Farewell to 45 Beauchamp Street

Yesterday my parents sold our family home. 45 Beauchamp Street. I didn't think I would be this sad about a house but it was so much more than that. Because we built it. 45 Beauchamp Street today is very different from the 45 Beauchamp Street that was bought back in 1982 as a three bedroom, one bathroom dwelling. So, as a farewell to my favourite place in the world, here is my tour of 45 Beauchamp Street, Karori.

In what must be some sort of record, it took twenty eight years to complete the renovations on 45 Beauchamp Street and we lived in that bad boy for every day of it. These were no ordinary renovations either, they were straight DIY renovations. So DIY that mum was cutting down trees and loading up a skip the day before Ken was born. She mixed the concrete for the driveway and helped dig out the basement with a jackhammer, stopping every once in a while to breastfeed a baby. My brothers did a lot of that digging too, while my sisters were usually in charge of babysitting and keeping the rest of the house in order. Dad was the master builder in charge of near everything else. Basically, as soon as you were strong enough to carry a brick without hurting yourself, you were put to work on the house. Because I am one of the youngest, I missed all the grunt work of actually building a house and instead got the side gigs. Sanding, painting, clearing rubble, watching Dad cut wood for four hours because he asked me to help then didn't give me anything to do. These were my jobs and even then I thought I was the subject of illegal child labour. In 2010 the house was finally all done, and that was exactly when Mum started thinking about selling it. As the boy on that old drink driving ad once said, "that's just sumfing I never understand."

The Tour

  • Before we begin, I know "Beauchamp" is technically pronounced "Bo-shomp" but it sounds pretentious to say that so just call it "Beechum Street" like everyone else.
  • Enter through the front gate. Make sure you pull it, though, because everyone tries to push it and ends up bruising their shins.
  • Walk to the front door and knock. We never had a doorbell and so naturally left a lot of people hanging at the door while we were inside, probably arguing too loud.
  • Let yourself in and take off your shoes. Mum waited twenty eight years for new carpet so she's not gonna let you ruin it with your dirty shoes.
  • Notice the piano right by the front door. Because if the people in the house had to listen to us badly practice our scales, so did everyone walking by on the street.
  • Turn right into the master bedroom. The super king size bed was perfect for sneaking into after a bad dream or doing flips on until Mum caught us and kicked us out. This bed is also where you live whenever you are sick. No matter how old you get, if you're not feeling well, you set up camp in Mum and Dad's bed.
  • The closet and ensuite are to the left and don't have a lockable door which means walking in on Mum on the toilet at least once.
  • Exit the master bedroom and cross the hall into the sitting room. Probably the least utilised room in the house, the sitting room is where the computer sat. It looks right out onto the driveway so if you were on it and Mum and Dad came home unexpectedly, there was no escape.
  • Head back out to the hallway and turn right into the main bathroom. You may think it is big but it never seemed that big in the morning when three people were trying to brush their teeth and a fourth was on the toilet. 
  • Back down the hallway and into the kitchen. When you walk through the doors into the kitchen, take two steps forward and one step to the right. You are now standing in the spot where almost all smacks from Mum were handed out. Why we always stood in the same spot to get smacked, I don't know, but you're standing on it.
  • Next to the kitchen is the dining room. Some of my favourite memories are of everyone sitting at the 12-seater table and eating dinner. When we first got that table, Mum assigned us one seat and we had to always sit in it which is quite weird now that I think about it.
  • But back to the kitchen. This is Mum's dream kitchen. Double oven, two sinks, granite benchtop, those draws that are impossible to slam, a floor vacuum that only she was allowed to use because we "haven't earned it."
  • Walk through the kitchen and into the Ice Box. It's the living room but it had no insulation for years and was freezing. We had sleepovers in there and felt like we were camping outside cos it was that cold.
  • Head back through the kitchen and into the hallway. The two bedrooms on the right are technically the coolest in the house. High ceilings and big windows. But they're also upstairs and near Mum and Dad's room so not that cool.
  • Head downstairs. The stairs are great to slide down in cardboard boxes but make sure you lean back or you will pitch forward and hit the ground face first. Trust me.
  • Downstairs the ceiling is low. This will be a test of athleticism as you grow up ie if you can't jump up and touch the ceiling, you're useless.
  • Along the left wall are five doors leading to the five bedrooms. The first two are slightly bigger but the last three are warmer because of the heated concrete floor. I have yet to come across a heated concrete floor in anyone else's house and people need to get on that. It's carpeted now but to me it will always be warm, smooth concrete that was perfect for rollerblading on.
  • The first bedroom went through a lot of Chapmans. Vick lived there for a while. If you were looking for a sweet treat you went to Vick's room. V, pretzels and licorice were her vices and she always shared. It was a sad day when she switched to black licorice that nobody liked except her. Leone lived in that bedroom too and plastered the walls with Absolut posters. If you were lucky she'd let you have a sleepover and tell you her current high school gossip. Then Bernard moved in and played the first Kanye West album on repeat so loud I always wondered why Mum never told him off for all the swearing. Plus there was a child care centre next door where I'm sure the toddlers appreciated getting let on the Yeezus train at the first stop.
  • The second bedroom is where I lived for most of my childhood. First sharing with Christel, where she would force me to sing with her and act out the guy parts in movie scenes she liked. Then Ken moved in and I was so excited I moved all his stuff and set it up myself. Then after two days he said he didn't like that the bed covers were girly colours so he moved back out again. Then Temara moved in. If you open the closet and look at the second shelf you will see how much she liked sharing a room with me because she defaced the shelf with "Mad is a loser. So is Ken. Temara is cool." Years later, Christel felt left out and scribbled "Christel is also cool" next to it.
  • The third bedroom was originally Rosie's. It was covered in Backstreet Boys posters and was always a good hang out spot. It was in this room where she told us younger ones the entire story of The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. It took longer than it would have taken to actually read the book but it was so much better having Rosie tell it.
  • The next room was Edwin's. It is still a mystery what all was in that room but there was no room for people. If you knocked on the door and weren't told to piss off, that was a successful visit to Edwin's room.
  • Finally, right down the end is Joe's room. Roughly the size of a prison cell, this is where the music came from. He had the impressive stereo and provided the tunes for downstairs while we desperately tried to impress him by liking all the things we thought he liked.
  • On the right is the laundry and bathroom. The shower is big enough for three small children to shower at once. Christel, Ken, and I used to shower together and plot our revenge on Bernard for being mean to us. The best comeback we thought of was "Hey Bernard, you're so pretty...pretty ugly!" We said it in the shower and thought we were hilarious but we never said it that loud just in case Bernard heard us.
  • Back out in the main area is the pool table. You can't play unless you are taller than the shortest stick, and even then Joe might not let you if he thinks you'll scratch his table.
  • All along the ceiling are steel support beams. This is where pull-up challenges are staged and ironed shirts are hung up.
  • In the far corner is where the bench-press used to be. The older boys would work out while we tried not to hurt ourselves. Bernard would have me spot him even though I was nine and would have been zero help if he couldn't lift the weight. Even at the time I knew this and was subsequently the most nervous spotter in gym history.
  • To the right of the pool table is the sewing room, the worst room in the house because if you're in there, you're probably ironing thirty shirts and inhaling everyone's heated BO from their school shirts.
  • Out the back door to the entryway and garage. The garage sometimes held cars but usually just held wood and other miscellaneous crap. 
  • Above the garage in the driveway is the basketball hoop. Many a fierce battle were fought on this driveway. Most of them ended with me in tears because Ken wouldn't let me score even one point. I once thought it would be cool to have a keyhole so I badly spray-painted one in black. Mum saw it and I spent the whole next day trying to scrub it off with a steelo (it didn't work).
  • In the backyard is the brick barbecue that we made one summer. It's a pretty badass barbecue actually. Tama the dog would later use it to jump the fence and roam the park, scaring little kids.
  • Out the back gate and ta-da, you're at Ben Burn Park. The best backyard you could ask for. The back gate is also the way to sneak back in at night because it (and the back door) are on the opposite end of the house from Mum and Dad's bedroom.
  • Speaking of, that is another reason concrete floors are great. They don't squeak when you're trying to be sneaky.

And so concludes our short tour of the greatest home on earth. We went through a lot in that house and I wouldn't have it any other way. It was the common area that brought family, both immediate and extended, friends, and strangers together. It had everything you could want in a home and more and I'm truly going to miss it. When I next make it back to Karori I will walk past 45 Beauchamp Street and stop like one of those creepy people who stare at their old house for ages. Then someone I don't know will come out the front door to tell me to please leave and only then will I accept that 45 Beauchamp Street is no longer The Chapmans'.