Because homes tell a story.
A fascinating story about the owner.
I love it when I enter a person's home for the first time and have an 'Aha!' moment.
'Aha! That's just what I expected their home to look like - stacks of books from floor to ceiling, a heart-shaped box of chocolates on the side table, an open fire filling the room with warmth and welcome.'
'Aha! They stuff their dead pets and display them in the lounge room. I didn't expect that, but it explains a thing or two.'
'Aha! Purple floral curtains and orange shag-pile carpet. And it's all brand new. Bold. Interesting. And a little disturbing... Even more disturbing than a menagerie of stuffed animals.'
Once, we visited a couple whose home looked like a display home. Everything was completely new - even the crockery from which we ate - and there was not a single personal item on display. Not even a photo or a dog bowl. I felt like they were hiding something. Or, even worse, that they had so little personality that they had absolutely nothing to hide.
I'm wondering what our home says about us.
Is the story it tells true?
Our house has just gone on the market, so there'll be a string of strangers wandering through in the coming weeks.
What will be the first thing people notice when they come through our front door?
Will they think it odd that I display old leather cricket balls and lawn bowls in a tray, like some people display fresh fruit?
Will they wonder at the stacks of ancient prayer books and hymn books?
Will they cringe at the pitchfork in the corner and wonder if I use it to discipline my children or if my husband uses it to keep me at bay?
Is it strange that I hang lanterns and gourds from the kitchen ceiling? That I have many birdcages but no birds? That I fill glass jars with doll furniture, sea urchins, bird nests and garlic flowers?
Will people think it rude that the garden is filled with sculptures of naked ladies?
Will they laugh at the photos of my husband with a pigeon sitting on his head?
Will people see creativity or insanity in my home? Order or chaos? Good taste or bad?
Maybe they'll see all these things.
Because, after all, home is where the heart is.
And the soul.
And the personality.
And a truckload of nude sculptures, home-made but artfully displayed amidst the trees.
A sample of the photos, just in case you were wondering...