How much thought do you give your home?


Photo: Greg Betza

When was the last time you thought about your home?  I mean really thought about it?

My sense is that we tend to take our homes for granted.  They’re simply there.  Nothing special one way or the other.  They shelter us, hold the TV, and, often, sit next to other nondescript homes in a nondescript neighborhood.

Maybe we think about them when the tax bill comes due, or when we’re worried about the weather and our exorbitant heating bill in the dead of winter.

But for the most part our homes don’t take up too much cranial bandwidth.

Well, I come to you this morning with the thought that your home is feeling neglected and could use a little bit of loving, and living. 

This thought occurs to me because for the past several months I have been immersed in the task of building a new home.  It’s a custom home, which means that thousands of decisions must be made – mainly by moi.

You see, Pam is the responsible adult in our family.  She gets up every morning and goes to work.  I do, too, it’s just that her job pays the bills.  And my job creates bills.

She makes dozens of decisions every day that affect the lives of thousands of people, even if indirectly.  So when I ask her whether she wants the door to her office closet to open to the right or to the left, she gives me that cute little look that, in my imagination, says, “You pathetic person, I don’t have time for this nonsense.  You decide!”

Of course that opens a different can of worms.  The weight of the world falls upon my shoulders as it is now incumbent upon me to make the right decision.

Lord help me if the closet door swings the wrong way.  “You had one decision to make, Duncan.  One little decision.  And it was wrong!”

But I digress.

This isn’t about me.  It’s about you.  And your relationship with your house.  (Note how neatly that rhymes with spouse.)

Building a home, especially a custom home, forces you to think deeply about your relationships.  Not only with the house itself, but also with your family, friends, and neighbors.  Even with the occasional stranger who mysteriously shows up in your driveway claiming to be lost.

Sure, there are colors to select, as well as the shapes of assorted knobs and ends.  There are dozens of details that must be decided, like the contours of trim packages, and the amount of insulation to put in the walls.

As important as these decisions are, they are nothing but window dressing compared to the true purpose of your home – which is to provide comfort and facilitate relationships.

And this brings us back to the original question.  When was the last time you thought about how you use your home?

For example, do you have a formal living room that collects more dust than memories?

Do you have a lovely yard that might as well be a screen saver photograph for all the times you are in it?

Do you have a four-bedroom house, because that’s all they seem to be building nowadays, with two that are empty?

Do your cars sit in the driveway because the garage, their home, is loaded with stuff that is rarely, if ever, used?

Basically, is your home lived in, or merely occupied?

These are questions we typically don’t think about.  But we should.

And while the answers aren’t important to anyone but you – indeed, they aren’t anyone’s business but yours – they are important.  For they get to the heart of whether you actively design your life, or simply dwell in it.

Much like your home.

For example, we like to entertain.  So our kitchen, the one room where everyone seems to congregate, is larger than average.  We have several different dining areas, all of which will be used, if for no other reason than to provide a change of scenery and the chance to match the setting with our mood.

There are only three bedrooms.  One for us, a guest room that is already booked through the end of the year, and another that doubles as Pam’s office.

We don’t have a formal living room, but we do have a library.  Because we love books.  It’s a room that will get a lot of use.

We have a single TV in the family room,  But we have put speakers in all the public spaces, so that our home can be filled with music.

Pam and I are lucky because we have the opportunity to design our home from the ground up.  But even if we were to move into an existing house, we all can design how we live in it.  How we use each space.  What’s it’s furnished with.  And how we build a life there.

It’s something worth thinking about.


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