Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How much house do you really need?

I started thinking this morning about how much of our houses we really use and what is actually needed to live. I spend 90% of my waking hours in 360 square feet of my house. My den/office is 180 square feet and contains my computer, desk, bookcase, reading chair, radio and telephone. My kitchen/laundry is anther 180 square feet, and it contains a television and large work surface at the table with good lighting where I machine and hand sew, and where I cook, bake, wash up and do laundry. Between these areas, most of my day is covered.

I very seldom sit down in the living room and watch tv unless we're watching a DVD or the news. After I get up I hardly ever go back to the bedroom except to check on the cat, who loves to sleep on our bed. The dining room? Do you actually eat in your formal dining room? We don't; we eat in the kitchen. There's a guest room, but the door's almost always shut and I seldom even go in. There's a third bedroom my husband uses for a computer room and work room. I did sit at the work table in his computer room last night and applique, but that was rare. I have my Ott light at the table, so it's a good sewing spot, but if he's at the computer with his headphones on talking to someone, I can't talk to him and one-sided chatting is kind of distracting.

So, I end up at the kitchen table, where there's good light and I can spread out my sewing. He sits at his computer, talks to people, reads, works on stuff. We have our routines. We could probably do those routines in a much smaller area.

Two houses ago, I had a large back yard. The only time I ever set foot in it was when it needed to be mowed because the layout of the house made access inconvenient. Same with the side yard next to the street at this house.

We have three bathrooms for two people; you do the math. It's things like this that get me thinking. What do we actually need? Versus want? I can lust after a sewing room, but I'm doing just fine with what I have. I have a closet in his computer room to hold all my fabrics and stuff, and the kitchen table is 30 x 60 and above it is a good bright pendant light (it adjusts from 100 to 300 watts, so if I'm having a gee-I'm-old-and-blind day, I can just click the light brighter. Don't laugh, I know there's age 50+ people out there who know exactly what I'm talking about!).

The sewing room organizing blogs I've been reading resurrected pangs of envy about my situation. But, I took some hand sewing home with me last week and struggled to find a spot in mom's house where the light was good and the layout convenient for how I work. The best hand sewing spot is in the sitting area of her bedroom; that's where she sews and watches tv and does crossword puzzles and such, but I couldn't use it in the evening because she was in bed. Her sewing machine is upstairs in the attic bedroom, but there's not even a radio up there to keep you company.

I guess she makes do, also. When she hand quilted a full size nine patch quilt this month, she erected her quilting frame in the middle of her kitchen. She lives alone, and I guess she's so quick at hand quilting it doesn't inconvenience her to walk around the frame for a week.

Nobody's got it perfect.


Paula, the quilter said...

After spending months downsizing Auntie into Assisted Living, I have decided I need to further declutter. In fact, I have very little of her things. Just a bit of furniture. I have a small house: 1100 sq feet for two people. It seems to be just right, like Goldilocks' porridge. And it is a very green house for it's age. We built in the energy crisis of the 1970s so it has passive solar. Good post.

jacquie said...

What a great post. Sometimes I drive by some of the McMansions in the burbs (not often) and I wonder who uses all that space and most of all who cleans it. Do they all have happy housefuls of children running around. Or are they big empty homes decorated courtesy of Ethan Allen? Bigger houses...fancier cars...more shoes that can be worn in a year...

Elaine Adair said...

Great post - I wonder the same. Most of the time, I'm glad my house is small, because I can barely keep this one tidy. I have an entire 'downstairs' but barely use it except for this computer. I THINK I like is small (except when one of us two is not speaking to the other!), but sometimes I wonder if I'm making excuses because I cannot afford a big house. Still wondering about that? LOL

And why is no one home to enjoy the big homes? Oh yes, a lot of them are all working to keep the payments going.

Glad I am not the only one who thinks about this. We're in our dear Golden Years and less is definitely MORE, most of the time.