Saturday, 7 February 2015

Downsizing, Tiny Homes, and Issues of Practicality

Son Number One and his family are living with us now. They left everything in storage in Fort Frances and arrived with three duffel bags and a car seat. We've squeezed them into our house -- between seven people, two dogs, two frogs, and now 23 weekly music students, it's like living in a bus station -- but it works.

I've always liked watching TV shows having to do with interior design or architecture ("Buying Alaska" and "George Clarke's Amazing Spaces" and "Tiny House Nation" are favourites), and I'm toying with fantasies about paring down into a tiny home myself one day. As we were watching TV the other night, Son Number One remarked, "That's essentially what we've done." Sure enough, they've pulled out the most essential belongings and left the rest behind. Even if that's just temporary, it does give them a sense of having scaled down into a tiny home (two small bedrooms).

So it's doable. It's possible.

I look at my own belongings with critical eyes, assessing what I would consider vital or important or cherished. And I think I could walk away from most of it, quite frankly. The things I would want to keep are impractical, really, and important purely on an emotional level -- though that makes them no less valuable, I suppose. We shouldn't discount emotion when assessing the value of things. Grandpa's horse collar. Grandma's quilt. Homemade Christmas tree ornaments. Mother-in-law's antique wash stand. These things are important to me because of who once owned them and who gave them to me. At the same time, I realize that many of the things I truly value, I don't display. I keep them wrapped up in the basement, because my current house -- decorated in Italian Zen style -- is not welcoming to such things as giant horse collars and bright pink patchwork quilts. Does that mean the house I currently have does not reflect what is truly important to me? Is that why I have never loved it or felt permanent here? Is that why I am continually looking through to view other homes and possibilities?

I like my house, don't get me wrong. It's warm and spacious enough to accommodate my family without much struggle. I like its golden overtones and Japanese touch. I like that there is a space to fit in all of our interests -- drafting table, piano, music student area, long kitchen counters, grow lights. I think it's unusual and "elegantly quirky" in some ways. I've always thought it reflects my taste. But I think I could walk away from it without a huge hole left in my heart. Maybe I have been too focused on making it "nicely decorated" or "inviting" and haven't made it uniquely mine. (As much as one can in a house filled with seven people, that is.) It's a startling thought, because I thought we had created a space that reflects our personalities. We picked the colours, agreed on finishings, etc. without fuss, because my husband and I have very compatible likes and dislikes. It fit us. But maybe it doesn't fit as well as I thought.

Maybe I need a home that will accommodate horse collars.

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