“Eventually, you Americans will have a separate room for every person, including a special bathroom for each pet, and your rooms will be so large you will be able to avoid authentic human contact at all costs!” (Entre Nous by Debra Ollivier pg. 193)
Hmm…makes you think, doesn’t it? I’m a loner by nature and value my privacy, yet even I am perplexed by many of the homes I see being built these days. I pretty much quit watching those house hunter shows on HGTV because I was rather put off by all the young couples with only one or two tiny children who absolutely HAD to have at least 4000 square feet, four bedrooms, four bathrooms, one or two offices and a separate playroom for the kids. While I do know that too many people crammed into a small space, especially without adequate storage, can be very stressful, I think we often go overboard the other way. There should be a happy medium, don’t you think? While I don’t have any personal interest in the “tiny house” movement, I’m truly pleased to see that some are beginning to consider smaller homes.
Another thing that is usually different about the French woman’s home is that her living room is generally set up in order to encourage conversation rather than being centered around the entertainment center.
Where electronica reigns in many traditional American living rooms, books are king in the French one, and they’re present everywhere: lined up in built-in bookshelves, spilling onto the floor in small piles with well-worn spines and dog-eared pages. (Entre Nous by Debra Ollivier pg. 192)
Now that’s something I truly share with my French sisters. My home is filled with books. The laundry room is the one room in my house without books and if I thought the cats would leave them alone, I’d probably have some in there as well. And while we do have televisions, I haven’t yet caved in on the issue of a large, flat-screen t.v. for the family room. When we bought this house, we bought a nice entertainment center to house the television and other equipment. When the doors are closed, all you see is a pretty piece of furniture and I insist on keeping those doors closed unless the t.v. is in use. It’s located next to our fireplace so the furniture is situated in such a way that we can just as easily watch a crackling fire as the latest sit-com. I know that media rooms are all the rage but I much prefer our library. We have a separate room with built-in bookshelves, nice stereo system, the piano and organ, and NO television. It’s a quiet retreat from busy-ness and too much input.
I’ve recently had a surge of my old interests in interior design and homemaking. I’m starting to spend more time puttering about, re-arranging decorative items and planning a few changes. David works long hours in a stressful business so I feel that the least I can do is make our home a peaceful sanctuary for him. I’m getting in touch with my “inner French girl” and seriously considering ways to make our home life more serene and pleasurable. I’m sure you’ll be reading more about this from me in the coming months and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
Thia is why I love my 1930's house. It is small and compact and doesn't have all the added "square footage" of modern homes. One hundred years ago, we were not obessessed (sp) with huge homes but we knew how to live in smaller ones. Easier to clean. Now, if only I could get my yard to be smaller… ;-P
Deanna Piercy says
We lived in a charming 1930s era house before this one and I loved it. I fell in love with it the minute I stepped inside the first time. It was around 1800-2000 sq. feet and would be just perfect for the two of us now. I miss having a smaller, easier to clean house.
I prefer smaller homes to larger ones too.
We live in what is officially a two bedroom apartment, but we only have one of the bedrooms set up as an actual bedroom… The other is our computer room. I wish my kitchen was a little bigger, but other than that, I love my little apartment by the ocean. Besides, there’s just the two of us and the rodent gang, so it’s got enough space for us.
There’s a living room that’s also dining room and pet room, which is where the TV is, and which has a little kitchenette off of it. Then there’s the computer room, which will also be doubling as gaming and craft supply room once we get the shelves sorted (right now all the stuff is in boxes in here, but still packed from when we moved here last year). Plus there’s our bedroom, which will be doubling as a library when we get those shelves sorted too (again, the boxes of stuff to go on the shelves are in the room, but still packed). Other than that we just have the little utility area (which is just big enough for the washer and dryer, and for some shelves to store laundry supplies, towels, and such in) and the bathroom.
Most people wouldn’t think it’s all that great, but I like it. Although, as I said, I wouldn’t mind a bigger kitchen. Oh, and an elevator in the building so I don’t have to walk up three flights of stairs when I get home would be nice too. 😉
Deanna Piercy says
Bigger homes mean more to clean. I really wish we were back in our previous home (other than the location). I could easily clean it top to bottom in about 4 hours. There’s no way I can do all the cleaning in this one in a single day. In fact, I’m rarely caught up all at once. I just don’t have the energy anymore.
Less time required for cleaning is one of the things I like about a smaller home too. Especially since less time being required to clean means I can more easily afford to schedule tea breaks in between chores, while still not needing to spend all day getting them done. Plus, a smaller space means there are places I can put my Kindle to read out loud to me while I’m doing most of the chores, without needing to constantly go and fetch it to move it to another spot, which gives me extra reading time.
Your thoughts are exactly on the same wavelength as mine! Loved this post. I always loved playing “house” growing up and when I got married and we were in our own little apartment, there was nothing I loved better than making it a little haven for me and my hubby. I was working FT and on weekends, I’d spend time going to thrift shops and Pier 1 (my favorite place at the time) and buying things to spruce up our little place. Thirty-one years later, and playing house is still my favorite thing. 😉
Also, like you, I’m not big on TV watching. We have a TV in the basement family room and a small one in our bedroom. We hardly ever watch TV – just a couple of programs here and there and maybe a movie once in awhile. We choose to not have a TV in our main living space (the living room).
I also have a ton of books all over the house…and in every room but the bathroom.
Our house is a small 3-bedroom ranch with a basement. The main living area – the first floor (since it’s a ranch) is 1100 SF. The basement is 3/4 finished into a family room, but we’re rarely down there. When our boys were growing up, it was nice to have that space for the kids to play. I know what you mean about House Hunters…I am perplexed by those people who don’t have any kids – or sometimes just 1 kid – and want a 4-bedroom house. All I can surmise is that they are using the bedrooms for guest rooms and/or an office.
Deanna Piercy says
Thanks for your comment. It’s good to know others feel the same way. 🙂
When I built my house I thought it was modest compared to what our peers were doing. Now that I’m an empty nester I wish my house was much smaller. On the subject of House Hunters, I realized Americans had lost their minds when a young single ma (early 20s) was looking for a 4-5 bedroom house- and no one, not even his parents thought he should scale back.
Deanna Piercy says
That is absolutely insane. I simply do not understand it. Our house was great when we were raising and homeschooling two children here but I wish it were smaller now.