Learning From Our Homes

Instahot In How Buildings Learn author Stewart Brand quotes Winston Churchill, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” While remodeling the home we purchased in Colorado, my wife and I had bookshelves built into one room, and had swing-arm lamps attached to the walls near two easy chairs. During construction we called this room our “library,” and now when we want to read and relax, this room has become a haven that beckons to us.

One small appliance in the remodeled kitchen has also reshaped my daily life. The graceful device shown in the photograph is an InstaHot, which, through a small electrical heater located under the counter, delivers filtered, near-boiling water with the touch of a lever. This small convenience has transformed me into a tea drinker.

My wife starts her day with coffee, then moves on to dark teas, and then herbal teas. But coffee bothers my stomach and makes me nervous. So I have never been able to enjoy coffee.

And I had never become a tea drinker. I realize that many people find putting on a pot of water for tea a special pleasure, but to me it always seemed a bother. But now I had access to a beautiful object that magically delivered super-hot water when you pulled it’s red-tipped lever. It cried out to be used, and I began to try various green teas, and then herbal teas. Soon we filled two cabinet drawers with a wide variety of black, green, and herbal teas.

Now each morning, afternoon, and evening I hear the seductive call of the InstaHot, urging me to enjoy the pleasure of some fragrant tea. And, especially as the weather cools, I have learned that sitting in the library with a good book and a cup of hot tea can create a feeling of priceless luxury and relaxation. When the house was being remodeled, neither of us realized just how much we would learn to enjoy this quiet retreat, or that I would learn to love tea.