Apart from the eternal nomads among us, most people need a place to call home in “First Life”. As human beings often are creatures of habit, it is hardly surprising that many of us feel that same need in Second Life. There are several routes you can take to achieve this. There’s a thriving rental market in which you’re bound to find something to your liking, but you can also buy a piece of land and plunk a house down on it yourself. If that all seems just a little bit too intimidating to a beginner, you can take the quick and easy route by upgrading to a Premium Account (72 USD/Year) which gives you the right to choose a Linden Home free of charge and Linden Labs sweetens the deal by giving you a weekly stipend of 300 L$. That’s Linden Dollars, for those of you that aren’t really sure why they’re even reading this. That’s right, the “game” (it’s not a game!) has its own currency.
The upside of Linden Home areas is that the land is protected and the houses can’t be removed or altered, which offers a peaceful consistency. Of course there will always be those that rez something utterly hideous on top of the house (a Gothic tower!), though the covenant clearly states that the houses should remain in keeping with the local style. Sometimes when I start randomly roaming the realms of Second Life, I end up getting a headache from the extreme mess some people are making of it. On the other hand, I dare say that compared to the most beautiful sims in Second Life, the landscaping around the Linden Homes is very bland and stuck in its era. I haven’t been part of SL very long, but I do believe that Linden Homes and their grounds have not changed much since the concept was launched. The trees look sad, the outdoor furniture in the common areas is laughable and while the houses offer a number of built-in texture choices, I would much prefer if I could use my own textures where the interior is concerned. My biggest issue with these houses is that nothing can be removed, but the silver lining to that is that I have become a master of the cover-up.
Take for example the questionable fireplace. There are some products available on Marketplace to help you improve this contraption, but in my experience these all turn out to be rather like putting cheap and nasty lipstick on a pig.
I opted to block it up with a wall and then turned that corner into a small library with bookcases from World Of Wood. All of the available built-in textures for the floors felt outdated to me, so I sacrificed yet another prim to cover it up and used a nice cherry wood texture on it, adding immediate warmth and class to the room. Privacy settings prevent anyone from seeing what I’m up to, so adding blinds to the windows may seem like a bit of an extravagance, but I think they increase the feeling of privacy and add another layer of realism.
The next eyesore up for debate is the spotrail that comes with the house. It is clunky and outdated and casting a rather unfriendly light and stuck on there with superglue.
Luckily the wall behind this design headache, turned out to be the ideal support for a new fireplace, effectively creating a cozy niche for a desk from LAQ Decor and cornering off an area for my art studio from Bazar. The fireplace is the “Palm View Fireplace Wall” from Roost, retextured and incased in a wall with a neoclassical male nude by Jacques Louis David instead of a a tv, cause I’m classy… Oh look, he’s warming his butt.
On the other side of the room there is a low window that looks out onto a square patch underneath the floating loft.
With a more luxurious prim allowance, I would have turned that patch into a nice water feature or perhaps some kind of rock garden with mysteriously glowing lights but as prims are at a pitiful premium, I thought it wiser to block up the whole area with a prim. I used the top of this prim to match the floor on the lower level of the house, while the side that functions as an indoor wall is textured to match the existing walls. On the outside I used vertical siding wood which looks better than the original brown trim around the roof, but doesn’t stand out too much. It goes without saying that the sad thing that tried to look like a flight of stairs had to be covered up with something much smarter too.
With floor to ceiling windows on three sides, the loft felt too exposed to my liking. I kept the window that offers the nicest view and blocked up the other two with walls. This gave me much more choice for placing the furniture as well. Sure, there are people that would put a wardrobe against a window, but in my opinion those are clinically insane.
I will not pretend I spend a lot of time outside at Beaverbrook. Yes, I named the place. Go ahead, roll your eyes. Possibly it was slightly ridiculous to spruce up the patio, but I do feel that by planting a simple cherry blossom tree and covering up the ugly bushes with nicer ones, I’m helping to make the neighborhood look more inviting.
In conclusion, Linden Homes do not represent the best housing Second Life has to offer, but with some love and attention, you can make something homely and cosy out of them and they are very easy to own. You just pay your premium account and that’s it. Whenever you get bored of a particular house, you can abandon it and pick a new one. Keep in mind that while you do get to chose from a range of styles and specific builds, you do not get to choose the neighborhood. You can abandon land up to 5 times within 24 hours, so it is possible you will be house hunting for some days before you find the one that’s just right for you. Eventually you may want to upgrade to something with more personality on a nicely landscaped sim, but as a starter house a Linden Home really isn’t all that bad. I don’t fully understand why so many people seem to be using it as a glorified sandbox with a sex bed in it… I won’t even attempt to explain that one to you none-SL residents, assuming any of you have stuck with me till the end.