I have big house envy. I’ve got it bad. Every time I’m in a friend’s house that’s bigger than mine (and they all are) I start saying things like, “I just love how WIDE the hall is!” and “It must be so great to have your own bathroom” and “……….”. (That’s the sound of my jaw dropping as I see their walk-in closet.)
I grew up in a decent sized house. Formal living room, dining room, 5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths – the whole deal. When I was in college, my parents moved into an even bigger house. Meanwhile, my first place of my own was a rented 1 bedroom apartment in Manhattan, which I shared with a roommate and then my hubby. For 12 years, I learned to share very little space. When we had S, we quickly bought a townhouse in NJ that was about 1700 square feet. Seems like a lot of space but by the time we moved out, we were a family of four and we had started drowning in all the “stuff” that comes with having kids. In 2010, we moved to a house. A real house with a yard. But alas, since we were upgrading the town, we weren’t able to upgrade the amount of space.
So, here we are in about the same amount of space as the last place, except the kids get a lot more of it. In the move, Pablo and I gave up a 10 x 5 master closet and a mammoth master bath while the kids gained separate bedrooms and a playroom. That just doesn’t seem fair. (Unrelated: At what age can I ask them to pitch in for the mortgage?)
While I’m busy drooling over bigger houses, I do have to admit that there are a lot of nice things about having a smallish house.
1. It’s cozy. No seriously. It really does have a just-enough-space feel to it. If I’m cooking in the kitchen and the kids are downstairs in the playroom, they’re a few steps away. Plus “my room” (the living room) and “Pablo’s room” (the den) are fairly close. (Our couches are only 26 feet apart! You can see the view from mine to his above.) You know what I mean, right? We each have our own space to chill, watch TV, and spread out. We usually watch different things on TV (him: sports 24/7, and me: anything else) so it’s nice to have that private space but I would hate for our “offices” to be on different floors.
2. It forces me to purge unnecessary stuff. Years of Manhattan living were good training for this. Believe me, there are drawers full of stuff that have to be edited but needing the space makes me go through them much quicker. (And I’m more frugal during beauty sales at work. I know I don’t have room for another body scrub that I will never use so I don’t bring it home!)
3. It’s easier to clean up. Since we live in a tri-level split, we don’t have long flights of stairs so when it’s time to get the girls to put their toys and shoes and hair clips and artwork and dirty socks (WHY do they leave them balled up all over the house?) in their rooms, we can just toss them to the top of the 6 steps and they can get put everything where it belongs.
4. It costs less. Sure, the house itself was less than a big house. But there’s also the lower taxes plus the savings on heat and AC. Why pay to heat and cool rooms that you rarely use?
5. It’s a well-oiled machine of efficiency. My lack of kitchen cabinet space means I need to keep the not-often-used stuff in our walk-up attic. The other day I had to go up to get the bundt pan – it took about 30 seconds to walk up there and grab it and this was the first time I’ve needed it since we moved here 17 months ago. So, why do I need a kitchen big enough to store it? The same goes for my closet. That 50 sq foot closet in the last house was great but it held every handbag I own, all my evening clothes, old Halloween costumes, basically everything I have. Oh…and Pablo’s stuff too. Now, all of those items plus bathing suits, extra coats, old shoes that I can’t bear to part with, and off-season clothes live in the attic. My closet may be small but it only has clothes that fit, are currently (somewhat) stylish, and are weather-appropriate which makes getting dressed in the morning much easier.
6. It’s big enough to host a guest or two, but they don’t seem to stay too long. And isn’t that ok for everyone involved? Enough said.
7. It’s ours. I could waste time obsessing over what I don’t have or I could appreciate what I do have – a great house with plenty of space in a beautiful town. Isn’t that the American Dream?
So, the next time I start drooling over a 5 bedroom, 4 bath house, I’ll just try to remember these reasons. Plus, how long would it take to clean a behemoth like that?
Sue at Home
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