**** Inhumanimal ****

Official website of Devin Hansen

In Praise of a Small House (2005)

The place is a mere 1200 square feet, but somehow we all fit: three kids, two adults, and a dog with a serious eating problem. We’re all packed into this modest house built around 1945, with two bedrooms, one bath, and a finished basement. The previous owners of the home raised a family of five children there, so the way I see it, if it was good enough for a family in post WW2 America, it’s good enough for my family now. In fact, it was an averaged size home in the 1950’s according to the National Association of Home Builders. Today’s average home size has more than doubled to over 2,400 square feet. But at the same time, the average number of our people living in a household has actually decreased. We have larger homes for less people, so what are the advantages? More privacy? More freedom? More solitude? These are fine in small doses, but sometimes that physical distance can translate to emotional distance. Each person in a family can retreat to their own sanctuary, their own television, their own computer. Even small children can cocoon themselves and avoid any interaction with their family. Our homes truly have become castles, with each person having their own wing. Personally, I enjoy the intimacy of a small house, as well as how easy it is to clean and maintain. Plus, we’re not drowning in debt — we didn’t “buy a castle on credit” as they say. And not to mention, a small home is extremely practical. For example, my bathroom is small enough that I can brush my teeth with one hand and start the bathwater with the other, all while sitting on the toilet. I can also bathe three children and still be within safe distance to clip my toenails and shave. In the morning, we often find all five family members elbowing around the sink, which turns into a great lesson in patience and sharing. The kitchen too is small by today’s standards. It has no large island or expanse of counter space, but I can make dinner, load the dishwasher and restock the fridge all without taking more than eight steps. The family room serves as a place of dining, computing and practicing music. This took some creative furniture arrangement, but it results in supper around the table, after-dinner music, and the kids teaming up to play or do homework on the PC, all while I sit in my easy chair in the corner and read. We are each doing our own activities and we always have the option to escape to our own rooms, but this closeness allows us to bounce questions off one another, trade interesting ideas and discoveries, or simply chit chat about the day. I’ve found that this physical closeness translates to personal openness, as the girls have no qualms about telling me their fears and secrets…for now at least. Hopefully these face-to-face relations will set a solid foundation as they grow into the inevitable rebellious teenagers. When that day comes, maybe we’ll get a larger house. Maybe we’ll even buy a second television. But for right now, even though we can afford a bigger castle, we don’t want one. We don’t really need one. This one fits just right…

Categorized as: Journal

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