Another eventful week as a builder has just passed, seeing me work at yet another different site. This time I worked on a millionaire’s holiday home on the coastal summer resort of Marstrand (Note: photos below not taken by me).
Marstrand is the beginning of the Bohuslan coast, the region between Gothenburg and the Norwegian border. Just like the Southern Archipelago (see previous post), the area is dotted with traditional fishing villages that have been converted into summer resorts.
Marstrand occupies its own island that can only be reached via a short ferry trip. It’s a very old town, with lots of heritage-listed buildings, cobbled streets, and a large castle as its centrepiece. It has always been a popular holiday spot for the rich and famous, most notably Sweden’s King Oscar II. Further up the coast, Ingrid Bergman once had a holiday house too. Today it hasn’t changed, and is still the exclusive domain of the super rich.
The house I was working on had just had a Kr 20 million (A$3.6 million) renovation. In total the whole property was valued at Kr 50 million (A$9 million). It was not the most lavish house I had ever seen, but it was certainly the most extraordinary. The owners had gone to a lot of trouble to maintain a traditional fishing village aesthetic. All the furniture was antique, and slightly dilapidated. The floorboards were slightly cracked and uneven. All the electrical appliances were modern, but retro looking in design. From a distance, the stove looked like it needed to be stacked with wood and lit manually, but actually had a modern hot place inserted on top, and oven inside. There was incredible attention to detail, with even coat hooks and door hinges made to conform. Instead of light switches, they had porcelain knobs.
Despite the house’s rustic appearance, it actually cost an incredible amount of money. On the day I was there, the plumber was installing antique-looking steal taps and shower fittings, with porcelain handles. They cost Kr 75,000 (A$ 13,000)!
But the best bit is that this was just a holiday house. The owners stay here for three weeks every summer, and the rest of the year its completely empty! Imagine what they spend on their regular house. It’s the sort of wealth and extravagance that borders on the obscene. It is just incomprehensible to me how people can live like this.
I don’t think the urge for class warfare is ever stronger than when your literally on your hands and knees scrapping tiny specs of paint off the floor for minimum wage, while your employers are spending the equivalent of six months wages on shower fittings. I was very tempted to assist them with their efforts to develop a rustic old-fashioned ambience by relieving them of their plasma TV and DVD player. (But I didn’t!)
In the end I just had to remind myself that there are many people a lot worse off than me. Such as these guys.